“Pan-Fried Sea Bass, Capers and Lemon” with “Green Bean and Little Gem Salad” from “Bill’s Italian Food”



Anna: I am stealing Kirstin’s photo for this post in honour of the fact I made this because she loved it so much. All I can say is that we’ve had it three times in the last 3 weeks. It is quick, delicious, super easy and perfect for these hot summer evenings. Deceptively simple but absolutely wonderful. This book keeps on giving…..

To read Kirstin’s original post click here.

“Pan-Fried Sea Bass, Capers and Lemon” with “Green Bean and Little Gem Salad” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

“Pan-Fried Sea Bass, Capers and Lemon” with “Green Bean and Little Gem Salad” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

Kirstin: Miles, you’ve eaten all your fish!

Miles: I love it!

Kirstin: But you didn’t like this the last time I made it.


Miles: Well I like it now!

Kirstin: So this is the second time I’ve made recipes that weren’t appreciated the first time around. That’s definitely a lesson learnt for me.

Tom: The fish is delicious. And I love it when you make this salad.

Kirstin: Do you remember when I made this salad and served it with just a bit of cheese? It’s a perfect summer salad and such beautiful greens. And my goodness, Ella you’ve eaten all your fish too!

Tom: I think that means we’ll be having this again.

Kirstin: Too right! I adore sea bass. And it was a good excuse to  make some sourdough ciabatta to go with too!

“Pan-Fried Sea Bass, Capers and Lemon” with “Green Bean and Little Gem Salad” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

“Bill’s Everyday Asian” – our verdict

Anna: The tricky thing is I haven’t been able to make much from it.

Kirstin: I’ve made you a couple of recipes though.

Anna: Well, you have. And I have cooked a couple of things that I haven’t had time to put up on the blog.

Kirstin: I have a couple of those too.

Anna: And the conclusion from that is that there’s loads of recipes in this book that we wanted to cook, and did cook… well you and Maureen!

Kirstin: And I loved the photography. I thought it was inspirational. Mikkel Vang is my hero.

Anna: So, here’s the thing for me. There’s yummy salads for spring and summer. There’s easy go to recipes for noodles and stir frys and then there’s fancier things for dinner parties and for me this is the beauty of Bill and the way he writes his books.

Kirstin: I loved that everything was so easy to make. It really was an Everyday Book. Unusually for a cookbook, I was able to make things throughout the week that the children could also eat and I’m hoping that a trip to Asia might be on the cards since they really enjoyed the food, even chillis.

Anna: Well there’s a resounding success.

“Bill’s Everyday Asian” – our verdict

“Stir Fried Chilli Pork” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

In retrospect, it was foolhardy of me to think that either of the boys would like something that has chilli in it. If you’re at all interested, see their past aversions in several previous posts. But the adults loved it, and frankly, sometimes that’s all that matters.

Andrew (11): I think this is nice. [Pause for consideration] Actually, I think it’s too spicy, even for me.

Maureen: I think this is more sweet than spicy, to be honest.

Nicholas (8): No way. It’s too spicy!

Tim: I wish it had more sauce.

Maureen: There is some more sauce, though not a lot, still in the pan. You could go get some.

Andrew: I thought it was nice, but too spicy. (Editor’s note: The boys now leave the table to take up their mother’s offer to have some cereal instead of stir fry for dinner. It’s their fall-back meal when they really can’t stand what I’ve made. The only rule is they always have to try things first.)

Maureen: I actually cut down on the chillies you were supposed to use. You were supposed to put three in there, but when it came time to adding them, I realised I only had one in the refrigerator. So one chilli had to be. I think it’s delicious.

Tim: Yes, this is really nice.

Maureen: It takes just like takeaway to me!

Tim: Is that a good thing?

Maureen: Maybe we wouldn’t want to model our culinary lives on takeaway foods, but every once in awhile, it’s a real treat.  If nothing else, it was extremely fast, which is always handy on a weekday night when the four of us have returned from four different places.

“Stir Fried Chilli Pork” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

“Rice Noodle Pho with Rare Beef and Star Anise” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

Tom: This beef is cooked perfectly.

Kirstin: It’s made me go and buy a new frying pan, but that’s another story…

Tom: I like the way the broth is a bit spicy as well.

Kirstin: Cinnamon, ginger and star anise.

Continue reading ““Rice Noodle Pho with Rare Beef and Star Anise” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian””

“Rice Noodle Pho with Rare Beef and Star Anise” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

“Barbecued Pork Fillet with Vietnamese Caramel Sauce” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

Miles: If I like this, I would like it again please. I could smell it upstairs!

Kirstin: So, do you like it?

Miles: Mummy, I love this beef!

