Cookbook of the Month, April 2017: “Dinner, Changing the Game” by Melissa Clark

Maureen: I love how she says in the introduction this is a book for the nights when you’re too tired to make dinner. I can relate. In fact, I’m sure we can call relate.

Kirstin: I’m a huge fan of hers at the NY Times, and I always read her. I’m in love with her anyway, so this is going to be great.

Maureen: I always like reading her recipes in the New York Times. They’re always good. So to have a month of that, I think will be a winner.

Kirstin: I read about this book, but I didn’t want to buy it. Amazon didn’t describe it properly.

Kirstin: A whole chapter on “On The Grind.”  I’m going to do all the Asian stuff.

Maureen: The other good thing about this book is there are so many recipes to choose from. It’s comprehensive. But it’s also weeknight doable.

Kirstin: This coobook doesn’t even have a desserts section. Just get on with the main meal.

Maureen: It’s one pot cooking. You’ve got to love any recipe that doesn’t require that you wash 12 bowls and three pots once you’re all done.

Cookbook of the Month, April 2017: “Dinner, Changing the Game” by Melissa Clark

Our Verdict: “Crumb”

Maureen: This was great, but the problem with baking books is you don’t always have time to make a loaf or bread or a cake. So I didn’t make as much as I would have liked.

Kirstin: That’s true.

Maureen: But the things I made worked and were good. I really wanted to try to make croissants once and for all, but I just never had a day to devote to it. But when I do try to do it– and I definitely will– I’ll follow Ruby’s method.

Kirstin: I probably would have cooked from this book more, but my problem is my oven. I think it hates me. I do have some techniques that I can use, but still, it’s difficult to bake with it. It’s frustrating because the book made me realise how annoying my oven is, so that’s a shame.

Maureen: Maybe that’s why you’ve never taken to baking, because your oven is so problematic.

Kirstin: When I did do it, I had a lot of fun baking from this book.

Maureen: She gave really good explanations for how to do certain baking techniques, which was very helpful.

Kirstin: It’s a great baking book. It’s got solid straightforward recipes with things that you want to make. If I had a friend who wanted a baking book, I would definitely recommend it.

Maureen: I agree.

Kirstin: I would totally trust her instructions, she was really good.

Maureen: All in all, recommended.

Overall Grade (A- F):  A (Maureen)  A (Kirstin)
Best recipes:  Ciabatta (I didn’t actually make this, but I did enjoy eating this) (Maureen) Cheesecake, because now I love cheesecake. (Kirstin)
Grade for Photography (A-F): Kirstin: B
Any disasters? (Kirstin and Maureen) No.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Bookshelf, the one dedicated to baking.
Would you give this to a friend?  (Maureen) Yes, but if I had to choose between this one and “Flavour,” I would probably give the latter. (Kirstin) Yes, I’d give it to someone who wanted to learn about baking.

 

Our Verdict: “Crumb”

“Ciabatta” from “Crumb”

It was Mother’s Day in the U.K. yesterday, so I thought what better way to celebrate My Special Day than to have one of my favourite meals (fondue*) that would showcase one of Tim’s best skills (making bread).

So I didn’t actually make this recipe, though I admired Tim’s handiwork when it was all done. I asked him how it went. He said ciabatta can be tricky, because the dough is incredibly wet and difficult to form. Once he mentioned it, I remembered a “Great British Bake Off” episode– it might have even been Ruby’s year– where they all struggled with the ciabatta task from “Scary Bread Guy” (what we called Paul Hollywood in Season 1).

Tim didn’t need to worry. It was delicious. We HOOVERED this bread up. The boys couldn’t Cget enough of it. We now have a second loaf, which we will enjoy just as much tonight.

This is another winner from Ruby Tandoh.

Spoiler Alert: The fondue uses a recipe from next month’s cookbook. Watch this space!

If you’d like to try this yourself, Google Books has indexed “Crumb.” Click through this paragraph to see for yourself. 

“Ciabatta” from “Crumb”

“Parathas” from “Crumb”

We make our fair share of bread but have only made parathas once before. Though this was a Jamie Oliver method from “Save with Jamie” and he called the chapatis.  For what it’s worth, they seemed the same to us. I just did a quick Google search, and indeed, they are the same thing.   With good memories of that and plans for an Afghani lamb and rice dish from the amazing “Sirrocco” from Sabrina Ghayour (which we reviewed in June 2016) Ruby’s version seemed an obvious accompaniment.

It’s interesting that, for something so basic, how different the two recipes are. Jamie uses both white and whole wheat flour, Ruby just white. He adds olive oil and milk, hers calls for butter and water. What they share: both are easy and disappeared quickly. These will have to become a regular on curry night.

If you would like to try this recipe yourself, click through here to see it on Google Books.

“Parathas” from “Crumb”

“Blackberry Ricotta Cheesecake” from “Crumb”

Kirstin: I used to make cheesecake a lot when I was younger and not so much recently. But having made two wonderful recipes from Ms Tandoh’s books I can feel myself drawn to them again. And I urge you to do the same. This one had a beautiful blackberry compote mixed in (sadly not in the picture because we ate it all!) which went beautifully with the lemon ricotta flavoured cheese. Cheesecakes are an easy but very satisfying form of cake, lovely to share with others for tea and dinner alike. Do it. You know you want to.

“Blackberry Ricotta Cheesecake” from “Crumb”

“Rye Bread” from “Crumb”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, loyal readers! (Top Tip: Remember to brush your teeth if you’re drinking any green beer today.)

Last Sunday, with St Patrick’s Day just around the corner, we thought what better way to celebrate than with some corned beef. Of course, what’s better alongside corned beef than rye bread? Now we like a seeded rye or dark pumpernickel more than most but find the options on offer lacking in our part of London (this is true for most of London). That means making one at home.

For the inexperienced these breads can be scary: The dough is dense and hard to work, so success never seems guaranteed. Ruby’s couldn’t have been easier but had its own uh-oh moment. While working the water/orange juice/treacle into the dry ingredients it seemed there wasn’t enough moisture. Avoid the temptation to add more. Just keep going, keep working the dough, and everything will come out fine.
Although it’s not quite the rye bread that we grew up with on the East Coast of the U.S., it’s still delicious. It’s even better toasted the next day if any lasts that long.
“Rye Bread” from “Crumb”

“Lemon and Marzipan Cupcakes” from “Crumb”

Marzipan is always a winner for me. Ruby admits elsewhere in the cookbook that she is guilty of eating marzipan as a snack. I do the same thing. There’s nothing like the solid hit of almond and sugar to keep me going when I’m dragging.

These were delicious and easy. But I do think calling them cupcakes is a bit of a misnomer. To me, cupcakes are a perfect cake at the bottom (which this is) featuring a pillow of icing on the top (which this doesn’t). This is more like a lemon and marzipan muffin. Whenever I gave these to friends after I made them, I would ask, “But don’t you think this needs some icing?” since they’re called cupcakes. But everyone said, no, they were perfect as they were.

I have to agree. If you added icing on top of this, it would be a bit much. Ruby does advise that you can make a lemon drizzle for the top, which I might try next time, as it would make them less like a muffin and more like a cupcake.

I still wouldn’t call them cupcakes, though. I would call them delicious, however.

“Lemon and Marzipan Cupcakes” from “Crumb”