The July issue of Delicious was filled with tempting dishes to warm the cockles of the soul and banish the discontent of winter.  Slow cooked this, hearty that, pulses and legumes, nourishing soups.  And the librarycook did try.  The Three Cheese Lasagne was OK, but its attempt to replace Bechamel sauce with three different cheeses was neither a winner nor a time saver.  The librarycook could easily have read whilst stirring a sauce, but whilst grating what seemed like a kilo of cheese?  Not so easy.  And really, if generations of Italian cooks have ruled that lasagne is made with a Bechamel sauce, they’re probably right.

The cover recipe for Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup WAS good though.  And met the librarycook’s stringent requirement that enough time for reading be factored in.  50, yes, 50 minutes of simmering time allowed the librarycook ample time for a few chapters AND a perusal of the weekend papers.  The resulting soup was excellent – tangy and soothing all at once, with the smoothness of the coconut milk blending with the bite of the chilli and freshness of the herbs in a most satisfying manner.

But.  The absolute winner of the July librarycook’s recipe-off had to be the Bacon and Tarragon Chicken with Barley and Mushrooms.  Shamefully, the recipe didn’t spring from the neutral test kitchens of the Delicious magazine headquarters, but instead from the commercially-sullied realm of the product placement. Yes, the librarycook had fallen prey to the charms of an advertisement.  But what a recipe!  A bed of barley, onion, pancetta and mushrooms for the chicken to rest on whilst it roasted in the oven, bathed in stock (the purveyors of which were the source of the advertisement).   A solid hour of so of quality reading time, followed by a not-worth-mentioning few minutes of further work, and dinner was served.  Accompanied by a simple green salad (how the librarycook loves a mesclun mix), a glass of something appropriate, and the chill of July seemed that much further away, and that much more bearable.  Thank you, stock purveyors.

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