Recipe #133 – bread sauce


Better than the roast chicken (recipe #132) was the bread sauce that accompanied it. This recipe under bread of all places was a revelation. I had never made nor eaten bread sauce before but this stuff needs to go on every roast chicken I make from now on – even Heston’s! As you can imagine, this is a definitely make again recipe. I can only suggest that all of you non-vegetarians go out now, find the recipe for this and roast a chicken as an accompaniment to this sauce – its that good.

Recipe #132 – roast chicken – the all time favourite


I know its been a while but I have been cooking – really, I have.  And this is one of the dishes that have waited a while for me to catch up on the blog – roast chicken, the all time favourite. At least it is according to Stephanie Alexander.  But is it really the ‘all time favourite’.  Well according to an oxfam survey, its not even close. Apparently pasta is the world’s favourite food. Not chicken at all and certainly not roast chicken. In fact chicken (presumably cooked anyway at all) is the favourite food in only two of countries surveyed – Guatemala and the Phillippines. Australia’s favourite food was chocolate by the way while Tanzania gets the prize for the most interesting combination – meat and bananas. Maybe Stephanie should have reserved that ‘all time favourite’ tag for her baked bananas and meatloaf dish – you bet I am looking forward to inviting all my Tanzanian friends over for dinner the night I make that!

Anyway, enough of the ‘is it or isn’t’ game. I can say that whether it is an all time favourite or not, the roast chicken was pretty darn good – not Heston Blumenthal roast chicken good but who has time or the forethought to brine a chicken for 24 hours before you want to cook it!

I, and the others I shared this dish with, were pretty sure that this dish was rated a solid – would eat it again – and then only because of Heston and his damn roast chicken recipe!

Recipe #131 – pork sausages with sage and tomato


The name of this dish says it all – what you read is what you get when you cook and eat pork sausages with sage and potato. The only ingredients that sneak in without telling you is a little olive oil, salt and some pepper. Other than that, this dish is all full disclosure. Not that that is a bad thing or anything but, you know, a little mystery is nice. Maybe name it in french –

saucisse de porc a la sauge et a la tomate

or maybe welsh is better

selsig pork gyda saets a thomato

or even basque

salbia eta tomatearekin txerriki hestebeteak

OK maybe not basque. But you know what I mean. Whatever you call it, this plain jane dish is pretty much that on a plate as well. Perfect for a mid-week quick easy and I should say tasty enough dinner when you don’t really want to cook all that much.

Ratings – Ben tekrar yemek istiyorum

(which is turkish for I would eat it again)

I hope

Recipe #130 – chilli con carne

Did you know that 815,000 links come up when you google chilli con carne. I imagine that is about how many variants there are to this dish. One for every recipe book that includes it probably. Stephanie’s version is pretty good. So good in fact it seems that I forgot to take a photo of it before devouring it with the family and a friend mid week. So sorry, no photo at this point in time. I do think that some was frozen so perhaps next time I will take a photo for you all to see.

Stephanie’s version of this classic dish includes large chunks of beer which, to be honest, I prefer over the mince that you often see included in this recipe. And the chill heat comes from cayenne pepper, paprika and black pepper. I am not sure if this is authentic. Certainly the chilli lovers site thinks that chilli is a critical ingredient but then again, even they say that there are almost as many recipes for chilli con carne as people who cook it (which is probably more than 815,000). In the end it doesn’t matter. Stephanies version may or may notbe authentic but it is tasty. A definite make again.

Recipe #129 – north indian lentils


This dish (under Lentils, page 400) is a version of the great Indian cuisine classic, dalh. And a good one at that. Now I have made dahl for quite a while (mine includes tomatoes). And, as the perceptive and regular reader would know, it is often the case that I prefer the time tested recipes to Stephanie’s versions. This dish however is the exception. Not better but equal I would say. I would be more than happy to have either served to me for dinner. A definite make again rating from all of those at dinner the other night (with the exception of my daughter who disdains the spiciness when it adds any heat to a dish at all). Nonetheless, a good hearty vegetarian dish. Try it.


On a side note, this is also the dish that we tried michael boddy’s sweet pickle limes (Recipe #51) for the first time. Another delicious, though sort of strange tasting flavour that went well with the Indian meal on the night.

Recipe #128 – roman lamb stew


I am not sure that this (under the Sage chaper, page 652) is how this is supposed to look but it matters not. It was another delicious dish that is in the ‘definitely make again’ category. And why wouldn’t it be. Beautiful lamb (a leg in this case as the butcher had no shoulders) cooked with carrots, celery, sage, tomato, rosemary and garlic. How can you go wrong? Particularly when you have it with the cauliflower and potato pie discussed in the previous post.

Now the fact that this recipe called for a lamb should rather than a lamb leg got me thinking about whether the two are truly substitutable? So, off to the good folk at Yahoo this time to find out. Based on answers on Yahoo Answers it turns out that three most discussed differences are:

  1. Lamb legs are prettier to look at than shoulders – legs are more a ‘dinner party look at me’ cut and shoulders are more your ‘family meat and potato’ sort of cut
  2. Shoulders have more connective tissue and benefit from a longer cooking time
  3. Shoulders are less expensive (typical of the look at me leg to be more expensive).

So there you have it.

