“Fried Chicken” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

Stress levels were high, due to Andrew’s upcoming A-levels, which all kick off in a few short weeks, so I did the one thing I knew would help: make all of Andrew’s favourite foods.

Thus, we found ourselves on a recent night having fried chicken (yum), cowboy rice (yum), tenderstem broccoli (yum), with all of it finished off with a flourish featuring Ruby Tandoh’s chocolate cake (triple yum).

We didn’t have proper fried chicken in our house growing up on the East Coast of the U.S., though I’m sure that’s down to the fact that we didn’t live in the South (where it’s a mainstay) and/or the fact that my dad is not a huge fan of fried chicken. When we did have it, my mom made it using crushed up potato chips and then baking it in the oven, which is fried chicken of a sort, but not proper fried chicken.

This method is proper fried chicken, where I even got to use my candy thermometer to gauge the temperature of the oil (I’m always happy to dig out one of my gadgets to justify its existence). Samin also advises you to either cut a whole chicken into eight pieces or bone about 12 chicken things. I didn’t get to the butcher in time to do either of those things (though Samin says you should do this yourself), so I looked in vain at the supermarket for boned thighs before concluding that you eat fried chicken on the bone in the U.S. so we’ll do the same thing here.

The recipe also gives you an option to make a spicy oil and brush the chicken with it once it’s fried. The adults at the table did this, and while it was interesting, it didn’t make it demonstrably better– mainly because the fried chicken on its own was out-of-this-world delicious.

We even had some leftover, so I was able to enjoy some cold fried chicken (which is a delicacy in and of itself) the next day for lunch. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Did my stress relief strategy for my teenager work? Did it ever. Do I think I’ll be making a lot more fried chicken (and other foods) between now and the end of June? Indeed yes. But making Andrew’s favourite foods is playing to my strengths, so I’m happy to keep doing it. Whatever works.

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“Fried Chicken” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

“Pasta al Ragu” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

Really, this is just a fancy meat sauce for pasta, but oh my goodness, this was so good that this cookbook has already paid for itself in good eating just in this one recipe alone.

Like all good long-and-slow recipes– it took about four hours in all– it was bit of a faff up front, especially with all the chopping for the soffritto. But it was utterly worth it. I was surprised to see that the chopped up onions, carrots and celery and almost disappeared into the meat sauce by the time it was done cooking. The long and slow method also enabled all of the ingredients to really get to know one another to become one delicious unit.

However, and this is a biggie, I need to add a caveat: I really was utterly confused by the size of the citrus zest required. It said I needed a 28cm by 8 cm strip of zest– one of lemon, another of orange. I’m sure it was a typo. At least, I hope it was a typo. How in the world would I be able to get a lemon or orange that size? (Spoiler alert: I couldn’t.) I did look high and low on the Internet for some sort of clarification or correction on this, but couldn’t find anything. In the end, I cut about eight strips of zest off of both a lemon and an orange. It certainly seemed to work, though I’d still like to know how much I really need.

This does reintroduce the question of what happens when a book has a typo. I know it’s been tested and edited and proofread, but hey, mistakes happen. But in this day and age, you’d think the publisher would be able to put out some sort of notice somewhere. When Gizzi Erskine had a typo for her Black Velvet Cake in “Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite”, she put a correction on her Instagram account. For me, the correction came too late and the cake was an utter disaster, but at least the correction was out there.

That problem aside, this was utterly amazing. Sure, it took about four hours, which is not the sort of time commitment you can make on a weekday afternoon. But on a rainy Saturday, it was the perfect thing to have bubbling away on the stove while we got on with other things. (Some of us watched the Master’s. Some of us went to the pub. I’ll leave it to you to decide what I did.) Also, we had enough leftovers to have it again, though I did have to bulk it up a bit with a can of chopped tomatoes.

Sure, there are loads of other beef sauce recipes out there that can be done easier and quicker. But they couldn’t possibly be better than this. We thought it was perfection. Highly recommended.

A Question for our American Readers who have this book: Can you please check the recipe that’s in your addition? Anne from Australia said that in her edition it calls for the same zest measurements, but she guessed– and I agree– that perhaps they ran into problems when they converted it to metric. So I’d be curious to hear what it says in the U.S. book. I’ll post the answer here if anyone has it. Thank you!

“Pasta al Ragu” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

“Sweet Peppers and Sausages” from “Dinner: Changing the Game”

I could probably write a full 5,000 word essay on what my Ideal Dinner would be. But as I currently don’t have the time to do so, let me cut straight to the conclusion: It would be something like this dish.

Easy to create after a full day working? Check.

A full complement of vegetables included in the recipe? Check.

Bang it in the oven and forget about it while it cooks? Check.

Easily sourced ingredients? Check.

Of course, the ideal dinner can vary from night to night, depending on any number of variables. But this one definitely hit the sweet spot. It helps that our local butcher Drings has the most amazing sausages. But still.

Calling a dish an ideal dinner is fairly high praise, I think. We will be enjoying this again. And again.

If you would like to try this recipe, the Toronto Star helpfully published it, along with a review of the book. Click through here to read it.

 

“Sweet Peppers and Sausages” from “Dinner: Changing the Game”

“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”