Saturday, 9 June 2018

Cookery Calendar Challenge: May

Hi lovely folk! Well, here we are already well into June and so it's time to review my choice for May's Cookery Calendar Challenge. This is a monthly project in which I, and anyone else who fancies it, joins in with Penny of The Homemade Heart to select a cookery book and try out a couple of new recipes. I tend to choose titles that have been sitting on my shelf unopened for a few years because opening them up is like being reunited with an old friend, plus it helps me justify my ever expanding cookery book collection. 

For May, I chose Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros, a book I've had for about ten years. I cooked from it a lot when I first bought it but for some reason it's fallen out of use which is a shame as it's a really nice book. You may remember that I wrote about one of her other books, Falling Cloudberries, in my June Cookery Calendar Challenge post last year. As with that title the emphasis on this collection is family and memory, with recipes that have been handed down through the generations, full of history and heritage. It's another covetable book, a great heavy hardback with a gorgeously photographed dust jacket, a ribbon bookmark (so important!) and page after page of recipes and the most beautiful photography, interspersed with sketches, memories and family photographs.

The only issue I have with this book is the unusual chapter layout, in which recipes are grouped together by colour, rather than anything sensible like "salads", "lunches", "cake" etc. It's charming and whimsical - all the tomato and strawberry dishes in the "red" chapter for example, pumpkin in "orange" - but really irritating when you're looking for inspiration for just one kind of meal. However, It does encourage prolonged browsing of this book though, and that's enjoyable, because it makes you slow down when you're in a hurry. 

Our first dish was Pasta with Tuna, Tomato and Olives, something that appealed because it ticks all the boxes: it's easy, quick, convenient (who doesn't always have chopped tomatoes and tuna in the cupboard?), healthy and economical. 

You begin by frying some garlic and a couple of chopped celery sticks with their leaves attached, and adding a tin of chopped tomatoes, letting it cook for a while. When your pasta is almost ready, add the tuna and olives with some chopped parsley and basil.

I served this with fusili pasta but penne would go really well too. I was a little wary of cooking this dish because I remember doing something similar for John and I some years ago and while I loved it, he was really not keen. (I think that dish may have been more of a pasta puttanesca with lots of capers and anchovies, so quite strong flavours.) But this one was a huge success all round; the kids loved it and inhaled it, Angus made those "mmm" noises he makes when he's really enjoying something he's eating, and the olives where large enough for him to pick out and pass over to Bella, who loves them. And John and I both enjoyed it a lot. It's not a fancy dish but so easy and really full of flavour and great for a week night meal. 

Our next meal was less successful: Escalopes with Ham and Cheese. You bash pieces of steak into as thin a layer as possible, stuff with ham, cheese and a dollop of bechamel sauce, then roll over. Then you dip this little meat sandwich into first flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, before frying. 

This is not a healthy meal, dripping as it is with double meat, double dairy, and some bread too for good measure, but I like how the author made no apologies for that in the introduction, and just mentioned how much her children enjoyed eating it. There was no talk of this being a treat or an indulgence, no cautionary word about how we should only eat it now and then with a large salad for "balance" (I mean, we did eat it with salad, but I made some oven baked chips too). I like the way she just trusted the reader/cook to have a brain and figure that out for themselves. Everything in moderation, I say. Anyway, it was ok, but not amazing, and didn't justify the amount of washing up it created. 

Finally I tried Berry and Buttermilk Cake, which the recipe suggests we make with blueberries or strawberries. Having half a pack of strawberries in the fridge which were starting to look quite withered and sad, I decided to use them up in this cake. It's a fairly low sugar and butter sponge cake recipe, and the buttermilk (or plain yogurt mixed with milk which is what I always do as a substitute) makes it very light and moist. You scatter the berries over the top of the batter before sprinkling a couple of table spoons of sugar on top and then baking. 

It was delicious, especially when freshly baked and still warm. It was still good for a couple of days after that but the moist strawberries mean that you need to eat it up fairly quickly.

So, overall, another lovely Tessa Kiros book, and definitely one recipe that I will make many times in the future. 

I hope you're all having a great weekend. We've had a pleasant day today, seeing family, going for a long walk with the dog, and pottering around at home. I am flying through a small crocheted baby blanket for a colleague and friend and will mainly be doing that tonight while watching Netflix. 


  1. I like Tessa Kiros, her books are always very pretty. I am not too sure about the colour coded recipes, it seems rather unusual but as you say, it gets you browsing. I think the tuna recipe would go down a treat here - except with me, I don't like warmed tinned tuna. I am definitely more of an anchovies person. The cake looks absolutely delicious. I wonder it it might be nice with stoned cherries? The meat dish shouts childhood memory to me. We call this Cordon Bleu in Switzerland. Very rich indeed. The butcher sold it ready made (with pork escalopes instead of beef) so no extra washing up :-)

    Feeling inspired by your cooking, thank you. x

  2. all of the dishes look delicious!! the steak one if probably more work than I would want to do. Take care from Iowa, USA

  3. I hadn't heard of Tessa Kiros, so I was interested to see her book. The tuna pasta recipe would go down well here I think, especially with my fish and olive-eating middle boy. I tried to make strawberry jam with some sad leftover strawbs today, using no recipe and very little boiling. I now have some very lovely strawberry sauce. Perfect for in rice pudding. I thought I had some jam sugar in the cupboard, but then remembered I threw it out when it reached the five years out of date mark. I am a bit of a shambles sometimes. CJ xx

  4. Apples for Jam is an interesting title. I always think that apples are such a staple. What fun to revisit what one has. I think I will have to take a look at some of my old cookery books.

  5. I like this book. Your choice of recipes is very attractive especially the dessert. Have a nice Sunday ;-)

  6. I have this book but have barely used it, due I I think to the colour coding of the recipes ( the tomato risotto is good) but I like the sound of the pasta and the cake!

  7. That book is still around over here in bookshops & although I've had a peek or two, I've so many cookbooks and cutout recipe clips, I've been good & not bought, although looking tempting. Thanks for sharing & I enjoy seeing what other peoples' tastes in food are. Take care.

  8. That is my kind of food. All looks fabulous. JO x

  9. We make a virtually identical tuna pasta dish - it's one of our midweek staples and everyone likes it. I'm glad it went down well in your house! The cake looks delicious - light and summery. I've got Falling Cloudberries, and Fliss sometimes makes the spanakopita for everyone's packed lunches - what a treat. X

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