25 Feb

Pasta with Asparagus, Sundried Tomatoes, and Boursin

Matt and I have been little homebodies lately. Given the option between dressing up and going out or staying home, making dinner and watching a movie, we tend to opt for the latter.

I’m not sure if this makes us lame. I’m not sure if I care.

Two weekends ago was Guardians of the Galaxy (Matt’s choice) and beef burgundy (my choice). Last weekend it was Gone Girl (my choice) and this pasta dish (Matt’s choice).

Pasta with Asparagus, Sundried Tomatoes, and Boursin

Pasta with Asparagus, Sundried Tomatoes, and Boursin

We actually have plans to go out this weekend and yet I’m yearning for a warm blanket and a home-cooked meal and a marathon of the new season of House of Cards. (Okay, okay, for me a TV marathon is watching a whole two episodes back-to-back). I would make a dish themed around the show, like ribs, and apple pie, and bourbon.

Or, I would just make this pasta dish again. I liked how fresh this dish was– the lemon and asparagus making it taste like spring– but the cheese made it indulgent at the same time.

 

Pasta with Asparagus, Sundried Tomatoes, and Boursin

serves 2
Recipe courtesy of Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook

Ingredients

225g Farfalle (Bowtie Pasta)
14 Medium Asparagus Spears, cut into 2cm pieces
1 T. olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. drained, oil-packed sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c. grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/3 c. Boursin cheese (garlic & fine herbs flavour)
1 T. chopped fresh dill
zest of 1/2 lemon
salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Fill a large saucepan 3/4 full of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and add salt. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until barely tender (about 2 minutes shy of the package directions). Add the asparagus to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes until tender-crisp. Drain the pasta and asparagus, reserving 3/4 cup of pasta water.

Set the pan over medium heat and heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and golden, 1-2 minutes. Return the pasta and asparagus to the pan and add the reserved cooking water. Stir in the sundried tomatoes, cheeses, dill, and lemon zest, then season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Serve immediately.

21 Jun

Stew Recipes

My taste preferences hardly follow the seasons. Unless we’re talking summer tomatoes. Or sweet corn. Or blueberries.

So basically my taste buds only follow the season in August when my favourite Ontario produce is at its peak.

The rest of the year, anything is fair game. Like stew, which I have totally been digging lately:

Sudanese Peanut, Beef, and Spinach Stew that I hadn’t made since back in the fall. Something about the beef and peanut combination that makes this taste rich.

sudan.south_.food_.recipe.img_0788

This Chickpea and Potato Stew with Coconut Milk that I nearly forgot about but love deeply. My Indian cookbook was hidden from view and with it, this recipe.

Coconut Chickpeas

Pulled Pork because it’s kind of like and stew and do you really need a reason for pulled pork? The answer is no.

Pulled Pork

Ratatouille because it’s so easy.

Coconut Chickpea Stew

07 May

Mustard Sole with Lentils

I’ve made lots of recipes from the Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook since my friend bought it for me last summer like Ginger Biscuits and Classic Custard Creams and Saxe-Cobourg Soup.

Everything has been awesome, truly. I find that quite impressive from a cookbook loosely based off a television show which I figured would be more of a novelty than a kitchen staple.

It’s likely because the recipes all have liberal amounts of fat in them, particularly in the form of cream and butter. You can’t go wrong with butter.

This recipe follows that same theme. The “mustard sauce” would be more aptly named “mustard butter” and the original recipe called for the fish filets to be fried in 1/4 cup of butter.

I’ve been incorporating more fat into my diet to support hormone function, muscle growth, and ease sugar cravings, so I certainly don’t fear the butter. Plus it adds cholesterol to this dish which helps to increase testosterone production (so I can get jacked, natch).

When I originally saw the recipe in the book (titled Daisy’s Mustard Salmon with Lentils since the original recipe used salmon instead of the sole that I used here) I didn’t think it sounded too appetizing but I like lentils, I like fish, and I like mustard so I thought I’d give it a shot.

