“Minced Turkey Chilli” from “A Year of Good Eating”

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Anna: This was as advertised: fast, easy and tasted, well, kind of like a chilli. I say that because it was hot (“It has some tickle”, said Peter) though the spice combination isn’t what I’d usually choose for a chilli. Interestingly the recipe calls for curry powder. I was doubtful. Frankly it reads like something out of the 70s. Like a chilli recipe written by someone who has just discovered the concept and decides to sexy up their usual mince recipe. But I went with it. That’s what I’m here for. And do you know what? The spicing wasn’t the issue in the end. It was the sauce, or lack of it. I was so convinced there was a typo in the recipe that I searched online but could find no correction. How you can be expected to ‘simmer’ something that is made up of fried-off mince and drained beans I don’t know. So I added chicken stock. Which is what I would recommend you do too. Served with a baked sweet potato it was a decent mid-week meal. Just don’t forget the chicken stock.


“Minced Turkey Chilli” from “A Year of Good Eating”

“Beef Chilli with Bourbon, Beer and Black Beans”

Anna: I’m sorry, but I couldn’t publish a picture with this post. This chilli, while very delicious, just doesn’t look appetising in a photograph. I tried. It looked terrible. Luckily it tasted miles better than it looked. In fact it was a hit. Easy to make and perfect to tuck into after getting back from the fireworks. The bourbon really comes through, surprisingly. My mother – a woman who has consumed many a chilli in her time – declared it a triumph. My daughter – eating her first proper chilli (rather than nursery’s version which doesn’t count) – declared it ‘Yummy!’ and ‘Brown’. Which sums it up pretty perfectly really!

“Beef Chilli with Bourbon, Beer and Black Beans”

“Raw courgette, rocket and ricotta pasta salad” from “Bill’s Italian”

I made this quickly one lunch time for a friend. It was totally delicious but what was a very pleasant surprise, was that I was able to have it as leftovers for several days. Beautiful soft ricotta combined with raw courgette. And the addition of the zested lemon mixed with the chilli was just perfect.


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“Raw courgette, rocket and ricotta pasta salad” from “Bill’s Italian”

“Roast Chicken, Saffron, Lemon and Chilli” from “Bill’s Italian Food”


Kirstin: I found this recipe lurking in the “Party Food” section. We were supposed to do it with two chickens, so I halved it. Do you like it? And you tell what the magic ingredient is yet?

Tom: No!

Kirstin: It’s the saffron. Subtle, but oh so yum!

Tom: This is epic. I love it. The chilli and yoghurt are fantastic. It’s probably not very authentically Italian, but if it tastes this good, who cares?

Kirstin: Yes, he says that in the introduction. That it probably very isn’t very Italian, but that Italians are magnanimous about other people messing with their cuisine. I bloody love this! This book is worth buying for this recipe alone. I can tell we’re going to cook it a lot. It’s a perfect entertaining recipe. A basic roast chicken but with delicious tweaks.

Tom: That’s fine with me. Move over, Gwyneth! Move over, Simon Hopkinson! We have a new champion roast chicken! Go Bill!

“Roast Chicken, Saffron, Lemon and Chilli” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

“Griddled Squid, Herb Salad and Black Olive Dressing” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

Anna: This is really quite delicious! I have failed so spectacularly with squid recently but this is a big success in my book. Was it filling enough for you?

Peter: Yes it was. And the chilli was quite warm.

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Anna: It reminds me of the River Café griddled squid recipe I used to do in the last decade as a starter. You know, the one with rocket and the chilli dressing. But this is a slightly beefed up version, with the olives and herbs. I think it’s suggested as a starter here, but I added the rocket to make it more of a salad.

Peter: I would definitely have it again.

Anna: Oh good. So would I. Healthy, virtuous and punchy. Perfect.

“Griddled Squid, Herb Salad and Black Olive Dressing” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

“Spicy Spaghetti” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

Kirstin: So we had nothing in the fridge to cook for dinner tonight. And I thought I’d have a look through this book to see if there was anything suitable. And there was!


Tom: This is yum! But I’m already thinking of what we can add to it.

Kirstin: That’s a good start to a new recipe! What were you thinking?

Tom: I was thinking breadcrumbs. What about you?

Kirstin: Funny you should say that. When I was cooking it, I thought about that too. I wonder if a few roasted cherry tomatoes might be good and maybe even bit of tuna.

