What I'm reading, what I'm thinking of reading & what I've read. And stuff.
Have had this out of the library for about a fortnight, and have only just got around to trying a recipe. The photographs in this book are just fabulous - not just the photos of the food, but also the ones of Jerusalem that give the the recipes their context. The book includes a substantial amount of narrative alongside and within the recipes. Explanation of specialist ingredients including substitutions are excellent.
11/11 Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds. Oh, my... this is very good! I didn't use anything like as much spinach as listed in the instructions - I'm not a big fan of the texture - but the flavours in this were wonderful. I chucked some chicken in with it to make a whole meal.
16/11 Chicken Sofrito. Seems I'm incapable of actually following a recipe faithfully. For this one I substituted potatoes with kumara. I can't imagine how ordinary potatoes could possibly have been a better choice, this dish was delicious! I bought a bag of chicken thighs instead of using a whole chicken, too, and would probably do the same in future.
17/11 Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad. It would be about this point anyone who knew my eating habits would be going "Whaaa???" Simply put, I don't eat cooked cauli. I don't even eat raw cauli as much as I used to. To be honest it was the hazelnuts and pomegranate that sold me on this, and it was fantastic. I'd thought I'd have it as a side dish to left over chicken from yesterday,but instead I just scarfed the whole lot of the cauli salad down and was a happy camper. I was extremely cross to realise I'd left out the celery, especially as I'd bought a bunch especially for this dish, but that won't go to waste. I still have half a cauli left for another run at this recipe later in the week :-)
21/11 Couscous with Tomato and Onion.
Ah, the difficulties of living alone. So, I made a half quantity of this recipe, thinking I'd have it as an entrée of possibly a side dish to a bit of chicken I have lurking about in the fridge... well no. I managed to knock off the great majority of two serves of this scrummy variation on couscous, but there was no room for anything else once I'd finished. I was a bit worried I'd overdone the crunchy bits on the bottom, but it was quite fabulous (and an excellent way to use a dodgy tomato or two). The Telegraph are thoughtful enough to have published this recipe online here.
2/12 Barley Risotto with Marinated Feta.
It seemed to take me ages to get around to this. I love pearl barley: for me, it was the best thing about my mother's veg soup, so it was inevitable I'd want to make this recipe. I made a half quantity, which was enough for dinner plus lunch the next day. I used chicken stock instead of veg because that's what I had. I was also interrupted in the middle of the risotto by a phone call from the aforementioned mother, so I didn't monitor the cooking as much as I might otherwise have done. However unlike a proper risotto it's not a recipe that requires constant attention. I added some cooked chicken to the portion I had for lunch, and it was fab - one of those dishes that was even better the day after.
16/12 A'ja (bread fritters)
No photo of these in the book, sadly...
I made these not long after the barley risotto above, but it's taken me nearly a fortnight to make this update. How slack!! Meanwhile, I have become the happy owner of my very own copy of this book - how could i resist after so many positive results from testing the recipes? Anyhow, back to the A'ja... these were a bit of a mixed bag. I found it difficult to get the quantities of the herbs correct, and I was a bit slack at cutting them finely enough, particularly the flat leaf parsley. The body of the fritter however was soft and tender and particularly luscious. Not sure that I'd go out of my way to make it again, but something to keep up my sleeve for the next time I find myself with white bread that's a little on the old side.
So, I think it's time I ended this review, tho no doubt I'll be dipping into this book for many years to come. I wonder if I can convince my mother to do Roasted Potatoes with Caramel and Prunes for Xmas dinner? I'm sure she'd have a fit when she saw goose fat on the list on ingredients....