Cookbook 193: The Really Quite Good British Cookbook

I’m going to start with the obvious. The Really Quite Good British Cookbook: THe food we love from 100 of our finest chefs, cooks, bakes and food heroes, edited by William Sitwell is, by far, the MOST ugly cookbook I own. It doesn’t matter how good it is, because I’m getting rid of it the moment I finish writing it up. Here is a picture of the cover, so you too can wonder how on earth the commissioning of this cover happened.

The whole aim of this cookbook was to raise money for the Trussell Trust, which runs foodbanks across the UK (sorry, “Britain”). The cover was made by Peter Blake who is known for his incredibly bright pop-art images. I’m not a fan, but the editor of this cookbook clearly is/was. The recipes in the cookbook are all donated by famous 100 UK cooks, bakers, and chefs. The range is quite extensive and is broken up into types of meals (eg breakfast, snacks, types of meat, grains and desserts). The dishes I made from the cookbook were fine, and I’m sure the rest of the recipes would also be fine, but I’m not going to keep it to find out. I bought it because it was incredibly cheap as no one was buying it (I’m not surprised). For the food I’d give it a 3 out of 5, for the presentation of the book (the cover) I give it 0 out of 5.

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Cookbook 192: The Australian Women’s Weekly Baking: The Complete Collection

So I bought The Australian Women’s Weekly Baking: The Complete Collection from Aldi where it was selling for far less than the amount at the link. Probably about $20. And then over the last two years I’ve cooked from it every now and again, because I’ve been busy and baking is time consuming.

As per all AWW cookbooks these days, it’s triple tested, meaning that the recipe is tested three times by other people to make sure a consistent result is achieved. Lovely for some to spend all day making things and then taste testing them… probably also exhausting. The problem with cooking from this book over an extended period is that I don’t actually remember what I cooked until I find the photos (which is going to be a whole ‘nother exercise), so… look it’s an AWW cookbook, 4 out of 5 stars.

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Cookbook 191: The Two-Step Low-Fodmap Diet and Recipe Book

I was hosting a friend and his partner who is on a Fodmap diet, and so I went out and bought Dr Sue Shepherd’s The Two-Step Low-Fodmap Diet and Recipe Book. I’ve cooked from Dr Shepherd’s earlier books (prior to this blog existing) and as one of the foremost dieticians in this space, I knew I could rely on her book.

Though I did make one minor mistake, I included a dish with goat’s cheese after being told that one of my guests was lactose intolerant. They had Lacteeze though, so it was ok in the end. The dishes I cooked were very tasty. There was another vegetarian dish I cooked from a fodmap friendly blog (Shahi Paneer). Overall, for people who need to stick to a fodmap diet, I recommend this book. There are a good range of vegetarian options, as well as some snacks and deserts. The recipes have options for people who are moving to including certain food types, as well as explaining why fodmap diets are necessary for some people. Four out of 5 stars.

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Cookbook 190: Everyday Vegetarian: The Complete Collection

I’m pretty sure I bought the Australian’s Women’s Weekly, Everyday Vegetarian: The Complete Collection from Aldi (apologies for the very ugly site). They have it on sale every now and again and if you’re interested you can buy it for about $20, which given how extensive the recipe collection is, is a very good deal.

As you’d expect from the name of the book, it is full of vegetarian dishes. But wait, there is more. Each dish is flagged as either vegan, ovo vegetarian, or lacto vegetarian. So if you are vegan, this cookbook actually features a good number of vegan recipes in it. I made three dishes from this book over a couple of months, though I didn’t eat all of them, because I was making them for people who actually like mushrooms or cauliflower. Notes will follow as usual, and overall 4 out of 5 stars.

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Cookbook 189: Appetites: A Cookbook

Appetites: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain was gifted to me by Scott (one of the husbands) for Christmas. He knows I love Anthony Bourdain and remain devastated by his untimely death, and happily buys me wonderful cookbooks as gifts.

Anyway, back to this book. It’s odd, but not in a bad way. Odd like someone who wanted to be an edgy cookbook designer decided to take artistic and generally not entirely representative photos of the food. For example, the photo accompanying the Bagna Cauda with Crudites (which I did not cook), is a wooden spoon covered in the bagna cauda, over someone’s bare feet that has had the bagna cauda splashed on their foot. It’s weird. Some of the photos are of Anthony Bourdain or his friends posing with the dish or elements of the dish. It doesn’t detract from the book, but makes it a weirder experience in selecting recipes.

Unlike some other Anthony Bourdain books, this one actually has vegetarian recipes included, probably aimed as a side dish, but still there are several non-potato based vegetarian dishes which means that this book is more friendly to my household. We only cooked two recipes out of this book on the night in question, and I have a couple of recommendations for those recipes, but in flipping through it again there are many others I want to try. Overall 4 out of 5 stars.

(recipes translated to metric by me and Window’s calculator)

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Moving the website

Hi all

Today I was notified that I can no longer use the URL cookbookproject.id.au because the rules for that nameserver no longer allow websites for hobbies or special interests (from March 2022 apparently).

