“Lentils with Sausage and Pecorino” from “A Year of Good Eating”

IMG_8092Maureen: We’re having sausages for dinner!

Andrew (16) and Nicholas (12): Yeah!

Maureen: With lentils!

Andrew and Nicholas: Boo!

Tim: Well, I’m happy about it.

Maureen: I know you are. I am too. I’m a fan of lentils.

Tim: Really? I don’t think that was always the case.

Maureen: Maybe not, but I like them now. What do you think?

Andrew: I like the sausages. I don’t like the lentils.

Nicholas: Ditto. And I think the green stuff on top [Editor’s Note: A type of rocket pesto], makes it even worse.

Tim: You guys need to be more adventurous. Lentils are good, and good for you. This is good.

Maureen: Maybe it’s for the best that I didn’t make the tradition New Year Good Luck Lentils on New Year’s Day.

Tim: Yes, perhaps.

If the rest of your family does like lentils, I recommend you try this. It’s a great midweek recipe: easy and fast. Click through this paragraph to see the original recipe in the Guardian.

“Lentils with Sausage and Pecorino” from “A Year of Good Eating”

“Grilled Steak with Arugula” from “How Easy is That?”

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Peter: This looks like it was quick.

Anna: It was. Super quick.

Peter: It’s delicious.

Anna: That’s primarily down to the quality of the steak. Because this isn’t really a recipe. Rocket, steak, parmesan, bit of dressing, done.

Peter: Yes, it’s a bit like how you serve steak when we do it on the barbeque.

Anna: And we don’t need a recipe for that!



“Spaghetti with Tuna, Lemon & Rocket” from “Nigellissima”

Peter: Tuna dinner!

Anna: Are you suggesting this is a student meal?

Peter: For students today. You couldn’t get rocket in my day. In fact I don’t think we knew what rocket was.

Anna: This calls for very posh tuna so I don’t think many students will be making this. I think this would be a very good quick summer dinner. Very fresh, very light. Probably not the first thing I’d make on a cold, rainy October night next time.

Peter: I liked it. I’d be happy to have it again. Maybe sitting in the garden next summer.

Anna: If it ever stops raining.

“Spaghetti with Tuna, Lemon & Rocket” from “Nigellissima”

“Chilli Crab Risotto” from “Nigellissima”

Anna: This looks very appetising. I love the picture the picture in the book, and ours has turned out exactly the same!

Peter: It’s a nice, light risotto. It tastes kind of summery, but maybe that’s the crab.

Anna: It is light. No butter, no cheese, just a little bit of olive oil at the beginning of the process. But it’s lovely and creamy anyway.

Peter: Is this authentically Italian, or has she made it up?

Anna: Funny you ask that. She has done this recipe as linguine previously in Forever Summer. And so confesses in the introduction that she’s basically turned it into a risotto for this book. I love crab spaghetti and crab linguine as you know. We’ve had Nigella’s, we’ve had Bill’s, Lucas Hollweg’s, the River Cafe’s and Angela Hartnett’s. So I had to make this.

Peter: Where does this rank?

Anna: Well this is a risotto, not pasta, so I can’t compare it directly. But what I will say is that while this is delicious, I do prefer it as a pasta-based dish. It’s quicker to make. And less heavy to eat.

“Chilli Crab Risotto” from “Nigellissima”

“Rocket, Feta and Bread Salad” from “A Taste of Home”

Maureen: Yum. I like this a lot. I like how there are bursts of mint with the rocket.

Tim: Not me. I’d rather just have the peppery rocket, just on its own, no mint.

Maureen: I like the grilled haloumi. You can also use feta, but I went with haloumi. As you know, any time there’s grilled haloumi, sign me up.

Maureen: It’s a very nice salad, but I don’t think it’s particularly healthy.

Tim: With the wodges of grilled cheese, do you mean?

Maureen: Yes, but it’s still delicious. This has been a good month so far. Do you remember the time we met Angela Hartnett on our 10th anniversary?

Tim: Yes, that was back in the day when she was at the The Connaught. We had the tasting menu. It was amazing. That’s certainly in our top five of favourite dinners, if not at the very top.

