Our Verdict: “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

Kirstin: I am so sorry we chose to do this book in February, the shortest month of the year.

Maureen: Tell me about it. I’ve got at least eight other things that I made out of this book– all delicious– that I never wrote up.

Kirstin: I’m sorry we’re doing it in winter too, because there’s loads of recipes I want to do in the summer. Salads and fruits and all sorts.

Maureen: I think we may have already found our book of 2017.

Kirstin: You think? I’m so gutted we’re not doing this any more. I have loved this book.

Maureen: I was making stuff last week that I knew I wouldn’t even post about. It was that good.

Kirstin: I am so bringing this out again.

Maureen: Over the years of doing this blog, ,we know that cookbooks are like fashion, in that they can be trendy, or specialised or whatever, and also how everyone has their own cooking style. We also know that my style is different to your style, but this book hit the sweet spot for both of us. It was delicious, it was relatively easy and it was healthy.

Kirstin: Yes. I liked the light flavours and her simple style.

Maureen: The other thing I loved about this cookbook is that she writes beautifully in each introduction about her inspiration and why she likes eating the particular dish. She reminds me of Nigella Lawson in that way, because she also writes beautifully.

Kirstin: I subscribe to Elle magazine and her column is always the first thing that I read.

Maureen: I loved it when she wrote for the Saturday Guardian, and now I miss them. But I guess it would be hard to produce that many recipes week on week. We’ll just have to look for her recipes elsewhere.

Kirstin: She’s also just such a role model. I love her.

Maureen: The flavour combinations always looked a bit crazy, but they worked. Look at the chocolate pretzel peanut butter pie. You’d never think those three flavours would work together, and yet, they did. The title of the book holds up.

Kirstin: Thank you Ruby for making February so yummy. It’s the worst month of the year and it’s given me joy.

Maureen: Maybe it’s a good thing we did it in February then, even if it is the shortest month. It made everyone happy.

 

Overall Grade (A- F):  A* (Maureen)  A* (Kirstin)
Best recipes: Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Pie (Maureen) Grilled cheese sandwich (Kirstin)
Grade for Photography (A-F): Kirstin: I love Charlotte Bland’s photography, so a big A from me.
Any disasters? (Kirstin and Maureen) No.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? This is going straight into the High Rotation Bookshelf for both of us.
Would you give this to a friend?  (Maureen) Happily. (Kirstin) Oh, yes. It’s got something for everyone in this.

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Our Verdict: “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

“Brooklyn Cheesecake” from “Flavour”

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Kirstin: So I had all these plans for us today, and as the girl is on half term I thought we should go to a museum or something. You know, to bond. But Storm Doris had other plans for us, and we decided to stay indoors. And make a cake!

Ella: I wanted to go to the British Museum and see the Brutus coin.

Kirstin: Riiiiight. That well known Brutus coin. Ha! I let Ella choose the cake but not the music.

Ella: I wanted to listen to Quomodo Dicitur.

Kirstin: I vetoed the musical choice because I don’t need to listen to Latin while baking. Anyway, why did you choose this cake?

Ella: Because I like cheesecake more than I like chocolate cake. And this one involved crushing things.

Kirstin: Yes, you did rather enjoy the crushing part, didn’t you.

Ella: I love to crush. We were supposed to use a rolling pin to crush the biscuits, but we also happen to own this spiky hammer, it’s like a hammer but with metal spikes. Perfect for smashing in the skulls of your enemies.

Kirstin: It’s a meat tenderiser.

Ella: So I was just taking out some of my rage on these biscuits, as you do, but I ended up foiled by the brazil nut effect.

Kirstin: Riiiight. So while that was happening, I was making the rest of the cake.

Ella: I still don’t understand what cream cheese is. Is it cream? Is it cheese? Is it some Franken-dairy-product?

Kirstin: Good question. I have never been able to figure it out.

Ella: IT’S ALIVE!

Kirstin: …

Ella: There’s not even cheese in this cake. What kind of fake news is this. What kind of alternative facts. What’s the truth.

Kirstin: Anything about the actual cake?

Ella: I am disappointed that you didn’t let me lick the bowl.

Kirstin: So what did you think of the final product?

Ella: The cake was good. The cake was REALLY good. It was like, you die and you think you’ve ascended to heaven and God is there and she gives you this cheesecake and you’re like ‘is this heaven,’ and she’s like ‘Get Ready to Level Up, Mortal,’ and you take a bite out of the cheesecake and instantly ascend to Heaven². And God² is there and she reveals the secrets of quantum physics to you and you get to punch Plato in the face with the meat tenderiser.

Kirstin: Excellent. Shall I make it again sometime?

Ella: If you let me lick the bowl.

“Brooklyn Cheesecake” from “Flavour”

“Self Care Chicken Soup” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

img_3058There are moments in life that serve as stark reminds that time is marching on, regardless of whether or not we would like it to. One of those moments occurred when eating this soup when Andrew, 17, turned to me and said, “Can you teach me how to make this so I can make it myself when I go to university?”

[I had to take a moment to regain my composure.]

He’s got about 18 months to go before he’ll be off to university, but still, it’s already a hot topic of conversation– not to mention numerous meetings at school– as he weighs his future options. I fear it might be too late to finally construct the Harry Potter Hogwarts Lego that we were saving for a rainy day, but there’s still time to enjoy chats over after-school snacks, watch any and all shows about dogs together and to teach him how to operate the washing machine.

