Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Cookbook Review: Roasting Tin Around the World

Here we are, Roasting Tin book number 4!

I promise I won't bang on about the Roasting Tin books any more (you can get alllll my fangirling here) because let's face it, I've done it enough times. You know I love these books.

I was super excited for this one though as I love trying new things and unusual recipes, and I knew there would be loads of things I'd never made before, and many I'd never even heard of.

So, what did I think?

First Impressions

My first impression of Around the World were actually similar to my initial impression of Quick - a lot of meat and fish recipes! I'd heard 2/3 of the book was veggie or vegan, but I counted 37 veggie recipes out of a book of 75 recipes, so roughly 50% (perhaps more veggie recipes are being saved for another Green book?! PLEASE?!?!!!!). So my first impression was that I was a tiny bit disappointed, but this soon dissipated.

Once I'd properly been through the book, I found 31 vegetarian dishes I wanted to make, plus plenty of recipes that would be easy to make veggie.

The layout of this book is quite different from the other books, as it's organised by continent or region - South American, Asian, European etc. which makes a lot of sense given the context of the book, but it's something to keep in mind if you're used to a classic "desserts at the back" book. On that note, not many desserts in this one if that's something you're interested in (I think I've made maybe two Roasting Tin book desserts ever so it didn't bother me at all).

As with all the other books it's, of course, absolutely beautiful. The styling and photography is lovely, the instructions are all clear and the timings are included in every recipe, as well as serving size.

Of course, with a book called Roasting Tin Around the World there are some recipes that include "unusual" ingredients (eg. probably not something you're going to be able to get in your local Aldi), but I didn't find this as much of a problem as I'd expected (so far I've only bought one ingredient online for this book, but do have a fairly well-stocked kitchen of international ingredients).

I love the variety of recipes in this book and I was super excited to get stuck in!

Here's what I made...

Slow Roasted Peppers with Chilli, Lemon and Garlic Beans

I was very fortunate to be given a sneak-peek of this book about 2 weeks before publication, and this was one of the preview recipes which really caught my eye. I already had some home cooked butter beans (from making the brothy beans from Lukas Volger's Start Simple) so I combined those with a can of cannellini beans.

This is a classic Roasting Tin recipe - the kind of formula I know and love. Minimal prep, a long slow cook and a delicious result.

We had this with salad and big chunks of homemade bread and it was absolutely delicious. The suggestion to pile it onto the bread was particularly lovely - like a big chunky bruschetta. I will definitely be making this one again, especially as a summery light supper or a dinner party starter.


Roasted Carrot, Courgette and Bulgur with Pistachio and Mint

I made this as a bit of a side dish to go alongside some giant beans and feta, and hadn't expected it to end up being the star of the meal.

I'd accidentally, coincidentally, picked up a bag of pistachios a few weeks ago mistaking them for cashews, and I'd been wondering what I was going to do with them as they're not something I usually buy. Luckily this recipe appeared!

I cannot tell you how delicious this is. I can see this being a regular in my lunchbox as the leftovers are just as good cold and it's so full of flavour! The pistachios were a bit of a pain to shell, and I accidentally got dates which had their stones left in, but this would definitely work with different fruit and nuts (cashews! almonds! dried apricots! cranberries!). I cannot wait to make this again.

Kale Mac and Cheese

Right as I went through the book and I saw the America chapter, I said to Phil "oooh I wonder if she's got a mac and cheese in here! She's never done a mac and cheese before!" and lo and behold, there was a mac and cheese recipe!

With one downfall - it had bacon on top.

I was super disappointed by this and I wondered what the bacon added to the mac and cheese which I might miss out on by not adding it.

Nevertheless, I prevailed, with two roasting tins (so Phil could have his with bacon).

Mac and cheese is one of our favourite Sunday night dinners - my favourite recipe is Nigella's sweet potato mac and cheese, and Phil's is the one from Miss South's Slow Cooked (however we do prefer to finish it off in the oven if we can).

I'm used to Nigella's recipe taking quite a lot of prep (the sweet potatos, the roux) and Miss South's containing both a can of evaporated milk and an obscene amount of cheese. This recipe, however, is simply creme fraiche and cheese mixed with mustard. No roux, no bechamel. The prep probably took 15 minutes max.

I honestly wasn't sure if it was going to be a bit bland, or creamy not cheesy, or worst of all, a curdled mess. But no, not at all. It was AMAZING!

We've even made this twice!

