Tuesday, 15 December 2009

cep & potato stew

cep & potato stew

cep & potato stew - Delicious, November 2009, p81
cauliflower cheese - Annabel Karmel, New Complete Baby Toddler Meal, p54

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

tomato curry & mushroom pappardelle

Suddenly a combination of cost and health has meant Simon Hopkinson's Tomato Curry has become something of regular meal. Jude's coming over tonight to watch Strictly, so the plan today is get some more tomatoes on our usual trip to the Farmer's Market this morning.

It starts off to plan; babyccino - check, feeding the ducks - check, Farmer's market - check. Then the ana's throw a spanner into our carefully nurtured routine, she needs a new frock for her birthday this week. However, what could've been an absolute disaster with monkey creating hell because he's bored/tired/hungry, and the ana's tearfully breaking down in the changing room trying to get out of her Dallas style shoulder pads, goes like a dream! Ana finds three amazing dresses in which she looks amazing in, and the milos flirts outrageously with the owner. We even get him in bed in time for us to tidy up *and* make Nigel Slater's mushroom pappardelle.

A quick afternoon trip to the supermarket because I forgot the tomatoes (gahhh!), it's full-steam ahead for Strictly and curry.

Food of the Milos
Crumpets and half of my Shreddies for breakfast, b-ccino, and a pear at the farmer's market before a snoopy snooze. More apples and pears in the afternoon, and the remaining mushroom pasta for dinner. This was later supplemented by a large amount of Strictly crips and howmous. Hmmmm...

mushroom pappardelle - Nigel Slater, Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries, p
tomato curry - Simon Hopkinson, Delicious, November 2007, p86

burgers and mulled wine

Well 'burger' singular. Last night was Christmas Party part deux, so it was a mixed bag of nutrition in the Barnes household; cereal for the lady half, and handfuls of mini-canapes and as much booze as I can bag before the free bar runs out. *However* unlike Wednesday, today I don't have a screaming hangover and we've got Barnes Christmas fair tonight.

Despite the rain (for the second year running), we head out to look at the Christmas trees, lights and eat fudge. The monkey loved it! On the way back we had some mulled wine and a [one] burger between the three of us, at the Coach and Horses. And that was it, dinner over. I'm not sure I like this diet...

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

beef stroganoff

Ooooh, I'm hungover today. Last night's leetle work drinkies have left me feeling a trifle brackish this evening, and not even a burger at lunchtime and a trip to the Turner exhibition at Tate Britain with Mr P Murphy ESQ help. No, only stodgy-stodge can help, quick sharp!

It does (thanks Billy G), and I even manage to struggle through with a glass of vino.

Incidentally, JMW Turner is one of my favourite painters. He was mad, hyper-competitive, a massive show-off and had a brilliant middle-name - Mallord! I might name our next baby 'Mallord', Mallord and Milo, Milo and Mallord. It has a ring ne c'est pas? Here's one of my favourite of his paintings:

Moonlight, a study at Millbank

Anyway, I digress...

Food of the Milos
It's a Julia day today so it's the usual opening course of cheerios/apricots/raisins/toast & philli, followed by ham omlette and apple for lunch and MORE spag bol for dinner.

beef stroganoff with buttered noodles - Bill Granger, Simply Bill, p33

Monday, 30 November 2009

beef fillet with celeriac and yoghurt remoulade & rich beef ragu

Another night of healthy-style experimental eating in our pursuit of six packs via the power of loads of grub.

However before the health I've got some planning ahead to do as tomorrow night I'm out for part one of the two Christmas parties I've got this week. This means pre-cooking tomorrow night's dinner so I've got something to stuff into my drunken-maw when I stumble through the door (whilst not waking the anas up of course) - classic spag bol. Well, rich beef ragu anyway. Whilst it simmers away I can get on with this evening's fayre.

After last night's mini-triumph, tonight we only have a 50% success rate. The celeriac and yoghurt remoulade (made with creme fraiche rather than yoghurt), whilst messy to make is pretty darn good. A bit like a creamy, cross between coleslaw and horseradish. However, the steak is a disaster, the recipe called for the fillet to be seared for two minutes on either side and then 40 minutes in the oven. I gave it up at 30 minutes, and even then they were on the dry side of well done - cocks! Still there's almost twice the required amount of remoulade to make up for it.

Food of the Milos
It's a cold, wet, grizzly Monday and the milos have a full day of swimming and playing before Grandma and Grandad come up for an evening at the ballet. So we stock him up with crumpets and marmelade for breakfast, cheese on toast before AND after his snoopy snooze, risotto for dinner and a superfood double-whammy of blueberries and pomegranate for pudding.

beef fillet with celeriac and yoghurt remoulade - Delicious, December 2009, p126
rich beef ragu - Delicious, March 2007, p51
no-stir tomato risotto - Simply Bill, Bill Granger

Sunday, 29 November 2009

chicken, beetroot and orange salad

We're back, albeit without pictures until I manage to sort out a new version of potatoshop, and we've a lovely new computer to play with - yay for insurance!

It's almost December, it's spent two days chucking it down and it's freezing so naturally we've got salad tonight. This is partly a preventative measure against the weight of stodgy casseroles, stews and roasts I'm planning, and the looming Christmas blow-out, but mainly because ana louise is being ridiculous and has decided she's fat. She's ridiculous.

It's pretty good, and the toasted cumin dressing is interesting, particularly with the beetroot and orange, although I think I'm still looking for decent wintry salad to carry us through.

Food of the Milos
It's a busy day for the monkey; despite the rain we go to the Natural History Museum to see the Dinosaurs, and then shopping in the afternoon. He also eats loads - Shreddies and two apples for breakfast, puffs and raisins at the museum and cauliflower cheese for dinner, with pomegranate for dinner. Secretly, we also had a pre-dinner of cauliflower cheese with him.

cauliflower cheese - Annabel Karmel, The Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner, p54
chicken, beetroot and orange salad - Delicious, December 2009, p122

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

rigatoni with pork & fennel sausage

The fact we're experiencing a sudden warm spell has put the mockers on my planned week of experimental 'harvest' dinners. The potato & mushroom stew last night benefited from the chill in the air, but tonight's balmy evening means I don't fancy cooking duck and olive casserole. Well, that and the fact it takes almost two hours... maybe tomorrow?

