Thursday, 2 March 2017

cookery book challenge - February

Today, I am joining the Cookery Book Challenge with Penny at the Homemade Heart. I really like to read what Penny and those linking up cook for their hungry families.

I have been trying out more than one recipe book in February but I'll stick to one for this post, saving the other one up for March. I hope this is acceptable.

Link

I chose Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond by Sabrina Ghayour. I gave this book to Richard for Christmas but it was really also a gift for me. I like Middle Eastern cuisine a lot, the flavours speak to me. I like the combination of sweet and savoury. Having said that, I am not all that keen on dried apricots in warm food. My main issue with Middle Eastern food is the preponderance of lamb. The smell of lamb makes me ill. I can eat it with a pinched nose but only just. Needless to say that the dishes I chose to cook did not contain any lamb!





The first dish I chose was a Moroccan chicken pie called chicken bastilla.

This is not something you want to serve on a Monday night, unless this is your day off or you fancy eating late at night. I spent the better part of the afternoon in the kitchen, preparing this and that. Ideally you'd use leftover roast chicken but we didn't have any and even if we did, it would never be enough. I had to roast some thighs and wait for them to cool down so I could remove skin and bones. There were a great many further ingredients in those little pies. Boiled eggs, pine nuts, dates and onions to name a few only. The actual pies were quite easy to make by layering two sheets of filo pastry crosswise and then folding the corners in. The response was not enthusiastic. The pies were politely eaten, no major complaints or pushing food around the plate but no compliments came forward either. We had a lot of leftovers, which is always telling. Unfortunately, the pies didn't do so well on the second day, the filo pastry is not very good cold and it doesn't reheat well either. I think if I were to make these again, I would use shortcrust pastry. I have visions of little Moroccan chicken pies eaten on a beach in Cornwall, possibly with a glass of chilled white wine.


The second dish was saffron lemon chicken.

For this, chicken pieces were marinated in a mixture of yogurt, onions, lemon juice and saffron. I mixed things up before work and cooked it the same day but I am sure it would be even better marinaded over night. Then the chicken pieces were cooked in the oven and the onion marinade was pan fried. I am not sure why not all could be cooked in the oven together but I followed the instructions because sometimes there is a good reason, even if I can't see it. I served this with rice and broccoli. It wasn't a very visually pleasing dish (see above) but the taste made up for it, I thought it was rather divine and the textures were really pleasing, too. My favourite part was the cooked onions, bursting with flavours. Of course nobody by myself and Richard tried the onions. This dish earned me a 'can you cook this again' comment, which is a sentence rarely heard in this house. I did a little dance (in my head only, to avoid embarrassment).

Apart from this rare success, cooking dinners has been tiresome. Sometimes, I really don't know why I bother trying out new things, or why I bother at all. A successful dinner liked by all is as rare as white rhinos and sometimes I feel like weeping. I am not surprised that so many families don't cook, it is bloody frustrating. I may stockpile tinned pasta hoops and leave them to it.

Rant over. I like Persiana, the recipes are well written and not difficult to cook. The only 'criticism' I have is that the recipes I looked at are maybe not ideal for the time poor chef. There are many other recipes that I would be happy to eat. The vegetable dishes look particularly delicious. Maybe served with tinned spaghetti hoops.

Happy cooking!

17 comments:

  1. Completely identify with that penultimate paragraph. There is usually someone who isn't keen on what I've made. And sometimes people inexplicably go off things. Drives me nuts. I feel like yelling, "YOU USED TO LOVE THAT". I made omelettes tonight. The eldest stood towering over the table and said, "What is that?" Apparently I forgot he had given up cheese for Lent. Sigh. I shall also stockpile spaghetti hoops and leave them to it. CJ xx

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  2. This made me smile, I have two kids and a husband, the chance of getting all three to like a new meal is very low! Daily cooking can be a grind, baking is much easier win.

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  3. Great meals Christina, everything in a little parcel is a great way to eat. Jo xx

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  4. You have me chortling as usual Christina. I can just see you lobbing spaghetti hoops at the ungrateful ones. Children, who'd have them! It's always amazing when they say cook that again. Time is always an issue when cooking and we all know our favourite recipes don't get cooked as often as we'd like because of time. I ended up becoming a Nigella devotee purely because she cuts so many corners and the family verdict is usually a thumbs up. Happy cooking :). B x

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  5. Hey Christina,
    I like the sound of those exotic pasties eaten with a chilled white wine in Cornwall very much. I, too, despair in the kitchen. I quite often revert to spaghetti hoops on toast. At least it gets eaten....
    Leanne xx

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  6. Oh dear, to me the best part of middle eastern food I'd the lamb, we love lamb. Both your chicken meals look delicious, I'm always looking for new chicken recipes. I was lucky as a cook, both my daughter and my husband will eat anything, enthusiastically, I'm the fussy eater.

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  7. What a refreshing review. Despite living in a family of meat eaters with no allergies, we still seem to struggle to eat anything that we all like. Unless it's a roast dinner, but I'm not exactly going to whip that up on a week night, am I? I think both of these sound divine, and this is very much my kind of eating, although perhaps not cooking if it takes that long! x

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  8. I really enjoy this series of posts. I only have a few cookbooks left, but I really should do this!

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  9. Your meals look delicious, Christina. You can tell your family if they don't like what you've made there are many blog readers waiting to come serve themselves up a helping. :-)

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  10. I think now I just cook for two of us and have a husband who appreciates anything put in front of him (he doesn't cook) I forget how frustrating it can be cooking for a family. My boys all used to cook once they were old enough and that definitely helped. Have a good weekend Christina x

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  11. ... I should add that bacon rashers with a tin of spaghetti hoops used to be a teatime regular in our house!

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  12. The pies look really tasty! Glad your family at least complimented you on the chicken dish. It's deflating when no one appreciates all that hard work. My kids have been pretty good about trying most things.

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  13. Thank you so much for joining me again this month Christina. I alao have Persianna, though have yet to cook from it, so was very interested to read your post! I am with you on Lamb, I don't eat it, being a veggie, but even when I ate meat, I could not stomach it, the smell makes me want to gag. Derek and Jacob really like lamb though, so I do cook it occasionally. The little pies sound like a lot of work, I agree with you about the shortcrust, it does last a bit better. I can well imagine your inward jump for joy when the family liked your chicken dish. I do sometimes feel close to tears when I have cooked a meal from scratch only to have a 'meh' repsonse, or a 'I wouldn't bother making that again' comment. I feel pathetically grateful when they like something. Bring on the spaghetti hoops! X

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  14. love the sound of that saffron chicken.
    my family hate new things though.... and don't even eat spaghetti hoops...

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  15. Ha ha, the comments (or lack of!) from your family did make me laugh. I'm lucky that my daughter will pretty much try anything and we'd both definitely eat the saffron chicken. x

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  16. They sound like complex dishes this month Christina! Sorry the response was not as enthusiastic as all the effort warranted! xx

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  17. Oh dear Christina, very sad so many have such comments reducing them to tears. I'm not going to gloat, I wouldn't dare, but I will just quietly be thankful that as long as I don't insist on anything healthy looking on my sons plate, all is well in my house. What goes in a casserole seems to stay in a casserole or whatever but if anything is on plain view it's a sitting target for rejection. Cathy x

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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