A Roundup of Dishes from “Food52 Genius Recipes”

With only two days left in May, I thought it might be useful to do a roundup of four dishes I’ve done out of “Food52 Genius Recipes.” I’m going to write about them in the order of preference.

Grilled Cheese [Sorry. No picture.]

We had this twice over the course of the month and both times the sandwiches were eaten before I could take a picture. I suppose that tells you everything you need to know. While I’m still not sure you need a proper recipe for a grilled cheese, the “Genius” aspect of this was to spread mayonnaise on the outside of the bread, rather than the traditional butter. By doing it this way, there’s less risk of burning the bread. I’m not sure how this method is a genius method over my usual way of making grilled cheese, which is to spread Lurpak spreadable butter on the outside of the bread. I might have to make grilled cheese again, with one sandwich using the Genius method and the other to use my own and see what works better. Either way, grilled cheese is ALWAYS a win for lunch.

Would I make it again? Obviously yes, though I’m still not sure about the method.

To try it yourself, click through this sentence to see the Genius Recipe on Food52 for Grilled Cheese.

Wild & White Rice Salad

IMG_6839This is simple personified. In fact, I made it even simpler by buying a basmati rice and wild rice mixture and using that. Score one for the home team. Aside from the rice, the other ingredients are red onion, celery and parsley, and the dressing is a mixture of oils with blasamic vinegar and dijon mustard. Like I said, simple personified. I made it one night to go with our barbeque meal. I quickly demolished the leftovers the next day for lunch, when they were even tastier. Some times simple really is better.

Unfortunately, this recipe isn’t posted on Food52 for some reason, so you can’t click through this sentence to see it yourself.

Basic Hummus [Sorry. No picture.]

This recipe is out of one of my favourite cookbooks, “Jerusalem”, which we reviewed on this site in May 2014. I already knew what I was getting into when I made it again. Forewarned is forearmed: This is a TOTAL faff to make. I’m still undecided as to whether the faff is worth it. I suppose it is, but only just. It takes a full 24 hours of planning and patience, given that you have to soak the chick peas overnight, and then there’s multiple steps to make it happen. While the hummus was delicious, it does take a fair amount of dedication. Also you should know that you end up with a vat of hummus. Okay, maybe  it’s not a vat, but it felt like it, given that the bowl I filled was about 10 times the size of the usual hummus container I buy at our local supermarket. After three days, we’re still trying to finish the hummus and we’re not even close yet.

Would I make it again? Maybe for a party, when I could be assured that we would eat through it all. Otherwise, maybe I’ll try it again but make only half of it. I’ve made it before and I’ll make it again, but every time I ask myself, “Do I really want to dedicate the time to getting this finished?” Some times the answer to that is yes. Some times, the answer is no.

To try it yourself, click through this sentence to see the Genius Recipe on Food52 for Hummus.

Warm Squash & Chickpea Salad with Tahini

IMG_6873This is yet another “Genius Recipe” from a book we’ve reviewed here, this time it’s from Moro. We reviewed Moro just this past January, though we didn’t try this recipe.

Usually I am a sucker for roasted butternut squash, so I approached this recipe with a fair amount of enthusiasm. Listen, I love roasted butternut squash so much that I made the Jerusalem version for our Christmas lunch, even though it didn’t really go with the rest of the dishes (though my vegan friend Anne and I HOOVERED it up and there were no leftovers.)

But this one just didn’t stack up, unfortunately. It just wasn’t as good as the Jerusalem recipe, which I know and love ardently. Given that the rest of the family is less enthused about the vegetable [read: They don’t really like it] this went over like a lead balloon.

You win some, you lose some.

To try it yourself, click through this sentence to see the Genius Recipe on Food52 for Warm Squash & Chickpea Salad with Tahini.

A Roundup of Dishes from “Food52 Genius Recipes”

“Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za’atar” from “Jerusalem”


This looks delicious, right? I could just eat that whole platter of food right now, looking at the picture again. You’ve got the sweetness of the roasted butternut squash and onions, the tahini dressing and then the taste sensation that is za’atar* spices.

*For those of you who don’t know, za’atar is a Middle Eastern blend of spices that includes combination of sesame seeds, sumac, salt, oregano, cumin and dried marjoram. It’s obviously gone mainstream (Thanks Ottolenghi!) because you can find it in the spice rack at Waitrose and other sumpermarkets.

