Welcome to my first Cookery Calendar Challenge report. I'm joining with Penny at The Homemade Heart who invites fellow bloggers to choose one cookery book each month, select and cook two dishes from it and post their thoughts at the beginning of the following month.
I chose Jamie Oliver's The Return of the Naked Chef, which I almost instantly regretted. It's not that I don't like Jamie Oliver. I do. He's an entertaining TV cook and I value his contribution to the debate over the nutritional value of school dinners, over-fishing etc. It's not even that I didn't like the book. It's just that I'm trying to cut down on my meat intake, and although he does offer a number of vegetarian recipes, very few of them appealed to me. In addition, because the challenge slipped my mind until the end of the month, which coincided with my attempting to use up the contents of my fridge before going away for a long weekend, I found myself even more restricted.
My first dish was Spaghetti with Anchovies, Dried Chilli & Panagritata. Being quick and easy to prepare - boil pasta, melt anchovies in garlic oil, toast breadcrumbs, throw together - it made the ideal holiday lunch. I shared it with my daughter. She didn't like it, mainly because of the anchovies. I did enjoy it, but found the panagritata made it feel a bit dry in the mouth. If I made it again I would add a bit more reserved water from the pasta and hope it didn't take the crunch from the breadcrumbs. Perhaps a touch more olive oil would be better?
I'm afraid my photograph doesn't do it justice. I though afterwards that it would have looked better if I'd tossed it together beforehand.
My second dish was Pappardelle, Spicy Sausage Meat and Mixed Wild Mushrooms. For practical reasons I swapped pappardelle for tagliatelle, wild mushrooms for a mixture of button mushrooms and broccoli and stirred in a couple of spoonfuls of cream. We ate it for dinner with a green side salad, sharing it with my daughter's boyfriend. It went down better than the first dish. Its versatility and the fact that it makes a little meat go a long way means that I'm sure to make it again.
Again, apologies for the photograph with its very shiny plate!
Flicking through the book there are a couple of other recipes I'd try - pukkolla (Jamie's take on muesli), pan-toasted almonds with a touch of chilli and sea salt, salmon fillet wrapped in prosciutto with herby lentils, spinach and yoghurt, his marinades and rubs and chickpea Moroccan flatbread.
My book for April is Rachel Roddy's Five Quarters. I first encountered Rachel in the Saturday Guardian where she was one of a series of cooks in residence (she now has a regular column) and clicked through her book in Foyles on many occasions before finally buying it.