From page to plate….

With so many recipe books around these days, it can be incredibly hard to choose which one to try out! I’m sure we have all been lured in by the luscious, perfect pictures and claims that you too can easily make this  look (and taste) so beautiful at home…but, can we? The beauty of a library book is you can try the recipes before you buy and part with hard earned cash! So, we have decided to take one of our most inept at cooking library staff (who can burn a boiled egg) and challenge them to try out a different cookery challenge each month, using recipes from books in the library.

We’d really love it if you wanted to share your experiences and pictures too!

May Challenge: Create a dish using chicken as main ingredient (a nice easy one to start with!)

Exploring ChinaBook used: Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure: 100 recipes from our journey by Ching-He Huang and Ken Hom.

Based on the BBC TV series, this follows Ching-He Huang and Ken Hom on a journey through China on a culinary and cultural odyssey to find the old, the new and the unexpected. Brim full of lovely pictures (although not for every dish), this book is packed with absolutely delicious looking recipes. They cook with local families, en route to discover such things as the influence of Buddhism on vegetarian food and whether the Chinese did actually invent tortellini in remote Kashgar before travelling to Sichuan Province, China’s gastronomic capital…and much much more!

Recipe followed: Steamed wined chicken with shitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots and goji berries with a side of chilli-fermented tofu stir fried spinach and jasmine rice.

Although this looked impressive, it was very simple and straightforward to make and high on taste. The chicken was deliciously nutty and gingery and the spinach very garlicky. The goji berries gave it all a subtle hint of sweetness!
Also, the steaming was so easy…just bung everything in the steamer and leave it to cook. I did buy a bamboo steamer for this, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be necessary.

Hands up, I couldn’t find chilli-fermented tofu so I just used plain tofu and it tasted fine.

The most difficult part was trying to get everything fitted on the stove at the same time. Also I didn’t have a plate that fitted into my steamer so improvised with some tinfoil and it worked out well.

steamed chickensteamed chicken with goji berriesVerdict: I often don’t feel like cooking after a full day at work but this took very little effort, was healthy and bursting with flavour! It was surprisingly filling too and took just over half an hour in total! Win! This seems like a good introduction to authentic Chinese food and one that won’t lead to massive expenditure on new cookware. Want to try out some of these recipes for yourself? Check our online catalogue for availability.

June challenge: Cooking with pasta.

Why not join us in the challenge? Please do share your experiences and pictures with us of recipes you have tried from a library cookery book! We’d love to hear from you!

Leave a comment here, share to our Facebook or tweet us @SwindonLibrary with #pagetoplate