“Beefburgers” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

The entry is actually entitled “Five Ways with Beefburgers” so I can tell you that this testing family happily ate “Two Ways with Beefburgers.” We had original beefburgers (pictured above) and chorizo burgers.

First of all, my heartfelt thanks to Ruby for allowing us to have burgers– TWICE!– without guilt. We love a burger in this house, but it’s a been a good long while since we had a recipe for a burger that we could test in one of our featured cookbooks. Ruby also name checks Beyonce and Nicki Minaj in the introduction, which only makes me love Ruby, this cookbook and burgers all the more.

To be fair, you don’t really need a recipe to make a good burger. Obviously, you need to get the best mince possible because there’s so few other ingredients in it. But Ruby provides the Top Tip of grating the onion, rather than chopping it finely, which is such a great idea I’m just sorry I didn’t think of it first. By grating the onion, it melts into the meat when you cook it. In the past when I’ve tried my best to mince the onion finely, I usually lost interest in some point and ended up with onion bits that were far too large to ever melt into the burger. So I will be doing it this way forever more.

For the Chorizo Burgers, you add chopped chorizo to the mince, along with some smoked paprika. Again, this is a brilliant idea and was hugely popular with the entire table.

Needless to say, these were both winning nights. I have to reiterate my love for Ruby when she tells us we can eat what we love. On these two nights, we did, and everyone was very, very happy about that.

Cook’s Note: The eagle-eyed among you might notice that I make quite generous burgers. I don’t apologise for it (nor do I think Ruby would want me to). I tend to use about 350g per burger, which makes for a most satisfying size. Yum.

“Beefburgers” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

“All-in-one Basil Cod with Potatoes and Green Lentils” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

Fish Friday!

This dish reminds me so much of a great Nigella Lawson dish. She loves a tray bake, and I have to agree. You bung everything together in a tray, bake it for the prescribed amount of time, and then eat. It’s the perfect weeknight dish for when you want something delicious, but nothing something that’s going to use three bowls, two pots and multiple spoons.

I always knew there was a risk in making this for the teenagers, because they are not fans of lentils, whereas the adults in the family are. In any case, they found a workaround: they ate the fish and the potatoes (happily, as it happens) and ate around the lentils. Problem solved. The adults loved everything.

Highly recommended, both for the ease of making it and the delicious taste. I would definitely make this again.

“All-in-one Basil Cod with Potatoes and Green Lentils” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

“Honey Bundt Cake” from “Flavour”

Regular readers of this blog will know that I frequently test out the cake/tart/sweet treat recipes on my book club. They are willing guinea pigs and *usually* we end up with something delicious. (Aside from the one time I had to throw out an entire cake once it emerged from the oven because I could tell by looking at it that it was going to be disgusting. But we don’t talk about that.)

I wasn’t so sure about this once I had made the batter. Ruby tells you in the introduction that the quantity makes “a smaller, more manageable cake” but it looked like very little batter to me. But I persevered, and also used the bundt pan where it wouldn’t have mattered how much batter filled the pan– unlike this one.

I’m glad I did so. While it did make a much smaller bundt cake than the one I’m used to producing, it made a very reasonable sized cake and small slices too. This meant that nearly everyone went for a second slice, which we ate while we drank our coffee or tea. It’s the perfect cake for hot drinks.

This was a triumph. So much so that two of the book club members, who have endured tested many a cake for me said it was by far their most favourite book club cake ever.

High praise indeed.

If you’d like to impress your own book club, or indeed your own family, Google Books has indexed Flavour and you can find the recipe by clicking through this link.

“Honey Bundt Cake” from “Flavour”

“Easy Chocolate Birthday Cake” from “Flavour”

It seems appropriate to start a month of cooking with a Great British Bake Off runner up with a cake. Also, I have found in life there is always a good reason to have some chocolate cake. Those truly are words to live by.

Using the word “Easy”, however, gave me pause. Baking a cake isn’t easy for everyone. I distinctly remember the first time I tried to make a chocolate cake. It was almost exactly 15 years ago and I wanted to make a cake for Tim’s birthday. I dutifully went off to John Lewis to buy the cake pans and other bits I needed to make it. The cake part went fine, but when it was time to make the icing, it was an UTTER DISASTER. The icing just poured down the sides of the cake and pooled around the cake on the cake dish. It was laughably bad.

It’s a wonder that I ever tried to make a cake again. But I persevered, and in fact, it was only two years later that I made a wedding cake– or actually should be CAKES– to feed 250 people.

