Maureen: The best roast chicken ever is a pretty bold claim. What do you think?
Tim: It’s good.
Andrew (13): I agree.
Maureen: Sure, it’s good. But is it THE BEST?
Nicholas (10): That’s hard to say. Roast chicken is always good.
Maureen: That’s true. Maybe we could say that it’s ONE of the best. We couldn’t say it was the best.
Andrew: That makes sense.
Maureen: Was it a faff to make, Tim, since you had to fry up the mushrooms and herbs and then stuff them under the skin?
Tim: No, it wasn’t too bad. It’s Sunday lunch– it’s worth the effort.
Maureen: I have to point out is her “skinny tip” for this recipe is to just get a smaller chicken so that everyone will have smaller portions. That’s just silly, if you ask me. So I got a bigger chicken and now we can have chicken pot pie later this week with the leftovers.
Tim: Yum. Chicken pot pie.
Maureen: Indeed. So maybe this wasn’t the best roast chicken ever, but it might be the best chicken pot pie ever, with the added mushrooms and whatnot. Watch this space.
Kirstin: I couldn’t find any sole for this recipe, so I used plaice instead.
Tom: Well I would never have known!
Miles: This is really tasty!
Ella: We’ve had something like this before, haven’t we?
Kirstin: Yes, we have. I’ve cooked every fish recipe I could find to try and persuade you how tasty it can be. This recipe, according to Harry Eastwood, normally uses lots of butter where she uses just a little and fries it in olive oil.
Ella: Look, I’ve eaten the whole thing!
Kirstin: A resounding success!
Kirstin: I know we usually have a mustard and olive oil dressing for artichokes, but I thought it might be good to try something new.
Tom: When I was first introduced to eating artichokes, one long summer in France, we ate them outside every night with just olive oil as a dressing. The oil in the bowl gradually warmed up from having the artichoke leaves dipped in it. So this reminds me a bit of that. But this is even better!
Kirstin: I love the hint of garlic in the dressing combined with the lemon. I would definitely make this again.
Tom: You can’t go wrong with raw garlic. I still like our mustard dressing, though. Could we have both of them?
Kirstin: That would be one way of doing it. We now have two recipes to choose from!
I made this for my lunch today because I was pretty sure that if I served it up for dinner, there would be a minor revolt on my hands. Or, as a friend recently posted on Facebook with a picture of a big beautiful salad: “Better bring my wine to the table because I know everyone else will be whining too.”
This is essentially baked eggs with cream and tarragon and almonds scattered on top. Yum.
The skinny tip is to use a smaller ramekin in which to cook the egg and the cream. I wasn’t sure, however, what qualified as “smaller”, so I used my usual ramekin. I didn’t think my small one would be able to hold the egg and the cream without it spilling over.
It was, in a word, divine. It couldn’t have been more simple: a medium-sized egg swimming in a small amount of chicken stock and cream with bits of tarragon thrown in for good measure.
Will I make it again? You bet. Would I make it for the family? Probably not. I don’t want to have to bring my wine to the table for the whining.
Maureen: I could tell you the French name for this dish, but I won’t. Let’s just say we’re having steak and potatoes.
Nicholas (10): Yeah! I love steak. When can we go to Hawksmoor next?
Andrew: I love Hawksmoor. That’s why I picked it for my celebratory dinner.
Maureen: True. It’s not every day that you go out to dinner to celebrate that you’re now taller than your mother. But we digress. What do you think?
Nicholas: Nothing but yum.
Andrew: Thumbs up, for sure.
Maureen: She recommended getting skirt steak from the butchers. I really wasn’t sure about it, but I followed the directions just the same. Thanks Drings for the awesome skirt steak. Not only is it an inexpensive cut, but it’s also delicious.
Andrew: I love these potatoes.
Maureen: Me too. They were a total faff to make and the pan is going to take a whole day of soaking to make it clean. But she did this really clever thing where you add just a bit of butter at the end so it tastes of butter but there’s hardly any in it. I will make these potatoes again.
Nicholas: Make the steak again too!
Maureen: I will. I promise. This was easy, quick and delicious. Win. Win. Win.
Nicholas (10): How come yours is in paper and foil and ours isn’t?
Maureen: Because I lovingly took yours out and put it on the plate for you.
Nicholas: It might have been more fun if you let us unwrap it ourselves.
Maureen: OK. Next time I’ll do that. What do you think of this Fish Friday offering?
Andrew: It’s alright, I guess.
Nicholas: Eh. It’s fine.
Tim: You know I’d rather have some other fish but salmon.
Maureen: Fair enough. But we had this salmon on site, in the freezer. It’s always good to be able to assemble dinners with found ingredients. But I think this salmon had been in there for a little too long. It’s either that, or we’re so used to fresh salmon, that this one doesn’t taste right.
Tim: It’s probably a combination of the two.
Maureen: I would try this again, but with fresh salmon again. I don’t think I gave this recipe its fair due. I think if the salmon were fresher and better, we would all love it.
Nicholas: I’m not so sure about that.
Kirstin: I had to make these as Ella’s middle name is madeleine, but blimey it took me a while to find the madeleine tin. She says each of these cakes is just 87 calories, but of course they are so delicious, it’s difficult to eat just the one!
Would I make these again? Yes, but they were quite a labour-intensive thing to bake. And I managed to burn them slightly (or at least our oven did).
Kirstin: We almost reviewed this book last year, didn’t we?
Maureen: Yes, we did. We did the Bill Granger book instead, but since I already had used the book, I couldn’t return it. But I’ve found myself using it again and again, which is a good sign.
Kirstin: I’m not overly keen on all that fat in french food, so this could be a winner for me!
Maureen: I like how she gives explanations as to why this process makes it a “skinny” French dish, and also gives more information about traditional French dishes. This is another move in the right direction of eating better and healthier dishes, which is no bad thing. Also, I think it will get us in the mood for our French summer holidays. Viva la France!