“Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Quick Pickled Cucumber” from “Flavour”


And after all those ridiculous avocado toast recipes, Ms Tandoh comes up with the goods and does a proper good cheese toastie. You can see how much we loved it by this picture. Oh yes. SO very good. And the pickled cucumber was also a revelation. Will I do this again? You can bet I will! And all the more so in this cold weather. I might just add a slice or two of ham next time though. And the beer was also a must.

“Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Quick Pickled Cucumber” from “Flavour”

“Parmesan Roast Chicken with Cauliflower and Thyme” from “Simple”


If I ever had to pick a perfect supper, this would certainly make the list.

  • Tray bake? Check.
  • Chicken? Check.
  • Cauliflower? Check.
  • Cheese? Check.
  • Easy? Check.
  • Delicious? Check.
  • Everyone likes it? Check.

See what I mean? The perfect supper.

This is not to say that I haven’t made a variation of this a million times before. But the reason I’ve made something similar a million times before is because of all the points listed above. It’s a good time of year to have this, as well (though it’s good any time of year, to be honest), as the days become shorter and cold weather begins to descend.

We followed the alternative directions and used gruyere instead of parmesan, but that made it seem all the more like cauliflower cheese, another winning dish.

Would I make this again? Obviously. Why mess with success?

If you’d like to make this yourself, here’s the recipe, as it first appeared in the Daily Telegraph.

“Parmesan Roast Chicken with Cauliflower and Thyme” from “Simple”

“Feta Bites” from “Sirocco”

IMG_8930Regular readers of this blog know that I am a big fan (read: obsessed) by cheese. I love it, in all its forms. Halloumi, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Asiago, Emmental, Comte, Cheddar, Wensleydale, Mont d’Or, Toite de Moine, … the list could go on, but I’m stopping at 10. Those were the cheeses I could list off the top of my head without breaking a sweat.

See what I mean?

So when I saw the recipe for Feta Bites, I was enthusiastic, to say the least. As was my family.

The recipe was easy to make, as basically all you’re doing is dredging feta cubes in flour, and then dipping them in a batter mix of egg, ice water and self-raising flour. Simples. You then have to fry them, briefly.

Personally, I then had a challenge to not eat all of the feta bites as they emerged all golden and lovely from the pan. I resisted as best I could, but I have to admit that I was not entirely successfully in resisting their charms before sharing with the rest of my family.

You also make a preserved lemon jam to go with them. While I enjoyed the jam, the rest of the family was lukewarm on it, at best. So when I do make this again, I’m not sure if I’m going to make the jam to go with it. Regardless, it was still a success.

In the introduction, Sabrina Ghayour writes, “Feta makes everything better.” I couldn’t agree more.

Want to try this recipe? Nigella Lawson, the patron saint of this blog, helpfully has posted the recipe on her website. Click through here to see it. 


“Feta Bites” from “Sirocco”

“Chicken, Spinach and Cheese Polpette” from “A Bird in the Hand”


Anna: My first recipe from this book and I have already swayed from its central tenet: I have used turkey mince, not chicken.

Peter: Drings do chicken mince, don’t they?

Anna: Only if you order it in advance. And I’m not that organised anymore. I mean, I’ve cooked us something new and different! That’s an achievement these days.

Peter: They are very nice. I’m getting citrus…

Anna: That’s the lemon zest.

Peter: How do they differ to Gwyneth’s meatballs?

Anna: Would you be surprised if I told you they are a lot less healthy? Lots more cheese, breadcrumbs, and that sort of thing. But I like these a lot.

Louis: Yum! I LOVE them! I am going to eat them ALL up!



“Chicken, Spinach and Cheese Polpette” from “A Bird in the Hand”

“Grilled Ziti with Feta” from “Plenty More”



This is our first dish from this month’s cookbook, which we have (lovingly) nicknamed “Otto-Impossible: The Sequel.”

Perhaps that’s a misnomer, because the recipes I’ve done so far– including this one– aren’t impossible, just time consuming. So maybe it’s not a fair name, but it is catchy.

This ziti dish is just a variation on baked ziti, the Italian-American classic that we’ve enjoyed many times. In that dish, you boil up some ziti (which we know as penne pasta), toss it in a dish with tomato sauce, then add as much mozzarella as you like. It’s pretty easy to make and I always loved it. Baked ziti was a staple of my American childhood, as no buffet would be complete without it.

This recipe takes baked ziti to a new level. While it does have the basic components of the baked ziti we know and love, the new additions, like caraway, cumin and celery, elevate it to a new level. Having three different kinds of cheese (though no mozzarella) make it that much better. Finishing it off under the grill was unexpected, but it worked.

Would I make it again? You bet. For someone who grew up on traditional baked ziti, the addition of caraway and cumin was a surprise, but it was all the better for it.

Highly recommended.

If you would like to make some Grilled Ziti with Feta, click through this link to find the recipe on the Guardian website.

“Grilled Ziti with Feta” from “Plenty More”

“Provencal Bake” from “Jamie’s Comfort Food”



Maureen: Here it is, family. Our first offering from Jamie’s new cookbook. What do you think?

