What I've been cooking #11: Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman


I am sure I have mentioned this before but I am obsessed with anything Alison Roman cooks. I am constantly watching her videos on youtube, follow along with her stories and always looking for any excuse to cook one of her recipes myself. I just adore all the flavours she puts together. She just knows what works. Nothing Fancy is her newest cookbook concentrating on entertaining friends and family but without any of the stress which can come with it. The book is about 'having people over' rather than entertaining. The recipes can easily be halved but I usually cook them as they're written then enjoy leftovers for a few days. I really couldn't recommend this book more and it is one I refer to at least once a week since I have had it. It is a beauty of a book!


Lemony turmeric tea cake
I have made this twice now and it is still one of my favourite lemon cake recipes. The trick is to really slice the lemons thin before you put them on top of the batter as they are prone to sinking. It gives you a bit of a sour shock when you bite into the cake and come across a sunken lemon. The numeric colours this a vibrant shade of yellow which makes a great talking point when you cut into it.   The sponge is so soft and light thanks to using yogurt in a cake,


Tiny, salty, chocolatey cookies
These didn't turn out very tiny in the end! But they were delicious. They had a brownie texture rather than a traditional cookie one. They come out of the oven extremely soft and are still quite delicate by the time they harden up. I think this is why Alison suggests to make them as small as you can. You need smaller balls than you think as they are prone to spreading!


Overnight Focaccia
This was not as quick as I first imaged it would be, it has a lot of proving time! But it was absolutely worth the extra effort as it was delicious. Next time I would add more red onion and maybe some rosemary. It's a great recipe to make on a Friday night to enjoy over the weekend. You can have it dipped in a pasta sauce, as a sandwich or used to dunk into a soup.


Sticky roasted carrots with citrus and tahini
I love a honey roasted carrot and this is basically a step up from them with maple syrup being used instead of honey. I loved the use of tahini although my boyfriend did find it a bit overpowering. Alison really knows when to add citrus to a dish to give it an almighty kick. This will be great served with some grilled fish or as part of a Sunday roast.


Slightly sticky walnuts with sesame and sumac
I made these for our New Year Eve's gathering and they went down a treat! The walnuts were so incredibly moreish and I loved the sweetness of the maple syrup with the slightly tart flavour of the sumac. I would definitely make these again when I host a dinner party. They'll be great to shove on the table for guests to nibble as you're finishing up in the kitchen with dinner.

Labne with sizzled spring onion and chilli
I made this to take round a friends evening when she invited a couple of us round for a catch up. It was really simple to do and very refreshing. I couldn't get the oil to go a bright orange like the book. But I read in reviews that not many people could so I don't feel as bad now! I would definitely make this again if I had some friends over. It makes a nice change from hummus.


Slow roasted oregano chicken with buttered tomatoes
Ever since I first picked up this book I had been dying to try the cover image. Hannah gave me the push to finally cook it! This was great. The chicken was really juicy and I loved the buttery tomatoes. It isn't my all-time favourite roast chicken recipe but I would definitely recommend trying it out.

Spicy pork meatballs in brothy tomatoes and toasted fennel
I didn't get a picture of this as it was pretty dark by the time this was finished. But I have to recommend you make this! We ate it with huge hunks of bread and it was one of our favourite dishes from the book. It was the ideal dish for a dark, winter's night and I imagine it will work just as well in the warmer months. It felt very indulgent yet not too heavy.
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#52recipes: recipes 37 - 41

 

Kimchi and gochujang noodles from Bon Appetit
I saw this about three times on Instagram and took it as a sign to make it! I had randomly picked up some kimchi from our local Asian supermarket so had this languishing in my larder. I overcooked the noodles but this was so incredibly simple to throw together - making it perfect for a weeknight. It had just the right amount of heat and was so addictive, Definitely one I'm going to add to my bank of recipes..


Ottolenghi halva and walnut loaf
Halva is one of those ingredients I had no idea even existed until mid 2019. But I've discovered it's a great ingredient for baking to help bring something extra to the cake. This Middle Eastern sesame and honey sweet treat is very sweet by itself. But it really comes into its own when you bake with it. It helps to add a great nutty flavour. I'd say it's kinda like tahini. I can't wait to use it in more bakes. I'd highly recommend this recipe if you haven't popped your halva cherry. It'll make you fall in love with it!


