Sam Stern’s Virgin to Veteran – week 1

I’ve jumped ship to a far more fun (and nowhere near as mumsy) cookbook this week, Sam Stern’s Virgin to Veteran, a big ‘proper’ cookbook with gorgeous photos, nicely designed, a nice feel to the paper (very important in cookbooks <- shallow cook) and lots of recipes I want to cook. Being ‘virgin to veteran’, this book is sort of aimed at beginners, so for example if you’re using potato in your recipe, the instructions also tell you how to peel it as well as what sized chunks you need but the recipes certainly aren’t bland beginners fare.

16th July


Billed as a bit of a lighter caesar salad, this included yoghurt in the dressing and you could taste it, it made the salad too claggy and the yoghurt taste was off putting, not a great start. However . . .


I also made Stern’s choc chip cookies (as Girl Lacer was going to one of those birthday parties where you have to bring a dish) and they were much better. Taking the honor of the first thing I’ve made in my new food mixer (at the risk of sounding like a right banker, I’ve had a bonus recently and I’d spent a good month or two leading up to it trying to work out how much the bonus would be and what I would spend it on, I couldn’t decide between a Kitchen Aid food mixer, a new sewing machine or a new iPad, I knew I would only be able to get one of the things on the list, well the new sewing machine won out but I discovered that if I stopped drooling over pretty Kitchen Aids, I could find one with the ‘spare change’ from the sewing machine and I ended up choosing a compact Kenwood model, which I’m really happy with and to be honest it suits my tiny kitchen far better than a larger Kitchen Aid would (and I’m already impressed with the Kenwood brand as I have one of their handheld mixers to, the first handheld I’ve ever owned that’s actually pretty solid and reliable)). I’ve never owned a food mixer before (although I’ve wanted one for years) so I was like a giddy school girl as I added the ingredients in for the cookies and yep, it was a lot quicker, which was handy as per usual, I was leaving it till the last minute and only had an hour to spare before going out to pick up the kids. The biscuits were really nice and according to Girl Lacer, went down very well at the party.

17th July


A simple rocket salad with a balsamic vinegar dressing, pretty straight forward as you can imagine and to be honest not really something you need a book for but as this book is aimed at beginners . . .

18th July


Oh my goodness this was gorgeous, a carrot soup with ginger and coriander, it had just the right thickness (I like my soups almost baby food thick) and a lovely warming, mildly spicy taste, filling to, will so be making this again.

19th July

(No photo, tomato pasta sauce is well, tomato pasta sauce). I made this for the kids as they wanted pasta and I had none of my usual sauces (I usually use passata when making them pasta sauce). This one was an incredibly standard recipe of a tin of toms simmered and broken down with some garlic for about 10 minutes, i.e. the sort of recipe I can (and do) make without a book all the time (although if I’m making it up as I go along I usually add onions). However the kids liked it, which must mean they’re getting out of their dislike of lumpy bits of tomato phase (hence the passata).

20th July


Courgette and feta fritters, made for me and the kids, I loved them, the kids hated them (which is a shame as it’s not really one of those recipes you make just one portion of or the sort of recipe you can divide and freeze). They had mint in and they were just sooo tasty! I served them wrapped in wraps and with (sorry Sam) shop bought tzatziki (Sam is a big fan of making everything from scratch, so for example with the fritters recipe , you don’t get just that, you also get instructions for making hummus, marinated olives, aubergine dip, tzatziki and coriander flatbreads, which all sounds extremely lovely, except for the olives – bleurgh, but sometimes life is just too short, specially when you’re making the kids tea).

Soooo, first impressions, it’s a brilliant book, the majority of the recipes I’ve tried so far are (important criteria coming up here) dance around the kitchen good. It is though, remember a beginners cookbook, so fantastic if you are a beginner but it’s equally good for more experienced cooks, providing you don’t mind reading through some of the very comprehensive instructions about what to do with a potato and skimming past a few very basic, no recipe needed really, recipes.



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