And, maybe most importantly, teach him how to cook.

Andrew already knows some basics, and he certainly is a dab hand at reheating things in the oven. But what he’s asked me to do is start compiling the recipes of all of his favourite foods and then teach him how to make them.

So I knew this recipe was a winner when he asked for the recipe to be added to his “Things I’d Like To Know How to Cook” list. It was a rainy cold day when we ate it and even though it’s quite simple, it’s also quite sublime.

Our particular bowls of self-care chicken soup may have been improved by the addition of freshly-made noodles (see above). But I also think this would be just as good with regular pasta. Needless to say, we all loved it and all of us were clamouring for second– and in some cases, third– bowls of it.

So while this meal may have made me a little bit weepy, it wasn’t the fault of the food. You can’t deny the march of time. Now I just need to get cracking on the cooking lessons, before it’s too late.

Apologies for the lack of photo of the actual soup. But aren’t these homemade noodles beautiful? 

Also, Google Books has indexed Flavour: Eat What You Love, so if you’d like to check out the recipe for this amazingly simple and amazingly delicious soup, click through here.

“Self Care Chicken Soup” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

“Pretzel Peanut Butter Pie” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

I have to admit that when I stumbled across this recipe when browsing through the book, my very first thought was, “Colour me intrigued!” My second thought was, “When can I make this?”

In the introduction, Ruby said her inspiration for this came from the Candy Bar Pie at Momofuku in New York. Maybe that’s why I felt an immediate need to try this out: it spoke to me in a very deep way because of my American roots.

A flavour combination like this can only go one of two ways: wonderfully or horribly. There is no middle ground when it comes to this sort of combination. But given that this entire family is a fan of the peanut butter and chocolate combination– again, I blame the American in our DNA– I figured we had nothing to lose if we threw in some pretzels, too.

I am thrilled to report that this was wonderful.

But Pretzel Peanut Butter Pie isn’t going to work if you don’t like chocolate and peanut butter together, or indeed chocolate covered pretzels, or even the sometimes odd sweet-salty pairings that are available. (When Googling that exact phrase, I found something called a “Doughnut Burger,” which literally made me shudder. But on the same list from Buzzfeed, I found a listing for Chocolate Covered Bacon and I thought, “Yup. I’d try that.”)

I think the true test of any baked good is how long the leftovers last sitting around the kitchen. With two hungry teenage boys in the house, good things don’t last long. This pie, for example, was gone within 24 hours.

That tells you everything you need to know.

If you’re brave enough and are a fan of peanut butter and chocolate– with pretzels thrown in for good measure– click through this paragraph to find the recipe from The Guardian. 

“Pretzel Peanut Butter Pie” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

“Beefburgers” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

The entry is actually entitled “Five Ways with Beefburgers” so I can tell you that this testing family happily ate “Two Ways with Beefburgers.” We had original beefburgers (pictured above) and chorizo burgers.

First of all, my heartfelt thanks to Ruby for allowing us to have burgers– TWICE!– without guilt. We love a burger in this house, but it’s a been a good long while since we had a recipe for a burger that we could test in one of our featured cookbooks. Ruby also name checks Beyonce and Nicki Minaj in the introduction, which only makes me love Ruby, this cookbook and burgers all the more.

To be fair, you don’t really need a recipe to make a good burger. Obviously, you need to get the best mince possible because there’s so few other ingredients in it. But Ruby provides the Top Tip of grating the onion, rather than chopping it finely, which is such a great idea I’m just sorry I didn’t think of it first. By grating the onion, it melts into the meat when you cook it. In the past when I’ve tried my best to mince the onion finely, I usually lost interest in some point and ended up with onion bits that were far too large to ever melt into the burger. So I will be doing it this way forever more.

For the Chorizo Burgers, you add chopped chorizo to the mince, along with some smoked paprika. Again, this is a brilliant idea and was hugely popular with the entire table.

Needless to say, these were both winning nights. I have to reiterate my love for Ruby when she tells us we can eat what we love. On these two nights, we did, and everyone was very, very happy about that.

Cook’s Note: The eagle-eyed among you might notice that I make quite generous burgers. I don’t apologise for it (nor do I think Ruby would want me to). I tend to use about 350g per burger, which makes for a most satisfying size. Yum.

“Beefburgers” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

“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”

“Honey Bundt Cake” from “Flavour”

Regular readers of this blog will know that I frequently test out the cake/tart/sweet treat recipes on my book club. They are willing guinea pigs and *usually* we end up with something delicious. (Aside from the one time I had to throw out an entire cake once it emerged from the oven because I could tell by looking at it that it was going to be disgusting. But we don’t talk about that.)

I wasn’t so sure about this once I had made the batter. Ruby tells you in the introduction that the quantity makes “a smaller, more manageable cake” but it looked like very little batter to me. But I persevered, and also used the bundt pan where it wouldn’t have mattered how much batter filled the pan– unlike this one.

I’m glad I did so. While it did make a much smaller bundt cake than the one I’m used to producing, it made a very reasonable sized cake and small slices too. This meant that nearly everyone went for a second slice, which we ate while we drank our coffee or tea. It’s the perfect cake for hot drinks.

This was a triumph. So much so that two of the book club members, who have endured tested many a cake for me said it was by far their most favourite book club cake ever.

High praise indeed.

If you’d like to impress your own book club, or indeed your own family, Google Books has indexed Flavour and you can find the recipe by clicking through this link.

“Honey Bundt Cake” from “Flavour”