Roasted red pepper hummus from BBC Good food
I love Hummus and swear by this recipe on Jamie Oliver's website made by blogger Leyla. But for a girls night I wanted to try something different. I came across this red pepper hummus recipe on BBC Good Food and decided to give it a shot. It was a bit of a labour of love as I decided to roast the peppers myself rather than buy them ready-roasted but it worth it. It's still not as nice as my normal hummus but was still delicious with lots of crisps dipped in it!

Meera Sodha's cucumber and mint raita from Fresh India
I genuinely think this book was my most used of 2019 and I'm still excited by it to try even more recipes. I want to make more of her snacking recipes and this raita was a start! It was unbelievably simple to do, hardly took any time at all. It tasted really refreshing and is delicious on warm summer evenings.

Diana Henry's Mumbai toastie from Simple
I couldn't find a photo of this which is a shame as it was stunning. I absolutely loved it and still can't quite believe I have yet to make it again! Over the last year I have really started to enjoy making more of an effort for breakfast at the weekend. It feels so indulgent when I only have wheetabix during the week at my desk. This was like a pimped up version of a cheese toast - the added chilli was a revelation.

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#52 recipes: Recipes 32-36

I'm fully aware that the end of the year is nearly up and I've only blogged 36 recipes when I have indeed already smashed my 2019 goal of trying 52 new recipes. I am going to keep posting about them well into 2020 as I'm pretty proud of myself! This year I tried 77 different recipes from a variety of cookbooks, newspaper columns and blogs. Some were a complete disaster and some became staples which I cooked time after time. I really have enjoyed experimenting and have surprised myself with some recipes I've managed to make edible. I've discovered my favourite cuisine to cook at home is Indian and south-asian dishes. I find curries so comforting and as we've been trying to eat more vegetarian food, it's the best cuisine in my opinion to make vegetables taste absolutely delicious. Cooking and baking are something I use to help unwind after a long week or to relax over the weekend. The kitchen really has become my happy place!


Diana Henry's Goan Fish Curry from Simple
I'm not usually a huge fan of fish curries, preferring lamb and vegetarian. But Simple is a book I feel in love with this year so anything Diana Henry suggested, I was going to attempt to make. I completely misjudged my spice tolerance with this and got a bit heavy handed with the chilli. But this was so tasty and completely worth the punt. Pretty quick to make on a weeknight, it tasted really fresh and light. Definitely one I have bookmarked again for the future.


Meera Sodha's swiss chard and potato curry from Fresh India
Meera can do no wrong in my books and I must make something from her column and cookbooks at least 3-4 times a month. I think this is the book I use the most from at home. Pretty obvious when you take in the curry splattered pages! This beautifully brightly coloured curry was made to use a lunches throughout the week. It heated it really well in the microwave and helped us feel like we were getting a huge chunk of our five-a-day. The potatoes helped it to feel filling so we didn't need any rice or naan.


Alison Roman's chocolate banana bread from Dining In
I have mentioned this many times before but I'll say it again. Alison Roman is one of my all-time favourite food writers and I'm so glad I discovered her this year. Her two cookbooks have become staples in my collection. I have made banana bread more times than I care to remember so am always on the lookout to add some tweaks. Alison's version is pretty dense and very rich. A small bit will go a very long way!


Anna Jones carrot dal from her Guardian column
I make this at least once a week because we always seem to end up with carrots in our veg box. This helps us to use up a fair few! It's so easy to make and I've now adjusted it to exactly how we like it. It is great for midweek lunches and is a great way to get some of your five-a-day. A great shout if you need a boost of veg after the festive period.