I asked Phil last week if there was anything in particular he fancied for dinner and he straight away said "that mac and cheese". Making a recipe twice in a few weeks is a real rarity in this house (I cooked a recipe the other day I hadn't made "for a while" and it turned out the last time I made it was over two years ago...). This time I happened to have some shredded mozzarella in the fridge from homemade pizza, so I did half mozzarella/half cheese for extra stringy factor.

As I was putting this in the oven for the second time, I said to Phil, except for Nigella's mac and cheese (which I have to admit is my ultimate favourite), I don't know if we'll ever make another mac and cheese again.

And I can't be more positive than that!

All-in-one Brazilian black beans and rice with avocado and radish salsa


I was really excited for this one because it involved a lot of things I love!

I'd ran out of canned black beans, but had some dried ones so I used my Instant Pot to cook them first, however it meant I kind of had to guess the quantities - it was hard to get a good idea online what weight of dried beans would equal the equivalent of a can of cooked beans.

I couldn't get shallots so I subbed white onion, and my coriander had gone all slimy and gross so I had to skip most of that so I did extra radishes instead. 

With the additional steps involved in soaking and cooking the beans, I found myself a bit knackered by the time this went in the oven! There was quite a bit of prep with the beans, greens, onions and rice, plus loads of chopping to make the salsa, but in true roasting tin style once everything is in the oven you get a nice 30 minute rest.

I don't think the lack of coriander helped, but the salsa didn't feel much like a salsa, and I didn't understand why it required so much oil along with the already-oily avocadoes.

I'm always a bit stressed about cooking rice in the oven, even though Rukmini has never once let me down, so I think I added a bit too much stock to compensate and subsequently ruined this dish. Extra stock, plus a lack or coriander, plus two not-very-juicy limes meant my version of this recipe was probably quite far removed from the original, so I blame myself that this came out pretty bland! It perked up with some extra lemon juice and salt, but I was really disappointed.

I'd been really excited for this one and I'm torn between wanting to make it again and doing it properly and calling it a loss.

Indonesian style aubergines and potatoes with garlic and chilli


I was really excited about this as I saw it as an opportunity to get Phil to eat aubergine seeing as it was mostly potatoes anyway (or at least this was what I told him). I was a bit nervous about the heat of the paste but went for two chillies - I needn't have worried, it was perfect. 

I really loved this and found it super filling with rice, but unsurprisingly, thanks to the aubergine, it wasn't Phil's favourite so I probably won't make this again.

Indonesian coconut rice, crispy chilli tofu and peanut sambal


I was super, super excited for this. Coconut rice, crispy tofu AND a peanut sauce? This sounded right up my street!

I halved this for a Saturday night - which I later regretted as it was so delicious!

I pressed my tofu for a few hours before in my tofu press (side note - if you eat tofu basically ever, I cannot recommend a tofu press more. I don't cook tofu without pressing it first and it makes such a difference, and a press is so much easier than stacking up loads of books and tins on top. Plus it's way easier to press overnight as you can just pop the press in the fridge), but I struggled to mix everything together while still trying to keep the tofu on top.

The first thing Phil said when he tasted this was "wow." It was so good! The tofu was soft but crisp (I might coat it in cornflour next time for maximum crispness), the peanut sauce was amazing and the coconut rice was really tasty. It's also really filling with the tofu and the peanut sauce.

This is definitely one of the best things I've made from Roasting Tin Around the World. I'm definitely making it again! The only changes I'd make is I probably wouldn't bother with the lemongrass in the rice as, while it was lovely, it's not something I tend to use very often.

Korean-style aubergines with spring onions and sesame rice

I promise I didn't force aubergines on my long-suffering husband again - I made this for myself when we decided to have separate #tinlads dinners (see below). 

I managed to get the requisite Korean chilli flakes from ebay and they took about a week to arrive. However, I learned while making this recipe that it's really hard to weigh chilli flakes, especially when you're halving a recipe and only need 7 grams. As a result this was very spicy! 

My aubergines didn't seem quite cooked enough after half an hour so I gave them another 10 minutes uncovered once the rice was done.

This was really delicious but really spicy! I'm generally pretty okay with heat but it's probably for the best I didn't serve this to Phil - I did have to have a glass of milk after!

I probably wouldn't make this again but I definitely want to make more Korean recipes now I have the flakes to hand!

Roast potatoes, chorizo, onion and sour cream

No, I haven't suddenly abandoned 19 years of vegetarianism - Phil made this while I had my aforementioned aubergines. We joked this was the kind of recipe Phil would make up himself - he's on a real chorizo kick right now and who doesn't love potatoes?

