Cookbook Crusade: a spring update

chocolate biscuits nigella lawson

I’m keeping a New Year’s Resolution! This never happens to me, or anyone? I’ve been keeping up my resolve to use my cookbooks more, and since January I’ve cooked a recipe a week from a cookbook I own. There have been a couple of weeks where I missed out but I’m glad to say I’ve kept going, and more importantly, enjoyed the cookbook crusade.

So, what’s been cooking?

We’ve had gorgeous and quick masoor daal and coriander chutney from Meera Sodha’s Fresh India. I’ve tried the cauliflower shawarma from Honey & Co’s book, the spice mix is beautiful – make a big batch and it will work in lots of dishes. Nigella’s simple chocolate biscuits (from Paul A Young’s chocolate book) are just dreamy, and can be made in minutes.

On one day I needed new ideas, so I turned to Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries for a macaroni cheese recipe – plus some comfort from his beautiful food writing.

I had some more time over the Easter weekend so I tried Gizzi Erskine’s nacho recipe – lots of steps and lots of ingredients but totally worth it. And they’re designed to be eaten whilst lying on the sofa watching Netflix. Good after you’ve spent all the time in the kitchen.

I read lots of really fiddly hot cross bun recipes in the various baking books I had, too many extra ingredients and steps. In comes Gary Rhodes New British Classics to save the day! It’s wonderfully retro in its food styling (despite being released as late as 2001) but it’s got some fantastic, no-fuss basics. The warm chocolate cake looks amazing and my husband (who the book belongs to) says his mash potato recipe is great.

All this has made me realise that quick cooking is my bag right now. I have lots of cookbooks with involved recipes requiring many steps, complex ingredients and afternoons spent in the kitchen. That’s all lovely, but I’m often short on time, tired and you know, sometimes I just want to sit on the sofa and watch telly by 8pm on a Tuesday.

I want wholesome food with lots of flavour made with simple ingredients I can pick up in any supermarket or those that are already in my cupboard. My husband’s vegetarian so that also makes a recipe more likely to be cooked.

A few weeks ago when I’d fallen behind on the challenge I sat with a cup of tea and bookmarked lots of recipes to try. There’s a squash and black olive salad from Diana Henry’s Cook Simple book that I’ll definitely try soon. I want to increase the number of sweet recipes I make too – and I’m going to delve back into Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet. I found it hard to like in the past, despite how everyone raves about it, but I want to give it another go.

I posted a photo of my cookbooks the other day (well about 1/4 of them) and got some great suggestions for recipes to try. I totally need to get into Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi (despite the long lists of ingredients!) and I’m going to bake from Crumb again too.

8 months left of the challenge! I can’t wait to eat all the delicious food. Who wants to come for dinner?

Leave a Reply