Monday, 24 September 2012

Hairy Bikers Chilli Salad Bowls

Whilst idling away my lie in this morning, I happened across an article by Janet Street-Porter which included a part on the subject of this country's fascination with cookery books.  She likened the collecting of cookbooks to an obsession with handbags or shoes.  Expensive, and after the first few, probably unnecessary.  Despite generally finding JS-P a bit irritating, I have to agree with her on this particular point.

It was my collection of cookbooks that set me off on this mission last year.  I had around twenty which I would leaf through, imagining myself lovingly making some of the recipes for my nearest and dearest.  Then reality would surface and I'd just cook whatever made people happy.  And so I promised myself I'd spend a year using the books I had and cooking something new every day.  Did I stick to it?  Nope.

Yes, this is 'diet' food - about 450cal for the plateful
Well I stuck to the new recipe bit and the blogging bit.  What I didn't stick to was using the recipe books that I had.  I was seduced into buying some new ones that were heavily discounted 'because I need them for my challenge'.  I used recipes from my Good Food Mag subscription.  And I discovered the joys of finding recipes on the internet.  So at the end of this year, I have at least eight more cookery books* than 365 days ago, despite having enough recipe books that if I cooked one new recipe from one of them every day, I'd probably not cook the same thing twice before I die**

At the weekend, when I was out with the girls, one of them mentioned the Hairy Dieters book by the Hairy Bikers.  I'm not a fan of Si and Dave, but having flicked through some of their books at my mum's, I thought that maybe I should add their dieters book to my armoury.  I then wandered off into iPad-land and discovered that some of the recipes were published online anyway.  So did I really need to buy the book?  Probably not.  At least trying some of the online ones might sway me one way or another.  So I settled on trying their chilli bowls recipe tonight.

And this just goes to prove JS-Ps point (you can read the article here***).  I used to make something very similar many moons ago.  Except I served it in a soft tortilla rather than a baked one.  It was a staple diet meal until the husband decided he didn't want it again, and I forgot all about it.  In some respects, it was nice to be reminded of yet another option to add to our weekly repertoire that's family friendly.  But if I'd stirred the old grey matter a little more, I could've thought this one up myself.

Chilli is something I normally batch cook (the husband doesn't like kidney beans) and so I freeze portions so that I can have something different to him for dinners when I'm not a slave to the 366 Recipe Challenge.  Of course, there are plenty of people out there who've never cooked chilli before and would probably appreciate the friendly Bikers' guidance.  But once you've bought a few cook books, you should probably spend your pennies on something else.

The Wahaca book has recipes re-hashed from Mexican Cooking Made Easy.  My two Gordon Ramsay books contain around 30% of the same recipes.  The Hummingbird Bakery are guilty of recycling into the follow up Cake Days.  Even Dan Lepard is guilty, with a significant number of recipes from Short and Sweet also being available online from on the Guardian website****.  And once you own a few baking books, you notice that they all peddle slight variations on the theme of chocolate, coffee, carrot, lemon cake.  There are only so many recipes to go around.  And unless you want to eat Heston-food every night for dinner, it all starts to get a bit samey.

Nevertheless, a year on, I still love my cookery books.  They've fed my imagination since I was a child and used to make up stories in my head that involved intricate scenes of cooking lavish meals and extravagant cakes*****.

So does this mean I'll never buy another cookery book again?  Of course it doesn't.  I am as much as a sucker for cookery books as I am for high heeled shoes.  If there's a little leeway in the budget and a book appeals, I'll buy it.  And I want to buy 'classics' from the Roux brothers and Richard Bertinet.  But I'll definitely check the internet first.

You can save yourself a few quid and find the Hairy Bikers recipe I used online here.  It was an okay family meal and really filling.  I chose to eschew the tortilla bowls and use tacos instead.  I've not eaten tacos for a million years and it was great to know that you can eat three taco shells for only a handful of calories more than a single flour tortilla.  This in itself made the recipe a complete bargain.  If I was feeling extravagant, I'd add chopped coriander to the salad.

And guess what I have for tea tomorrow night?  Yes!  Leftovers.  Because there is only one more recipe to go.  And Miss A has insisted we do cake :o)

*Two were Christmas presents (Lorraine Pascale's Home Cooking Made Easy and the Great British Bake Off Book).  One I've not used at all on this challenge (Jamie's 30 Minute Meals).  One I've lost (James Martin's Masterclass).  One was the best investment ever (Dan Lepard's Short and Sweet).  One was for the Weekly Bake Off Challenge (Mary Berry's 100 cakes and bakes).  The others were Wahaca by Thomasina Miers and Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo.  I'm sure there were one or two others.
**As I child, I believed everyone lived until 100 and died on their 100th birthday just after the party.  I intend to do just this.
***I read the Daily Fail online.  So sue me.
****That said, I never would've gotten my mum into Dan Lepard if I'd not sent her links to recipes from Short and Sweet.
*****I still do this


  1. This is me completely baking books have become my obsession but they are very samey.... Thinking I need to start checking out the library! I don't buy them Ike I used too, but I will occasionally come across a book I must have! :0) (even though I know I don't need it!)


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