“Hasselback potatoes with bay and caraway” from “On The Side”

Kirstin: We have a friend who used to make Hasselback potatoes whenever we went around back in the 90s, but I don’t remember him cooking them like this. Having sliced the potatoes and then rolled them in melted butter (Tom also sliced the bottoms so they would lie flat) we then added water to the pan, let it come to the boil and finally stuck it in the oven. And having accidentally called these Hasselblad potatoes while in the process of preparing them (because photography) Tom enjoyed roasting me all over Twitter. So as I basted the potatoes every 15 minutes, Tom continued his fest on twitter, discussing medium format cameras and associated potato related puns. And then finally they were ready. Outstanding with the caraway seeds. Yes. I would make these again. And this is the recipe I would use. But I will remember their correct name next time! Ha!

“Hasselback potatoes with bay and caraway” from “On The Side”

“Two-potato Dauphinoise” from “Flavour”


Kirstin: I am a HUGE fan of potato dauphinoise. Tom is not. So I timed the making of this when I knew I would have fellow potato enthusiasts for dinner. Two kinds of potato, one kind of cheese, garlic infused double cream. And while I may have overcooked this (I blame my oven, but that’s another story) it added a rather lovely crunchy texture which even Tom had to admit was rather good.

“Two-potato Dauphinoise” from “Flavour”

“Cauliflower and Potato Curry” from “Deliciously Ella”

IMG_6631I won’t bury the lede here. We liked it!

I have to say I was surprised. I’m a bit dubious about this whole book, which is why I’m struggling to find recipes that I want to make. But as it was Meat Free Monday, I thought I would look again through the book hoping to find something that would work for last night’s dinner. And I did.

After making the Veggie Lasagna where herbs and spices were completely absent (and would have gone a long way to making that dish better), this dish went completely in the other direction, with a combined 12 tablespoons of spices, along with garlic and jalapeno peppers. Lest you worry that’s a lot of flavouring, it all gets absorbed in the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk in which the vegetables cook.

Our only criticism of this dish was there were too many potatoes. We all felt it was mostly a potato dish, with the other ingredients fighting for attention. The next time I make it, I’ll only use about 750g of them (or 12 charlotte potatoes), but I’ll also double the amount of cauliflower I use.

Also it has to be said for the less experienced cook that the instructions are a bit vague at times. What exactly does a “generous amount of olive oil” mean? I guessed, but I’m still not sure I had it right, and you could quite easily use too much olive oil and then end up with a greasy curry.

We enjoyed it. It scored an average 7/10 – Would Eat Again from the table. I’m including the recipe below for those who would like to make it.

A few notes from my experience:

-As I said above, I would cut down on the number of potatoes, though that comes down to personal preference. I would also double the amount of cauliflower.

-I threw caution to the wind and cut the potatoes down into chunks before I par-boiled them. It saved me time in the long run, as I didn’t have to wait for them to be cool enough to handle and I could just get on with the next step right away. They held up fine.

-We all put some Greek yogurt on top to lessen the sting of all the spaces.

-Before you start, check the supply levels on the spices that it calls for. Three tablespoons takes about half of a standard-sized spice jar.

-Ella recommends that you have it with brown rice. We were rebels and we had white rice instead. We like to live life on the edge.

Continue reading ““Cauliflower and Potato Curry” from “Deliciously Ella””

“Cauliflower and Potato Curry” from “Deliciously Ella”

“Cottage Pie with Dauphinois Potato Topping” from “Mary Berry Cooks”

Anna: This hasn’t worked. It may be because I didn’t par boil the potatoes for long enough, but I’m disappointed.

Peter: It’s not really a cottage pie without a mashed potato top.

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Anna: If it had a mashed potato top it would be great, as the mince is really nice. But the cream has seeped into it which making it look grey, which isn’t very appetising. And some of the potatoes aren’t cooked properly.

Peter: I don’t think the embellishments have made any improvement to what should be a simple dish.

Anna: No. I’m glad that we didn’t have anyone round to share this with as it looks a mess on the plate. Disappointing.

“Cottage Pie with Dauphinois Potato Topping” from “Mary Berry Cooks”

“Griddled Mackerel with Pickled Cucumber and Beetroot and Potato Salad” from “Virgin to Veteran”

Anna: We’re have a Scandiwegian feast tonight. Scandi food is very in right now, so you’ll be pleased to hear our meal is bang up to date.

Peter: I’m thinking herring. I’m thinking roll-mops. Should we be eating this in permanent darkness? Or perhaps cut in two on a bridge somewhere?

Anna: It’s mackerel actually.

Peter: Well I know that. We haven’t had it for a while. I can feel those fishy oils opening my arteries.

Anna: Do you like it? What about the potato salad?

Peter: It was nice. You would be hard-pressed to pick out the potato amongst the beetroot. I’m sorry, I didn’t pick up on the horseradish at all.  Was this 15 of our 5 a day?

Anna: It was a lot of veg. I like this recipe but there were too many bits to cobble together at once which just makes me cross. We are going to have it again next week but I’m going to skip the cucumber pickle, nice though it was, and not bother flouring the mackerel.

Peter: Why don’t you ask Maggie what she thought of it? She polished off the skin!

“Griddled Mackerel with Pickled Cucumber and Beetroot and Potato Salad” from “Virgin to Veteran”

“Spanish Omelette (tortilla)” from “River Cottage Family Cookbook”

Kirstin: I do like omelettes.

