“Brooklyn Cheesecake” from “Flavour”

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Kirstin: So I had all these plans for us today, and as the girl is on half term I thought we should go to a museum or something. You know, to bond. But Storm Doris had other plans for us, and we decided to stay indoors. And make a cake!

Ella: I wanted to go to the British Museum and see the Brutus coin.

Kirstin: Riiiiight. That well known Brutus coin. Ha! I let Ella choose the cake but not the music.

Ella: I wanted to listen to Quomodo Dicitur.

Kirstin: I vetoed the musical choice because I don’t need to listen to Latin while baking. Anyway, why did you choose this cake?

Ella: Because I like cheesecake more than I like chocolate cake. And this one involved crushing things.

Kirstin: Yes, you did rather enjoy the crushing part, didn’t you.

Ella: I love to crush. We were supposed to use a rolling pin to crush the biscuits, but we also happen to own this spiky hammer, it’s like a hammer but with metal spikes. Perfect for smashing in the skulls of your enemies.

Kirstin: It’s a meat tenderiser.

Ella: So I was just taking out some of my rage on these biscuits, as you do, but I ended up foiled by the brazil nut effect.

Kirstin: Riiiight. So while that was happening, I was making the rest of the cake.

Ella: I still don’t understand what cream cheese is. Is it cream? Is it cheese? Is it some Franken-dairy-product?

Kirstin: Good question. I have never been able to figure it out.

Ella: IT’S ALIVE!

Kirstin: …

Ella: There’s not even cheese in this cake. What kind of fake news is this. What kind of alternative facts. What’s the truth.

Kirstin: Anything about the actual cake?

Ella: I am disappointed that you didn’t let me lick the bowl.

Kirstin: So what did you think of the final product?

Ella: The cake was good. The cake was REALLY good. It was like, you die and you think you’ve ascended to heaven and God is there and she gives you this cheesecake and you’re like ‘is this heaven,’ and she’s like ‘Get Ready to Level Up, Mortal,’ and you take a bite out of the cheesecake and instantly ascend to Heaven². And God² is there and she reveals the secrets of quantum physics to you and you get to punch Plato in the face with the meat tenderiser.

Kirstin: Excellent. Shall I make it again sometime?

Ella: If you let me lick the bowl.

“Brooklyn Cheesecake” from “Flavour”

“Two-potato Dauphinoise” from “Flavour”

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Kirstin: I am a HUGE fan of potato dauphinoise. Tom is not. So I timed the making of this when I knew I would have fellow potato enthusiasts for dinner. Two kinds of potato, one kind of cheese, garlic infused double cream. And while I may have overcooked this (I blame my oven, but that’s another story) it added a rather lovely crunchy texture which even Tom had to admit was rather good.

“Two-potato Dauphinoise” from “Flavour”

“Self Care Chicken Soup” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

img_3058There are moments in life that serve as stark reminds that time is marching on, regardless of whether or not we would like it to. One of those moments occurred when eating this soup when Andrew, 17, turned to me and said, “Can you teach me how to make this so I can make it myself when I go to university?”

[I had to take a moment to regain my composure.]

He’s got about 18 months to go before he’ll be off to university, but still, it’s already a hot topic of conversation– not to mention numerous meetings at school– as he weighs his future options. I fear it might be too late to finally construct the Harry Potter Hogwarts Lego that we were saving for a rainy day, but there’s still time to enjoy chats over after-school snacks, watch any and all shows about dogs together and to teach him how to operate the washing machine.

And, maybe most importantly, teach him how to cook.

Andrew already knows some basics, and he certainly is a dab hand at reheating things in the oven. But what he’s asked me to do is start compiling the recipes of all of his favourite foods and then teach him how to make them.

So I knew this recipe was a winner when he asked for the recipe to be added to his “Things I’d Like To Know How to Cook” list. It was a rainy cold day when we ate it and even though it’s quite simple, it’s also quite sublime.

Our particular bowls of self-care chicken soup may have been improved by the addition of freshly-made noodles (see above). But I also think this would be just as good with regular pasta. Needless to say, we all loved it and all of us were clamouring for second– and in some cases, third– bowls of it.

So while this meal may have made me a little bit weepy, it wasn’t the fault of the food. You can’t deny the march of time. Now I just need to get cracking on the cooking lessons, before it’s too late.

Apologies for the lack of photo of the actual soup. But aren’t these homemade noodles beautiful? 

Also, Google Books has indexed Flavour: Eat What You Love, so if you’d like to check out the recipe for this amazingly simple and amazingly delicious soup, click through here.

