Thursday, February 26, 2009

Winter Squash Risotto (Orange Again!)

This is a recipe I stumbled on when looking for info on sodium (see below). And, yes, it's orange. What is it with us?

It was pretty easy, tasty, and had a lovely fragrance - which is nice, because our apartment is rather short on doors, and smells tend to waft about and hang around.

Served it with some asparagus that had been languishing in the fridge since the Pernod dish - actually a very good combination of flavors, highly recommended.

The Recipe: Winter Squash Risotto

Here's the link:

I've been wondering whether I should after all be replicating the recipes here, to prevent broken link issues, etc. Any thoughts?


Well, actually, I did make quite a big mistake - just after step 2, I started to do a bit of tidying, and put away the packet of rice. And discovered the arborio rice was still sitting in the cupboard - I'd used jasmine rice instead! Aaaargh!

But, you know, it really didn't seem to matter. It cooked up fine, and didn't taste weird at all. I think the parmesan cheese covers a lot of sins.

Also, the butternut squash could have been a teeny bit softer, even though it was definitely done - but maybe that's a matter of taste. Perhaps could cook it a little longer before adding the other ingredients, or else steam/nuke/parboil it separately before starting.


After step 2

About the middle of step 3

On the plate, with some fresh grated Parm. on top

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Techniques: Handling Chicken Safely (aka Chicken about Chicken)

OK, I live in terror of chicken (e.g. typical quote, from last night: “I hope I didn’t give us salmonella poisoning, because this is too good to throw up”). So was alarmed to come across this note on all the What’s Cooking America chicken recipes a few days ago:

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as food agencies in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, advises against washing poultry. Rinsing chicken will not remove or kill much bacteria, and the splashing of water around the sink can spread the bacteria found in raw chicken. Cooking poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit effectively destroys the most common culprits behind food-borne illness."

Crazy, right? But it sounded all too plausible.

However, when it got to last night and I was taking our very over-processed looking chicken breasts out of their individual packages (sigh) they were all slimy and covered in goop. So I washed them. And then freaked out, scrubbing the sink, the counters, the table, the cats, Jack...

Then today did some research and found out, sure enough, the What’s Cooking lady is right:

So now we know! But in the goop scenario above, what would you do?

Wow: Mock Game

The last two dishes were nice, but didn’t knock our socks off. This one did. It’s another recipe from the Around Britain Dairy Cookbook (see Cottage Pie entry for details), and it’s a winner. It does take quite a bit of work, though, especially for a beginner, so we won’t be making it every night. Anyway, it’s called “Mock Game,” and makes chicken pretend to be pheasant by braising it in spices and red wine. And apparently it’s from Warwickshire, the area where my family lives.

They suggest serving it with toast spread with redcurrant jelly and chopped parsley, as a “lazy lunch.” A weird definition of lazy in my view. Their alternative, for a more substantial meal, was to do sautéed potatoes and cooked red cabbage, but that seemed totally overwhelming. So it was frozen peas and mashed potatoes for us: perfect. My trusty assistant took care of those, as I was up to my eyeballs in the sauce (a roux – eek!).

The Recipe: Mock Game

(Adapted from the Around Britain Dairy Cookbook)

  • 4 skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 strips of smoked bacon
  • 2 oz. butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 fl. oz. red wine
  • 10 fl. oz. chicken stock
  • Thinly pared rind only of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • Half tsp whole allspice
  • Half tsp black peppercorns
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 oz. all-purpose flour
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

Serves 4

1) Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, beat each chicken breast thinly between two sheets of plastic wrap. Gently stretch out each piece of bacon to the same length as the chicken breasts.

2) Place the chicken breasts skinned side down on a board and season well. Place two bacon rashers on each one, and roll up neatly, starting at the wider end. Tie each parcel with clean string.

3) Heat half of the butter with the olive oil in a large lidded frying pan. Add the parcels and cook gently until lightly browned all over. Remove from pan and set aside.

4) Drain the fat (being careful to keep any residue). Pour the wine into the pan and bring to the boil, stirring and scraping the browned residue from the bottom, then boil gently until the wine is reduced by a third.