I was pleasantly surprised. The whole thing manages to taste both decadent and light (it makes sense when you eat it, trust me). I modified by baking the fish instead of frying (it saves time and butter) and the dish still managed to be fantastic.

I’ve made it a few times since and it’s probably one of my favourite dishes right now, so I had to share it with you. If you try it, let me know what you think!

Mustard Sole with Lentils from Downton Abbey Cookbook  - SamanthaMenzies.com

Mustard Sole with Lentils

Mustard Sauce

1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
2 T chopped chives
1 T Dijon mustard
2 t fresh lemon juice
1 t sugar
2 t kosher salt
1 t ground black pepper

Lentils

1 c green lentils
2 large carrots
2 c water
2 c vegetable broth
2 t fresh lemon juice

Sole

6 filets of sole
1 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400*F. Place the sole in a casserole dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside while the oven preheats and you prepare your lentils and mustard sauce.

To make the lentils: In a heavy saucepan over high heat, bring lentils, carrots, water, and broth to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 25-30minutes or until the lentils are tender. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 5-7 minutes. Drain the lentils and reserve 1 cup of liquid.

While the lentils are cooking and the oven is preheating, make the mustard sauce. In a small bowl thoroughly mix together the mustard sauce ingredients and set aside. (A mini food processor also works well here to get the butter a little more whipped)

Dot each seasoned sole filet with a bit of the mustard sauce and place in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting the tines of a fork into the thickest part of the fish then remove and place the tines on your bottom lip. If it feels just barely warm to the touch, the fish is done.

Mix the remaining mustard mixture into the lentils along with the reserved cooking liquid until the butter is thoroughly melted in.

To serve: place the lentils in a shallow bowl and top with a filet of sole.

Mustard Sole with Lentils from Downton Abbey Cookbook - SamanthaMenzies.com

18 Apr

Tea and Cookies

Happy Good Friday! Cheers to a good long weekend.

I started my Good Friday out with breakfast and a delicious cuppa. I had put in an order for some teas from my sister who picks them up for me from Adagio Teas when she’s in Naperville IL. I asked for this Cream Tea on a whim and it’s phenomenal.

I tried it with sugar and cream (which I usually prefer to leave out of my tea) and it’s like dessert in a cup. I suspect it won’t last me as long as I thought it would.

Cream TeaCream Tea

She also picked up some Earl Grey Moonlight black tea and Jasmine Yin Hao green tea for me too. I think I have been crowding out daily tea with increased coffee consumption but frankly I’ve been missing a good cup of tea, yaknowwhatImean?

Vicki also came back with some surprises for me. Knowing full well that I’m a Scandiphile, she took advantage of a Swedish shop to buy me some really cool baking related gifts. I got pearl sugar (which I have been forgoing in all of my Great Scandinavian Baking Book recipes), a Dala horse cookie cutter, and a claddagh cookie stamp.

DSCF5521

I tried the cookie stamp twice. The first time, with a rye cookie recipe, it didn’t worked all that great. The stamp just faded into the cookie after it baked leaving me unimpressed with the little reward for the amount of effort I put in.

Today I tried it with a very crumbly shortbread made with lots of flour (recipe here), pressing balls of the dough tightly into the stamp. After baking, I was happy to see that the stamp held up.

Cookie stamp - this cookie was the best oneThis cookie turned out the prettiest

. . . but some of them cracked and looked sorta crappy (which defeats the purpose of stamping them to begin with, I suppose).

DSCF5527

Oh well, they’re certain to be tasty with my cream tea.

Cheers!

11 Feb

The French Baker Cookbook Review

The French Baker Cookbook (2)

The French Baker: Authentic Recipes for Traditional Breads, Desserts, and Dinners by Sebastien Boudet

I was really excited to review this book because I the only thing I love more than baking cookies is baking bread. And the only things I love more than baking bread is eating it.

What I Didn’t Like About the Book

There was a lot of detail that was left out of the recipes. It wasn’t challenging for me to put the pieces together because I have years of experience with baking a variety of breads, but someone new to baking would surely be confused. Even I had questions regarding re-feeding sourdough, shaping loaves, and kneading.

