A Summer Sunday Lunch from “How to Eat a Peach”

That’s not what the lovely Diana Henry called it, but that’s what I’m calling it because that’s what it was. On this particular Sunday, I made “Crostini with Crushed Broad Beans & Nduja” along with “Roast Sea Bass with Fennl & Anise Aïoli” and “Tomatoes Provençales aux Anchois.”

It’s been an unusually hot summer here in London, which has been lovely, for the most part. I mean, it did start to get a bit old when all of our grass died and I had to wake up every morning at 7 a.m. to walk our dog before the heat of the day set in. But by and large, it’s been nice. However, living in such unusual heat did have its fair share of cooking challenges because often I just couldn’t face cooking because that would only make me hotter.

As Kirstin said before, this cookbook is unusual in that it’s organised by menu rather than courses. This does make it difficult to find something to make for, say, a hot Wednesday night. But if you’re planning on spending some time on a meal, which is often the case for me on Sundays, this would be a good book for that. She also helpfully organises the book by “Spring and Summer” and “Autumn and Winter,” which meant I kept to the first half of the book this time of year.

Roasting a whole sea bass is certainly a treat because it’s definitely more expensive than our usual meals. But it looks impressive when you bring it to the table, and once it’s all said and done, it’s a pretty easy dish to make, which would be perfect for a dinner party. We loved the fish.

Half of the family liked the the tomatoes provençales– the half of the family that loves tomatoes. The other half wasn’t so keen, but I don’t think that was a failure of the recipe, but instead a failure of their taste buds (I am in the half of the family that LOVES tomatoes). For what it’s worth, I cut up one of the leftover ones and added it to scrambled eggs the next morning for breakfast and it was delicious too.

Unfortunately, given that everything else was so good, the crostini was a total faff and definitely more trouble than it was worth. Cooking, podding and mashing the beans took a ridiculously long time. Crostini, which is just fancy toast, really is delicious but I’m not going to spend an hour getting the ingredient that goes on top ready. Next time I’ll follow her alternative suggestion and use peas instead and use the time I saved reading a good book.

But all in all, a delicious summer Sunday lunch.

 

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A Summer Sunday Lunch from “How to Eat a Peach”

“Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheddar” from “Smitten Kitchen Every Day”


Meat Free Monday!

Tomato soup is one of my favourites, so I was happy to give this one a go. In fact, five years ago on this very blog, I shared my easy you-could-do-it-in-your-sleep tomato soup recipe, which I’ve copied and pasted below. I still make it all the time, and love it.

The trick to this one, like the Gwyneth Paltrow recipe I reviewed five years ago, is to roast the tomatoes ahead of time. However, Gwynnie had us roasting the tomatoes for five hours (FIVE HOURS! Not a typo), whereas with this one, you only roast them for half an hour, which is far more reasonable. Consequently, the roasted tomatoes take on much more flavour than just using chopped tomatoes. Even Tim, who is not a fan of tomato soup, said he liked this one. So in the future, I definitely will roast some tomatoes if I have the time.

The other thing that I cheated on for this recipe was you were supposed to pour the soup into mugs, and then broil a grilled-cheese lid. I’m very wary of doing this, as I once had a bowl shatter that I thought could take the heat of the broiler but could not. So what I ended up doing was making the grilled cheese toasts under the broiler, and then popping them on the top of the soup once they were done. I also threw some extra cheddar cheese on to the top of the soup, just for good measure. I mean, what can’t be improved by the addition of more cheese?

As far as I was concerned, this was a winner.

Quick Tomato Soup, for when you’re starving and time is of the essence: Chop up one small red onion, either by hand or if you’re really hungry and want to eat ASAP, in your food processor. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of garlic olive oil, add onion. Once the onion is soft and fragrant, add one can of chopped tomatoes. Depending on how thick you like your soup, add either 1/2 can or 1 can of water, vegetable stock or milk. (I went milk. Yum.) Add one teaspoon each of oregano and basil. Boil until thick. You can either puree soup or keep it chunky, depending on your preference. Done. Time taken? (including set up) 7 minutes. Even Jamie Oliver would approve. 

“Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheddar” from “Smitten Kitchen Every Day”

“Frying-pan Turkish Flatbreads with Spoon Salad” from “A Modern Way to Cook”

IMG_7363As we are headed to Istanbul for a long weekend soon, I thought I would take this opportunity to make this recipe to get us in the mood. I was already looking forward to our romantic weekend away, but this got me even more excited (if that’s even possible).

We all liked the fact that it was like a Turkish version of a burrito. Andrew (age 15) even rolled his up so it would be exactly that. I’m not sure that’s the way it’s supposed to be eaten, but he enjoyed it.

The topping (peppers and onions fried in olive oil) and the salad (onion, tomatoes, parsley and spices) were a nice combination on top of the warm, freshly made Turkish bread. We also put feta on top, as per the recommendation in the introduction, as I have found there isn’t any food in this world that can’t be improved upon by adding cheese.

I also need the record to show that this recipe took only slightly longer than the predicted time– about 55 minutes to the predicted 40– which was an improvement in the right direction.

The bread, which I had to cook individually, got better each time as I got more skilled at figuring out what was needed. I predict the next time I make this, it will be even better.

Would I make this again? Probably. I’m not sure it will make it into the high rotation list of our Meat Free Monday, but it was pretty good. I predict that it will take even less time the next time I make it, so it would be worth giving it a try for that reason alone.

If you find you’re also in the mood for some yummy Turkish food and would like to make this yourself, click through this sentence to find the recipe on The Guardian.

“Frying-pan Turkish Flatbreads with Spoon Salad” from “A Modern Way to Cook”

“Tomato and Coconut Cassoulet” from “A Modern Way to Eat”

CBAMCassouletTim: Cassoulet! Without the pork products!

Nicholas (11): What do you mean?

Tim: Usually with cassoulet, you have beans and some sort of pork product, like chorizo.

Maureen: Not tonight, though. This is a vegetarian cassoulet.

Nicholas: I think I would like it better with chorizo.

Maureen (looking in his bowl): How can you say that? You haven’t even eaten any of it yet! Believe me, I think most things can be improved with the addition of pork products. But in this case, I think this is also good.

Andrew (said while emptying his bowl): I like it too.

Nicholas (now having eaten said dish): Yes, this is good. I like all the tomatoes.

Maureen: This also was a good use of leftover bagel. I was supposed to use sourdough bread, which would have been fine, but it would be a waste to get a new loaf just for this.

Tim: Yes. This is definitely one to use stale bread for, because you just need something to soak up the tomato juice. Also, if you had used the foccacia that we have, that would have gotten completely lost.

Maureen: Yes, I think you’re right. I don’t think she should include coconut in the title. I almost didn’t make it, since I’m not a fan of coconut. But actually there’s only four tablespoons of it in the recipe, and you can’t taste it at all.

Nicholas: I can’t taste any coconut.

Maureen: I think this is a winner. We should do this again for Meat Free Monday.

Tim: I would happily eat this again.

Maureen: So would I.

If you would like to make this yourself, the Telegraph reproduced the recipe. You can see it by clicking through this sentence. 

 

“Tomato and Coconut Cassoulet” from “A Modern Way to Eat”

“Italian Sausage and Chips” with “Torn Tomato Salad” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

Miles and Ella: I love it when you make this!

Kirstin: Really? I thought you didn’t like it.

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Miles: I don’t like those seed things on the top.

Kirstin: Oh, the fennel. I’ve put fewer in these time than the recipe calls for. But I’ve kept the chilli in because I love it so.

Tom: I really love it when you make this! I particularly love the tomato marmalade that you serve it with.

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Kirstin: Oh yes. It is good, isn’t it? Right, I’ll start making this again,  in that case!

“Italian Sausage and Chips” with “Torn Tomato Salad” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

“Pork & Beef Polpette with Basic Tomato Sauce” from “Polpo”

Tim: You made the spicy hot ones, right?

Maureen: Ha ha ha.

Nicholas (9): NOOOOOOOO! You know how I feel about spicy food.

Tim: Ha ha. I’m just trolling you.

Nicholas: I do taste some spice in these.

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Maureen: I don’t know why. There’s no hot spices  in there. (Editor’s Note: This is a TOTAL LIE. There is a pinch of chilli flakes and a fair amount of black pepper. Those parents in the audience, however, will understand why I did not divulge this to my spice-averse children.)

Andrew (13): I think the meatballs and the tomato sauce are very nice.

Maureen: This tomato sauce is delicious. You need to do some forward planning with it though, since it takes at least an hour and a half to make. Today it cooked for a little longer than that, which probably made it even better. I like how you use a combination of fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes, it gives it a much more interesting taste.

Tim: Was it complicated to make?

Maureen: Not at all. It just takes a lot of time. I think the meatballs are also great. They call themm polpette, but I can’t help myself. They are meatballs to me. I think I have found my go-to meatball recipe.

Tim: This meal is a triumph!

Maureen: I agree. This is absolutely full of yum. Would you like me to make it again?

All: Yes!

“Pork & Beef Polpette with Basic Tomato Sauce” from “Polpo”

“Mustard Chicken Salad” from “How Easy is That?”

Peter: I like this. What’s in the dressing, apart from mustard?

Anna: Well there’s tarragon in it. And it’s supposed to have tarragon vinegar, but I couldn’t find that. So I used cider vinegar instead.

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Peter: There’s a lot of this. I’ll be having the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Anna: I liked her tip for doing the chicken, roasting it on the bone and then shredding rather than poaching. But this did mean that it took quite a while to make dinner which isn’t so cool on a school night.

Peter: This would be good as a salad at a barbeque or a party.

Anna: You’re right. Honestly I find it a bit boring. So I don’t think I’ll be going out of my way to make it again. Sorry.

“Mustard Chicken Salad” from “How Easy is That?”