Meera Sodha' shredded roti wth cabbage and carrots from Fresh India
This feels like a strange combination to me and wasn't anything I would ever have put together if I hadn't read it in a cookbook. But the combination works so well! It deliciously has the right amount of stodge and is the ultimate comfort food on a gloomy, rainy evening. It tastes just as nice cold as it does warmed through. I like to leave the carrots to have a little extra crunch to help to add some texture.
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#52 recipes: Recipes 27-31


Pondicherry toast from Meera Sodha's Guardian column
I'm sure I've mentioned this before but Meera is one of my all-time favourite cookbook writers and I absolutely adore her weekly Guardian vegan column. I don't always make the recipes vegan as don't often have the right ingredients in the house but they're always made vegetarian. This was really simple to make and made a great weekend breakfast. I enjoyed it with lashings of ketchup. I could easily have eaten another round of it.


Balsamic onion focaccia from Mary Berry's Baking Bible
I have a soft spot for Mary Berry but sometimes I feel she just doesn't come up with the goods. This focaccia was really tasty and pretty straight forward to follow. But it didn't taste like focaccia. There was something missing which I can't put my finger on. I'm not sure it's a recipe I'll attempt again.

Tofu banh mi from Meera Sodha's Guardian column
Another Meera recipe! Tofu is an ingredient that I struggle with. I'm not a massive fan so I'm always looking for ways to help jazz it up. This was absolutely delicious and my favourite thing I've made for the column, We've had it twice so far which is the ultimate praise as I rarely like to cook the same thing twice unless it is for lunches. The pickled carrots and courgettes really make it. I can't seem to find my rubbish iPhone snap of this but you can see it on my highlights on my Instagram. Same with the below!

Korean-inspired tofu lettuce cups by Gimme Some Oven
This was made on a whim after we had so much tofu still left over from the above and I had raided the local Asian supermarket and finally found some gochujang. This felt really light, perfect for the warmer months. It wasn't that exciting which is a shame as usually I love stuff with Korean chilli paste in. Not one I'm in a hurry to make again.


Confit Chicken from Alison Roman's NYT cooking column
Ah Alison! My current obsession. I love the way she writes and I love how she takes really simple ingredients and turns them into something special. I could watch her on Youtube for hours. I made this one Sunday as a hands-off early dinner for some friends. Such a tasty feast with such succulent and tender chicken. A total weekend winner! The leftover oil is fab to fry eggs the next day for breakfast or roast potatoes. It keeps for a few days in the fridges.
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What I've been cooking #10: The Green Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer


Rukmini's first book The Roasting Tin is one of my most used cookbooks. Cooking in a roasting tin is so simple yet such a genius way of cooking. I've mentioned before we're trying to eat more of a veggie diet during the week so The Green Roasting Tin is perfect for midweek cooking. Thanks to my friend Steph for treating me to it! I love this book and turn to it all the time. I don't think you can get a more perfect book for midweek cooking. It's been an absolute godsend. I haven't been too keen on the sweet potato Thai curry and I ruined the cannellini bean falafel by not reading the recipe correctly.

Carrot tarte tatin
I made these into mini tart tatins rather than one big one as there was only two of us together. I had some normal carrots to use up in my fridge rather than the more picturesque rainbow mini ones. These were so easy to make. The hardest thing was to peel the carrots! Definitely a tart I'm going to add to my make again list.

Store cupboard pasta bake: crispy red pepper and cannellini beans with blue cheese
This was great! I made it one Sunday afternoon to have as lunches throughout the week. I loved the addition of the sweat jarred red peppers with the tang of the gorgonzola cheese. Such a delicious combination. It makes four very generous portions and you could spread it out even more if you serve it with some salad. I'm going to make this a packed lunch staple for work - can't wait to make it again!

Crispy gnocchi with mushrooms, squash and sage
I can never get enough of gnocchi and this recipe was a winner. We had it for lunch and it was a bit boring cold but once it had been blitzed in the microwave it was delicious. I loved the mix of the sage with the squash.


The most indulgent quick cook quiche: broccoli, blue cheese, chilli and walnut
I completely forgot to put an egg wash on the pastry which is why it came out a bit anaemic looking. But I can't believe I've never had broccoli with blue cheese as a combination before. Gamechanger! We opted for gorgonzola but I'd love to try it again with stilton.


