The book: “Home at 7, Dinner at 8,” 176 pages, $19.95, by Sophie Wright. Published by Kyle Books, 2012.
What you get: Wright has appeared on many TV food shows in England. In 2008, her first book, “Easy Peasy,” received Gourmand’s easy cookbook of the year. This book also focuses on easy recipes. Chapters include Everyday (simple, midweek favorites), Watching Your Pennies, Posh Nosh (for special occasions), Tuck In (for casual entertaining), Sweet Tooth and Fancy a Drink? Each recipe tells you how long it takes to prepare and cook the dish. There are also lots of tips. I want to try White Crab and Green Apple Cocktail with Avocado and Lime Puree (Page 91) and Seared Tuna with Grapefruit, Pepper and Basil Salsa (P. 108).
In her own words: “I want this book to be the hardworking professional’s bible that you can scan through the night before and know what you’re going to pick up from the grocery store on the way home. I’ll introduce you to some of my favorite time-saving cheats, just to take the strain off, give you some suggestions for pantry essentials, the basics you’ll use over and over, and show you how by having a few items of the right equipment you can become so much more confident when it comes to cooking.” — Wright.
What we made:
TUNA, RED ONION AND BEAN SALAD WITH A SOFT-BOILED EGG (P. 72)
2 large eggs
10½ ounces green beans, trimmed
1 x 7-ounce can tuna in water, drained
1 x 8-ounce can borlotti beans, drained
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 bag mixed salad leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Carefully put the eggs into the water, reduce the temperature and simmer for exactly 4 minutes 30 seconds. Add the green beans for the last minute of cooking. Remove the pan from the stove, drain into a colander and run cold water over to cool.
2. Mix the tuna and the borlotti beans in a serving bowl and then add the green beans and the red onion.
3. Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and pour three-quarters over the tuna mixture.
4. Carefully peel the eggs — they will be very soft, so make sure you don’t break them.
5. Mix the salad leaves through the tuna salad and dress with the rest of the dressing. To finish, cut open the eggs and place two halves on each plate, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Assessment: This is a very simple recipe in the chapter titled Watching Your Pennies. It says it can be made in 15 minutes — 10 for preparation, 5 for cooking. I wanted to find out if I could do it in that amount of time, so before I started, I set my stopwatch. I worked at a normal pace, never rushing myself, and sat down to eat 16 minutes and 17 seconds later. Not bad!
You probably have most of the ingredients on hand, but if not, there are easy substitutions. Borlotti beans are a type of kidney bean, and if you don’t have them or can’t find them in your grocery store, use regular kidney, pinto or Great Northern beans (I used pinto). The soft-boiled eggs are a special touch — they add flavor, and visual interest as well as protein, vitamin A, iron and calcium. Serve with a couple toasted slices of sprouted bread and you have a meal.