Tom: Sounds good to me. I can see us eating this on holiday.

“Spicy Spaghetti” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

“Orecchiette, Sprouting broccoli and Chilli” from “Bill’s Italian Food”


Tom: What’s all this crunchy stuff? I love it!

Kirstin: It’s toasted breadcrumbs.

Miles: I don’t like it.

Kirstin: I wasn’t expecting you too, but it’s always good to try new things, eh Miles?

Tom: I love the breadcrumbs!

Kirstin: Me too. Yes. Definitely will make this one again! I’ve tried so many broccoli and pasta recipes, but the breadcrumbs really add something new and delicious!

“Orecchiette, Sprouting broccoli and Chilli” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

“Conchiglie with Yogurt, Peas and Chilli” from “Jerusalem”


Stop the presses. In the 12+ months I’ve had “Jerusalem,” this is the first recipe that elicited the response, “Meh.”

I know! A Meh! From this book, which has been hit-after-hit-after-hit. But not today. Up until now, the dishes I’ve made had evoked universal approval (for the most part). This was not one of those days.

What was the problem? I’m not quite sure. In theory, with feta, peas and yogurt over pasta, it should have been delicious. In practice, it was just a bit bland. Other reviewers of this recipe said they thought it was great, so maybe there was some operator error involved. However, given that it was just a simple pasta dish, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the case.

It was all just a bit Meh. The leftovers sat in the refrigerator for days and didn’t tempt anyone.

Will I make it again? Obviously not. Life is too short for “Meh.”

If you want to try this (though reading the above, why would you want to?), the Guardian had the recipe. Click through this paragraph to find it– it’s the second recipe featured in the Ottolenghi column that weekend.

“Conchiglie with Yogurt, Peas and Chilli” from “Jerusalem”

“Hot Chilli-Ginger Stir-fried Squid” from “A Change of Appetite”

Anna: Meh. I had such high hopes for this and I am disappointed. I’m sure if a personal chef had made it for me I would love it.

Peter: It wasn’t as hot as I thought it would be.

Anna: That’s the chilli’s fault. I could have left the seeds in and probably should have done.

Peter: Did the squid need marinating?

Anna: Why do you say that?

Peter: It was a bit dry I guess…..

Anna: Couldn’t you taste the lemongrass?

Peter: Yes. And I got the salty and sour. I’m not sure what it is that’s missing.

Anna: A professional chef. This would be perfect in a Thai restaurant. Somehow it hasn’t worked for me at home. It’s perfectly ok. And it was easy to cook. But I won’t be doing it again.






“Hot Chilli-Ginger Stir-fried Squid” from “A Change of Appetite”

“Vegetarian Chilli” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table”

For the past six months or so, we’ve been trying to become more vegetarian. This can be difficult for us, given that we are omnivores, but we are tying to do it just the same. For me, this means I’m generally trying to be vegetarian at lunch, except for the times when we have leftovers for dinner. For the rest of the family, this involved the introduction of “Meat Free Monday.”

We’ve had good success with Meat Free Monday since September. When it was first launched by the McCartney family in 2009, the boys declared that it would be “impossible” for us to do Meat Free Mondays. At the time, that was true because Monday was “Hot Dog Night” after racing back from a full afternoon of swimming lessons. But that’s no longer true, so now we are trying in earnest. For the most part, we are following it. There are the odd Mondays when it doesn’t happen, like the time we had to eat some Sausage of the Month sausages we had bought at Dring’s over the weekend but wanted to eat before they went off. But for the most part, we are on board.


I made Gwyneth’s vegetarian chilli not for Meat Free Monday, however, but for a dinner party we had last weekend in the midst of London’s snowstorm. The vegetarian chilli was a big hit, both at the party, and then again as leftovers on Meat Free Monday. Not only is the chilli vegetarian friendly, but it’s vegan friendly too, which is healthy for us, but handy for my vegan friends too.

It was hale and hearty, which is what you need in a cold January. By using three different kinds of beans, it was very filling. It also had a nice kick to it, but that might have more to do with my liberal inclusion of chilli flakes, and less to do with the recipe. I would definitely make this again, and might even use this version more often than our usual meat chilli recipe.

Continue reading ““Vegetarian Chilli” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table””

“Vegetarian Chilli” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table”