Our Verdict: “Dinner, Changing the Game”

Kirstin: I just want Melissa Clark to move in to my house and cook with me. With all the jalepenos

Maureen: I could see how that would work. She would be fun to cook with and I also think her attitude would be, “Don’t stress. It’s just dinner.”

Kirstin: All the sticky tabs I use to mark the recipes I want to make are no longer relevant because I just want to make everything.

Maureen: Every time I open the book I find something else I want to make. I feel bad because due to a variety of factors, I wasn’t able to post everything I made. But there were no disasters, which is always the sign of an excellent cookbook.

Kirstin: She is so good at flavour combinations. Everything is so tasty.

Maureen: But they were all made with easily sourced ingredients. Other than my experience with daikon radishes, though enough people told me they thought I’d easily be able to find them in London. I still haven’t seen them in any of the greengrocers or supermarkets I use regularly, but I’ve not given up hope.

Kirstin: I’ve loved this book so much that I’ve already given four copies away.

Maureen: If that’s not a sign of a good book, I don’t know what is. The thing I loved about this book is that it was all attainable deliciousness. It’s not overly cheffy in that it involves multiple steps and multiple bowls. They were all pretty straightforward, but absolutely delicious, which is all you really want, in the end.

Kirstin: I think this is my favourite book ever.

Maureen: High praise indeed.

Kirstin: You know how much I love Gwyneth Paltrow and Bill Granger. They do lovely Italian and Asian dishes, which is what we love most in our house. But Melissa Clark does those dishes so much better than they do.

Maureen: This is a very, very, very good book. I don’t know if it’s my favourite cookbook ever, but I don’t know what that would be. That’s going to take some thought.

Kirstin: This cookbook is just the business. Everything has tasted so amazing. It’s made me really get back into the kitchen and enjoy being back in the kitchen.

Maureen: I think it’s made me a better cook overall. I really started to think about what we should have for dinner, what would taste good with it, what extras I could make. Not in an over the top way, but in a more thoughtful way than I usually do, and I put it down to this book.

Kirstin: If I could only have one book on my shelf, it would probably be this one. This is my Desert Island Cookbook.

Overall Grade (A- F):  A* (Maureen)  A***** (Kirstin)
Best recipes:  Korean Bulgogi (Kirstin) There were so many good ones, it was hard to pick one. But maybe the Za’atar Chicken. (Maureen)
Grade for Photography (A-F): Kirstin: A
Any disasters? (Kirstin and Maureen) Absolutely not.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? High-rotation bookshelf.  Kirstin: This one might have its own bookshelf.
Would you give this to a friend?  (Maureen) Absolutely. (Kirstin) Indeed. I’ve given it away four times already.

Our Verdict: “Dinner, Changing the Game”

“Pizza with Broccoli Rabe, Ricotta and Olives” from “Dinner”

Kirstin: We love pizza. We have it every weekend and having played around with the dough recipes, we’ve decided the best one is the Roberta’s recipe from the New York Times. But then that leaves the question of the toppings!

Tom: Nduja know what my favourite topping is?

Kirstin: I knew you were going to say that.

Tom: I’m just trying to do Nduja right thing. Anyway, you were saying…

Kirstin: So I liked the look of this recipe with broccoli, ricotta and olives. Normally we don’t cook the toppings — we just use olives, prosciutto, passata, garlic…

Tom: And Nduja!

Kirstin: Yes, and that. Anyway, this recipe involves cooking the broccoli, garlic and chilli flakes, and then you chop it up and add the olives.

Tom: And then bung that on the pizza, plus ricotta and olive oil. And salt. And a few more chilli flakes. It was fab!

Kirstin: I loved it. I would do that again. Would you?

Tom: Amazingly, yes. Normally I don’t like pizzas without meat, but this was great!

Kirstin: I think I would add some jalapeño. I’m surprised she didn’t.

Tom: Everything is better with more jalapeño!