Kirstin and Tom: IT’S PORK!

Miles: Well, I love it.

Ella: This is the most delicious pork I’ve ever had.

Miles: I think the same.

Tom: Try the sauce, Ella!

Ella: It’s yummy!

Kirstin: This was absolutely delicious. I would make this every week. Every day!

Ella: The outside bit on the pork is all salty and crunchy. And slightly burned. It’s really good.

Kirstin: It was incredibly easy to cook.

Tom: I love it. Burnt stuff, with sugar and chilli. What’s not to love? And it smelled amazing when it was cooking.

Miles: Mummy, everyone loves this beef! This beef’s delicious!

Kirstin: IT’S PORK! Wow, look at Miles, just tucking in! He’s cleared his plate!

The following morning: 

Miles: I loved that food last night, mummy!

Kirstin: Can you remember what it was?

Miles: Um… was it beef? Hmmm…..  chicken?

Kirstin: No, it was PORK!

“Barbecued Pork Fillet with Vietnamese Caramel Sauce” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

“Butternut Squash, Chilli & Coconut Soup” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

Tim: What do you think?

Maureen: I am not a fan of this. It’s not disaster, but equally, it’s not very good.

Tim: It doesn’t seem like a dinner to me.

Maureen: Soup for dinner is absolutely fine, but this is too thin to be substantial.

Tim: That’s what I mean.

Continue reading ““Butternut Squash, Chilli & Coconut Soup” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian””

“Butternut Squash, Chilli & Coconut Soup” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

“Sweetcorn Soup” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

We love a corn soup in this house. The Shoepeg Corn Soup (I’m using all capital letters to give it the respect it deserves) I make every Thanksgiving is the one of the highlights of that magnificent feast. So when I saw this recipe, I was eager to give it a try, particularly since Soup Season –autumn and winter– is nearly upon us.

First the good news: It is very easy to make. I used fresh corn, but I doubt if you used a good frozen corn you could tell the difference. Like all soups, much of the work is in the front end, in this case, getting the kernels off of the cobs. So if you used frozen corn it would be that much easier. Even Bill seems fairly relaxed about which type you use because he does say in the introduction to the recipe, “You can’t beat the earthy taste of fresh corn but I won’t tell if you cheat with the frozen or tinned kind.”

It tastes delicious. I ended up eating this mostly for lunch. When I added freshly chopped spring onions, it was a delight. I went off piste and added some roasted cashews as a garnish, and that made it even better. It would appear from the photo that Bill himself put in either fresh coriander or parsley to perk it up, but the recipe didn’t call for that.

So it’s easy and delicious. If I said there was good news, there must be bad news to go with it. They are, after all, the ying and yang of trite sayings. So what’s the bad news? Well, I hate to tell you this dear reader, but without the lovely garnishes on top, it looks absolutely gross. Unfortunately it looks like a big bowl of sick.

The recipe calls for you to puree half of the soup. I think I removed even less than that, maybe a third, but still it looked awful. This is the reason why it was never served to the boys. While it would have provided a great deal of entertaining dialogue for our Cookbook a Month readers, I don’t think I could have handled the outcry. So it was left to the adults, who are able occasionally to look past the superficial and see the true beauty inside, to eat this. And we liked it. We just kept our eyes shut while we ate it, or added a lot of garnish (see above).

I’m going to give this soup another try. This time I might skip the puree step altogether to see what happens. If nothing else, I won’t have to eat my lunch blindfolded.

“Sweetcorn Soup” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

“Vietnamese Steak with Watercress” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

Miles: Well the beef was chewy.

Tom: Is chewy good or bad?

Miles: It’s bad.

Tom: Why is that bad?

Miles: I dunno.

Tom: Well I thought it was spectacular. I wish I had poured the sauce onto my plate though. Can I help you with that beef, Miles?

Ella: Well it was kind of ok. I am not a fan of beef though.

Continue reading ““Vietnamese Steak with Watercress” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian””

“Vietnamese Steak with Watercress” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

“Fish Baked in a Bag with Lime Butter and Potatoes” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

Tom: Hark! A carbohydrate. But will this potato be cooked?

Kirstin: I blanched the potato slices first, and then baked them with the fish.

Tom: I like fish en papillote like this. Ooh, yes. The potato is cooked.

Kirstin: And the fish is infused with lime… it’s really good. But I think I chose the wrong kind of fish (pollock). It might have been better if I’d used cod. But I always feel bad using cod.

Tom: I like this. Was it a fiddle to make the lime butter?

Kirstin: No, not at all. I don’t think I’ll make this again, though. But only because I like lots of Bill’s other recipes more than I like this one.

“Fish Baked in a Bag with Lime Butter and Potatoes” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”