What I've been cooking #8: Simple by Diana Henry


I feel like Diana Henry is one of the most underrated food writers out there. Hardly anyone I talk to, who isn't an avid collector of cookbooks like me, just hasn't heard of her, which is a complete shame. Simple is the first cookbook I've cooked from and I've fallen head over heels for her. Simple isn't about quick meals that will get on the table in 30 minutes flat on a weekday. It's about subtle, simple flavours that really help to elevate a dish. Nothing I've tried has been too difficult, the recipes are pretty simple yet create such an explosion of flavours. I don't think I've had a dud one and would quit happily cook out of this book for the rest of the year. Some of the ingredients are slightly harder to track down in the supermarket, you won't find the in Aldi. But I wouldn't put this down as a criticism, I quite like the thrill of finding a new ingredient, to me, when I'm least expecting it in a random little deli or shop. This book is definitely going to be so well loved and I can see myself cooking from it for many years to come.


Rhubarb and raspberry crumble cake
The perks of living a five minutes from your best friend is being able to raid their rhubarb patch! I ran out of almonds so it looks a bit bare on the crumble but despite that it was delicious. The cake was really easy to make and took no time at all. I loved the raspberries and rhubarb together - such a great combination.


Chicken parmesan and cauliflower bake
This was the first dish I tried and what an introduction! I adore traybakes as they couldn't be more simple and they always come out making you feel like a Queen with your shit together. The addition of parmesan to this was a game charger. Just when you think you've had chicken every single way... I will definitely be making this again, it's perfect for midweek.


Spiced Turkish chicken with parsley and tomato salsa
I am obsessed with chicken thighs. We have been trying to really reduce our meat consumption and have only been eating it once or twice a week. We've been trying out all the local butchers, choosing to invest in a decent piece of meat rather than buying from a supermarket. Chicken thighs taste absolutely delicious, they have so much flavour. The salsa really made this dish, it tasted so fresh and cooling against the slightly spicy chicken. I could have eaten it with a spoon! Paired it with salt and pepper homemade wedges, it was a lovely dinner as the weather started getting warmer.


Lemon and parsley orzo
This was incredibly quick to make - I think it might have taken me less than 20 minutes! Orzo is a fairly new discovery and I'm quick becoming a fan. I think it needs a touch more stock to cook it but other than that it was pretty much flawless. It tasted really summery because of the zesty lemon yet stodgy enough to be eaten on a gloomy day. I think it might become a weekday favourite!


Huevos Rotos
Translated to broken eggs, this brunch dish didn't quite go to plan. I didn't use a big enough frying pan so the eggs didn't cook quick enough as they didn't touch the bottom. I ended up having to finish it off under the grill so it became more of an frittata. Despite it not quite going to plan this was absolutely delicious. The paprika-spiced potatoes were seriously addictive and it was so simple to make. A real store cupboard meal!


Eggs with child, olive oil, eggs, feta and seeds
We really struggle to use up a huge bag of kale when we buy one - is anyone else like this? So this recipe was perfect for finally using it up. It was really quick to make and the only thing that took too long was poaching the eggs. The salty feta went perfectly with the fried greens and I loved the crunch the seeds added to it. A great brunch to try out at the weekend.

Lamb chops with walnut, chilli and honey salsa verde
Sadly I've lost my photo for this! I'm not too much of a chop fan but I think that was because I'd only ever had ones from the supermarket. We took a special trip to a butchers to buy some chops and they were a revelation. I will never buy them from a supermarket again! The salsa has a good kick to it and really elevated the meat. I served it with salt and pepper potato wedges and crispy kale because you have to have some carbs in there!


Berries and melon in elderflower syrup
These were extremely sweet! I think they may have even been a bit too sweet for me... The syrup was pretty simple to make but the sheer amount of sugar made my teeth hurt. You certainly couldn't eat too much of it!
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#52recipes - number 6-10

My 52 recipes challenge for 2019 is still going strong, here are some more dishes I've tried my hand out this year.

