Jul 10

Cookbook 124: The Working Cook: Quick recipes for busy people

I found The Working Cook: Quick recipes for busy people, by Carina Cooper, in Coburg’s Little Free Library.  I was lucky, because after I found this book and took it home, someone set the Little Free Library on fire, and everything was destroyed.  It’s since been restored, and I need to drop by again and find out what is there now.

This book is quite British, but the ingredients aren’t hard to find in Australia, and the recipes aren’t too complex, some of them are quick as advertised, and there are sections for slower dishes such as those you might want to cook on a weekend for friends – even those dishes are not particularly difficult to prepare. The dishes we prepared were very tasty and successful, and this will be a book I enjoy coming back to.  Overall 3.5 stars out of 5.

Spaghetti with spring onions, Gorgonzola & chives


  • 150g spaghetti
  • 2 knobs of unsalted butter (4 tablespoons)
  • 8 spring onions, sliced
  • 125g Gorgonzola cheese
  • a pinch of vegetable stock powder
  • 2 tablespoons single cream
  • a generous splash of white wine
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • a bunch of fresh chives


  1. Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling, salted water as per the packet instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, melt a knob of butter in a frying pan and gently saute the spring onions until soft.  Stir in the Gorgonzola and let it melt, then sprinkle over the stock powder and stir in the cream.  Let it simmer gently for a moment or two, then add the wine and 3 tablespoons of the cooking water from the spaghetti.  Simmer to reduce slightly.
  3. Drain the spaghetti and return to the pan.  Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper, adding more cheese if required, then pour the sauce over the pasta in the pan. Add the other knob of butter.  Set over a moderate heat and mix the pasta and sauce really well, snipping over the chives as you do and mixing them in well.  Check the seasoning and serve.

Notes on this recipe:

  • Not being a fan of cheese with mould in it, I didn’t taste this dish.  Those who are fans of cheese with mould in it, found the dish absolutely delicious and were sad that they couldn’t finish it all off.
  • I added extra spaghetti than the amount recommended here. Probably about 250g – 300g in total.  The sauce certainly went that far, and no one felt cheated – just so you know.
  • This recipe (as written) only serves 2.

Roast Chicken stuffed with lemon thyme served with lemon and parsley mashed potatoes


  • 1 medium chicken (1.2kg – 2kg)
  • bunch of fresh lemon thyme
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • olive oil
  • salt

Mashed potatoes:

  • 12 – 18 medium potatoes, such as King Edward or Desiree, peeled and cut into even pieces
  • a large knob of butter (2 – 3 tablespoons)
  • full fat milk
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • a small handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the chicken in a roasting dish.  Crush the lemon thyme in your fish, then rub it all over the bird.  Stuff the thyme into the body cavity with half of the onion.  Put the garlic bulb and the remaining onion in the dish alongside the chicken.  Pour olive oil boldly over the bird, then sprinkle with salt, which should sit on the skin almost like a crust.
  2. Put the dish into the oven and roast for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, basting every 30 minutes or so with the juices in the dish.  To check if the bird is done, gently insert a knife or skewer between the leg and the breast; the juices should run out clear.
  3. Remove from the oven, tipping the chicken so the juices run out of the body cavity into the dish.  Put the chicken on a plate and set aside in a warm place to rest for at least 20 minutes.  Set aside the roasting dish with the juices, garlic bulb and onion wedges.
  4. About 10 minutes before the chicken is cooked, make the mashed potatoes.  Put the potatoes in a large saucepan with plenty of cold, generously salted water.  Bring to the boil, then cook for about 20 minutes or until a fork easily penetrates the potatoes.  Drain well.  Return the potatoes to the pan, add the butter and start mashing.  When you’ve mashed out the lumps, slowly add the milk, adding enough to make the texture you like.  Add a large pinch of salt and a few big turns of the pepper grinder.  Fold in the lemon zest and parsley.  Keep hot.
  5. Break up the garlic bulb, take half of the cloves and squeeze the cooked garlic out of the skins into the juices into the roasting dish.  Reheat the juices in the roasting dish on top of the stove, mashing in the garlic. Serve the chicken with the mashed potatoes, garlicky juices, and the remaining garlic and onion.

Notes on this recipe:

  • One of the more fiddly dishes in the book, this roast chicken was really tasty.  Thanks to the basting it was very tender and moist, the garlicky juices were perfect, and well mashed potato isn’t my thing, but it was ok.
  • We did find the suggestion that we should pour olive oil “boldly” amusing, and this recipe really does need to be read in full before you start cooking.
  • We still don’t know if we poured the olive oil over the chicken boldly enough.

Chocolate marquise with raspberries


  • 100g best-quality dark chocolate
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon orange flower water
  • 150ml double cream
  • fresh mint leaves (for decoration)
  • raspberries, to serve


  1. Line a 16cm round tin or an 8 x 22cm loaf tin with cling film.
  2. Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of hot water and melt gently.  Remove from the heat and stir until smooth.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter with half the sugar until pale and fluffy.  Sift in the cocoa and mix well.
  4. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until pale and smooth, then add the orange flower water.
  5. In a third bowl, whip the cream until thick.
  6. Mix the melted chocolate into the butter mixture, then fold in the egg yolk mixture, and finally, fold in the cream.  Spoon into the tin and chill for 3 hours or until set.
  7. Turn out the marquise onto a serving dish and cut into four to six slices.  Decorate with mint leaves and serve with raspberries or other fruit of choice.

Notes on this recipe:

  • I don’t like orange blossom water, but you couldn’t really taste it in this unless you also served it with ice cream.  So if you love orange blossom water, then serve it with ice cream for the full effect.
  • Really, the orange blossom water could be substituted for rose water or alcohol.
  • I served this with raspberries and strawberries.  It was very good


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