So what does this mean?

I’m going to rebrand the website and move it to another host. For people who have subscribed to this website directly, there should be little change except for the new name when I get things up and running (I hope).

For everyone else who points RSS readers here, I have two weeks to make this change, so as soon as I have chosen the new domain name, I’ll post it here and you can point your reader at the new website URL.

It’s a huge mess, but hopefully it won’t overwhelm me. Just think of having to move house urgently because you’re no longer allowed to be coded female in your house. It’s like that.

Rebecca

Cookbook 188: Persiana Everyday

I bought Persiana Everyday by Sabrina Ghayour for Scott, for Christmas, after he flipped through a copy that was gifted to his parents by another family member. The recipes looked good, the inclusion of pork in a cookbook inspired by Persia seemed odd, but I’m not here to judge (well not that, I am totally here to judge the quality of the cookbook). I ended up cooking 5 recipes from this book over two different evenings. Two of those recipes did not involve photos, because I was hosting a fundraising dinner for the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, so I’ll write up the recipes and you will have to use your imagination about the food.

Overall I was somewhat disappointed by the book. Of the 5 recipes I made, only one of them really worked in my opinion. One was an absolute disaster, and the other three were ok. I give this 2 out of 5 stars.

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Random rewritten recipe – Spicy carrot and lentil soup

No photos, because I was busy eating the soup, but it was light orange, as you’d expect.

Ok, so I thought I’d mix around Friday soup night and add a new soup to the repertoire. Normally I’m making either potato and leek soup or a red curry pumpkin soup, both of which are fantastic, but having other options are also good. I found this recipe originally on the BBC Good Food website, and while reflecting on the recipe decided that I could definitely make it much more delectable, so here we go.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch chilli flakes (or as much as you like)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced (or crushed or whole it doesn’t matter hugely)
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chaar masala
  • 600g carrots, washed and coarsely grated (no need to peel)
  • 140g split red lentils, rinsed
  • 1L hot vegetable stock (from a cube is fine)
  • 125ml milk (or coconut cream)
  • salt and pepper (as necessary to season)
  • plain yogurt and naan bread, to serve

Method:

  1. Heat a large saucepan and dry-fry 2 tsp cumin seeds and a pinch of chilli flakes for 1 min, or until they start to jump around the pan and release their aromas. Scoop out about half with a spoon and set aside.
  2. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to the same pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook over a low heat until soft (5 – 10 minutes).
  3. Add the tomatoes and chaar masala and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the coarsely grated carrots, split red lentils, hot vegetable stock and milk to the pan, stir and bring to the boil.
  5. Simmer for 15 mins until the lentils have swollen and softened.
  6. Blend the soup with a stick blender or in a food processor until smooth (or leave it chunky if you prefer).
  7. Season to taste and finish with a dollop of plain yogurt and a sprinkling of the reserved toasted spices. Serve with warmed naan breads.

Notes on this recipe:

  • It tasted good, and was nice and thick. The addition of chaar masala and the tomato made it a lot more dahl like, and that is a good thing in my opinion
  • I could probably have cooked the onions more when I made this so there was a bit more umami flavour.
  • The most time consuming bit of the recipe was grating the carrots. Otherwise it was a pretty simple and quick affair.
  • If you don’t want to make chaar masala you can use garam masala instead.

Cookbook 187: Sumac – Recipes and stories from Syria

I really wanted to love Sumac: Recipes and stories from Syria by Anas Atassi. It’s a beautiful book, the photos throughout are lovely, the stories of Atassi’s childhood in Syria are engaging, the recipes sounded great. However it was not to be. The recipes I selected were all sweet and tart, in ways that I don’t like savoury food to be. The only dish that was really enjoyed instead of looked at weirdly after tasting, was the cauliflower dish, and I don’t like cauliflower (Nigel enjoyed it though).

If you like sweet, tangy or tart savoury food, then this cookbook is for you. It definitely isn’t for me, and I’m giving it one out of five stars and will be retiring it from my collection.

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Cookbook 186: My Lisbon

I travelled to Lisbon in 2018 and loved the city and it’s food (though Porto is definitely my favourite Portuguese city). It’s a city I want to return to, to travel the streets, eat more food, and just enjoy my time there. So I bought My Lisbon by Nuno Mendes, wanting to recreate a little of that Lisbon magic in my house. Oh boy was I disappointed. Though glad I didn’t pay the going price of $90 for this book, I would have been MUCH more disappointed if that was the case.

To begin with, there are not that many vegetarian dishes in the book that suited my household, and with recipes broken up into “pastries, snacks, lunch, small plates, dinner, desserts and sandwiches”, I had to go through section by section to find recipes to make for the dinner I was creating. The recipes I chose in the end were either odd or boring. There is a recipe for a leg of lamb cooked in a bottle of wine with bacon and onion. None of this flavour was in the lamb itself. It was tender, but it was just lamb. The bread and kale dish tasted nice (apparently, I don’t do kale), but the texture was odd, and cooking it was a pain. The roast vegetables were nothing special. It was so disappointing. 1 out of 5 stars.

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