Last week  I mocked some of the food styling in The Hot Weather Cookbook, so in the interest of fair and unbiased reporting  I thought it was only fair to show what I think is easily the best photo in the book.  Not only that, I was so inspired by the photo I had plans to cook the exact meal as shown for a barbecue dinner we were having.

Lamb Sosaties, Carrot Salad, Cucumber Salad
Lamb Sosaties, Carrot Salad, Cucumber Salad

Why do I love this so much?  First, I think it has a clean modern look to it.  This would not look out-of-place in a current issue of Bon Appetit or Delicious magazine.  Second, I love gingham.  One of the reasons is that it evokes memories of summer, picnics by a river in the shade of a tree, the gingham table-cloth spread on the ground absolutely loaded with super tasty picnic food, the sound of birds and crickets chirping lazily in the background, the sun dappling through the leaves…In my mind picnics look like this. Thanks to the lovely  Amber Clery from the Vintage Home blog for her permission to use these gorgeous photos.

Vintage Home Picnic 1

Vintage Home Picnic 2

Vintage Home Picnic 3

In reality, I remember having a picnic with my parents by a river.  I went for a swim and got a leech on my leg.  The sounds of that picnic weren’t so much the gentle noises of nature or the hushed sounds of silence but hysterical screaming and uncontrollable sobbing.  I vastly prefer Amber’s version. If you would like to see more of Amber’s lovely work (and I honestly think you should), you can link to it from here:

http://thevintagehome.net/author/ambervintagehome/

Apart from the gingham, the other things I liked in the photo from “The Hot Weather Cookbook”  were those amazing looking kebabs and the saffron rice with juicy raisins that they are lying on top of.  The legend for the picture told me that were Barbecued Lamb Sosaties accompanied by Carrot Salad and Cucumber Salad.  No mention of the rice.  I had never heard of a Sosatie before so I flipped to the glossary which told me that Sosaties were a:

“Cape Malay (South African) dish of curried meat, cooked in small pieces on a skewer”

So now, not only do these kebabs look delicious, they sound delicious. I was salivating in anticipation of finding out how to cook these delights because I thought they would reconfirm my position as queen of the barbecue.  One of the first things I ever cooked for my family was a “Spicy Feta Burger”.  I must have been eight.  I didn’t even know what feta was but begged my mum to buy some so I could make these burgers.  Some decades later we still make them.  People invited to family barbecues demand them.  In my family and circle of friends, they are legend.  However, all empires fall and it had been quite some time since I had come up with some delectable barbecue goodness.  I’ve rested on my feta burger laurels for far too long.  The time was ripe to launch a new taste sensation.

In my mind, my spicy feta burgers were already singing that Coldplay song about “that was when I ruled the world”.  My Barbecued Lamb Sosaties were running up and down flights of stairs and humming “The Eye of The Tiger.”

We’ll pause there and I’ll tell you about the rice with raisins.  Remember how I said they weren’t mentioned in the picture tag?  I searched for the recipe in index.  Under R there are two entries:

  • Radish Salad, Cool
  • Rice Salad

I didn’t really know where else I  might find the recipe for the rice with raisins (it was not the rice salad recipe listed).  So I flicked through the entire book and found the recipe on page 64…well I found something on page 64 called Yellow Rice With Raisins.  As it’s not name checked in the photo, I can’t be entirely sure it is the same recipe but given that what is pictured is  yellow and it’s rice and it contains raisins I used my best Sherlock Holmesian powers of deduction and decided they were one and the same.  I then went back and checked the recipe index.  This time, I not only checked under R in case I had missed something in the vast number of recipes beginning with that letter.  (I hadn’t.)  I then checked Y…just in case.  Not there either.  I then checked every recipe in the index to see what exactly was listed for page 64.  There’s a Barbecue Sauce which is actually on page 64.  There is no mention of the Yellow Raisin Rice in the index at all.  Grrr….

That annoyed me.   It’s slapdash  and surely someone in the editing process should have picked it up before the book went to print.  Never mind, at least I could make it.  After all, I had the recipe, even if it appeared to have been inserted into the book by stealth.

