“Chicken with Vinegar” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

Kirstin: How could I resist the story in the intro to this recipe? Samin starts her internship at Chez Panisse and cooks this for her first dinner party. Initially wary, she becomes a complete convert. And I can totally see why. Because chicken and vinegar does not sound, on the face of it, to be a particularly good combination. Add some crème fraîche once it has cooked and it becomes a completely different beast. I made a mustard dressing on the salad to cut through the fat of the sauce, but I needn’t have. A beautiful meal for our first meal outside for the year and one I hope to return to, perhaps when in holiday in France.

“Chicken with Vinegar” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

“Pasta with Broccoli and Bread Crumbs” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

Kirstin: I’m always up for a broccoli pasta recipe after our very good Italian friend Cristiana showed me how to make it once on a chilly autumnal evening in Tuscany. We usually visit Italy in the Summer, but Cristiana was very keen for us to come in the autumn, so we could eat different foods. And so we did, including her broccoli pasta using olive oil we had pressed ourselves. Previously she had taught me how to make a variety of dishes from leftovers; arancini and frittata. Recipes I still use all of the time.
Anyway, I digress. But there is a point to this. I’ve tried a number of broccoli pasta recipes, but this one was the most like the one she taught me how to make. The broccoli slightly mushy but oh so full of chilli and garlic flavour. The breadcrumbs adding some crunch and the parmesan adding some salt. There were a lot of instructions in what on the face of it is a simple recipe. Each and every one was completely worth it. And I do so love the way that Samin talks about food. When boiling the pasta water, “salt until it tastes like the summer sea”. Or. Here’s another “cook gently until the garlic starts to give off an aroma”. These simple instructions encourage one to be involved in the food in a way that other cooks do not. I can tell this book will get much use over many, many years.

Oh and here’s a pic of my companion while cooking.

“Pasta with Broccoli and Bread Crumbs” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

“Pasta al Ragu” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

Really, this is just a fancy meat sauce for pasta, but oh my goodness, this was so good that this cookbook has already paid for itself in good eating just in this one recipe alone.

Like all good long-and-slow recipes– it took about four hours in all– it was bit of a faff up front, especially with all the chopping for the soffritto. But it was utterly worth it. I was surprised to see that the chopped up onions, carrots and celery and almost disappeared into the meat sauce by the time it was done cooking. The long and slow method also enabled all of the ingredients to really get to know one another to become one delicious unit.

However, and this is a biggie, I need to add a caveat: I really was utterly confused by the size of the citrus zest required. It said I needed a 28cm by 8 cm strip of zest– one of lemon, another of orange. I’m sure it was a typo. At least, I hope it was a typo. How in the world would I be able to get a lemon or orange that size? (Spoiler alert: I couldn’t.) I did look high and low on the Internet for some sort of clarification or correction on this, but couldn’t find anything. In the end, I cut about eight strips of zest off of both a lemon and an orange. It certainly seemed to work, though I’d still like to know how much I really need.

This does reintroduce the question of what happens when a book has a typo. I know it’s been tested and edited and proofread, but hey, mistakes happen. But in this day and age, you’d think the publisher would be able to put out some sort of notice somewhere. When Gizzi Erskine had a typo for her Black Velvet Cake in “Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite”, she put a correction on her Instagram account. For me, the correction came too late and the cake was an utter disaster, but at least the correction was out there.

That problem aside, this was utterly amazing. Sure, it took about four hours, which is not the sort of time commitment you can make on a weekday afternoon. But on a rainy Saturday, it was the perfect thing to have bubbling away on the stove while we got on with other things. (Some of us watched the Master’s. Some of us went to the pub. I’ll leave it to you to decide what I did.) Also, we had enough leftovers to have it again, though I did have to bulk it up a bit with a can of chopped tomatoes.

Sure, there are loads of other beef sauce recipes out there that can be done easier and quicker. But they couldn’t possibly be better than this. We thought it was perfection. Highly recommended.

A Question for our American Readers who have this book: Can you please check the recipe that’s in your addition? Anne from Australia said that in her edition it calls for the same zest measurements, but she guessed– and I agree– that perhaps they ran into problems when they converted it to metric. So I’d be curious to hear what it says in the U.S. book. I’ll post the answer here if anyone has it. Thank you!

“Pasta al Ragu” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

“Pork braised with Chillies”, “Bright Cabbage Slaw” and “Mexican-ish Herb Salsa” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

Kirstin: This recipe is incredible. If you make just ONE recipe from this book, let it be this one. Yes, it may take a few hours to make. Yes, it involves sourcing ancho chillies (complete bind in this part of the world). Yes, it involves a LOT of chopping for the salsa and slaw. But OMG. Seriously hits the spot in every way possible. AND the leftovers were incredible too.

Just DO IT!

“Pork braised with Chillies”, “Bright Cabbage Slaw” and “Mexican-ish Herb Salsa” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

“Glazed Five-Spice Chicken” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

Kirstin: So I didn’t take any good pics of this recipe because it smelled SO good, that we just had to dive in.

Tom: And all those burnt bits too!

Kirstin: I know, right?

Tom: I love the flavours.

Kirstin: That will be the extra cayenne pepper in the sauce. It’s amazing!

Miles: I love this!

Kirstin: Me too. It’s a fabulous start to this book.

“Glazed Five-Spice Chicken” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat

Maureen: This is an unusual choice for us.

Kirstin: We heard about this book because it won in the Food52 Piglet and beat our favourite book of 2017, “Dinner.”

Maureen: We were outraged that anything could beat our beloved Melissa Clark.

Kirstin: But this looks really good, even though we always say that.

Maureen: We are eternal optimists.

Kirstin: We still don’t think it’ll be better than Dinner.

Maureen: But we like the suggested menus at the end, and it’s good that it central resource for basic recipes.

Kirstin: and we like the variations at the end of every recipe.

Maureen: No photographs, though! Something else that’s unusual for us.

Kirstin: It’s very pretty though.


Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat

Our verdict: Comfort

Maureen: This is an example of a perfect book at the perfect time.

Kirstin: March feels like the month furthest away from spring. You think spring is going to come, and then it doesn’t, and it happens every single year.

Maureen: When it’s cold and snowing, what you really need is some stodge, and that’s exactly what this book has. I don’t think we would have enjoyed this book as much if we had done it in say, July.

Kirstin: No. Absolutely not. Which is why I chose to do it now.

Maureen: He did some pretty inventive stuff with cheese, which obviously I can get behind. The cheese aligot was out of this world.

Kirstin: The things I cooked came out really well. He should make an instant pot cookbook.

Maureen: I’m so over the instant pot thing. But I was really impressed with his recipes. He’s definitely moved beyond his Great British Bake Off days.

K: We’ve said this before but he could be the new Nigel Slater.

Maureen: That remains to be seen. But he’s certainly very talented. What a yummy month.

Overall Grade (A- F):  A (Maureen) A (Kirstin)
Best recipes: Maureen: Cheese aligot. Kirstin: Devil’s Curry.
Grade for Photography (A-F):  A.
Any disasters? Nope.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: Bookshelf, but only from November to April. It’s like having your summer clothes. Maureen: I absolutely agree with that. A winter clothes cookbook.                                                                                                                                    Would You Give This Book to a Friend?: Yes. There were little twists that were very well thought out. It’s an excellent winter book.

Our verdict: Comfort