“Roasted Tomato and Anchovy Bucatini” from “Dining In”

I have three go-to tomato sauce recipes that I use. The first, for when I have done a bit of forward planning, is the tomato sauce from Polpo and requires 90 minutes cooking. The second, from Food52’s Genius Recipes, requires 60 minutes cooking. The third, a recipe of my own design, requires maybe 10 minutes (if that) to make. So I feel as though we’ve got tomato sauce covered over here.

But now I’ve got a fourth recipe to add to my repertoire. What Alison Roman wants you to do is to roast bog-standard tomatoes for 3 or 4 hours. Following that you do the usual routine: sweat an onion, add some spices and then add some anchovies for saltiness. Then you tumble in the now sweetened, softened tomatoes. You have to gently break them down and then you have the most glorious thick tomato sauce. You can thin it to your heart’s desire using some of the pasta water you’re making alongside it.

While, yes, this method does require more forward planning than I usually deploy, the result is absolutely worth it. Delicious and highly recommended.

(The picture doesn’t do it it justice, but trust me. Yum.)

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“Roasted Tomato and Anchovy Bucatini” from “Dining In”

“Whole Roasted Snapper with Harissa and Sun Gold Tomatoes” from “Dining In”

Kirstin: I’ve been very curious about this recipe for a while now. We love harissa in our favourite chicken recipe from Gwyneth’s book. But I always struggle with American books and their fish recipes. And this is why; they talk about fish we don’t find over here. Or struggle to find. I have no idea, for instance, what a porgy is. Or a branzino, come to that. And looking them up didn’t really help I have to say. So over the last few weeks I kept finding myself opening the book at this page and examining it more closely and I eventually decided that the fish in the picture looked similar enough to sea bream and went with that.

Tom was out for a swanky dinner the night I made this. We had had Alison Roman’s salmon recipe the night before, so the kiddos were unimpressed that it was fish again. We don’t often eat whole fish, so as they set to eating (another reason I had chosen bream for this was because the bones are big and easier to remove than say, sea bass), it was pleasing to see Miles relishing getting the meat off the spine and Ella enjoying the juicier parts.

But the most important part of the meal was when THEY BOTH ASKED IF WE COULD HAVE THIS AGAIN.

And we shall. We shall. Oh my goodness, we completely shall. This is a genius recipe; so easy, so tasty and utterly, totally fabulous. And made all the more so by the incredible roasted tomatoes. Once again, thank you Alison Roman. You are my hero.

“Whole Roasted Snapper with Harissa and Sun Gold Tomatoes” from “Dining In”

“Salted butter and chocolate chunk shortbread” from “Dining in”

Kirstin: I love the full title of this recipe; Salted butter and chocolate chunk shortbread, or why would I make another chocolate chip cookie ever again? I’m no huge connoisseur of chocolate chip cookies. I’ve made them in my time, but we’re not big on desserts in our family. I usually leave the cakes and the like from the cookbooks on this site for Maureen. She’s the baker.
But.
I’m so glad I decided to give these a go. There are a couple of extra steps which makes these exceptional; rolling the outside with sugar to make them cronchy. And also sprinkling them with salt (and using salted butter to make the dough). All of these go together to make an incredibly moreish cookie. Her last line says it all…”let cool slightly before eating them all”. And with that we celebrated Father’s Day and a friend’s son’s european roller hockey win.

“Salted butter and chocolate chunk shortbread” from “Dining in”

“Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Fried Onions and Parsley” from “Dining in”

Kirstin: We often celebrate Fridays with fizz and friends. I usually roast a chicken and some new potatoes and then make some interesting salads to accompany the meal. But my good friend Georgia (who I’ve given this book to) alerted me to this recipe. And it was a lovely evening and I had all the ingredients except for parsley and so I thought why not. And now I will never want to make potatoes in any other way. Alison is a complete genius. The Aleppo chilli and fried onions work a treat with the slightly smashed potatoes; I smiled the entire time I made this, thinking of how much everyone was going to enjoy it. And enjoy it we did; by the end of the meal all of the potatoes were gone. My only criticism is that there was too much oil, but I’ll figure that out the next time I make this. Because there will be a next time. I’ve already been asked to never make potatoes any other way. And by the end of the meal, I had ordered another copy of the book for our fizz Friday friends too as we drooled over the salad recipes. Alison Roman I love you.

“Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Fried Onions and Parsley” from “Dining in”

“Black bass with salty, spicy celery” from “Dining in”

Kirstin: Who would have thought lime pickle would be so fab on fish? Alison did. And she was completely right. It is sublime. I don’t know why more people don’t use steaming to cook fish. I used to make a recipe back in the 90s (when I was a baby, obvs) that steamed salmon in a foil packet. It was a trusted favourite for many years. And it’s lovely to know I have another recipe that I can turn to when I want to steam some fish. Thank you Alison. And of course the beauty of this kind of recipe is that it can be scaled up or down depending on how many you are feeding.

The spicy celery salad was less of a hit though. I struggled to prepare the celery the way she recommended and so used her dressing on some avocado and tomato. Which did work.

“Black bass with salty, spicy celery” from “Dining in”

“Vinegar-braised chicken with farro and watercress” from “Dining in”

Kirstin: Firstly, I have to admit that when Alison Roman talked about yuzu kosho in the recipe, I thought she meant just yuzu. Which I have. Yuzu kosho I do not. So I popped down to my friendly local Asian grocery and for the first time EVER they let me down. BUT I found it on amazon and given how yummy this recipe was, I will be trying it with my newly acquired yuzu kosho. Also. Farro. Love it. Miles absolutely loved this recipe so that’s also good.

Also, this week the kittens figured out how to jump onto the kitchen surface. Which adds a whole new level of excitement to cooking at the moment as you can imagine.

“Vinegar-braised chicken with farro and watercress” from “Dining in”

“Anchovy-Butter Chicken with chicken fat croutons” from “Dining In”

Kirstin: Maureen and I always joke that I will make the roast chicken recipe from the books that we review. I am always on the hunt for a good roast chicken recipe; I’ve found some fantastic ones over the years. A roast chicken recipe is like the holy grail of recipes; it has to be simple and tasty, for sure. But a good recipe can elevate a roast chicken to a higher level. I’m talking Zuni roast chicken level here, possibly the best roast chicken recipe ever. A roast chicken recipe that people talk about for days after and look forward to making for friends in years to come.

BUT. And this is a big but. While Zuni is indeed a fab recipe THIS recipe is better. Why? Because this is simple, delicious and NOT FAFFY AT ALL. You can tell I’m excited about this recipe because I’ve started using CAPITAL LETTERS. The bread roasts in the chicken fat and is completely SUBLIME. We ate ALL OF IT. You can tell from the picture I was so obsessed with the flavours that I almost forgot to take a picture! I actually can’t wait to make this again. Worth the price of the book. And then some.

“Anchovy-Butter Chicken with chicken fat croutons” from “Dining In”