Want to know a secret? If you’re ever short on time and you want a meal that truly can be done in 15 minutes (I’m looking at you, Jamie Oliver), grill a steak. It truly is the quickest of quick meals.
But before you take the not-even-10-minutes you’ll need to grill the steak, make this salsa verde. It couldn’t be easier. It literally is a matter of throwing herbs, olive oil, seasoning and a bit of vinegar into your food processor. It is delicious. It looks impressive. It even keeps if you have leftovers. Win. Win. Win.
If you have an additional 10 minutes, you might as well roast some new potatoes in olive oil and garlic, like I did here. The thing that will take the most time is cutting each potato in half so you’ll have more crunchy bits by the time you’re finished. In my experience, everyone loves crunchy bits.
Sure, it was a bit of a cheat to “test” this recipe, given the amount of times I’ve made steak for dinner. But I’ve never had any complaints here when I’ve informed the family that we’re having steak for dinner.
But one final note, especially on a day where there’s been demonstrations around the world about our current climate crisis. I am very cognizant that the farming of beef, and specifically the farting of cows, contributes to our climate crisis. For that reason, steak is very much a special occasion treat. I’m trying hard to moderate our diet to include more vegetarian nights beyond Meat Free Monday, and more fish nights beyond Fish Friday. We can all do our part, and every little bit helps.
Kirstin: It’s September. Apricot season is well and truly done. The nectarines however, not so much so I thought I’d give this a go. I feel like I’m being super hard on this book, but that’s because all the recipes are ace. Also I have a sneaking suspicion that I will be making them again and again, so I’m investing time and thought into her whole process.
First off, she suggests putting the slices of fruit into a big bowl and mixing with the sugar and tapioca. Then transferring to a pie dish. I did all the mixing in the pie dish which worked fine for me. Also less washing up.
She suggests you have to bake this for an hour. It took 30 minutes in mine. Granted my oven is a little hotter than others, so if you are going to make this recipe (and I encourage you to give it a go) then just check the cooking times as you go along. I also didn’t use the nuts. But that’s just me.
Finally, I can already imagine how I will jazz this up with a little lemon juice mixed in with the fruit which is always a good sign I will be making this again. I guess I’m just going to have to dream about the jazzing up though as these may be the last few nectarines of the season. UNTIL NEXT SUMMER!
Having a roast chicken on a weeknight always seems like such an indulgence. It seems like the sort of dish that should be reserved for a lazy Sunday afternoon, when you also have time to make all the trimmings, along with some sort of dessert.
But why not have it on a weeknight? I mean, we live in very uncertain times here in the U.K. (understatement of the century), so why not reward ourselves on a random day for having survived another day of dire headlines? So roast chicken it was.
In the introduction, Jessica admits, “There are an astonishing number of recipes for roast chicken in the world.” It’s true, there are. She goes on to say that we should just use this one, though, which I think would be a mistake. With so many delicious ways to eat a a bird, why restrict ourselves to just one type?
However, this was a good one to have on the aforementioned weeknight, because it is spatchcocked, which meant it cooked quicker and more evenly. Pouring the melted garlic butter over the top of it was, obviously, fantastic. Has melted butter ever been a bad idea? The cardiologists of the world would disagree with me, and they might be on to something, but still…
So, yes, this was delicious. It cheered us all up on a random weeknight when we had our fill our political shenanigans, on both sides of the Atlantic. Was it vastly better than the hundreds of other types of roast chicken I’ve made? Well, no. But who cares. It was still delicious.
Kirstin: OMG! WE adored this recipe so much. Miles and I almost demolished an entire chicken between the two of us. Perfect flavours of paprika and tahini combined with garlic and lemon juice. But here again, I went a little off piste. Jessica tells us to use a mortar and pestle and add various ingredients at different points. I just stuck the whole lot in a small blender. She also tells us to grill the pieces on a bbq. But it was a September evening in London, so I stuck the chicken pieces in the oven for a total of 40 minutes (at 200 degrees Celsius, turning them over halfway through) and then sticking them on the grill pan.
We LOVED IT. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked anything with tahini before for the children and I knew Miles would be more receptive. I was not expecting him to be THIS receptive. SO making this one again.
One of the things that Jessica Battilana encourages people to do in this cookbook is not to be afraid to alter the recipes to fit their needs. The whole point of “Repertoire” is to create your own dishes for your own repertoire that will work for your family. For this recipe, I followed her advice, partly because I altered the recipe to make it what our family would like, and partly because our local supermarket didn’t have the ingredients I needed when I went shopping at 6:30 pm for dinner that night. Life is all about being adaptable.
In the first instance, I changed the recipe a little bit to fit what we would like. I was fairly sure that the rest of the pack would not be keen on mint in their pasta, no matter how good it might be. So I subbed out mint and replaced it with basil. (This is in the spirit of full disclosure, since you’d never be able to tell either way in the picture above.) I also didn’t have rigatoni, but I figured this pasta was just as good, so that’s what happened there.
Now on to the 6:30 pm supermarket sweep. Usually, I can count on our local Sainsbury’s to have ricotta, but alas, on this night it did not. I didn’t have time to get to the other local supermarkets since it was already so late, so I decided to sub in a mild goat’s cheese for the ricotta. I’ve got to say, that was a result. I’m sure the ricotta would have been good too, but this was delicious. Add to the fact that she recommends you warm it up a bit in the oven, and it really was spectacular.
One final suggestion that she made that I will definitely do again: presenting it all on a big platter. Usually for pasta dinners on Meat Free Monday, I’ll just load up the food on to each individual plate. But by putting it on the big platter and allowing everyone to dig in, it really made dinner more convivial and communal.
Kirstin: Oh how I loved this recipe. But how it took SO long to make! We already have a favourite tray bake sausage and potato meal from Bill Granger. So I was curious to see how this one was different. The addition of slightly smushed tomatoes and sweetcorn was definitely a good one. But would I make it again? I’m already thinking of how I could add some chilli to the potatoes while they fry in the pan, so quite possibly!