Mediterranean tart from Veggie Lean in 15 by The Body Coach
We've done The Body Coach programme before and had success on it. But it's really expensive to follow due to the sheer amount of meat. We've cut out meat Monday to Friday and started to only buy one nice piece of meat from the butchers as a treat. I was pretty excited to try this book but it was a bit of a disappointment. Everything just tasted a little bland. This tart was ok, I loved all the roasted veg but it could have done with more seasoning to give it more oomph. It was a great option with some salad for weekday lunches though. I don't think I'll be rushing to make this one again. I also have no idea what I have done with the picture this but it is featured in my Instagram highlights.


Peas with roasted shallots from BBC Good Food
I had some friends round for Sunday roasted and one of his favourite vegetables is peas. They went on the menu but I wanted to jazz them up a bit and found this recipe on Good Food. They were tasty but they didn't wow me. I don't think I'd go to the effort of making them again. You just can't beat simple buttered peas!


Roast cabbage with tarragon and pecorino from Ottolenghi Simple
This was delicious! I don't think I've had a dud from Simple yet and I've tried about a dozen recipes. I didn't have pecorino in my fridge so used parmesan instead - it still turned out great. This side dish got the most comments at the roast dinner and is definitely something I would make again.


Biscoff layer cake from Jane's Patisserie
Decorating cakes is not my strong point and I wish I had more patience. But alas patience is not my strong point. This year I'm keen to up my baking game and stumbled across Jane's blog. Oh my god, it is pure indulgence and has fast turned into one of my favourite baking blogs. I'm obsessed with Biscoff so knew I had to make this cake. It was delicious, such a beast of a cake. I'll definitely make it again if I had a special occasion coming up as it's a LOT of cake.


Bengali egg curry from Fresh India
I really cannot stop cooking from Fresh India. I was intrigued by this dish as I would never have though to have egg curry. I was pleasantly surprised! It was really cooks, the sauce had a good kick to it and the eggs made it really filling. Definitely one to add to my list of things to make again!
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What I've been cooking #7: Fresh India by Meera Sodha


I don't know how I found out about Fresh India but I'm pretty sure I found out about it from the vegetarian cookbook queen Charlotte. She loves a cookbook like me and always cooks such delicious looking meals. It's not a secret that I own a LOT of pictures but this one is in my top three. I absolutely adore it! Fresh India is probably the best Indian cookbook I've ever used and I love reading Meera's anecdotes with each recipe. It's so lovely to hear the inspiration behind everything and learn all about her family. I've adored every single recipe I've tried and know it's going to be a staple in my kitchen for many years to come. I haven't had any trouble finding any of her ingredients in the supermarket which is a plus. Here's what I have cooked so far!

P.S I can't wait to be able to start taking pictures in natural light again - these hurt my poor eyes!

Chana Saag (pictured below with the samosas)
Hands down my absolute favourite dish. I very rarely cook the same thing twice but we have this at least twice a month. It's so simple to make and tastes banging, even better the next day. It's one of those dishes that can be made entire from store cupboard essentials if you keep frozen spinach in the freezer. We like to serve it with naan breads.


Leek, pea and mint samosas
I hosted a curry night last year and decided to take on far too much as usual. One of my dishes was these samosas. I didn't cook them for long enough but the curries were ready and I didn't want them to get cold. Next time I'll be more organised. These were a bit fiddly but well worth the effort. The filling was great and tasted really fresh thanks to the mint. I'd definitely bake these again if I was doing a special dinner. They're a bit too much of a faff to do midweek for me!


Savoy cabbage, black kale and potato subji
I cooked this up one Sunday to have as lunches throughout the week. It's a great dish to have as lunches as it's really tasty to be eaten cold if you don't have a microwave. I struggled to find black kale in Aldi so just made do with normal kale. Another one that I will most definitely make again.

Aubergine and pea curry
Nearly everyone I've talked to regarding this book has recommended that I needed to cook this recipe asap. So I cooked it up for my lunches and realised just why everyone has recommended it! I love aubergine in a curry anyway so this was always going to be a winner for me. It tasted a bit like it should be used as a samosa filling - which isn't a bad thing! There's a ongoing theme going on in this book as this is yet another one I'll definitely make again.