Recipe #127 – cauliflower and potato pie


This dish (under cauliflower) is less pie and more delicious cauli-potato goodness (at least it tastes good- not sure if the sour cream is all that good for you -but hey, you can’t have everything). And there was plenty left over to make some cauliflower and potato pie croquettes / cakes whatever you like. You know, something dipped in eggs, coated with breadcrumbs and fried. This is a definite make again dish, perfect when you want that comforting cauliflower cheese experience without the cholesterol hit from all that milk and cheese.

Just one thing though. Why is this a pie? There is no pastry. Isn’t that what a pie is? To answer these questions, I did what I always do – consult the good folk at Google. Apparently according to Wikipedia (so its got to be right) a pie

is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients.

So the important point here is “usually” right. But then Wikipedia goes to say that pies are defined by their crust and that the crust does not necessarily need to be pastry. It could be baking powder biscuits, potato or crumbs. This dis has potato but it is on the inside right. Its not like a Shepherds Pie. It does have a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Does that qualify as a crust? I don’t know. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether its really a pie or not. It still tastes delicious and as Shakespeare said – a rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Recipe #126 – marieke’s chocolate cake


So I am not sure what it is with chocolate recipes from Stephanie’s book and me but both of the recipes I have embarked upon have resulted in a significant amount of stress and anguish.First it was the chocolate mousse that I had to throw out halfway through the cooking and then this cake. Now, granted, the problem I had with this cake probably lie squarely with me (or at least the dodgy cake tin I was using) rather than the recipe. But it was still a problem. More so because of the fact that this cake was being made for the Lithuanian 30th birthday party and throwing it out at the last minute was not really an option – at least not without replacing it with something hurriedly purchased from the Cheesecake Shop.

As I said before, the problem lay with the dodgy cake tin and the fact that this cake is cooked in a water bath. Hmmm – dodgy spring form cake tin and a water bath. What could possibly go wrong. The cake was cooked. Looked fantastic. Skewer came out clean. All good. Until it came out of the cake tin to reveal a cake bottom that was sodden. Not just damp. This thing was wet. Mild panic ensued. I mean this cake has 9 eggs in it. And those eggs came from our backyard chooks. Its not like I could go out and squeeze another nine eggs from them. No panic was definitely the best course of action at this point.

Or at least the second best course of action because it was suggested that maybe we could just put the cake back in the oven to dry it out a bit. Would that work, I thought? At this point it all that I had left, so in the oven it went to dry out while I sent my wife to the shops to either get some more cake ingredients or perhaps another cake.

The good news is that it turns out you can put a wet cake in the oven to dry it out. Who knew. Certainly not the people at the party although, to be fair, there had been a lot of wine and beer consumed by the time the cake was eaten. In any case, it all went and no-one complained or was any the wiser. Until now of course.

Ratings: Would eat it again.

Recipe #125 – stuffed eggs


This is the second dish I made to go with drinks at the Lithuanian birthday party. Harking back to the days 30 years when our Lithuanian friend was born. Yes friends, the classic from the latter half of the last century – stuffed eggs (page 289, under eggs).

As an aside, did you know that if you google stuffed eggs you get 4,270,000 results (which is about 4 million more than if you google “oysters with garlic butter”). I would really like to know that the last one of those results said about stuffed eggs. I wonder if there is a way to find out?

But I digress, there are clearly lots of way to stuff an egg (at least 4.27 million) and Stephanie has her way as well. In this case, it is stuffed with the egg yolk, some sour cream and some rollmop (which for the uninitiated of you is a rolled uncooked pickled herring fillet – sounds delicious doesn’t it!). Nevertheless that is what I put in my stuffed eggs, throwing caution to the wind in doing so (and noting that I would not see any of these people again if it was awful). Awful, they were not. But they were not as popular as the oysters with garlic butter. Would I make them again. Sure. Why not? They were reasonable easy to prepare, can be done ahead of time and I have three hens that lay an egg a day in the back-yard.

Recipe #124 – oysters with garlic butter


Now a couple of weeks ago, my wife informed me that we were going to host a Lithuanian 30th birthday party – not words that I ever expected to hear out of my Anglo / Irish / Japanese wife. But it turns out we have a Lithuanian friend who was turning 30 and who was planning to cook some delicious Lithuanian “meat on a stick cooked over hot coals’ dinner for us and 20 or so of her closest friends. All I had to do was provide pre-dinner items to have with drinks and a cake!

No problem. Turning to the trusty book, I sought out the most interesting possibilities but as deep fried brain pieces in breadcrumbs was only a side-bar recipe int he book, I had to exclude it. Instead, I opted for oysters with garlic (page 489, under oysters of course).

No the purists amongst you may, like my wife, scoff at the thought of eating cooked oysters. Particularly when we can get them so fresh from our usual fishmonger. But really, serving fresh oysters was just never going to happen when, instead, I could –

(A) Cross off a recipe that I may never have the opportunity to do again; and

(B) Serve them to a whole bunch of people who I didn’t know and I would never have to see again if the oysters were awful.

And so the oysters were cooked, each topped with garlic butter and given a pastry lid. And a good thing there were. The little darlings went pretty quickly and certainly none were left by the end of the night.

If you like oysters and you like garlic, you should give these a go. Delicious. Tasted a bit like garlic snails. Hope that is how they were supposed to taste!

Ratings: A definite make again (for a party)