And after all those ridiculous avocado toast recipes, Ms Tandoh comes up with the goods and does a proper good cheese toastie. You can see how much we loved it by this picture. Oh yes. SO very good. And the pickled cucumber was also a revelation. Will I do this again? You can bet I will! And all the more so in this cold weather. I might just add a slice or two of ham next time though. And the beer was also a must.
Kirstin: You know when you commit to a recipe that it is going to take several hours to make, that it has to really be worth it. This recipe is just that. I whizzed up the spices, fried it up with all the other ingredients and left it all to simmer for FOUR HOURS one Saturday afternoon. We all got very hungry as the smell it made while it was cooking was exquisite. And we ate it all up when I served it up. Bonus leftovers for tonight too, so total result.
Kirstin: Soft spiced apple cake. What could be more perfect on a winter’s evening with friends? Or come to that, on a Monday morning while doing chores? Or on a Sunday afternoon while tackling a puzzle in front of a fire? It turns out that THIS is the perfect cake for ALL of those activities. And more. If lasts that long in your house, that is! Do not be put off by the long list of spices; they are there for a reason. This is beautifully perfumed and heavenly. Super easy to make, THIS is the recipe I will come back to again and again. Epic. And for a non-baker, I have to admit I am VERY curious about her previous book now.
I love a good fishcake and when I saw these, I was intrigued as potato did not make it into the ingredient list. I used haddock, although she said you could use cod instead. And the curry powder combined with chilli added something very interesting to the mix. Fresh, gorgeous with lemon wedges and perfectly yummy, I would make these again for sure. If you make them though, remember that you have to refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes before cooking, a step I almost forgot! It’s a lovely half an hour to drink a glass of wine and then get on with the frying part.
And see how I’ve saved you all from the terrible fish puns too! Ha!
Kirstin: I had seen this book was out, but assumed it was all baking, which is why I didn’t look at it. But then she wrote a column for Elle, when I learned that this cookbook wasn’t just baking. Then I was interested.
Maureen: I like that she’s moving beyond baking. She was a big success on the Great British Bake Off, but I always enjoyed the other articles she wrote about food. The New York Times just did a nice story on her too, so maybe she’ll conquer America next. This book is released there this month.
Kirstin: She’s so good about the Helmsley sisters and the clean eating brigade. First there was the article in Vice, which really kicked the whole debate off.
Maureen: Last month, she had a great essay on the clean eating brigade in the Guardian. She’s definitely taken the whole clean eating trend to ask, which I admire. She’s a great writer, and she clearly loves food. The book also has lots and lots of pictures of just the food, and not of Ruby, which is how it should be.
Kirstin: She’s got some mad nail varnishes in some of the pictures, which is great.
Maureen: I like that it looks like creative food, but it doesn’t take an entire afternoon to do.
Kirstin: It’s also got a lot of different cuisines. I like a book with a lot of different cuisines.
Maureen: It all looks very inspiring.
Kirstin: It feels different. I like that. It’s going to be good month. I have a good feeling about this.
Maureen: We always say that.
Kirstin: That’s true.
Maureen: But that might actually be the case this month.
We’ve spent the month cooking with Ina while she did some cooking for Jeffrey.
Ina, also known as the Barefoot Contessa, has quite a following in the U.S. The book was given to me by my best friend in the U.S. who knows how much I love a good cookbook.
I ended up making nine recipes from the book. I suppose this is a “Greatest Hits” book for her, as it’s apparently all the things that her husband Jeffrey likes best. Kirstin said she thought the recipes were a bit dated, and not very inspiring. I can see what she means, but while they may have felt a bit dated, they all worked and were delicious.
In many ways, she reminds me of a modern Julia Child. She has no fear of butter and double cream. In fact, the more the merrier seems to be her philosophy. This is a philosophy I can fully endorse in the bleak month of January.
Equally, some of the suggestions are just daft. Why in the world do you need to add lobster to fish cakes? Answer: You don’t. (I suppose if you’re an internationally well known cook who has ready access to fresh lobster in the Hamptons it makes more sense. Not so much when you’re just an average Jane trying to make dinner in the deep mid-winter in London.)
In the end, I awarded this book a solid B+. It was very very close to getting an A, but what held me back was it seemed to lack something special to make it a Can’t Miss book.
Overall Grade (A- F): B+ (Maureen) B (Kirstin)
Best recipes: (Maureen) Devil’s Food Cake with Meringue Buttercream by a country mile.
Grade for Photography (A-F):
Any disasters? (Maureen) None, though adding lobster to fish cakes was pure folly.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? It’s going on my bookshelf, but not the high rotation one. (Maureen)
Would you give this to a friend? Maybe. After all, I got it from a friend, so maybe I should continue the circle of virtuousness. But I need to think about it. (Maureen)
Kirstin: It’s been an unusually cold week in London and I’ve felt the need to find some cosy cooking recipes. This one fitted the bill for our Saturday evening. Where the herbs would normally be sprinkled in this kind of recipe, Ina recommends that you whizz them up with salt and pepper, combine with olive oil and then brush on. It worked a treat, making for a lovely crispy chicken skin which was perfectly flavoured with the herbs but also with lemon, onion and garlic. Fragrant, delicate and moist, perfect for a cosy evening inside. And I’m not sharing all the puns they made while they ate this. Because you can trust me, they were flowing with all the yummy food.