5) Add the chicken stock, lemon rind, redcurrant jelly, allspice, peppercorns, cloves, and bay leaves. Return the chicken to the pan and bring back to the boil. Reduce the heat and cover the surface closely with greaseproof paper. Cover with lid and cook gently for 25-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked. [I turned the parcels over half-way through. Also, you’ll need to get your mashed potatoes going now.]

6) When the chicken is done, remove the parcels onto a plate, remove string, cover, and keep warm. [Put your peas on now too.]

7) Strain the wine mixture into a measuring jug.

8) Make the sauce: Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan, then add the flour and blend together to make a paste. Gradually add the wine mixture, whisking all the time. Reduce the heat and simmer gently while preparing toast [or mashed potatoes and peas]. Pour the sauce over the parcels and serve. [They actually made a paste of the flour and butter, gradually added it into the sauce in the pan, whisking, then strained it afterwards. But we don't have a strainer, and I couldn't imagine that method working without one, so made a roux sauce the traditional way - learned via a fish pie recipe in January.]


Completely delicious, and fancy enough for a dinner party. But a bit stressful (whacking the chicken breasts, the sauce), and there was a ton of washing up.


Parcels cooking

The finished item, not very artfully arranged

Cross-section of parcel

Friday, February 20, 2009

Techniques: Knife Skills

There's nothing like slicing about a thousand carrots (see below) to make you realize that you have absolutely no knife skills at all, and that the whole thing would have been so much quicker and easier if you knew what you were doing.

So today I've been watching a few videos. Here are the best ones I found: - classic, will come back to this (and you learn to make a scallion palm tree!) - a bit more detailed, with great explanations, but he's scarily comfortable with a paring knife, so watching it is a bit squirmy - a nice, friendly bloke from Men's Health

P.S. Of course, they all say you need an 8/10/12 inch chef's knife, and we don't have one of those. So some of the above stuff may turn out to be a struggle. The New Cook has a helpful guide to buying knives (, something we'll need to tackle.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Baked Salmon with Pernod

Not orange, and very easy (though I did almost burn the rice). The recipe is from a little book that my sister gave me for Christmas (from the UK, called the Hamlyn All Color Cookbook: 200 Make-Ahead Dishes).

This was my second new recipe of the day, and the first to use our brand new oven, which gave off a weird smell (making me very nervous), but otherwise seems to work OK.

The verdict? Well... again, it was nice, but not spectacular. The Pernod flavor was extremely subtle and seemed mainly to be detectable in the veggies, rather than the fish. And the veggies were overdone by the time the fish was cooked. For first problem, wondering if it would have been a good idea to do the parcels in advance, and let them marinate in the fridge for a while (I'd thought this was something you could do, not something you should do). Not sure what to do about the second problem. Hmmm... But it was nice enough that we'd try it again.

The Recipe: Baked Salmon with Pernod

  1. 2 oz. butter
  2. 7 oz. bok choy
  3. 7 oz. fine asparagus
  4. 4 salmon fillets, about 5 oz. each
  5. 1.5 inch piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  6. 10 tbsp Pernod or Ricard
  7. Salt and pepper
  8. Cooked plain rice to serve [I did jasmine rice]

Serves 4

1) Butter 4 large pieces of foil. Separate the bok choy leaves and thickly slice the larger ones. Trim the asparagus and cut each stem into 2 or 3 pieces, depending on length. Divide the vegetables between the pieces of foil and place a salmon fillet on top of each one.

2) Divide the remaining butter between the salmon fillets, sprinkle with the ginger and a little seasoning, then drizzle with the Pernod. Bring the foil up and over the salmon and seal well. Chill the parcels until required [i.e. you can prepare the meal up until this point, then pick it up again later - but see comment above].

3) Cook the parcels on a baking sheet in a preheated oven (350F), for 25 minutes. Unwrap one of the parcels and pierce the center of the salmon. If it flakes easily and the flakes are all one color they are ready. If not, cook for a few more minutes and then retest. When done, serve over rice.


You probably need to start the rice and parcels at same time. The salmon took about 15 mins longer to cook (maybe our oven? hard to tell) so the rice, which I'd forgotten about, had time to catch up.

We couldn’t find a little bottle of Pernod, so had to invest in a big one, which was a little annoying. Other Pernod recipes, anyone?


Forgot to take pix of the parcels before cooking, but here’s the end result. The veggies really do look as though they were overcooked by about 75%.