Chipotle roasted sweetcorn with squash, black beans, feta and lime
I think this is my favourite recipe from the book so far. It was just so addictive. It served four but Connor and I scoffed the lot between us! We didn't serve it with rice so are going to try that next time.  I used a spaghetti squash for the first time. I just cut it into rounds and I think I preferred it over butternut squash.


Quick cook leek Orzotto with asparagus and hazelnuts
This did exactly what it said on the tin and was very quick to make. It makes a great option for a packed lunch. Every Sunday I like to cook lunches for Monday and Tuesday so we don't have to worry about it. The start of the week is hard enough without meal prepping! It was delicious, both hot and cold.


Miso aubergines with tofu and spring greens
Miso aubergines are one of my favourite things to order in a restaurant but I never thought to make them at home. It all changed when I stumbled across a pot of miso in Sainsbury's. I loved this and it fast went up into my top three recipes from the book as soon as I took a bite. It was so deliciously moorish. I have decided I much prefer the texture of fried tofu rather than roasted in a dish. It was bit too slimy for me.


Cauliflower with chickpeas and spring greens and tahini dip
I am fast becoming addicted to tahini and love any recipes which feature it. Roasted cauliflower is my favourite way to each the vegetable. I just love how it gets all crunchy and crispy in the oven. This was a great option for a light meal in the evening.
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#52 recipes: 17-21


Otolenghi's harissa and confit garlic potatoes from Simple
I mentioned the roasted cauliflower dish I made for my blogger girls in the previous #52recipes instalment and the next three dishes are part of the same spread. Oh my gosh these are one of my favourite things in the whole book. I'm obsessed with Harissa at the moment. It seems to make everything taste so much better, giving it a fantastic spicy, garlicky kick. The potatoes could have been crispier which was my fault for being too impatient but were absolutely fine as they were!

Ottolenghi's two bean and two lime salad from Simple
I served this with roast chicken and the zesty lime really went well with the citrusy chicken. I made a boo boo and used freeze dried kaffir lime leaves which Ottolenghi said not to do. It was still tasty but I think it would be even more delicious with fresh. Ottolenghi just does side dishes so well and they're always my favourite recipes from his books. I seem to have misplaced so many of my pictures as couldn't find this one!


Ottolenghi's crushed courgettes from Simple
I love a courgette and especially loved them like this. It tasted very summery, so fresh and light. I think it was the mixture of mint, dill and thyme. The portion wasn't very big though for four people so I would double it to make sure everyone can enjoy it! Picture taken from Michelle's blog.


Rachel Allen's date and banana loaf from Home Baking
I'm always in the market for a new banana loaf recipe and the stars aligned when I had some brown bananas in my fruit bowl and half a packet of dates leftover in the larder. The dates help to give the cake a subtle caramelised flavour. A great upgrade on a banana cake recipe.


Diana Henry's greens on toast with chilli, feta, sunflower seeds and a poached egg from Simple
At the weekend I like to make more of an effort for breakfast rather than my normal every day cereal. We had some feta and kale left over in the fridge so this was the perfect brunch to use them up. While it was a little effort, it was well worth it. I loved the saltiness of the feta paired with the kale. Who knew kale on toast would be so delicious!
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What I've been cooking #9: Dining in by Alison Roman

I first found out about Alison Roman through my fellow cookbook addict Hannah. Alison has been called the 'American Nigella' and has food columns for Bon Appetite and NY Times online. She's well known for her viral recipes which go berserk on Instagram. The famous stew and cookies are just two of them. Her first cookbook Dining In is very much geared towards home cooks who want something simple yet delicious to rustle up in the kitchen. Over the last few months I've found the book a joy to use and its fast become one of my favourites. Some of the veggie sides have taken a hell of a lot longer than expected and we have had to have them separately to the main course. I think the timing may be a little off. I find this sometimes when a cook is translated from its American origins into a book for a British audience. But 90% of everything I have cooked has been utterly delicious. The viral cookies I mentioned above were absolutely delicious and by far the best cookie recipe I have ever made. Dining in will be a book I'll continue to use in high rotation in the future and I can't wait for her second book Nothing Fancy to be released.