“Pizza with Broccoli Rabe, Ricotta and Olives” from “Dinner”

“Steam Clams with Spring Herbs and Lime” from “Dinner”

Kirstin: This might be my favourite clam recipe ever. I think it was the combination of lime zest, lime and butter in the juice which we mopped up with bread that really made my day. And we cheated by having this for lunch. With a gin and elderflower sherbet because it felt like the thing to do. Gah, I’m sooooooo going to miss this book.

“Steam Clams with Spring Herbs and Lime” from “Dinner”

“Harissa Chicken” from “Dinner”

Kirstin: This recipe is featured on the cover of this cookbook. And I have to admit chicken and harissa is a total win in this household. Ella actually told me that she loved the harissa potatoes with this too, so that’s even better. Not as amazing as our favourite harissa chicken recipe from Gwyneth’s book, this is a very yummy and much easier version if you feel need for a little bit of Middle Eastern in the middle of the week. Also make sure to make the yoghurt garnish because it is just wonderful. And spread it on everything.

“Harissa Chicken” from “Dinner”

“Homemade Seedy Crackers” from “Dinner: Changing the Game”

We eat seedy crackers quite a bit, mostly because they are delicious and involve way less guilt than a salty snack. But whether you buy the posh Gail’s brand (£1.69 for 100 grams) or the standard Ryvita thins (£2 for 125g), they work out at £16 to £17 a kilo, not far from a rib of beef. When you do that sort of math, it gives you pause.

But tucked in the back of this month’s book is this recipe for Homemade Seedy Crackers. At last! We can make them ourselves and save our pennies for something else good. Like wine. The recipe is a mixture of spelt and plain flour, baking powder, salt, water, olive oil and seeds. They are a doddle to mix and bake, and probably cost about £2 a kilo. They disappeared quickly. We’re likely to be making these regularly.

Homemade Seedy Crackers FTW.

“Homemade Seedy Crackers” from “Dinner: Changing the Game”

“Korean-style stir-fried beef (Bulgogi) from “Dinner”

Kirstin: So when I told our dinner guests that I was making this for dinner, they both became very excited. But because I had never had Bulgogi I had no idea what kind of a treat I was about to have. I made the marinade and sauce while Doctor Who was on and then got to the frying part of the beef. Melissa’s tip for cutting the beef involved freezing it for half an hour, which worked beautifully. Yes, I also had to source some mad Korean ingredients, but I love visiting our local Chinese supermarket and discovering new things.
Anyway, back to the food. Which was sensational. I mean seriously delicious. I served it with rice and in lettuce leaves, with optional garnish of coriander and jalapeno chilli. I literally cannot wait to make this again. It was perfect to share with others, littles and bigs alike and was a total treat as the flavours satisfied the whole mouth. I love Melissa Clark and her Asian recipes so very much. And at the end of the meal, I ordered a copy of this book for our guests so they could make it themselves.

“Korean-style stir-fried beef (Bulgogi) from “Dinner”

“Sweet Garlic Chicken” from “Dinner”

Kirstin: We like to celebrate Fridays with Fizz. We call it Fizz Friday and invite our nearest and dearest friends to share a meal. It’s usually chicken (except for the vegetarian who I cook fish for) and on this occasion I cooked this recipe. Having never seen rainbow chard before, I was pretty excited before I even started to cook. Such beautiful leaves! This recipe is essentially a roast chicken recipe, but with a twist. And it’s a good one. Once the chicken is 5 minutes from being finished, you add the chopped chard stalks to the pan, and stir in some chilli and garlic. Once the chicken is finished, you remove it and add the rest of the chard leaves to the pan over medium high heat, stirring until they are wilted. It gives you an extremely lovely gravy, complete with chard. Would I make this again? You bet I would! And I definitely need to do some more experimentation with rainbow chard!

“Sweet Garlic Chicken” from “Dinner”