Tuesday, 2 May 2017

The Cookery Calendar Challenge


Hello! Once again I'm joining in with Penny's Cookery Calendar Challenge, in which I make an effort to use some of my less-thumbed cookery books and hopefully find a few gems of recipes along the way which will become firm family favourites.  

My chosen book for April was Stephane Reynaud's 365 Good Reasons To Sit Down To Eata whopping great door-stop of a book. You could probably murder someone with it if you wanted to. I remember that I bought it on impulse it in the after-Christmas sales for something stupid like £5, purely because I liked the look of it. It contains 365 recipes for meals - snacks, lunches, dinners, desserts, even drinks - that work around what is available during the months and seasons of the year. That's so French, isn't it? So elegant and sensible, buying fresh at a market, cooking with what's in season and on offer at the time, rather than buying strawberries in December then feeling guilty because of the air miles and moaning because they're overpriced and have no flavour (which of course I would never do....) The recipes are brief and to the point, relying on a certain amount of basic cookery knowledge from the reader, but easy to follow and accessible. It has lots of photos - although not always on the same page as the recipe - and a ribbon bookmark so two ticks for those. The downside to this book for me is the sheer size of it, the enormous breadth and depth of those recipes. I feel exhausted even flicking through it. Where do you start? 


Well, I started with April, but I didn't fancy any of those recipes (I can't remember why now) so chose a wintry slow-cooked pork dish which was actually perfect on Sunday when it was cold and rainy. The recipe called for pork belly but I couldn't get that so just used a normal pork joint, a leg I think. 


You simmer it in water for an hour and half so it's nice and tender then carve it and put in in an oven dish. Then you make a sauce from a little stock, ketchup, soy sauce and loads of crushed garlic. You pour this over the pork and put it back in the oven for 20 minutes while the veg cook. I kept this very simple - remember we are aiming for crowd-pleasers with highly critical children here! - and just did boiled potatoes and carrots, which was actually perfect. The sauce is incredibly good, but very strong in flavour, and so the simply cooked vegetables worked well. Four clean plates, two pleasantly surprised adults and no moaning from the kids so we'll call that a win.


Next was a summery lunch dish, a simple tomato and mozzarella tart. 

Spot the crocheted tomato... :-)
This couldn't have been easier; one sheet of ready rolled puff pastry spread with pesto then topped with sliced tomatoes and a ball of mozzarella, torn and scattered over the top. Basil would've worked here but I didn't have any. So far so easy, but the best thing in this recipe was the tip to sprinkle the uncooked pastry generously with semolina, to soak up the liquid that comes out of the tomatoes and preventing a soggy bottom. 


This worked a treat and the tart was gorgeous, crispy and light. Well, it tasted light, but we all know that puff pastry isn't exactly healthy. But it was such a nice lunch for a weekend, taking about four minutes to assemble and twenty to cook. Definitely, definitely something we'll cook again.

I think I've misjudged this book. It's got some pretty random recipes in it which I'll never cook, like pike quennelles, and calve's liver with raspberry vinegar, but mainly it's good, seasonal, family cooking.

May's choice is Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros. I will report back.

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The crocheted vegetables - a few of you wondered why. Well, I am making them for the Reception Year home corner in the school I work in. I have always wanted to crochet some fruit and vegetables but felt that Bella and Angus were much too old now for play food, so there didn't really seem any point. But the pleasure I've had crocheting these makes me realise that there doesn't have to be a point, that so often it's just about the pleasure in making something. Anyway, I've fallen in love with them and don't really want to hand them over. But I will, and I've got enough cotton yarn left to make myself a set too.

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One last thing - I was delighted when Jo asked me to take part in her weekly Hygge series and answer a few questions for her blog. You can read it here.

21 comments:

Jennifer Hays said...

I think it's so nice that you're making the vegetables for students at your school to enjoy. I don't think people here would appreciate them enough, unfortunately, but I'd do it too if they did. Our school is bizarre in a lot of ways. Anyway, that looks like a nice cookbook. I love the cover too. It looks very folksy with all the little animals and fruit and veg. Both dishes look delicious. I really enjoy roasted pork and try to make it fairly often. The tart looks wonderful, a perfect lunch.

CJ said...

Well done on the new recipes, I particularly like the look of the tomato tart. Great tip about the semolina as well. I have a Sarah Raven book that you could similarly murder someone with, called Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook. She's put all the recipes in seasonal order as well which is helpful. I've bookmarked the rhubarb upside-down cake, and made a pre-breakfast trip to the allotment this morning to get the rhubarb. I'll let you know how it goes. I've already had one wrinkled up nose though. I absolutely love crocheted food, couldn't say why, but I just do. I'd definitely keep those vegetables for myself if I'd made them. I remember on holiday a few years back seeing a whole cake stand full of the most amazing crocheted cakes in a window. Absolutely loved it. CJ xx

Cheryl mylittlepieceofengland said...

I've never heard of the semolina tip, definitely one to try. Cute crochet tomato and yummy meals xx

Susan Smith said...

I liked the sound of both recipes, possibly minus the garlic (I'm allergic to it), and the semolina tip is worth remembering. I wondered what the crochet veg were about & thought you probably had something in mind, so well done & have fun handing them over. I'm sure they'll be well loved. I'm reading a book on Hygge at the moment, so will pop over & take a look at that series by Jo. Take care.

Gracie Saylor said...

Brilliant...cooking, crochet and interview on HTBW! Following your example of impulse book buying, I just bought a copy of Jo's book, but I am fairly certain I could not murder anyone with it. I love that photo of Molly, too. Well done, Gillian. Thanks for posting. xx

VeggieMummy said...

I love the crocheted tomato sneaked in there - I didn't notice it at first. The school children will love them. That tomato and mozzarella tart looks delicious and what a great tip about the semolina. Happy cooking. xx

Katie said...

That tart looks so easy, and I always have puff pastry in the freezer so I shall definitely be pinching that, including the semolina tip! It sounds like a brilliant book, and the idea of the recipes being arranged by month is great, the book I used this month was arranged by seasons and I really enjoyed that. Still loving the crochet vegetables, even more now I know you will be creating some just for your own enjoyment! xx

Gina said...

I don't eat meat but that does sound like the sort of tasty dish I would serve to visitors. And the tart sounds delicious.

Christina said...

I love the simplicity of both your dishes Gillian. I bet the pork belly would go down a treat with my family, except Annie who doesn't eat pork. I made my first ever puff pastry (see my own cookery book challenge) and I think I might have to make some more for the tart you describe here. I am tempted by this book, will go and see if it is on special offer somewhere....
You are just fab, making crochet vegetables for your school! Loved to see them all on IG and on your blog. x

niki murray said...

I love Falling Cloudberries and whilst I read it a lot and cook a lot of very similar dishes, I don't use it much....I will be interested to see how you get on xx

AnnieOBTextiles said...

Both recipes look and sound delicious and so easily do-able. The older I get the more I favour straight forward recipes, but that could be idleness rather than age. The crocheted veg are fabulous and will be much appreciated by Early Years staff and children alike. They are so like the real thing unlike the plastic veg in some classrooms. They are such fun too!

Tracy Giannini said...

Such tasty looking food! I noticed the crochet tomato right away and it made me smile. This also spoke to me: "But the pleasure I've had crocheting these makes me realise that there doesn't have to be a point, that so often it's just about the pleasure in making something." I can relate. I'm so hesitant to just play with yarn and see what happens or to make something just for the fun of it rather than for the end product. Thank you for the reminder that there doesn't always need to be a point.

Ksunshine52 said...

"I will always love the shot of Molly’s silhouette as she stands on the end of the bed looking out of the window." Oh Gillian, seeing that reminder of Molly was so sweet (your interview with Jo). Your tart looks amazing and tasty! Might be giving that a go this weekend!

mrsrobinson said...

Semolina tip fantastic! We have many crochet things dotted around without purpose (pot noodle cosy?!) but the enjoyment is in the making!

Librarian said...

Both the pork and veg and the tart look yummy! Yes, basil would have definitely been perfect on the tart, so I guess you'll try that next time you make it.
Last time I cooked a meal (other than making myself a bowl of salad) was two weeks or so ago, when I made green asparagus with ham, herbs-and-spice butter and oven spuds. That was very nice, too.
Thanks for explaining about the crocheted fruit. It really looks great!

Jo said...

I would have bought a book with a title and cover like that too. I had a cookbook cull about 2 years ago and use just a few but my brother in law buys me one every year for Christmas to change things round a bit. Jo x

HooksandNeedles said...

The mozzarella and tomato tart look delicious. Delia Smith recipe for an all-in-one fruit pie uses semolina too, as it soaks up the excess juices. Love the crocheted food, did a double take there. Cathy x

Crafty Kestrel said...

Your photos have made me hungry. I now want to join in this challenge. x

Julie said...

The slow-cooked pork looks and sounds delicious. I'm loving your crochet vegetables too - I think the radish has been my favourite :)

cassie said...

That's the type of book I would buy on impulse because the cover design is so great! Both meals sound, and look, delicious. I especially like the handles on your metal utensils in the first photo - great vintage design!

Lisa said...

I think you should crochet a little bowl of veg for your kitchen.
The tart sounds so easy and the pork dish is a real winner of it means a no moan meal!
Lisa x