Which recipe is the best from Hetty McKinnon’s new cookbook?

Earlier this week we roadtested seven different recipes from Hetty McKinnon’s new cookbook, Neighbourhood and invited Hetty to come in and select the best one. Here are the results of the cook-off…

Jan Lockwood made ‘Israeli chopped salad with tomatoes, cucumber, radish and feta’ (pg. 123):


No cooking involved here, just chopping, chopping, chopping. You do need a great knife for chopping tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and radish. And another great knife for finely chopping fresh green chilli, Chinese shallots, and soft herbs. Toss through some lemon, oil and seasoning, then scatter feta cheese and you’re done. While I was preparing this dish, it struck me how pleasant it would be to have more people working alongside me, each of us responsible for a couple of ingredients. Not just me being lazy, but more thinking about the spirit of the book and its title. The recipe certainly provides enough food for about ten people and it was a fresh, crunchy and delicious accompaniment to our lunch.

Judges' comments: Bright, zesty, and fresh, fresh, fresh. In many ways, the perfect salad to accompany any dish – it was crunchy and yummy and healthy and goes with absolutely everything. Brilliantly done and very well chopped.

Anthony Shaw made ‘Eggplant with haloumi, beetroot tzatziki and yoghurt flatbreads’ (pg. 129):


Although there are numerous elements to this dish, the simplicity of each one makes this is now my new go-to entertaining recipe for spring. The flavour combinations, textural variances and the vibrancy of the beetroot tzatziki, make it perfect for sharing with family and friends. The biggest surprise for me was learning how easy it was to create the yogurt flatbreads. These will definitely be featuring at future barbecues and picnics throughout the warmer months ahead as not only were they tasty and just so easy to make – they also looked very impressive. The premise of Neighbourhood is food to be shared with friends and loved ones and that resonated with me while I was preparing the recipe, as I felt that everyone would love at least one part of the dish, even if they didn’t love all of it. I can’t wait to try many more of Hetty’s fantastic recipes with my family and friends.

Judges' comments: The finished platter was nothing short of breathtaking. The colour of beetroot dip has to be seen to be believed, and the subtle flavours of the dip = glorious. The haloumi was delicious and the flatbreads a triumph. 10/10.

Stella Charls made ‘Seedy soba noodles with Asian herbs’ (pg. 159):


I think the recipes in this book absolutely shine when many dishes are served alongside each other for a whole group of people: think dinner parties, picnics or any kind of bring-a-plate occasion. I only had half an hour to make something for Hetty, which turned out to be plenty of time. All I needed to do was toast some seeds and cook the soba noodles – five minutes max! The dish was perfect to bring to work as well. I just pulled the noodles straight out of the fridge, then stirred through the dressing, seeds and assorted herbs. Seriously yummy, and you could easily add some cold broccoli or beans if you were after something a little more hearty. This one is sure to become a lunch staple for me!

Judges' comments: An extraordinarily light and tasty noodle dish. Filled with crunchy little seeds, the noodles were dressed with tangy, delightful flavours. The coriander, mint and basil combined into a joyful, herb-i-lious explosion! And it tasted just as good the day after, as it did when it was freshly served.

Lian Hingee made ‘Brussels sprout caesar with croutons, borlotti beans and sunflower seeds’ (pg. 55) AND ‘Lemon curd and coconut slice’: (pg. 196):


This salad is really quick and easy, especially if you’re good at multi-talking and are prepared to be a bit of a kamikaze on the mandolin slicer. Plus, it’s good salad to make the night before if you’ve got an event upcoming and know you’re going to be time-poor in the lead-up. I loved the addition of fresh herbs in the salad and I was pleasantly surprised by how crisp and tasty the raw Brussels sprouts were.

Judges' comments: This salad could single-handedly turn around the negative perception that poor brussels sprouts still seem to suffer from. It was creamy and tasty, and felt rich and decadent, even though it’s as healthy as can be. The lemon curd and coconut slice (while not quite as healthy!) was the ultimate treat – tangy, coconutty, and mouth-wateringly delicious.

Elke Power made ‘Sumac-roasted cauliflower with spiced freekeh and pomegranate’ (pg. 113):


This recipe is straightforward and easy – as long as you allow for the vagaries of your oven. To get ahead of any tomfoolery, I roasted the cauliflower the night before and while the elusive ‘golden’ colour did not arrive punctually between 20-25 minutes, it did deign to arrive in the end. I was a little apprehensive when adding the pomegranate molasses, which I hadn’t used before, but I needn’t have been – it wasn’t overpowering and added a nice kick. A conviction that the salad looked like an homage to beige mercifully passed when the mint, coriander and basil leaves added bright, contrasting colour and texture. The herbs were only surpassed by the obvious stars of the dish: Nigella Lawson’s much-referenced ‘jewels’, AKA pomegranate seeds.

Judges' comments: Hearty and satisfying, this dish embodies old-fashioned home-cooked goodness. The cauliflower was flavoured just right, and the freekeh had a wonderful texture. The pomegrante seeds provided an extra little sweet burst of happiness.

Bronte Coates made ‘Homemade paneer with lime pickled cauliflower and black eye beans’ (pg. 185):


I picked this recipe because I wanted to have a go at making my own paneer – and it was so easy! Hetty’s recipe sees you bringing milk to a slow boil, adding lemon juice, stirring the pot until the curds separate from the whey, and then draining through a muslim coated colander (with something very heavy on top to squeeze as much liquid out as possible). You do use a lot of milk but I felt so impressed with myself it was worth it. I’ll definitely be making next time I feel like a curry.

Judges' comments: Possibly the most ambitious dish, with the challenge of creating your own paneer! The challenge was met with aplomb, as the paneer was excellent. The tang of the lime blended wonderfully with the beans and overall it was a delectable experience.

And the winner is…


We have signed copies of Neighbourhood available to buy at a special price online and in all of our shops, while stocks last.



Hetty McKinnon

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