“Lemon Sole with preserved lemon, coriander and capers” from “Stirring Slowly”


Kirstin: It’s a rainy monday in August. And it’s fish for dinner!

Miles: I love fish!

Kirstin: Tom is doing that thing where he just eats because he doesn’t want to stop and talk.

Tom: That’s because it’s so yum!

Kirstin: This recipe is supposed to take only 15 minutes to cook and it probably would have if I hadn’t kept messing up. My favourite part was when I managed to spray myself with all the defrosted fish water.

Tom: Ah. That’s what you were doing in the bathroom!

Kirstin: Yes, I was washing all my clothes as they smelled of fish! Also I couldn’t make this recipe look as pretty as it does in the book.

Tom: I think that’s because their fish had more skin on!

Kirstin: I might not chop it into strips next time and just fry the fish whole. We also kept the salad separate from the couscous, but that was just for Miles.

Miles: I am hoping you make this again!

Kirstin: Oh good! So am I!

“Lemon Sole with preserved lemon, coriander and capers” from “Stirring Slowly”

“Chicken with Rice, Sweet Potato and Pepper Stuffing, Coriander and Coconut Sauce” from “A Bird in the Hand”

Nicholas (11): Chicken again?

Maureen: I know. I’m starting to feel the same way.

Andrew (15): Chicken is always good, but we’re having a lot of it.

Maureen: This is what happens when you do a chicken-focussed cookbook. It reminds me of the movie “Take this Waltz” where Seth Rogan plays a cookbook author who’s doing a chicken cookbook. He has a party for his family and they all complain that they’re having chicken again. Spoiler alert: by the end of the movie, his wife has left him, but it’s not because he only makes chicken.

Tim: This is nice, though.

Maureen: Everybody seems to be devouring it, that’s for sure.

Nicholas: Yes, I like it.

Andrew: Me too.

Maureen: Although we’re having chicken AGAIN, I like that this is different from the usual roast chicken that we have. I don’t ever really stuff the chickens, but this is nice, with the rice stuffing.

Tim: Is this gravy?

Maureen: No, it’s not. It’s what you’re getting instead of gravy, and she calls it coriander and coconut sauce. You make it with coconut cream. Yum. I like it because it’s a bit different. Should I make this again?

Tim: Sure. Why not.

Nicholas: Make it again, but not any time soon. I’m getting a bit sick of chicken.

Maureen: I know what you mean.

“Chicken with Rice, Sweet Potato and Pepper Stuffing, Coriander and Coconut Sauce” from “A Bird in the Hand”

“Cucumber Satay Crunch Salad” from “A Modern Way to Eat”



CBAMSataySalady“Satay salad?” I asked. “Where do I sign up?”

I love a chicken satay. However, as this is a vegetarian cookbook, there will be no chicken satay recipes, so this will be the next best thing. Besides, we all (bar one) love cucumbers in this family, so I figured I was on to a winner. I was right.

This salad reminded us all of something we could get at our favourite Vietnamese pop-up restaurant in Greenwich. This was a lucky thing, as Saigon StrEAT has been closed for the month of August and part of September, so this served as a helpful reminder of what we missed. It was incredibly fresh and flavourful, which is probably down to the amount of coriander you add to the salad.

For what it’s worth, I served this on the side on a FIsh Friday, where I just roasted some cod. The rich mix of flavours of the salad offset the plain nature of the roasted cod very nicely. Also, I made the salad in the 20 minutes when the cod was roasting, so it all came together quite nicely.

Would I eat this again? Absolutely.


“Cucumber Satay Crunch Salad” from “A Modern Way to Eat”

“Vietnamese Beef with Rice Vermicelli and Crispy Vegetables” from “A Change of Appetite”

Anna: This tastes and smells just like authentic Vietnamese. Or the Vietnamese food we used to eat in Sydney. Making this has taken me straight back to that restaurant we went to in Glebe with Edyta and Mark. We had the summer rolls and I’d never had anything like them before. Isn’t it brilliant that a smell can take me back to seven years ago like it was yesterday!

Peter: It does taste pretty authentic. It’s delicious.

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Anna: It is, isn’t it? I love this. I love this type of food. If there wasn’t so much bloody chopping involved I’d make it every week.

Peter: Well I do like a good noodle so I’m happy for you to make it any time.



“Vietnamese Beef with Rice Vermicelli and Crispy Vegetables” from “A Change of Appetite”

“Spicy Halloumi with Tomato and Coriander Salad” from “Madhouse Cookbook”

Oh halloumi, how I love thee.

It is an odd cheese, to be sure. If you’ve never eaten it before, whatever you do, don’t eat it cold. When cold, it has the consistency (not to mention the slight taste) of rubber. This might also explain that when you buy it, it has a use-by date about a year into the future. It’s made from a combination of sheep and goat milk.

Once you heat it up, you can leave any worries about the cheese behind. Upon heating, either over a grill (preferable) or fried, the once rubbery cheese becomes something else altogether. Unlike almost all other cheeses, it has a very high melting point, which means you can grill or fry without worrying that you’re going to inadvertently make some fondue.

Amid the recent economic troubles of Cyprus, I didn’t worry about how the troubles might hurt the rest of the European economy, but how it might affect my supply of halloumi cheese. Priorities.


So it was with great glee that I found the recipe for spicy halloumi with tomato and coriander salad in the Madhouse Cookbook. Sign me up.

The recipe is from the “Cling On to Your Social Life” chapter and is intended to be a starter for four adults. I halved the recipe and turned it into a lunch for one adult (me).

