“Spiced Monkfish with Crushed Potatoes” from “Best Menus”

Tim: What did you think?

Andrew (11): I liked it. It was tasty. There were lots of tastes.

Tim: Are there any that stand out?

Andrew: None stand out. It was well balanced.

Tim: I liked it. I liked that it no longer made me hungry.

Maureen: Are you just trying to be nice? You know what Mom said: You can always find one nice thing to say about people.

Nicholas (7): Gag. Gag. Gag. Spicy! Is it my turn yet?

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“Spiced Monkfish with Crushed Potatoes” from “Best Menus”

“Chocolate Fondant” from “Best Menus”

Kirstin: I had to do this mad thing with the butter. I had to butter the dishes, put them in the fridge for ten minutes, then butter them again, and add some cocoa. It was mad. But it meant it didn’t stick! Good on old Gordon! It was great!

Tom: I think the combination of the slightly bitter chocolate with the sweetness of the ice cream is perfect. It’s great.

Emily: It’s amazingly gooey in the middle.

Frode: Not too gooey, actually. Because sometimes fondants are like hot chocolate inside. So, I agree with my wife’s quality judgement, but opposite on the gooiness.

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“Chocolate Fondant” from “Best Menus”

“Chicken Marsala with Red Chicory” from “Best Menus”

Kirstin: I rather liked that! The sauce was delicious, and it was supremely easy.

Tom: The sauce was yum — a bit sweet, but not too much.

Kirstin: We didn’t talk while we were eating it, which is always a good sign.

Tom: But the chicken was a bit underdone.

Kirstin: That was me. Well, maybe not. He says brown the chicken, then cook it in the pan for 10-15 minutes. I gave it 45, and it was still a bit pink in places.

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“Chicken Marsala with Red Chicory” from “Best Menus”

“Apple Pudding” from “Best Menus”

Before leaving for the dinner party…

Maureen: I’m making Apple Pudding tonight, but really, I would rather call it Apple Cake. I don’t have it in me to call it Pudding if it’s not pudding, you know what I mean?

Tim: I do. Pudding comes in a box with the name “Jello.”

Maureen: As the original recipe makes a very small cake, and I need to feed six adults and five boys, I’m increasing the quantity by one-and-a-half, so we get a bigger cake to feed everyone. But I also tripled the amount of apples used. The quantity seemed a little mean. So all in all, I would describe this as an Apple Cake that needed more apples, along with everything else. Also, there will be a lot of Americans at the party; we’re all about the big portions.

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“Apple Pudding” from “Best Menus”

“Salmon with pak choi and shiitake” from “Best Menus”

Tom: Mmm! What’s in this sauce?

Kirstin: Which sauce? Do you mean the paste on the top of the salmon?

Tom: Yes. Has it got peanut butter in it? It tastes like satay.

Oscar the cat: Mwoaaaow!

Tom: Ah, Oscar. Fancy seeing you here.

Kirstin: No, it has miso paste in it, amongst other things.

Tom: Well, it’s yum.

Kirstin: It is, isn’t it? Gordon got his timings wrong, though. The first recipe he’s got wrong with the timings. The salmon had to be cooked for double the length of time he said: 14 minutes instead of seven.

Tom: Well, it was yum.

Kirstin: And the mushrooms with pak choi were nice, weren’t they?

Tom: Indeed. Has Bill Granger’s salmon recipe been dethroned? I think it might have!

Kirstin: What’s nice about this is that you can prepare it quite easily in different stages: the paste to go on the salmon, then the vegetables and the sauce, and then I went bish-bosh with the vegetables and put the fish in the oven. I would make this one again!

Tom: Perhaps we could alternate between this one and Bill’s?

Kirstin: This is a nice change from the Bill one. The miso paste is a bit of a bugger to find, though.

Oscar (finishing his salmon): Mwaaaaoooooaow!

Tom: Absolutely.

“Salmon with pak choi and shiitake” from “Best Menus”

“Baked Courgette & Wild Mushroom Risotto” from “Best Menus”

Maureen: So boys, this is from my new cookbook for the blog.

Nicholas (age 7): What’s a blog?

Maureen: Stop pretending you don’t know what a blog is. You know. Especially since I’ve had one since 2005 when we were training for the London Marathon together.

Nicholas: Oh yeah. You’re right!

Maureen: Back to the issue at hand. What did you think?

Nicholas: It’s good.

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“Baked Courgette & Wild Mushroom Risotto” from “Best Menus”

“Chicken Tikka Masala” and “Easy Tiramisu” from “Best Menus”

Kirstin: Welcome Maureen! Now that Anna is working much too hard, it’s great that you can step in as special guest blogger!

Maureen: Thanks Kirstin. I am very excited to be typing and eating, though not simultaneously.

Kirstin: It’s been known…

Maureen: That’s true, but you didn’t know me at university. So what did we think?

Kirstin: We liked that. I got to use my new Kenwood Tri-Blade piece of kit (thank you, Annika).

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“Chicken Tikka Masala” and “Easy Tiramisu” from “Best Menus”