More Orange Food: Pureed Carrot Soup (aka Potage de Crecy)

I’ve noticed that most of the food so far has been orange, sorry about that. And now here’s a carrot soup, again from the NY Times Recipes for Health section. We were a tiny bit hung over today, and this seemed like a detoxifying kind of lunch. Yes, lunch. I’m doing penance for my lapse last week, so made not one but two new recipes today.

The wisdom of the internet provides this quote from the Twelve Months of Monastery Soups (by Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette):

"In France, the carrots grown in the vicinity of Crecy have the reputation as best and the tastiest in the whole country -- hence the name given to the soup. From France, the soup crossed the Channel into England, where it has become part of the national folklore. According to an old tradition dating back the the 14th century, loyal Britons should eat carrot soup or "potage de Crecy" on the anniversary (August 26, 1346) of the battle of Crecy, a legendary victory of the English over the French in the the Hundred Years' War."

Well, I've never eaten carrot soup on August 26, or heard of anyone doing so. But I run with a very disloyal crowd.

The Recipe: Pureed Carrot Soup

Here’s the link:


Well, I went a bit overboard in my concern re salt (see below) and ended up with a soup that was OK, but… I made it with one quarter chicken stock, three quarters water, which according to the recipe could have been OK, but have to assume it lost some flavor as a result. Not sure what I could have done to it, apart from using more salt and sugar; one could add other things like curry powder, etc., but the whole point of the soup is that it's just carroty. Any suggestions?

But it looked pretty, and tasted nice enough.

We stirred about a teaspoon of crème fraiche into each bowl.


A lot of carrots.

The soup.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Thing About Salt

We're not health nuts at all, but someone we know has been put on a low sodium diet, so we've just been doing some reading on the topic.

Take a look at this, and ask yourself if you shouldn't be doing more to reduce your salt intake:

Here are some easy ways to do it:

Sausage, Squash & Root Vegetable Stew

So, it’s been a week, and no new recipe :(

But will make up for it in the coming days, hope that’ll be OK. And last night we had something that I first made last year – it’s from another of those Dairy cookbooks, called “Hearty & Healthy.” More comfort food, with a lovely sweet taste. You don’t need to serve it with anything except some nice crusty bread to mop up the juices.

The Recipe: Sausage, Squash & Root Vegetable Stew
(Adapted from the Hearty & Healthy Dairy Cookbook)

  • 1 large onion, peeled & chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed & sliced [not a cooked celery fan, so left this out]
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled & cut into small chunks
  • 1 large carrot, peeled & cut into small chunks
  • Half a small butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, & cut into small chunks
  • 20 fl. oz. stock [they say beef, but I used chicken; low sodium is best (see below)]
  • 1 pack pork sausages, cut into pieces [I use Italian sweet sausages]
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes [they say with garlic; again no salt is best]
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs [didn’t have mixed herbs so used qtr tsp rosemary, qtr tsp thyme, half tsp tarragon]

Serves 4; suitable for freezing

1) Heat olive oil in large saucepan and fry onion for a couple of minutes till softened.

2) Add celery, parsnip, carrot, and squash to saucepan and pour in stock. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for 10 mins.

3) Meanwhile, fry the sausage pieces in frying pan until golden, then remove from pan and drain on paper towels. [They said to fry for just 3 or 4 mins, but I cooked it for the whole time the veggies were simmering, so that more fat would come out.]

4) Add the sausages to the vegetables and stir in the chopped tomatoes and herbs. Bring back to the boil and simmer for about 20 mins, stirring occasionally, until tender, cooked through, and thickened. [They said to simmer uncovered, but didn’t want it to get too dry, so did 10 mins covered, and 10 mins uncovered.]

5) Serve immediately while hot.


I actually used regular stock, not reduced sodium, but even though the tomatoes were salt-free, it almost tasted a bit too salty (presumably there’s some in the sausages). So, it’s another recipe where you need to watch the salt. But I have a bee in my bonnet re sodium at the moment; it was probably fine.