Yum. I loved it.

Unfortunately, my family didn’t agree.

Tim liked it fine but didn’t love it. His conclusion: “It was better than I would have thought.” To be fair, he isn’t a fan of butternut squash. I don’t know why that’s true, but we all have our own special food hang ups*, so I can understand.

*If you’re wondering, my food hangup/thing I won’t eat is beets, Andrew’s (14) is cavolo nero and Nicholas’s (10) is spinach.

Nicholas, who does like butternut squash, just didn’t like the whole combination of flavours. There’s a LOT going on in this dish, which I think was a bit much for his 10-year-old palate. Andrew tried it, but didn’t eat much of it. I blame the massive amount of couscous that he loaded up on his plate but maybe all the flavours were too overwhelming for him.

Would I make it again for my family? Probably not. They don’t appreciate it enough. Would I make again for myself? You bet.

If you would like to make this for yourself– and if you like butternut squash, I recommend that you do– click through this sentence to see the recipe in its original form in the Guardian, before it was published in Jerusalem.

“Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za’atar” from “Jerusalem”

“Butternut Risotto” from “Polpo”

Maureen: Another one for Meat Free Monday. What do you think?

Andrew (13): It’s nice.

Nicholas (9): I”m not so sure.

Maureen: I think it’s great. It was a total faff to make it, compared to other risottos I’ve made, but it’s still good. I needed to make my own vegetarian stock. The next time I make this, I’ll just use standard vegetable stock, like I always do.


Andrew: Actually, the more I eat it, the less sure about it I am.

Nicholas: Yes, I agree. I don’t think I like it.

Maureen: What’s not to like about it?

Andrew: Well, the butternut squash. (Maureen looks over and realises that Andrew is eating only the rice and is eating AROUND the butternut squash. Nicholas starts to do the same.)

Maureen: How could you not like butternut squash? It’s great.

Andrew: I just don’t, that’s all.

Nicholas: Me neither.

Maureen: Obviously you take after your father in that regard. He doesn’t like it either. I think you’re all crazy. It’s good and I like it.

Andrew: I like the other risotto you make better.

Maureen: Which one?

Andrew: Any of them.

Nicholas: Yes, any risotto but this one would be good the next time you make risotto.

Maureen: OK. So not a firm family favourite then. If I make it again, I’ll make it for myself.

Cook’s Notes: As noted above, they want you to make the vegetable stock yourself while you’re roasting the butternut squash. Frankly, I don’t think it was worth the effort. In fact, I found the stock somewhat lacking in flavour and ending up adding a dash of vegetable stock bouillon just so it wouldn’t taste of water.

However, I did glean one excellent tip from this recipe. In the past, whenever I roasted butternut squash inevitably some of it ended up burned. To counteract this, Polpo recommends covering the squash with foil when you’re roasting it. It was a perfect solution, and no squash was burned in the making of this recipe.

“Butternut Risotto” from “Polpo”

“Early Autumn Cornish Pasties” from “Jamie’s Great Britain”

Andrew (12): I like this very much. I can’t fault it in any way.

Tim: How does it compare to Goddard’s Pies? (Editor’s Note: We faithfully buy Goddard’s Pies every weekend for lunch at Greenwich Market. We especially love the cheese and onion. Not a Cornish pasty, but delicious just the same.)

Andrew: Goddard’s Pies are very good, but these are also very good.

Nicholas (8): Goddard’s Pies are better.

Andrew: You’re digging your own grave!

Tim: It’s Halloween! He’s getting into the spirit of things by digging his own grave!

Maureen: I like it a lot more than I thought I would. I wasn’t sure about baking the skirt steak– I didn’t think it would cook completely– but it worked.

Continue reading ““Early Autumn Cornish Pasties” from “Jamie’s Great Britain””

“Early Autumn Cornish Pasties” from “Jamie’s Great Britain”

“Butternut Squash, Chilli & Coconut Soup” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

Tim: What do you think?

Maureen: I am not a fan of this. It’s not disaster, but equally, it’s not very good.

Tim: It doesn’t seem like a dinner to me.

Maureen: Soup for dinner is absolutely fine, but this is too thin to be substantial.

