Our latest trip with Cook the Books Club is a Midnight Chicken journey, a memoir by Ella Risbridger. With occasionally a little input from "the Tall Man" in her life. This round is hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats. The book contains a fabulous selection of delectable recipes, alongside entertaining life notes which are worth reading as well.
From a few reviewers and the Publishers:A book of recipes and reflections that reveal the life-changing happiness of cooking.
"Bridget Jones' self-effacing wittiness, Julia Child's companionable forgiveness and Sylvia Plath's poetic prose." --NPR
"A manual for living and a declaration of hope." --Nigella Lawson
There are lots of ways to start a story, but this one begins with a chicken.
There was a time when, for Ella Risbridger, the world had become overwhelming. Sounds were too loud, colors were too bright, everyone moved too fast. One night she found herself lying on her kitchen floor, wondering if she would ever get up--and it was the thought of a chicken, of roasting it, and of eating it, that got her to her feet and made her want to be alive.
Midnight Chicken is a cookbook. Or, at least, you’ll flick through these pages and find recipes so inviting that you will head straight for the kitchen: roast garlic and tomato soup, uplifting chili-lemon spaghetti, charred leek lasagna, squash skillet pie, spicy fish finger sandwiches and burnt-butter brownies. It’s the kind of cooking you can do a little bit drunk, that is probably better if you’ve got a bottle of wine open and a hunk of bread to mop up the sauce.
But if you settle down and read it with a cup of tea (or a glass of that wine), you’ll also discover that it’s an annotated list of things worth living for--a manifesto of momentsworth living for. This is a cookbook to make you fall in love with the world again."
I would agree and did just that. Skipped here and there, absorbing and cooking. First off I made the Big Hearty Black Bean Soup (page 146), with excellent results, the only change being that I used fresh herbs rather than dried. Not being too good about drying herbs I have growing and on hand.
Next, it was the Trashy Ginger Chicken (page 102) that caught my eye. Don't you love the sound of it? Ten minutes or so before pulling it out of the oven, I added in chunks of left-over potatoes. Altogether quite delicious, and we felt as if we were being healed at the same time with all that ginger and garlic.
For one of my contributions to our Christmas festivities, I was making salmon mousse, to be served with a black bread, absolutely inspired by the Wicked Stepmother Black Bread from Ella's book (page 75). You have to read the story. She isn't really wicked. I regularly make sourdough bread, keeping a starter going, so decided to look online for a sourdough version. Fortuitously found a truly fabulous recipe for Sourdough Black Russian Bread. Check it out, as I do mean fabulous! It's richly flavorful, complex, dense and pretty easy to put together. This is one I'll be making again for sure. One of our guests was a chef, and he loved it. Managed to take home a goodly portion as well.
My next foray into Midnight Chicken recipes was the Carbonara, for Caroline (page 151). I liked Ella's backstory as well. She notes, "Nigella, in How to Eat, says that she makes carbonara for her lovers, like in the movies, and takes it back to bed. I make mine for my best friend, when the men are away; when we're watching bad films at midnight, and the shops are shut, and we need something savory and salty and good." Well fine, I made mine for Bob (my tall man) and I, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. No bad films involved.
What am I to do? This book is due back at the library tomorrow and can't be renewed! Buy it, that's what.
This post is my contribution to our Cook the Books current selection, and I'll also be sending it over to Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marge the Intrepid Reader, and to Heather for her January 2022 edition of Foodies Read Challenge. I absolutely recommend the book, and there's time (until Jan. 31st) if you want to read and get inspired to join in and post to this round. Just comment at Cook the Books Club with your link, or email to Debra at Eliot's Eats.