Have you followed the debate about Martha Stewart’s ugly food pictures? I read about it a few days ago, and couldn’t hold back a giggle: considering Stewart’s domestic goddess reputation, some of the photos and comments are indeed quite funny. And yet, once the amusement was over, I stopped to consider my own sins, and found I’m just as guilty: when it comes to preparing my monthly recipe roundups, I’m prey to the more-than-occasional Martha Stewart-esque faux pas too.
Sure, I could fix this. I could make all new recipes on weekend lunches, to make the most of natural light, and accept that my food may get cold before I get to the one picture that will make the cut. If I did, though, there would be no recipe roundups at all. My drive to learn more savoury recipes would give in to the need to meet the standards of the polished, professional blogs we all look up to, and I’d fall right back into the cliche of the skint, time-poor office worker, all too used to surviving on week-long stocks of processed ready meals. I know what I prefer between eating well and embarking in the endless chase for the perfect picture; if this means making do with artificial light, and a grumbling stomach that urges me to eat dinner before it’s cold, so be it.
You’ll see at least one very ugly picture in this month’s roundup, but I’m making it up to you with a new format. As well as showing you how my experiments went, I made a few notes to help you decide if they suit your buds. Let me know how you get on, and don’t forget to browse this month’s inspiration sources for more interesting recipes.
1. Lucy Loves to Cook’s Chicken, Chickpea and Lentil Salad
You’ll turn up your nose if: you think making lunch ahead requires too much effort, and would rather resort to one of said meal deals than cope with the additional washing-up.
My experience: As I work on most of my blog posts during lunch breaks, homemade packed meals help me cope with the occasional bouts of writer’s block. While I’m always eager to try new recipes, there are a few I can’t help making over and over again; this salad, combining soft pieces of chicken with the healthy kick of chickpeas and lentils, is one of them. My favourite packed lunch after salmon and cream cheese bagels, and one I don’t foresee getting tired of any time soon.
2. Juicy Juicy Green Grass’s Middle Eastern Lamb and Yoghurt Stuffed Aubergines
You’ll turn up your nose if: you feel queasy at the very thought of cooking lamb. Sautéing minced lamb releases a strong, lingering smell that may not leave your kitchen for some time. Probably not one for the faint of heart.
My experience: Funnily enough, I fit both categories. I’m picky with lamb dishes, but never hold back from trying anything inspired to the Middle East. Seeing how both me and my partner liked it better than the last stuffed aubergine recipe we tried, I’m confident that we’ll be having more of this in the future.
3. Emily’s Recipes and Reviews’s Pasanda Curry
You’ll turn up your nose if: You want to recreate the flavour of your local curry house’s classic pasanda. If this is what you’re looking for, you’ll have to put up with using cream, and perhaps try a recipe that involves more than just almond flour on the nutty side.
My experience: I was eager to try Emily’s version with king prawns, but my local supermarket’s price for half the prawns required convinced me to settle with chicken. While I tend to be too liberal with spices the first time I make a new curry, and felt that the outcome was slightly hotter than the usual, mild pasanda, I was quite pleased with this first try. The next one can only get better!
4. Martha Stewart’s Mustard-Glazed Salmon
You’ll turn up your nose if: …well, there’s no reason to turn up your nose. Suffice to say that I can feed this to my partner, one of the fiercest fish loathers I ever met. If he likes it, so will you.
My experience: You’ll have guessed it – this is the awful picture I was talking about. But don’t let aesthetics fool you: this is a salmon recipe worth trying, not least because it takes away all the hassle of cooking fish, without compromising on the taste. It takes as little as five minutes to prepare it, and less than ten to bake it, so you have no excuses: ditch your ready-made fishcakes and get cooking.
Wait, There’s More!
Recipe Roundups will take a break in December, and come back at the end of January. As my holidays in the motherland approach, I’m eagerly looking forward to my family feeding me with superb Northern Italian delicacies for two weeks – and knowing me, there will be tons of pizza and ice cream too.
Until the next roundup, you can help me keep the blog running while I’m away. If you’re a food enthusiast, and have a recipe you’d like to share in a guest post, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line to let me know your idea, and we’ll take it from there. If you’re up for it, I’ll be happy to reciprocate, and write one for you as soon as I’m back. Sounds like a plan?