Saturday, February 5, 2022

Midnight Chicken Round Up

Midnight Chicken (& Other Recipes Worth Living For) by Ella Risbridger was the feature work at Cook the Books for December/January.   You can read the announcement post here.

Risbridger's book is much more than just another cookbook.

This may have looked like a cookbook, but what it really is is an annotated list of things worth living for:  a manifesto of moments worth living for.  Dinner parties, and Saturday afternoons in the kitchen and lazy breakfasts, and picnics on the heath; evenings alone with a bowl of soup, or a heavy pot of clams for one.  The bright clean song of lime and salt, and the smoky hum of caramel-edged onions.  Soft goat’s cheese and crisp pastry.  A six-hour ragù simmering on the stove, a glass of wine in your hand.  (277)

If you're like me, you will find yourself revisiting it often, not only for recipes but for wisdom.  

Let's see what the other readers thought about Midnight Chicken.  Please note that the round up is in no particular order.  

Cathy from Delaware Girl Eats found herself curling up with this book on a cold winter's day while looking for good and warming comfort food.  She was intrigued by Risbridger's “Saturday Afternoon Charred Leek Lasagna” (201-213).  Cathy quotes the author:
Lasagna can be party food, picnic food or leftovers, but most of all it is proper comfort food.  Done well, it’s both a joy to eat and a joy to cook.  It’s endlessly flexible lazy, lovely weekend cooking" (210).  So true!
She adapted the recipe to make Lasagna Rollups.  I love the vegetarian ingredients and flavors and Cathy's take on the original recipe.

Amy's Cooking Adventures rated the book 3 out of 5 stars. Because of Risbridger's honesty and candidness about her own trials and tribulations, it left Amy feeling a bit melancholy.
Overall, I felt myself wishing for a bit more. Often, I would be hooked into a story, wondering who exactly the Tall Man was to her (friend, boyfriend, husband?) or what happened with her relationship to her dad's entire side of the family. I'm looking forward to trying a recipe of two.

Amy did find a recipe.   Here's her Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup (slightly adapted with what she had on hand.)

Claudia (a fellow CTB co-host) from Honey from Rock created a mega post.  Claudia made four recipes from or inspired by Midnight Chicken:  Big Hearty Black Bean Soup (146), Trashy Ginger Chicken (102), Sourdough Black Russian Bread (inspired by Risbridger's Wicked Stepmother Black Bread) (75), and finally Carbonara for Caroline (151).
Claudia borrowed Midnight Chicken from her library but after these recipes she's buying it!  :)  You can read about her recipes here.

Wendy states that this is a great book for new outlooks in a new year.  She enjoyed the author's tone and voice:  "Ella Risbridger is from the other side of the pond and you can almost here her accent as you read her candid, friendly, relaxed stories that revolve around the recipes that she shares."   Wendy further identified with Risbridger's tale of finding strength in the kitchen and having a Tall Man to make things better.  

She has tons of other recipes earmarked to make.  I must try this chicken recipe as soon as I am able!

Welcome to Deb from Readerbuzz.   Deb made Aga Mamma's Milk Bread.
What a lovely loaf and Deb gives detailed directions with photos with this recipe.  She loved the book:  "What an amazing book this is! Ella Risbridger tells the story of her journey back into life through cooking and baking. I loved this memoir/cookbook/book about happiness."  Her favorite quote was also the one with which I opened this post. 

Simona (briciole) is another CTB co-host.  Her review includes the following:  
Risbridger talks about her life and about how cooking helped her in moments of particular difficulty. She is open about her mental health and her struggles. She lives in London and her shopping and cooking are influenced by the urban environment. She favors prepackaged vegetables, like cleaned and cut winter squash, and canned legumes and wonders who makes homemade puff pastry (I do). Her ingredients are British, like self-raising flour.

Simona was not inspired by any of the recipes but she was inspired by what the British refer to as beetroots and her farmers market bounty.   

If her Butternut Squash and Red Beet Soup is as delicious as this photo is beautiful, I'm sure it was a success.

Culinary Adventures with Camilla added another delicious bread offering:  Braided Challah Bread.  
Camilla also tried several recipes from the book as well but decided to feature something here that she had never attempted before---braiding bread.   She also points out why challah bread is featured in Midnight Chicken.  
Challah helped Risbridger grieve for her grandfather. 'Me, I grieved with bread. ...The rules of grief were written somewhere I couldn't see, but the rules of bread-making were clear. I don't know how to grieve, but I knew how to make bread. A six-strand challah bread: knead in anger, rise in grief, plait to find a pattern in it all.' (85-86)

Another CTB co-host, Deb from Kahakai Kitchen, posted up in the nick of time.  Deb's thoughts on this cookbook?

Midnight Chicken is a charming book in the vein of a cookbook/memoir which is my favorite kind. I enjoy cookbooks that don't just give me a recipe, but give me a story about that recipe--what inspired it, why it's a favorite, when they first cooked it, or how they enjoy it. Ella Risbridger does this well, and when accompanied with the beautiful watercolor illustrations by Elisa Cunningham, it makes for a pleasurable read to meander through. 
Deb was another reader that wasn't really inspired by any of the soup recipes but she followed Risbridger's lead and cooking style to make something comforting and easy:  Low Effort But Fully Loaded Baked Potato Soup.

As for me, the host for this round, I enjoyed everything about this book, the honest voice, the tongue-in-cheek recipes, the illustrations.

My first foray into Midnight Chicken had me inspired to make the Maslen Bread (68-69) and Whiskey and Rye Blondies (254-255).  You can see my post here.

You MUST make these blondies.   

My book is totally full of post-it notes marking recipes I want to make.  I actually have made her Wildly Easy Hummus (with Za'atar) (114-15) and that Wicked Stepmother Bread (75-77).  Both recipes are amazing!

Thanks to everyone you participated and I can't wait for our next round and reading Red Sparrow. 

I hope everyone had a great start to 2022.  Here's to your health and happiness.




Camilla Mann said...

What a fun line-up. Thanks for hosting!

A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

Thanks again Debra.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Thank you so much for this great round-up of posts.

Simona Carini said...

Thank you Debra for hosting and for the great round-up :)