“Bill’s Basics” – our verdict

Anna: Good old Bill. Couldn’t get through enough of his recipes this month.

Kirstin: Too true. Apart from that chocolate cake, every one has been a winner.

Anna: Hang on, you had to change the tin sizes with all the cake recipes!

Kirstin: You’re right!

Anna: But generally this has lived up to my expectations; that being, a really good cook book for every day. Yummy, but healthy recipes.

Kirstin: You weren’t sure at the beginning though, were you?

Anna: No. It was a different layout from his usual books and different style. So I was worried that might have a knock-on effect on the recipes.

Kirstin: But it’s a top book.

Anna: It is a top book. That chocolate chip cookie recipe is going to be my standard recipe from now on.

Kirstin: What, more than your beloved Toll House recipe?

Anna: Definitely, I’m afraid to say. I have finally moved myself out of the 1970s. And I have to say the Pad see ew was so delicious that I am cooking that again this week.  In fact I’ll definitely be doing all the curries and stir-fries again.

Kirstin: I took the carrot cake leftovers into work and everyone asked me for the recipe. How’s that for a success story?

Anna: Our verdict. Lovely Bill, as usual, dependable and yummy. I expect I will be cooking a lot from this book in the future and trying out all the other recipes we didn’t do this month.   Thanks for the book, Bill!

“Bill’s Basics” – our verdict

“Fish and chips” from “Bill’s Basics”

Miles: I am eating loads of these chips because they are so yummy. And Oscar, our cat just came up to my chip because he thought it was a bit of fish.

Kirstin: Miles, do cats like fish then?

Miles: Yeah.

Kirstin: Why?

Miles: Because it tastes delicious!

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“Fish and chips” from “Bill’s Basics”

“Baked orecchiette with sausage and cavolo nero” from “Bill’s Basics”

Anna: I’ve wanted to do this recipe since I first read this book cover to cover.  With a cup of tea.

Kirstin: It’s a bit like sausage sauce on Fridays.  This looks really yummy.  I can’t wait to eat this.  I couldn’t find any orecchiette on Ocado, but then I found my lucky packet in the cupboard.

Anna: Your emergency packet?  Like your emergency Creme Egg?  I am feeling very smug, for my search for cavolo nero paid off this morning.  I hunted it down in the Foodhall at John Lewis.  Hurrah!!

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“Baked orecchiette with sausage and cavolo nero” from “Bill’s Basics”

“Brownies” from “Bill’s Basics”

Anna: Ahh.  Brownies.  My ultimate baking therapy.  Any bad day is made better for baking brownies.

Peter: Why?

Anna: They are so chocolatey.  Which helps soothe any crisis.  And they are relatively easy to bake.  So there aren’t loads of bowls to wash up.  And it doesn’t matter if you get the time in the oven slightly wrong, because they are supposed to be that way.

Peter: These were unctuous.  Almost coffee-like because they were so chocolatey.  I would like more than a tiny morsel.

Anna: You’re still sick, so that’s all you’re getting.  Like chocolate chip cookies I’ve always used the same recipe, the one on the Toll House chocolate chip packet.  It wasn’t broke so….  But these are properly gooey and deeply chocolatey.  There is hardly any flour, 4 eggs, loads of cocoa powder and loads of dark chocolate.  I think that’s why they are so rich and fudgey.

Peter: Another nail in the coffin for the Toll House chocolate chips then.

Anna: I think maybe.  Nigella’s got an ultimate brownie recipe in her new book, so I may reserve judgement before deciding on the best recipe ever.  But this version is better than the Toll House one.  So it’s in the lead so far.  Nuts.  I do like a nut in my brownie.

Peter: Don’t give them all away before I’m better.


Ella: Mwahahaha…thanks Anna for the amaaazing brownies.

“Brownies” from “Bill’s Basics”

Curry for One aka “Lamb curry with yoghurt and tomatoes” from “Bill’s Basics”

Anna: Peter is still sick.  So I had to make dinner for one last night.  Or rather, dinner for one with leftovers tonight.

Peter (from the loo): My chicken noodle soup was alright.  Can you pass the moist toilet tissue please?

Anna: Peter, this is a food blog.  Enough of the toilet talk.

Peter: Sorry.

Anna: I was a bit worried about some of the spices that were going into this curry.  Paprika?  But it worked.  As usual with Bill, the combination of yoghurt and tomatoes made a rich looking sauce that was actually quite light and healthy.  And because it needed to cook for 2 hours, the lamb was falling apart and lovely.

Peter: It did smell nice.  I thought it was a curry that you had made before, based on the smells wafting from the kitchen as I lay on the sofa.

Anna: My only gripe was the quantity.  I cooked half the recipe, which was supposed to feed three people, but unless it’s bulked up with some veg or served with another curry as part of a meal, the amount I made was definitely just right for 2.  Maybe I should eat more rice or something.  I’m looking forward to the leftovers tonight, and I’m going to add some spinach and mushrooms I think.  Another meal for one.  Get better soon Peter.

Curry for One aka “Lamb curry with yoghurt and tomatoes” from “Bill’s Basics”

“Carrot cake” from “Bill’s Basics”

Anna: Phew.  This went much better than the Cake of DOOM.  Apart from you forgetting half the ingredients.

