“Guacamole” from “Bosh”

There’s been considerable pushback (read: open revolt) at this house for a month of vegan recipes, so I figured one workaround in continuing to test the book without testing my family’s patience would be to make food that I know they already like.

Enter guacamole.

However, what I didn’t count on was making Bosh! guacamole. Stupidly, I figured all guacamole recipes are more or less the same, with some minor tweaks here or there. I rarely use a recipe anymore, given that guacamole is so simple I have it memorised.

For the record, my don’t-bother-to-look-it-up guacamole recipe is: Mash up two avocados, Chop up 1/2 a red onion very finely; Deseed and chop up a tomato; Add maldon sea salt; For heat, either add a few dashes of Tabasco sauce or half a chilli (depending on what’s to hand); Throw in some chopped coriander (if there’s some lurking in the frig); Mix all together; Add enough lime juice so it’s the consistency you want. Eat immediately. Remember to share.

The Bosh Bros. recipe is not a million miles away from this one until you get to the part that says: add one tablespoon of olive oil. Yes, you read that right: OLIVE OIL IN GUACAMOLE.

Why, Bosh Bros, WHY? HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY RUIN GUACAMOLE? A LEGIT VEGAN RECIPE THAT DOESN’T NEED TWEAKING??? (Apologies for the shouting, but I am irate.)

Needless to say, the guacamole was disgusting. It turns out there’s a reason that no guacamole recipe I ever read added olive oil: because it doesn’t work. Look at the picture above. Have you studied it? Does that look like any guacamole you’ve ever had? Or any guacamole you’d want to eat? No and No.

This recipe did little to convince my family that veganism was something worth doing. I did try to point out to them that guacamole is vegan already, to which they retorted that maybe there’s something wrong with this cookbook. They may have a point.

Back to the Bosh drawing board.

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“Guacamole” from “Bosh”

“Creamy Macaroni and Cheese” from “Dinner in an Instant”

Sometimes, you really ought to follow your instincts.

In this case, when I first saw this recipe, I thought, “Why in the world would you want to make macaroni and cheese in a pressure cooker.” Quickly followed by the second thought, “How does it work? I’m so intrigued I want to try it.”

Melissa Clark even says in the introduction, “Why make macaroni and cheese in an electric pressure cooker when it’s so easy to do on the stove? You’re not necessarily going to save any time with this method, but cooking it all in one pot does make things more convenient.”

Having now made this recipe, I respectfully disagree. This was a disaster.

We definitely are experts when it comes to judging macaroni and cheese in this house. By my count, we’ve tried at least six via this blog. Our favourite, perhaps even a Desert Island Dish, would be this version from the New York Times. Delivers every time. For when we have less time, I’ve also made this version from Melissa Clark’s previous cookbook, “Dinner.” It’s also a winner. (It’s also very quick. It only takes about 15 minutes to make.)

Honestly, I should have just stopped considering it when my initial thought was that you couldn’t really cook macaroni and cheese in a pressure cooker. I mean, technically, you CAN, because we did end up with a dinner of macaroni and cheese. But I won’t bother to do it this way again.

The reason, quite simply, is that clean up requires a monumental effort. Not surprisingly, no matter how much butter you put on the bottom of the pot, it’s still going to burn when it’s cooking on a high heat for six minutes. Once the macaroni and cheese was taken out, we found a pot that was completely black at the bottom, which required a huge multi-day cleanup effort. It’s funny how the picture above does not accurately reflect the level of burning that went on, but trust me, it was significant. At least there was enough non-burnt macaroni and cheese to feed everyone.

The burning had a secondary effect as well: the macaroni and cheese ended up with a distinct smoky taste. Smokiness can be excellent in a variety of dishes, but not in macaroni and cheese, which should deliver the creamy goodness we know and love.

Would I make this again? I think you all already know the answer to this question.

Macaroni and cheese in a pressure cooker? Just don’t do it.

“Creamy Macaroni and Cheese” from “Dinner in an Instant”

NOT “Italian Superfood Burgers” from “Superfood Family Classics”

img_9461The weather on Sunday in London was absolutely glorious. It was a day begging for a barbecue, particularly when you consider we probably don’t have many barbecue days left. Consequently, I scrapped my original plan of a roast beef Sunday dinner– it had been raining and miserable when I bought the ingredients on Saturday– and pivoted over to the idea of burgers and other barbecue treats for Sunday dinner.

“Great,” I thought. “I know Jamie has a burger recipe in the book, so I can make that.” (This thought is important because we’ve been struggling to find recipes that we want to make out of this book so far.)

So we took the long way around to Waitrose– like I said, it was a beautiful day– to buy the ingredients. This is a word-for-word transcription of the conversation that occurred in the meat department:

Me: So we need 500 grams of lean mince for the burgers.

Tim: 500 grams? That doesn’t sound like very much.

Me: Well, you add cannellini beans to them to bulk them up. This is a Superfood Jamie recipe.

Tim: No.

Me: What do you mean no?

Tim: No.

Me: But it will make them healthy burgers! Jamie says so!

Tim: No.

Me: We could just try it. It won’t kill us.

Tim: No.

{This went on for a bit.}

Tim: I’m sorry, but it sounds disgusting.

Me: You’re right. It does. Let’s just make regular burgers.

In the interest of full disclosure, this is the first time in 5 1/2 years of doing this blog and testing recipes that he’s ever flat-out refused to try something. But I could see where he was coming from. What’s the point of having something delicious if you’re just going to muck it up by doing something weird* to it? Why risk buying expensive ingredients only to have everyone hate it?

*In this case, the weird was adding beans to mince. Although I was intrigued enough to want to try it, I’m not intrigued enough to make it just for me.

This conversation does go reinforce to what I said in my last post: this book is completely joyless and feels as though it was written by a team of people who don’t like food very much. I know that burgers are decidedly not the healthiest option. But surely I could have them every once in a while as part of a balanced healthy diet? Particularly on a night where we’re firing up the BBQ? Also, what does this tell people who don’t know how to cook and want a burger? The only way to have one is to add beans to it? WHY???

MAKE THIS MADNESS STOP.

When we told the boys we had elected to not try the healthy Jamie burgers the response was nothing short of rapturous. I was glad we went the old-fashioned route, otherwise I imagine we would have had several leftover burgers on our hands when it was all over.

In the end, we had our usual burgers (best-quality mince with salt and pepper),  with cheddar cheese melted on top (somewhere a nutritionist on Jamie’s team is weeping), along with grilled halloumi, grilled corn on the cob, salad and potatoes in packets.

It was delicious and we were all happier for it, as we sat on our back patio under the setting sun laughing about the weekend. That’s what I call superfood.

NOT “Italian Superfood Burgers” from “Superfood Family Classics”