“Easy Meals” – Our Verdict

Anna: This is the perfect book for me to start with now that I’m cooking again, now that we’ve got the baby into a routine. It’s the sort of meals you can do when you don’t have a lot of time, want them to turn out very good.

Maureen: It’s the perfect book for anyone, full stop. It’s what I call the holy grail of cookbooks: things you can make that everyone will like that won’t take forever.

Anna: That’s it exactly. These recipes are quick, they don’t take a lot of ingredients but taste good. It’s a real working person’s cookbook or, I really hate to use this term, a mom’s cookbook. It fits in well with the rest of your life.

Maureen: I used this cookbook a lot this month. This is the first time I actually made things but didn’t blog about them. This is also the first time I saw things that you and Kirstin made and then was inspired to make them myself. We loved the tray baked fish that Kirstin made.

Anna: We made that too and really liked it.

Maureen: This is the book you can use when you’ve got 20 minutes to cook after a really busy day, but you want something good to eat.

Anna: This book reminds me a lot of Bill’s Basics, in that it’s easy meals to make and it’s meals that I know I’ll go back to a lot. This book is going to become one of my staple books.

Maureen: I agree. I’ve already put this book onto my high rotation shelf, where all my favourite cookbooks go.

Anna: I’ve got three or four of her books, but this is the first one that I know I will return to again and again. I was worried when her entertaining book came out that she was going to go into a certain direction, but I’m relieved that’s not the case. Big ticks all around. There were a few recipes I made that were a little disappointing, but you’d expect that of any cookbook. I don’t think Asian is her thing. The stir fry didn’t turn out too well.

Maureen: Given that’s she’s Irish, I think she’s all about butter and cream and all good things of the Irish countryside is what she’s about.

Anna: Yes. She’s also very good at roasts.

Maureen: You’re right. We made the pork shoulder last weekend, and it was delicious. What were some of your favourite recipes?

Anna: The maple pork chops were great. We also really liked the sausage and lentil casserole.We’ve made that twice. The chicken bryiani was also very good.

Maureen: A great book all around. The boys really liked it too.

Anna: Hurrah for Rachel. And hurrah for cooking again!

“Easy Meals” – Our Verdict

“Huevos Rancheros” and “Quesadillas” from “Easy Meals”

Maureen (as the boys gobble up the quesadillas): Try the eggs, which are called huevos rancheros in Spanish.

Andrew (12): Hmm. (tries it) Yum!

Nicholas (8) (pushes the eggs around his plate): I’m not sure.

Andrew: Look! I’ve finished mine!

Maureen: Nicholas, you have to try them before you know if you’ll like them. (Nicholas tries the eggs). Do you like them?

Nicholas: Yes.

Continue reading ““Huevos Rancheros” and “Quesadillas” from “Easy Meals””

“Huevos Rancheros” and “Quesadillas” from “Easy Meals”

“Chicken biryani” from “Easy Meals”

Peter: I liked this more than the one we get from the takeaway. I think it’s better.

Anna: How so?

Peter: It’s not greasy. This was quite spicy I noticed. Did you put something extra in it that you shouldn’t have done?

Anna: No, the recipe calls for half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, which is all that I put in. But I’m still using the cayenne that we got in Sydney 4 years ago… maybe its heat is increasing with age.

Peter: It must be vintage.

Anna: I liked this a lot. Another win for Rachel. It was truly quick and easy, and she did this interesting thing with the rice which required it to be pre-soaked in boiling water before adding the chicken, spices and stock. This meant that it actually cooked properly.

Peter: Will you make this again then?

Anna: I’m already planning to. Next week.

“Chicken biryani” from “Easy Meals”

“Spanish pork stew” from “Easy Meals”

Anna: This is delicious. I made it quickly this morning while Louis napped in the sling, and it cooked for 2 hours while I went out and about. And now we have supper for three nights!

Peter: Yes, this was practical because you could prepare it in advance.

Anna: Although our nights of rocking are over for the time being as we have the baby sleep trained, for now, so I can actually cook in the evenings again! That said, I’m so knackered it’s nice to have something we just need to heat up.

Peter: I do like a bit of chorizo and there was certainly plenty of that. And it is good and filling.  Perfect food for a cold winter night.

Anna: What a shame the potatoes didn’t cook properly as the cooking temperature was too low. Having to fish them out and microwave them separately did slightly defeat the objective of having dinner already prepared, but we’ll know for next time.

Peter: In the meantime we’ve got two more suppers ready in the freezer.

