Cookbook of the Month 2016: All of Our Favourites

Kirstin: Usually we’ve done a Christmas book for Decembers but the really obvious one this year was by Jamie.

Maureen: And obviously, given that we already vowed never to do one by him again after the disaster of Superfoods, we couldn’t go back so quickly on our word. So no Jamie Christmas.

Kirstin: So we’re going to try an idea we tried out in July 2014.

Maureen: With the chaos of the holidays and families, we felt it would be easier. We’re revisiting old books and recipes we’ve previously tried and returned to. Or new discoveries from books we’ve already reviewed.

Kirstin: We will link to the previous time we’ve made it, or the book if it’s a new one from an old book.

Maureen: I’m really looking forward to it! This will be one less thing to worry about in December.

Kirstin: I get to cook lots of Gwyneth!

Maureen: I’m thinking there’s going to be a lot of Nigella in our December, but we’ll see.

Cookbook of the Month 2016: All of Our Favourites

Our Verdict: Bread Street Kitchen

Kirstin: Maureen, you made loads more from this book than I did.

Maureen: I did! We had some really good meals from it. It had some really good recipes for comfort food, which was just what my family wanted in November.

Kirstin: It certainly did. Those brownies looked amazing! I loved the Yorkshire pudding recipe; I’ve already made them a couple of times since.

Maureen: Oh yes. Such a classic recipe and such good tips too.

Kirstin: But this book did feel like it was a throwback to the cookbooks of the 90s. Glossy pages, the very British recipes. I say that, but the sticky toffee pudding was exceptional, so the recipes were definitely worth checking out. I’m not sure I’d keep it on the kitchen bookshelf though.

Maureen: It’s a good solid effort, but there’s really nothing special about it. Everything we ate was good, there were no disasters– and some real triumphs– but I wouldn’t give it as a gift. It was fine, but didn’t set my world alight.

Overall Grade (A- F): B (Maureen) B (Kirstin)
Best recipes: (Kirstin & Maureen) Yorkshire puddings.
Grade for Photography (A-F): C
Any disasters? (Kirstin) None. (Maureen) None.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? In a holding pattern on the backup cookbook shelf (Kirstin)
Would you give this to a friend? No. It doesn’t have anything that really wowed me (Kirstin). Unfortunately, no. I can think of several other books from 2016 that I would give before this one. It’s good, but it’s not spectacular.

Our Verdict: Bread Street Kitchen

Cleaning Out the Refrigerator: Assorted Dinners from “Bread Street Kitchen”

OK Folks. November sort of got away from me, so I’ve got a few Bread Street Kitchen dinners to tell you about. So I’m cleaning out the refrigerator, so to speak, to show you some of the other things we ate in November.

Butterflied Chicken Breasts with Tomato and Olive Salsa

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This recipe was ACES. Everyone loved it. Sure, the tomato and olive salsa had a 1990s vibe about it, but that didn’t bother me. It was good to eat. Butterflying the chicken also made it quicker to cook, which is always a bonus when you’re trying to get dinner on the table on a weeknight. We would definitely eat this again.

Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

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I’m sorry to say that this recipe was less successful. The problem in this family is that everyone loves the Polpo meatballs, and it’s going to have to be a really extraordinary specimen to knock those meatballs out of the top spot. Unfortunately, the Bread Street Kitchen meatballs were not that extraordinary specimen. Don’t get me wrong: We’re always happy to have meatballs for dinner at our house. But it’s a sad day when we spend some of the dinner saying that we’re sorry it’s not the ones we usually have.

‘Njuda Tuna Steaks

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We first had ‘Njuda at Pizza Pilgrims in Soho more than two years ago and we haven’t looked back since. For those of you unfamiliar with this ingredient, ‘Njuda is an Italian delicacy that is a spicy sausage spread. Until now, we only ever dotted it on our pizza. But putting it on top of tuna steaks was absolute genius. Tuna is a bit bland to begin with, but once you add the ‘Njuda, it’s a whole new level of deliciousness. Yum. I will definitely be making this again for Fish Friday. Highly recommended.

Cleaning Out the Refrigerator: Assorted Dinners from “Bread Street Kitchen”

“World’s Best Brownies” from “Bread Street Kitchen”

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We’ve been doing a lot of comfort eating in this house in November. That’s the beautiful thing about food, isn’t it? You could be in the worst possible mood or you might even think the world is coming to an end, but after sharing a delicious meal (preferably one that everyone loves) things definitely improve.