Maureen: I remember I sent in a thank you note to the kitchen, and she happened to be working, even though it was a Saturday night. She came out to wish us a happy anniversary, but I was busy checking the train schedule when she approached the table. Not my finest moment, but a very classy move on her part to come say hello and say thank you for the thank you.

Tim: She was very nice. What a meal. What a night.

Maureen: I think this is one of the reasons why I like this cookbook so much. It reminds me how great that meal was, but also how down-to-earth and nice Angela was.

“Rocket, Feta and Bread Salad” from “A Taste of Home”

“Cod with Lentils, Rocket and Salsa Verde” and “Go-with-Anything Cake” from “Good Things to Eat”

Andrew (11): The cod is really good.

Nicholas (8): I’m really familiar with cod.

Maureen: How is that then? Please explain.

Nicholas: Cod is always the fish I pick when I have fish and chips.

Maureen: That explains the overfishing problem, then. What do you think, Tim? This is your Father’s Day special.

Tim: I’m really excited about having lentils. We never have lentils.

Maureen: Do you like them?

Tim: How could you not? They’re delicious.

Continue reading ““Cod with Lentils, Rocket and Salsa Verde” and “Go-with-Anything Cake” from “Good Things to Eat””

“Cod with Lentils, Rocket and Salsa Verde” and “Go-with-Anything Cake” from “Good Things to Eat”

“Piri Piri chicken, dressed potatoes, rocket salad, quick Portuguese tarts” from “Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals”

Prep time: 15 minutes.

Time taken: 48 minutes, with help.

Cleaning up time: Can’t face it yet.

Anna: Oh god, this was awful. Awful, awful, awful.  I hate it. Everything about it.

Peter: Does the 30 minutes he allows include building an extension and acquiring a 4th work surface in the kitchen?

Anna: That’s it.  He says get all the ingredients and equipment ready. That takes 5 minutes of reading the damn recipe even to work out what equipment you need. Then you get everything ‘ready’ and there’s no room to cook.

Peter: I can see why he’s done the instructions in chronological order, however trying to remember them while you’re actually cooking is remarkably difficult.

Anna: I just don’t get it. Really, I can work out what order to cook things in myself. This way, because it clearly WASN’T going to take 30 minutes,  I was sure I was burning the chicken while I was faffing around with that extra unwanted course of Portuguese tarts. I kept asking you what the next step was with the chicken and you kept saying that I had to make the tart filling first. Gah!

Peter: If you work out the amount of time the tarts need cooking and the chicken needs cooking after the tarts come out of the oven, it’s over 30 minutes anyway.  If he just said it was an hour it would be ok.

Anna: Honestly, you were reading the recipe out loud to me as I cooked, you were handing me ingredients, keeping an eye on the chicken, moving stuff out of the way…. there’s no way I could have done that one my own without taking my own life in the process.  I hate it!

Peter: But it tasted quite nice. The Piri Piri sauce was nice and pokey. The mash was very colourful with the sweet potatoes and feta and chillis.

Anna: Was it supposed to be a mash though? He called it ‘dressed potatoes’ whatever that means. I made the executive decision to make it into a mash. It felt like there were unecessary steps if you ask me. I agree, the sauce was nice. I’d do the whole lot in the oven with chicken boobs, forget the griddle stage. And the mash was good, I’d probably do it again.  The tarts were a bit of a disaster though.

Peter: They tasted better than they looked.

Anna: The pastry wasn’t cooked properly on the bottom, and the custard curdled when I added the caramel, which wasn’t really a caramel. We just didn’t need them. Honestly, that’s my other issue with this book. The way it’s written makes it cumbersome to take out courses that you might not want on a normal day.  It’s all or nothing.

Peter: You probably didn’t need the stress for this meal, not after flying back from Toronto overnight.  It was a nice meal in itself but the idea of doing it in 30 minutes is a fantasy.

Anna: I need a week off before I can face cooking another of these recipes.

“Piri Piri chicken, dressed potatoes, rocket salad, quick Portuguese tarts” from “Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals”