Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The cookery calendar challenge - looking back at January

Do you read Penny's blog, 'A Homemade Heart'? I really like visiting. Penny set herself a challenge for 2016: select a cookery book every month and cook a minimum of two new dishes from it. You can join in here. I am guilty of owning more cookery books than I use. Our cookery book collection is housed on three bookshelves, some well used, others barely looked at. All were bought with good intentions.

Two new dishes a month is achievable and I am quite pleased to say that both Annie and I are challenging ourselves to join in with Penny. We may not manage each month or we may get bored but for now, we are motivated and keen to keep going. There may be just a smidgen of mother-daughter competitiveness there....

So, what has been happening in the kitchen? I'll start with Annie's challenge. Despite her tender age, she is a good cook, knows to follow a recipe and understands the main cooking methods. She is not quite so good with the clearing up part but I am not complaining, or maybe just a little as I scrape unidentifiable food stains of the walls. Annie was given the complete Delia's How To Cook for Christmas and this is the book she is using for her challenge for the time being. Her first creation was coconut lime chicken with green vegetables, followed by mini chocolate fondants.



Annie's second meal was salmon baked with a crust of pesto, pecorino and breadcrumbs with vegetable couscous. It was most delicious. Annie cooks a meal most weeks but the two dishes she made for her challenge were new to her.



For my own challenge I chose 'Rosa's Thai Cafe' by Saiphin Moore, a book that had been languishing at the back of our bookshelves ever since I bought it. If I had to choose a favourite world cuisine, it would be Thai. I have another Thai cookery book, 'Thai Food' by David Thompson, which is a much more comprehensive guide of Thai cuisine but is far less practical for the daily cook. Saiphin Moore's recipes are simpler and some of the more exotic ingredients have been replaced with readily available ones. Still, a trip to our big Asian supermarket was required to get some bits and pieces. I keep lemon grass, lime leaves, galangal and lesser galangal in the freezer. 

I cooked spicy stir-fried cod and spicy fried minced pork patties, both with minor adaptations. The cod can be replaced with any white fish, in fact the original recipe used river cat fish.
The pork patties were served with a salad inspired by Turkish cuisine, a combination of small chunks of pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, plenty of parsley (the flat leaf variety) with a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil. There is always a lot of chopping and preparing for this kind of dish, something that I really enjoy. I particularly like making little piles of ingredients on my chopping board and admire the colours and smells. The preparations for both dishes took up more time than the actual cooking but the whole process took no longer than 30 minutes, ideal for a quick dinner. 



The dishes look quite ordinary but trust me, the flavours are divine. I love that tangy and salty sweetness so often found in Thai dishes. I usually make a variation of a Thai curry or a soup and deliberately chose recipes that were neither curries nor soups. I did however make a batch of red curry paste using a recipe from the book and froze it in ice cube trays for later use. I have owned a number of Thai cookery books over the years and find Rosa's Thai Cafe one of the most practical ones, if you make a batch of paste and keep it in the freezer, making a delicious meal quickly is no problem at all.

Do you feel inspired? Maybe you have long forgotten cookery books? Why not stop by at 'A Homemade Heart for ideas. Happy cooking! xx

27 comments:

  1. oh I love the look of your meals, and the fact the Annie cooks. I really must try and get my teenagers enthusiastic about food, the most they'll cook is toast....

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  2. I adore when my daughters cook for me. For your daughter's age, she is quite accomplished. I don't think I attempted salmon until my 30's!

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  3. I do feel inspired! And Thai food is lovely - I find it more delicate than Chinese somehow. Warming spices are perfect for this time of year.
    Your girl has made some very accomplished dishes, you should be proud.
    And this is a great idea. I too have lots of cookery books (many bought because they have beautiful photography) but tend to stick to Nigel Slater, or Nigella for baking recipes. I'd love to join in. It's also a great excuse to visit the cookery section at the library - always rich pickings to be had there!
    x

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  4. The dished look anything but ordinary, they look delicious.
    Hugs and happy cooking,
    Meredith

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  5. All of you meals looked and sounded delicious. I've stopped using my cookbooks for the most part and look on Pinterest to find new recipes. My favorite cuisine is Italian. I'm not a very adventurous eater.

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  6. You both did a good job. I think it's wonderful that Annie enjoys cooking and is getting good at it already, she will have a great skill already mastered when she goes out into the world.

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  7. Looks as though you had fun choosing, making and eating your chosen recipes! Glad that you enjoyed them. I like making new things too, but often fall back on the same favourites, it is good to be adventurous isn't it. xx

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  8. Hey Christina,
    Again I reiterate my desire to borrow Annie. It's awesome that she cooks as well as she does. This is actually a really good idea.
    Leanne xx

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    1. I'll happily send Annie for a wee holiday if you would take the teenager, too :-) He is not cooking, just eating.

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    2. I'll take the teen, as long as he entertains my teen ;)

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  9. What a great challenge and sounds like a lot of Mum/Daughter time which can't be bad. The food certainly looks delicious.

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  10. Christina thank ypu so much for joining in with the challenge, and I am so happy that both you and Annie are taking part. Annie is a great cook! Wow, really impressed by her dishes, especially the chocolate fondant. They are hard to get just right. I love the look of your Thai dishes, and am so pleased that the Cookery Calendar Challenge has encouraged you use an under-used recipe book . Looking forward to seeing what you make in the coming month X

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  11. Blimey both, that's really impressive, especially Annie's contributions. I'm making a mental note to encourge the biggest boy to cook something around here. I love Thai food, but I've never cooked it. All of the fancy ingredients put me off. I'm very impressed that you have lesser galangal in your freezer. I like the idea of cooking a couple of new things from a recipe book each month. I have quite a few books but I always seem to make the same things. Does everyone have a shelf of unused cookery books do you think? CJ xx

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  12. I do feel inspired and am very impressed by Annie's cooking. I have to challenge myself to find some new dishes, though I have reluctant eaters of new food in this house.

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  13. I love a challenge and this one sounds right up my street! Both yours and Annie's dishes sound delicious.

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  14. I think this is a brilliant idea Christina. And how fantastic that Annie is cooking such wonderful dishes for you all. I did a 10 week cookery course with my mum, who was a keen cook, at our local higher education college when I was about 16 years old and it really was a springboard to a life of cooking. I should join in with Penny's challenge as our meal repertoire at the moment is a bit boring.

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  15. Wow, Annie, would you like a visit to the States.......very impressed! Yes, I have cooked mine, have yet to blog, thank you for the reminder! No, tell, you what, where's my passport......I'm coming home! Everything looks delicious!

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  16. Your Annie is very impressive - Kate thinks she's cooking if she cooks an M&S ready meal. I like the sound of that Thai cookbook. Might try Penny's challenge at half term - I love her blog too.

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  17. Cooking challenge sounds like fun :) As for me, I was inspired by salmon baked with a crust of pesto. It sounds and looks so delicious.

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  18. Salmon baked with a crust of pesto feels impressive! I'd love to cook it.

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  19. Yum! All these dishes look delicious. I'm extremely impressed that your daughter is cooking such advanced food. It's a great idea. I have many cookbooks but use the same few regularly, so I am intending to join in with Penny's challenge. Must remember to take photos... Sam x

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  20. What a great idea for a post as I have soooo many cook books. I love Thai cooking too, your dishes look delicious. Barbara x

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  21. What a great idea, I have so many books that languish on the shelves and we get stuck in a rut using just a few recipes from them, used so often we don't have to consult the recipes anymore. All your makes and bakes look wonderful:)

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  22. This sounds like a wonderful challenge. How fun that your daughter is joining in with you too! The dishes you have both chosen so far sound delicious. Since my husband makes all our supper meals, I've stopped looking for new recipes myself. Laziness more than anything. My husband cooks very, VERY simple meals, but how can I complain. However, through this decluttering of mine, I had to go through all my cookbooks, and loose recipes. I found lots of recipes I would love for my husband to try. I'll have to work this in gently so that he's not offended you see ;)
    Wendy

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  23. This sounds like a wonderful challenge. How fun that your daughter is joining in with you too! The dishes you have both chosen so far sound delicious. Since my husband makes all our supper meals, I've stopped looking for new recipes myself. Laziness more than anything. My husband cooks very, VERY simple meals, but how can I complain. However, through this decluttering of mine, I had to go through all my cookbooks, and loose recipes. I found lots of recipes I would love for my husband to try. I'll have to work this in gently so that he's not offended you see ;)
    Wendy

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  24. I'd happily eat all these foods, Christina but I have to admit that I am most impressed with Annie's cooking. What a brilliant young cook you have in your house! I'd put up with the food stains on the wall too if my girls can cook like her :-) We used to love going to Rosa' s Cafe in Brick Lane when we lived in Whitechapel. The place used to be a cafe ( a London caff) before they turned it into a Thai restaurant. They have a rice dish served with fresh pineapples that I used to order all the time - you've made me crave for Thai food now! X

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  25. a lovely set of starting recipes! hope you and Annie have both had another successful month. I adore thai food too, it is so fragrant.

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx