My chosen recipe book for September was The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman, who writes the well known cooking blog Smitten Kitchen. I love her blog, and her Instagram feed - especially her stories - and find her approach to cooking very inspiring. I've used this book a lot, but only the Sweet Things chapter. I have never used it for meals, which is a shame, as the cake chapter is only one part of the book. Chapters are divided into breakfast, salads, sandwiches etc, vegetarian main dishes, meat main dishes, sweet things and party food. Recipes are well laid out, easy to follow and each with a nice introduction, giving a little background or context to the development of the recipe.
The first meal was a real test. Usually, I choose meals for this challenge that can be cooked at the weekend and eaten together on a Sunday night. I prefer not to have to get to know a new recipe when I am feeling rushed, but the meat needed eating up (and we have quite a relaxed approach to use by dates in this house at the best of times) so I decided to cook these tomato-glazed meatloaves with mashed potatoes on a busy week night with two hungry, waiting children, John late back from work and a puppy underfoot. That's some test.
You begin by making the tomato glaze, briefly simmering together tomato puree, vinegar, mustard and a few other spices to create what is essentially a quick, fancy ketchup.
The meatballs required a little more attention, but not much.
You finely chop some vegetables in the food processor then cook them for a little while.
Then add them to the bowl containing minced beef and bread crumbs.
Then the best part; wash your hands, roll up your sleeves and squish everything together with your fingers until it's combined and you have lots of large meatballs (or mini meatloaves).
Once glazed you bake them and serve with mashed potato, and then take a really terrible, unappetising photo of them.
They were nice but the whole dish needed more liquid. I could've done with ten times as much of that delicious tomato glaze/sauce to go with the meatloaf and potatoes which are, let's face it, a little on the dry side, especially when you're doing slimming world and can't put loads of butter in the mash.
The second dish was wild rice gratin with kale and caremelised onions. This was a really last minute choice which I had no expectations of, and it turned out to be one of the best things I've cooked this year. And it was so easy.
You cook some wild rice and, while it's boiling, fry onions until they're really soft and sweet then add kale although I used cavolo nero as we had some lurking in the fridge.
You mix the cooked rice, onions and greens together in an oven dish with grated cheese, add a little stock to stop it drying out, then top it with breadcrumbs and more cheese.
Then you bake it until the top is crunchy and bubbling.
I know, it looks so boring, but it's so good. The wild rice is chewy and the topping crispy, and the combination of cheese, onions and greens together is amazing. I'd never thought to cook a rice dish like a gratin, but it was so good. Definitely one to make again.
I am joining in with Penny's Cookery Calendar Challenge in which, each month, I choose a neglected cookery book from my shelves and cook two meals from it. My choice for October is Scandinavian Comfort Food by Trine Hahnemann, a birthday gift which I haven't used much. It is, incredibly, only £8.99 on Amazon at the moment, which is not much more than the price of a couple of magazines, so if you were thinking of a little early Christmas shopping, or a treat for yourself, you could do worse. Amazon didn't pay me to tell you that by the way, just see me as your cookery book buying enabler, helping you fill your shelves with tempting and beautifully produced volumes of recipes...