Bottom Line: when it comes to baking, this may not be the best book for beginners.

The French Baker -Baguette Recipe (2)

What I Liked About the Book

The book itself is gorgeous. The pillowy hardcover, the matte pages, the beautiful photos of rustic French food, markets, garden, and towns. The writing is romantic, describing the baking process passionately and painting an idealistic picture of French food culture. The author tells a story rather than just providing recipes; I like that.

I was expecting a tome on how to perfect sourdough, but the book contains more than that, more than just baked goods even. It is broken up into sections including sourdough bread, sweet bread, cookies, desserts, and hearty baker’s meals.

The French Baker Cookbook (1)

The recipes that I made came out awesome. I was skeptical about the baguette recipe while I was putting the starter together, but it came through and ended up being one of the best baguettes I’ve made.

The French Baker -Baguette Recipe (3)

La Baguette

The baguette is France’s most popular and most purchased bread- and it’s the worst f their selection of fine breads! The baguette you normally find in stores and bakeries is a fluffy white bread without crust or colour. But with the help of the poolish method you can create beautiful and tasty baguettes. The Polish people brought this leavening method to France at the end of the 1800s and it is based around letting three-fifths of the bread go through prolonged autolysis of 12 hours. The small amount of yeast creates a snowball effect which begins the whole leavening process and produces airy bread with simple but clear sourdough flavour. The method is perfect for making baguettes.

Makes 5 Baguettes

8 cups (1kg) wheat flour + 5 cups (600g) wheat flour
1g fresh yeast
4 cups (1kg) water
45g coarse sea salt

Day 1

Prepare the poolish by whisking the 8 cups of wheat flour, yeast, and water in a large bowl until you have the consistency of pancake batter.

Cover the bowl with a baking towel and let leaven at room temperature for 12-16 hours.

Day 2

After 12-16 hours of leavening the dough should be doubled in size and will smell really nice.

Pour the 5 cups of wheat flour onto a baking table. Create a dent in the middle and pour the poolish from the previous day into the dent along with the sea salt. Mix and knead the dough (there is no need for autolysis since 3/5 of the dough has already rested for 12 hours with the water) until it releases from the table. Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest under a baking towel for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into five equal parts and shape each one into a small ball. Let rest for a couple of minutes under a baking towel.

Carefully shape the balls into baguettes. If you notice that the dough begins to tear, you can let it rest a little bit longer so it can recover.

Sprinkle flour liberally on the baking towel and place the first baguette on it. Create a fold in the towel as a barrier and place the next baguette alongside the fold.Alternate between fold and baguette until the towel is covered, that way the baguettes won’t touch each other but will support each other.

Sprinkle flour on top of the baguettes and cover them with another baking towel. Let the baguettes leaven at room temperature for 3-4 hours or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 500F with a baking stone if you have one.

If you have a baking stone, roll the baguettes from the baking towel onto a floured pizza peel (or to the back of a baking sheet that has been floured). Otherwise, you can place the baguettes carefully onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Score the flour dusted baguettes lengthwise (carefully and not too quickly as they can lose their structure). Note: never score baguettes straight across.

Bake the baguettes in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Let the baguettes cool down on a rack for at least 45 minutes.

The French Baker -Baguette Recipe (1)

14 Jan

Swedish Tea Ring

This is the first recipe that I made out of my new cookbook: The Great Scandinavian Baking Book and it did not disappoint.

In the past I worked on finding the recipe for the perfect cinnamon bun.

I made Peter Reinhart’s Cinnamon Buns which I like in texture and flavour, and which were well received by everyone who tried them. They’re good (I’ve made them multiple times) but not The Best.

I made Finnish Cinnamon Buns or Korvapuustit (yes, I do have an obsession with Scandinavian baking, thankyouverymuch). I liked these a lot because of their small, cute shape, and that they weren’t super sweet but the dough wasn’t quite tender enough for my liking. And they didn’t get the same reception as Peter Reinhart’s.

