“Meatball Broth” from “A Year of Good Eating”

Is there anything better than a nice soup on a cold January night? I think not.

It was the perfect weeknight dinner for a cold January night when half of us had to be somewhere at 7 p.m.* and the other half of us got in from school/work late. We all have nights like that, and this fit the bill perfectly.

This is a very simple recipe with only seven ingredients. Take ready-made meatballs, fry them, fry some spring onions, grate 1/2 a head of celeriac and pop that in there too, add some thyme, beef stock and bring it all to a boil. Finish it off with some grated parmesan and you’re done.

The adults loved it. The teenagers and near teenagers? Not so much. When pressed the morning after, Nicholas, the near teenager at 12 years old said, “It reminded me of Benihana.” When I pointed out that he loved Benihana, he admitted that was true, but that he didn’t think Benihana would serve this. So I’m flummoxed as to why he did’t like it, but perhaps a little bit of mystery will make my life more exciting.

I really enjoyed paging through this book so far. It’s got several recipes that I’m eager to try, which is always a good sign. I know it’s going to be a long month when I struggle to find a selection of things I’d like to eat, but it looks like this isn’t one of those months.

I also very much appreciate the fact that it’s chronological, so I can see what he made and ate in January, when I know he’ll be using ingredients that will be available to me. For every season he’s also got a section of seasonal eats, which are quick and easy recipes that can be made. This recipe was taken from “Winter Eats.”

I’m hoping the success of this recipe portends a good month of eating. We’ll see.

*The lack of photos reflects the fact that I rushed out before they could be taken. Sorry. It’s a Cookbook A Month FAIL.

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“Meatball Broth” from “A Year of Good Eating”

“Fantastic roasted chicken”, “Baked carrots with cumin, thyme, butter and Chardonnay” and “Strawberries marinated in balsamic vinegar” from “The Return of the Naked Chef”

Anna: Ah, this book. It reminds me a cooking in the flat a decade ago. We have cooked so much from this book and continue to do so to this day.

Peter: You’ve never done this chicken before though, have you?

Anna: I don’t think so. The first roast chicken recipe I ever made was from The Naked Chef. I think I just stuck with that, probably because this recipe requires half a pack of butter.

Peter: Half a pack of butter!?

Judy: Well I think it tastes delicious. Is this celeriac?

Anna: It is. A vegetable I wouldn’t normally use, but it is surprisingly good.

John: It’s all wonderful!

Anna: I was slightly disappointed that the potatoes and celeriac weren’t crispier. They didn’t roast so much as poach in the chicken juices. Which gives them a good flavour of course.

Peter: It’s hard to get a crispy celeriac I imagine.

Anna: What it did do though was minimise the effort and number of trays to wash up. Likewise the carrots were easy to prepare and you just bunged them in at the same time as the chicken.  I won’t be making this again though.

Judy: Why not? It tastes lovely!

Anna: Too much prep required versus my usual chicken recipe. I use the River Cafe Easy one which is really quick and doesn’t use any butter either.

Peter: Phew.

Judy: What’s this sauce on the strawberries?

Anna: Balsamic vinegar and sugar. I love this recipe, have been making it for years. I’m sure I’ve done it for you before.

Judy: I’m sure you have.

Anna: It’s a great way to serve strawberries, particularly at this time of year when they aren’t really in season.

John: Well this was a delicious feast from Jamie.  Or should I say ‘pukka’?

Anna: Given it’s this book, I think you should!

“Fantastic roasted chicken”, “Baked carrots with cumin, thyme, butter and Chardonnay” and “Strawberries marinated in balsamic vinegar” from “The Return of the Naked Chef”