I am a recipe book, food book junkie from long, long ago. I recently parted with a collection of Gourmet Traveller and Vogue Entertaining Magazines that date back before the turn of the last century. However, in a digital environment I have not purchased as many cook books as I perhaps would have imagined. So many of my favourite food journalists, chefs and cooks have online resources, blogs and apps and this makes cooking simple.
But there is something lovely about reading a recipe book. Taking a quiet moment over a cup of tea and being inspired. I rarely cook from recipe books directly. But I think my brain works like a search engine, trawling the books for ideas, techniques and new skills that I can apply to our everyday repertoire for our 7mouths2feed.
Jane Kennedy’s One Dish Two Ways is great. I have blogged about this is woman before and her food minus the boom bah. Like me knows the juggle of five children and she has struggled with children who don’t like every recipe or ingredient. Her collection of food ideas take one dish and offer a kid friendly and a more adult version. And it is fun. The idea is simple. You and I are doing most of it already I suspect, but she offers variety.
Bill Granger is a perennial favourite and his book Feed Me Now is about fresh, fast food. Our Granger collection is well loved.
This Home Made Summer is another food book that is full of great pics and typography. Food books have changed so much in my lifetime. The look, layout and ‘feel’ is evolving.
And finally, meet Dan Churchill. Confession. Before I picked this book up I had no idea who he was – at all. Those of you who follow Master Chef would be familiar with his new celeb status. And seriously, I am not going for the V-neck T. Are you?
But I am totally captivated by his recipes and healthy approach to food. Yes, he is a bit of a Paleo lover and his recipes have less sugar than most but he has some great combinations. His slow cooked lamb…….fabulous! So if you have a special man friend, brother or Dad this books would be a great gift. Or a good pressie for you.
My man stumbled upon this bag of goodness recently. Our family have had a season of making and experimenting with pop corn. Spiced pop corn, sweet, caramel…….some have been a great success. But it is hard getting the balance of crunch and caramel right. So to find a bag ready to go was….just fun!
Bill Granger has a sound recipe if you are keen to give it a go! If you want to read more about him drop by the blog.
75 g popcorn
200ml sweet condensed milk
110g brown sugar
110g caster sugar
80 g unsalted butter
1. Pop the corn in a large lidded pan or in the microwave, following the instructions on the packet.
2. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/Gas 3. Put the popped corn in a large heatproof bowl and line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.
3. Put the condensed milk, brown sugar, caster sugar and butter in a saucepan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute to make caramel. Pour over the popcorn and use a wooden spoon to stir until all the popcorn is completely covered with the caramel.
4. Spread the popcorn onto the prepared trays. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10–12 minutes, or until the popcorn is golden brown, stirring occasionally to break up the lumps. Allow to cool completely on the trays, then serve.
A friend made me a meal for me this week. She showed me some generous hospitality. Life has been crazy with a few extraordinary stresses. She made Coq au Vin, but not the old fashioned version. Rather Bill Granger’s modern take on an old French Classic that our parents perhaps made in the 70s. Not only did it taste great, it looked fabulous and she claims it is simple to prepare. So as the weather continues to be bitterly cold, consider this dish for the weekend ahead and maybe invite someone to share it with you. Enjoy!
Coq au vin
Impress your mates at a dinner party – or just show off at home – with this easy eight-stage coq au vin recipe made with white wine and served with creamy mash.
- For the coq au vin
- For the crème fraîche mash
For the coq au vin, preheat the oven to 220C/430F/Gas 7. Arrange the chicken pieces in a large roasting tin and scatter with the bacon, shallots, thyme, rosemary and chilli flakes. Season, to taste, with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Drizzle the contents of the roasting tray with two tablespoons of the olive oil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
When the chicken has been roasted, add the wine to the tin and cook for another 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Heat the butter and remaining tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When the butter is foaming, add the mushrooms and garlic and fry for 3-5 minutes. Tip the mushrooms and garlic into the tin and scatter with the parsley.
Meanwhile, for the crème fraîche mash, boil the potatoes in a pan of salted water until tender. Remove from the heat, drain well and return to the hot pan.
Mash the potatoes until smooth.
Heat the milk and butter in a small pan over a medium heat, until the butter has melted (do not allow the mixture to boil). Beat the hot butter and milk into the potatoes, then fold in the crème fraîche or cream. Season, to taste, with sea salt.
To serve, pile some of the crème fraîche mash onto each of four serving plates and spoon the coq au vin on top.
There are a few chefs who have become real friends in my kitchen. Stephanie feels a bit like an older Mum watching what I do, Bill is like one of the boys sharing a beer while we cook, Jamie with his “u’right’ attitude inspires the kids and Donna helps the girls and I to bake, as does Nigella. But Karen Martini always seems like a friend – who genuinely wants to share. I was delighted to find her new website, complete with video cook offs and inspiration to put real food on the table. This site could be loads of fun……
We have had a few wet and grey days recently. The kind of dreary, drizzly days that you don’t want to go out in. But the kind of days you want to make peace with your oven, light a fire and make a cup of tea.
I chose to follow a recipe ( a rare event for me I know!) and try Bill Granger’s Lemon Drizzle Loaf. We are all a fan of Bill’s food. It is quintessentially Australian – fresh, simple and delicious.
We have an ample supply of lemons right now and most of our friends seem to be in a similar predicament. We have talked of having a lemon party, an excuse to gather together and make lemon curd, lemon cordial, Stephanie’s preserved lemons and marmalade. So if you have even a handful of lemons, this is a must try recipe. In the preamble Bill thanks London’s River Cafe for introducing the world to polenta cake. So this cake has a gorgeous buttery, crunchy texture. Let me know what you think!
225 g butter
225 g caster sugar
100g plain flour
100 g ground almonds
100 g polenta
2 teaspoons baking powder
zest and juice of 1 lemon
zest and juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 lemon
60g icing sugar
Preheat oven to 180c. Grease a 1kg loaf tin and dust with flour.
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Fold the flour, almonds, polenta, baking powder, and lemon and lime zest and juice. Gently fold in the blueberries. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 40 minutes. Cover with foil and bake for a further 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when you poke it into the centre. Leave to cool slightly in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack.
To make the lemon drizzle, mix together the lemon juice and sugar. Prick all over the top of the loaf with a skewer, pour the drizzle over the load and leave to soak in.