Our Verdict – “A Year of Good Eating: Kitchen Diaries III”

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Kirstin: This is one of my Nigel favourite books for awhile.

Maureen: I agree

Kirstin: I can’t see what’s different about this one that makes me like it.

Maureen: We both have the first Kitchen Diaries, but that’s from several years ago, even before we started this blog. That was OK, but not as good as “Real Cooking,” which I still have on my high rotation cookbook shelf.

Kirstin: We reviewed “Eat,” which I really wanted to like, and that was rubbish.

Maureen: “Eat” was so disappointing because it seemed to promise so much and didn’t deliver it at all.

Kirstin: But this cookbook was a return to form. I don’t know if I liked this so much because we’ve done so many healthy eating books.

Maureen: This was good because it was different enough to be interesting, but not so different as to be weird.

Kirstin: The one thing that bugged me was how the seasonal eats section was hidden.  I found them by chance, and they were really good.

Maureen: I made a few things from there and they were all good. The thing that bugged me was how the cookbook was organised. It felt more like a book that needed to be read from start to finish, rather than a cookbook that you would dip in and out of. It needs a better index. It would have been nice to have a list of types of food grouped together so you could easily find a vegetarian dish or a fish dish, rather than having to wade through the whole book.

Kirstin: This is a good book to give people. It’s much more like his older things.

Maureen: Maybe that’s why we liked it so much because it was a return to form.

“A Year of Good Eating: Kitchen Diaries III”
Overall Grade (A- F): B (Kirstin) B+ (Maureen)
Best recipes: Kirstin: Pork Chop with Mushrooms Maureen: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake
Grade for Photography (A-F):  A
Any disasters? No
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: Bookshelf  Maureen: Bookshelf

 

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Our Verdict – “A Year of Good Eating: Kitchen Diaries III”

“Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake” from “A Year of Good Eating”

IMG_8147As soon as I read the title of this recipe, I knew I would be eating this in January.

What better way to cheer up a drab month with atrocious weather, grey skies and no holidays to celebrate? For what it’s worth, I’ve dubbed this month my Not Dry January. Unlike the legions of others who’ve decided that this will be the month they give their liver a rest and try to eat more healthy, I’m doing the opposite.

An American by birth– though not by location at the moment– I absolutely love the ambrosia that is the chocolate-peanut butter combination. After all, I was raised thinking that when it came to candy, there was nothing better than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. In fact, I still think that.

I made this for a dinner party where we would be joined by fellow expat Americans (and a few random Brits). I made it the afternoon before, as per the instructions, as it needs an overnighter in the refrigerator to set.

It did not disappoint. In fact, the only disappointing thing about the experience was because I wanted to be a polite and thoughtful guest, I left behind the remaining 1/4 of the cheesecake to my hosts. But I certainly missed not being able to have seconds the next day.

Yum.

If you’d like to make this yourself, click through this sentence to find the original recipe in The Guardian.

“Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake” from “A Year of Good Eating”

“Spiced Chicken and Noodle Soup” from “A Year of Good Eating”

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Peter: Well this has a bit of tickle.

Anna: Pretty spicy for sure. This is great.

Peter: You can make this again.

Anna: Why thank you. I definitely plan to. It would have been quick too, had I not had that purge of the spice cupboard at Christmas. Thank you for the emergency dash to the Coop for tumeric, by the way.

Peter: So are we thinking this is Thai?

Anna: I would say so. Coconut milk, lemongrass, chilli, lime, fish sauce… seems pretty Thai to me. It would be good with leftover roast chicken too.

Peter: So when are we having this again?

“Spiced Chicken and Noodle Soup” from “A Year of Good Eating”

“Pork Chops with Mushrooms” from “A Year of Good Eating”

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So it turns out that when you’re choosing a recipe to cook from this book, there are these extra colour insert sections that you also need to have a look at before making your decision. This particular recipe was chosen from the Autumn Eats section. I rather like these sections as the pictures are all in glossy colour and there is less rambling about the recipe, and more getting straight to the details.
Anyway, let me get back to the recipe. I made this on a cold night, just for me. Frying the pork chop in butter gave it a wonderful slightly nutty taste. And the mushrooms and shallots were delicious (I’d use less anchovies than he said to be honest though). I used thyme instead of flat leaf parsley because I’m a rebel like that. And I opened a bottle of red wine because it would have been rude not to have a glass to go with the food. Perfect cold weather fare. Cheers Nigel!

“Pork Chops with Mushrooms” from “A Year of Good Eating”

“Lamb Stuffed Sweet Potato” from “A Year of Good Eating”

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Anna: Well this was perfect for a freezing cold Sunday night in January. Proper comfort food. Pretty easy, though I was a bit suspicious of the additional step required of mixing the cooked potato with the lamb and then popping back in the oven for half an hour or so. But it was really worth it. The potato lid goes crunchy. Parts of the lamb and potato go sticky and caramelised. Which elevates the whole thing. I didn’t entirely follow the recipe to the letter however. Nigel left out a key ingredient. What goes better with lamb and the sweetness of sweet potato then salty feta? You think Nigel would have worked that one out himself! So I recommend you try this recipe. With my secret ingredient.

“Lamb Stuffed Sweet Potato” from “A Year of Good Eating”

“Carrot and Cardamom Soup with Ricotta Dumplings” from “A Year of Good Eating”

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One of the many good things* about Meat Free Monday is it forces us to try different things.

While I do love a good hearty soup while we’re in the throes of winter (Editor’s Note: This was a week ago, when London really was winter-like. Now, not so much.) This soup has the added twist of dumplings in it, made by combining flour, fine oatmeal, ricotta, parsley and butter. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I thought it would be a bit different from our usual throes of winter soup fare, so I was willing to give it a go.

We all loved it. Andrew, 16, even requested that it go into the regular rotation of Meat Free Monday dishes, he liked it so much. Tim was surprised at how filling it was. Nicholas liked the dumplings. Having eaten the leftovers for lunch, I can tell you that it’s fantastic warmed up a few days later, too.

Yum. Yum. Yum. Another winner from Nigel.

*Some of the good things: Good for us. Good for our planet. Forces us, at least one day a week, to not look to meat as the starring player in our dinner. Did I say Good for Us? It bears repeating: Good for us.

Want to make this yourself? Find the original recipe from The Guardian, found by clicking on this link.

“Carrot and Cardamom Soup with Ricotta Dumplings” from “A Year of Good Eating”

“Salmon with Macaroni” from “A Year of Good Eating”

IMG_8101Fish Friday!

I have to say upfront that I made this dish with a fair amount of trepidation, since I made something similar (Crab Mac and Cheese*) from the last book and it was– not to put too fine a point on it– GROSS.

Things change, tastes evolve and people mature. Perhaps that’s what happened in this case, because believe it or not, we liked it.

Maybe it was the generous amount of double cream used. Maybe it was the salmon. Maybe it was because it was a cold winter’s night and we needed the stodge. Whatever the reason, it was a hit.

Easy. Yummy. Popular. I’m sure we’ll have this on Fish Friday again.

If you’d like to give a try yourself, click through this sentence to find the original recipe in The Guardian.

*If you go back and look at that post, you’ll see that I used the exact same serving dish.

“Salmon with Macaroni” from “A Year of Good Eating”