“Self Care Chicken Soup” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

“Pretzel Peanut Butter Pie” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

I have to admit that when I stumbled across this recipe when browsing through the book, my very first thought was, “Colour me intrigued!” My second thought was, “When can I make this?”

In the introduction, Ruby said her inspiration for this came from the Candy Bar Pie at Momofuku in New York. Maybe that’s why I felt an immediate need to try this out: it spoke to me in a very deep way because of my American roots.

A flavour combination like this can only go one of two ways: wonderfully or horribly. There is no middle ground when it comes to this sort of combination. But given that this entire family is a fan of the peanut butter and chocolate combination– again, I blame the American in our DNA– I figured we had nothing to lose if we threw in some pretzels, too.

I am thrilled to report that this was wonderful.

But Pretzel Peanut Butter Pie isn’t going to work if you don’t like chocolate and peanut butter together, or indeed chocolate covered pretzels, or even the sometimes odd sweet-salty pairings that are available. (When Googling that exact phrase, I found something called a “Doughnut Burger,” which literally made me shudder. But on the same list from Buzzfeed, I found a listing for Chocolate Covered Bacon and I thought, “Yup. I’d try that.”)

I think the true test of any baked good is how long the leftovers last sitting around the kitchen. With two hungry teenage boys in the house, good things don’t last long. This pie, for example, was gone within 24 hours.

That tells you everything you need to know.

If you’re brave enough and are a fan of peanut butter and chocolate– with pretzels thrown in for good measure– click through this paragraph to find the recipe from The Guardian. 

“Pretzel Peanut Butter Pie” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

“One -pot red peppers with chicken” from “Flavour”

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The day I made these, our new armchairs arrived. We are in love with them so it was a Big Deal for me to get out of mine and cook. But this recipe was totally worth it. For a kick off Ms Tandoh suggests we use skinless chicken thighs for this recipe, but they seemed to have the skin on in the picture, so I kept it on when I was cooking. And I’m glad I did as they crisped up beautifully on frying. The chilli blended in so very well with the peppers and garlic and together they made a wonderfully fragrant and delicious accompaniment to the chicken. It was not one pot, however, as I also had to make some rice to go with, but I’m prepared to let that one go especially as the juices were yum with the rice.
The leftovers were even more delicious the following day. A total winner of a recipe.

“One -pot red peppers with chicken” from “Flavour”

“Beefburgers” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

The entry is actually entitled “Five Ways with Beefburgers” so I can tell you that this testing family happily ate “Two Ways with Beefburgers.” We had original beefburgers (pictured above) and chorizo burgers.

First of all, my heartfelt thanks to Ruby for allowing us to have burgers– TWICE!– without guilt. We love a burger in this house, but it’s a been a good long while since we had a recipe for a burger that we could test in one of our featured cookbooks. Ruby also name checks Beyonce and Nicki Minaj in the introduction, which only makes me love Ruby, this cookbook and burgers all the more.

To be fair, you don’t really need a recipe to make a good burger. Obviously, you need to get the best mince possible because there’s so few other ingredients in it. But Ruby provides the Top Tip of grating the onion, rather than chopping it finely, which is such a great idea I’m just sorry I didn’t think of it first. By grating the onion, it melts into the meat when you cook it. In the past when I’ve tried my best to mince the onion finely, I usually lost interest in some point and ended up with onion bits that were far too large to ever melt into the burger. So I will be doing it this way forever more.

For the Chorizo Burgers, you add chopped chorizo to the mince, along with some smoked paprika. Again, this is a brilliant idea and was hugely popular with the entire table.

Needless to say, these were both winning nights. I have to reiterate my love for Ruby when she tells us we can eat what we love. On these two nights, we did, and everyone was very, very happy about that.

Cook’s Note: The eagle-eyed among you might notice that I make quite generous burgers. I don’t apologise for it (nor do I think Ruby would want me to). I tend to use about 350g per burger, which makes for a most satisfying size. Yum.

“Beefburgers” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

“All-in-one Basil Cod with Potatoes and Green Lentils” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

Fish Friday!

This dish reminds me so much of a great Nigella Lawson dish. She loves a tray bake, and I have to agree. You bung everything together in a tray, bake it for the prescribed amount of time, and then eat. It’s the perfect weeknight dish for when you want something delicious, but nothing something that’s going to use three bowls, two pots and multiple spoons.

I always knew there was a risk in making this for the teenagers, because they are not fans of lentils, whereas the adults in the family are. In any case, they found a workaround: they ate the fish and the potatoes (happily, as it happens) and ate around the lentils. Problem solved. The adults loved everything.

Highly recommended, both for the ease of making it and the delicious taste. I would definitely make this again.

“All-in-one Basil Cod with Potatoes and Green Lentils” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”