Instead I opt for a second sausagey meal in a week, this time from the House of Billy G: rigatoni with pork and fennel sausage. Sadly I can't get pork & fennel, so I have to make do with leek & chive, but it's still a pretty gutsy dish. Definitely a keeper, and has it has an interesting twist with the addition of wilted rocket.

rigatoni with pork & fennel sausage - Bill Granger, Holiday, p100

Monday, 26 October 2009

cep & potato stew

First day home alone whilst the anas and mtb are on the Isle of Wight for their quarterly procession around the cultural homeland, and the week of experimental dinners gets off to a wobbly start.

I'm a bit sleepy, and frankly I'm more than tempted to simply reheat the left-overs of last night's southern sausage stew. However sense prevails and I give the mushroom stew from November's Delicious a spin. Although obviously it does presuppose you're able to go mushrooming for 400g of ceps without a) poisoning yourself or b) getting bored. I opt for a punnet of chestnut mushrooms. They are organic though.

Anyway here's a top tip - even though you want to think your cep (organic chestnut mushroom) & potato stew is lovely and rustic, cooking it in the Le Creuset is completely wrong as everything burns to the bottom. It's bloody marvellous despite the fact it's molten nature burned seven layers of skin off my tongue a full five minutes after I dished up.

No pictures I'm afraid, the anas have taken the camera - booo! - but I'll definitely be having it again, so maybe next time?

cep & potato stew - Delicious, November 2009, p81

Incidentally, are November issues the best ones? Discuss...

Saturday, 24 October 2009

parsi lamb curry

For the first time in aaaaages, we've got a weekend with nothing on and can relax and take it easy, so the anas immediately book in a haircut. As is the way with all lady haircuts, this takes up 4000 hours and yet - AND YET! - still requires us to return later that day because Toni (or Guy - I'm not judging) failed to remove the dye properly. It does look lovely though...

Anyway, hair aside we spend the day running around with a the traditional trip to the duck pond and the farmer's market where I saw two things of note:
1. loads of cavalo nero - gaaaah!
2. a frenchman called Johnny F, dressed in a breton shirt and beret, selling ropes of garlic and onions from his bike. He was brilliant, and gave the milos the gift of a shallot. Mild stereotypical racism, sense of humour plus free shallots equals my new favourite thing.

I also bought a silicone slotted spoon to complete my birthday ladle, which is a triumph when it comes to dishing up tonight's curry - Atul Kochhar's Parsi Lamb Curry. I don't even know what a Parsi is...

Food of the Milos
After a couple of days of not much eating recently, the monkey has a good day of trencherman action: Poached egg on toast (and half of mine) for breakfast, babyccino, veggie rabbits and mash for lunch, and defrosted leek and potato soup for dinner. Plus the usual intake of humzinger, pear, apricots and raisins.

parsi lamb curry - Atul Kochhar, Delicious,

Thursday, 22 October 2009

chicken with cavalo nero

Still no cavalo nero, so this time I decide to use the other half of the savoy cabbage we had with the steak on Tuesday. It's a much more successful as a replacement than kale, but I'm counting the days till the black cabbage finally reappears...

chicken with cavalo nero
chicken with cavalo nero - bill granger, Simply Bill, p38

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

pumpkin & feta risotto

No pictures of the risotto, sorry got distracted by the monkey and his cafe-style blackboard:

At least we know what he had for dinner...

Food of the Milos
Jacket spud & Ladymeer
Cox's apple chips
Avocado flakes
Cherie tomatoes
Jus D'Elderflower

pumpkin & feta risotto - Donna Hay, Instant Cook, p66

Saturday, 17 October 2009

grilled chicken & chips

Day two of Operation ana, brenda and claire go to Bath for the Weekend dawns bright and early. Well b-jamin' wakes fairly early which wakes the milos but curiously I don't have to trudge down the stairs to get him milky as he's happy to roll around the bed and look out of the window at the sheep on the ham.

In the morning we go to the park and then head into Tewks for as close an approximation of our usual Saturday routine as we can get; babycino in a coffee bar (supplemented by a smartie biscuit), then we pop into my favourite second hand bookshop in the world where I buy Bond, Georgette Heyer, The Mabinogion and King Arthur, and the milos stack up all the John Grisham's in the alleyway. Finally we have a chat to the town cryer who somebody thinks is Captain Feathersword, then we go to talk to the silly sheep on the Ham. Suitably knackered by the ovine activity, mtb goes to bed and b-jamin gets up in time for davis to take him to the rugby club.

Dave plays the first half, and I make it to play the second half with dt and eddie babysitting, although seeing as I gave away the match-winning penalty they might rue the day I was invited. At the club the big men drink BEER and the little men run about like loonies and eat our chips, beans and sausages.

Back home we put the monkey's to bed between 1800 and 2130 hours and retire to a brilliant grilled chicken in peri-peri sauce by the daviss. He's not all that though because we've only got one can of guinness between us, and the off licence was closed. Bugger.

Food of the Milos
Banana, several different smoothies and apricots for breakfast, babycino and smarties for a snack, followed by cheese, tomatoes and marmite sandwiches for lunch. He didn't really eat the lunch, but he DID eat most of my chips and sausage at the rugby club. For dinner he had an organic baby chilli which had a surprising kick to it.

Friday, 16 October 2009

thurs: out / fri: curry in Tewks

Thursday night I'm at the Comedy Showcase launch at C4-towers, so my diet is mainly free booze, and teeny-tiny canapes. The rare beef ones were the best, and the spring rolls were the worst, but there's only so many mini-beef croutons in the world, and not enough to fill me up, so I switch to Guinness. Lovely to see the Press ladies again though...

Friday night is the start of Operation ana, brenda and claire go to Bath for the Weekend. Sadly spandy and k-cats have dropped out, so it's a depleted London posse who make their way to Tewkesbury for a mini-cup of tea/glass of vino before heading off and leaving the MEN in charge!

We get a take away from the Nirala and watch rugby on Sky whilst the mini-MEN sleep.