Cocoa banana bread
I think banana bread is a cake I make the most. I always have blackened bananas in the house dying out to be recreating into a delicious moreish cake. I usually add chocolate chips for my sweet tooth but this was the first time that I added coco powder. In return you get such a deep, rich, dense cake that really hits the spot. The sprinkled sugar on top is a game changer and something I'm always going to do to every banana bread recipe in the future.


Salted butter and chocolate chunk shortbread
Ah the viral cookies! Cookies are something I struggle with, I always tend to overcook them. These are frozen for two hours which makes them easy to cut into rounds. They're rolled in sugar to give them a tasty crunch. A sprinkle of sea salt on the top before cookie is what really makes them special. They are more like a shortbread rather than a cookie. I don't think I'll ever use any other chocolate chunk cookie recipe again!


Honey yogurt pound cake with raspberries
I only had a quarter of the raspberries needed to make then but needed to use them up so YOLO! It would have been so much better with the right amount of raspberries but it was pretty delicious regardless. I love cakes with yogurt, they always taste so light. The honest added a lovely sweet addition.

Vinegar roasted beetroot with spring onion and yogurt
This recipe was a bit a disaster. I'm not sure if I didn't cut the beetroot into small enough chunks but it look nearly three hours to cook! I was doing the recipe for dinner guests and ended having to do emergency peas because the chicken was already done. We had the beetroot the next day cold. It was really good but the effort it took it make it wasn't really worth it.


Crispy smashed potatoes with fried onion and parsley
I LOVED these. They could have done with being cooked for a bit longer to crisp up more but I was getting impatient with dinner. There's just something about fried onions with potatoes that sings to me. Such a great combination. I would definitely make these again.

Blistered green beans with creamy tahini and fresh hot sauce
No picture of these because I've cheated a bit and not actually cooked these. My boyfriend cooked them instead but I did taste test them! I don't think I've ever eaten as much yogurt as I have when I'm cooking recipes from this book. Alison loves yogurt! Yogurt and tahini is such an addictive combination and I could eat it every day. The nuttiness of the tahini and freshness of then Greek yogurt is perfection. I think this veggie dish was a bit of a faff so one to save for the weekend I think.


Baked eggs with crushed chickpeas, chorizo and breadcrumbs
There's a running joke about chickpeas on our house. My boyfriend isn't much of a fan but I still always try to feed them to him, to try and change his mind. I've been looking for the perfect recipe to convert him and this is it! He absolutely loved it and said he preferred to the traditional shakshuka we normally have. The chorizo was the star of this dish and went perfectly with the slightly crispy chickpeas. I can't wait to make this again!

Steamed artichokes with salted garlic butter
This was a complete and utter disaster. I don't know if it was me or the recipe but it all went terribly wrong. I got some artichokes in my Abel & Cole box and was pretty excited as I'd never cooked them before. Well it was completely ruined and we ended up throwing them away! They just never steamed. I keep adding more and more water but yet nothing was happening. I think they were on then hob for around 2.5 hours. Won't be attempting to steam artichokes again any time soon!


Spicy, garlicky white beans
I cooked these to go along some left over BBQ meat we had in the fridge following an afternoon hosting. I wanted something I could easily put together in my hangover state and didn't have to leave the house for ingredients. This ticked every box! For something so simple it was great. It hardly took any time at all and is a great option for a non-carby side to meat.
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#52recipes: 11-16


If you want to keep up with my recipe challenge on Instagram, check out my highlights where I've been posting everything I've been trying. I'd love to know what you've been cooking recently for some inspiration! You can see that from what I'm posting about, just how obsessed I am with Diana Henry's cookbook Simple. It is such an incredible book and I've loved everything I've made. It's definitely become my go-to book in the kitchen.


Diana Henry's chicken, cauliflower and parmesan bake from Simple
The first thing I cooked from Diana Henry's Simple was this traybake. For something so simple, it was unbelievably delicious. Definitely one for a weekday meal as it's nice and quick. You simply bung everything in a roasting dish then leave it alone in the oven to cook. I'm rarely make the same thing twice but this is good enough that I'm going to add it my monthly rotation!


