Welcome to the Cookery Calendar Challenge for April. 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 cookery book for February was 'Duchy Originals Cookbook' by Johnny Acton and Nick Sandler. I have owned this book for many years, and may have cooked one or two dishes from it, but none that I specifically remember. This book is rather charming, combining slightly posh food with a whiff of nursery dinners. It has an earnestly worded introduction from H.R.H. Prince Charles, and is then divided seasonally, with a few pages of information regarding animal husbandry and food production by various producers of Duchy Originals foods around the UK, before the collection of recipes for that season.
Needless to say all the recipes use Duchy Original products; anything from Duchy Originals milk, to Duchy Originals organic meats, but obviously the recipes can be made with non Duchy Originals products. The recipes are all given in cups, and ounces, which makes me suspect it was not-so-subtly aimed at American tourists visiting the UK and buying a recipe book to take home, but that's fine with me. I would love to visit America and buy an American book with the recipes in grams and milliletres. Cup measures are easy to come by, and easy to use, so this was not a problem.
The first of my selected dishes this month was Canneloni stuffed with Smoked Ham and Cheddar. I didn't have any canneloni tubes in my dry goods cupboard, so used lasagne sheets, thereby creating more of a smoked ham and leek lasagne. The leeks were fried off until soft with sliced red onion, then set aside, After this, a basic white sauce was made, with added creme fraiche and a teaspoon or two of dijon mustard (not in the recipe, but I thought it would give a nice little punch of flavour to the sauce). I added a small amount of grated cheddar to the sauce (that was in the recipe); then layered up the lasagne sheets, white/cheese sauce, and the leeks, onions and chopped smoked ham. I sprinkled a little more grated cheese on top and popped it in a hot oven for about forty minutes until the top was bubbling. I served it with roasted cherry tomatoes, well seasoned with salt and pepper and splashed with olive oil, and cooked until soft.
This dish was a big success, and to my surprise earned me a double green tick from the carnivores, who gobbled it with relish. It is always most gratifying when the family enjoy meals I have prepared, and I do tend to make the most of it.
Me: 'What do you think?'
Derek/Jacob: 'Mmm/ nice/ really good/ yum/ great'
Me: (turning a little pink) 'Oh, really? I am so pleased!'
(Silence/eating noises/scraping of cutlery etc)
Me: 'So what's nice about it? Anything in particular? Flavour? Texture?'
Derek/Jacob 'Er dunno, it's just nice/good flavour/nice and savoury' etc
Me: (airily) 'Well I did put in quite a lot of effort, and I also added a spoonful of mustard to the sauce. Did you notice that? What about the sauce- not too cheesy? How about the tomatoes? What did you think?'
Derek/Jacob 'They're ok/it's fine/mustard-yuk, wish you hadn't told me that/can I leave the table?'
And dinner is over for another night.
My second dish was a baked cheesecake. I think this is possibly the first pudding I have made as part of the Cookery Calendar Challenge, not to mention one of the few cheesecakes I have made in my life. I had a slight hidden agenda with this dish, as one of the competitions in the Dalmally Show this year is a baked cheesecake, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to try out a suitable recipe.
The base is made from crushed Duchy Original oaten biscuits (posh digestives, essentially), mixed with melted butter and brown sugar. This sandy mixture is then pressed firmly into the base of a well buttered springform release tin.
The topping is made from a mixture of egg yolks and sugar, beaten together, to which creme fraiche and a quite staggering quantity of full fat cream cheese are added. The zest of a lemon is grated in, and a few drops of vanilla extract. The egg whites are whisked to soft peaks stage, and folded in to the cream cheese mixture, and this is then poured on to the base, and baked at Gas 4 for twenty minutes, and Gas 3 for a further forty minutes. I didn't hold out much hope for this cheesecake, as I made it in a tearing hurry, and also realised that I didn't have any creme fraiche in the fridge after I started, so hastily improvised with some double cream soured with a squeeze of lemon juice. However it obviously thrived on neglect as it turned out very well; rose beautifully, and turned a deep golden colour on top.
It should have been served with some berries, or a little fruit coulis, but my greedy (and I mean that in a very loving way) family just ate it plain, in fact still warm, and loved it. I am not a huge cheesecake fan, and found the flavour a little bland, but I think that is the nature of cheesecakes. The texture was extremely light and creamy (hardly surprising given the amount of cream and cream cheese in the recipe) so I think this recipe has passed muster and will make a reappearance for the baking competiton at the Dalmally Show this year.
I am pleased I revisited this book. Many of the recipes are more down to earth than they initially appear, and there is a wealth of good hearty eating within its pages.
My chosen recipe book for April is Persianna, by Sabrina Gahyour. This book was first published in 2014 to great acclaim, but I have only just got round to buying a copy, partly because I am always at 'the coo's tail'* as we say in Scotland, and partly because I wasn't that interested in Middle Eastern cookery in 2014, but over the last couple of years have become more interested in it.
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. 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. 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.
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 )
(*'the coo's tail'= 'the cow's tail' i.e. always behind everyone else)