It's a good ending of the first day of Operation ana, brenda and claire go to Bath for the Weekend.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

pasta with cherry tomato sauce

With a weekend in Tewkesbury looming, and a bunch of stuff likely to go off unless we have three meals tonight, I decide to load up the freezer with some stew and soup, as well as cooking tea.

The plan is to cook my favourite stew - Beef Stew with Pumpkin - from the classic Delicious November 2007 issue, plus Bill's carrot-winning spiced carrot soup, and pasta with cherry tomato sauce. All at the same time. Behold!

full hobI can't believe the only photo I've got for the pasta comes from April, and it's a dish I cook pretty much most weeks. That's slack. Anyway, we eat the pasta, milo has some soup and stew in the fridge, and the rest goes in the freezer for 'a rainy day'.

pasta with cherry tomato sauce - Donna Hay, The Instant Cook, p58
beef stew with pumpkin - Delicious, November 2007, p78
spiced carrot soup - Bill Granger, Feed Me Now, p144

my birthday

36 - I don't so much have the key in the door as one foot in the grave. Still, is there any better way to start the half-way point in your life than with a beautiful sunny-yet-brisk day, breakfast made for me, three lovely cards (damn you postal workers), and a silicone ladle?

I even manage to keep it a secret at work until I casually wonder whether anybody wants to come down the pub for a birthday drink? God they hated that! The icing on the cake is the lovely Jude, Judy, Judith babysits for us and me and the anas go to The Idle Hour for a birthday dinner.

I had crab salad followed by one of their burgers, and the anas had stuffed mushrooms followed by pasta. Sadly the food wasn't as good as last time - it was a bit cold, there was only one person working so it took aaaages to get served, and it was all bit bland. BUT at least I got to go out with the anas on a pseudo-date.

roasted cod on spiced puy lentils

Tonight we're going to both battle obesity and seeing as we haven't had it for almost a month, eat fish. In fell swoop - c'est incroyable!

roasted cod on spiced puy lentilsThe lentils really make the dish - they're really beefy I suppose, with a good hit of chilli and garlic. I've also learned from last time and now we have the fish dish within a day of arrival. Frankly in this weather I can't be in the garden bleaching bins. Also, as a dish, it feels much more right in autumn/winter than spring/summer.

baked cod & lentils - Delicious, Eat your way to Better Health supplement, Lord knows when.

lamb & orzo bake with cherry tomatoes

It's Sunday, and today we do one of those peculiarly 'London' things to do - the sort we always talk about doing because we live here, but never actually bother with; we go to Hyde Park for a promenade.

With k-cats and fieeeeeeeeen, plus a small blonde bombshell on his new scooter in tow, we find ourselves at the most amazing, free, play park. Frankly, with a giant pirate ship, tee-pees, tree walks, slides, tunnels and the Lord knows what, I don't think the Princess of Hearts died in vain!

Knackered out from crawling through tunnels, the monkey conks out in the car. This is a good thing because I decide to drive out the autumnal drizzle by cooking lamb & orzo bake for dinner, which takes a good two to three hours.

lamb & orzo bakeTo be honest, it's fairly easy to cook but it's easier if you're not having to rescue your ladles, knives, lambs, paprikas, pots, chopping boards and magnets from small people wanting to 'help'. With episode two of Emma looming at 20.00, I start whilst he's having his afternoon snoopy-snooze, but typically it's still only just ready.

lamb & orzo bake - The Black Book!

tomato curry

Another Saturday, another curry. As it turns out this is the first 'proper' meal I have all day which in retrospect explains possibly my worst game of rugby for the past ten years in which I knocked on pretty much everything, and managed to miss almost every tackle coming my way.

It seems a day spent learning to drive, entertaining the milos in the park, then cycling to Isleworth *without* actually eating anything means you play like a tuberculosis-ridden chimney-sweep suffering from dropsy. V poor, but the curry was good!

tomato currysources
tomato curry - Simon Hopkinson, Delicious, November 2007, p86

experimental pasta

The anas are out with Hanne, Kendra and Ellie tonight so I'm home alone with nowt on telly and half a bag of kale in the fridge - I know how to live life on the edge.

As it is I watch the rugby on iPlayer and attempt to use the kale up in an experimental pasta dish which also handily enough uses up the last of the orecchiette up.

experimental pastaTo be honest, it's not that great. Kale's just rubbish isn't it? And orecchiette is possibly the worst pasta ever; under-cook it and it's like hard biscuits, over cook it and it's like gloopy cotton balls. Awful! Lucky I was a weeny-bit drunk.

experimental pasta - from my MIIIIIIIIIND! Although it was a close approximation of orecchiette with broccoli, from Delicious.

Friday, 9 October 2009

chicken, tomato and fennel casserole & leek and potato soup

I've had my eye on this dish for ages, and tonight seems as good a night as any to try it out. Despite the slightly controversial inclusion of fennel (although I love it), it's not a particularly memorable dish.

I mean it's okay, it's nice but it's hardly a taste sensation which is odd given it's got orange peel, smoked paprika, saffron, fennel and honey in it. Maybe that's why I'm disappointed with it, I expected more.

chicken, tomato and fennel casseroleAnyway, whilst the chicken is casseroling away I also take time to knock up some leek & potato soup for lunch this week, and a couple of portions for the monkey in the freezer.

leek & potato soupsources
chicken, tomato and fennel casserole - Bill Granger, Every Day, p132
leek & potato soup - Delicious Magazine

chicken with cavalo nero

For some reason - despite the fact it's supposed to be in season now - cavalo nero is impossible to find (in Waitrose/Ocado) at the moment. Having done some internet research I discover the Cavalo Nero isn't just a cabbage, but a type of kale. So, we have it with kale instead.

chicken with cavalo nero
It's not exactly a disaster, but it ain't great. The kale is too irony and tough to be wilted with lemon juice. Lucky the smallest bag you can buy is 250g eh? Balls.

chicken with cavalo nero - Bill Granger, Simply Bill, p38

keralan fish curry

keralan fish curry

keralan fish curry - Delicious, February 2009, p83

beef carbonade take 2

It's been a busy weekend and I can't be bothered to cook...

beef carbonade
beef carbonade - THE Black Book

milo's birthday - photos to come

A beautiful day for a beautiful monkey, sunday and mtb's second birthday is a beauty!

