Oh my goodness, this smelled divine as I prepared it. 12 cloves of garlic! Yes please! And it was a delight to eat it with warm flatbread too (I added the Greek yoghurt for the full effect). The fussier eaters in this family also enjoyed it. Would I make this again? Possibly, but I might frying it next time instead of grilling it.
Anna: Meh. I had such high hopes for this and I am disappointed. I’m sure if a personal chef had made it for me I would love it.
Peter: It wasn’t as hot as I thought it would be.
Anna: That’s the chilli’s fault. I could have left the seeds in and probably should have done.
Peter: Did the squid need marinating?
Anna: Why do you say that?
Peter: It was a bit dry I guess…..
Anna: Couldn’t you taste the lemongrass?
Peter: Yes. And I got the salty and sour. I’m not sure what it is that’s missing.
Anna: A professional chef. This would be perfect in a Thai restaurant. Somehow it hasn’t worked for me at home. It’s perfectly ok. And it was easy to cook. But I won’t be doing it again.
Anna: Well this is a perfect prepare-ahead meal. It was all ready for you boys to cook while I went for my long run this evening.
Peter: We didn’t need to start cooking it until you were back and in the shower to be honest.
Ian: I think you will find the chicken ‘gorgeously singed’ but tender within.
Anna: Indeed. It’s very nice indeed. I have fond memories of sharwarma chicken. It was the only thing I could eat when I had morning sickness during my first pregnancy. I used to get it in a wrap for lunch. A couple of times a week.
Peter: Yes it’s very good. Everything is very colourful on the plate.
Anna: The puree has split a bit though. We probably reheated it a little too vigorously.
Ian: I take responsibility for that.
Anna: I’ll definitely be making this again!
Maureen: What do you think?
Andrew: It’s good.
Tim: But I’m not so sure that the pomegranates are necessary.
Maureen: I agree, but I wish I had known that before Nicholas and I had a good old fashioned hunt for those pomegranates. They didn’t have them at the Creaky Shed, as they are nearly out of season. They didn’t have them at the Co-op or the Sainsbury’s. In the end, you’re not going to believe where we sourced them.
Maureen: Tell them, Nicholas.
Nicholas: At the M&S food stop at the petrol station. I didn’t think they would have them, but Mom said to just give it a try, since we were walking by. I couldn’t believe that they had them.
Maureen: That’s right. A petrol station was the source of our fruit tonight. Nice one. But as I always say, “Whatever works.” I like pomegranates. Why don’t you?
Tim: The texture seems weird to me.
Nicholas: I’m not sure we should be having fruit with chicken.
Maureen: You sound like Kirstin. She would totally agree with you. I don’t mind the pomegranates, but I would eat them anytime, anywhere, so I don’t think I’m the person to ask. I would make this again, though with everything else.
Tim: Yes, everything else is nice. I would eat this again.
Andrew: So would I.
Nicholas: Me too.
Miles: What kind of chicken is this?
Kirstin: It uses chicken thighs, which are tastier than chicken breasts. If a little more fiddly to eat. She says to serve this with brown rice, but I used white. I can imagine it would be rather good with brown. I might try that some time.
Miles: I really like this.
Kirstin: And thank you for making the salad, Tom. It looked like quite a faff with the plastic bag and all.
Tom: It was so good with the mint though.
Kirstin: Agreed. Delicious. Absolutely delicious. Definitely one to put on heavy rotation.
Anna: I’m finding this book quite overwhelming but that might be because I’m trying to read it on a kindle.
Kirstin: I’m struggling on my kindle too, but the pictures make it all worth it.
Maureen: If you went old school like me and had a hard copy, you wouldn’t have these problems. Plus, there’s a ribbon to mark the recipes! You know I love a ribbon.
Anna: I like the look of everything, but I wish I had a personal chef to cook it all and present it beautifully for me.
Kirstin: Yes, they do make all the recipes look amazing, don’t they? I love that there’s Middles Eastern food, Asian food but also some European recipes.
Maureen: I anticipate a lot of running around looking for specialised ingredients, which I’m dreading, to be honest.
Anna: I like that a lot of the recipes seem to have an interesting twist, especially with the ingredients. But I’m finding it difficult to picture myself making a lot of them… I think “that looks yum” and then I look at the list of ingredients or the cooking method and I think “where’s that personal chef again?”
Kirstin: I think this is the perfect book for Spring with all that healthiness thrown in too.
Maureen: I’m not so sure about throwing rose petals on some of these dishes, but I’m willing to give it a go.
Maureen: What did you think?
Anna: I was surprisingly disappointed with the outcome of the recipes. Not just the fact that some were bland, but some of the recipes didn’t work properly for me, and I was very surprised by that. If there’s one thing you know about Fragrant Mary, I though her recipes would be dependable and some of them weren’t. Some were real failures.
Maureen: I know what you mean. For me, they weren’t bad, exactly, but they weren’t good either. The Triple Tomato Risotto is a perfect example. I thought it would be great, but it wasn’t. It was really disappointing.
Anna: But I also had some real successes which I’ll be making again.
Maureen: The chocolate tart I made was absolutely a winner. Everyone already wants to know when I’ll be making it again.
Anna: I want to make the Suacy Brownie Pud but I’m waiting for people to come over. I’m sure it will work. The double chocolate chip cookies were also good. The secret was the self-raising flour. I wasn’t convinced when I was doing it, but it really did work. It made the cookies more cake like.
Maureen: I think we can say that she’s very dependable when it comes to the puddings.
Anna: Well… you say that, but I made the bananna cake yesterday and it was flat. It didn’t rise.
Maureen: That’s unfortunate. As much as I love Mary Berry, I have to say this book definitely felt like a throwback to an earlier time.
Anna: Let’s say it will be popular with ladies of a certain age, but those of us who developed our culinary skills through the Jamies and the Moros and the Nigellas of the world, it’s not going to appeal.
Maureen: I agree.
“Mary Berry Cooks”
Overall Grade (A- F): Anna: “It’s a C, I”m afraid.” Maureen: C “Yes. Average at best.”
Best recipes: Anna: Beef stew and the double chocolate chip cookies. Maureen: Chocolate tart, by a mile.
Grade for Photography (A-F): “There’s a lot of pictures of Mary, not so much of the food.” C.
Any disasters? Anna: Shepherd’s Pie. Maureen: Garden vegetable casserole.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Anna: I’m going to give it to my mother-in-law. Maureen: I’m going to mail it to my mother, I think she’d appreciate it more than me.