While I did find this easy, I also know that I’m much better at making cakes than I used to be. So I honestly don’t know if it would be easy for everyone. It definitely was easier than the cake I made last month, the Devil’s Food Cake with Buttercream Meringue. The directions for this cake are clear and straightforward, so if you want to try your first cake, this might be a good place to start.

Most importantly, it is delicious. It is an unfussy, moist and delectable specimen of a cake. It is the type of cake that sits happily on a counter and you just take small slivers off of it every time you’re a bit peckish until suddenly there’s nothing left. I wouldn’t just limit making this cake for birthdays, either. We had no birthdays to celebrate here and yet we managed to force it down. Again to reiterate: There’s always a good reason to have chocolate cake.

Highly recommended. (Though I still don’t know if it’s easy or not.)

Try this recipe! Ruby helpfully also wrote it up for her column in the Guardian, which you can find if you click through this link. 

 

“Easy Chocolate Birthday Cake” from “Flavour”

“Filet Mignon with Mustard and Mushrooms” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

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Unfortunately, this photo doesn’t do this dish justice. But look at the name of it. How can you go wrong with filet mignon?

[Answer: You can NEVER go wrong with filet mignon. Unless you’re a vegetarian, of course.]

Believe it or not, this was our bargain dish of the week. I know that seems like a puzzling statement to make about filet mignon, but it’s true. Although Ina called for traditional medallions for this dish, you’ll see that I used the tail. This is because at our local butchers on Christmas Eve, they had tails at a bargain-basement price, because everyone and their sister was ordering filet from the middle for their Christmas feasts. So I picked up four, put them in the freezer when I got home, and then we were able to enjoy them a month later.

Butcher bargains for the win.

This was delicious. In the interest of accuracy, I have to note that the teenagers passed on the creamy mustard sauce for their steaks. I’m not sure why. I would suggest that perhaps their tastes aren’t sophisticated yet, but given that they both love sushi, I know that’s not true.

Would I make this again? Of course. Especially when I’ve got some butcher’s bargains to use.

If you’d like to make this yourself, the U.S. Today show has the recipe on the website, which you’ll find by clicking through this sentence. 

“Filet Mignon with Mustard and Mushrooms” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

“Roasted Vegetable Paella” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

Regular readers of this blog will know that Monday is Meat Free Monday in our house. But as much as I love Meat Free Monday, it’s not always easy. For reasons too boring and complicated to go into here, Mondays are always busy in this house. So when I look for a Meat Free Monday recipe, it’s got to relatively easy and quick.

This recipe was easy, but it certainly wasn’t quick. However, once I read the recipe again, I realised I could roast the vegetables in the early afternoon, before I had to head out (working from home does have its perks), and then I could make the rest of the paella upon my return.

The plan worked flawlessly. The recipe also worked. But the reception the dish received was less than enthusiastic.

I’m not sure why. I thought it was delicious. But the rest of the family was decidedly “Meh” about it. Given the effort involved to make it, I won’t be making it again, which is too bad for me, because I thought it was even better the next day, when I heated up the leftovers for lunch.

You win some. You lose some.

“Roasted Vegetable Paella” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

“Brisket with Onions and Leeks” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

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It’s high brisket season this time of year. I mean, brisket is good any time of year, but in winter especially, it really is something to treasure. There’s nothing like a good long roast in the oven to warm up the house and to warm up the tummies.

Unfortunately, when I made this for Sunday Roast, our friendly butcher had run out of brisket by the time we got there (our bad; we arrived at 3 p.m. on a Saturday). So we set off to our local Waitrose hoping they would have some. They didn’t, but they did have a cut called Silverside, which isn’t brisket, but a quick Internet search confirmed we could use it instead if we needed to do so.

[For the technical among you, the brisket cut comes from underneath the rib and above the shin. The silverside cut comes from the back, between the rump and the topside. If you’d like to peruse the multi-coloured Wikipedia drawing that shows you what cut comes from where in Britain, it’s here. There’s also an American version, and it’s here.]

In the end, this was a bit underwhelming, unfortunately. I don’t know if it’s because the cut of beef wasn’t really right, or if there’s just other briskets we liked so much more, but this wasn’t really working for us. It wasn’t awful, to be sure, it just wasn’t Over The Top Good, either. So it was a bit of a disappointment.

But I snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by using the brisket leftovers to make Jamie Oliver’s Beef Rendang, which, as it happens, our most popular post on the blog. I can confirm that Jamie’s Beef Rendang is still delicious. We all slurped it up and thoroughly enjoyed it. So the brisket was good for something after all.

“Brisket with Onions and Leeks” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”