We wake up at an unusually decent time, and the three of us have tea (and milk) in bed whilst opening some presents and cards. We only open books in bed so it's all quite relaxed and nice.

After books we go into the flag-bedecked front room for the rest of his presents and breakfast before kayosaurus, mikeplodocus and amelia jamelia cecilia cordelia ophelia come up. Predictably he's more interested in the wrapping than the toys, but he at least likes the balloons - particularly the 'enormous' balloon.

Today's birthday treat is a trip on the train to the London Aquarium, where we meet Spandy, Ogregory, Harald and the newly-blonde Cerys. Everybody plays nicely, I think the Shark Walk came at just the right time, and we even managed to have a mini-picnic underneath the London Eye before everybody has to head home.

We have to be back at the flat for the arrival of my mum, Dan and Dylan. Mum brilliantly comes up with the goods and makes as close an approximation of the owl cakes I used to have for my birthday as 25 years, one house move and the onset of senioritis will allow. She even has a 'spare' cake just in case - that's being a mum for you!

And so a little blond boy goes to bed one year older, slightly fuller of cake than I would've liked, but still conks out immediately, despite not having his afternoon nap. A brilliant day indeed!

finn's christening

A busy weekend kicks off early today with Fiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeen's Christening, followed by monkey's birthday tomorrow. Who said weekends were supposed to be relaxing?

We get a cab to St Mary's Church in Hampstead for the Christening. Somewhat improbably, we're the first people there by about 15 minutes. Even more improbably they've got a box of books just inside the door, and hidden beneath a pile of junior bibles is a copy of Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you hear? So somebody is entertained. Until the service starts.

Consequently whilst Fiiiiiiiiiieeeen is loaded up with Catholic guilt and the anas renounce Satan, we're down the hill looking at the graves of Constable, and Philadelphia Austen. He quite liked the Angels, and the wooden beetle somebody had carved in the graveyard though, so it wasn't entirely disastrous.

Afterwards we have a brilliant long and late lunch at About Thyme, the restaurant Brian has part-ownership of: breads and olive oil, followed by piquillo peppers stuffed with wild mushrooms and goat's cheese (I think), roast beef and potatoes, spiced apple crumble for pudding, christening muffins and a surfeit of fine red wine. Fine wine, good company - what more do you need to while away a grim and cold Saturday?

We don't need any dinner by the time we get home, so monkey has his milk and goes to bed and we rug up and wrap presents/blow up balloons ready for the morning.

curry with Kate and Rob(in)

What's the point of Friday nights if not to invite friends over and have a curry? Admittedly I didn't cook tonight, but I did buy a lot of Badger Beer (and I'd had one or two fresheners at the Friday Night bar at work) so I'm more than happy to let Tiffin Box take the load.

Tonight Kate and Rob(in) come over and whilst we *do* learn slightly more about them biblically than we did before, this was off-set by excellent drunken silliness and a brilliant new side-dish Kate ordered: Brinjal Bartha - aubergines baked in olive oil and finished in a light sauce. Mmmmmm

The anas had mild old fashioned chicken curry, which has become her stock dish, and I had medium achari lamb, which has become my stock dish. I'd love to know what the quartered fruit stones are in it, they're slightly sour but I'm thinking maybe mango?

Anyway, it was an excellent night with only minimal real-ale-curry-bottom-burp repercussions in the morning.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

beef carbonade

We're edging closer to 'stew' weather and for ages I've had my eye on this recipe from the magical black book. No idea where it comes from, by it's relative position in the black book and the surrounding recipes I'm going to guess NZ-era Delicious. So Bill Granger, or Donna Hay or even Nigella as I remember she seemed to appear loads.

Anyway, I've never cooked it, and with a bag of potatoes slowly mouldering in the veg bowl, and the lure of beer being a key ingredient we have it tonight.

However I'm being slightly disingenuous to suggest I cooked it tonight. In fact I cooked it last night, letting it simmer away for two-three hours whilst we had pasta. Which meant all I had to do tonight was get in, stick the oven on for an hour whilst we put monkey to bed, and make the mash. Naturally we still ate at midnight, but a smallish moral victory was won I think.

Food of the Milos
Another Julia day, and this time he has his dinner there because the anas have started to learn French after school (although she immediately bails on the first lesson): cheerios, apricots and raisins for breakfast, loads of rice cakes as snacks, capelletti pasta with tomato sauce and fromage frais for lunch, and chicken, mash, veg and mango for dinner.

beef carbonnade - the black book

spaghetti with garlic and spinach

Because I'm running behind (a week behind to be precise) I can't quite remember what's happening here. I know yet another week of classic Midsomer has been ruined by some shite chav ball, and looking at what we had I can only presume we're at the end of the shopping week, hanging on in for the next delivery. To be honest though, left-over spinach only goes two ways in our house - chopped and in the freezer for the spicy meatballs, or into this garlic and pasta concoction.

spaghetti with garlic and spinachAccording to the accompanying pull-quote, Billy G uses spelt or wholewheat pasta because he 'really enjoys the nuttiness', which is obvious shorthand for 'totally not gay'.

Food of the Milos
He's at Julia's today, and for the second Wednesday running he refuses to go to sleep in the evening. It's not that he's being naughty of difficult, he's just not tired enough, so we let him run amok for a bit before he decides he's sleepy and goes to bed. This energy might be fuelled by the following: cheerios, raisins, apricots, toast and Phili. Pasta bolognaise for lunch, followed by grapes, and then pasta (again) for dinner because I didn't plan very well.

spaghetti with garlic and spinach - Bill Granger, Every Day, p98

Monday, 5 October 2009

minced turkey with thai basil

Experimental cookery madness tonight whilst Gok celebrates the country's bangers. Somewhere in the dim distant Delicious past, there was a weird recipe involving minced pork (I think) and lettuce leaves. We had it when were living in Lacy Road, but can I find the recipe now? Can I buggery, and the search on their website is terrible...

Anyway there's a similar recipe in the October issue so as the old and fat are getting their bits out for ana's entertainment I'm starting the first of my two meals of the evening.

minced turkey with thai basilI say 'two meals', but what I really mean is the first of two large helpings of the same dinner. Basically it's too easy to strip off lettuce leaves and help yourself as you plate up. Far too easy but on the other hand, what are you going to do with a third of a gem lettuce? Exactly!

