…too cheesy?

For the record, my husband came up with that. In fact, it’s what he wanted me to name the blog. But it’s a bit much, isn’t it?

It’s 2:46 on a Thursday afternoon. My eldest daughter is in nursery and the baby is sleeping (whoop!). I’ve ticked so many things off my to-do list today and so it feels like I’ve cleared out the backlog of guilt/anxiety. And to top it all off I’m sitting here with a cup of tea and a pecan slice from Pret-a-Manger: heaven! [A short aside: Why did no one try to forcefully explain to me earlier in life about how delicious nuts are? I’ve spent my whole life picking them out of brownies and cakes and, honestly, berating anyone who would try to ruin any cake/pudding/dessert with nuts. And now, all of a sudden, they’re really really delicious. Especially in the context of sugar. But, wow. Revelation.]

I’ve been musing all week (read: day) about what to write about this week. Do you feel betrayed that I’ve not got this really well thought-out plan? Apologies: I’ve got the attention span of a goldfish these days. Inspiration strikes and I’ve got to act on it immediately. Hence me writing now, in my down-time, because it occurred to me that it might be nice for me to help others with some quick food inspiration. Or kitch-inspiration…

This blog isn’t about me writing recipes and giving them to you. I’d love to do that but I’ve not got the time. And the rationalist in me thinks, ‘there are a million great recipes out there. I must try them’. And if they are great, but not quite right for me, I can just change them…as I so often do. This blog, I hope, is here to give you ideas for food you can make for yourself and your family. I want to help by testing recipes for you, by pointing you in the direction of amazing cook-books or chefs, and by making the possibilities for dinner seem endless (but not dauntingly so).

And so today I thought I’d give a quick run-down of where I go to find new recipes, and to highlight some I’ve tried/revisited lately that I think you should try too.

I love a list:

  • BBC Good Food. I’ve subscribed to the magazine now, but for years before this I was constantly trawling their website. It’s totally free and is a enormous database of recipes. You can search for any recipe/ingredient, but they also do a great job of highlighting new/seasonal/popular recipes on their homepage. Best of all is that you can review a recipe (see whether one person gave it full marks or 150 did) and read comments from others who have made it. And the comments are worth reading! People telling you that you can easily cut down on the salt, or double the cooking time. It’s like having your mum’s recipe book with little notes written in the margins. Some great recipes I’ve found on there:
    • Lamb Hotpot: A little prep to start, but then you just leave it and come back to heaven. I omit the kidneys because I’m a wimp. Trust me – I thought at first that something so simple couldn’t be so delicious. I was very wrong.
    • Goats Cheese, Beetroot and Tarragon Salad: Made this for the 50 millionth time yesterday, with the addition of toasted walnuts. It’s such a winner. The husband and I want to eat more vegetarian meals and when they’re this delicious it’s easy.img_1543
    • Three Hour Pork Belly: Made this two weekends ago and it was mouth-wateringly crunchy/soft/sweet. I added some peeled and seeded apple quarters and thick-sliced fennel to the base of the pan as well and they made a really nice side-dish.IMG_6737.JPG
  • Cookbooks. Over the last few years I’ve taken to collecting cookbooks. But I don’t buy them just to bulk out my bookshelves (one of which collapsed at the weekend from the weight of the cookbooks…!), I’ve started to buy them as casual reading. Just leaf through and salivate of a Tuesday evening… I take that I’m the exception here in that regard, but I would seriously suggest you take to browsing the cookbook section in your bookstore. Check out what’s new, what is suggested and read maybe 3 or 4 random recipes in it to see if it’s your sort of thing. One good cookbook could keep you up to your eyeballs in amazing dinners for weeks.IMG_6768.JPG My favourites currently are:
    • Bill’s Everyday Asian (Bill Granger): If you like any sort of Asian food, then you need this book in your life. The recipes are incredibly easy, you don’t need any more than 3 specialty ingredients (and if you’re already a fan you may already have them), and there are a multitude of different things to try. I found one of the recipes online – Sticky Chicken Thighs – and it happens to be one of the best things I’ve made from the book.
    • Plenty (Yottam Ottolenghi): Basically any vegetable or fruit that this man touches turns into manna from heaven. The cookbook itself is just too beautiful as well. TBH I’ve not made a huge quantity of recipes from this book, which is all vegetarian food BTW. The three or four I’ve tried have been just incredible but also very time-consuming – you’ve been warned. Try the Very Full Vegetable Tart. I can’t say enough good things about it.
    • Brown Eggs and Jam Jars (Aimee Wimbush-Bourque): A gift from some very thoughtful friends, one of which recently visited from the homeland. I’ve only had it for a couple weeks, but so far we’re two-for-two. The Cheesy Butternut Squash Penne was an ideal way to get Poppy to eat a lot of butternut squash without knowing it. And the One-Bowl Carrot-Spice Oatmeal Muffins were just perfect: healthy, full of good-stuff and just a perfect consistency (not too wet, not too dry). It’s a Canadian book, but I’ve found it on Amazon UK as well.IMG_1528.JPG
  • [Realised I’m rambling so I’ll wrap it up] Google: If you’ve got a random ingredient you need to use, or want to cook seasonally, or have some specific idea in mind, just google it! This is obvious isn’t it? But just do it – every time. I’m forever googling to find dinner inspiration. I usually get lead to BBC Good Food, BBC Food, Jamie Oliver Recipes (quick note here: I’ve found some great recipes on here, I’ve also found some duds. There are often missing ingredients, have typos, and some recipes get pretty bad reviews from members. It’s a bit hit or miss. So just tread carefully and read the reviews if there are any) or All Recipes (same deal here: read the reviews carefully).
  • Friends and family. Just ask them if they’ve cooked anything nice recently! They’re probably your best bet at finding a recipe you’ll like because they know you and what you like.

If you want to use me as a resource (I’d be honoured) then read over to my Pinterest page and see what I’ve made and loved.

Happy cooking! And I’d love if you could share your cherished recipes or cookbooks with me. I’m forever looking for what we’ll be eating for lunch/dinner/pudding next!



One Comment Add yours

  1. Katie says:

    Hey Em, I thought of you when I remembered this recipe of my mum’s (I give her the credit even though I’m pretty sure she got it from a friend). She calls it Skillet Macaroni and Cheese, but you could also call it Quick-and-dirty Macaroni and Cheese:) It’s an easy comfort food to fall back on when I just want something warm and yummy in my tummy. I can’t believe I haven’t made it for Sam yet, he’d love it!

    1/2 c butter (or margarine)
    2 c elbow macaroni
    1/4 c chopped onion
    2 T chopped bell pepper (optional)
    1 t salt
    1/4 t dry mustard
    2 c water
    2 c shredded cheese

    Melt the butter in a deep skillet.
    Add macaroni along with next 4 ingredients.
    Cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently.
    Add water and reduce to simmering.
    Cover and cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese, and serve!

    Let me know if you get the chance to try it, I can imagine another little girl who may find a new favourite meal request here.

    Thanks for re-inspiring me to open my cookbooks and have fun in the kitchen:)

    love Katie


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