“Scallop, Leek & Chorizo Gratin” from “The Quick Roasting Tin”

Fish Friday! (Well, technically, not “fish” as previous reported here because it’s scallops, but it’s the right idea.)

I need to honestly report that this dish divided opinion at our house. I loved it. So did Nicholas. We thought it was utterly delicious. I would definitely eat this again and again.

Unfortunately, Tim did not agree. He thought all of the cream, and leeks and chorizo drowned out the taste of the scallops. I understand what he’s saying, but I have to say there’s no time when double cream is a bad idea. We had to agree to disagree.

I also need to mention that this recipe— and others in the book– include this genius hack when using leeks in a dish that you roast. Rather than having to fry them first, just soak them in boiling water for one minute, and they’re cooked enough that they can go in the bottom of the roasting pan and be finished off in the oven. Absolutely genius.

If you haven’t already figured it out, this book has been a massive hit. Of *course* will will wait until 31 January to make our final determination, but we’ve eaten very well for the last few weeks.

“Scallop, Leek & Chorizo Gratin” from “The Quick Roasting Tin”

“Roasted Broccoli & Bacon Conchiglie Bake” from “The Quick Roasting Tin”

To give this recipe its full due, it’s actually, “Roasted Broccoli and Bacon Conchiglie Bake with Lemon Creme Fraiche” , or, as I described it to Nicholas when he arrived in the kitchen and asked what was for dinner, “A Broccoli, Bacon and Pasta Bake.”

I chose this recipe not only because this family loves roasted broccoli, but also because we still had some leftover holiday stilton and unused pancetta sitting in the refrigerator, and this was the perfect vehicle for them both. (An aside: The quandary of using leftover holiday stilton is not limited to just our family, since I was discussing this very recipe with a friend who had the same problem. Ah, January.)

The eagle-eyed among you may notice that I did not actually use conchiglie here. I decided to use this fun swirly shape instead (apologies for not noting the technical name) because this pasta is much better than Sainsbury’s own-brand, which has an overwhelming tang of nutmeg that none of us are fond of. Given the pasta was such a main component of the dish, we pushed the boat out and got the fancy kind.

Like many recipes in this book, this is very straightforward. Roast the broccoli and the pancetta while the pasta is cooking on the stovetop. Once the pasta is done, mix it in, along with a few handfuls of spinach and the lemon creme fraiche. Finish the whole thing off with some breadcrumbs and the aforementioned stilton on the top.

The recipe calls for parmesan but she says in the notes that stilton and cheddar would work equally well. But I’m here to argue that I think using stilton is actually a little better, because it makes the whole thing more interesting that bog-standard parmesan. (Sorry, parmesan, but it’s true. Ya Basic.)

We all loved this. It was the perfect cheery meal for a grey January night. The fact that it was so easy was a brilliant bonus.

“Roasted Broccoli & Bacon Conchiglie Bake” from “The Quick Roasting Tin”

“Salted Chocolate Peanut Brownies” from “The Quick Roasting Tin”

For what it’s worth, it’s hard to screw up brownies. They are always good. Especially when you add some peanut butter and peanuts to them. I know for some this would be an abomination, but for those of us whose elixir for happiness is Peanut Butter Cups, this is a combination that brings us life.

When I went back to find the photos I took of these delicious brownies (spoiler alert: I just told you they’re delicious), I found that I had only one photo. This tells you everything you need to know about this recipe: they were so good that there were only four left by the next morning, and even those were gone a few hours later.

However, I do have some notes on this recipe (see above for my specialist subject: peanut butter and chocolate). While the brownies were great, I definitely would have used more peanut butter for the top. It just wasn’t quite enough. The next time I try this recipe, I might double the amount of peanut butter and see what that produces. There just wasn’t enough on the top for my (or our) liking.

The second note I have is about her use of olive oil. I only had extra-virgin on hand, which I know from bitter experience is too peppery to use for baked sweet things. Instead, I substituted in some sunflower oil– the most neutral oil imaginable– and it worked a treat.

All in all, this experience can be summed up in one word: Yum.

“Salted Chocolate Peanut Brownies” from “The Quick Roasting Tin”