Then I made Brioche Cinnamon Buns (and sticky buns) and thought that they were the most perfect and delicious thing in the world. Everyone loved them, especially me.

…and then I never made them again.

Because they are so rich and sweet and decadent they’re something that I can’t have around the house very often. Deliciously impractical, squarely dessert territory, and not at all appropriate for breakfast.

Enter the Swedish Tea Ring.

Swedish Tea Ring (2)

I think this recipe solved all my problems.

It makes a wreath of cinnamon buns that are not too sweet or too large or too decadent. They’re soft and chewy, spiked with cardamom for that Scandinavian flair, and heavily drizzled with almond flavoured glaze.

They’re a breakfast, they’re a coffee snack, they’re dessert. They’re perfect.

Swedish Tea Ring (4)

My sister said to me, with a mouth full of cinnamon deliciousness, “These might be the best things you’ve ever baked.”

If that’s not reason enough to try them, I don’t know what is.

Swedish Tea Ring (6)


Swedish Tea Ring (Vetekrans)

from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book

Dough Ingredients

2 pkg active dry yeast
1 c. warm water (105*F-115*F)
1/2 c. melted butter
1/2 c. sugar
3 slightly beaten eggs
1 t. salt
1 t. ground cardamom (optional) <–this shouldn’t be optional
4 c. all purpose flour

Filling Ingredients

1/2 c. softened butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 c. blanched almonds, finely chopped (optional) <–I opted out of this

Glaze Ingredients

1 c. powdered sugar
2 T. hot coffee or milk
1/2 t. almond extract <– it’s a game changer

Directions

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining dough ingredients until the dough is smooth and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll it into a 20 to 24 inch square. Spread with a thin layer of softened butter right to the edge. Mix the 1/2 cup of sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle over the butter. Sprinkle the almonds (if using) over the cinnamon sugar. Roll up as for a jelly roll.

Grease a baking sheet and place the roll on the sheet, shaping it into a ring. Pinch the ends together to close the circle. With scissors, cut almost through the ring at 1/2″ intervals. Turn each piece so that the cut side is exposed.
Let rise until almost doubled. (Umm…. I just noticed this step as I was copying the recipe from the cookbook. It goes without saying that I skipped it. I might have to have a recipe redo, just to perfect it even more . . . and to eat more cinnamon buns).

Preheat the oven to 375*F. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until just golden. While the ring bakes, mix the glaze ingredients. Brush while hot with the glaze.


This recipe was submitted to Yeastspotting
23 Sep

Afternoon Tea with the Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook

With the start of football season I’m free on Sundays for the next 5 months. I still haven’t gotten into football enough to truly enjoy wasting my Sundays watching it so I’m finding other ways to keep myself busy.

Last weekend I had my girlfriends over for afternoon tea. I made good use of my new Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook for snacks to nibble on with our orange pekoe.

Downton Abbey Tea

Afternoon tea always starts with sandwiches. I made the classic cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese, mayo, and dill. I left the crusts on though to show off these tiny loaves of buttermilk bread I made specifically for dainty miniature sandwiches.

Downton Abbey Tea - Cucumber SandwichesClassic Cucumber Sandwiches on slices of mini loaves of buttermilk bread.

Scones are also a must at afternoon tea. I considered making clotted cream but settled for lemon curd instead. The scones I made from the Downton Abbey cookbook had more of a chewy muffin consistency than a dense, flaky scone consistency. They were good, but I like these scones better.

Downton Abbey Tea - Lemon CurdDownton Abbey Tea - Scones

Lemon Curd and Scones

The third course of afternoon tea is the sweets like cakes and cookies. I opted for cookies (because, if you don’t know by now, I really love cookies). I made Ginger Biscuits and Custard Creams. The Ginger Biscuits are really good dunking cookies. The Custard Creams are made with custard powder which gives them a lightness and they’re filled with buttercream which gives them a richness. I had to make 2 batches of Custard Creams because Matt and I ate the entire first batch– they were that good.

