Monday, 28 December 2009

Favourites from The Challenge

With one more recipe to go (the Orange Sorbet from April, being made today and consumed on New Year's Eve), I thought I'd round up my favourites. There have been many. On reflecting on which have been my favourites, I realise that many of them have been consumed in the company of good friends, which might account for them staying in the memory:

the delicious roast pork with Madiera that we had with our lovely friends Jonathan and Jess - the blueberry and peach cobbler and the lime tart, and the brownies, were eaten with them too, and were delicious (not all on the same day, I might add!).

Or the roast goose and red cabbage, and the truly splendid pot-roast pheasant with celery and vermouth with our dear friends Gi and Winston and their adorable boys Elijah, Alexander and Nathaniel, who make cooking and eating together such a pleasure.

And not forgetting the great nights with my wild and wacky veggie pal Anu, where we enjoyed the aubergine curry and also the startling tomato curry.

But cooking with and for my lovely hubby, Tom, is a constant - a more appreciative audience I could never hope for. Some of the dishes we have enjoyed and greedily consumed: the hot mussel soup, the clams with sherry, the whole broad beans with dill (marvellous!), discovering that I actually liked partridge, hunting for red mullet, the magnificent whole steamed sea bass, bream with anchovy potatoes, any and all of Nigel's meatballs and patties - he is a master at them, particularly if they have Asian flavours. In fact, Nigel's Asian food is very, very good, and I will certainly be looking for those in his new book 'Tender' which I got for Christmas and is in the Challenge for 2010 (see future postings!)

Another thing that Nigel helped me with this year is baking. My oven broke in early January, and getting a new one made me realise that it wasn't me who was a useless baker all this time, but my old oven! Whilst great for roasts etc, it was way too hot for reliable baking. The new one has changed all that and, armed with Nigel's recipes, I have made some memorable cakes to share with friends and colleagues: the double ginger cake is a star recipe, and one I have repeated. The Marmalade cake too, as well as the pistachio cake, the flourless chocolate cake, and the pear cake, and apple cake, both made with a pound cake recipe with fruit piled on the top, were great. I also particularly enjoyed Nigel's apple shortcake, with the crumbliest pastry imaginable.

My personal favourite of all? It has to be the chicken and pancetta patties - minced chicken and pancetta, rosemary and garlic, formed into patties and fried, then braised in chicken stock. Heavenly - comfort food of the first order and to be consumed with the obligatory pile of creamy mash with something like spring greens or kale - dark, bitter greens to off-set the richness of the meat and spuds.

Post-script: I had forgotten about Nigel's slow roast pork belly, done almost in the style of Italian Porchetta. We did it again tonight (January 3 2010) at it was magnificent, served with braised red cabbage, pureed parsnip and braised carrots. Total yum, and another candidate for my favourite recipe?

Nigel, thanks for a brilliant year. You are a marvellous, intuitive cook, and Kitchen Diaries is a masterpiece, although 'Tender' looks to be even better! You are Jane Grigson and Elizabeth David rolled into one, and certainly the cookery writer of our times. It has been such fun, and you have made me a better cook, and forced me out of a comfortable rut of everyday cooking into a world of exciting new tastes, textures and techniques.

And thanks to all my followers, on the blog, with the Open University and also on Facebook. If you are AT ALL interested, I am carrying on the Challenge into 2010, but this time with 12 books, and a recipe from each book per month, making a total of 144 recipes. Quite a bit fewer than the 193 with Nigel, but enough all the same! I shall publish the list of books before the end of 2009, so watch out for them! Happy Cooking!

1 comment:

  1. I for one am VERY delighted you are continuing the challenge. Whilst I'm very interested in the cooking, I also enjoy your descriptions.

    I'm interested to see the twelve books you choose. Happy 12*12 in 20*10 :)