Bengali coconut dal
This was the first ever Dal I made and I never knew it was so easy! I really enjoyed it and it made great leftovers. Something I always look for in recipes! Next time I would mash up the lentils so it isn't as chunky. Personally I prefer my days to be a bit more smooth.


Pistachio and almond cake with saffron icing
I made a mistake and poured water into the icing so it went extremely runny but it was nothing a few hours in the fridge couldn't sort out. I really loved the subtle flavours in this and it made a nice change for the standard drizzles I keep baking. It was really simple to make which makes it perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon of baking.


Bengali-in-the-cupboard egg curry
The texture was a little weird for me at first but I soon got over that and now have been converted to egg curry. I love recipes that are made up of store cupboard essentials and this one fitted the bill perfectly. I cooked the sauce one Sunday night and kept it in the fridge. It was so easy to heat up in a pan while I boiled a few eggs during the week. I love a midweek dinner that takes less than 10 minutes to throw together!
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#52recipes - numbers 1-5


So I mentioned earlier on in the years that my New Years resolution is to try 52 new recipes this year to help make me more adventurous in the kitchen and finally use those hundreds of cookbooks I have collected over the years. I said I would blog about them every time I had achieved five so here we are! I have mostly been cooking from Meera Sodha's Fresh India book and I'm obsessed. We're trying to eat more vegetarian food and for me, I find curries one of the most flavoursome ways to make vegetables taste good and not feel like I'm missing out by cutting meat out. So what have I rustled up in the kitchen so far?


1. BBC Food's Sage and Onion Stuffing Balls
My best friend did us Beef Wellington on New Years Day. I had some left over sausage meat in the fridge from Christmas so decided to attempt stuffing balls for the first time. They were so easy and so tasty! I'll never buy shop bought ones again.


2. Bengali Coconut Dahl from Fresh India
I've recently discovered an Indian/Caribbean mini supermarket in my town and have been obsessed with it. I've never seen so many types of lentils before! As a result I've been making a few dahls because I kinda went overboard with the lentil buying. I really enjoyed the hint of coconut and this made the perfect winter warmer dinner. It tasted even better the next day when we had the leftovers for lunch. Definitely one I'm going to make again.


3. Sally's Baking Addiction Brown Butter Sugar Cookies
I've made these twice now but the second time wasn't as good because I got distracted and left them in the oven so long. They tasted more like biscuits rather than cookies that time! I love Sally's blog, I could read it for hours. I was scrolling one day and realised I had all the ingredients in the house for these cookies so decided to take the plunge and attempt my first recipe. They spread more than I like but they tasted exactly like Millie's Cookies. They're very sweet thanks to the insane amount of sugar. But they're also very addictive!


4. Savoy Cabbage, Black Kale and Potato Subji from Fresh India
We've been after some lunch ideas for work other than a sandwich so I gave this one a whirl. This dry curry makes the perfect packed lunch! I really like potatoes in a curry, although to be fair I really like potatoes in any form. This was delicious to eat cold and warmed up in the microwave. I felt really good eating it thanks to the cabbage and the kale. Definitely felt like I was upping my vegetable intake! I'll make this one again for sure.


5. Aubergine and Pea Curry from Fresh India
Aubergines are one my favourite vegetables but Connor isn't as keen as me so I don't to eat them that often. We struggled to find some aubergines in Aldi so went to the grocers near our house. It turns out there is a shortage of them so we have to pay £7 for four. Not the cheapest curry I've ever made! I was hoping it would be worth the money and it was! We had it with naans for dinner then the leftovers for lunch the next day. I really enjoyed it and it reminded me of a samosa filling which isn't a bad thing!
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A 2019 cooking challenge: 52 new recipes in 52 weeks


This year I spent a lot more time in the kitchen and realised that it really is my happy place. I love being about to switch off on a Sunday afternoon and lose myself in cooking something delicious. One of my goals this year was to start using my cookbooks enough and I certainly did that. But I mainly rotated around five books which is silly considering I now have around 200 sitting around. I found recipes, especially baking recipes, I loved and did them numerous times. Now there's nothing wrong with that but I want to push myself and stop being afraid of it going wrong.