Food of the Milos
MTB is in a funny-amusing mood at the moment. Rather than going to sleep he wants to stay awake and wear himself out spinning around in the front room OR lurk in the kitchen watching our dinner being cooked and claiming 'Milo eat whatever we're cooking'. In last night's case, 'Pie', and tonight he gets his wish. Pie!

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

Thursday, 1 October 2009

chicken and sweet leek pie

For one reason or another we're all knackered today. Okay, so it's a Monday but we're in deeper comas than usual for the beginning of the week.

Just as well dinner is half-cooked even if I still have pull the left-over meat off the chicken carcass. With the leeks, bacon and thyme stewing away slowly on the hob, I've got time to bath the milos whilst ana sorts his room out, before we put him down and the pie in the oven. An hour and half later (which works out as the first three episodes of Persuasion on podcast), we feast on MASSIVE portions of pie.

chicken and sweet leek pieAmazingly I don't need the DVD anymore, I can do it all from memory, and in an extra twist this pie has added (left over) courgettes. Get me.

Food of the Milos
As there is no swimming today, the milos and anas have a busy day of visiting ahead of them. Swanning about with Beth and K Kats is broken up by a lunch of fish fingers, the default level of snacks, and spicy carrot soup I made yesterday. Sadly the soup isn't popular amongst the under twos of the house, but until they are cooking they can zip it.

chicken and sweet leek pie - Jamie Oliver, Jamie's Christmas Show 2008.

little mash pies & roast chicken

Another beautiful day and we've got plans. Because Fiiiiiiieeeeeeeeen's Christening is next Saturday, we've got to do all milo's birthday shopping today. As he needs to be out of the way, me and him head to Putney Leisure Centre to go swimming, and the ana's go on to Putney to buy his presents.

After an hour of whooshing down the elephant slides, we head home and brilliantly he sparks out in the back of the car. With him asleep we've got loads of time on our hands so I try an experimental brunchy-pie thing you cook in muffin trays. I suppose the mash is the most labour-intensive bit of it, but a top tip is to get a really garlicky sausage for maximum flavour. We had Toulouse Sausages, which seemed to tick a lot of boxes, mainly marked 'Garlic'. The only thing I was missing was The Observer and a hearty ale. I suppose it *was* only lunchtime.

little mash piesPost-snooze we head into Sheen for a large Italian Ice Cream from Trente, where the milos gets to practise his Italian - Bongiorno, Ciao Ciao, Belissimo etc. He has vanilla and half of ana's lemon sorbet, but luckily he's less keen on my cherry ice cream.

Planning ahead for the week, we have Simon Hopkinson roast chicken and salad for dinner so we can have pie with the left-overs tomorrow night.

roast chickenAs happens, in another burst of use-stuff-up energy whilst the chicken is doing it's thing., I also manage to cook another batch of the spiced carrot soup for lunch this week. Lor' Bless you Bill Granger, and all ten of your definitely-not-gay fingers.

Food of the Milos
Toast and marmite for breakfast, then a wide variety of snacks after swimming - raisins, humzingers, grapes etc. No lunch as he'd conked out, ice cream in the afternoon and then, amazingly he ate a little mash pie, pancetta and all! Man he's a greedy guts.

little mash pies - Jill Dupelix, Delicious, November 2007, p13
roast chicken - Simon Hopkinson, Roast Chicken and Other Stories, p36
spiced carrot soup - Bill Granger, Feed Me Now, p144

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

veggie rabbits & lime chicken curry

Last night's accidental squiffyness thankfully doesn't result in any payback this morning, which is just as well as it's the first Saturday of the rugby season *AND* my first driving lesson since Toscano starts bright and sunny.

The driving lesson passes remarkably well, and when I get back I'm immediately ready to take the beastie off for the rest of the morning. We do the usual chasing squirrels and birds in the park thing, and get back for a smackerel of lunch - some of the mutant veggie rabbits! I think you'll agree Sarah, they're almost as good as the sandwich art...

the mighty veggie bites rabbit
veggie bites and scrambled eggs
After lunch he goes to bed, and I go to rugby. I'm a bit apprehensive after Ronald's little tweak, but it goes okay despite having to lurk on the blindside. First game back, we stuff London Welsh, one try in the bag and I hereby dedicate it to S R White Esq - it was a cracker as well!

The anas and milo meet me at the club for a quick drink, then we have to dash back for Ocado. Whilst we're waiting we have a couple of brewskis out the front with Steve from upstairs. Monkey in bed, we have classic Delia curry for dinner.

lime chicken curry
Food of the Milos
Toast for breakfast, a smorgasbord of the mighty veggie rabbits and scrambled egg for lunch, and Swedish meatballs, avocado, and tomatoes from the garden for dinner. He also had a large orange juice with ice, sat at the bar, in the rugby club. His mother has gin.

veggie rabbits - Annabel Karmel, Top 100 Finger Foods, p24
lime chicken curry - Delia Smith, How to Cook Book Two, p107

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

pasta with cherry tomato sauce

Yay - it's pay day! However, Ocado can't deliver till tomorrow - boo! With the shopping booked before work we're set for classic spaghetti and tomato sauce tonight, using cherry tomatoes from our plants outside. Yes, milo has actually left some on the vine *mainly* because he's too short to reach.

As it turns out it's just as well it's a dish I can cook in my sleep as I'm ever-so slightly wonky when I get home having gone a bit mad at Friday afternoon drinks. I'm also distracted by watching the mighty Osprey's beat Glasgow on t'internet. The combination of free drink and a heady victory lead to two things:
1. I forget to take a picture. Sorry;
2. I fall for Gus' silver-tongued patter and promise to turn out for the Vets against London Welsh tomorrow. Sorry honey.

Food of the Milos
As the anas are supervising posh children on a trip to some country house in Sussex, it's another day at Julia's for the monkey. Classic cheerios, apricots and toast & phili for breakker. Ham & Cheese pie with beans, and strawberries for lunch, and a massive bowl of left-over pie for dinner. Oh, and more jelly.

pasta with cherry tomato sauce - Donna Hay, The Instant Cook, p58

hearty vegetable pie

One night to go until pay day so it's another night of dinner from the freezer, although let's not be too depressed as freezer food is still pretty darn good. Tonight's batch comes from the Sunday when Claire and Rob came for dinner. There's a slight twist tonight as the mash is made up of potato and sweet potato.