Ottolenghi's honey, thyme and yogurt cheese cake from Simple
Loved the combination of thyme and honey but feel it needed a bit longer in the fridge to set. I'd recommend to leave it overnight if you make it. The hobnob biscuit base was a game changer and I'm going to use it in my future cheesecakes. So much nicer than the normal digestive biscuit.


Diana Henry's spiced Turkish chicken from Simple
Another Diana recipe that I LOVED. If I'm going to cook meat at home, chicken thighs are one of my favourite pieces to cook. They taste so flavoursome and are really the best part of the chicken in my opinion. The spice blend of this dish was so delicious. I served it with my signature salt and pepper wedges along with the salsa Diana recommends.


Gouda, spring onion and spinach quiche (loosely based on a Mary Berry recipe)
Quiche is one of my favourite ways to use up veg. It's the ideal summer dish in my opinion. I base it on a Mary Berry recipe which allows for lots of chopping and changing depending on what you have on hand. I had some gouda in the fridge and I think it might have become my favourite cheese to use in a quiche. It was fab! I suppose using basically a whole block helped...



Diana Henry's Huevos Roots from Simple
Gosh I'm still so obsessed with this book and can't wait until her next one comes out. This is a dish we've made quite a few times now when we don't want to go shopping. All you need is paprika, eggs and potatoes - three staples we always have in the house at any time. It's a dish that will work well for breakfast, lunch or dinner. A true all-rounder!

Ottolenghi's whole roasted cauliflower with green Tahini sauce from Simple
I did this dish when I hosted a Sunday roast for my blogger girls. Who knew a simple green tahini sauce could be so addictive! This was absolutely delicious and the whole cauliflower was a great showpiece for the middle of the table. It's one I'm going to keep on making for when I'm entertaining.
(Picture taken from Michelle's blog)
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#52 recipes: number 11-15


I feel like I'm on a roll now with my recipe challenge and really am enjoying it. I'm still not pushing myself too far out of my comfort zone but I am trying lots of different cuisines. I really want to try my hand at making different types of bread. I just need a weekend free - it's been pretty hectic of late!


Spiced cherry tomato pasta from Simple
If done well, you can't go wrong with a simple tomato pasta sauce. This was slow cooked which really helped to add to the flavours. It was really easy to do and was pure comfort food. It's one that is best to wait until British tomatoes are in season as they can sometimes taste a bit watery if not.  I'm not quite sure if this tomato sauce is 'the one' though. I'm still looking for my perfect recipe!


Mange tout and baby sweetcorn Laksa from Veggie Lean in 15
We ate a lot of laksa in Malaysia and this recipe really didn't do much for us at all. It was a really simplified recipe and I think perhaps Laksa is one that should be done right and authentically in order for it to taste amazing. There can be no shortcuts! It didn't really have much flavour and tasted quite bland. In fact I wasn't too impressed with this cookbook again and think it might be one for the charity shop.


Gorganzola, sage and walnut tagliatelle by Rachel Roddy
I'm a frequent reader of Rachel's column in the Guardian and this pasta dish is the first thing I've attempted from it. It definitely won't be the last. I used it with some spring onion tagliatelle that had been sitting in the larder from a spontaneous trip to the Aldi middle aisle. I adored the salty richness the gorgonzola added to the dish and the crunch of the walnuts. It's not a combination I would ever have thought up myself but it all worked so well together. I'd definitely try it again! But next time I'd add a bit more cheese.


Lemon and buttermilk pound cake by Diana Henry
This is the best lemon cake I've ever made. It was so moist and the lemon flavour was out of this world. Exactly how a lemon cake should be! It was really simple to make and just confirmed to me how much I love anything Diana Henry does. I think I'd happily just cook her recipes for the rest of my life.


Spiced apple cake from Simple
This smelt and tasted exactly like Christmas thanks to the cinnamon. I think this is the best Ottolenghi bake I've done so far and it' s such a crowd pleaser. Make sure you use a big cake tin as it rises a far bit. The first time it spilled all over the oven, This is a cake I can see myself making time and time again.
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