So this year I am going to try 52 different recipes which works out one a week. A pretty doable challenge if you ask me! They can be from books, blogs or newspapers. Just a recipe that has tickled my fancy. I have literally hundreds bookmarked and have tried maybe one or two. I want to be a lot more adventurous and try and improve my knowledge of the kitchen. Bread is my top choice for something I want to ace next year.

I'll be blogging about it on here to keep me in check. I think I'll be writing a new blog post each time I complete around five which will hopefully equal around one a post a month. As nothing really counts until it's been posted on social media, I'll also be popping each recipe up on my Instagram alongside the hashtag #52recipes so be sure to follow along. 

Wish me luck!

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Christmas gift guide: Five cookbooks for the foodie in your life

I might be biased but I think a cookbook is a great gift for Christmas for the foodie in your life. It can't be just me who loves thumbing though a book, making notes on the recipes I desperately need to make and drooling over the beautiful pictures. You can pick them up really cheap on Amazon if you keep an eye out and they make a great shout for a secret Santa as they're often involved in £10 and under promotions.

The Roasting Tin - Rukmini Iyer
I've waxed lyrical about how much this book has changed our weekday dinners and recommend it to everyone I know. It's a great option for cook who has only just started to experiment in the kitchen as the recipes are so simple and rewarding. The ingredients are always so easy to source and all store cupboards ingredients that you can use over and over again. There's nothing worse than buying an ingredient to use once and then it gathers dust at the back of your cupboard.

Simple - Ottolenghi
This is my first Ottolenghi cookbook and what a corker it is. I am obsessed! This is brilliant for cooks who enjoy spending time in the kitchen experimenting with different cuisines. It loosely follows a Middle Eastern theme and has some great vegetarian dishes to try. Despite the name, the recipes really aren't that simple to create so it's very much a weekend book. You do need a lot a patience to commit to a recipe!


Fresh India - Meera Sodha
Not just one for vegetarians, Fresh India is a delight full of absolutely delicious curries, mouthwatering desserts and tasty snacks. It's a must have for anyone who loves Indian food but are after something a little different to the norm. They're always so simple to follow and I really love Meera's tone. She really makes you feel like one of family and I love her stories.

Sirocco - Sabrina Ghayour
I love all of Sabrina's book but you really can't beat her second offering. Sometimes attempting new cuisines can be a bit overwhelming but Sirocco really makes you feel like you can tackle Middle Eastern food head on and always come out with a success. There are some fantastic fusion recipes. I feel lots more of a weekend book as the recipes are much better eaten in a mezze form - I don't always have time too attempt more than one dish during the week!

John Whaite Bakes at Home - John Whaite
This is one of my favourite baking books with everything attempted deemed to be a success. It's a great book for the more accomplished baker as the recipes really stretch you. He uses some really unusual combinations but just seems to know what works perfectly. You can tell he's really put in a lot of effort to find recipes that work.


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What I've been cooking #6: Simple


Ottolenghi is one of those food writers I have wanted to try for a long time. I fawn over his recipes on the Guardian every week but as he is well know for being a bit of a faff, I had yet to try a recipe personally. The list of ingredients has always put me off. But I was lucky enough to be sent a copt of his newest cookbook Simple at work. When it arrived I had a quick flick through, turning over so many pages of what I wanted to make. The ingredients are pretty easy to find and the imagery is just beautiful.  I now want to buy all of his cookbooks and am eagerly checking Amazon to see if they become reduced. I honestly couldn't recommend this book and have loved every single thing I've tried. It's not really much of a midweek book but I absolutely adore it for weekend cooking, for when you have a bit more time in the kitchen. So what did I make?

Blueberry, almond and lemon loaf
Ah this was absolutely delicious! It came out as more of a drizzle cake because I ran out of icing but I think I prefer it this way. I'd definitely make it into a drizzle into the future. The blueberries and lemon were the perfect partnership. They both really made the cake taste so fresh and light. I can see myself making this cake over and over again.


Pasta Alla Norma
If I could, I would eat aubergine every day for dinner so it's a bit of a mystery why I had never eaten this pasta dish before. Roasting the aubergine before gives it such a deep, delicious flavour and really does make the dish. There's just something about roasted vegetables isn't there? For something so simple, Pasta All Norma really hits the spot. It's a great dish to cook when you have friends round as it tastes so delicious but won't make you spend all your evening in the kitchen. I served it with lashes of parmesan on top and homemade garlic bread.


