The end date of this challenge is 28th July (when we hit 69 days of cooking) and that’s in just over two weeks from writing this post. We’ve cooked 58 recipes and have just 11 recipes to complete the challenge. I think it’s fair to say we are going to nail it. The only downside is we are down to the dregs of my cookery books. Amongst the remaining uninspiring books we have a few dated Rick Stein books, a self healing cookbook and a very traditional James Martin book. Sorry guys – I’m just not feeling you. Combined with the fact that I’m now on a ‘sort of’ bikini diet for my holiday in a month, I’m getting frustrated with the pies and buttery sauces offered in these final books. However, we will persist. And the whole point of cooking 69 recipes in 69 days was that it was meant to challenge me. And in honesty whilst I might pig out on cakes regularly, I’m always a little scared of pies and heavy savoury meals as I want to save my calories for puddings. So perhaps it’s good for me to be forced to go indulgent on the dinner front.
So let me talk you through the high and lows of the latest stage in our food adventure. I’ve had a lot of exceptional eating experiences these past few weeks. In fact I’ll give you a top five:
- Walnut and Feta Salad (which in truth was a dip), Nigella: Forever Summer. A sunday lunchtime last minute ‘let’s just get a bloody easy recipe ticked off’ number. Blitz 75g of mixed fresh herbs with walnuts and feta and voila – you have a sensational herby dip to serve with crudites. We were smug I must say.
- Beer Bread, Jamie Oliver: Naked Chef. Basically a normal bread recipe with tepid beer thrown in instead of water. It took us about two hours to cook (it was meant to take 40 minutes) as it remained doughy in the middle for so long. I was convinced we’d messed it up. But eventually it cooked through. And it was a loaf of malty deliciousness that I just couldn’t stop eating. Terrible for the bikini diet.
- Parsnip Rosti with Chargrilled Leeks and Ricotta, Anna Jones: A Modern Way to Cook. This was a delight – pretty straightforward too – grated parsnip and sweet potato mixed with egg and fried up like an omlette then shoved in the oven to complete and finally chargrilled leeks, wilted spinach and lumps of ricotta thrown on top. Very light and yummy and GREAT for my holiday tummy!
- Mushroom Ragu, Nigella: How To Eat. This tasted like moules mariniere with mushrooms instead of mussels, slow cooked with marsala and red wine. I’ve just eaten some of the defrosted leftovers for lunch today and oh my the flavour packs a punch – rich, spicy and sweet.
- Sichuan Crispy Chilli Pork on Lettuce, Ching-He Huang: Chinese Made Easy. These were like lettuce burritos – a DIY meal where you lay out leaves of little gem lettuce, piles of beansprouts, grated cucumber and carrot, rice noodles and fried up pork with chilli – and then make your own lettuce wrap. It was good, so good! Spicy, crunchy, colourful, fresh and fun. And the cherry on top – low calorie too!
Have a scroll through the collage below and see the latest 21 recipes we’ve cooked. I’m chuffed that the challenge is encouraging us to keep trying recipes we wouldn’t normally consider – pumpkins scones were fun (I had to order the puree online), and we’ve been experimenting with various granolas (we are now granola pros). And I’ve discovered lots of tasty low sugar cakes – Nigella’s orange muffins and her blueberry muffins and the British Bake Off apple scone round. It’s been pleasing to discover I can have my cake and eat it and still strive to flatten my belly.
We have had our first cooking disaster story of the recipes – bubble and squeak – oh it was just tasteless mush. I’m not convinced that the recipe was that well written because it couldn’t possibly be us could it?!
I’ll be back soon to tell you about the final 11. I won’t lie, I’m quite looking forward to this being over! But as I’m a sucker for punishment please do comment and let me know if you can suggest a new cooking challenge for me.