The finished product.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Poor Man's Bouillabaise

Another recipe from the NY Times, this one from their "Recipes for Health" section. We both had our birthdays in the last couple of days, and had too much beer and chocolate (if such a thing is possible). So I went a bit overboard in reaction, and cooked this very healthy soup. We agreed that it was pretty tasty, but we really prefer thicker, creamier soups. Cooking the eggs in it was fun though (using an expansive definition of fun).

P.S. The flavors had intensified nicely when we ate the leftovers the next day.

The Recipe: Poor Man's Bouillabaise

Again, I'll just give you the link:


I was cautious about the salt - the recipe calls for quite a bit, but since you're using things that potentially have salt in them anyway (can of tomatoes, stock), it can accumulate. And once it's in, you obviously can't take it out! I ended up adding about a teaspoon total (my tomatoes had salt, but the stock was sodium-free).

Also, I did a couple of things that you probably wouldn't need to: (a) left out the garlic (can't eat it), and (b) threw in a handful of green beans that we had lurking around.


The soup (though Jack had already broken up his egg)

Monday, February 9, 2009

More Pasta, with Pesto (and Cursing)

What was that cooking on the new stove? Well, I decided to try a recipe from Mark Bittman's blog on the NY Times. I made some pesto in January, and it came out very nicely, even though I had to leave out the garlic [that garlic-intolerance thing]. Pesto without garlic?! I know, but really, it did taste fine.

But I think Jack was underwhelmed - it was just pasta with pesto, after all. So I was drawn to the Bittman recipe, which throws in some waxy potatoes (I used some little yellow fingerling things that we had, just scrubbed them rather than peeling) and green beans. They add just the right amount of interest, and the beans make it seem healthier. It got the thumbs up from my victim this time.

The Recipe: Trenette with Pesto

I won't replicate the recipe here - I followed his, except again he seemed to use a lot of pasta, so we did less (and still had leftovers).


I followed one tip from a comment on the blog, and cooked the potatoes separately from the pasta. That allows you a bit more flexibility to make sure that everything is done at the same time. I did throw the beans in with the pasta though.

The cursing came in when making the pesto: the ****ing chopper attachment for my hand blender, which I'd only used twice before, stopped working. Grrrr! After multiple attempts, taking it apart, putting it together, cleaning it, etc., the air was totally blue, so I gave up and managed to use the regular blender attachment instead. The pesto was uneven, but still tasted good. (Manufacturer is sending a replacement chopper.)
Pasta, potatoes, and bread?! That plate was Jack's...


RIP Old Stove

So, we bought a new stove. We were pretty sad about replacing our old one but (a) the oven door didn't close properly (see pic) and (b) there was a slight smell of gas when we used one of the burners (not good at all!). Its time had come. :(

Old stove...

New stove, in action (much less attractive, but seems to work so far).

Friday, February 6, 2009

Techniques: Mise En Place

Jack laughs at me for pretending to be a TV chef, but I've always liked to get everything ready before I start cooking (a way to mitigate the panic). Turns out that this is an official cooking technique, called "mise en place"! I learned this from browsing The New Cook's blog, something I'll be doing more. Anyway, here's his entry on mise en place:

And here's a pic of my mise en place for the spaghetti con ceci recipe, just to prove I really do it.

Another Pasta Dish: Spaghetti con Ceci (Chickpeas)

And while I'm at it, here's another pasta dish.

This is actually something I made first towards the end of last year. It's a recipe that we pulled out of New York magazine ( I only made a couple of minor adjustments to the recipe (reducing amount of oil & pasta - it was from a feature about "carbo-loading" so was a bit heavy-handed with the spaghetti). Plus I didn't bother about getting Italian chickpeas from Di Palo's, or San Marzano tomatoes, whatever those might be.

Anyway, it's delicious. And I'm sure it would still be pretty nice if you're veggie and wanted to leave out the pancetta and use vegetable stock.

The Recipe: Spaghetti con Ceci

  • 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 0.5 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil [they had 5!]
  • 0.5 cup pancetta, diced [that's about 0.25 lb]
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced [I have to leave this out, as I'm garlic-intolerant, sigh]
  • Pinch chile flakes
  • 14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes [the ones with no salt are best]
  • 10 to 15 fresh basil leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 8 oz. spaghetti [they had 1lb, which seemed excessive, but do whatever amount you normally make]
  • Freshly grated Parmesan to taste

Serves 4

1) In a blender or food processor, combine 12 oz. of the chickpeas with the chicken stock and pulse a few times until chickpeas are chopped. [I didn't have a blender at the time, so just mashed them together with a potato masher - worked fine.]

