Hello. I've been looking through my food photos going, "I have no memory of this place". Hopefully reading through the recipes will jog my memory.
There's been a lot going on recently. Work is very busy and my Dad got diagnosed with prostate cancer a couple of weeks ago. It has left my mental health a bit shaky so I am being proactive about it and seeing a doctor. I'm not leaving it to get worse for two years like last time.
In more relevant news I finally watched "Julie and Julia". Meryl Streep was amazing. The rest of the film left me uninspired. I think I was expecting a film documenting all the things Julie learned as a cook and all the tasty things she ate. What I got instead was a focus on Julie's relationship troubles and how annoying this characterisation of her was. Note to the film-makers: more food, less drama please.
I should probably take that advice too. All I've given you so far in this post is drama, so I'd better get onto the food! (If I can remember what it was.)
Speedy salmon fish cakes
This recipe was marketed as being easy because it uses pre-made mashed potato. But I think that anything which involves breading can't be classed as easy. It's so messy! Plus, my heart sinks whenever I use tinned salmon. I know some people like to eat the bones but I can't bear the thought of that, and it takes so long to pick out all the many bones from the can. At least it's cheaper than fresh salmon. Still, while this might not be an easy recipe, it is an absolutely delicious recipe. Perhaps the tastiest fishcakes I've ever had? They were bliss with tartare sauce. The only thing to note is that you should not be fooled into thinking this is a full meal. I thought it might be, but after two small fishcakes and a tiny pile of salad I was very hungry afterwards. It needs some potatoes or something else filling with it.
Courgette, chickpea and feta pasta
I was staring at this photo trying to will myself into remembering what it was. Thank goodness I'd saved a link to the recipe. I think it was ok to make and ok to eat. It's clearly not one that stuck in the mind. Oh wait, I am remembering as I am typing. This recipe said to fry garlic for 15 minutes straight. I was cooking a smaller portion and so shortened my cooking time, but still the garlic came out burnt. The fried chickpeas were quite meaty in taste, and they were ok with the feta and courgette, but I wasn't wowed. Especially not with the bitterness of burnt garlic. If this recipe had had a little bit of sweetness in there too, it might have been better. But as it was I have clearly removed it from my memory.
Gunpowder potato and peppers with garlic aïoli
I couldn't find gunpowder potatoes, so instead I bought some baby potatoes and roasted them with what Google told me were gunpowder spices. I also couldn't find baby sweet peppers so I used Romano peppers. Even with the changes, this recipe was delicious. I would like to marry that aïoli, my god. And the mixture of aïoli and potatoes and peppers was to die for. My only complaint is that I thought this dish would work as a carbohydrate and vegetable side dish all in one. It did not. It's tiny! You get two little potatoes per portion, which is ridiculous in how small it is. Triple everything, or add at least two extra sides, and then you won't be left hungry.
Spicy salmon burgers with sour cream slaw
I learnt my lesson from the last recipe: I knew I tiny patch of salad wouldn't be enough for me, so I added some tomatoes instead. I was still hungry. If only that was my sole complaint. The main issue with this dish is that it is a lot less tasty than it promises to be. The pre-made salmon burgers taste lacklustre (although they are nice texturally, I will give them that). And sour cream and chive dip is absolutely not the accompaniment that's needed here. I found the burgers lacked zing and sweetness. I had one of the burgers with sweet chilli sauce next time and it was so much better.
Braised chicken with pickled cucumbers
This dish threatened to be a disaster but ended up super delicious. The recipe calls itself "braised chicken" but it's actually a take on chicken adobo (which I've never had before). Turns out chicken adobo is really really nice. The disaster was in the cooking method. I couldn't find whole chicken legs so just used drumsticks, but that wasn't the problem. The problem was that you're meant to cook your large chunks of chicken in a sauce, without putting the lid on. I halved the recipe but even with the full amount of liquid I don't think you'd have enough sauce to fully cover the chicken. It means that there's a lot of chicken which isn't covered and so isn't cooking enough. As time went on my sauce reduced almost to a jam. Once the cooking time was up I knew my chicken needed longer because it had just started oozing red juices. Annoyed and panicking, I added some water to the sauce so it didn't disappear completely, then threw on the lid and cooked the chicken for another 20 minutes. That was probably too long, as my chicken ended up a little tough. However, the sauce with that extra dash of water was still nice and thick and very flavourful and went well with the chicken. Mixed with the pickled cucumber it was delightful. So yes, this was tasty, but maybe follow your cooking instincts instead of the recipe.
Full English frittata
This is a weird dish. I'm not sure you need to cook the frittata for as long as they tell you to, because mine was quite tough on the bottom when it was done (although I had halved the recipe). That aside, I am always very very wary of baked beans and eggs together because the sweetness of the beans mixed with the egg makes me feel a little sick. It was kinda the same here. The cheese helped, as did adding extra bacon by mistake, but not enough to make me want to eat this again.