There’s always room on the cookbook shelf for someone offering midweek family meals done in an interesting way. And that’s the motto of Alex Mackay’s new book Everybody, Everyday. The premise is presented simply: take one mother component or recipe and then spin it off half-a-dozen ways. It means it encourages you to use a familiar thing, such as pesto, and find new culinary homes for it. The book also has other dimensions, encouraging family food and how to prepare the same meal for toddlers. As someone always trying to think of new things to cook a littl’un the ideas are very welcome. Handily (uniquely?) the recipes are all for 2 people, the usual amount I cook for, and makes it super-easy to multiply up. Nothing is super fancy or cheffy but there are a few subtle restaurant-style tricks to lift your cooking, such as draining off fat but basting in butter for a finishing glaze. There’s plenty of inspiration to be had.
There are a few downsides to the recipes I’ve tried so far though: some of the recipes take a while. I can be nippy in the kitchen when I want to be, but I’m taking nearly an hour on each one so far. And they use pans by the bucket, plenty of hob-juggling required which requires good planning or washing up inbetween. Don’t let that detract from the great inspiration on offer though, each recipe I’ve cooked so far has been packed with flavour and extremely tasty. Like this one – a minced beef patty, topped with a glossy and rich meaty gravy and served with crisp saute potatoes. Delicious!
Burger with red onion and red wine sauce (serves 2):
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
250ml red wine
200ml beef stock
300g new potatoes, halved
350g beef mince
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Preheat the oven to it’s lowest setting and get the kettle on. Let’s start the sauce.
- Fry 10g of butter with the onion, vinegar, soy and with 3 tablespoons water over a medium heat, covered for about 8 minutes. Take the lid off and crank up the heat, then add the wine until reduced by three quarters. Then add the stock and reduce by about two thirds. Turn off the heat.
- While this is going on, simmer the potatoes for 12 minutes in salted boiling water. Drain and leave to steam for a few minutes.
- Get a frying pan on really hot and add a splash of oil. Lower the heat, add the potatoes cut side down and fry for 5 or so minutes until golden. Turn off the heat, drain off the fat, then toss the potatoes in 10g of butter, a sprinkle of sea salt and some chopped parsley. Pop in the oven to keep warm.
- Mix the mince with the mustard and a pinch of salt and form into 2 burgers. Fry in a little oil over a medium heat for a couple minutes on each side. Again drain the fat and toss with 10g butter and leave to rest for a couple of minutes while you reheat the sauce. Bring the sauce back to the boil and stir in the rest of the butter, seasoning if necessary. Serve and devour!