Saturday, December 30, 2023

Weekend Cooking: Best of 2023

And so we come to the end of 2023! It's been a good cooking year in our house. We have tried lots of new recipes, made some delicious desserts, had some memorable meals and so much more!

As I mentioned last week I want to use this week's Weekend Cooking post to highlight the best cookbook for the year, and the best recipe. I am thinking that I might do this at the end of the next year and beyond. We'll see!

I do have quite a few cookbooks to choose from! Earlier this year I was determined to mainly read cookbooks from the library, but I did have a change of heart a bit later in the year because I decided that I would buy some because I love looking at them!  Here are the books I bought this year.

So what makes just one of these books stand out enough to become my best of 2023. In this case, it is a book that we have cooked out of time and time and time again! You join the authors Facebook appreciation group, and I have recommended it to anyone who will listen. I know at least 5 people who have bought this book after we talked about it! So what is this book!

Drum roll please......

I think you can probably tell that I love this cookbook which I reviewed back in June. And we have enjoyed most of the recipes that we have cooked out of it. Here's just some of the recipes that we have made out of this book so far.

One-Pot Baked Greek Chicken & Lemon Rice

Beef Biryani

Chicken Shawarma (many, many times)

Butter Chicken

Asian Glazed Salmon

Teriyaki Beef Bowls

3 Minute Double Smash Burgers (several times)

Chorizo Potato Stew-Soup

Pad See Ew

Smoky Pork Chops

French Sausage & Bean Casserole (one of the few recipes we didn't like)

Baked Ratatouille with Beans

Chilli Con Carne

Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta Bake (A definite favourite)

Chicken Fricasee (this is the cover recipe)

Juiciest, Easiest Roast Chicken Ever

Forever Chocolate Cake

Perfect Vanilla Cake

Garlic Roast Potatoes

That seems like a lot of recipes to have tried but there are still so many more that we have marked to try one day!! And plenty that we will eat over and over! And this doesn't even include the recipes that we made from the website.

 There are still many recipes that I have marked to try, but have not yet done so. We will though! 

Now, I could quite easily have chosen a Nagi recipe for my recipe of the year. After all, several of the recipes have become part of our regular meal rotations. Instead I am going to return to one of the earliest cookbooks I bought this year, The Italian Pantry by Theo Randall which I reviewed here. We have made several recipes from this book, but the one that we came back to time and time again.I originally shared this recipe in February but I am more than happy to share it again. We tend to use baby bocconcini rather than burrata because it is easier to get at the supermarket.

Maybe the next time we make it we can remember to take a picture.

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with Burrata

For the meatballs

400g/14oz pork mince
400g/14oz beef mince
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with a little sea salt
3 tbsp full-fat milk
100g/3½oz dried breadcrumbs
75g/2½oz parmesan, finely grated
3 free-range eggs
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, for greasing, frying and drizzling

For the tomato sauce

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
600g/1lb 5oz tomato passata
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the burrata and crostini

extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1 ciabatta or sourdough loaf, cut into thin slices
1 garlic clove, peeled and left whole, to rub
150g/5½oz burrata

For the meatballs, put all the ingredients for the meatballs (except the oil) into a large bowl and combine to form a firm, evenly distributed mixture.

Cover your hands in olive oil, take a generous tablespoon of the mixture and roll it between your palms to form a meatball the size of a golf ball. Repeat until you have used all the mixture - you should have 16 meatballs. Place them on a tray, wash your hands and then place the tray in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes.

Place a large, non-stick, ovenproof frying pan over a high heat and add a tablespoon or so of olive oil. When the oil is hot, begin browning the meatballs (in batches if necessary), ensuring that you don't cook them completely - a little colour on the outside is perfect. Once they are all browned off, remove them from the pan and leave them to one side while you make the tomato sauce.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.

To make the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in an ovenproof pan and set it back over a medium heat. When hot, add the garlic, thyme, and chilli. Simmer for 1 minute, then add the tomato passata. Cook gently for 15 minutes, or until the volume of the sauce has reduced by half.

Season the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper and take the pan off the heat.

Place the meatballs in the pan on top of the sauce, evenly spaced, then transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through. Leave to one side for 5 minutes to cool slightly (leave the oven on).

For the burrata and crostini, drizzle a little oil over the ciabatta slices and sprinkle them with some sea salt. Place on a baking tray and bake in the hot oven for 4 minutes, or until crisp, then rub them all over with the garlic clove.

Meanwhile, finely chop the burrata, then use a spoon to drop dollops all over the baked meatballs.

Weekly meals

Saturday -  
Sunday -  Nasi Goreng
Monday - Nothing
Tuesday - Kebabs, mashed potato and broccoli
Wednesday - Mexican Chicken and Rice
Thursday - Zucchini risotto
Friday - Takeaway

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page


  1. The list of what you've tried from this cookbook is making me realize I missed lunch! Amazingly, my library has it so I have put it on hold. Maybe some of the recipes will be at my very beginner stage.


    1. Pre-prep is not my friend - I am too impatient but I am going to sit down tomorrow night and do some planning.

  2. Unfortunately our library in this the tiny town over from us, has not only a tiny cookbook section, sadly no new updates in years and years! I will check into an inter-library possibility but this book sounds great...thanks for another great year sharing, talking about and viewing the foods we all eat and enjoy whether at home or on holiday! Happy New Year to one and all!

    1. Happy New Year to you too Melynda! Thanks for your ongoing contribution to Weekend Cooking! I really appreciate it

  3. Great idea about the cookbook. The recipes do look really good. Here's wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!

  4. I made Maehashi's Mac & Cheese Friday night (after going to the gym, so it wasn't ready until after 10 pm - I was very hungry) and it was quite delicious although best when right out of the oven.