Okay, it's not *much* of a twist.

Food of the Milos
He's back at Julia's today. Apricots, Cheerios and toast & Phili for breakfast, snacks of rice cakes. Spinach & ricotta tortellini and fresh mango for lunch, and then some fish meatballs and pasta for dinner. Again, as long as you call them 'spicy meatballs' he'll stuff them down.

hearty vegetable cottage pie - Delicious, January 2007, p28

Monday, 28 September 2009

thai meatball salad

After a month break, the mighty Midsomer is back so all thoughts of cooking have to be crammed into the half hour between putting milky joe to bed and the first murder of the evening at eight. Much to the ana's displeasure ("so you mean I have to miss location, location, location for this?"), I've planned ahead and defrosted the last of the thai meatball curry. There is ice cream for pudding.

You've seen it before, so instead here's some more Posh Nosh:

Food of the Milos
Normally the milos would go to Julia's on a wednesday, but not today. Ana is on a school trip on Friday, so everything is shifted around. Instead they go to Zoe and Zacs for the day. We chance our arm on last night's left-over pumpkin for dinner, which miraculously works - green beans included! The key appears to be calling it 'curry' rather than 'stew'. Of course, why didn't I think of that earlier?

thai meatball coconut curry - Delicious - August 2009, p55

pumpkin and lentil stew

Autumn is ideal for all forms of cheap cookery without suffering any lack of flavour or heartiness (or indeed portion size); curries, stews, soups etc are all perfect and fairly cheap to produce.

With this in mind I've planned another one tonight, an experimental one from NZ-era Black Book (possibly a Billy G number?) but the weather isn't playing ball, being fairly mild rather than hearty-casserole-cold.

pumpkin and lentil stewAs it turns out it tastes more like a vegetable curry than a rich stew, so it doesn't battle the elements too much, and in fact makes a decent accompaniment to a return to form of Jamie's American Road Trip, and Ben Miller's saving of Food Fight.

Food of the Milos
Mummy and baby day today as nobody else was around to entertain the blond bomber; the usual fruit-based snacks make their way down his ravening maw, and for tea he had some left-over ragu. He's also got into jellies, although we're trying to curtail the amount his gourmandising. Particularly before bed.

pumpkin and lentil stew - The Black Book

rich beef ragu

More credit crunch cooking tonight with a hearty spag bol using some mince from the freezer to both combat the weather, and use up the assortment of random vegetables lurking in the fridge and veg bowl. It's one of the better 'bol' recipes I've come across, and the chilli flakes and dried porcini mushrooms give it a real depth of flavour. Having said that I didn't have either the mushrooms or the wine this time, but it was still pretty good.

rich beef raguFood of the Milos
A busy day for the beastie; first he had to resist swimming on his back in the morning, and therefore fail his next level of being a little swimming star, before going to Melissa's for the rest of the day. There he has pasta and sauce for lunch, fish fingers and beans for dinner, and some of Lizzie's birthday cake for pudding. He looks knackered by the time I get home...

rich beef ragu - Delicious, March 2007, p51

Friday, 25 September 2009

puy lentils with roasted vegetables

Another lovely day dawns but the anas are laid low by black lung. Or the quinsy or palsy, or something that involves her not getting up but malingering in bed sniffing at a bottle of Amarula, and dabbing her nose occasionally with a silken 'kerchief. [She actually was ill but she's not writing this]

So me and the milos go to the park for two hours chasing squirrels, hiding in the 'jungle' and followed by a hearty walk back along the tow path from The Ship to Ye White Hart. We see ducks, spiders, squirrels, a dead flounder/plaice, a heron and we eat biscotti. It's like the Famous Five, except a really posh version where the scrambled eggs are made from Golden Eagle eggs. We return and the blond bomber has a 'hearty' lunch of last nights misshapen veggie 'rabbits', and me and lovely anas eat baguette and cheese for lunch.

When the Kraken awakes we go to Richmond Park for a walk. We play hide and seek in the nearest hollow tree:

peepoAnd we see loads of deer, one of which attempts to eat an annoying Italian child:

bongiornoOkay, back to the *point* of the blog - the food. With a lock-down on spending, and knowing we've got loads of lentils in the cupboard I opt for an experimental dish from the October issue of Delicious. It looks a bit mad but it's pretty tasty. Ana makes an excellent point during Kevin McCloud's Grand Tour, the halloumi needs to be grilled so it goes crispy on the outside and runny inside, rather than griddled. She's right.

Food of the Milos
Toast and lime marmalade for breakfast with grapes. The mutant veggie rabbits for lunch with tomberries and cheese for lunch, and some defrosted spicy meatballs for dinner. He eats the meatballs, spaghetti and all, under his own steam for the first time (with only minor help).

puy lentils with roasted vegetables and griddled haloumi - Delicious Magazine, October 2009, p22

Thursday, 24 September 2009

baked pumpkin & feta risotto

With a week to go until payday and a holiday and a wedding under our belts this month, we enter dark days of credit crunch shopping to get through till Friday. It's like being a student again - we load up the change collection, break into the pound jar and head to Sainsbury's change counter thingy. Surely as responsible parents we should be beyond this sort of thing now?

Anyway, before we go I took a picture of the milos at his morning porridge feast, drinking tea from his mug (an espresso one I borrowed from Italy), so you can see his new hair:
milo and teaShopped out, he goes to bed well early which is brilliant because we can tidy the house and have a nice lunch together in the garden before he's even awake! In the interests of health/using up stuff in the fridge and having enough for his dinner tonight, we have an experimental risotto courtesy of Miss D Hay.

baked pumpkin & feta risottoBrilliantly there's so much he has some for his dinner, and there's enough for me to have as well whilst ana visits kendra kats and fieeeeeeen in the new flat. This is handy because I decide to spend the evening trying to create some Annabel Karmel veggie bites for the monkey.

