Cooking the books…Week 3


Inspired by my friend Mel over at The Cooks Notebook, I’ve taken on the challenge to cook from as many of my cookbooks this year as I can.

What came out of the books and onto the table this week?


The Book:

The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, Dr Manny Noakes with Dr Peter Clifton


The recipe: Baked Yoghurt Chicken with tomato, mint and cucumber salad p145

Not strictly a cookbook, this book is more about the CSIRO diet plan. Having said that, it’s full of tasty and nutritious recipes. As I’m sort of half following this at present, there’ll be a lot more cooked from the book, I suspect.

Essentially, this one is chicken breasts marinated in a spiced yoghurt.

For 4 people you’d use 200g unsweetened natural yoghurt, flavoured with ½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder, 1 teaspoon chilli powder, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 clove of crushed garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil.

The chicken is marinated for about 4 hours, then cooked for a couple of minutes on each side on a non stick frying pan. It’s then popped into a 180C oven for another 6-8 minutes- or until cooked.

The chicken is sliced and the salad is simply dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Too easy.

photo of the photo in the book
photo of the photo in the book

To do ahead:

You can pop the chicken on to marinade in the morning before work. Then dinner can be on the table in less than 15 minutes.

My tips:

The CSIRO Diet is based quite heavily on protein, so adjust your portions accordingly.

Even though you might be tempted to skip the frypan stage, don’t. It seals the chicken and gives it a lovely brown crust.

Don’t be too precious about the salad.

The verdict:

“Why haven’t we had this for ages?”

Healthy and tasty.


The Book:

The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, Dr Manny Noakes with Dr Peter Clifton

The recipe: Beef and potato pie p154

Miss 15 has been on holidays from school for what feels like ever…although I think it’s closer to about 7 weeks or so. Over that period of time she hasn’t made a decision.

This recipe was her choice. Not that she read it- as was obvious when I told her that the potato in the recipe was actually sweet potato and that it was mashed with pumpkin… eeeeeeew.

My Mum has always mashed pumpkin and potato together, and I hate with with an absolute passion. As a kid I used to douse it with tomato sauce and still gag on it. There was no way sweet potato and pumpkin was going on top of this pie.

To the pie- essentially, we’re talking about a savoury mince with a mash top. Cottage pie, if you will.

photo of the photo in the book
photo of the photo in the book

To do ahead:

The mince can all be done in advance.

My tips:

This makes a lot of savoury mince, so half of it went in the freezer for another night. We served it with potato mash on the side and steamed broccoli and carrots.

The verdict:

Hubby loved it, Miss 15 enjoyed it, I was bored. It is, however, a great way to add veg to bulk out a meal- and, as a result, came out well on the nutritional stakes.


The Book:

Grossi Florentino: Secrets and Recipes, Guy Grossi, Jan McGuinness


The recipe: Vitello ai Funghi (Veal with mushroom ragu) p112

how it's supposed to look...
how it’s supposed to look…

Everything sounds better in Italian, doesn’t it?

This one was a joint decision. Miss 15 chose the book, and Mr T- who also has issues with decisioning- chose the recipe.

I followed the recipe quite closely. In my experience, Guy Grossi recipes need little variation. Due to the cost of dried mushrooms, however, I used about half of what was recommended- and that was plenty. Because I’d chosen a mix of trompettes and porcini, the stock from soaking the mushrooms was full of flavour and body.

how it did look
how it did look

To do ahead:

The dried mushrooms can be soaked overnight, the ragu can also be made in advance.

The verdict:

Wonderful- although very rich. My tummy is complaining today. My plating up does not do this one justice at all…brown just looks, well, brown. Hubby and Miss 15 declared it a keeper.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

4 thoughts

  1. Baked yoghurt chicken sounds good, but I’ve never married yoghurt with Chinese flavours before. How does it go? Curious to know?

    1. yeah, I wasn’t sure, but it works well. There’s another I do that has more Indian flavours, sort of a cheats tandoori, that I love.

  2. The chicken breast one reminds me of a Weight Watchers recipe I’m currently in love with. Not sure so about the cottage pies (memories of my childhood) but love the look of the veal dish (sans mushrooms, which probably ruins the whole effect)!

    1. Yeah, I hear you on the cottage pie. Grant & Sarah love them, but I’m pretty ho hum about it all. Memories of supremely boring ones with overcooked veggies, I think.

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