Consequently, November has been full of our family’s Food Greatest Hits: Pizza. Sausage sauce. Chicken parm. Chocolate chip cookies. Cake. Macaroni and cheese. Spaghetti and Meatballs. These are the foods that we love, so these are the foods we’ve been eating.

And brownies.

Lucky for us, the “Bread Street Kitchen” cookbook has a recipe for the “World’s Best Brownies.” That’s a fairly bold claim, but we thought it best to give them a test before we thought that title could be used.

So is it the world’s best brownie? I’m not sure about that, but it’s pretty damn good.

In the interest of full disclosure, the first time I made it, I forgot to put in about half of the flour. Consequently, those brownies were THE MOST DELICIOUS I’VE EVER HAD. I’ll be damned, though, if I can figure out how much flour, exactly, I left out so I could replicate that wondrous experience again.

The second time I made them, I did remember to include all of the flour, but as a result, the brownies were more cake-like. They were good, to be sure, but I did not reach the brownie nirvana I experienced the time before.

Would I make it again? Yes. If nothing else, so I could figure out just exactly how much flour to add in order to reach brownie nirvana again.

“World’s Best Brownies” from “Bread Street Kitchen”

“Yorkshire Puddings” from “Bread Street Kitchen”

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The Sunday Roast is one of the best British traditions. What’s not to love? Your favourite meat– at our house, it’s done on a rota basis– roasted, surrounded by multiple dishes of vegetables, eaten at a leisurely pace on a late Sunday afternoon. Yum.

If you’re going to make roast beef for your Sunday lunch, a Yorkshire Pudding is the linchpin.

As we came late to the British Sunday Roast tradition (since we didn’t move to this great country until we were 30) we do not have a family version of Yorkshire puddings that has been handed down generation to generation. Maybe that’s not how it actually plays out in most families, but that’s how I imagine it. Consequently, I have tried many, many versions of Yorkshire pudding. Nigella. Jamie. Nigel Slater. Delia. Mary Berry. Other assorted cookbooks. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve made Yorkshire Pudding.

All were fine, I guess, but none of them made me think. “That’s it! The perfect Yorkshire Pudding! I must always make this with my roast beef.” Until now.

I have made these twice now and I have to say they are delicious. We all loved them. The cookbook also helpfully includes two top tips for great Yorkshire puddings. Tip No. 1: Let the batter sit out for at least an hour, but overnight is even better. Tip No. 2 (which I already knew): The only way to get a good rise is to get the tin and the oil really, really hot before you add the batter.

I don’t know if this recipe is dramatically different to any of the others I’ve tried, or the many millions of recipes that are out there, but this is the first time I felt compelled to make it again just two Sundays later. That’s how much we loved them.

Yorkshire Pudding = FTW

“Yorkshire Puddings” from “Bread Street Kitchen”

“Mac and Cheese” from “Bread Street Kitchen”

img_9562Here in London, there’s no denying that autumn is well and truly here: orange leaves decorate the pavement (and need raking), the days are getting shorter (and lights go on at 4 p.m.) and at our house, the heat is finally on (always the cause of many of celebration here). This also means it has become peak Mac and Cheese weather. Huzzah!

Being Americans, we come by our love of mac and cheese honestly. There’s a reason that every American diner/eatery offers it: We were raised on the stuff. Sure, the stuff we were raised on was day-glo orange and probably not the healthiest alternative, but we were raised on it just the same.

I’ve got a go-to recipe that we all love (thanks NY Times!) but we’re always willing to try new versions. I should say for the record we very rarely experience a mac and cheese that we don’t like.

This one was great. Creamy. Very cheesy. Crunchy on top. It did, however, require multiple pots and pans, which always bums be out a bit. (Our go-to recipe requires no pots and pans, just a long time in the oven.) We loved it, but alas, it did not knock our favourite off of its perch at No. 1.

If you’d like to try it yourself, Google Books has the recipe, which can be found by clicking through this sentence.

“Mac and Cheese” from “Bread Street Kitchen”

“Sticky Toffee Pudding” from “Bread Street Kitchen”

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Kirstin: I made this for Guy Fawkes Night, England’s annual celebration of the Houses of Parliament not being blown up. I’ve never made sticky toffee pudding, but I knew that it would have some fans as Ella always orders it off a menu. This version has added dates which add a particularly lovely sticky and deep texture. And even though I vowed I wouldn’t try any after seeing the quantity of sugar that went into the sauce, it smelled so lovely I couldn’t resist trying a piece. It was divine. Would I make it again? Heck yes! My family have already requested it!

“Sticky Toffee Pudding” from “Bread Street Kitchen”