Tom: I’m not usually a huge fan. But I like the look of this. And you flipped it so beautifully.

Kirstin: That’s because I used my frittata flipper, which Christiana gave me!

Continue reading ““Spanish Omelette (tortilla)” from “River Cottage Family Cookbook””

“Spanish Omelette (tortilla)” from “River Cottage Family Cookbook”

“Early Autumn Cornish Pasties” from “Jamie’s Great Britain”

Andrew (12): I like this very much. I can’t fault it in any way.

Tim: How does it compare to Goddard’s Pies? (Editor’s Note: We faithfully buy Goddard’s Pies every weekend for lunch at Greenwich Market. We especially love the cheese and onion. Not a Cornish pasty, but delicious just the same.)

Andrew: Goddard’s Pies are very good, but these are also very good.

Nicholas (8): Goddard’s Pies are better.

Andrew: You’re digging your own grave!

Tim: It’s Halloween! He’s getting into the spirit of things by digging his own grave!

Maureen: I like it a lot more than I thought I would. I wasn’t sure about baking the skirt steak– I didn’t think it would cook completely– but it worked.

Continue reading ““Early Autumn Cornish Pasties” from “Jamie’s Great Britain””

“Early Autumn Cornish Pasties” from “Jamie’s Great Britain”

“Happy Fish Pie” from “Jamie’s Great Britain”

We didn’t talk about this recipe very much, as our dinner conversation quickly veered into the territory of “What souveniers do you want from China?” (Answer: A panda. Or if that’s not possible, chopsticks) and jokes (Here’s the best one: A panda is eating in a restaurant, when all of the sudden he shoots his waiter and leaves. A policeman chases after him and says, “What do you think you’re doing?” to which the panda replies, “Hey, I’m a panda. Look it up in the dictionary. I eat shoots and leaves.”) I think there’s some good value in the blog today– food AND jokes!

It’s no surprise that a recipe for fish pie was included in “Jamie’s Great Britain.” I think fish pie is as classic a British recipe as it comes. As he says in the introduction, “Fish pie is one of the cornerstones of great British comfort food.”

Fish Pie is definitely classic British cooking. Before we moved here 13 years ago from the United States, we never had a fish pie in our life. But that all changed after I bought a copy of “The Return of the Naked Chef,” Jamie’s second book. “Fantastic Fish Pie” is just that– fantastic. The page in my cookbook has all manner of splashes and stains on it. I have notes from October 2001 on the page, meaning that I’ve been making this dish for 10 years. We all love it. It is firmly in the autumn/winter rotation of dinners here. If you’d like to make it yourself, there’s a link to the recipe here.

So how does this version stack up with the original? It doesn’t stack up, unfortunately. Our view might be tainted by the fact that we haven’t tried many any other fish pie recipes. (Why branch out when you found one you’ve love?) This version isn’t dramatically different from that one, but where it fails is it doesn’t include the two things that make the original so good: handfuls of spinach and boiled eggs.

Continue reading ““Happy Fish Pie” from “Jamie’s Great Britain””

“Happy Fish Pie” from “Jamie’s Great Britain”

“Summer Vegetable Broth with Pesto” from “Good Things to Eat”

Nicholas (8): I’ve got one thing to say. In the event of an earthquake, if you had these vegetables, it would be the only thing that survived.

Maureen: I don’t understand what you’re talking about. It’s delicious. I love it.

Andrew (11): It seems to be missing something. I’ve got another comment about the Jamie Oliver prunes dessert.

Maureen: But we’re talking about the soup!

Andrew (undeterred): The prunes were good for only one thing and that was to clean out the sewers.

Maureen: Back to the soup. This is really nice. There’s nothing weird in it. It’s not spicy. It’s just yummy vegetables made into a soup. I’m not asking you to love it. I’m asking you to eat it. (The boys begin to eat it) Is it growing on you?

Andrew: Yes, actually.

Continue reading ““Summer Vegetable Broth with Pesto” from “Good Things to Eat””

“Summer Vegetable Broth with Pesto” from “Good Things to Eat”

“Roast tomatoes and mozzarella”, Slow roast lamb shoulder with garlic, vermouth and rosemary”, “Roast potatoes”, “Courgette and pine nut salad” and “Little chocolate pots with cardamom” from “”Good Things to Eat”.

Katherine:So how do you pick the recipe you are going to try?

Kirstin: There are only a few dinner menu recipes. It wasn’t hard.

Katherine: My problem is I’d want to do too many different things that don’t go together. Mussels with leeks, why didn’t you choose that?

Kirstin: I just chose things that go together. I don’t cook mussels. But you know, I should. I should definitely try and cook mussels sometime.

Tom: So what did we think?

Katherine: The tomatoes were the perfect temperature.

Kirstin: I was supposed to use a big piece of mozzarella and break it up, but I used small ones. And I forgot the lemon juice. They looked good, though.

Continue reading ““Roast tomatoes and mozzarella”, Slow roast lamb shoulder with garlic, vermouth and rosemary”, “Roast potatoes”, “Courgette and pine nut salad” and “Little chocolate pots with cardamom” from “”Good Things to Eat”.”

“Roast tomatoes and mozzarella”, Slow roast lamb shoulder with garlic, vermouth and rosemary”, “Roast potatoes”, “Courgette and pine nut salad” and “Little chocolate pots with cardamom” from “”Good Things to Eat”.