Cooking the Books (archive)

This week I’ve been cooking from my brand new Jamie Oliver Everyday Superfood cookbook, tagline – recipes for a healthier happier you, now there’s a promise.

I must admit I’ve ummed and aahed about buying this for a few months. I’m a bit over the whole superfood bandwagon for starters and when you throw 2 under 5s into the superfood mix (or any mix for that matter) it all feels a bit like it’s going to turn into one of those days when nobody eats anything.

In a fit of optimism however, I decided to give it a go so this week I’ve been cooking as much as is feasible from it – some days only fish fingers will do – and these are my thoughts.

We started the week with the Asian crispy beef recipe – or to give it its full, really annoying title – “Asian crispy beef, brown rice noodles and loadsa salad” (cringes).

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This was such an easy one to make, different from other stir fry type recipes we’ve tried a million times and really bloody tasty, the meat was delicious and I’m not even that much of a mince fan. I’ll happily admit we used egg noodles instead of brown rice noodles (one step at a time) but we did serve it with loadsa salad just minus the liberally sprinkled chillis on the picture because I value my eardrums.

I loved it, the husband loved it. The kids tolerated it but in new recipe for toddler land toleration is like a massive win. This one is going into my regular repertoire which makes for a good start for Jamie. Well done Jamie.

Next up I made the “Sweet potato muffins, chilli, cheese and seeds” – more for something for me to take to work than for the kids really. I actually subbed sweet potato for butternut squash (which is suggested) as we had some to use up and I had to skip the seeds as we didn’t have some but again, they were extremely simple (I actually in a fit of madness made them on a school morning and was not only on time but had one at my desk at work by 9.30am).

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Verdict was good, but not amazing. I think they needed considerably more salt than I used as I’m a bit out of the salting habit after nearly 5 years of kid feeding. I’d make them again but not at 8am and not with 2 really unhelpful people helping me.

On Saturday morning I made the “Skinny homemade houmous” for a little lunch addition. I used a jar of really good quality chickpeas as suggested (Ostargi from Ocado) and the rest of the recipe involves tahini, lemon, garlic and natural yoghurt. Again, extremely easy but I wasn’t altogether sold. It didn’t actually taste too bad but there was a funny smell to it I can’t quite describe which was a bit off-putting. I’m going to use the remaining expensive chickpeas on a more tried and tested recipe.

Finally, Sunday evening (this evening) and I went for the “Sizzling moroccan prawns” which are meant to be served with “fluffy couscous and rainbow salsa” but which I actually served with rice, stir fried sprouts, green beans and roasted veg. The prawns were fab, to be fair they were juicy, fat king prawns from our (very good) local fishmonger so it would have been hard to go wrong, but once again they were very tasty and very simple and got me thinking about different ways of cooking prawns, a staple in our house.

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In terms of other recipes in the book I can happily say that there are quite a lot I really want to try with and without the kids. The “tasty fish tacos” do actually look tasty although I’m afraid I’m going to have to skip the “game-changing kiwi, lime and mango salsa” as I’m allergic to kiwi. I love the look of some of the portable jam jar salads if I ever have my act well enough together to assemble them in time for work and the Bombay chicken looks really great. One of these days I’m going to be brave enough to try the kids on the “mega veggie burgers” even though it’s 99% guaranteed to be a tantrum starter and there’s a chicken and squash cacciatore which I’d like to try to see if it’s better than my current cacciatore recipe (which they will eat).

Equally there are many that are just not going to happen – there are about 70 pages on breakfast and that’s all well and good but sometimes cereal feels like quite a lot of work so I suspect these will not be my most used pages (although the muffins and a nice looking rye bread fit here).

My idea of a good cookbook is one where you take one or two recipes really good forward and use them again and again. So far this one passes the test, simple and tasty ideas that push the boundaries a little but not too far.

E