As a general rule, I only really like cookery books with pictures. It’s helpful to have a visual representation of what you are aiming for, and have another reference to double check any unclear instructions. That is one of major the drawbacks to 365: No Repeats, there are only a few photographs in the center pages, and one of those is of a corn dog (although admittedly, before moving to the Midwest I’d have been clueless as to what that was supposed to look like.) Tonight, making Turkey Saltimbocca Roll-Ups, Mushroom and White Bean Ragout, and Spinach with Pancetta and Onions [recipe], I realised that I had no idea what a Saltimbocca was, nor how it was supposed to look. A few moments ago, I did an image search on Google for pictures of other people’s Saltimbocca, and they all looked very, very different to what I made. I won’t do that again; really, what kind of person photographs their meals before eating them?
The turkey cutlets had split down the middle, maybe after being in the freezer-burn-king of the dysfunctional freezers. We also didn’t have the same number of cutlets per pound as called for in the recipe. We ended up using half a cutlet per saltimbocca roll so maybe that was why we ended up with tiny turkey sausages. With half a slice of prosciutto and a sage leaf wrapped inside, these tasted not unlike low-fat pigs in blankets, the UK Christmas spectacular of wee sausages wrapped in bacon. They were in a pretty delicious gravy however, so I did learn something useful today. I have never learnt how to make gravy and have an unhealthy relationship with Bisto Gravy Granules, a pretty revolting British product. I have tracked down a shop that sells it here for a ridiculous price, and with the mere addition of boiling water: gravy. Who knew it was so easy to make real gravy? Thanks Rachael.
The side dishes here were real winners. The spinach with pancetta (ahem, bacon), onion and garlic was great and could easily become our definitive spinach recipe (in 2008 of course). The white bean ragout (or “rag out” as somebody called it on a review of the dish on the Food Network website) was surprisingly tasty although highly unphotogenic. The recipe called for cannellini beans which I couldn’t find in the store. I guessed they were white so we bought great northern beans. Again, a picture would have helped here, but it turns out they are reasonably similar and can be substituted in recipes. I think the ones we used were maybe a little softer and squishier than required, but they did the job. The red wine vinegar and red pepper flakes gave this a bit of a bite which was appreciated, altough the addition of chicken stock made it a bit wetter than it maybe needed to be.
Overall, another success. Our teeny tiny sausages were a little overcooked, but other than that, the meal was a winner. Tomorrow we use more prosciutto, and some real sausages this time; Rosemary Corn Cakes with Prosciutto, and Chicken Sausages with Hot and Sweet Peppers. Speaking of sausages, I should go and take them out of the freezer to defrost. Let’s hope they haven’t shattered into thousands of small ice-covered pieces.
One final thought, we really need another “medium-large skillet”, too many recipes call for two identical pans. Each time we have to weigh up which recipe really needs sides on the pan to stop the sauce slopping out or whatever. Then we have to figure out whether the other dish would work better in a small saucepan or a entirely flat omelette pan. A new pan would cut down on thinking time, and that can only be a good thing.