It took eighteen months of blogging, dozens of posts, excessive amounts of cooking and even more excessive eating, but it looks like I’ve finally lived up to the entire ethos of this blog. Not only did I actually use a cookbook today that has been brutally neglected for years, I also stopped myself from buying loads more cookbooks and the new edition of Delicious magazine by repeating the phrase ‘no, you have loads of unused cookbooks at home that are desperate to be used’ in my head. So I only bought one cookbook instead. This, my friends, is progress.
I’ve been reading the Smitten Kitchen food blog pretty religiously lately and while the recipes look amazing, there’s only so much cooking I’m willing to do following a recipe from my iPad. Oily fingers and raw meat do not go so well with the lovely smooth, shiny surface of an Apple gadget. So you can surely understand why I absolutely needed to purchase the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, right? With recipes such as peach pancakes, gazpacho salsa and tiny but intense chocolate cake, how could I refuse? It took a lot of self restraint but I stopped myself from buying several others, including last years Masterchef winner Shelina Permaloo’s new book which is filled with the sort of food I very much enjoy eating. Talk about willpower.
Before The Boyfriend left for Ukraine, we had to clear out our cupboard under the stairs to make room for our new boiler. This is where I’d been keeping all of my cookbooks and in between the many trips upstairs to relocate my precious books The Boyfriend pondered over why I had so many cookbooks when all I ever cook from are the same Nigella and Gizzi faithfuls. I don’t like to admit it but he had a point. So, in the childish spirit of wanting to prove him wrong I vowed to mix things up a little and actually use my neglected cookbooks, before he sets fire to them in the garden. I probably wouldn’t even notice them go missing. Step forward, Gordon Ramsay and his book Fast Food. Gordon, once upon a very long time ago, was my weird crush for a while until it looked like he had an affair and became a little bit too prominent on TV. Infidelity and overkill, big passion killers. The Boyfriend, being the understanding soul that he is, surprised me with an Amazon parcel in the post with this very cookbook contained within its cardboard corners. I’m sure there were no ulterior motives in play when he committed this selfless act of love. Of that I am certain. It shames me to say that I’ve never really used this book up until today, and I feel that I’ve missed a trick here. As the title suggests, Gordon gives many suggestions for speedy dinners that don’t involve dialling for a pizza. Trying to lessen my carb intake over dinner but not wanting to completely deprive myself of decent food, I went for lamb steak with a green bean, red onion and pecorino salad which does what it says on the tin really. The Boyfriend tried to trick me into thinking cheese was a carb but research tells me cheese is actually a protein, so now I know what all my carb free dinners will contain from this day forward. Cheese rules. Particularly in this recipe, it turns a pretty simple salad into something much more complex, with salty, earthy cheese taking away the sting of the raw onion and boosting the flavour of the green beans. The lamb itself was cooked exactly how I like it with a little touch of pink in the middle although it was a touch chewy. The key to this is resting the meat for 5-10 minutes after you’ve taken it out of the pan so that the meat relaxes, making it softer to eat, and the residual heat contained in the meat ensures there are no completely raw bits. 2-3 minutes per side on a high heat should get you halfway there, but for the love of god please rest your meat before eating. It’s key to how your dinner turns out. Apologies for the lack of photo, but my phone had taken leave of its senses and just would not work before my dinner turned cold.
So, delving back into my unloved cookbooks has turned out well for me today, and has shown that I might just be able to wean myself off the Nigella addiction. I’ll prove that boy wrong, don’t you worry. Cookbook Neglector 1, The Boyfriend 0.