Tim: That’s what I mean.

Continue reading ““Butternut Squash, Chilli & Coconut Soup” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian””

“Butternut Squash, Chilli & Coconut Soup” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

“Smoked mackarel and goat’s cheese souffle”, “Roast pork belly with a fennel and garlic rub”, “Butternut squash and chickpeas with cumin and coriander” and “Salted caramel chocolate tart” from “Entertaining at Home”

Anna: For the souffle, Peter had to go out on a ramekin hunt in five inches of snow.

Peter: They’re real buggers to shoot!

Zoe: With their little legs — ‘you’ll never take me alive!’

Anna: They must difficult to spot in the snow.

Continue reading ““Smoked mackarel and goat’s cheese souffle”, “Roast pork belly with a fennel and garlic rub”, “Butternut squash and chickpeas with cumin and coriander” and “Salted caramel chocolate tart” from “Entertaining at Home””

“Smoked mackarel and goat’s cheese souffle”, “Roast pork belly with a fennel and garlic rub”, “Butternut squash and chickpeas with cumin and coriander” and “Salted caramel chocolate tart” from “Entertaining at Home”

“Roast duck legs with squash and blackberry and apple sauce” from “Tender Volume II”

Anna: I was really looking forward to this.  It’s the perfect November meal isn’t it?

Peter: Yes, it’s certainly autumnal.  The richness of the duck and the butternut squash.

Anna: So I think that’s why I’m so disappointed.  And frustrated.

Peter: Nigel’s legs are certainly dry.

Anna: Dry and tough.  Difficult to eat.

Peter: Just like Nigel’s legs!

Anna: So an all-round annoyance really.  Because I had to hack away at the legs to get any meat off, there was no savouring of the flavour combinations.  I ate the duck leg.  Then the sauce and the squash.  Did you like the sauce?

Peter: It was like a pudding, very nice.  Particularly as it was made with our own blackberries and bramleys from the apple festival a couple of weeks ago.

Anna: I was a bit thrown as I hadn’t read the recipe first, and the apples had to go in the oven to bake, but it was very easy and tasted delicious.  Can’t tell you what it was like with the duck though.

Peter: It provided a degree of moisture.

Anna: I am very annoyed.  Really.  This was so simple to make and should have been much nicer.  I’d recommend cooking the legs in the oven for 2 hours, a la Nigella, and add the squash for the last 45 minutes.  Then the legs would be all moist and lovely, and the squash roasted and brown.  Much better.

“Roast duck legs with squash and blackberry and apple sauce” from “Tender Volume II”

Plenty of Ottolenghi food: a Friday Feast

Anna: We decided that we wanted to do a proper blow-out feast, after the many abortive midweek Ottolenghi meals that we’ve cooked.

Kirstin: We wanted to give it a full crack of the whip!

Anna: Luckily neither of us was working this afternoon, because it was potentially going to be a massive faff.

Tom: But was it?

Anna: If either of us had been doing it on our own, yes. With the two of us it was still a faff.

Zoe: But was it an enjoyable faff?

Kirstin: Yes, we watched wartime documentaries in between, while things were in the oven.

Anna: And we sang along to the Brandenberg double-violin concerto as we peeled five heads of garlic, clove by clove. Between the two of us it took 40 minutes. The two most annoying things were the cloves of garlic and the bloody cardamom pods.

Kirstin: But you have such good wrist action, Anna! (Zoe guffaws)

Anna: How do you know about my wrist action? It’s all those years of violin playing! With the cardamom pods I had to get Kirstin to open the window. Two tablespoons of cardamom pods, and you had to bash them all up, and take all the seeds out of all the pods! It was about 40 pods! It was like, Christ, take me now. I bashed my head with the pestle. Or was it the mortar? Anyway, we cooked the “Watermelon and feta” to start. I’m going to compare it against the Nigella recipe. Her recipe is watermelon, feta and black olive. She has olives, lime juice, mint and flat-leaf parsley, rather than basil. But everything else is the same. So we cooked that, and then “Caramelized Garlic Tart”.

Kirstin: We called it Vampire Pie.

Anna: And then “Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime and Green Chilli”. Continue reading “Plenty of Ottolenghi food: a Friday Feast”

Plenty of Ottolenghi food: a Friday Feast