Ok, so the last time we saw the Barbecued Lamb Sosaties, they were fist pumping the air and claiming global victory in the barbecue stakes.  I looked up Barbecued Lamb Sosaties in the index. 

I started with L…not there.

S…not there either.

I tried B…I may was well not bothered.

I tried a lateral approach and looked under K for kebab and, harking back to the glossary definition, I looked under C (Curry and Cape Malay).  I then looked through every other letter. There was no mention to the Barbecued Lamb Sosaties in the index. Double Grrr!

But the rice recipe wasn’t in the index either.  No point in getting upset.  So, in the spirit of keeping calm and carrying on, I flicked through “The Main Course” section of the book.

Nothing.

I flipped back to the picture.  Those kebabs look hearty but I thought that maybe they are meant to be a first course, like satay sticks in an Asian restaurant. 

They weren’t in the first course section either.

I then looked through the entire book.

Zippedy doo dah.

I then looked through the entire book again, this time focussing on the page numbers.  (This was a second-hand book and, given the awesomeness of the Barbecued Lamb Sosatie, someone may have ripped the page out to keep it for posterity).

Every page was accounted for.

THE RECIPE FOR WHAT LOOKED LIKE THE MOST AWESOME DISH IN THE BOOK….WAS NOT IN THE BOOK.

If that looks like I am yelling, it’s because I am.  It’s actually a lot nicer than what came out of my mouth when I initially made this discovery. I probably wouldn’t  be allowed to print exactly what I said.  It’s more than likely illegal in some countries and frowned upon in most others.

I could give you a recipe for Barbecued Lamb Sosaties.  I (eventually) found a number of them on Google.  Instead, I was so annoyed with the Hot Weather Cookbook, I am going to give you the original recipe for the spicy feta burgers.  This recipe is so old now, it comes from a time where they didn’t quite know how to spell spicy.  These are awesome and you should all make them immediately. (Sorry it’s a bit crooked, that is literally the way it is stuck to the page in the family recipe compendium). 

Just to top off a few days where recipes from the past have really let me down, it is also wrong.

I defy anyone to make 12 burgers out of 50g of minced steak.  Unless of course they happen to be pixies. (To anyone not familiar with the metric system, as a point of comparison, I just weighed an egg from my fridge.  It came in at 64g. )

I used 500g of mince when I made the burgers this time and made 12 decent sized burgers.  I left all other amounts as stated.

This can also be very much treated as a base recipe.  For instance, this time round I added some dried chilli flakes and some chopped up coriander.  You could use mint or parsley or basil.  Pinenuts in the mix are fabulous! You can also use lamb mince instead of steak for another variation in flavour.

Spciy Feta Burgers
Spicy Feta Burgers

Out of sheer spite I also didn’t make the rice or either of the salads from The Hot Weather Cookbook.  I made a gorgeous carrot salad inspired by a recipe from Gourmande in the Kitchen.  This recipe is amazing…quite possibly the most vibrant delicious taste sensation I have had all year.  The orange flower water in the dressing is a stroke of genius! The original recipe required watercress.  I tried three local green grocers and was advised that due to the hot weather, we are suffering watercress drought.  I used rocket and it was lovely.  I will definitely also try it with watercress as soon as I can get my hands on some!

Carrot Salad with Orange Flower Water and Cumin Dressing

The cumin and the orange flower water actually go very nicely with the lamb and feta to create a lovely Middle Eastern vibe to this meal.

I made a really quick cucumber salad to go with this, just sliced cucumber, a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and chives, and a squeeze of lemon.  I had a  small bowl of pomegranate molasses as a condiment for the burgers. 

Et voila! Here is my Not The Hot Weather Cookbook Middle East Feast!

Feta Burgers, Carrot and Orange Flower Water Salad, Cucumber Salad and Pomegranate Molasses
Feta Burgers, Carrot and Orange Flower Water Salad, Cucumber Salad and Pomegranate Molasses

This will more than likely be my last post before the New Year as I need to focus on cooking and other things related to the season for the next few days.

Best wishes to all for a safe and happy Christmas and a joyous New Year.

 

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