“Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Fried Onions and Parsley” from “Dining in”

Kirstin: We often celebrate Fridays with fizz and friends. I usually roast a chicken and some new potatoes and then make some interesting salads to accompany the meal. But my good friend Georgia (who I’ve given this book to) alerted me to this recipe. And it was a lovely evening and I had all the ingredients except for parsley and so I thought why not. And now I will never want to make potatoes in any other way. Alison is a complete genius. The Aleppo chilli and fried onions work a treat with the slightly smashed potatoes; I smiled the entire time I made this, thinking of how much everyone was going to enjoy it. And enjoy it we did; by the end of the meal all of the potatoes were gone. My only criticism is that there was too much oil, but I’ll figure that out the next time I make this. Because there will be a next time. I’ve already been asked to never make potatoes any other way. And by the end of the meal, I had ordered another copy of the book for our fizz Friday friends too as we drooled over the salad recipes. Alison Roman I love you.

“Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Fried Onions and Parsley” from “Dining in”

“Black bass with salty, spicy celery” from “Dining in”

Kirstin: Who would have thought lime pickle would be so fab on fish? Alison did. And she was completely right. It is sublime. I don’t know why more people don’t use steaming to cook fish. I used to make a recipe back in the 90s (when I was a baby, obvs) that steamed salmon in a foil packet. It was a trusted favourite for many years. And it’s lovely to know I have another recipe that I can turn to when I want to steam some fish. Thank you Alison. And of course the beauty of this kind of recipe is that it can be scaled up or down depending on how many you are feeding.

The spicy celery salad was less of a hit though. I struggled to prepare the celery the way she recommended and so used her dressing on some avocado and tomato. Which did work.

“Black bass with salty, spicy celery” from “Dining in”

“Vinegar-braised chicken with farro and watercress” from “Dining in”

Kirstin: Firstly, I have to admit that when Alison Roman talked about yuzu kosho in the recipe, I thought she meant just yuzu. Which I have. Yuzu kosho I do not. So I popped down to my friendly local Asian grocery and for the first time EVER they let me down. BUT I found it on amazon and given how yummy this recipe was, I will be trying it with my newly acquired yuzu kosho. Also. Farro. Love it. Miles absolutely loved this recipe so that’s also good.

Also, this week the kittens figured out how to jump onto the kitchen surface. Which adds a whole new level of excitement to cooking at the moment as you can imagine.

“Vinegar-braised chicken with farro and watercress” from “Dining in”

“Anchovy-Butter Chicken with chicken fat croutons” from “Dining In”

Kirstin: Maureen and I always joke that I will make the roast chicken recipe from the books that we review. I am always on the hunt for a good roast chicken recipe; I’ve found some fantastic ones over the years. A roast chicken recipe is like the holy grail of recipes; it has to be simple and tasty, for sure. But a good recipe can elevate a roast chicken to a higher level. I’m talking Zuni roast chicken level here, possibly the best roast chicken recipe ever. A roast chicken recipe that people talk about for days after and look forward to making for friends in years to come.

BUT. And this is a big but. While Zuni is indeed a fab recipe THIS recipe is better. Why? Because this is simple, delicious and NOT FAFFY AT ALL. You can tell I’m excited about this recipe because I’ve started using CAPITAL LETTERS. The bread roasts in the chicken fat and is completely SUBLIME. We ate ALL OF IT. You can tell from the picture I was so obsessed with the flavours that I almost forgot to take a picture! I actually can’t wait to make this again. Worth the price of the book. And then some.

“Anchovy-Butter Chicken with chicken fat croutons” from “Dining In”

“Slow salmon with citrus and herb salad” from “Dining In”

Kirstin: I bought this book before Christmas but it didn’t feel like quite the right time to cook from it. I could tell that it was a winner though. My favourite food photographers and my favourite Bon Appetit writer combined. And then, summer arrived. And I was ready…I cracked open the book.

Alison Roman starts this recipe by making a confession that she thinks is the best recipe for salmon. And I agree. This was the first recipe I cooked from this book, back in early May. I’ve now cooked it 4 or 5 times and each time it has been a winner. It can be scaled up or down. It is ridiculously easy to make. It lasts well for leftovers. It looks pretty and tastes divine. Even our children like it. I dare you to try it and not find it amazing. THAT’S HOW GOOD IT IS.

“Slow salmon with citrus and herb salad” from “Dining In”

Cookbook of the month, June 2018: Dining In by Alison Roman

Kirstin: It’s a month of cookable food.

Maureen: It looks good.

Kirstin: She writes for Bon Appetit, so I’ve already made several of her recipes.

Maureen: After a month of cooking vegan food from the last cookbook, it’ll be good to be able to eat meat again.

Kirstin: I’m obsessed with the photography because they’re two of my favourite food photographers. And have you read the intro? She talks about how buying a cookbook is an extremely personal experience. And that she takes this responsibility seriously. I love her already. And her website is a gem.

Maureen: So hopefully, good food photography and good recipes.

Kirstin: Yes!

Cookbook of the month, June 2018: Dining In by Alison Roman

Our Verdict: Bosh!

Maureen: This was awful.

Kirstin: You can’t say that. Well, you can say that.

Maureen: It might not be awful, but because there was so much push back from the get go in this family, it was awful here. But perhaps it was doomed to fail.

Kirstin: I had no idea that vegetables took so long so prepare.

Maureen: You knew about it, but you just forgot about it. Prep time with vegetarian recipes is always a killer because everything needs peeling or chopping, or a combination of the two.

Kirstin: They’re not very good at time management when writing the recipes, either.

Maureen: I don’t think the recipes were that well written. The instructions for how to make a risotto, albeit one that didn’t use butter or parmesan, were appalling if not downright incorrect. Though perhaps it’s impossible to make a good vegan risotto since you can’t use butter or parmesan. Did you have anything that you really liked?

Kirstin: Ella really liked the tofu and I really liked the spicy rice I made. I was not expecting it to be as yummy as it was. It was really interesting. It was amazing.

Maureen: Let’s not forget, they are Internet superstars. So maybe I’m missing something, but really, it just wan’t really good.

Kirstin: The instructions were terrible sometimes. If you’re frying something, you can’t chop something up at the same time. Everything must be prepared beforehand. That’s just how it works. You can’t chop while you’re cooking. This book was alright, but would I use it again? Maybe one or two recipes.

Maureen: My family was right. As predicted, this one is going straight to the charity shop.

Kirstin: For the Bosh boys, the flavours weren’t that impressive. For Anna Jones, the flavours were great every time. I’m sure there are better vegan books out there.

Maureen: And don’t forget the fluorescent orange.

Kirstin: How could I?


Overall Grade (A- F):  D (Maureen) C (Kirstin)
Best recipes: Maureen: I’m not sure I’ve got one to recommend, which tells you everything you need to know.  Kirstin: The spicy rice was delicious.
Grade for Photography (A-F):  B. It was alright.
Any disasters? Yes. Oh, the guacamole. It’s already vegan, don’t change the recipe so it turns into this disgusting green gloop.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: Very low rotation bookshelf. Maureen: Charity shop for sure. Sorry, Bosh bros.                                                                                               Would You Give This Book to a Friend?: Maureen: Absolutely not. Kirstin: Nope.

Our Verdict: Bosh!