Mumsnet sent me their new cookbook, Top Bananas, a collection of easy family recipes that were originally contributed by Mumsnetters and then the best were selected/tweaked/tested by the Crumbs Food girls. Obviously this book is aimed at the same people Well Worn Whisk is – busy parents – so I was dying to see what it would be like. I sometimes find ‘family food’ recipe books can be a bit pedestrian, a bit safe. But this wasn’t; it’s a witty and joyful collection that I can wholeheartedly recommend to all mums and dads (or any busy food lover for that mater – like my blog, you don’t have to have procreated to enjoy it).
The book includes a wide range of new go-tos. From the comfortingly diverse (beef stifado), to the wholesome and homely (sweet potato gratin), to very of-the-moment (slow cooker 12 hour pulled pork) and just plain fun (raspberry jam chicken) – all of which I am itching to make. And they are all a doddle too, by the looks of them. My very favourite thing about the book though is the styling. As a blogger who is constantly striving to take better food pics (hard when your children are screaming for their dinner), I really love the way the food has been shot. It all looks deliciously messy and endearingly real, with lovely mismatched vintage kitchenalia and imperfections aplenty.
So, it was really hard to pick a recipe to make for the review. In the end I chose one that I would probably not have come up with myself, but that sounded right up my street in terms of ease. I’m a right one for tray bakes, and this is up there with the best. I never buy chicken breasts – especially not skinless and boneless ones. But they work great in this recipe, which I’ve made twice in the past week! It is embarrassingly easy, and a delight to eat. It’s seasonal at the mo’, which appealed greatly. I won’t make this out of season; it wouldn’t be the same. All the ingredients that I got today to make it (apart from pesto and mozzarella) are British: spinach, tomatoes, asparagus, chicken.
My only critique of the recipe is that the amount of asparagus seems to be a little too much. My recipe below is almost the same, give or take a few grams, as the book version, apart from I doubled the amount of chicken to feed 2 adults and 2 kids, and I halved the amount of asparagus and spinach. But it’s one of those dishes where you can just adapt the amounts as you wish and you won’t essentially change it. I’ve made it also without spinach and it works just as well. You don’t need anything to go with it, but crusty bread or boiled and buttery jersey royals wouldn’t go amiss.
Serves: 2 adults and 2 children
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
4 small chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
4 tablespoons of pesto
250g asparagus spears
125g mozzerella, torn into bite size chunks
250g cherry tomatoes on the vine, halved
Glug of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- In a large roasting tin or similar, scatter the spinach. Lay your breasts on a bed of leaves and toss on tomatoes. Artfully lay the asparagus spears, then blob the pesto on. Tear the mozzarella and place it wherever you think – I like it next to the pesto blobs. Dribble a little oil on and season.
- Whang (technical term) it in the oven.
- Take out after 20 minutes and test chicken with a metal skewer (or cut into it) to see if the juices run clear. If they don’t, back in it goes for a few more minutes. I find that 20 minutes is perfect. Eat straightaway with an easy breezy mood (due to lack of work) and a large glass of wine.