“Spanish pork stew” from “Easy Meals”

“Baked Mushroom Risotto” from “Easy Meals”

If you’d like to make this yourself, the good people of the Good Food Channel have posted the recipe here.

Andrew (12): Is this a new recipe?

Maureen: Yes. It’s from the Rachel Allen book, “Easy Meals.”

Andrew: Oh. That’s why I didn’t like it then.

Tim: Why don’t you like it?

Andrew: It didn’t have the same sort of…. (pause while he mentally searches for the word he wants)

Maureen (trying to help him finish the thought): …Massive amounts of butter and cheese?

Andrew (finally finding the word he wants): Flavour. It doesn’t have the same kind of flavour.

Continue reading ““Baked Mushroom Risotto” from “Easy Meals””

“Baked Mushroom Risotto” from “Easy Meals”

“Maple black pepper pork chops” from “Easy Meals”

Peter: “Easy Meals”? “Difficult washing up”! I think she’s used every pan in the kitchen.

Anna: No, no, no, no. Hang on. The sweet potato mash and cavolo nero were not part of Rachel o’Rachel’s recipe. Wasn’t there just one pan for the pork?

Peter: Yes, you cooked the pork and then made the sauce and added the chops back in again.

Anna: So really, if we hadn’t had side dishes, this was a one-pan meal.

Peter: I guess, but you’re not going to eat a pork chop on its own.

Anna: Still, we created the volume of washing up, not Rachel’s recipe. Now then, enough about dirty pots and pans, what did you think of the pork chops?

Peter: It was a good chop, you could tell they were from Drings by their size. This was a way you wouldn’t normally do a pork chop. I was brought up on them covered in stuffing.

Anna: ?! I thought this was delicious. Perfect for a Sunday night alternative to a roast.

Peter: You do like a bit of pork, don’t you?

Anna: Indeed. Was it easy to cook?

Peter: It was very straightforward. If only you’d let me chop an onion…..

“Maple black pepper pork chops” from “Easy Meals”

“Chocolate marshmallow biscuit cake” from “Easy Meals”

Ella: We made this last week too. I liked the bit where I got to kill ginger biscuits with a giant hammer with metal spikes.

Georgia: I really enjoyed cooking this.

Ella: Is that because you are a shiny vampire?

Georgia: I am not a shiny vampire.

Continue reading ““Chocolate marshmallow biscuit cake” from “Easy Meals””

“Chocolate marshmallow biscuit cake” from “Easy Meals”

“Speedy Chicken Noodle Soup” from “Easy Meals”

Want to make this yourself? The Good Food Channel has posted the recipe online here.

Maureen: Yum. This is great.

Tim: Yes. I agree. I like this.

Andrew (12): Me too.

Nicholas (8): I think it’s okay, but I do like it.

Maureen: When Rachel Allen says it only takes 7 minutes of preparation time and 5 minutes of cooking time, she’s not kidding.

Tim: Was it really that fast?

Maureen: Yes, although it stayed on the hob while we waited for you to get home from work. The thing that took the longest was soaking the rice noodles.

Continue reading ““Speedy Chicken Noodle Soup” from “Easy Meals””

“Speedy Chicken Noodle Soup” from “Easy Meals”

“Seared beef salad” from “Easy Meals”

Anna: This is delicious! What a lovely salad!

Peter: Yes it’s nice, even for winter. It felt like a meal rather than a big starter.

Anna: It is substantial, yes. We had more steak than the recipe calls for. And a bit more cheese too. Piggies that we are.  I also put the onions back in the oven after I added the balsamic to them which made them lovely and caramalised. Would you like this again?

Peter: Yes. I would say you have to choose your steak carefully though. Only the best quality will do as it is the hero of the dish.

Anna: So a salad to have when you want a special treat that isn’t too heavy. This is your recipe. Yum.

“Seared beef salad” from “Easy Meals”

“Pear, almond and chocolate crumble” from “Easy Meals”

Georgia: I’ve yet to warm to Rachel O’Rachel, but I warm to this pudding, for some reason. What’s her thing?

Kirstin: Simple and straightforward. I’ll show you the book.

Georgia: I’ve got one of them, but never cooked anything from it. So how is it organised? Five ingredients or less? Hmmm? Or fewer, surely?

Tom: Ouch! That’s because the supermarket gets it wrong too.

Continue reading ““Pear, almond and chocolate crumble” from “Easy Meals””

“Pear, almond and chocolate crumble” from “Easy Meals”