Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Cookery Calendar Challenge: January


I wasn't sure whether I wanted to do another Cookery Calendar Challenge this year but, in the last week of January, I found myself sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea, surrounded by half opened recipe books, a notepad and pen. I love cookery books almost as much as I love cooking; in fact, sometimes I think I might like them better, given as I am to reading cookery books in bed at night. And I decided there and then to take part in Penny of The Homemade Heart blog's Cookery Calendar Challenge for another year. It gives me a reason to use my less-thumbed recipe books more, it's encourages us as a family to cook and eat new meals, and most of all it's fun.

Also, this year cake is included.

My chosen book for January was Kitchen by Nigella Lawson, a book I have had on my shelf for about six years but only cooked from a handful of times, and I really don't know why that is because it's very good indeed (much better than her most recent one, shhh). The recipes are varied, generous, and suited to the kind of family cooking (one pot meals and tray bakes) we seem to do a lot of at the moment, and happily are all available on her website so I've linked to them individually.

This fab personalised jar was a birthday gift from a friend.

But my first recipe was an indulgence, something I've always wanted to try but could never persuade anyone else to eat: Marmite Spaghetti. Marmite, that most divisive of yeast extract spreads, is not loved by everyone in this house. John and Bella think it is revolting, and while Angus likes it on toast I'm not sure he could be persuaded to eat it on pasta. But one Friday night, with the kids fed and in bed and John out, I found myself alone for the evening and in need of a quick dinner that could be eaten on my lap on the sofa.


It's very easy to make: you boil spaghetti and when it's almost done, melt a little butter in a small saucepan with some Marmite, as much or as little as you like. Drain the pasta, reserving a little cooking water, and stir through the melted butter and Marmite, adding a little water if it needs it, before serving with grated parmesan. It's divine. Just the right amount of salty and savoury, and perfect with a glass of red wine in front of the fire with season two of The Crown on Netflix. In fact, John should go out more often.


Next was something everyone could enjoy: Braised Beef in Beer. We make a similar kind of beef stew a lot, so I was curious to see how this one would differ. The addition of lardons gives a salty depth to the sauce, and the beer flavour came through really well, but not so much so that the kids didn't like it. The colour of the sauce was incredible, the deepest dark brown, and it full of flavour. We ate is with baked potatoes and lots of vegetables, but I would like to try it with gnocchi some day.


Now for the cake, and what a lot of good cake and pudding recipes there are in this book. (You may remember that I made Marmalade Pudding Cake from this same book back in January, and ate it with custard and a chorus of angels singing, so good was it.) Loving as I do anything with a citrus flavour, I opted for Lemon Polenta Cake because I have never made a cake with polenta before and something told me I was going to like it.


I was right. It is a flourless cake and the polenta and ground almonds give a wonderful moist heaviness to the texture, and I think it's nicest slightly warm with the lemon drizzle topping soaking right through to the plate below.


A successful first month then, with recipes I will definitely make again. I have no idea which book I'll choose for February yet, but I'm going to have fun deciding. 

19 comments:

  1. 'Kitchen' is one of my favourite recipe books. I have a lot but I have probably cooked the most recipes from this book. All her cakes are easy and delicious. Love her marmalade cake. Hope you get to try more from this book. B x

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  2. I've never tried Marmite but I would like to. It seems like one of those things everyone should at least try. I'm not sure if I've ever seen this book before; maybe it has a different title over here? I tried to borrow her newest book from the library but it isn't published here yet, which was disappointing to learn. I think April. I'll try to reserve a copy as soon as the library has it. I like the look of your beef and your cake very much, I think we'd love both of those recipes too.

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  3. Love marmite and love this book, it is an ode to good eating. We all love a good stew. Gnocchi with it sounds yummy. We sometimes make simple dumplings and cook those straight in the stew. Parsley dumplings are my favourite. I'll probably the challenge in February but I am not sure yet. x

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  4. Your recipes and photos all look lovely. I think anything with lemon in, is a winner. I'm reminded that once I too, would sit reading cookery books, even taking them to read in bed. Not sure why but that habit has slipped. Like you I love reading Nigella's cookery books though I only have the one, her Express cookbook. We thoroughly enjoyed watching her Express TV series and the book doesn't disappoint. Her style of writing is an entertainment in itself. I've added my challenge to Penny's link and will browse the new book for inspiration next time. Cathy x

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  5. Glad you're going to do the Challenge again, I always enjoy reading about your cooking adventures. And other people trying new things helps me find new recipes.

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  6. I am challenging myself to use some of my clipped recipes from magazines - I have so many and they need reducing - if I make some of them I will then know if they are worth keeping or I can throw them out.
    I am not a pasta or a marmite fan but your lovely photos certainly make it look tempting! I am really pleased that you are going for the challenge again as I look forward to your monthly posts - they remind me I need to try out some new meals and you make it look so easy.

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  7. I love to read cookbooks and I often read them in bed at night, too! Your cake looks delicious. I love the photo of the big bowl of Marmite with a glass of wine in front of the fire - perfect!

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  8. Looks and sounds yummy, all of it! The cake would be especially good if you have to offer gluten-free food, as is the case in the family of one of my friends. She is always looking for good, easy recipes for gluten-free dishes, and I think I'll point her to your blog.

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  9. Personalised marmite - fantastic! My daughter E and I love the stuff, R can take it or leave it and my other daughter L hates it with a passion. Pasta, wine and The Crown in front of the fire - sounds heavenly. xx

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  10. Oooh I love your Polenta cake. I must try it when friends come round.

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  11. Not sure how Marmite pasta would go down here either, but I'd definitely give it a go. The cake sounds delicious, I love polenta cake. I have the marmalade pudding cake recipe on top of my pile in the kitchen along with a jar of marmalade. Any day now and I will whip it up. Lovely that you're doing the cookery challenge again, I always enjoy seeing what you've made. CJ xx

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  12. I love the idea of marmite pasta but fear I may be the only one around here that does, but I'm storing the idea for when I have an evening on my own!

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  13. Mouth-watering stuff! Season two of the Crown....is it as good as Season one? (which I loved). CT x

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    1. So far, yes! Such good acting and beautiful costumes and locations.

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  14. Deeeeeeelicious! I'm in the library returning books and on the shelf is a whole variety of new releases~ I love just loosing myself in the recipes and planning something very different. Sometimes my efforts dont always go to plan...but with Valentines looming I might just try and surprise myself and hopefully it approves my Love's taste buds!. One of my new success stories is beetroot chocolate cake. x

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  15. Nigella' marmite pasta a favourite here... the best comfort food. A friend who is a staunch anti marmite was intrigued when I made it for Patch once, tried it and loved it so maybe something for the non marmite lovers too...

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  16. I know that cake well but not for the right reasons! My friend made it a few years ago and asked me if I wanted cake, I said yes of course but as soon as I could smell it, I knew it had almonds in it and that is the one thing I don't like! I like reading the cookery challenge blog posts. We use a cookbook a week. We all choose a dinner out of one cookbook (I have the last choice) make a shopping list and write the dinners on a pad on the fridge. The the next week we do it all again with a different book. Have a good weekend.

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  17. I so enjoy reading about the new recipes that you try. Thank you!

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Hello there! Thank you for leaving a comment. I read them all and I always try to answer questions, although sometimes it takes me a while.