Monday, 10 March 2014

minced turkey with thai basil

Having spent yesterday afternoon in a beer-fuelled rage at the lack of a Welsh performance at Twickers, I fully expect today to be a nightmare of hangover, hunger and boredom as tasks are slowly petering out at work. Although as it turns out I’ve inadvertently discovered a surfeit of booze is the secret ingredient to surviving a fasting day.

Maybe it’s the sugar in it, or the fact it’s another beautiful spring day, but today flies by and not even a text from Ana revealing how she’s fallen off the calorie wagon can shake my will. It’s either that or I’m so massively hungover I’m too delirious to notice my stomach cramping.

Even better, I’m so adept at making this thai lettuce confection it literally takes 10 minutes, which means we’ve got Milo into bed and Harry Potter-ed up, Ana’s started marking and the mince is plopping into its leafy spoons long before University Challenge has even started:

However if this efficiency does has a downside, it’s the fact by eating earlier it means we’ve got a longer time than usual to be hungry in until bedtime. Damn you efficiency!

minced turkey with thai basil - Delicious, October 2009, p126

Sunday, 9 March 2014

kay's sausage and guinness casserole

A third beautiful day running after wettest winter on record - could this be spring springing? Actually, despite the wall-to-wall rain I don’t remember this winter being particularly not sunny.

It's so nice I disappear off for my first jaunt around Richmond Park of the year, but I’ve got to be back in time to take Ana to Kensington for lunch with Kendra, and then I’ve got to get back in time to take Milo to a birthday party in Brentford, and once I’ve dropped him off I’ve got to be back in time for the England v Wales game and may be a brewski or two whilst super Georgey North runs in a hattrick.

Things sort of run like clockwork, with a couple of hiccoughs: I don’t leave early enough for my run so I only just get back in time to take Ana, who is less-than pleased to be travelling in the smelliest cab in London. The traffic coming back isn’t kind, so Milo has to sacrifice his lunch to my need for a shower, but at least I smell fresh when we make it to the party venue by the skin of our teeth. Traffic across Kew Bridge is a nightmare so I miss the first 10 minutes of the match (fortunately including that insufferable c0ck Danny Care’s try), but then it’s all cold beers and crisps on the beanbag as Wales stride towards another championship. Apart from the fact they’re utterly gash.

Still it is sunny, I have run 19.1K in fairly good pace and I’ve a fridge full of beers to sooth the pain. So much so at one point it looks like nobody is having dinner, Milo having eaten party food, Ana having lived it up on roast chicken at the Kensington Roof Gardens and I'm full of crisps and beer, but in the end some sort of sense prevails. Doubly so as we were umming and ahhing over a healthy and summery Vietnamese crab salad, but in the end stodge and (more alcohol) wins out as we opt for Kay’s sausage and Guinness casserole.

I go to bed very early.

sausage and Guinness casserole - Mrs Kay McCarthy, now in the Black Book

Saturday, 8 March 2014

chicken, chorizo and cider pie

Why is it when you need to get kids out of bed to go to school, they cling to their duvets shrieking and wailing, but come the weekend they decide to get up absurdly early? I mean wtf?

Obviously this is a terrible thing but Milo’s absurdly early rising (for him/us) does have benefits as this weekend we’re on a tight schedule. As I see it we need to achieve the following:

· Rugby (Milo)
· Haircut (Ana)
· Go for a run (me)
· Get lovely booze
· Tidy house
· Entertain the Sheffords’ to dinner: Cook pie, and pudding
· Lunch with Kendra
· Sana’s 6th birthday party
· Watch Wales v England
· Do homework
· Mark books
· Tidy house (again)

Phew - lucky we only had a couple of glasses of wine last night, so we can swing into immediate action on points 1 to 6.

As is the way of things, we do our best to balls up the smooth running of operations but despite forgotten house keys and a fruitless street search for a wife with too many shopping bags, we do end up with a hearty chicken and chorizo pie and veg (including blue mash) followed by rhubarb crumble, only an hour later than scheduled:

I'd also like to point out that the mash is entirely due to being made with heritage blue potatoes rather than any food colouring - and the kids wolfed it down! Top tip there middle class types with access to heritage veg... and as I type that, I realise how much I hate myself.

chicken, chorizo and cider pie - Delicious, November 2011, p76

Friday, 7 March 2014

peter gordon's fried halloumi topped with chilli, spinach, water chestnut, hazelnut, orange and sun-blushed tomato salad

Things have gone slightly awry on the recipe front this week, because rather than the traditional Friday night curry, or chilli, curry or maybe even a curry, tonight we’re having Peter Gordon’s halloumi salad thingy. Not that this isn’t normally this is a great dish of course, but it doesn’t shout ‘welcome to the weekend’, and particularly not if you’ve been down the pub for a couple of hours.

Any chance of this minor disgruntlement turning into Camden Brewery-fuelled rage is handily diverted to flailing confusion because once again, I completely forget how to construct this recipe. I’ll have to take a picture when we’re next chez the Taylors. Anyway, using previous images as a guide I broadly manage to knock-it together pretty accurately, and although I forgot to soak the chestnuts in salted lemon juice, I did remember to infuse the oil with chilli and garlic.

To reiterate, this is in no way a Friday night dinner, but it is rather jolly and I think I’ve finally found a brand of halloumi that I like.

fried halloumi topped with chilli, spinach, water chestnut, hazelnut, orange and sun-blushed tomato salad - Peter Gordon, Salads: The New Main Course, p65 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

poached egg and new potato salad with crispy bacon and mustard dressing

poached egg and new potato salad with crispy bacon and mustard dressing - Delicious One Month Healthy Eating Plan, February 2007, p10

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

bill granger's rigatoni with chicken bolognese

I can only predict this week ending in chaos.

Having spent last night telling me her version of Bill Granger’s chicken rigatoni is better than mine, and she’ll cook it on Friday as the forecast halloumi salad isn’t very ‘weekend-y’, how come I find myself cooking chicken rigatoni tonight?

Admittedly Ana does have some homework to mark, and as Felix is coming for a playdate tomorrow night it’ll be a handy dish to have ready to feed the ravening hordes, but *somebody* is definitely going to pull a face when she realises after tonight we’ve only got two lots of salad left in the fridge. Still, it’ll sort-of aid with ongoing battle with boombattyness.

Do I need to say anything about this dish now? We’ve been eating it since New Zealand (not the same batch), and it remains a classic standby, even if it’s virtually impossible to get hold of minced turkey or chicken in SW14.

rigatoni with chicken bolognese - Bill Granger, Simply Bill, p87

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

valli little's char siu beef and tenderstem broccoli

Bloody hell the early mornings are beginning to bite. I’m sure it’ll all be worthwhile when I’m collecting my third Booker Prize, and taking restraining orders out on Rachel Weisz and/or Hayley Atwell.

Having spent all day yawning at work, I at least managed to blow the cobwebs away with a fairly brisk gallop home, buoyed by bananas, biscuits and the fact the evenings are definitely getting lighter. Once back I manage to stave off both sleep and starvation with a super-quick Vietnamese char siu beef and noodle bowl care of lovely Valli Little:

I have to say it’s not what I remembered. This is not to say it’s not nice, it is with a nice balance of sweetness from the char siu and shaxong wine, and the garlic/ginger/chilli holy trinity of heat, but somehow it missed the head of the nail as well as the plank. In my head I was expecting this fresh and zingy Vietnamese soup, which we’ll be having next week now it’s stuck there.

char siu beef and tenderstem broccoli stir-fry - Valli Little, Delicious, August 2013, p110