Welcome to the Cookery Calendar Challenge for December. If you would like to join the challenge this month, please take a quick look at the Cookery Calendar Challenge page, which will tell you everything you need to know.
My chosen recipe book for November was 'France The Cookbook' by Phaidon; an impulse buy from Costco, the generous price reduction too tempting to resist. However, this book intimidated me from the start. It is so large, so encyclopaedic, and I felt its presence looming large in my kitchen all month. It seemed to dominate my bookshelf, radiating disapproval towards all my other chubby, friendly, cosy recipe books that I love. It felt like a new girl at school who looks down her nose at everyone.
It is hugely comprehensive, which is of course a good thing, and if you want to learn all about French cookery, starting from the basic building block recipes and building up that knowledge to more complex meals, then this is the book for you. It just wasn't the book for me. Many of the recipes use other recipes as part of the ingredients, so short recipes of a few ingredients suddenly become much longer and more involved.
I delayed cooking from it until last week. If it hadn't been for the Cookery Calendar Challenge I wouldn't have cooked from it atall. However, I eventually pulled myself together and looked through its 800+ pages for a couple of simple recipes.
My first dish was Spinach soup, which involved making a white sauce base, adding stock (I used ready made, a small act of defiance) and then simmering the spinach, for thirty minutes. Usually I cook spinach very quickly, so this was a change. It tasted quite pleasant, but I felt it was way too much effort for a simple lunchtime soup. I had a friend over for lunch, who politely said she thought it was delicious, but I'm not sure if that was completely true.
My second recipe was Ratatouille; another easy dish, which I am very familiar with, and had the advantage of not having any ingredients being another recipe. Chopped aubergine, courgette, onions , sweet peppers, were simmered with fresh tomatoes and a little water, garlic, and seasoning. This was tasty, and the fresh tomatoes were an improvement on tinned (I also liked the illustration for the recipe too; a nice fat aubergine). I served this as part of a family dinner; I had the ratatouille, and the rest of the family had the ratatouille with some roast chicken. Derek pushed most of his to the side of his plate, poor Jacob dislikes 'sludgy' vegetables so only ate a token mouthful. Oh dear.
So, overall, this book was not a happy book for me. Technically, it is very detailed, very correct, very informative, and very complete, but it was a little too authoritative for me. If you wish a course in French cookery however, this would be an excellent book.
I am not selecting a book for December; I don't think that finding new recipes to cook should be part of the run up to Christmas, so instead my next Cookery Calendar Challenge will be a review of the project and the changes it has brought to my meal planning and cooking over the year.
If you joined me last month, thank you. If you would like to join the challenge this month, this is what to do:
The challenge is simple: the first week of every month, select a cookery book from your shelf, and cook two new recipes from it. The recipes can be for any meal. Cakes and bakes are excluded, but puddings are included. At the beginning of the following month, blog about the recipes you have used, and announce your chosen cookery book for the month ahead. This is an ongoing project, it's never too late to get involved, and everyone is very welcome. Don't worry about photographs; if you haven't taken a photograph of the dish, post a photograph of the recipe book you used. Similarly, you are welcome to share a recipe if you wish, but there is no pressure to do so. This project is more about the process of reconnecting with your cookery book collection, than about recipe sharing or food photography.
I would appreciate a link back to this Cookery Calendar Challenge post in your post. Grab the Cookery Calendar Challenge badge to display on your blog too, if you like (just copy and paste the code on to your dashboard to display). You can also join via Instagram using hashtag #cookerycalendarchallenge (you will find me on Instagram @penny.homemadeheart ).