Saturday, 6 May 2017

Cookery calendar challenge: April

This year I'm taking part in the Cookery Calendar Challenge organised by Penny. The idea is simple: the first week of every month, choose a cookery book from your shelf and, over the course of a month, make two recipes from it that you've never made before. You can choose to take part each month or as the mood takes you!

My April pick was Diana Henry's Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons. I've already made several recipes from it and the recipe for prawn and feta pilaf is one of our favourites (this link is the closest I can get to that recipe). I generally find her recipes pretty reliable and with plenty of flavour.

My first choice was Chermoula-marinated tuna with pomegranate couscous which I  served with butternut squash slices using the same marinade. The chermoula itself is made from cumin, paprika, cinnamon, chilli, lime and garlic so you'd think there would be plenty of flavour. Well, Chickpea liked it more than me as I would have preferred more of the spice to come through. To be honest, I'm also not really keen on tuna steaks as I find them a bit dry, no matter how hard I try not to overcook them (and in this case they were still slightly pink). The butternut squash was lovely though so I might use the marinade again for other things. We really enjoyed the pomegranate couscous too.

Next was Chicken marinated in yoghurt with a Georgian plum sauce. This is definitely a weekend dish as the sauce needs making in advance and the chicken needs to marinate for a couple of hours. My sauce wasn't the glossy vibrant pink shown in the book but a rather unattractive sludge brown. Given that it included prunes and dark brown sugar, I think my version is probably a more accurate representation of what you should end up with. It definitely had a kick  but I may have been a little heavy-handed with the garlic and cayenne! I'm not sure I'd make the sauce again but the chicken was lovely and juicy and flavourful. Also, what you can't see here is the green salad on the side which breaks up the otherwise sea of brown!

Overall then, a couple of decent recipes to add to my repertoire, albeit with a few amendments. One thing I did enjoy about the challenge this month was looking back to see what I'd made from Crazy Water during my own challenge 3 years ago and rediscovering other recipes. On the same post which featured this book, I was reminded of a Nigel Slater recipe for chicken with mushrooms and lemongrass and just had to make it. It proved to be just as good as last time :) In fact, I think Chickpea's boyfriend would have licked the plate if we hadn't been in the room!

Next up is Hemsley and Hemsley's Good and Simple.

In other news, it was Chickpea's birthday yesterday. We went out for dinner and just look at the dessert counter! Applewood Farm is renowned for its desserts which is why she chose it. We were so full after the main course though that we had to bring home cakeaways.

And finally, the grebelings have hatched! I haven't been able to get a photo of the new babies yet so here's one from last year. I actually posted it on day 22 of 30 Days Wild which shows just how much earlier they are this year. I'll report back on how many of these stripey beauties there are when I get a better look :)

Have a lovely weekend everyone. xx


  1. Happy birthday to your Chickpea for yesterday, those cakes looked amazing, made my mouth water especially after seeing your lovely meals xx

  2. Happy birthday to Chickpea! You shouldn't read a post like this when you are hungry!
    Those grebelings are adorable! I understand how hard it must be to get a photo, so I appreciate you showing us the one from last year!

  3. Lovely to hear about the little grebe chicks! That dessert counter looks amazing!

  4. All looks delicious. Love the chicks hitching a ride, precious. Cathy x

  5. Late to the party, as so often. I really enjoyed reading your post, your dishes look very delicious. I know what you mean about tuna steaks, it is indeed often dry. I imagine the marinade would go well with chicken, or pork chops. Have a lovely week. x

  6. Oooh, the recipes look great!! I feel the same about tuna steaks, they just lack something!!

  7. Hi Julie, and thank you so much for joining the Cookery Calendar Challenge. Please forgive my deplorably late comment and thanks, I realised this evening, asI composed my Cookery Calendar Challenge post for tomorrow, that I had failed to visit any of the bloggers who so kindly joined me last month. I am so sorry about it; May was a little hectic with birthdays, and my husband and I also celebrated our Silver Wedding Anniversary, so I was a little out of my usual routine, however that is no excuse! I am delighted that you joined me in dusting off your little-used cook bppks and I do hope you manage to join me again. I have not cooked tuna steaks often (I think only twice) for the reason you mention, they are just so hard to get right, and they never look a very appetising colour, so you are not alone in your tuna-struggles! The butternut squash part of the dish sounds delicious though, I love butternut squash (which is just as well, as butternut squash risotto seems to be on every menu as the vegetariam option at the moment!)Your chicken dish sounds lovely, I am intrigued by the Georgian sauce, presumably a historically accurate sauce from Diana Henry? I have only fairly recently discovered her books (don't know why as she has been writing for years) and I think she is excellent. I will be very interested to see what you cook up this month. Once again, thank you so much for joining me, and I will visit more promptly next time! x