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.

Pan-fried Pimenton Chicken with Mashed Potato (serves 4) by Jose Pizarro


For the chicken

  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, unskinned
  • 1 bay leaf
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 boneless, unskinned chicken thighs, cut in half
  • 1 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 6 tbsp fino sherry

For the mashed potatoes

  • 4 large red potatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oil that the chicken will be cooked in over a very gentle (low) head and add the garlic cloves and bay leaf. Cook for 20 minutes, the garlic clove should be lightly coloured. Once cooked, remove the garlic and bay leaf. Set the garlic cloves to one side (you’ll need them later).
  2. Turn the heat up to high. Season the chicken, add it to the pan and fry for 4 minutes before turning the pieces over. Cook for another 4 minutes. Add the paprika and sherry; give everything a good stir and leave to bubble gently for 5 minutes (you probably want to turn the heat down a bit for this step).
  3. For the mash, peel the potatoes and cut them into large chunks. Boil with the garlic cloves, bay leaf, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Once cooked, skim off the olive oil and reserve. Drain the potatoes and remove the garlic and bay leaf. Mash the potatoes with all the olive oil (reserved and remaining) and keep going until you have made a smooth puree. Season to taste.
  4. Spoon the mashed potatoes into the middle of a platter, place the chicken on top, and pour the juices over. Serve with the fried garlic cloves.

Notes on this recipe:

  • I didn’t serve the chicken with the potato as I was sharing that with a vegetarian.
  • The chicken was very tasty and I would make this recipe again. The potatoes tasted good, I had never thought about using olive oil instead of butter/milk before.

Chickpea, olive and raisin tagine (serves 6) by Mina Holland


  • 800g chickpeas
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • a pinch of saffron infused in 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 4 onions: 1 grated, the others sliced into feathers
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
  • 200g raisings
  • approx 350g pitted green olives
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 preserved lemon, pulp removed, and sliced very finely
  • 1 big handful of whole almonds, toasted
  • 1 tsp ras el hanout


  1. Soak the chickpeas in water overnight (or just use 3 tins of chickpeas)
  2. In a deep-sided pan or casserole dish, place half the butter, the saffron water, grated onion, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and seasoning and heat over a low heat. It will quickly turn into a paste-like consistency, the onion will begin to dissolve, and will be fragrant.
  3. Add the chickpeas and cover with water to 1/2 cm above the chickpeas. Cover, turn up the heat, bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes before adding the feathered onions. Simmer for a further 20 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 120C
  5. Check the seasoning of the broth, then add the carrots, raising and olive and simmer until the carrots are tender (about 10 minutes)
  6. Remove the vegetables, chickpeas and raising and place in a heatproof dish. Cover this with aluminium foil and place in the warm oven. Leave the liquid in the pan.
  7. Add the honey, olive oil and the rest of the butter to the broth; bring to the boil and simmer until it reduces and thickens (probably between 15 – 20 minutes).
  8. On a serving dish, arrange the vegetables and chickpeas. Spoon the broth over, then sprinkle with preserved lemon peel, almonds and ras el hanout. Service with couscous or rice. You can also crumble goat’s cheese or feta over the top.

Notes on this recipe:

  • I think olives taste of sadness and death, so I didn’t taste this. The person who likes olives thought it was great. It was A LOT of food though.
  • The lack of timing (I’ve added that in the brackets) in the last half of the recipe was frustrating. Hopefully my recollection of timing is accurate.

Let me know what you think

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