Last week for 'Cooking The Books', I went for Gizzi Erksine's sophisticated new take on Shepherd's Pie. This week, I decided to go for something a little more family-friendly. I'm not known for my cooking skills and spend as little time as possible in the kitchen, so I wanted a recipe that would impress the family without too much effort.
My favourite part of the day is when everyone is around the table in the evenings, but it's my husband who does most of the cooking.
Sophie Thompson's My Family Kitchen seemed perfect. Sophie is not a trained chef, she's an actor (sister of Emma) and also a foodie. She won Celebrity Masterchef last year. The book is a collection of tried-and-tested family recipes, handed down through the years. There are lots of warm family photos and little anecdotes about the recipes that really make it a book for the coffee table rather than just a bunch of recipes.
I decide to go for fish curry with sliced potatoes. I almost never cook fish and have never made a curry from scratch before. The children used to be quite picky eaters, but now that they're all big gangly teens, they eat everything within range. However, they can be very tough critics and do not hold back on the scorn or ridicule. They like curry but I don't think they have ever tried fish curry, so it should be interesting. My husband is more easily pleased. He's just delighted that I'm cooking something new and actually following a recipe.
Getting the ingredients is always the first challenge. We have a very good local fish shop here in Skerries so that part is easy. Also, they skin and bone it for me which is a big help. However, fish is not cheap: it costs €23.78 for the prawns, haddock and salmon.
Everything else I buy in the supermarket, except for the garam masala, which I have never heard of. It takes three supermarkets to find. The black onion seeds are also a problem and I finally have to give up on them.
In total, the ingredients cost €40.34. This seems a lot but is probably because I have so few of the spices at home. The cooking itself is actually a joy and entirely stress-free. The instructions are clear and easy to follow.
My daughter (13) is there to help: this involves wandering around the room giving me a continuous monologue about her day at school, only broken up by a couple of songs she sings me with her ukulele. I also take two phone calls and there are still no disasters.
All of the spices smell delicious and I love the colours. The book said it serves four people, but it actually ends up serving eight. All four teens and two extras turn up at dinner time. In our house, you never really know how many are eating, so a dish like this is perfect. There is plenty to go around and I had made extra potatoes just in case.
All the plates are clean, some have seconds and there is still a little bit left in the pot.
This is a dish I will definitely cook again. It gets the Diebold family seal of approval and I'll also be trying other dishes from this recipe book.