Downton Abbey Tea - BiscuitsGinger Biscuits (left) and Custard Creams (right)

Classic Custard Creams

Custard Creams are the most popular biscuit in Britain. Made with custard powder the cookie has a lightness to it, but the buttercream filling gives it a richness.

Cookies:

1 c butter, softened
1 t almond extract
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c custard powder

Cream:

1/2 c butter, softened
2 t vanilla extract
1 T milk
2-1/2 cups icing sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Cream together butter, almond extract, and sugar until light and fluffy.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour and custard powder, then slowly mix into butter-sugar mixture o form a malleable dough. Roll dough into small balls and place on prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. With a fork, press down lightly on dough to make an impression.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until set, but do not let brown. Let cool for 7-10 minutes on cookie sheet, then move to rack to cool completely while you make cream filling.

For cream filling:
Cream butter until smooth. Add vanilla and milk and beat to combine. Slowly mix in powdered sugar, being careful to avoid lumps. Beat until smooth.

Form sandwiches with cookies, putting cream in the middle. Let cookies set for 2 hours before serving.

These biscuits freeze really well.

18 Sep

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup Recipe and Prevention RD Cookbook Review

I was really excited when Skyhorse Publishing offered me a review copy of Prevention RD’s Everyday Healthy Cooking, Nicole Morrissey’s first cookbook.

Prevention RD's Everyday Healthy Cooking

I’ve been reading PreventionRD.com for years and have made tonnes of her recipes in the past (like this Spinach and Goat Cheese Rolled Omelette or this Slow Cooker Navy Bean Soup) and they’re all recipes that I make over and over again.

Keep in mind that Nicole and I are Internet friends (and there was that one time last month that we met IRL too), so this review may be biased, but I’ll try to be as honest as I can.

The Dishes

I made 3 recipes from the book— Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, Pesto Mashed Potato Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms, and Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Spinach. I tried to follow the recipes as written so I could get an accurate review but I admittedly made a few adjustments.

DSCF4163Light Buttermilk Ranch

I was a fan of the Light Buttermilk Ranch (I made it twice!). I’d encourage you to stick with the recommended Greek yoghurt; I used regular plain yoghurt and it wasn’t as creamy as it should have been. The flavour was great though– much better than any bottled dressing.

Stuffed Portobello MushroomsPesto Mashed Potato Stuffed  Portobello Mushrooms

Matt and I really enjoyed the Pesto Mashed Potato Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms. I liked the tip of scooping out the gills of the mushrooms before filling them. You get a lot more pesto mashed potatoes that way and that filling is damn good. I whipped the potatoes with a hand blender so they were super smooth and luxurious. I followed the recipe exactly but I had quite a bit of filling left over (not complaining) and I think I could have gotten another 2 mushroom caps with it.

Lemon Orzo SoupLemon Chicken Orzo Soup

The Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Spinach was our favourite of the recipes I’ve made so far. It had a great tartness from the lemon that made it feel light and summery, but it was hearty enough to be a meal on its own. I might have unhealthified it by swapping the olive oil for schmaltz (ie. rendered chicken fat). Sorry Nicole! But I did use (sodium free!) homemade chicken broth.

Overall Impressions

I liked how simple all the recipes were. Most recipes only had a handful of steps which were very intuitive anyway. I probably could have guessed the directions just by looking at the recipe name and ingredient list. I like that because I do this anyway with a lot of cookbooks, and also because it makes the recipes really accessible to people who are new to healthy cooking.

I liked the healthy icons that told you at a high level whether a recipe was high in fibre or heart healthy or vegan, etc. Nutritional information is provided for each recipe which takes away the guesswork for people tracking calories or macronutrients.

I would have liked to see an index at the back of the book pointing me to recipes by ingredients. I use indices often when I have an ingredient and want to find a recipe for it.

