My first cooking book

My very first cookbook dates back to 4 December 1998. How can I be so exact? Because it was a present from a dear friend of mine, who thought that I was too busy at times to even eat – let alone cook. So she decided to bring the joys of cooking to me, telling me that good food is the best remedy for a soul in need of comfort.

This is how Ainsley Harriott’s cookbook ‘Meals in Minutes’ ended up in my house. And a trend and love for cooking was triggered.

I think I have tried almost every recipe from this book. It was only later that I faced the cooking world, and started buying more elaborate cooking books. I used Ainsley’s book for starters, soups, for fish and poultry, meat and vegetarian cooking, and last but not least desserts.

Lately I didn’t use this book, as I moved on to the likes of Jamie, Gordon, Nigel and Rick. But it was such a good incentive to write for the cookbook challenge and re-discover an old friend and such a loyal supporter.

Some of the pages are glued together by attempts of tomato sauces; other pages keep the memory of an attempt at a peppered nugget steak.
There are the flashed smoked salmon bagels – I remember thinking this was a very glamorous snack.
The honey tarragon quick chick salad – such a delight for many.
The spinach and blue cheese quiche before I even knew the quiche world and started experimenting on my own.
The cha-cha-cha chimichangas, which I cooked just because of their name.
The French-style pork with root pureé, before French culture and food even became a part of my vocabulary and life style.
The merry berry Christmas crumble – maybe something to consider this year again?

For this ‘challenge’, I did pick my favourite though: the chilli-lemon splashed fish which ‘is fluffy, is puffy, is pulling in he crowds!’ 15min preparation, 15min cooking time, you can understand why it was such a favourite during my college years.

The recipe:
1 lemon
4x120gr (4 1/2oz) cod
3 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely diced
175g (6oz) couscous300ml (10fl) hot vegetable stock
2 tomatoes, finely diced
4 salad onions, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh coriander, chopped
¼ teaspoon chilli powder, salt and pepper

Preheat the grill to high. Cut 4 slices from the lemon and squeeze the juice from the remainder into a small bowl. Place the fish fillets on the grill pan, skin side up, and lay the lemon slices on top; brush with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 6-8min, without turning, until cooked and golden.
Meanwhile, heat 1tsp of the olive oil in a large pan and cook the garlic and pepper for 4-5min until softened. Sir in the couscous, hot stock, tomatoes, salad onions and coriander. Season to taste, cover and remove from the heat.
Mix the lemon juice with the remaining 2tsp olive oil and the chilli powder. Fork up the couscous until fluffy then spoon onto serving plates, place the fish on top and drizzle over the chilli dressing.

Oh, the memories! Enjoy 🙂

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