“Smoked Haddock Pie” from “Rachels’s Everyday Kitchen”

Peter: No photos.

Anna: Nope. I’m afraid there are no photos for a while. Trying to cook and serve a meal with an impatient toddler doesn’t lend itself to photography.

Peter: This looks like a fish pie. Pie. Yum.

Louis: Nana’s fish casserole!!

Anna: Yes, we’ve had this before. Nana made it last time. You love it don’t you Louis?

Peter: Bacon and smoked haddock make a pretty good combination.

Anna: It’s the saltiness that makes it so nice. As with all fish pies I used virtually every pan in the kitchen to make it, but I can get past that. We’ve fed four adults and have about 6 portions leftover for Louis. I will make this again!

“Smoked Haddock Pie” from “Rachels’s Everyday Kitchen”

“Spinach, Bacon and Gruyere Frittata” from “Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen”

CBAMFritataMaureen: Meat Free Monday!

Andrew (14): Well, not really. Isn’t there bacon in this?

Maureen: Yes, there is. If I was really faithful to Meat Free Monday I would have substituted red pepper for the bacon, but I didn’t. I just can’t turn down bacon.

Nicholas (10): I’m glad you put in the bacon, but why did you have to put in the spinach? You know how I feel about spinach?

Maureen: Yes, I do know that, which is why I showed you the recipe for approval before I made it. Spinach is in the title! It’s hard to miss!

Nicholas: But I missed it, and now I have to eat around it.

Maureen: Why eat around it? Why not just eat it? I love spinach.

Andrew: Come on, Nicholas, this is really good. Give it a try.

Maureen: Yes, I like it too. It was quick, we had most of the ingredients on hand, and, it’s delicious. As a bonus, you can have bacon sandwiches for breakfast tomorrow because I bought too much bacon.

Andrew: Bacon Sandwiches For The Win!

“Spinach, Bacon and Gruyere Frittata” from “Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen”

“Smokin’ Chicken Chowder” from “Save With Jamie”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith a teenager home sick with a sore throat, there was only one thing for it: some chicken soup. Studies have shown that the chicken soup cure really might work, though I’m not sure if Smokin’ Chicken Chowder would be the sort of soup that would hasten healing.

“Save With Jamie” actually has two chicken soup recipes in it– this one and another one called “My Jewish Penicllin.” You would think if I was looking for a chicken soup cure I’d go with the latter, but it was going to take some time, attention and love, so I went for “Smokin’ Chicken Chowder”  instead.

I need to disclose that I went slightly off piste with this recipe from the very start. The basis for this recipe is a chicken carcass from a roast chicken (or “Mothership Roast Chicken,” as Jamie calls it), but as I haven’t made that yet, I didn’t have one on hand. You use the chicken carcass to make a chicken stock, and also to strip off any remaining chicken meat for the soup.

One important note: if you do have a chicken carcass to hand, I definitely recommend making your own chicken stock. I might not faithfully make chicken stock every time I’ve got a chicken carcass, but I’m always glad when I do and feel virtuous, thrifty and healthy for days afterward. But please, if you’re going to make chicken stock, do yourself a favour and don’t follow Jamie’s instructions exactly. You could do what he says and just throw the carcass in with some water and simmer to make the stock. But it would be so much better if you do that but also add a carrot or two, a peeled and quartered onion and some peppercorns, if you’ve got some handy. Your chicken stock will be so much better. You can thank me later.

For the leftover chicken that I didn’t have, I used some cooked chicken breasts that were for sale at our local Cooperative. I figured Jamie would endorse that move because I was using chicken that had the bright orange “reduced” sticker on it, which cuts down on food waste and also was the ingredient I needed. Shopping for the win.

So in short, if you don’t have leftover chicken, you can use regular chicken stock and cooked chicken breast, widely available at supermarkets. I used 1 litre of chicken stock, which nearly covered the ingredients. You might want to add more or less than that, depending on how thick you like your soup.

A word to the wise: I found when that the streaky bacon didn’t render enough fat to fry the carrots, onion and potatoes in– the pan was way too dry for that– so I added some olive oil at that point, which did the trick.