Aesthetically the book is great. It’s easy to read and well laid out. I noticed the balance of a few of the photos seemed a bit off in a way that me think there was an issue with the printing rather than the photography itself. Nicole always takes gorgeous pictures that are well-balanced and well-composed and most of the ones in the book hit the mark, except a select few.

Overall I liked the book a lot. I suspect I’ll be using it a lot for quick, easy, and healthy dinner ideas.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Spinach

as printed in Prevention RD’s Everyday Healthy Cooking

Ingredients

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
4 carrots, halved lengthwise and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
12 c low sodium chicken broth
1 lb rotisserie chicken meat
8 oz orzo pasta
1/2 c fresh lemon juice (~2 lemons)
zest of 1 lemon
black pepper, to taste
8 oz baby spinach

Directions

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat il on medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery. Cook until vegetables begin to soften and onion becomes translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or so. Add bay leaf, thyme, oregano, and pepper. Cook for another 30 seconds or so and add broth. Bring to a boil then partially cover and turn down to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are just soft, approximately 5-6 minutes.

Add pasta, lemon juice, and zest. Stir. Simmer 7-8 minutes.

Add cooked chicken. Allow to heat through. Stir in baby spinach and allow it to wilt in hot broth. Remove bay leaf, and serve.

Yield: 8 servings, (2c each)

Nutritional Information (per serving):

246 calories, 2g fat, 47mg cholesterol, 214mg sodium, 31g carb, 3.6g fibre, 24.5g protein

12 Sep

Granola with BIG Clusters

DSCF4180

I really like America’s Test Kitchen because they let you in on all sorts of culinary tips and tricks that, when implemented, work really well. It’s comforting knowing that they did a number of tests to find the best results for a recipe.

I found this little granola-making trick on America’s Test Kitchen and recently implemented it. It results in a nice, chunky granola with big clusters (which are, let’s be honest, the best part of any granola).

Most granola recipes call for regular stirring while the granola bakes, but this one is quite different.

The Process for Chunky Granola with Big Clusters

Step 1: Press down the granola mixture into a baking sheet creating a compact layer.

Step 2: Bake the granola without stirring, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

Step 3: Once the sheet of granola has cooled, break it up into pieces.

Basically you’re making granola bars and then breaking them up into granola. And it works like a charm.

I used the technique on this granola recipe and it turned out to be the chunkiest granola ever. Take notes my friends, because this process is a winner.
DSCF4177

22 Aug

Three British Things

I’m looking forward to the upcoming premiere of Series 4 of my favourite show, Downton Abbey.

Downton Abbey Cookbook

Last week my friend Andrea gave me The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook for my birthday and I am SO excited about it. Maybe even more for this than for the show.

The book is broken down into an ‘Upstairs’ section– dining with the Crawleys, with recipes for a full 7 course service– and ‘Downstairs’ section– dining with the service staff, with hearty no-frills recipes. I love how each recipe ties into the characters of the show and how tidbits of historical information and turn of the century etiquette are peppered throughout the book. I’m both a history nerd and a cooking enthusiast, so I find it all fascinating.

I haven’t made any recipes from the book yet but I’m eyeing some classic recipes like Saxe-Coburg soup, Beef Wellington, 7-Hour Leg of Lamb, Battenberg Cake, and Custard Creams.

AND I’m very seriously considering hosting a Downton Abbey themed dinner party or, if that’s too ambitious, at the very least an afternoon tea.

broadchurch

In other British TV news, I started watching Broadchurch.

It’s a mystery about a the murder of a boy in a small coastal town and how various townspeople are related to the events of the death. It’s quite captivating so far and I’m only 3 episodes in.

I recommend it.

Major Pettigrew

And following what seems to be a British theme in this blog post, I just finished reading Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simpson.

It’s a book about a dignified, retired army Major living in the English countryside, his relationship with a woman of Pakistani descent, and their interactions with their families and neighbours. The characters are really charming, particularly Major Pettigrew, who it written with such an extreme sense of duty and manners that it is almost comical.

Overall I really enjoyed the story, finding it elegantly humourous and really well written.