Jul 162016

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The June/July book selection @ Cook The Books is Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy

I’ve never read this author before so I was excited to read this book.

The book is about Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather who are starting a catering business in Dublin. Add some relatives, friends, and some minor characters here and there and well, I thought there was just too many characters.

It’s a bit longer than what I prefer, and I do think it could have been a shorter and still had the same impact on the reader, but it did flow along well enough to keep my interest.

The book ended rather abruptly I thought, and kind of left me wondering what was next. Overall, this was a good book and I’m glad I read it.

There were so many foods mentioned in the book, and I wrote the name and page number of all the ones that I thought I might make. I finally narrowed it down to  two, Paella, which is mentioned on page 156 and Irish Stew which is mentioned on page 480.  I finally settled on Paella since I’ve never had it.

Here is what is said when the Paella is mentioned:


Tom said that the whole trick for the estate agents’ reception was setting up the Spanish atmosphere. Cathy said that was all very well certainly, but they must have a whole range of tapas to start. Followed by a knockout paella with all the right flavors.


I found a recipe here, and adapted it a bit:
Quick Chicken & Chorizo Paella
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
14 ounces chorizo, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 small onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pimenton or paprika (I used pimenton, which is just smokier)
2 cups short- or medium-grain rice
1 pinch saffron threads
2 bay leaves
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 pounds chicken, cut into chunks (didn’t use)
1/2 cup frozen peas (I used a cup)
1 tomato, chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400°F.
Heat oil in a large casserole or paella pan over high heat.
Add chorizo and cook until browned and fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add onion, red bell pepper, and garlic.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes.
Add rice (medium or short grain rice), pimenton, saffron, and bay leaves.
Stir to combine and coat the rice, about 1 minute.
Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
Add roast chicken, frozen peas, and tomato; stir to combine.
Transfer skillet to oven.
Cook uncovered until rice is tender and no liquid remains, about 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven.
Fluff with a fork and serve immediately.


I had both the chicken and chorizo on the counter to use, but decided to go with just the chorizo. The next time I make it I’ll use just the chicken, then both.

This was really good and very easy to make. The paella was full of flavor and was all I needed as a main dish. The recipe made enough for 6 bowls, so there’s plenty leftovers, saving you from having to cook the next night and/or trying to figure out what to take for lunch.

Cook The Books

Weekend Cooking

 Posted by at 12:05 AM

  22 Responses to “Cook The Books: Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy
Quick Chicken & Chorizo Paella”

  1. I think I read that book years ago. Is it part of a series?

  2. I have read every single book Binchy wrote. Here earlier books were better, in my opinion, but I did like this one. And I had to laugh when I saw your representative meal, that’s what I’m making !
    I started writing up my review on the book blog, haven’t participated in Cook the Books in years.

  3. Cook the Books sounds fun! I’ll have to check it out. I haven’t read this book or any by Binchy but I own this and several of her other book and have really been wanting to read it. The Paella sounds amazing! I’m not sure I’ve ever had really good paella but I’d love to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Glad you enjoyed the book overall, I did too, though had more reservations than with some of her other books. Your Paella does sound delicious, I haven’t made one for so long and now want one.

  5. I’ll probably give Scarlet Feather a pass, especially since I seem to have given away my Maeve Binchy catalog when I moved, but the paella sounds great!

  6. Oh my! Doesn’t this sound yummy!

  7. Maeve Binchy has been on my reading list for a while but never quite rises to the top. All that food might make me more interested. Thanks!

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  8. I am making my CTB dish today. I definitely considered Paella–your version sounds delicious.

    There were definitely a lot of characters in the book which is something the Binchy books I have read have in common–along with the length usually. 😉

    Glad you are joining in this round of Cook the Books!

  9. Paella – oooh tasty. Have a great week. Cheers from Carole’s Chatter

  10. I’ve never cooked paella before but but my family would love it! I’ve mostly seen it with seafood, but think we’d prefer the chicken and chorizo.

  11. I remember reading Scarlet Feather years ago. I love Maeve Binchy books.

  12. This was my first Maeve book as well, long ago. I love how it’s such an ordinary thing that happens in the books. I’ve tried to read all her books, but I’m a little bit behind. I dedicate the month of March to her, and I don’t mind doing a re-read. They are a bit long, but I’m always sorry they are done.

    I must try Paella.

    I’ve recently started to read Louise Penny, and if you check her out on Facebook, she’s featuring recipes from her many mysteries. P.S. I’m in love with Inspector Gamache.

  13. Hi Vicki,

    I have read a few of Maeve’s earlier books, but I am by no means an avid fan and have never read ‘Scarlet Feather’.

    The length of her stories also does appear to be a bit random, with some being much shorter and more manageable than others. At just short of 600 pages, I must admit that ‘Scarlet Feather’ probably wouldn’t be top of my TBR pile either.

    There are always an entire plethora of characters in Maeve’s books, it was almost one of her writing trademarks and the ability to build strong characters one of her major assets.

    I had great fun checking out ‘Cook The Books’, which I hadn’t come across before and I am pleased that you have become a paella convert. I love this style of one-pot cooking, although I generally cook it off completely on the cooker hob, rather than transferring to the oven.

    A lovely fun post, thanks for sharing 🙂


  14. I read Scarlet Feather years ago, too. The paella sounds delicious…. my husband loves it, but I’ve never tried to make it myself.

  15. I haven’t ever read Binchy … I’ll have to add her to my list. I too have never made paella, though I love it. Sorry I was so late getting here this week — we were off camping and had almost no internet connection.

  16. I remember that passage where paella was mention. Glad you joined up this month!

  17. Vicki, if you have a photo of the dish, I can add it in to the round-up. You hadn’t emailed or commented on the CTBC site so I almost forgot to include this. 🙂

  18. Well I have a paella pan but have never tried to make this dish so must need to try it soon. Thanks for the dish! PS I didn’t like the long book either

  19. Yum! That sounds delicious! and yes, the book, totally could’ve been shorter and ended super abruptly!

  20. It looks like Paella was quite inspiring. It is a great dish.

    I also wonder what happened after the book ends.
    I like how their friendship and partnership evolved, but I am worried about the strain created by their demanding job.

    P.S. I remember having Irish stew during my visit to Ireland, many years ago. It had Guinness beer as an ingredient.

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