2) Place a large pot over medium heat and add olive oil and diced pancetta. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes until lightly browned. [I drain the fat off here if it's excessive.]

3) Add onions, garlic, and chile flakes. Continue cooking until onions and garlic are translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes.

4) Add chickpea mixture, tomatoes, basil, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add remaining whole chickpeas. Season to taste with salt. [I've never found it necessary to add any, even using the no-salt tomatoes, because the pancetta is salty.]

5) While sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, and cook until done.

6) Drain pasta, and toss with chickpea sauce. Plate and top with grated parmesan cheese.


See notes above.
Who knew New York mag had such great recipes?


End of step 3.

Beginning of step 4.

End of step 4.

The finished item (with rather too much pasta). I realize we didn't toss the pasta with the sauce, but never mind.

Butternut Squash with Creamy Pasta

Not sure when I'm going to do this week's new recipe, so here's one of the dishes I first made in January. It's from another of the Dairy cookbooks, called "Clever Cooking for One or Two." This recipe turned out to be one of my husband's favorites - he says he could eat it every week. (I like it too, though not that much.) Again, a nice comforting winter dish.

The Recipe: Butternut Squash with Creamy Pasta

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • Half a butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and cut into 0.75 inch chunks
  • 1 small red onion, peeled, cut into wedges, and leaves separated
  • 4 oz rigatoni or other short pasta
  • 2 oz frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp creme fraiche
  • 2 tbsp shaved parmesan
Serves 2

1) Toast the pine nuts: heat medium sized frying pan, add pine nuts, and stir over medium heat till browned. This only takes a few minutes - don't turn your back on them, and remove them from the pan as soon as they're done.

2) Heat the oil in the frying pan, add the sage leaves, squash, and onion, stir well in the oil, then cover and cook for about 10-15 minutes over a medium heat until squash is tender. Shake & stir the pan every so often.

3) Meanwhile, heat water in large saucepan for the pasta. Add pasta when boiling, and cook according to packet's instructions until just tender. After about 7 minutes add the frozen peas to the pasta pan.

4) When pasta is cooked, drain it, leaving a little water in the pan. Return the pasta back to the pan and add the creme fraiche, toasted pine nuts, and squash mixture, and stir gently. Season to taste.

5) Divide between two bowls and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
  • I forgot to allow enough time for the pasta water to boil, so overcooked the squash a bit. But it still tasted nice.
  • Creme fraiche is a bit of an exotic item. If you can't get it, perhaps regular cream would do? (though it has a special taste - I can't describe it, nutty maybe?? - that would be missing. And supposedly it's healthier than cream).
  • In the official recipe they crisped up some whole sage leaves in the oil at the beginning, but that was just for garnish, and I didn't bother with it the second time round. (Lazy, huh?)
  • They also threw the pinenuts in with the squash mixture at the end, but I found they didn't brown properly, so did them separately at the beginning the next time. (Not so lazy.)
  • They suggest that, rather than frying the squash and onion, you could roast them at 350F for about 40 mins instead.

At beginning of step 2.

At the end of step 2 (slightly overcooked squash).
On the table. Sorry the picture is so murky. You can see why professional food photogs and stylists exist.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The First New Recipe (of this blog)

I thought we’d start with an English recipe, me being English and all.

Beans on toast.

Just kidding. That’s for anyone reading who knows me from the not-so-old days.
(There are actually some finer points to successful beans-on-toast preparation, but we can cover those another time.)

For real this time: Cottage Pie

This breaks the healthy rule bigtime, but never mind. This is classic comfort food from my childhood, and we all need comfort right about now.

The recipe is from a book my mum gave me a couple of years ago, till now unused. It’s called the “Around Britain Dairy Cookbook” – in the UK you can order these Dairy cookbooks from the milkman (quaintly enough), but they ship to the US too (see All the books seem to have plenty of entry-level recipes, and they’re beautifully photographed too.

I had to make some adjustments because UK and US measures are different (discovered the hard way!), and to use US terminology (tell me if I got anything wrong).

