“Tomatoes marinated in lime juice and honey with salted mozzarella” from “Virgin to Veteran”

A rare day off. A lunch for one.

I marinated the tomatoes in a lime, coriander and honey dressing. The tomatoes were so very tasty and the mozzarella, a perfect foil. I will be making this salad all summer, mark my words!

“Tomatoes marinated in lime juice and honey with salted mozzarella” from “Virgin to Veteran”

“Roasted fillet of beef rolled in herbs and porcini and wrapped in prosciutto” from “The Return of the Naked Chef”

Georgia: I think that Jamie’s first books seem a lifetime ago. So much has happened in food and our lives. I’ve slightly moved on and forgotten some of those recipes, except for this one which we still do regularly. This recipe is low effort, high impact food. It looks great, especially when you cut it open in the middle and yet you can prepare it hours beforehand and have it all ready and it takes just half an hour to do.

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“Roasted fillet of beef rolled in herbs and porcini and wrapped in prosciutto” from “The Return of the Naked Chef”

“Easy Meals” – Our Verdict

Anna: This is the perfect book for me to start with now that I’m cooking again, now that we’ve got the baby into a routine. It’s the sort of meals you can do when you don’t have a lot of time, want them to turn out very good.

Maureen: It’s the perfect book for anyone, full stop. It’s what I call the holy grail of cookbooks: things you can make that everyone will like that won’t take forever.

Anna: That’s it exactly. These recipes are quick, they don’t take a lot of ingredients but taste good. It’s a real working person’s cookbook or, I really hate to use this term, a mom’s cookbook. It fits in well with the rest of your life.

Maureen: I used this cookbook a lot this month. This is the first time I actually made things but didn’t blog about them. This is also the first time I saw things that you and Kirstin made and then was inspired to make them myself. We loved the tray baked fish that Kirstin made.

Anna: We made that too and really liked it.

Maureen: This is the book you can use when you’ve got 20 minutes to cook after a really busy day, but you want something good to eat.

Anna: This book reminds me a lot of Bill’s Basics, in that it’s easy meals to make and it’s meals that I know I’ll go back to a lot. This book is going to become one of my staple books.

Maureen: I agree. I’ve already put this book onto my high rotation shelf, where all my favourite cookbooks go.

Anna: I’ve got three or four of her books, but this is the first one that I know I will return to again and again. I was worried when her entertaining book came out that she was going to go into a certain direction, but I’m relieved that’s not the case. Big ticks all around. There were a few recipes I made that were a little disappointing, but you’d expect that of any cookbook. I don’t think Asian is her thing. The stir fry didn’t turn out too well.

Maureen: Given that’s she’s Irish, I think she’s all about butter and cream and all good things of the Irish countryside is what she’s about.

Anna: Yes. She’s also very good at roasts.

Maureen: You’re right. We made the pork shoulder last weekend, and it was delicious. What were some of your favourite recipes?

Anna: The maple pork chops were great. We also really liked the sausage and lentil casserole.We’ve made that twice. The chicken bryiani was also very good.

Maureen: A great book all around. The boys really liked it too.

Anna: Hurrah for Rachel. And hurrah for cooking again!

“Easy Meals” – Our Verdict

“Huevos Rancheros” and “Quesadillas” from “Easy Meals”

Maureen (as the boys gobble up the quesadillas): Try the eggs, which are called huevos rancheros in Spanish.

Andrew (12): Hmm. (tries it) Yum!

Nicholas (8) (pushes the eggs around his plate): I’m not sure.

Andrew: Look! I’ve finished mine!

Maureen: Nicholas, you have to try them before you know if you’ll like them. (Nicholas tries the eggs). Do you like them?

Nicholas: Yes.

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“Huevos Rancheros” and “Quesadillas” from “Easy Meals”

“Chicken biryani” from “Easy Meals”

Peter: I liked this more than the one we get from the takeaway. I think it’s better.

Anna: How so?

Peter: It’s not greasy. This was quite spicy I noticed. Did you put something extra in it that you shouldn’t have done?

Anna: No, the recipe calls for half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, which is all that I put in. But I’m still using the cayenne that we got in Sydney 4 years ago… maybe its heat is increasing with age.

Peter: It must be vintage.

Anna: I liked this a lot. Another win for Rachel. It was truly quick and easy, and she did this interesting thing with the rice which required it to be pre-soaked in boiling water before adding the chicken, spices and stock. This meant that it actually cooked properly.

Peter: Will you make this again then?

Anna: I’m already planning to. Next week.

“Chicken biryani” from “Easy Meals”

“Spanish pork stew” from “Easy Meals”

Anna: This is delicious. I made it quickly this morning while Louis napped in the sling, and it cooked for 2 hours while I went out and about. And now we have supper for three nights!

Peter: Yes, this was practical because you could prepare it in advance.

Anna: Although our nights of rocking are over for the time being as we have the baby sleep trained, for now, so I can actually cook in the evenings again! That said, I’m so knackered it’s nice to have something we just need to heat up.

Peter: I do like a bit of chorizo and there was certainly plenty of that. And it is good and filling.  Perfect food for a cold winter night.

Anna: What a shame the potatoes didn’t cook properly as the cooking temperature was too low. Having to fish them out and microwave them separately did slightly defeat the objective of having dinner already prepared, but we’ll know for next time.

Peter: In the meantime we’ve got two more suppers ready in the freezer.

“Spanish pork stew” from “Easy Meals”

“Baked Mushroom Risotto” from “Easy Meals”

If you’d like to make this yourself, the good people of the Good Food Channel have posted the recipe here.

Andrew (12): Is this a new recipe?

Maureen: Yes. It’s from the Rachel Allen book, “Easy Meals.”

Andrew: Oh. That’s why I didn’t like it then.

Tim: Why don’t you like it?

Andrew: It didn’t have the same sort of…. (pause while he mentally searches for the word he wants)

Maureen (trying to help him finish the thought): …Massive amounts of butter and cheese?

Andrew (finally finding the word he wants): Flavour. It doesn’t have the same kind of flavour.

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“Baked Mushroom Risotto” from “Easy Meals”