“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?

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“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”

“Speedy Chicken Noodle Soup” from “Easy Meals”

Want to make this yourself? The Good Food Channel has posted the recipe online here.

Maureen: Yum. This is great.

Tim: Yes. I agree. I like this.

Andrew (12): Me too.

Nicholas (8): I think it’s okay, but I do like it.

Maureen: When Rachel Allen says it only takes 7 minutes of preparation time and 5 minutes of cooking time, she’s not kidding.

Tim: Was it really that fast?

Maureen: Yes, although it stayed on the hob while we waited for you to get home from work. The thing that took the longest was soaking the rice noodles.

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“Speedy Chicken Noodle Soup” from “Easy Meals”

“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.

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

“Chicken noodle soup” from “Bill’s Basics”

Anna: Mmm.  This is what I’d call a Big Eat.  Like being at Wagamama in your own home!

Peter: Yes, I agree.  It was a big bowl of veggie, meaty goodness.  I could imagine eating this in the winter.  I had, at my disposal, a number of tools.  All of which were necessary to conquer the numerous elements to this soup.

Anna: What tools?

Peter: The chopsticks were required for the large chunks of greens and asparagus.  And handy for grabbing the chicken in the broth.  The fork was a back-up for the noodles.  And the spoon.  For the nice soupy broth.

Anna: I had a handy tea towel tied around my neck to prevent splashing accidents.

Peter: The combination of the asparagus and the broth should provide an interesting pee experience tomorrow.

Anna: This was so easy though.  Just bung all the separate ingredients into the bowl and pour the broth over.  So it can be adapted to whatever is kicking around in the fridge that needs using up.  Like the last of the roast chicken we used tonight!

Peter: We got three meals out of that roast chicken.  That’s proper recession cooking.  I approve.

Anna:  Didn’t make my own stock though.  Shhh………

“Chicken noodle soup” from “Bill’s Basics”