They take forever but I do have a top tip - farm animal cookie cutters make really bad veggie bite shapes. They're too complicated, just stick with the stars and circles so you don't end up with 20 malformed veggie bunnies cluttering up the freezer.

Food of the Milos
Banana porridge for breakfast (and his tea, natch), plus some toast and marmelade. Numerous snacks around the supermarket including a brilliant find, Tomberries. Laughing Cow squares, more tomberries and satsumas for lunch, and loads of risotto for dinner.

baked pumpkin & feta risotto - Donna Hay, The Instant Cook p 66
veggie bites - Annabel Karmel, Top 100 Finger Foods, p24

Saturday, 19 September 2009

tomato curry

No dinner last night because I was at the pub for Sash's belated 30th birthday, but tonight we have curry. It's friday after all, but how do you square 'curry' with 'healthy goodness'? By having a brilliant Simon Hopkinson tomato special of course!

tomato curryIt's the perfect accompaniment to the new series of Peep Show and secretly, it's one of my favourite curries. I'd forgotten how good this issue of Delicious is/was and I'm deeply tempted by spicy lamb, olive and caramelised onion pie, little mash pies, baked lamb and apricot cous cous, pan-roasted venisonwith creamy baked potato and celeriac, pea and ham soup and kale and chickpea soup. I could go on, so it's just as well it's getting colder...

tomato curry - Simon Hopkinson, Delicious, November 2007 p86

crunchy stuffed chicken with green beans

Another night, another experimental dinner and this time it's FARQING AMAZING! No, seriously it's brilliant. I've cooked stuffed chicken before and keeping the stuffing in the breast is always the trick. This version using mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes is complicated by having a parmesan crust. the anas throw a further spanner into the works by using all the eggs so I've got nothing to bind the flour to the chicken with but - BUT! - with only a minimum of frying before going into the oven, everything holds together and it's bloody amazing!

crunchy stuffed chicken with green beansFood of the Milos
So I know where the eggs went, into somebody's big fat tummy! I'm intrigued to see what his two year check-up reveals because he's already 3ft 2 and he's not even two yet. It's a Julia day today so he has a fairly big day of grub: Toast and Phili, apricots and raisins for breakfast, and chicken paella and cherry tomatoes for lunch.

crunchy stuffed chicken with green beans - Delicious, October p25

jamie's southern sausage stew

It's absolutely bogging it down tonight. Seriously, it's Biblical and having cycled home in a monsoon I make an executive decision and decide on something hearty and spicy for dinner. It's an experimental sausage dish chosen by the anas from this month's Delicious - Jamie's Southern Sausage Stew taken from his new book. We then watch the show whilst eating the meal, which is a bit odd.

jamie's southern sausage stewI have to say it's pretty bloody good, particularly as I was freezing when I got home and even better, the heat was provided by another of our home-grown chillis. My one recommendation would be to skin the sausages before you cook them...

Food of the Milos
Defrosted hearty meatballs for dinner tonight, but he's been a bit grouchy today so he doesn't exactly scoff it down.

jamie's southern sausage stew - Jamie Oliver, Delicious, October p41

lamb tagliata

After yesterday's wonderful excess Monday dawns miraculously well for the Barnes household. Admittedly there is a distinct fromagey aroma on the rowing machine at lunchtime, but that could just as easily be one of the techies as me.

Anyway, we're trying to continue some sort of diet, so we have one of the anas favourite salads - Jill Dupleix's lamb tagliata with roasted tomatoes. However, the goodness is somewhat offset by the illegal bottles of wine which mysteriously appeared in the fridge this evening. Sadly this ultimately means I forget to take a picture of dinner. Sorry Lucyfer/Brenda/Sarah/Helen/Jon/Tom/Mum/Kayosaurus etc Do you really need one? I mean we've had it loads and it pretty much looks the same each time. See?

Every cloud has a silver lining and this shocking lapse of memory does mean you get another chance to see another installment of my favourite cookery show, Posh Nosh. This time, Paella, starring a before-he-was-famous David Tennant. Voila!

lamb tagliata - Jill Dupleix, Delicious, October 2007, p138

hearty vegetable pie

After yesterday's unseasonable warmth, Sunday dawns cold and blustery which is handy because it finalises today's "thank you for driving us to France and back" meal for Rob and Claire. Being vegetarians (urgh!), roast is out but hearty vegetable pie is 'in', with the extra benefit of being able to cook triple the required amount to stock the freezer and the milos.

As the anas tidy the flat, me and the newly shorn blond bombshell go to Mortlake playground for the morning, before heading to Waitrose in Sheen to stock up on our guests preferred drink of choice, Jenning's Ale.

With glowing cheeks hiding his morning intake of babyccino, the monkey has a surprisingly successful experimental lunch from Annabel Karmel - Tuna Muffin Melts - before going for his afternoon snoopy snooze.

tuna meltSo with him asleep we go into power-clean-cook mode ahead of Claire and Rob's arrival. The full menu is: caramelised pear and rocket salad, hearty vegetable pie and cabbage, followed by most of the cheese we bought in France on our way back from Matt & Virginie's marvellous wedding.

caramelised pear and rocket saladhearty veg piedinnerGood job we managed to get the beers in because Claire bravely battled through a hangover to squeeze in a couple of drinks, and Rob squeezed into his official Jenning's T-Shirt:

ana, claire, robAs tradition dictates, the blond bomber wakes up just before pudding and joins the table in his sleeping bag for some cheese. A pleasant and restrained sunday lunch then goes out of the window during a postprandial walk to the pond which actually ends up as two hours in The Sun. Monday hangovers beckon...

Food of the Milos
Cheerios and toast for breakfast, and apricot snacks in the park followed by a babyccino. The tuna melts are surprisingly successful, he doesn't really bother with lunch (unless he's at Julia's) so it's good to discover a handy snack for him. Vegetable pie and cabbage for dinner, which he loves. Bish, bash and indeed bosh.

tuna muffin melts - Annabel Karmel, Top 100 Finger Foods, p122
caramelised pear and rocket salad - Donna Hay, The Instant Cook, p44
hearty vegetable cottage pie - Delicious, January 2007, p28
cheese - france
ale - Jenning's Ale

moroccan chicken stew

God, what is happening to my mind? I'm only a week behind on the blog front (mainly because the ana's took four nights to upload some holiday photos to facebook), but I simply CANNOT remember for the life of me what I did a mere seven days ago. Jeez louise...

