|Grilled Lemon Halloumi|
A book review. Flash Food – Laura Santtini
There's a sort of terrible tyranny to the daily chore of making meals for a family. Breakfast, dinner, tea over and over again, day in, day out. Even for those of us who love to cook, it's inevitable that now and again you fall into a rut of using the same ingredients and recreating the same dishes. That's why I held my hand up as a volunteer to 'taste drive' Laura Santtini’s new book 'Flash Cooking' from Quadrille Publishing. I was looking for a bit of inspiration - and I found lots of it here.
This would not be my usual type of book - I like laboring over a stove, things cooking away for hours in the slow oven of the Aga, and the soft bubble of a stock on the back burner. But even I took loads of inspiration from this award-winning writer and I have a list of recipes that I still want to try All of the flavours are categorised geographically and there's lots of room and indeed encouragement to mix things up a little.
The photography in the book is lovely. I was immediately taken with a 'Cauliflower Steak with Harrisa and Feta' which is stand out photograph in the book and it tasted as fantastic as it looked. My fellow IFBA blogger Yvonne, at HeyPesto! did this recipe full justice over at her blog you can read about it there. I will be digging out that recipe when the next vegetarian comes to call and probably way before that as my own 'vegetarian at heart' husband has fallen in love with it. I tried 3 other dishes - a nice variation on your usual chicken wrapped in bacon was the 'Chicken Pockets with Red Pesto and Ricotta'.
|Five-Spice Minced Pork with Tenderstem Broccoli|
Two great recipes from the book really stood out for me, 'Five-Spice Minced Pork with Tenderstem Broccoli' and another vegetarian recipe, 'Grilled Lemon Halloumi'.
Grilled Lemon Halloumi
2 unwaxed lemons, very thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
pinch of salt flakes
1 tsp pink peppercorns
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp runny honey
1 tbsp small sprigs of fresh dill
250g block of halloumi cheese cut into slices about 1.5cm thick
Preheat the grill to it's hottest. Slice one lemon thinly. Using a pestle and mortar pound the garlic, pinch of salt and the peppercorns - add olive oil, honey and lemon juice from the other lemon. Rub the cheese and lemon slices with the mixture. Place it under the grill and let it color and caramelize (I put mine in the top of the Aga hot oven) Remove and turn over to grill the other side. Serve sprinkled with the dill, remaining dressing and pan juices drizzled over.
This is a lifestyle book with great recipes - much more than a cookbook. It's a 'diet' book that is more about health than weight and manages to stay away from all that neurotic nonsense that many of that genre contains. There is not so much of a whisper of using the sort of ingredients that drive me into a rage - the low fat or sugar free substitutes for 'proper' food, and that has to be applauded.
This book ticks a lot of different boxes. As the name implies, there is nothing that is going to take ages to make, and no special skills are needed. Most recipes, except the entertaining section, feed two people, the majority of the herbs and spices are easily available and have tremendously long self lives. It is really a book of ideas and maybe a jumping off point for a more adventurous style of cooking, and a healthy way to eat as well.
Overall, with a couple of minor quibbles, I really loved this book, it is fully deserving a place on my crowded cookbook shelves. Of course, needless to mention, if you're looking for something nice and decadent for dessert, don't look here!
*Thank you to Mark McGinlay, Quadrille Publishing.