“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”

“Yorkshire Puddings” from “Bread Street Kitchen”

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The Sunday Roast is one of the best British traditions. What’s not to love? Your favourite meat– at our house, it’s done on a rota basis– roasted, surrounded by multiple dishes of vegetables, eaten at a leisurely pace on a late Sunday afternoon. Yum.

If you’re going to make roast beef for your Sunday lunch, a Yorkshire Pudding is the linchpin.

As we came late to the British Sunday Roast tradition (since we didn’t move to this great country until we were 30) we do not have a family version of Yorkshire puddings that has been handed down generation to generation. Maybe that’s not how it actually plays out in most families, but that’s how I imagine it. Consequently, I have tried many, many versions of Yorkshire pudding. Nigella. Jamie. Nigel Slater. Delia. Mary Berry. Other assorted cookbooks. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve made Yorkshire Pudding.

All were fine, I guess, but none of them made me think. “That’s it! The perfect Yorkshire Pudding! I must always make this with my roast beef.” Until now.

I have made these twice now and I have to say they are delicious. We all loved them. The cookbook also helpfully includes two top tips for great Yorkshire puddings. Tip No. 1: Let the batter sit out for at least an hour, but overnight is even better. Tip No. 2 (which I already knew): The only way to get a good rise is to get the tin and the oil really, really hot before you add the batter.

I don’t know if this recipe is dramatically different to any of the others I’ve tried, or the many millions of recipes that are out there, but this is the first time I felt compelled to make it again just two Sundays later. That’s how much we loved them.

Yorkshire Pudding = FTW

“Yorkshire Puddings” from “Bread Street Kitchen”

“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”

“Parmesan Roast Chicken with Cauliflower and Thyme” from “Simple”

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If I ever had to pick a perfect supper, this would certainly make the list.

  • Tray bake? Check.
  • Chicken? Check.
  • Cauliflower? Check.
  • Cheese? Check.
  • Easy? Check.
  • Delicious? Check.
  • Everyone likes it? Check.

See what I mean? The perfect supper.

This is not to say that I haven’t made a variation of this a million times before. But the reason I’ve made something similar a million times before is because of all the points listed above. It’s a good time of year to have this, as well (though it’s good any time of year, to be honest), as the days become shorter and cold weather begins to descend.

We followed the alternative directions and used gruyere instead of parmesan, but that made it seem all the more like cauliflower cheese, another winning dish.

Would I make this again? Obviously. Why mess with success?

If you’d like to make this yourself, here’s the recipe, as it first appeared in the Daily Telegraph.

“Parmesan Roast Chicken with Cauliflower and Thyme” from “Simple”

“An Insanely Good Blondie” from “Stirring Slowly”

DSC03886BLONDIES!

Sorry, but I can’t even think– let alone write– about this food item without getting excited. We love them over here. In fact, we love them so much that in the spring, when I went on a Blondie kick (and kept making this recipe from Mark Bittman), I finally had to say, “I’m sorry but I need to stop making these Blondies. They are as addictive as crack cocaine.”

But after having made a fair few salads from “Happy Salads”– many of which were big hits– the boys were hankering for some good baked goods. So in a break from binge-watching “Stranger Things” (Have you seen it yet? It’s EXCELLENT, if nothing else for the memories it evoked for me of the 1980s), I made these Blondies.

To give credit where credit is due, the photo above was taking by the lovely Kirstin, because she, too, was hankering for some Blondies. What’s not to love? They’re basically dense chocolate chip cookies in cube form. Yum.

This recipe is very similar to the Mark Bittman recipe that we love so much over here. However, she recommends you use coconut oil or butter or a mixture of both, rather than the all-butter approach that Bittman uses. As it was an adventurous day– watching an 80s throwback series with your teenagers will do that to you– I decided to go with using all coconut oil.

This proved to be a controversial decision, as the Blondie traditionalists who aren’t coconut fans (the teenagers and I) did not like the overwhelming taste of coconut that this created. Tim, on the other hand, liked it, but as he’s a coconut fan that makes sense.

Would I make this again? I already have. Twice. However, I went with the all-butter option. Consequently, these blondies lived up to their name.

“An Insanely Good Blondie” from “Stirring Slowly”

“Za’atar & Goats’ Cheese Puffs” from “Sirocco”

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This is an absolutely genius recipe. It’s the perfect thing to make for when you’re having people around. It couldn’t be easier, it looks impressive and it is delicious.

I made this when we had some neighbours around for a summer night in the garden. All you need to do is unroll a puff-pastry sheet, brush it with olive oil, sprinkle za’atar over it, and then break up the goats’ cheese and sprinkle that on the top. Roll up the puff pastry sheet, and then cut it into rounds. Bake it in an oven at 220C for 15 minutes. You won’t be able to resist eating these immediately. We couldn’t, anyway.

This one was absolutely a winner. I’ve made them since, and we all love them. This definitely was a huge success.

 

“Za’atar & Goats’ Cheese Puffs” from “Sirocco”

“Seared Steak with Roasted Vegetables, Whey Dressing & Pepper Sauce” from “Sirocco”

IMG_8932I need to make a full disclosure, now, at the very start: I did not make the whey dressing.

Regular readers of this blog will know how I feel about hard-to-find ingredients. They truly drive me insane. Even worse is when you actually buy said hard-to-find or obscure ingredient, you use it once for a recipe, and then it’s just sitting in your cupboard for an interminable amount of time until you get around to throwing it away, safe in the knowledge that you will never use/need/eat it again. What a waste.

Brown Rice Syrup/Avocado Oil/Pomegranate Mollasses, I’m looking at you.

So: Whey. This recipe calls for it, and I wasn’t even sure where I would find it in my local supermarket or organic food store or green grocer. I had a look in all three local shops, but came up empty handed. But unlike previous recipes from previous books, I didn’t panic, because when we saw Sabrina Ghayour in person, she told us not to stress out too much if we couldn’t find the exact right ingredient called for in some of her recipes.

With her advice ringing in my ear, I made the bold decision to go ahead and make this without it. I thought perhaps we could live without the six tablespoons of whey mixed with six tablespoons of Greek yogurt, and I *think* I was right.

Nearly everyone loved this. While the rest of us were gobbling this down, Tim thought it was lacking something. (Maybe it was lacking some Whey Sauce? Who can say for sure.) He recommended the next time I make it, I sprinkle some feta over the top. Maybe the whey sauce would add the extra special something he thought it was missing, but you all know that I’ll accept any recommendation that says add more cheese, so we’ll do it next time.

But his criticism aside, I thought this was a great weeknight recipe.  To wit:

  • Healthy– what could be better than a tray full of roasted vegetables;
  • Using the steak as a garnish rather than the main event– I imagined nutritionists everywhere giving me a big thumbs up;
  • Easy– Nigella is a big proponent of tray bakes for weeknight cooking, and I couldn’t agree more.

So will I be making this again? Yes. Probably next week, if I can get away with it. (Note to self: Add feta.)

 

“Seared Steak with Roasted Vegetables, Whey Dressing & Pepper Sauce” from “Sirocco”