Also, the recipe was actually for Shepherd's Pie, which uses ground lamb rather than beef. But apart from that the ingredients are the same.

The Recipe: Cottage Pie

  • 1lb ground beef (or lamb for Shepherd's Pie)
  • 1 onion, peeled & chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled & chopped
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 10 fl. oz. vegetable (or lamb) stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • rosemary or thyme sprig, or pinch of dried thyme
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1.5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato paste (or ketchup)
  • 2lb potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks
  • 5 fl. oz. milk
  • 1 oz. butter [they said 2 oz., but that's a helluva lot of butter]
  • 1 oz. grated mature cheddar cheese, grated [maybe a bit more]

Serves 4; can be frozen.

1. Heat a large frying pan and add the ground beef (or lamb) in one layer. Let it brown for a few minutes over a high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, then turn it over and cook another few minutes. [I drained the fat off at this point.]

2. Add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

3. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for a minute, then pour in the stock, add the bay leaf & herbs, seasoning, and sauces. Simmer for approx. 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the carrots are softened. [They said "uncovered," but my sauce thickened too much that way, so I kept it covered and it seemed better.] Remove bay leaf & herb sprigs (if applicable).

4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F, and put a 2 quart dish in the oven to heat up for 5 minutes.

5. Cook the potatoes in boiling salt water for about 15 minutes until tender, drain well. Return the potatoes to the pan over the heat, and let them dry out for half a minute then take the pan off the heat, add milk, butter, salt & pepper, and mash well. The mash should be soft enough to spread, but not so soft that it will sink into the meat mixture.

6. Spoon the beef mixture into the dish. Place spoonfuls of potato on top and spread carefully with a fork to cover the meat. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until browned on top and piping hot. [This took a lot longer than they said - but that could be because our oven door doesn't shut properly. They also said that you could put it under the broiler for 5-8 minutes instead, but the pie doesn't "meld together" as well that way. But I think it would be worth a try.]


Well, I have to say, it was pretty tasty!

The cooking time at the end was the main problem - by the time it was brown I felt like it had been in the oven waaaaaaay too long. I'd definitely do a combination of baking and broiling another time.

Also, they mention that you could add a can of chopped tomatoes, which might be good to try - I remember my mum's version being a bit more juicy. Will have to ask for her recipe.

They also say you could add crushed garlic if you like (presumably in step 2).

But not bad!


Beef mixture at end of step 3.

Pie before going into oven.

The finished item!

A Technicality

OK, to clear up a small technicality: I started the resolution on time, but it only just occurred to me to do a blog. So the first recipe here isn’t actually the first new recipe of my resolution – just the first one to be posted.

I’ll redo the recipes from January and post them as we go along. They came out amazingly well – but perhaps that was a fluke! We’ll see when I try to replicate them...

Choosing the Recipes

Here’s how I’m choosing the recipes:

a) Simple to execute, but with no “cheating” (i.e. no recipes that use packet mixes, cans of soup, jars of sauce, etc). Though I’m using stock cubes rather than making my own, which is of course really a cheat. Maybe homemade stock will come later…or not.

b) Simple ingredients (i.e. no pheasant, wild boar – just things we can get easily at our local supermarket).

c) Reasonably healthy (i.e. trying to avoid red meat, cream, deep frying, etc.)

Yes, I Can Cook!

This New Year – inspired to be hopeful in a dark world, and needing to change the bad habits of a lifetime – I made a resolution: I will cook a new recipe every week of 2009.

Not much of a challenge, you might say. But that’s probably because you can cook.

My cooking skills, or lack thereof, have been a running joke among family and friends for the past twenty years. Oh, the cheese sandwiches, the cans of soup, the endless pieces of toast. It’s a miracle I’m still alive.

Anyway, Jack & I got married last year and I’ve decided that, for his sake, it’s time to get a grip on this cooking thing.

Why a blog? Well, most people I know can actually cook, and I’m a bit ashamed to be starting this late in life, so haven’t really been talking about it with them. But there is some natural pride in pulling a fish pie out of the oven [recipe to follow] and finding it looks exactly like the one in the book!

So I turn to you, people of the ether, to share with you (or probably just the ether itself) the highs and lows of my kitchen adventures.

Please give me your feedback – advice, tips, corrections, whatever – and enjoy!