As famous for his warm smile as he is for his delicious food, Ainsley Harriott is a certified stalwart of the telly. His latest cookbook, Ainsley’s Good Mood Food, captures the familiar joy that food and cooking brings to his own life, and explores Ainsley’s quest to help you discover it in every corner your kitchen. Accompanied by a new series airing on ITV, you can follow along as Ainsley shares uplifting meals and recipes to make you smile.
There are no shortage of comfort food recipes to choose from, like a soothing fish pie and a chocolate sponge traybake with salted caramel sauce, and an equally wide variety of feasts fit for friends and family. Ainsley also stays true to his roots, including nostalgic dishes from his own childhood. With a whole vegetarian and vegan chapter too, there really is something for everyone in this vibrant cookbook.
Read on to see how our group of volunteers got on with their choice of recipes from the new book.
Who: Steph Naulls – Head of Campaigns, Ebury
What I made: Speedy sautéed salmon in cherry tomato & basil sauce
What I thought: Forgive my terrible photo and presentation skills here – I couldn’t wait to dive into my dinner! The sauce for the salmon was so easy to make – I know I’m going to make this recipe time and time again for a quick weeknight dinner. Ainsley recommends basil, but I only had parsley to hand. I also could only find plum tinned tomatoes rather than cherry which broke down more than I’d have liked, but neither substitute took away from how good the finished dish tasted. I can’t wait to make it again and try with tagliatelle, as Ainsley suggests.
Who: Genevieve Halbert – Marketing Executive, The Happy Foodie
What I made: Calypso Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
What I thought: I’m a little bit obsessed with the 1970s classic that is pineapple upside down cake, so naturally I was drawn to Ainsley’s “calypso” twist. The vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg flavours of the spiced rum worked so well with the pineapple, and the tangy lime zest balanced out the sweetness of the cake very nicely. It also happened to be incredibly easy to make – it took me about 15 minutes to throw it together, plus half an hour in the oven. I’ll definitely be relying on this recipe to bring a little sunshine to the dark winter evenings, and next time I’ll make Ainsley’s coconut milk custard to go with it.
Who: Alice King, Ebury Publicity Manager
What I made: Thai-style salad with chilli-pickled cucumber
What I thought: This was such a fresh, vibrant salad, perfect for a weeknight meal, or as part of a bigger weekend spread. I didn’t have all of the vegetables in my fridge so I just swapped out a few ingredients for what I had in, and it still came out really well. I normally find soy mince can be a bit tasteless but the chilli, ginger, lime and the sauce made this pop. Definitely a dish I’ll be making again.
Who: Abby Watson, Marketing Manager
What I made: Tikka paneer with coriander and mint chutney
What I thought: A really delicious meal, full of flavour and easy to pull together. It’s a great BBQ dish if you’re looking for something a bit different – that said, if it’s not BBQ weather, Ainsley does offer alternative cooking instructions. I paired the skewers with the flatbread and chickpea salad suggested and also added some mango chutney to the plate which added some sweetness to the dish. I’ll definitely make it again – though I’m keen to work on my flatbread shaping, as they left a lot to be desired.
Who: Emily Brickell – Editor, Ebury
What I made: One-pot asparagus & artichoke orzo with spinach & pine nuts
What I thought: My photo is massively underselling this dish, which really wowed me and my partner. A super simple, weeknight meal. But, it would also be great for having people over because it tastes impressive, and is a one-pan, leave it in the oven job. I couldn’t get hold of pine nuts, but it was yummy without. I would recommend going the extra mile for the artichoke hearts, however, because they soak up the flavour in a truly delicious way. This is going to be part of my repertoire from now on!