Braised eggs with leeks and za'atar
We love tomato based bake eggs in our household so I was intrigued to see how these ones would taste. Filled the the brim with leeks and spinach, these feel like a much lighter option. But the added feta gives it something a little extra. Next time I would emit the salt seasoning during cooking as I found it a little too much with the cheese. The dish was pretty filling and we didn't even need any crusty bread.


Butterbean mash with muhammara
Found in Levantine and Turkish cuisines, this hot pepper dip is originally from Aleppo, Syria. It's so simple to make, the most difficult and time consuming thing is roasting the peppers. The butterbean mash has a similar taste to hummus and was very addictive. Next time I would add some more chilli flakes in to give it a bit more of a kick. I ate this with some delicious cumin and coriander flatbreads from Rachel Allen.


Spiced 'Shepherd's pie' with butterbean mash
This was another winner! I loved the addition of the butterbean mash, it help make it feel 'lighter'. I omitted both the apricots and the olives as we're not fans. I think it needed another tablespoon of Harissa as I was very cautious. Next time I'll use two tablespoons. Again it's quite time consuming so is another weekend job. But it's 100% worth spending the time on it.


Slow cooked chicken
I had every intention to make the corn curst but completely forgot to buy sweetcorn in our weekly shop. So we ended having it as a stew instead and I served it with salad. It was absolutely delicious and I think it is my favourite recipe in the book. I loved the kick of the Harissa and the tender chicken that just fell apart. It's the perfect dinner for a cold winter night. It does take quite a long to cook so it's definitely not one for week nights.


Avocado butter on toast wth tomato salsa
This was a massive faff and I'm not quite sure it was worth it. The butter mixed with avocado didn't really blow me away. It was tasty but it's not going to replace my normal method of making avoiding on toast. I can't be bothered to get the stand mixer out every time. I did however love the addition of the cumin seeds so will be using that little touch more frequently.

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What I've been cooking #5: The Roasting Tin


Rukmini Iyer has taken such a simple concept and made it into a masterpiece with her cookbook The Roasting Tin. Every single recipe has been created to be cooked or baked in the humble roasting tin. We are obsessed with this book in our house. My boyfriend is in charge of all the cooking during the week as he gets home from work first and he loves the fact many of the recipes have minimal prep and then they can be shoved in the oven and forgotten about whilst he watches the next episode of the Big Bang Theory. Rukmini is always really active over social media and often will chip in with some tips or if you're having problems with some recipes. I honestly couldn't recommend this book enough and it's in my top three of my collection. I have over 100 books so it's a pretty high accolade.


Coconut, Raspberry and chocolate cake
Sunday is often my day to bake so it means Monday I go into work armed with a tin of cake. This was one bake I've taken into work and it went down a treat with everyone. I loved the mixture of flavours and it all worked so well together. It came out quite gooey but I think that was my fault rather than the fault of the recipe.


Super-simple plain sponge
You can't go wrong with a sponge. I had a ready made tub of chocolate icing in the cupboard so I didn't use any of Rukmini's suggested toppings. But the sponge came out really light which is always a winner. It doesn't quite beat my Hairy Bikers favourite but it's still worth making if you have the book.


Simple roast chicken and red pepper tray bake
This is one of our favourite dishes to make for dinner and have the leftovers for lunch. It's really simple but it just works perfectly together. The chicken is always so juicy and we love to add chorizo to give it a little something extra. This is such a staple in our house and we always make it at least twice month. A big deal when we mostly only try recipes once before moving onto the next one.


Tarragon roast chicken with potatoes, onions and garlic
My parents don't always enjoy my cooking but this is one dish they always gobble up. You can't never go wrong with a roast chicken to impress parents and this one is delicious. The potatoes cooked under the chicken are perfection and so addictive. Make sure you overindulge with the butter on the skin as the crisper it is the better. I used Thyme this time which works just as well!


