Cooking every day can became a chore (‘I know’ – I hear you say) and so over the years I have attempted to introduce variations and themes to make it more interesting for both myself (the cook) and the family (the diners).
When the children were young I would have ‘themed’ dinners – ‘Curry’ nights, visits to ‘Mexico’, a ‘Taste of the Orient’. I would make two or three main dishes with traditional accompaniments giving the children an opportunity to develop their palate. I remember one year when I made a traditional banquet to celebrate Chinese New Year. There was approx. 7 courses and the only dish I did not make was a soup, which I secretly purchased from Sainsbury’s – guess which one was the only dish complimented! (Still hurts ?)
Anyhow I digress – nowadays with only husband and I to cook for I select a specific cookbook and use it for a week. It is also a way of ensuring that the cookbooks are used – many of mine have laid unopened for many a year, now once I have used a book for a week I can tell if I would use it again. If so, it goes back on the shelf – if not I put it in the charity box.
Last week’s book was ‘Sirocco’ by Sabrina Ghayour. At first, I thought it was a Persian Cookbook although once I started reading the recipes I realised that many of the recipes were her interpretation of other countries dishes given a Persian twist.
We started with ‘Seared Steak, Roasted Vegetables, Whey Dressing and Pepper Sauce’, well it was Father’s Day and he does like a steak. Although the recipe called for Sirloin Steak I used Ribeye. It looked the better choice at the Butcher’s and was very tender. I cooked it for only 3 minutes each side rather than the 4-6 suggested by the recipe. I did not have any Whey so used a good quality natural yogurt. Overall a very nice dish – no leftovers.
The following day I made the ChickenBerry Rice, not sure what I did wrong but the rice just would not cook. In the end I added some boiling water and left it for 10 minutes. Although it had an enjoyable subtle taste we found it rather dry – next time I will consider an accompanying sauce, more in the style of an Indian Biryani.
Tuesday was the day for Spice Roasted Duck – this was very much in the style of the Chinese dish Peking Duck yet with different tastes. I used Duck legs rather than a whole duck, basically because it was the only fresh duck I could find. Nor could I find any Pomegranate molasses so used basic molasses and added some pomegranate juice drained from the seeds. Chinese pancakes were not available either so I used flour tortillas, this worked although was not as dainty a dish as it would have been. I had worried that the molasses sauce would be too sweet but when added to all other ingredients everything balanced nicely.
Next day was a real treat – Burgers, a rare event in our house. These were titled ‘Kofta’ Burgers and as I was not serving them in buns I added a few oven-cooked fries – an even rarer event! I am not fond of burgers, but these were enjoyable. I now wonder if it is the texture of ‘normal’ that I dislike as these were very easy to eat. I followed the instructions to work the mixture thoroughly which breaks down the protein (so it says) and results in a smoother texture.
On Thursday we ate ‘Lemon, Turmeric & Black Pepper Salmon’. Well – I didn’t have any Salmon although did have some Hake in the freezer so decided to use that. I think it worked well – and looked pretty.
The end of the week and I was planning to cook a Lamb dish but we went out to eat Tapas with our son and his girlfriend so I wasn’t In My Kitchen after all.