I reluctantly pureed part of the soup, as per instructions, but I feared I would have another “Soup That Looks Like Sick” on my hands, a la Bill Granger’s Sweetcorn Soup. But as I only pureed about 400 millilitres of soup, it looked ok. But bear in mind that you cover this one with crushed cream crackers, parsley and bacon, so maybe there’s enough garnish on there to distract you from the soup underneath.

Would I make it again? Yes. Crucially: would my family happily eat it again? Yes. It’s not the most exciting of recipes, but it was delicious and healthy (only 292 calories per serving, and would be even less if you didn’t add the cream). If you need to, go ahead and use chicken stock and cooked chicken breasts. I don’t think those shortcuts detracted from the taste at all.

“Smokin’ Chicken Chowder” from “Save With Jamie”

“Lentil Salad Three Ways” from “Virgin to Veteran”

Anna: Mr Stern offers 3 options for this recipe. I chose the one with smoked salmon and bacon as it sounded delicious.

Peter: Cold lentils could taste a lot worse than this.

Anna: Lentils are served cold all the time!

Peter: I haven’t had them before. But these are good.

Anna: Puy lentils. You’ve got to love them.

Peter: I wouldn’t have thought about having bacon and smoked salmon together.

Anna: Did it make it too salty for you?

Peter: No, I like it salty. I could have eaten a bit more… being a salad it’s virtually calorie free surely?

Anna: Well I did up the quantities of salmon and bacon slightly otherwise you may have thought we were just having a starter for dinner.  Unfortunately both bacon and smoked salmon aren’t well-known for their low-calorie properties. But it is a carb-free salad.  And pretty filling I have to say.  I think you would like the version with chipolatas.

Peter: Clearly this is a flexible salad. I like the sound of chipolatas.

Anna: So you would like me to do this again?

Peter: I wouldn’t say no.

“Lentil Salad Three Ways” from “Virgin to Veteran”

“Happy Fish Pie” from “Jamie’s Great Britain”

We didn’t talk about this recipe very much, as our dinner conversation quickly veered into the territory of “What souveniers do you want from China?” (Answer: A panda. Or if that’s not possible, chopsticks) and jokes (Here’s the best one: A panda is eating in a restaurant, when all of the sudden he shoots his waiter and leaves. A policeman chases after him and says, “What do you think you’re doing?” to which the panda replies, “Hey, I’m a panda. Look it up in the dictionary. I eat shoots and leaves.”) I think there’s some good value in the blog today– food AND jokes!

It’s no surprise that a recipe for fish pie was included in “Jamie’s Great Britain.” I think fish pie is as classic a British recipe as it comes. As he says in the introduction, “Fish pie is one of the cornerstones of great British comfort food.”

Fish Pie is definitely classic British cooking. Before we moved here 13 years ago from the United States, we never had a fish pie in our life. But that all changed after I bought a copy of “The Return of the Naked Chef,” Jamie’s second book. “Fantastic Fish Pie” is just that– fantastic. The page in my cookbook has all manner of splashes and stains on it. I have notes from October 2001 on the page, meaning that I’ve been making this dish for 10 years. We all love it. It is firmly in the autumn/winter rotation of dinners here. If you’d like to make it yourself, there’s a link to the recipe here.

So how does this version stack up with the original? It doesn’t stack up, unfortunately. Our view might be tainted by the fact that we haven’t tried many any other fish pie recipes. (Why branch out when you found one you’ve love?) This version isn’t dramatically different from that one, but where it fails is it doesn’t include the two things that make the original so good: handfuls of spinach and boiled eggs.

Continue reading ““Happy Fish Pie” from “Jamie’s Great Britain””

“Happy Fish Pie” from “Jamie’s Great Britain”

“Cauliflower Cheese Soup” from “Jamie’s Great Britain”

Andrew (12): This smells like Thanksgiving dinner.

Maureen: You’re right. It does. It must be the sage, the thyme and the rosemary. There’s lots of that on Thanksgiving.

Andrew (surprised): Hey! Not bad! It smells like Thanksgiving dinner and it tastes like Thanksgiving dinner.

Maureen: What do you think, Tim?

Tim: I like it.

Maureen: What do you like about it?

Tim: I like that it tastes like Thanksgiving dinner.

Maureen: You are not allowed to steal Andrew’s best lines.

Continue reading ““Cauliflower Cheese Soup” from “Jamie’s Great Britain””

“Cauliflower Cheese Soup” from “Jamie’s Great Britain”