“Fish Tacos” from “Home Cook”

We could retitle this post: “This is where things begin to go badly for this cook book.”

In the second chapter of a novel I was reading last year, the author made such an elementary factual error I found that I couldn’t trust anything she wrote for the rest of the book. The error, if you’re wondering, was that she references an American couple who arrive on holiday in Spain one morning who need to make a telephone call back to the U.S. She writes that the couple rushes off to make the call before the office closes for the day. That would be impossible, of course, because it would be THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT there. My point is didn’t anyone who edited the book notice this? I know I’ve got transatlantic kids, but even they knew what time it’d be in the U.S. versus Europe when they were 4 years old. (It’s easy: the U.S. is always one meal behind Europe.) It annoyed me so much that it ruined the rest of the novel for me.

I know that’s quite a long digression for a blog that’s supposed to be full of cookbook reviews, but it provides a salient point: if a book proves to be unreliable or even wrong early on, I can’t trust it very much going forward.

Unfortunately, this was true of “Home Cook.” I went to make the fish tacos because I knew everyone would love some for Fish Friday. The method for preparing the fish was good and the guacamole recipe was excellent. In fact, I’ve used it many times since. Both were delicious.

Where things went amiss was for the tomato salsa recipe: the page it referenced was wrong. Being a forgiving sort, I thought I could find the right location in the index, but there was no joy either, as the tomato listing didn’t reference salsa at all. Then I looked up salsa in the index. That took me somewhere else. So for the first Fish Friday tacos, I went to the Internet to find Thomasina’s salsa recipe and used that. More than a week later, I stumbled over the salsa recipe under the Huevos Rancheros recipe. To say I was surprised to find it there was an understatement.

My point holds, though. I know it’s a difficult business getting a book written, edited, proofread and published. I know indexing is an art form and difficult to do (I have said this before). But what I can’t abide is when a cookbook puts me on a wild goose chase to find a recipe. Things should be where they say they will be.

Don’t get me wrong, the fish tacos were delicious. The guacamole was divine. But the quest to find the salsa recipe left me with a sour taste in my mouth that I didn’t want, and I fear that will colour my opinion on this book for the rest of the month.

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“Fish Tacos” from “Home Cook”

“Red Coconut Curry Shrimp” from “Dinner: Changing the Game”

Fish Friday!

Although, for the record, someone (read: my husband) once told me that prawns/shrimp do not count as fish. I think it’s high time I finally learn if he’s right. [Editor’s Note: Pause to do a quick Google search.] It turns out he’s right. According to Quora and FunTrivia.com, shrimp are crustaceans with the group of arthropods, though they are classified as seafood. You can learn something new every day. If you try.

Despite the above fact finding, I’m still making prawns on Fish Friday. Maybe I just need to call it Seafood Friday on the days we have shrimp/prawns.

This was a good meal. Although it did take a special trip to the supermarket to get some of the ingredients– I don’t usually have Thai red curry paste on hand– it was easy and quick to make. Everyone liked it.

There was only one small problem, and this is something we run into from time to time when we use a cookbook from a different country, in this case, America. The recipe called for daikon radish, which I guess must be relatively easy to source over there but is impossible to find over here. (Believe me, I tried.) Subbing in regular radishes was not an option, because they are completely different. So in the end I just ended up dropping the daikon radish from the recipe. It’s impossible to know if its absence made a difference. The curry was still good, though.

Needless to say, it was another winner from “Dinner.”

 

 

“Red Coconut Curry Shrimp” from “Dinner: Changing the Game”

“All-in-one Basil Cod with Potatoes and Green Lentils” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

Fish Friday!

This dish reminds me so much of a great Nigella Lawson dish. She loves a tray bake, and I have to agree. You bung everything together in a tray, bake it for the prescribed amount of time, and then eat. It’s the perfect weeknight dish for when you want something delicious, but nothing something that’s going to use three bowls, two pots and multiple spoons.

I always knew there was a risk in making this for the teenagers, because they are not fans of lentils, whereas the adults in the family are. In any case, they found a workaround: they ate the fish and the potatoes (happily, as it happens) and ate around the lentils. Problem solved. The adults loved everything.

Highly recommended, both for the ease of making it and the delicious taste. I would definitely make this again.

“All-in-one Basil Cod with Potatoes and Green Lentils” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

“Fish and Lobster Cakes” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

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Fish Friday!

We love a fish cake in this house. Who doesn’t? It’s deep-fried goodness. We’ve tried countless, but I can never remember which one I like best. Maybe because the recipes are all pretty similar.

