The delivery of a new cookbook is a wonderful thing. There is the sense of anticipation after you order it and wait for it to turn up. The questioning of whether it will be as good as you hope. And what will the photographs be like?
‘Small Adventures in Cooking’ was a nice surprise when it arrived. It’s concise, informative, easy to read, and full of simple, eatable dishes. It’s written by James Ramsden, a young food writer who was named by The Times as ‘one of the 40 bloggers who really count’. In a change for me, it doesn’t have a picture of every recipe (I like to have a general idea of what I’ll be making) but the book makes up for it by being peppered with useful tips on ingredients and recipes, and interesting anecdotes of life in London. If I had a criticism, it’s only that the book doesn’t stay open and the spine is a bit stiff, but nothing that a can or two of diced tomatoes won’t solve.
Here’s the first recipe I made from the book. Very quick, appetising, and a repeated success.
Spicy beef salad
1-2 sirloin steaks (depending on size)
200g chestnut or button mushrooms, sliced
½ cucumber, cut into batons
½ red onion, finely sliced
2 cups salad leaves
1 red chilli, deseeded, finely sliced
2 tblsp rice bran oil (or other neutral-tasting oil)
juice of ½ lime
½ tsp fish sauce
¼ tsp sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
pinch of sugar
1. For the dressing: Mix the dressing ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
2. For the steak: Season the steak with salt and pepper and rub with olive oil. Heat a frypan to very hot and cook the steak for 2 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate to rest.
3. For the salad: Cook the mushrooms in the frypan with a splash of olive oil. Fry until softened, then remove from the heat. Put the mushrooms in a large bowl with the cucumber, onion and salad leaves. Add the dressing and toss together.
4. To serve, slice the steak, then arrange the dressed salad on a plate and lay the steak on top.
recipe adapted from Small Adventures in Cooking (James Ramsden)
Ingredients. I added a tamarillo because I'd bought one the day before.
And a beautiful piece of meat. This is a 'New York cut' steak.
Simply toss together with the dressing
Colourful, easy and delicious