“Risotto with Mushroom and Asparagus” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

Maureen: I like this. It’s pretty good.

Andrew (12): This is just OK. I’ve had other risottos that I’ve liked better.

Maureen: I like that there are so many vegetables in it. I usually only have one additional vegetable in a risotto, not three.

Tim: This is nice. I like it.

Maureen: I’d make it again, but I wouldn’t follow her method.

Tim: How so?

Maureen: Well, she asks you to add the asparagus at the end and just cook it in the final minutes, with everything else. The way I usually cook asparagus for risotto is I add it to the stock and let it cook in that until I need it. She also wants you to fry the mushrooms first and then get started on the risotto. I just did them in a separate pan to speed everything up.

Tim: That makes sense.

Maureen: Also, there’s not nearly enough rice in the original recipe. As you know, I added another 100g to it, and it’s still not enough for the four of us. I thought with all of the other vegetables, it would be enough, but it’s not.

Tim: How in the world did you get asparagus in July?

Maureen: Well, it’s from Peru. So we all need to take a moment to feel really guilty about that.

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“Risotto with Mushroom and Asparagus” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

“Tarragon Chicken” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

Andrew (12): This is very nice. I would definitely have it again.

Nicholas (9): I’m still eating my corn! I love corn on the cob.

Maureen: Corn on the cob definitely means that it’s summer. Even if it has been raining an awful lot.

Nicholas: Now I can eat the chicken.

Andrew: I would say the chicken is the best bit.

Tim: I liked it, but there was nothing to distinguish it from any other tarragon chicken.

Maureen: This version is slightly different from the Rachel O Rachel tarragon chicken [Editor’s Note: Actually, she’s Rachel Allen. But she’ll be forever Rachel O Rachel in our hearts] but I think I like that version more.

Tim: This one appears to have no unicorn tears added.

Maureen: Agreed.

Andrew: There were no unicorn tears? That’s a major fault. Like on your driver’s test. If you make a major fault, it’s an automatic fail. No unicorn tears equals major fault equals automatic fail.

Nicholas: When it was cooking it smelled really good and I was really looking forward to it. I expected the sauce to be really, really good but now that I’ve had it, I think it’s just OK. I’m disappointed.

Maureen: I think we all agree about that.

“Tarragon Chicken” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

“Bouef en daube” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

Anna: This is described as a hearty dish perfect for cold evenings. I know it’s July but it feels like the right supper for today. For this whole month actually.

Peter: It does feel like a wintery dish, but it’s very nice.

Anna: It’s been cooking away in the oven all afternoon making the house smell lovely. Julie, was it easy to make?

Julie: Very easy, yes.

Peter: You can definitely taste the orange peel. It makes it a bit different from your normal beef stew.

Anna: En daube apparently means from Provence. So we are eating this in honour of Kirstin who is in Provence right now. Enjoying beautiful summer weather, not eating stew because it’s cold and wintery.

Peter: Can I have that last bit? The bit you made me put back before because I’d taken more than my share?

Anna: You may.

“Bouef en daube” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

“Stack’s Carbonara” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

Nicholas (9): (Looking suspiciously at his plate) Do you remember that time you made white bean soup and it tasted of nothing so we had cereal instead?

Maureen: But I don’t think that is going to apply in this case. This definitely does not taste of nothing.

Nicholas (skeptically): We’ll see about that, won’t we.

Maureen: I think it will be delicious. What do you think?

Nicholas (with great surprise): It’s quite good!

Andrew (12): Yup. I agree. It’s pretty good.

Maureen: This is a very strange way to do carbonara because you use cottage cheese. But it’s so good, I don’t care. This is great.

Tim: Of course it’s good! It’s got bacon and cheese in it.

Maureen: Well, actually, it’s not bacon. It’s fancy bacon– pancetta. But I think the addition of the cottage cheese almost makes it healthy.

Tim: You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s good, but it’s rich.