Anyway, using the magic of the camera I'm going to piece this week together like a flashback in Marple. So Saturday, we *did* decide to give the monkey a run around at Eddie Catz in Putney in the morning. Interestingly he's less keen on the jungle gym than I thought, but loved the Noddy car thingy, and the under-threes spongy toys.

Car cleaned and shopping done, we get home for lunch and an afternoon kip. Can't for the life of me remember what we did in the afternoon but I know we did have classic moroccan chicken stew, using up some olives from the other day and with an extra hit of cold-busting chilli and ginger. Mmmmmmm (although I realise the olives do look a bit like rabbit poo).
moroccan chicken stewsources
moroccan chicken stew - Delicious, February 2008, p28

Saturday, 12 September 2009

take away

A combination of the shopping booked for 20.30 military hours and the fact we're all suffering from first-week-back-at-work-after-seven-weeks-off, and early-to-work-for-no-actual-launch-itis, I can't be bothered to cook, so we get a take away from tiffin box and watch Vicky Christina Barcelona on DVD.

If we hadn't had old fashioned chicken curry, lamb achari and tarka the otter, I would've cooked this:

Food of the Milos
Another goodish day on the gut front for the monkeys. Waffles and tea for breakfast, avocado, cheese and tomatoes for lunch and pasta and Jamie's tomato sauce for dinner. He also had a lollypop and some gummi bears for being such a good boy whilst getting his haircut. I'm a bit sad he's lost his curls, but he's still super-cute, so ultimately it doesn't really matter. I've also taught him to say 'clunge' - brenda beware!

halloumi with saffron tomato salad

After a couple of days non-cooking, we're back on it tonight with some vegetarian experimental salad type stuff, from Simon Rimmer in September's Delicious. Now I blow hot and cold with la Rimmer - he's cocking annoying on Something on the Weekend (but then Tim Lovejoy is cocking annoying times 20), and some of his recipes are disastrous. But some are really nice, like the spiced mushroom burgers we had on Monday.

This looks like it could be nice, but with an ana controversy level of three-ish due to the presence of bulgur wheat and capers, it could just as easily be terrible. The lack of saffron in the house due to the Ocado error could be a problem, but they look pretty good on the grill:

grillingIt looks pretty good on the plate, but perhaps saffron is required to cut the astringency of the caper and sherry vinegar. The bulgar wheat is a bit watery as well, but I'll give it another go.

haloumi with saffron tomato saladNot an amazing success then, but the evening ends on a culinary high when I *finally* find a decent soup recipe to use up the kilo of carrots you have to buy just to get the one you need. Amazingly it comes from Bill Granger's Feed Me Now, a book I consistenly spurn and pooh-pooh whilst trying to hide it so it doesn't offend mine sight. Carrot and lime soup is a winner though!

spiced carrot soupFood of the Milos
Another day at Julias, another large amount of food in the gullet: raisins, cheerios and toast and phili for breakfast, and sausages, rice and veg for lunch although he didn't eat the peas and rice. For dinner he gets Jamie's tomato sauce and pasta, which also goes down a treat.

haloumi with saffron tomato salad - Simon Rimmer, Delicious, September 2009, p93
spiced carrot soup with lime - Bill Granger, Feed Me Now!, p144

toasted pine nut & sweet potato salad

So the TV and Movie launches definitely don't happen today, but I'm so knackered I barely notice; another 7.45 start for nought. Sadly this sleepiness (in no way aided by 4am wake up calls for cuddles and milk), means I forget to take a picture of tonights feast - toasted pine nut & sweet potato salad - until I'm halfway through it.

So by way of an apology I offer you a small snippet of two of my favourite chefs in action - the Hon Simon & Minty Marchmont from the Quill & Tassel:

I know I'll be embarrassing my veg from now on, it's the only way.

Food of the Milos
Julia's today, so Cheerios, apricots and rice cakes for breakfast, pasta, peas & sweetcorn and a yoghurt for lunch and lasagne. The lasagne isn't a winner, although he likes shouting the word.

toasted pine nut and sweet potato salad - Donnah Hay, The Instant Cook, p49

Thursday, 10 September 2009

sweet leek, tomato & ricotta lasagne

The plan today was for me to go to work, prep a new film and tv site, stay in late filling it with content and fixing minor bugs, and come back the next day ready for champagne and hearty backslapping. Instead what happens is everything is cocked, the launch is canceled, I spend the day in meetings, miss lunch and come back and defrost the last lasagne in the freezer.

sweet leek, tomato & ricotta lasagneIt looks a bit like battered fish, doesn't it? However silver linings are provided by the hysterical Jamie's American Road Trip, and St Hugh's new TV offering: Food Fight, with Sue Perkins. Although I've just remembered James Martin's awful perving over Ching-He Huang made me bilious. Bleugh!

Food of the Milos
More food on the floor today, but again dinner is the saving grace: ratatouille. What would we do without it? Chips and crips I suppose.

sweet leek, tomato and ricotta lasagne - Jamie Oliver, Delicious, September 2005, p31
tomato sauce - Jamie Oliver, Delicious, September 2005, p32

balsamic and thyme steak with stuffed peppers

A very sleepy Monday ends with another hearty-meal/healthy salad hybrid. Can steak and cheesey rice-stuffed peppers be healthy? I suppose sort of, although definitely no pork pie garnish this time.

balsamic and thyme steak with stuffed peppersI've seem to have finally got the hang of cooking the steak to a nicely medium rare state (hurrah!), although the balsamic vinegar plays merry hell with my frying pan. The peppers are a much better side in summer/autumn than cabbage and potato, though looking at the weather, the cabbage is coming.

Food of the Milos
The grumpy pants are firmly on the little blond boy's bottom today, nothing is right and he's now getting picky over which dummy or comfort bib he has. We're going to have burn those bad boys soon. He also *definitely* needs a haircut. Anyway, eating is cheating today, although he does make room for fish fingers and beans for dinner. Of course he does...

stuffed peppers - Delicious, April 2009, p31
balsamic and thyme steak - Delicious One Month Healthy Eating Plan, February 2007, p19