Sunday, 4 January 2015

Cookery book challenge : weeks 41-44

I started the cookery book challenge a year ago. If I'd got my act/posts together I'd be finishing it now too, completing the cycle in a fitting way, new year new challenge etc etc. As it is, I still have a couple of posts to do. I also have a quandary as I was given another cookery book for Christmas - do I tack it on the end or consign it to the unused pile the other books used to be in?? Decisions, decisions!

I must also apologise: the worst part of the challenge now is having to photograph meals in electric light, so all the photos that follow are completely pants. The food was (mostly) good though.

Week 41: Jamie's 15-minute meals - Jamie Oliver

I picked this up in a charity shop for a couple of pounds, attracted by the delicious looking meals. In theory they can all be cooked in 15 minutes and Jamie makes it look easy on the TV show. In practice I found it really stressful trying to keep up the pace and took far longer. I'll be making them at Julie pace in the future! You can find 19 of the recipes from this book on his web site.

Chorizo and squid with Greek-style couscous salad

Squid is one of Chickpea's favourite foods so it wasn't surprising when she asked me to make this. I liked the idea of adding extra flavourings to the couscous as it cooks: whizz up spinach, mint and spring onions in a food processor and then stir in the couscous and hot water. Simple but effective. I couldn't find an official site for the recipe but there are several bloggers out there who've made it so you can probably find the recipe if you hunt around a bit.

Thai chicken laksa with a Mildly spiced noodle squash broth

Yummy yum yum! I think this might well be one of our favourite meals of the challenge and I've been craving it ever since! A lovely combination of flavours and highly recommended. You can find the recipe here.

Week 42 : Jamie at Home - Jamie Oliver

My favourite of his shows as I loved watching him (or at least his gardener) growing the produce for the recipes. He inspired me to try growing rainbow chard, which I did but which tasted horrible! Surprisingly we found the cookery book uninspiring, though we did give 2 recipes a try.

Lamb with salsa verde

This isn't strictly the recipe in the book as it should have been accompanied by cannellini beans and that rainbow chard. However, I had lots of bits of veg which needed using up so chose to make roasted veg instead.

The salsa verde seemed a little bitter so I added a teaspoon of sugar. It made a lovely combination of flavours with both the lamb and the veg - definitely something to try again but I'd probably use the salsa verde recipe I made here.

Roasted white fish and leeks

Another good combination of flavours. The worst part was the spinach which was my own addition! There was just far too much of it.

Week 43 : Barefoot contessa back to basics - Ina Garten

We love watching the Barefoot Contessa shows. Not necessarily for the food but the lifestyle: gorgeous house, immaculate table settings, brunch on the beach. My favourite parts are just watching her food shopping at the farm stands and delicatessen!

Baked blintzes with blueberry sauce

This was in the breakfast section but we chose to have it for dessert instead. Blintzes are usually made with pancakes which are filled and then fried or baked. However, Ina's version is much simpler and involves baking them in the oven to make what is essentially a kind of cheesecake. Well it would have been simple if I'd taken the time to convert all the American cup measurements and oven temperatures into English first instead of having to do it as I went. Still, it all turned out ok in the end and we would happily eat this again.

Week 44 : Kilkenny cookbook: recipes from the Kilkenny kitchen

Kilkenny is a restaurant and craft/design store in Dublin. The book was given to me by my friend who was living near Dublin at the time and reminds me of my own trip to the city several years ago.  By coincidence, it was the same weekend as the Dublin marathon and we watched several triumphant but tired runners limp by after crossing the finishing line whilst we ate lazily coffee and cake in the Kilkenny cafe!

Flaked salmon over spaghetti with sun-dried tomato and rocket

Another great combination of flavours and so easy to pull together. I poached the salmon to keep it moist - something I do more often since doing this challenge. Definitely one to make again. I couldn't find the recipe online but the title tells you all the ingredients with the addition of toasted pine nuts and the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes.


Hope you've had a good weekend. we've had a fairly quiet one though we did go to my friends for tea yesterday evening. Otherwise, we've been taking down the decorations and having a good tidy up in preparation for me going back to work tomorrow. Darn but the holidays go fast :(

The photo was taken on Friday when we went out for a short walk in the fields - that's Chickpea disappearing into the distance. Lovely sunny, squelchy welly weather :)

Anyway, I'm off to make the latest meal in the cookery challenge. Before I go though, a very happy birthday to my penfriend Susan! xx


  1. I look forward to the last of your reviews and to knowing what you have decided to do with the books, will you keep them or let them go or give them another go with another recipe? I have so many books myself and was thinking that I need to cook from more of them more and was thinking of doing a similar challenge, so I would be interested to know what you decided do to at the end of the year. Happy eating in 2015! xx

  2. All the dishes look very tasty especially that Ina one. I also have shelves of cookery books, despite an epic clear out a couple of years ago. Not to mention the stacks of food magazines stashed in various places around the house! Do let us know what you decide to do with all your books. x

  3. They all look wonderful, I find taking my own food photos never as good as the professionals, it is definitely the lighting that makes the difference. I am doing the '52 new' challenge, basically a new recipe a week for the year - it certainly helps make me introduce new meals to our regulars :)

  4. Happy new year lovely Julie! Hope 2015 is a fantastic year for you. I really enjoy these cookery challenge posts! So happy to see two Jamie Oliver books this you know I'm a big fan! I have 15 minute meals but to my shame I haven't made anything out of it but I am definitely trying the Thai Chicken Laksa as I think my family would love it. I really like Jamie at Home and there are a few dishes I make fairly regularly...courgette carbonara and butternut squash muffins are our favourites from this book.
    Marianne x

  5. Happy New Year Julie, and your food looks wonderful, could eat the Baked blintzes with blueberry sauce right now...Yum
    Amanda xx

  6. You know that show with the Barefoot Contessa? I think she has all the best food shops where she lives, in some rich part of the country, they must send all the best veggies to that part of the country! Really love the photo of the blintz with blueberry sauce, that dish you have served it on is just perfect!

  7. My mouth is now watering. It all looks so, so tasty. I have really enjoyed following this challenge of yours and really wanted to do the same this year, but sadly most of my cookery books are currently in storage. I guess there's nothing to stop me starting this project mid year. x