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.
Have a great Sunday. xx