Yesterday was also my day for trying out a new recipe - I did one from the Jamie Oliver book my brother gave me for xmas. The meal I picked was Cauliflower Macaroni, Chicory Salad with Insane Dressing & Lovely Stewed Fruit. Which as a collection of names 2 out of the 3 made me grit my teeth and the other one is lacking a word IMO ;) However - it only needed a food processor (which I got earlier in the week) and not a grill (new oven is probably the next big purchase but it ain't happened yet). It also required minimal changes to make it edible to us, I just skipped the capers in the salad as neither of us are fans, but everything else looked fine. And indeed, it all turned out nice and tasty! :) Notes for next time are: halve the garlic in the Cauliflower Macaroni; make sure the plums are riper for the stewed fruit; instead of plain chicory leaves for the salad, chop and put in some tomatoes and maybe some cucumber. Also, when it says serves 6, it means it - I dropped the amounts for the salad & the dessert, but harder to do for the Cauliflower Macaroni. This time we had dinner last night, lunch today (which re-heated nicely) and I've frozen a fifth portion for a lunch for me next week but ran out of tubs so binned the rest.
The "point" or theme of this cookery book is meals you can put together in 30 minutes, and that did work out pretty close - it took me 40 minutes including getting in a fight with the jar of anchovies (first the lid wouldn't come off, then the anchovies wouldn't come out, then there was oil everywhere :/ ). Not bad for a first go, I thought. Had I been presented with the recipes separately I might've dove-tailed them a bit differently (I think I'd've made the salad first, dressing & all, then had more breathing room for the other two), it would've come out a bit longer (40-45 mins with practice, rather than 30, I'd guess) but I'm no longer a hassled commuter so I can afford to relax a bit over the cooking ;) I'll admit that I had initially been dubious about the book - two previous recipes of his that I've tried have been faffy but ultimately unsatisfying, and the tone of the introduction set my teeth on edge. But I do take that back now - this was a tasty dinner (and lunch) and not actually that much faff. The tone thing? Well, he can say all he likes in the intro about how he knows best so don't alter the recipes or do some bits without the other bits, but I'll keep on doing it ;) I do actually prefer to follow recipes, but even so I'll sub stuff or skip it when I know we won't like it even when I haven't tried the recipe yet (i.e. capers in this one), and definitely post-first trial I'll fiddle with it to make it more to our tastes (see the notes for next time above). I'll also yank out bits to use in other meals - that salad dressing is great (and easy enough to make if you don't fight with the anchovies), the stewed plums are a dessert I'll eat (which is unusual, and makes some of these meal plans awkward).
And a question for cookery people - given I have no grill (and won't till we sort out buying an oven), what's the downside of baking vs. grilling? I.e. there's a recipe called "tray-baked chicken", in which browned chicken breast gets stuck in a roasting tin with some tomatoes & bacon then put under the grill (on high) till cooked through. Would that work just as well if I just put it in the oven at ~200°C till cooked? I presume it won't be the same but I can't see why it wouldn't work out fine? (Also, why call it "tray-baked" if you're gonna grill it for heavens sakes??)