He struggled to get this to fit all on one layer of the tin and we found the onions we catching after about 20 minutes and needed a bit of a stir while everything else carried on cooking.

Phil's review is that this was "very easy" "nice" "less faffy than other recipes and [he] would make it again if [he] had 50 minutes". However he did say the only real flavour is from the chorizo so it would have been nice with some extra spices (we also didn't have any fresh coriander, which the recipe suggests adding).

For reference, he did a full portion to serve 4 and ate half, so keep that in mind if you like bigger portions!

Roasted spiced mushrooms and paneer with squash, pomegranate and mango

Paneer is one of my favourite foods so I was super excited for this!

I hate cutting up fruit, so I used a pack of cubed mango and a pack of pomegranate seeds for the salsa, plus a whole pack of coriander.

We both really loved this, and had it over two nights - with naan the first night and with the pilau (below) the next night. 

I have to make a special trip to Sainsburys to get paneer and I definitely have other paneer recipes I'd make before this one, but it was really tasty. Phil wasn't super bothered about the mango and pomegranate salsa though so I wouldn't bother with that again but I know it would be lovely without it.

All-in-one pilau rice with mushrooms and saffron

I saw Mini make this on her Instagram and it just looked so easy I had to try it.

Super easy, delicious and straightforward - even though I did burn the nuts a bit!

I'd definitely make this again as a side dish.

Spiced paneer with potatoes, peas and tomato

This is a proper classic "chuck everything in the tin" job which I love. 

This is super delicious as a dry, tasty curry which we had with my favourite Meera Sodha green beans.

I was way less excited about this paneer dish compared to the other one but this was by far my favourite of the two.

Rocky Road with peanuts, marshmallows and chocolate

This just says "serves many many many people" but obviously we can't share right now so much to Phil's dismay, we decided to halve this. It's super easy - melt chocolate and butter, stir in marshmallows, biscuits and peanuts and save some to sprinkle on top. Bake for 15 minutes, rest, cut up, chill. 

I was on the phone for most of making this so Phil took over. I thought the tin he'd chosen was a bit wide at first and thought the bars would be too thin but actually it was perfect. It did take a while to cool enough to cut (it was still quite soft when we cut into it) and we left it in the fridge for quite a few hours before cutting it up properly.

We got about 20 decent sized pieces so I've chucked some in the freezer for future treats which will be a lovely surprise!

Phil said the dark chocolate was a bit much for him, even with the sweetness of the marshmallows and digestives (he's not a big dark chocolate fan, whereas I love it), so next time we might try a less-dark dark chocolate (Mini recommends at least 70%) or a mix of dark and milk chocolate.

The texture however was perfect, and even as a person who hates marshmallows I really loved them in this! S'mores are the only way I've ever enjoyed marshmallows and she's spot on with the s'mores-like taste to these. Definitely making again!

Roasted squash, crispy lentils, pomegranate and dukkah


I love that in the intro to this recipe Rukmini says "if you're used to making Ottolenghi dishes you probably already have some pomegranate molasses in the cupboard". It's like she was talking right to me! I love all the ingredients in this and was really excited to try it!

The result? Genuinely one of my favourite ever Roasting Tin dishes. The flavours here are just magnificent - pomegranate! Dukkah! Mint! Yoghurt!. There's just so much going on here and it's all delicious. If I was served this in a restaurant I'd be thrilled.

It's not clear if this is a stand-alone dish or if it needs any sides. I made it for myself for dinner one night and for leftovers for a few days. For dinner I had it alongside a pitta, and found it's plenty enough for lunch alone, though it can be made more substantial with some cous cous alongside.

I've got another portion left for lunch tomorrow, but if I'm not sick of it by then I'm making it again next week!

Final thoughts

The Roasting Tin Around the World is, unsurprisingly, another absolute banger from Rukmini Iyer. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to expand their repertoire and try some new cuisines. However, saying this, I found the book very accessible, and of course, everything in thrown in a tin so there are no complicated cooking techniques, so it would definitely be, like all the Roasting Tin books, a brilliant book for beginner cooks.

I absolutely love the variety of recipes in this book which I think the recipes I cooked really demonstrates - from Indonesian and Korean dishes which I am not as familiar with, to my old favourite Indian and Middle Eastern recipes, to classic mac and cheese, there is just such a range and variety in this book which makes it completely different from many of my other recipe books with centre on a particular cuisine or feature a lot of recipes I've seen many times before.

This is such a perfect addition to the Roasting Tin series. I cannot wait to see what Rukmini does next!

Charlotte x

No comments:

Post a comment