Yotam Ottolenghi is well represented in my cookery library; I have a good few of his books. In fact I think I have all but one of them. For some reason I never got around to buying Plenty. I should probably do something about that.…
It’s wild garlic season – one of the most delicious free foods you could imagine. We’re lucky to have two decent sized patches of it in the garden, and so I love this time of year. I regularly pick the leaves and add them to…
Hugh’s Three Good Things takes a very simple premise – make a dish using just three ingredients – and produces a large array of very tasty looking recipes. Of course, the three ingredients thing is a bit of a cheat – pretty much all the recipes list more than that, but they’re typically flavourings – herbs, spices, seasonings and so on.
We have some leftover roast leg of lamb in the fridge. I’d normally turn that into a shepherd’s pie, but I noticed a recipe in this book that looked like a good way to use some of it. The three ingredients are lamb, spinach, chickpeas. As well as those three, it also wants some merguez spices, garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper. A total of fifteen ingredients. I guess Hugh’s Fifteen Good Things isn’t such a snappy title.
I start with the merguez spice mix.
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 10 – 12 black peppercorns
- 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- pinch of cayenne pepper
I toast the seeds and peppercorns in a small frying pan for a minute or so, then put them in the grinder together with the paprika and cayenne, and blitz them to a powder.
Now the rest of the ingredients.
- 225g large leaf or baby spinach
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 200g leftover cooked lamb, cut into broad strips
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1/2 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the spinach, Hugh says that if you’re using large leaf spinach, you need to cook it first in some boiling water for a minute or two. I have baby leaf that came in the veg box last week, so I don’t need to do that.
I heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pan and fry the lamb strips gently for a few minutes until they brown. Then, I add the spinach, a handful at a time, letting each batch wilt a little before adding the next.
Next, I add the rest of the olive oil, the garlic, the chickpeas and 1 tablespoon of the spice mix, together with a little salt and pepper.
Finally, I add the juice of half a lemon, and taste. It definitely needs a little more spice, so I add another half-tablespoon or so of the merguez mix and stir it through.
I’ve made some flatbreads to go with this, and serve with some plain yoghurt, sprinkled with a little salt, pepper and some of the spice mix.
It’s good. Very tasty, and the flavours all work well together. A resounding hit. I’ll definitely remember this one next time I have some leftover lamb.
Sue wanted biscuits. In fact she demanded biscuits. She even went out as far as digging out the cookery book and leaving it open in the kitchen with a post-it note stuck on the page saying Make these with a large arrow pointing to the…
I was looking for a recipe to make use of some chicken I had. I found quite a few things that I liked the sound of, but there always seemed to be a key ingredient that I didn’t have to hand. Then I picked up…
It’s a Bank Holiday weekend. We’re in lockdown. Some baking is in order. I scan the shelf for a suitable cook book. We need comfort food, and who better to provide that than Nigella.
I pull out my copy of How to be a Domestic Goddess. A well used book, complete with a smear of what I suspect is icing sugar on the cover. I bought this as soon as it came out, having already fallen in love with her How to Eat. Published in 2000, it’s twenty years old, but it feels like it’s been a part of my life forever.
Flicking through, I spot a photo that catches my eye every time I open this book. Ricciareli. I’ve never made these, but they look fabulous.
I check the ingredients list. I have everything I need – I’m finally going to make these delicious looking almond biscuits.
- 2 large egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 225g caster sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond essence
- 300g ground almonds
I whisk the egg whites with the pinch of salt until stiff, then gradually whisk in the sugar. It quickly turns into shiny, sticky, marshmallow-like goo. Next, I add the lemon zest, the vanilla extract and the almond essence, together with the ground almonds, stirring well until it forms a stiff paste.
I shape them into small diamond-shaped lozenges and put them on a baking tray. They don’t look anywhere near as neat as Nigella’s, but they’re not too bad. Now they need to be left to dry overnight.
The following morning, I heat the oven to 140˚C and cook them for 30 minutes.
When the come out, they’re pale, albeit a touch more golden than Nigella’s, and firm to the touch. Once they’re cool, I dust them with icing sugar.
They’re delicious. Firm on the outside, chewy on the inside. And so almondy, with just a hint of lemon. They’re wonderful. Why have I never made these before? I’ll certainly be doing them again.
We’ve already got through a good half dozen. I doubt these are going to last long.
To kick off my journey through my cook book collection, I decided to start with an old favourite. The Curry Club Indian Restaurant Cook Book by Pat Chapman. This one was an early addition to my collection. First published in 1984, my copy dates from…
Apparently, I have a lot of cookery books. At least that’s what Sue keeps telling me. So, I decided to count them. That was no mean feat – they’re scattered around the house. There’s a shelf-full in the kitchen, naturally, and rather a lot in…