The Love of My Life (Sorry Jason)

Yesterday’s plans ganged agley, in a good way, and I spent lots of the day, talking, eating and laughing with various members of my friends and family. All splendid, but it left me no time to blog.

Today then, I shall tell you about the new love of my life.

The new love of my life is not really a person, but a thing. Although I also love the person who created the thing.

I am talking about Liberty London Girl’s (Sasha Wilkins) cookery book: Friends, Food, Family.

Goodness it is marvellous.

I have been testing it for several weeks now, as you will know from the snippets I have been posting in various blog posts, and if you are in my Facebook tribe, by the endless photographs of cakes and meals I have been parading as status updates.

Yes. I have turned into the person who Instagrams everything they eat and drink.

And I am also turning into one of the Roly Polys.

But my word it is a joyous process.

So now that I have cooked many things, and the pages are bespattered with various ingredients and sticky fingerprints and we have done constant testing I shall report more coherently.

If I am honest, I originally ordered the book because Sasha is my friend and I wanted to support her rather than thinking it would be a genuinely useful cookery book for the way my family eat.

I must make clear that it isn’t because I didn’t think her recipes would work or that she couldn’t cook. It was that, judging from the recipes that appeared on her blog, that I would love quite a lot of the things she featured, but I would be unlikely to be able to persuade the rest of the family to like them, because they are notoriously fussy. I imagined I would make a few splendid cakes and that would be about it.

I could not have been more wrong, although, to be fair, I have made a few splendid cakes as well.

The book is stuffed full of brilliant recipes for all kinds of food that everyone in the family has enjoyed enormously. I have constructed entire meals sourced from the recipe book. I have used the book so often I have given up putting it back on the recipe book shelf, and just left it on the kitchen work top.

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Here are the recipes I have tried:

  • The Liberty London Girl salad
  • Huevos Rancheros
  • Cucumber and sesame salad
  • Eggs with chickpea puree and flatbread
  • Baked chicken thighs with olives, lemon and oregano
  • Roast lamb with anchovies, rosemary and garlic
  • Cauliflower puree
  • Asparagus risotto with pea puree
  • Triple-layer lemon cake, with fresh blackberry jam and blackberry Swiss meringue butter cream
  • The Ambassador’s Cake
  • Brownies
  • Chocolate chunk cookies
  • Pomegranate molasses spice cookies
  • Nutty chocolate palmiers
  • Four minute guacamole
  • Giant chicken pie

Everything, without exception has been delicious, easy to make and eaten with relish by everyone I put food in front of.

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In the strict interest of fair reporting, Oscar, Tallulah and Jason didn’t like the cauliflower puree, but then they do not like cauliflower, so unless it made it taste like chocolate it was never going to win them over.

On the other hand, they all wolfed down the risotto, and Tallulah, who usually hates risotto, had seconds.

The entire family voted the huevos rancheros the best they’d ever had, and we eat it quite often in one form or another.

Yesterday I had a flock of eager visitors at my door, knives and forks akimbo, helping to polish off the remains of the chicken pie from the day before, and the Ambassador’s cake, they received such love when I posted photos. It was like being at the centre of a pilgrimage site.

It has been an absolute pleasure to cook from this book. Really and truly, honestly and promisedly.

It will remain in use in my kitchen as a book I go back to time and time again. I will be using it this weekend to make the pork, chorizo and white bean stew, and the salmon parcels and a variety of burgers are pencilled in for next week’s menu. If I get time, I shall be making the Patriotic Pavlova this weekend too. Our house guest is very fond of meringue so I will have to fit it in somewhere.

Things I love about actually using the book are:

It doesn’t pretend that you don’t have a busy life. Where you can cheat, it tells you. Where you can pre-prepare it tells you.

Some of the recipes suggest alternatives for some ingredients you might want to experiment with if you’re not keen on certain flavours, and encourage you to be creative. I do this anyway, but I like to be given permission to tweak a bit.

The notes that accompany the recipes are interesting and well researched.

This is a cookery book for proper food lovers, not because it demands that you fly to New York to source must have ingredients, but because the quantities and portion sizes are generous, and there is a great enthusiasm for cooking with butter, cream, sugar etc. It is the way I cook at home, generously and with a reckless disregard for calorific content, because the food tasting splendid is more important than having an 18 inch waist.

The methods are well written and easy to follow. I had wanted to make the sponge cake with Swiss meringue butter icing from the start, but was worried I might not be able to manage the icing. It is reasonably fiddly. I was reassured by how easy it was to follow the other recipes, and today I made my first ever Swiss meringue butter icing. It worked exactly as it should have and the instructions were clear, simple and easy to follow.

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So basically, unless you eat rocks and pond weed and have no interest in food, buy this book.

2 responses to “The Love of My Life (Sorry Jason)

  1. I may have to add that to my shopping list. The cakes look amazing!

    -Alix

    • I made the chorizo and pork stew today. Gorgeous. Am doing some therapy baking right now, the pavlova and the apple streusel cake. Do buy it. It’s great.

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