Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Cookery Calendar Challenge: April

I'm back with my second 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.

My recipe book for April was Five Quarters by Rachel Roddy.  I first came across Rachel when she was the Guardian's cook in residence (she now writes a weekly column) and instantly warmed to her style of writing as much as to her cooking.  Rachel's a British woman who has made her home in Rome where she lives with her Sicilian partner and their wee boy.  She's my favourite kind of food writer ie one who sets each recipe in context - where the ingredients were bought, who sold them to her, the history of the dish and how it is eaten today.  It's as if I was exploring her local market, standing by her in her kitchen or sitting across from her in a local cafe.

I bought her book (her first, there is a second in the pipeline) at the beginning of the year and had already dipped into it on a couple of occasions.  This month I tried out two new recipes:  Pollo alla cacciatora (chicken, hunter's style) and pasta e patate (pasta and potato soup).

Pollo alla cacciatora
(with apologies for the quality of the image)
 The chicken dish was delicious and was well received by everyone, including my daughter's boyfriend who is a bit of connoisseur when it comes to food.  It was simple to prepare, using easy to hand ingredients (with the exception of black olives, optional, but included because I like them).  It is essentially chicken portions sauteed in olive oil flavoured with garlic, chilli flakes, rosemary, wine and vinegar - and those black olives.  We ate it with boiled potatoes and an assortment of vegetables (carrots, cabbage and sweetcorn) which needed using up, but when I cook it again, which I shall, I'll follow Rachel's advice and serve it with green beans or a  green salad and a hunk of sourdough to mop up the fragrant juices.

Pasta e Patate
Once again, my image doesn't do it justice!
The pasta and potato soup doesn't sound right, does it  Too many carbs?  And there's not much else in it.  An onion, a carrot and a celery stalk.  It calls for water, not stock, and even the pancetta is optional.  But it works, falling into the category of comfort food, a dish that throws it arms around you and gives you a big hug.  Simple and honest.  We ate a bowlful before setting out for another session of local election canvassing and it kept us going very nicely.  The only tweak I would try would be to slip half a parmesan rind in with the water to add a touch more depth.

My book for May is Simon Hopkinson's The Good Cook.



  1. Gai thank you so much for joining in with the Cookery Calendar Challenge, I hope you enjoyed it and will continue to take part. I have seen this book on Amazon and rather liked the look of it, it is good to hear that you enjoyed reading and using it. I habe very happy associations with Chicken Cacciatoria, this was a regular dish on the dinner menu in my parents' hotel in the1970's. I was a meat eater then, and always loved the flavour. My dad made it beautifully,mand the hotel guests always loved it. Being a bit of a carb-head I would probably lobe potato and pasta soup! Just the thing on a cold winter's day! (could one justify a piece of bread with it.....? Oh well why not!!) x

    1. Concentrating on one book a month should make menu planning easier, if only life wasn't so complicated. But I'm off work the next two afternoons so there's no excuse.

  2. I love the simplicity of good Italian cooking. Pasta and potato soup sounds great. I made a pasta and beans soup (not the green variety) and imagine it quite similar. The chicken sounds great, too.

    1. I'm put off recipes with long lists of ingredients, so Rachel Roddy's recipes suit me fine.