Maureen: I am definitely making this again.

Stack’s Carbonara from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

Serves 4

300-400g spaghetti (depending on appetite)

50g butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

140g pancetta, cubed

2 garlic cloves, crushed

500g cottage cheese

300ml single cream

A good grating of Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large saucepan of slated water to the boil and cook the spaghetti until al dente following the instructions on the packet.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large frying pan and melt the butter. Cook the union until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the pancetta and the garlic. When softened and browned add the cottage cheese. Keep stirring until the cottage cheese has melted and the mixture has come together. It will look watery at this stage, but don’t be alarmed!

Add the cream, keep stirring and reducing until it has thickened to your liking.

Grate in the parmesan, add a good crack of black pepper and cook until thick and cream. And in Stack’s words, ‘BOOM!”

Stir the sauce into the cooked spaghetti and serve immediately.

This is what it looks like after adding the cottage cheese– all watery and slightly strange. Do not despair. It works out fine.

“Stack’s Carbonara” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

“Toria’s crispy marinated chicken” from “Recipes from my mother for my daughter”

Peter: I’m glad this tastes nice. I needed to get rid of the taste of sick in my mouth from reading the recipe introduction.

Anna: That’s a bit harsh.

Peter: It seems unnecessarily emotive.

Anna: Have you seen the title of the book? Anyway, what do you think of the food?

Peter: It’s nice. But I never eat chicken skin so the crispy marinated bit was somewhat lost on me.

Anna: I had to cheat anyway and stick the grill on for 10 minutes at the end. These thighs weren’t crispy at all after the alloted cooking time.

Peter: The potatoes are nice. Were they a faff?

Anna: Not at all. In fact I’m very happy with how they turned out, and it made this a very easy recipe to do. I think I have to stop chosing recipes with chicken thighs though. Bone-in chicken thighs. I just always get a bit squeemish toward the bone and I never really eat all the meat. Which seems a waste.

Peter: Or get your friendly butcher to de-bone them for you.

Anna: I’m afraid I feel a bit ‘muh’ about this recipe. Big tick for the potatoes but the chicken is too hard to eat. Most importantly it didn’t deliver against the name of the recipe.

“Toria’s crispy marinated chicken” from “Recipes from my mother for my daughter”

“Blueberry muffins” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

Anna: These don’t look like muffins! They look a bit like deflated brown things.

Peter: They look pretty muffiny to me. They’re in a muffin case and they come over the top in a muffiny-type way. I’m identifying this suspect as a muffin.

Anna: Well they aren’t going to win any beauty contests but they are pretty healthy. There’s hardly any sugar or fat in them really.

Peter: Bran. Not a usual ingredient for a muffin. And wholemeal flour. Cheaper than a colonic Thai vacation.

Anna: And you would know that how?

Peter: Read it in a book.

Anna: I’m feeling very virtuous eating these, even if they don’t look brilliant.

Peter: They are really moist from the blueberries which are almost melting. They could take a bit more sweetness in my opinion.

Anna: I think I might make these again, though they’re so huge I have to give some of the batch away. Or make half as many.

“Blueberry muffins” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

“Pan-fried sea bass & spicy rice” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

Peter: This reminds me of that rice you used to get in a bag.

Anna: Funny you should say that…

Peter: Did it come in a bag?

Anna: No, but she describes the rice as retro. I think that’s the word she uses. Does it taste 70s to you?

Peter: I was on baby food in the 70s, don’t know about you…..

Anna: Not for all of the 70s.

Peter: I was a late developer.

Anna: That explains a lot. Back to the fish.

Peter: It was a nice, light supper.

Anna: I was a bit worried when the recipe called for 2 tablespoons of cumin seeds for the rice. I thought it must have been a typo, but I followed the recipe anyway and it worked. And we’ve got leftovers for lunch tomorrow too.

“Pan-fried sea bass & spicy rice” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”