Sunday, 2 April 2017

cookery calendar challenge - April

What have you been cooking lately? I have continued to torture my children with new recipes. In their defence, they are not particularly fussy individually but it does add up when there are four of them. Both Richard and I have also become more set in what we like and what we don't like. Unfortunately there is little overlap.

My March cookery book was 'The Part-Time Vegetarian' by Nicola Graimes. All recipes are fully vegetarian but for most, there is an option to make the food more attractive for the carnivores in your family. I didn't pander to the die-hard carnivore this month. The recipes were my own choice, I did not consult with the kids or Richard. It is easier that way.

The first recipe I cooked was paneer, egg and potato gratin. Waxy potatoes are boiled, then sliced and fried briefly with a mixture of spices, onions and peppers. I used red peppers instead of green ones because nobody likes green peppers. Then, the potato mix is transferred to a baking dish and eggs are cracked into small holes that are quite satisfying to make. The paneer is cut into small chunks and layered on top. I enjoyed it rather a lot. It was not a dish that evoked great emotions but no-one complained. It is a dish with great potential for variations. I'd probably cube to potatoes instead of slicing them and add a selection of vegetables, for example spinach or cavolo nero. I love paneer but for the kids sake, I would choose a cheese that melts, possibly mozzarella.

The second recipe I cooked for myself. The dish was caper, crumb and lemon linguini. I love capers. I have to repeat this, I really love capers. Richard bought a big glass with teeny tiny ones in Colombia, these are probably the best capers I ever tasted, better still than the ones I ate on Salina (one of seven Aeolian islands) some 25 years ago. Capers are the flower buds of the caper bush. For this recipe, the capers are fried in a little oil and set aside. Then breadcrumbs are fried in the same pan and set aside, too. Last, a couple of tomatoes are diced and briefly broken down by cooking them in frying pan. The tanginess of the dish comes from lemon juice and the rind of a lemon. The caper, crumb and tomato combination is mixed with pasta. I used penne but linguini would be the better choice. I must say,  the result was a bit underwhelming but I remember adding too much breadcrumbs and can only blame myself. I might try some variations, I think capers go well with anchovies and lemon.

Next up was Marrocan harira, a fragrant stew-like soup with lots of ingredients. The soup burst with flavours and textures and was a high point in my kitchen. Carrots, tomatoes, green lentils, chick peas, celery, parsley, basmati rice and cavolo nero are just some of the ingredients. The list was long but the cooking was super easy. I used dried chickpeas which I cooked earlier. We don't like tinned chickpeas, I am not sure what it is that makes them taste unpleasant. Annie picked every single chickpea out, it turns out she hates them. Everyone else tolerated or indeed loved this soup. The carnivore option uses lamb chunks instead of chick peas. This recipe is one that I will copy down into my own recipe book.

The last recipe I chose was quinoa and borlotti burgers. I have a love-hate relationship with bean burgers, they are often too sloppy to keep their shape in the pan, let alone in a burger bun. These were soft but held their shape nicely and tasted really amazing. The burgers are made with red quinoa and borlotti beans. I didn't have red quinoa but a mix of red, black and white quinoa, which worked fine. Additional flavours came from sun-dried tomatoes, spring onions, peppers and smoked paprika. I served the burgers with brioche buns. The recipe suggests serving them with a sweet chilli sauce and mayonnaise relish, which is delicious. I also topped my burger with chargrilled ribbons of courgette but I couldn't tempt anyone else to try this. Even the die-hard carnivore teenager ate and apparently enjoyed these burgers. Another recipe for my own collection I think.

I really like this cookery book. It is a well written book, the recipes are manageable, timings are accurate enough and the flavour combinations are delicious. The book is visually pleasing, too. What I particularly like is that there is no dessert section. I never make desserts, it is just not something I enjoy.  I don't mind eating desserts of course. There is a breakfast and brunches section, which I much prefer although of course breakfast is usually a rushed job in this house. Other sections cover light meals, weekday suppers, weekend cooking and food for sharing. This book is a good addition to our cookery book collection and I imagine would be really useful for a family with both carnivores and vegetarians.

I am not sure yet which of my dozens of cookery books I am going to choose. I am leaning towards 'Thug Kitchen: Eat like you give a f**k'. It inspires people to eat vegetables and adopt a healthier life style. I have a friend whose husband loves the book and uses it often. Her lunchtime leftovers look delicious. The recipes are vegan, a fact I might not mention when I first use it. Vegan is considered a swear word in Sam's carnivorous universe.

I am joining Penny for the monthly cookery calendar challenge. She has cooked some mouthwatering dishes in March, you must go and see!

Have a great Sunday. xx


  1. You've definitely cooked some different meals and that's fun instead of the same old thing. I'm afraid that though I love veggies and eat loads I'm a diehard carnivore and must have regular lashings of meat.
    We enjoyed our meals in Japan so much I'm trying to copy some of them here.

  2. I like the sounds of all of these recipes but I know the kids would pull faces. I am stuck in a real recipe rut at the moment and have no energy or enthusiasm for cooking, although I still love to bake at the weekends, but the mention of those bean burgers has suddenly got me sitting up paying attention. Anyway, what a lovely half hour I've spend sat here catching up with your blog and your life lovely Christina. Have a great week. xx

  3. Good for you for experimenting. Our daughter-in-law does most of the dinner cooking and she's very adventurous.. so it's always a surprise at dinner time. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  4. These all sound delicious and definitely my sort of meals. Funnily enough I have a post ready to publish tomorrow and I have used a red pepper rather than green, which I think are really unpleasant. I also love capers!

  5. Mmm, some delicious things there. I've never tried paneer, I shall look out for it, the first recipe sounds particularly good. Well done on all the trying of new things, I am most impressed. CJ xx

  6. I make a variation of the top one called Chachouka with loads of peppers, potatoes, eggs and if I have it chunky bits of chorizo (and we are not stupid either, we steer away from the green ones!) But mostly it is peppers. I like these posts and think I am going to join in and then I realise I do too much already but I love looking at others. Jo x

  7. Some real comfort food here for the cold days when warm yummys are craved for.

  8. I agree with Sam vegan is a swear word, your meals look lovely

  9. That is one awesome book name
    We are not big on vegetables.. We like a good salad, we're good with lentils too. But nothing to crazy or adventures.. we like our meat.

  10. It sounds like a great months eating! Hope that April is just as good for you and that you too get some yummy leftovers for lunch!

  11. Thank you so much for joining me again this month Christina. I love the sound of the dish with potatoes eggs and cheese, and can well imagine the satisfaction of dropping the eggs into the little craters! I would change the peppers too, I don't know anyone who likes green peppers, they are virtually indigestible . The burgers sound delicious too, I have a slight fear of making my own burgers, I imagine them falling to pieces, though I enjoy making meatballs which I suppose are just round burgers! X

  12. I love the sound of the burgers Christina, and it seems to have been a successful month for your recipes too (with the exception perhaps of the chickpea picking!) x


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