Goats cheese, red pepper, mushroom and pesto tray bake
This is our number one favourite recipe in the book. Sometimes I make it on a Sunday afternoon to have as lunches throughout the week. It's a pure hug in a bowl, such comfort food. There's something about pasta bakes that just cream autumn don't you think? The pesto and goats cheese taste glorious together.


Bulgur wheat with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, feta and pine nuts
This is another dish which we made for work lunches. I love meal prepping on a Sunday afternoon as it saves you from thinking about lunch for the first couple of days of the week and helps you get into a routine. Saves me from opting for a Pret! This dish is delicious both hot and cold. It's pretty filling but I think I'd add some salad leaves in the future just to trick my head into thinking I'm padding it out.


Crispy baked gnocchi with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and pine nuts
This is perfect for a cosy night in. It's so comforting and there's something about crispy gnocchi that just sings to me. Make sure you go for the gnocchi at the edge as they're the best bits! This doesn't taste quite as nice cold as it does hot so it's better to eat on the night that you make it.
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What I've been cooking #4: John Whaite Bakes at Home


Another cookbook review. And another baking book. Last time I vowed to use a savoury cookbook but once again got sucked in by the gorgeous cakes in John Waites Bakes at Home. John Whaite won GBBO in 2012 and this is his second cookbook. I follow his Twitter and Instagram so when I spotted this book in a charity shop I picked it up for a couple of quid. It's full of both savoury and sweet bakes and I'd say it was a book for the slightly more adventurous. I'd been stuck in a bit of a rut with only baking simple things like carrot cake, banana loaf and lemon drizzle. All delicious but nothing ground-breaking. I fancied pushing myself a bit and this book was just the ticket.



Mojito cake
I baked this for my mum's birthday and slightly changed the recipe to include both lemons and limes because that was what I had to use it. It tasted exactly like a mojito and was absolutely delicious. At first I was a bit annoyed at the presentation as it didn't quite come out how I wanted it to. But the more I look at at, I actually feel quite proud. It was out of comfort zone and I'd pushed my baking skills quite hard for this cake. I made the lime curd from scratch and made the infused mint & rum filling. I vowed to really try new things this year in baking and feel like this was me keeping my promise. I'd definitely make this again.


Rhubarb, white chocolate and thyme traybake
Rhubarb was a fruit I'd never tried before and traybakes are my jam so this was always going to be made. It was very simple and took hardly any time at all. I loved the contrast of the gooey white chocolate with the tart rhubarb flavour. It went down an absolute treat at work with everyone declaring it was the best bake I'd make yet! Definitely a recipe that I'd rustle up again. It was fun to be a bit more adventurous with ingredients.


Giant jam tart
It always makes me nervous when I attempt a recipe and it doesn't have a picture. I've eaten enough jam tarts in my life to know what one looks like but still no pictures fills me with dread. This was extremely simple and used ready-made pastry - a god-send! It was my first time making jam, I was supposed to use both raspberries and blueberries but alas, my raspberries were rotten. A day before the best before date! I stupidly didn't reduce the sugar so the jam was extremely sweet. Note for the future!


Chocolate and pistachio torte
This was my first time attempting a torte. I'm not a huge chocolate fan but my boyfriend is so I always end up backing a type of chocolate dessert at home. This was a bit more of a faff than I originally thought it would be. But it was simple enough. I'm not sure my version really tastes like a torte but my friend commented that it tasted a bit like a brownie. Which I'll take! After all, who doesn't love a giant brownie? My chocolate drizzling leaves a lot to be desired but that helps to add to the rustic, homemade feel right?


Loaded Mac and cheese
Mac and Cheese is one of my last day on earth meals. If I knew I only had one day left then I would scoff this until I felt sick. So far Jamie Oliver's version is my favourite but I'm always keen to try new  versions of the dish. After skimming through the ingredients list I knew I had to make this. It looked like pure indulgence and perfect for a Sunday dinner. I was right! Three types of cheese made this absolutely heavenly and I adored the added veg of asparagus, mushrooms and spring onions. I think John may have push Mr Oliver from the top spot!

If you want to see more of my cookbook reviews, just click the tab on the right hand side of this blog.
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