Cooking the books

I had a good long moan to the Resident IT Consultant a few days ago. Good thing I did it then, or it would have seemed as if I’d read Phil Daoust in the Guardian and didn’t have an original thought in my head. Zeitgeist, maybe.

In Phil’s article Recipes, schmecipes he basically says that writers of cookbooks might not be as open or honest as we’d like them to be. And anyway, you can always adapt a recipe without world-shattering consequences. After that, I had a look at Yotam Ottolenghi’s summer recipes and immediately found things that illustrated my and Phil’s thoughts, so had another lovely little moan.

But never mind that.

I spent a few days cooking in Switzerland last weekend. Quality time with Daughter and all that. It was nice.

She had a new Indian cookery book (I forget by whom or what the title was) and had post-its all over to mark what she might consider eating, as long as recipes were adapted to have ‘no bits.’ And you can do this when cooking for yourself. Daughter felt it was high time she cooked something proper, rather than merely throwing the odd thing in with pasta or couscous every time.

I chose a cauliflower dish, which was lovely. But even without the excessive chopping to pulverise chillies and onions, that was no midweek easy dinner as it said. It was not much faster the second time round when I went home and coooked it again. And that cauliflower was massively al dente after the suggested cooking time.

The second night we went for Bombay eggs and homemade nan bread. We had to adapt like mad, seeing as we had not shopped for it and it was Sunday in Switzerland (no shops), but it still worked just fine. That photo in the cookbook was never of the –  recipe quantity – egg dish, or the author had access to the most enormous coriander leaves I’ve ever seen. Ignoring the way the author’s baking specialist ‘aunty’ makes her nan bread still got us [faster] to the best nan I’ve ever eaten. Why make it harder for yourself? (Yes, Ottolenghi, why?)

Bombay eggs

So, why lie? Why this need to improve on reality, when results can be got anyway?

I’ll calm down now. The food tasted divine. And some serious quality time was had by both Daughter and Witch. Even with chopped frozen spinach sourced at the local railway station’s tiny Sunday shop.

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