Nicholas (11): Yum.

Andrew (15): This is good.

Tim: Yum. Stodge.

Maureen: And French stodge at that. But this certainly is not a quick mid-week dinner. This took quite a long time to prepare, but Jamie warned us of that in the introduction to his book. Would you want me to make this again?

Andrew: Yes, even though it takes a long time to make it.

Maureen (laughing): It doesn’t really impact you, the fact that it can be quite laborious to make.

Andrew: But it does! It means I have to wait longer for dinner.

Maureen: You’re going to have to complain to management about that.

Tim: I’m not sure you can taste the crepes in there.

Maureen: You can’t, really. They seem to have been completely absorbed into the cheese and other ingredients.

Andrew (incredulous): There’s crepes in there?

Maureen: Yes. But really the cheese is what you can taste the most. I also like the lemon kick at the end. That is unexpected.

Tim: I would definitely eat this again.

Maureen: I would too, but if I could find a decent supplier of crepes, we’d have this more often.

“Provencal Bake” from “Jamie’s Comfort Food”

“Cottage Pie with Dauphinois Potato Topping” from “Mary Berry Cooks”

Anna: This hasn’t worked. It may be because I didn’t par boil the potatoes for long enough, but I’m disappointed.

Peter: It’s not really a cottage pie without a mashed potato top.

2014-03-09 20.40.05

Anna: If it had a mashed potato top it would be great, as the mince is really nice. But the cream has seeped into it which making it look grey, which isn’t very appetising. And some of the potatoes aren’t cooked properly.

Peter: I don’t think the embellishments have made any improvement to what should be a simple dish.

Anna: No. I’m glad that we didn’t have anyone round to share this with as it looks a mess on the plate. Disappointing.

“Cottage Pie with Dauphinois Potato Topping” from “Mary Berry Cooks”

“Macaroni Cheese (a few ways)” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table”

Maureen: What do you think?

Andrew (13): It’s good.

Nicholas (9): It’s just like any other macaroni and cheese that we’ve had.

Maureen: But it’s more crunchy on top.

Nicholas: Yes, that’s true.


Maureen: And there’s a LOT less cheese than we usually use. I think Gwyneth wants us to be healthy!

Nicholas: You can tell there’s less cheese, I think.

Tim: It seems very dry.

Maureen: I agree. It needs more… something. Probably cheese, but more sauce would not go amiss either.

Maureen: Would you want me to make this again, or have one of the other versions we’ve had. The one we love is the New York Times macaroni cheese, and the others we’ve liked very much were the ones from Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay.

Nicholas: We could have this one occasionally, but it’s not the best one.

Andrew: I’d say we should have one of the other versions that we like more.

Maureen: I agree. I think this one is crunchier, which is nice, but it doesn’t have enough cheese and it’s not creamy enough. I’d rather make one of the other versions. I appreciate that Gwyneth wants us to eat healthier, but that just doesn’t apply when you’re talking about mac and cheese.

“Macaroni Cheese (a few ways)” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table”

“Broccoli and Cheese Soup” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table”

Maureen: It’s a new year, a new month and a new cookbook. This is the Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook that Anne gave me for Christmas. What do you think of this? I like it.

Andrew (13): Yes, it’s good.

Nicholas (9): It’s OK (unenthusiastically).


Tim: Is there cheddar in this?

Maureen: Yes, but very little. You’re only supposed to add 60 grams, but I used 80 grams, which still seemed very little to me.

Nicholas: You can hardly taste the cheddar.

Maureen: Since we all love broccoli and cheddar pizza, I thought we would all like this.

Tim: Yes, I really like it. It’s certainly a lot healthier than the other vegetable-cheddar soup you make.

Maureen: Are you talking about Potato-Ceddar Soup? That’s heresy to say there’s something better than that. You’re just weary of it because I first started making it 18 years ago. Would you like me to make this one again?

Continue reading ““Broccoli and Cheese Soup” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table””

“Broccoli and Cheese Soup” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table”

“Macaroni and Cauliflower Bake with Three Cheeses” from “Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course”

Maureen: I’ve got three words: Full of yum.

Andrew (13): I think it’s really good. Me gusta!

Nicholas (9): I think it’s really good. I tasted it a number of times now and it has the same consistency throughout.

Tim: It’s nice, but I wonder about the incremental gains from the one we usually have.


Maureen: It depends which one you’re talking about. Is it the Jamie Oliver 30-minute-meals one, or the New York Times one that uses a pound of cheddar cheese?

Tim: The New York Times one, then.

Maureen: I think this one is better. Obviously, since it doesn’t have a pound of cheese in it, it’s better for us AND our arteries. I think this one is even better than the Jamie Oliver one, to which it’s pretty similar, because it has the combination of cheese, which makes it more interesting.

Nicholas: I think this may be my new favourite mac and cheese.

Andrew: I think I like the one we usually have better.

Maureen: I think I like this one better. It has cauliflower in it and the addition of more vegetables is always a good thing. I will probably be making this again.

“Macaroni and Cauliflower Bake with Three Cheeses” from “Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course”