Kirstin: I thought I HAD bought them!

Tom: So you didn’t forget them — you forgot that you hadn’t bought them.

Anna: This is a perfect Sunday afternoon cake. It’s fruity, it’s like a tea-time cake. It’s not a dessert cake. And it’s got at least two of your five-a-day in it.

Kirstin: It’s my first carrot cake!

Tom: I liked the raisins. Are they usually in carrot cakes?

Kirstin: They were supposed to be sultanas.

Anna: I thought they worked. They were darker and chewier than sultanas would have been. Perhaps because the cake was slightly burned.

Kirstin: We have at least figured out my oven now.

Anna: I think it would work very well with chopped dates in it, in place of the raisins.

Kirstin: So do you think Peter might like some of this cake then? On his sick bed? With his chicken noodle soup?

Anna: Yes, I think I will take him some home.  I’ll eat it if he can’t!

“Carrot cake” from “Bill’s Basics”

“Baked porridge” from “Bill’s Basics”

Anna: We can’t review a Bill Granger cookbook and not try a breakfast recipe.  This is the man who apparently reinvented scrambled eggs after all.  And having brunched in his Darlinghurst restaurant more than a couple of times I’d say he’s pretty good at breakfast!

Peter: Mmm.  Huge plates of eggs and delicious flat whites…..

Anna: But we’re not in Sydney now.  It’s cold and autumn has definitely arrived.  Which is why I thought Baked porridge would be nice.  Warm us up from the inside out.  You’re sick though.

Peter: (meekly) Yes.

Anna: Did this make you feel better?

Peter: No.  I wouldn’t say so.  But it was very nice.  Quite comforting.  It tasted of autumn.

Anna: I’m not a porridge fan to be honest, but I really really liked this.  It was a low GI cinnamon roll!  Brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, pecans, chopped dried figs and oats baked up til bubbly brown and smelling gorgeous.  Yum, yum, yum.

Peter: Was it as simple to make as normal porridge?

Anna: Dead easy.  It needs to bake for an hour though, so it’s not a last-minute dish.  When I tried the first spoonful I thought I might end up eating the whole lot, but luckily the oats kicked in and I got full pretty quickly.  This is a perfect decadent but healthy(ish) brunch dish to warm the soul.

“Baked porridge” from “Bill’s Basics”

“Chocolate mousse cake” or “The Cake of DOOM” from “Bill’s Basics”

Anna: This has been a complete disaster.  From start to finish.

Kirstin: Yeah.

Anna: You need a drink.  And I am developing a stye from the stress, and in sympathy with Miles.

Kirstin: We won’t be making this again.

Continue reading ““Chocolate mousse cake” or “The Cake of DOOM” from “Bill’s Basics””

“Chocolate mousse cake” or “The Cake of DOOM” from “Bill’s Basics”

“My spaghetti carbonara” from “Bill’s Basics”

Anna: Handily I had some leftover eggs, pancetta and spring onions that needed using, and Bill’s carbonara is more of a fridge-sweep version than the original.

Peter: I’m not used to chilli flakes in my carbonara, but as you’ll put chilli flakes in anything I guess it wasn’t long until they found their way in…..

Anna: I just followed the recipe!!  It was nice to have the excuse to bung them in though.  Did you like the extra element that the spring onion brought to the carbonara party?

Peter: I know it’s party conference season but really…….  I didn’t notice it as being out of the ordinary.  I guess I’d expected it to be there.  I don’t pay enough attention to carbonara, clearly.

Anna: It was fun trying this recipe out.  Normally I do the River Cafe Cook Book Easy version sans cream.  Bill uses a whole egg rather than just the yolk, and creme fraiche instead of cream.  It definitely tasted good, but I got that grainy texture that can happen with some carbonaras.  Maybe I should have added more of the cooking water to loosen it.

Peter: This wasn’t too cloying though.  It didn’t feel like I was eating something that was solidfying in my bowel.  I liked it.  And it did a good job of using up stuff before the Ocado man came.  In his onion van.

“My spaghetti carbonara” from “Bill’s Basics”

“Stir-fried tofu with chilli and basil” from “Bill’s Basics”

Anna: What are your thoughts on tofu?

Peter: I think tofu is very boring.  After the first couple of mouthfuls you’re a bit fed up with it.

Anna: So what did you think of this stir-fry then?

Peter: I liked it.  It was nice and sweet and salty, and had things plenty of things in it to distract me from the tofu.  If you closed your eyes it could have been meat.

Anna: Well, except for the spongy, soft texture.

Peter: That could have been spleen.  Like the sandwich we had at the exceedingly posh Italian restaurant.

Anna: Bocca di Lupo.  I didn’t eat that sandwich.

Peter: You nibbled at a lung.

Anna: No I didn’t.  Tonight’s vegetarian night so we mustn’t speak of offal.  So the flavours of the sauce and the nice crunchy veg were enough to persuade you to eat this again?

Peter: Yep.

Anna: And I’m happy that this recipe has pushed the memories of the dreadful, nausea-inducing, Faff-Olenghi disaster to the back of my mind.  Tofu will live once more in our house!

“Stir-fried tofu with chilli and basil” from “Bill’s Basics”