This one is different, though, because it uses lobster (and cod). Yes, lobster. When I went to the fishmonger to see if I could get a cheap cooked lobster, they laughed at me. They laughed not because I wanted lobster, but because I wanted one cheap (Um.. No.. Not really possible) and also because I told them I planned to use them in fish cakes.

“Fish cakes? Really?” they asked, incredulously. “Why in the world would you put lobster in fish cakes? It’s so good on its own.”

I agreed, but told them the idea of the blog was to test these recipes as they were written, so I went away, dejected, thinking I’d never know if lobster really would make fish cakes better. But then I checked Ocado, and found a semi-budget solution: a full frozen pre-cooked lobster!

So I now can tell you definitely that there’s absolutely no point in putting lobster in fish cakes. Lobster is so good all on its own. While I could taste it in these, it was a waste.

The fish cakes were delicious, though. I most definitely would make these again (Andrew, 17, absolutely hoovered his down and then asked for more). I’d just make them with all cod the next time. Not lobster.

I’ll eat lobster as God intended next time: Straight out of the shell.

 

“Fish and Lobster Cakes” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

“Roasted Salmon Tacos” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

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One of the things I love about this book already is that Ina Garten makes no apologies for using butter, cheese, double cream and other yummy things in her dishes. In a world full of “Clean Eating” tomes– particularly in January– Garten’s attitude is a breath of fresh air.

Saying that, this recipe doesn’t use any of those things. In fact, it might even be considered (whisper it) a little bit healthy. But I made it for my family anyway. It is January, after all, and while we’re not detoxing or dieting or doing anything similar, we still did have a lot of rich delicious meals over the holidays, so it’s time to reign it in somewhat.

The roasted salmon was delicious and easy. You get one large piece of salmon and cover it in chipotle chile powder and lime zest. Here in the UK, I couldn’t source chipotle chile powder, but I do have a chipotle sauce, so I used that instead. Then you roast it for 12-15 minutes. It’s super easy.

It’s a clever take on traditional tacos, using salmon like that. However, we were all less convinced by the coleslaw that went with it. No one really liked the shredded cabbage with cucumber and dill. (I didn’t mind it, but I was very much in the minority.)

When I make this again, I will again roast the salmon in chipotle, but I think I’d serve it with iceberg lettuce and maybe some tomatoes, like a traditional taco. The simple guacamole I made to go with it was also good.

 

To make this yourself, click through here to find the recipe on Redbook online.

“Roasted Salmon Tacos” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

“Salmon with Tomatoes, Pea and Basil Puree” from “Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavours”

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Maureen: FISH FRIDAY!

Andrew (17): This is absolutely delicious.

Nicholas (13): Yum.

Andrew: This is the best fish you’ve made in a long time.

Nicholas: I agree.

Maureen: I’m surprised you like it so much. I agree it’s great, but I don’t think it’s radically different from other fish I’ve done.

Andrew: I don’t know. It’s just really good.

Maureen: Well, one for the books then. We should definitely have this again if you like it so much.

Andrew: Yes. We definitely should.

If you’d like to make this yourself, the recipe can be found on Google Books by clicking through this sentence.

“Salmon with Tomatoes, Pea and Basil Puree” from “Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavours”

“Portuguese Baked Hake and Potatoes” from “Simple”

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Maureen: Fish Friday!

Nicholas (13): What fish is this?

Maureen: It’s hake. You should see the mouth on a hake! It’s really something. I asked the nice fishmonger if I could have the head too, but then she warned me that we would have to be extra-careful with it because the teeth have anticoagulants in them. So no fun with fish heads tonight.

Andrew (Now 17! Happy birthday!): I’m not so sure about the hake.

Maureen: What do you mean?

Andrew: I like the potatoes, but I don’t like the taste of the hake.

Nicholas: I agree with Andrew.

Maureen: Well, that might be a first. But I’m not sure I understand why you dislike the hake. I don’t think the hake tastes overly fishy. It’s just a plain white fish.

Tim: I agree with Mom. I don’t see the problem either.

Maureen: Well, we seem to be divided on this one. Maybe when I make it again, I’ll just make it for me and dad and the two of you can have fish fingers or something. That’ll show you. I think this is delicious.

As I said above, the adults really liked this. I honestly don’t know why the boys didn’t like it more. Sometimes Often, children’s tastes are a mystery. But if you want to try it for yourself, click through this sentence to find the recipe in the Telegraph.

“Portuguese Baked Hake and Potatoes” from “Simple”