Sunday, 12 January 2020

December's Cookery Book

It feels funny to be typing the word December half way through January. It's not just last month, it's also last year but I was given this glorious book for Christmas, so I've only recently been trying out some recipes. The book is The Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer. I asked for it for Christmas hoping that it would make my weeknight dinners easier, and it definitely has. The book's premise is that everything can be made in one pan, in the oven. Occasionally you need to cook some pasta or rice in a saucepan separately, to be added later, but for the most part it is a selection of meals and cakes/desserts which only need one roasting tin meaning, crucially, less washing up.

We tried two dinners, two salads and one cake, all of which were wonderful on the whole.

First we tried Simple Roast Chicken and Red Pepper Traybake. All things we like. Sliced red onions, garlic and peppers are cooked with chicken breasts on top. It's as simple as that. Concerned about the lack of carbs, I threw in some chopped potatoes, and a bit of chorizo that was hanging around in the fridge for good measure too, and baked it all for about 45 minutes. I was also concerned about the lack of sauce. Would it be dry? Would the kids want ketchup? But the vegetables release liquid as they cook which, mingled with the olive oil and juices from the chicken, makes for a delicious sauce.

The chicken was incredibly moist, the potatoes were crunchy around the edges and it was all totally delicious. Bella and Angus loved it, as did John and I. This one is a keeper. My pescatarian sister tried a version with cod (adding the fish part way through the cooking time) and said it was really good. 

Next, Five Spice Pork Chops with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Ginger and Garlic.

You roast diced sweet potatoes with ginger, garlic and star anise for twenty minutes while the pork chops marinade in sesame oil and Chinese Five Spice seasoning, then you add the meat, cooking for another fifteen minutes, adding pak choi at the end.

The flavours were incredible (I love Five Spice seasoning), the sweet potato going so well with the ginger and garlic, but the pork was a bit overdone, reminding me why I never buy it because I seem unable to cook it without it turning to leather.

The next dish I made the day before I went back to work to solve a leftovers situation in the fridge; a bag of sad looking sprouts and half a packet of pancetta which would be transformed into Wild Rice Winter Salad with Roasted Brusssels Sprouts, Pancetta, Feta and Sunflower Seeds.

You roast the sprouts and pancetta for a bit before adding the seeds at the end. Meanwhile, boil some wild rice.

Then, mix the whole lot together, adding feta and lemon juice. We ate it warm for lunch that day, but I took the leftovers to work padded out with some extra baby spinach leaves. I had intended to eat it as a salad but it was so cold at work that I reheated the lot through in the microwave in the staffroom, feta and spinach and all. It was delicious, and I don't even really like sprouts.

The next salad intrigued me for the way it was cooked: Bulgur Wheat With Roasted Red Peppers, Tomatoes, Feta and Pine Nuts. You chop the vegetables and roast, adding the pine nuts five minutes before the end. Now, I would usually cook the bulgur wheat separately, but you pour it straight into the roasting tin, adding the stock, then covering it with foil before returning to the oven. 

The parsley and feta are added last and it's meant to be eaten warm. I tried some, just to check it was ok, and had to stop myself shovelling the lot into my mouth. It's delicious.

I have portioned up the rest to take into work for lunch this week.

Finally, cake. It is supposed to be Coconut, Raspberry and Chocolate Cake but I made a few tweaks. I refuse to buy soft fruits like raspberries and strawberries in the middle of winter so substituted them for half a pot of glace cherries that I found in the cupboard, and reduced the amount of chocolate. Next time, I would leave the chocolate out altogether - the cake, with the coconut and cherries, doesn't need the sweetness and it's perfect as it is. The kids did not like it (the coconut) but John and I both though it was really good, moist and chewy.

The reason this slice is such a mess is because I couldn't wait for the cake to cool down before I cut into it, and it all fell to pieces before being crammed into my mouth. I have a weakness for glace cherries...

There ends my 2019 Cooker Calendar Challenge, where I choose a book each month from my shelves and give it a bit of love.

I will be giving this challenge a rest for a while; after three years of doing this every month, thirty six books in all, I have given my cookery books the attention they deserve and have run out of unloved titles to choose from. Cooking, however, I will never give a rest. I may have to buy more cookery books. 


  1. I've got this book on order at the library. I am useless at cooking pork chops however I have just discovered Aldi's pork steaks( their special range with a black label) very tender and tasty.

  2. I love one pot/tray/pan recipes, I'll look out for this at the library. Think I will have to do the challenge now, after years of telling myself 'it's ok, the happy house are doing it' as a way of procrastinating! The results won't make it to a blog, but will challenge the culinary rut I'm in (I hope)!

  3. The rice in the first salad doesn't look like wild rice as we know it in the US? Did you sub regular white rice? And for the pork dish that was too dry maybe try whole or halved pork tenderloin? I'm very impressed, this is food I d love to eat, thx.

    1. The packet says basmati and wild rice, so perhaps a mixture of the two?

  4. What a brilliant selection of recipes, and glorious photos of your food.

    We have a lot of the same books. I think I should do something similar on my blog just to encourage me to use my books a bit more and get out of the cooking rut I have currently found myself in.

  5. These do look lovely, and anything with sprouts gets my vote. Rather cross to find that this week in Tesco they're £1.75, whereas before Christmas I bought several packs for 19p, reduced from 29p. It does make you realise how little the farmer must get, however.
    Haha, another glacé cherry fiend! As a child I used to get a row for eating them from my mum's baking supplies, and I still find them hard to resist.

  6. So sorry to hear this will be your last cookery challenge.They have been really enjoyable and I've looked forward to them. So hopefully you will be buying some more cook books!
    Thank you for a lovely blog :o)

  7. This book looks really cool!

    And I concur with the others, if you feel inspired to try any other books, I have enjoyed this series!

  8. My son gave me this book last year and I did the Simple Red Pepper and Chicken roast last week. We loved it too! Last night I was having another little perusal and was looking at that cake recipe. Now I’ve seen how it turns out ‘in real life’, I think I’ll give it a go :)

  9. I use frozen berries in the winter for cooking. They really work well! This book sounds like my style! I must look I the library!

  10. this book sounds right up my street, and I think very family friendly? Going to treat myself xxxx

  11. Thank you for this review. I bought this book just before Christmas, and only glanced through it. I've just had a good read through and I'm going to do the pork chops tonight.

  12. We have the veggie version (green?) and it, too, has some great recipes

  13. I have really enjoyed seeing what you made, it is a fun idea. I might try it with my cook books if you don't mind me copying, I don't have enough for the whole year though so the library may have to help. x

  14. I've really enjoyed your monthly reviews. Great inspiration. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Just found this on sale and bought it because if the lovely recipes you featured here.

  16. It looks a great book. I may be buying it!!

  17. I bought this book for myself this month. I've only made one dish so far - the bulgar wheat one you also made. So delicious!! My husband does most of the cooking and is far more imaginative than me. When I said I wanted to make this dish he wasn't keen and thought it sounded boring. He changed his mind - going back for extra helpings - "this is actually really good" I felt vindicated! I couldn't wait for lunch the next day to have the leftovers... it really was delicious and so easy!


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