For this dish, Jo Pratt tells you to marinade the halloumi cheese in olive oil, lemon juice, garam masala and chilli powder. In all my delicious previous encounters with the cheese, I never marinated it, but I was willing to give it a try. The end result was interesting, but I think wholly unnecessary. Halloumi is just as good on its own, though I did appreciate that it was a somewhat different approach than what I normally do with halloumi, which is just throw it on the closest heat source while my mouth waters.

The tomato salad that went with it was simple, but very good. It was a combination of cherry tomatoes, coriander leaves and red onion dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.

Will I have this again for lunch? You bet, especially as I am currently attempting to eat vegetarian for all lunches. Will I go to the trouble of marinating the halloumi? Probably not, but it was a good idea.

Finally, on behalf of all halloumi lovers worldwide, can I just say to the economy of Cyprus: Get better soon.

“Spicy Halloumi with Tomato and Coriander Salad” from “Madhouse Cookbook”

“Light Butter Chicken” from “Easy”

Despite turning my dining room upside down trying to find the dialogue for this curry recipe from Bill Granger, I couldn’t find it. To summarise: everyone liked it, even the boys.

When I expressed surprise that I made a curry recipe that they actually liked, they pointed out there were others that they liked too. So I trolled through the Cookbook a Month archives, and sure enough, there were other curries that they liked.

In fact, the other curry that they liked was from “Bill’s Everyday Asian” and it was remarkably similar to this one. However, I do think that this version is slightly superior if only because you don’t need to make the curry paste yourself. You just take what you need out of the already made tandoori paste.

In my case, as I couldn’t find tandoori paste, I used tikka masala curry paste. Just so you know, I did a fair amount of time on the internet and reading other cookbooks to see if that was a fair substitution. In the end, the website of Patak’s, who make most of the curry paste in this country, said it was fine, so I went for it.

Continue reading ““Light Butter Chicken” from “Easy””

“Light Butter Chicken” from “Easy”

“Paprika and Coriander Roasted Chicken” from “Easy”

Tom: Ooh, what did you have to do with it?

Kirstin: I marinated the chicken in soya sauce, coriander and other goodies! I do think the coriander really added to the wonderful aroma and taste of the chicken.

Ella: I like it. It’s good!

Tom: It’s so tasty. It just tastes even more like chicken.

Kirstin: The onion is all lovely and sticky and yummy. Shall I do this one again?

Tom: Yes! Definitely!

Kirstin: And it was so easy, I will definitely make this on a winter’s evening. It smelt so good as it was baking too. And I had yummy leftovers!

“Paprika and Coriander Roasted Chicken” from “Easy”

“Salmon marinated in soy sauce, coriander and fennel” from Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter

Miles: Is this piranha? Gah! There’s a piranha on my plate!

Tom: No, Miles. This is Great White Shark.

Miles: Is it really?

Tom: No. It’s salmon. It’s pink. What do you think of it?

Continue reading ““Salmon marinated in soy sauce, coriander and fennel” from Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

“Salmon marinated in soy sauce, coriander and fennel” from Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter

“Crunchy Thai-style Beef Salad” from “Virgin to Veteran”

Peter: Thai? This reminds me more of Vietnam. The fishy, cold dressing and cucumber.

Anna: Fishy doesn’t make it sound very appetising. I think the word ‘salty’ is better. But I know exactly what you mean. It’s the dressing. The proportions of fish sauce to lime and sugar just feel wrong. 90ml of fish sauce for two people? I don’t think so. I added more sugar but didn’t have anymore limes. It was fine, but I agree. More Vietnam than Thailand.

Peter: I did like it anyway. But as I’ve got a mouth ulcer it wasn’t the best meal to have.

Anna: That will be the limes.

Peter: I’m not sure beef is the best thing to go with this salad.  But it was nice.

Anna: I think it’s supposed to be like ‘Tiger Cry’, which I enjoy very much when we have it at Thai restaurants. What do  you think would have been better?

Peter: Maybe a firm fish. Like seabass or monkfish.

Anna: You are getting sidetracked by the overpowering fish sauce I think. If the dressing had been better balanced you would have found the beef very good with this salad. So, we probably won’t be doing this again. Unless I steal one of Bill’s Thai dressing recipes to go with it!

“Crunchy Thai-style Beef Salad” from “Virgin to Veteran”

“Smoking Chilli Con Carne” from “Virgin to Veteran”

Peter: What are we having tonight then?

Anna: Smoking chilli con carne.

Peter: Smoking? What makes it ‘smoking’?

Anna: Glad you ask. I had to griddle the chillis first before making the sauce. To give them a smokiness.

Peter: Can’t you just use smokey chillis instead?

Anna: Good question. I do use chipotles in my usual ‘posh’ chilli. That is, the chilli I do on weekends or special occasions, rather than my fail-safe, quick and dirty weeknight chilli.

Peter: This is drier than your usual weeknight chilli.

Anna: You mean less sauce? Is that a good thing?

Peter: Yes. This tastes professional.

Anna: That might be because I had to strain the sauce through a sieve. Not something I would normally do, and I have to admit to being rather suspicious of this step in the recipe. But I think it worked.

Peter: I think I prefer this chilli to our usual one, but maybe that’s becuase I wasn’t cooking it. It didn’t seem so bean-heavy either and I liked the addition of the fresh coriander.

Anna: I think this is a keeper then.

“Smoking Chilli Con Carne” from “Virgin to Veteran”