Monday, 17 August 2009

giovanni's sausages

It's another scorcher in London Town and the final countdown for the holiday has begun.

With Kayosaurus and Mikeplodocus helping the anas entertain the blonde bombshell, I crank out a final panic day at work and get back to panic pack. Naturally in this situation you need something to bubble away happily whilst you decide which pants to take - cue bill's Giovanni's sausages.

Sadly it's another night where he refuses to go down, which is a pain as I've left the following things till the last minute - booking a ferry ticket for matt and virginie's wedding, finding out directions for the sat nav, packing my pants. Ana isn't happy.

chicken & sweet leek pie

Sunday Sunday here again, a walk in the park. It's hot hot hot, so it's park and Waitrose for the boys and tidying for the girl.

After a snoopy snooze we go to Jenny, Andy and Josh's for a late summer barbie and lots of dog-chasing and running around like a lunatic.

Our house-sitters arrive in time for the bath and bed routine and I make the pie. Predictably it ends up v late due to lateness of bath and having to go to shop to get more pastry. The holiday can't come soon enough...

chicken and leek pie

Sunday, 16 August 2009

steamed thai-style sea bass and rice

It's the last weekend before the holiday so we've a busy one planned of washing, shopping and pre-packing, enlivened by having to keep milo taliesin barnes entertained, and the unexpected appearance of Miss Sasha Breslau who clearly didn't get my cancellation email.

No worries though, it was a lovely hot day and monkey was on top form. We did the usual market-pond thing to wear him out, however our tiring out plan was slightly undercut by ITV executives bearing chocolatey gifts:

chocolate cake
chocolate faceSuitably hopped-up we embark on a second campaign of tiring out at Palewell Park playground, featuring yet another of South West London's many paddling pools. With him in bed we decide to have a romantic meal inspired by the lovely weather and the fishmonger at the market. Not the man himself you understand, just his wares, viz

steamed thai-style sea bass and riceOnce again however, romance was put on the backburner...

ana & milo lateFood of the Milos
Other than chocolate cake the little boy has a mixed bag of food today. He wasn't really interested in eating his weetabix for breakfast, but he had already eaten some cheese and cherry tomatoes before then so maybe he wasn't hungry. Obviously there was some babyccino/puffs/raisins on the usual trip to the market and pond, supplemented by blackberries, and scrambled eggs for lunch. Another dose of fush fungers and beans for dinner. And then the second dinner of rice and thai-style sea bass. The bugger.

steamed thai-style sea bass and rice - Jamie Oliver - My Guide to Making you a Better Cook, p229

Friday, 14 August 2009

ginger and sesame rice with poached chicken

What a day! I'm supposed to have the whole day off but I end up having to go in after yesterday's CMS disaster, cycling almost 10 mile from Kingston. Oh did I not mention I was in Kingston passing my theory test? Getting 49 out of 50, did I not say that was happening? Are you sure I haven't mentioned it? 10 miles? Kingston? Theory test? Passed? 49 out of 50? No? Let me sum up for you...

Actually let me not. Having spent hours in either the saddle or behind a computer I get home in time to help anas put monkey to bed and then go to the off licence for some celebratory booze. But who's this at 20.45 deciding he's slept enough? An hour of hyper singing, dancing and jumping later we put him back to bed and settle down for really rather good Bill Granger experimental dish I've had my eye on for a while.

ginger and sesame rice with poached chickenAdmittedly it does look a bit anaemic, but you poach the chicken on top of the rice so it doesn't really colour up. The chicken could've been a little moister, but I blame small people intervention, but the rice tastes a bit like JT's old nasi goring - it's amazing! Even better, it's made using some of my homegrown chilli harvest. This one to be precise:

chilli plantI'm like a city version of Saint Hugh.

Food of the Milos
Porrige with banana and maple syrup for breakfast, and a cup of tea of course. He is his mother's son after all. Fish fingers for lunch and some of HFW's ratatouille for dinner. Although clearly not enough if he felt the urge to get up in the evening and pillage our plates for rice.

ginger and sesame rice with poached chicken - Bill Granger, Holiday, p172

The lovely miss Helen Otter, she of Ottery St Ottery, has specially requested something involving less than three things to cut up. Not because she's lazy you understand, but because she's bloody lazy. Luckily for her I have this, which I'm sure miss Pepper would Bridport. I.E In Dorset. 'Endorse it'? I give up...

spaghetti with cherry tomato sauce
Donna Hay, The Instant Cook, p58

Serves 2
200g spaghetti or linguine
1/5 tablespoon butter
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/3 cup of basil leaves

1. Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente, drain.
2. While the pasta is cooking, place a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Add the butter and tomatoes, cut side down, and cook until lightly golden. About 4 minutes.
3. Stir the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 more minutes until starting to soften. Add the garlic, sugar, olive oil and basil, stir to combine.
4. Add the spaghetti with a tablespoon of it's water and toss to coat. Top with lots of grated parmesan.

It works very well cold for lunch the next day or you could halve the tomato sauce at the end of step 3, and just reheat and add fresh pasta the next day for dinner. Marvelo!

Salut my pretties

moroccan chicken stew

The weather can't make up it's mind today; it's hot, but it rains. My over-heated state isn't helped by the fact the CMS at work falls over, I have to spend most of the day in meetings and lunchtime in the gym. I do beat my rowing record though - 5000 in 18.20, with my 500m splits 1.50/1.50/1.50/1.52/1.47!

There's chicken in the fridge and swim shorts to squeeze into next week so we have Moroccan chicken stew, the Delicious version rather than the Melissa Turner version. Someday I'm going to try the Raan Style Lamb recipe on the opposite page...

moroccan chicken stewFood of the Milos
A busy day of milo-mummy action begins with some crumpet ("Don't want it"), tea and some of my museli. For lunch he has last night's gnocchi and ana's do him another batch of pizza for tea. Where *does* he put it all?

moroccan chicken stew - Delicious, February 2008, p 28

Thursday, 13 August 2009

oven-roasted pepper & garlic gnocchi

The pre-holiday fat fighting continues although Ana weasels out of it by babysitting Isla so Claire can go out for her birthday. This leaves me at home with no midsomer because of the cocking football, and three hours of bastard theory test revision to do. I'm dismayed to discover when she gets home that the babysitter had been drinking champagne...

For half of that time I roast some tomatoes and leftover peppers with garlics, and then add the gnocchi and rocket. Despite forgetting the Feta, it tastes pretty darned good and there's enough left over for monkey nuts tomorrow (both of them, monkey nutses I suppose) and Jude Judy Judith who's coming for a visit.

oven-roasted pepper & garlic gnocchi
It looks a bit soupy but I think that's due more to the pan as it was lovely and unctuous on the plate. Just be glad there's a picture finally - although it may (or may not) interest you to know I have started back-filling images now.

Food of the Milos
We got some Leek and potato soup out the freezer for his lunch, which was curiously less-successful than usual. I think the freezing process concentrated the blue cheese flavour slighty? A hearty pasta and sauce for dinner. We'll take the puffs/fruit/cheese as read shall we?

oven-roasted pepper & garlic gnocchi - Delicious One Month Healthy Eating Plan Booklet, February 2007 p16

Brenda - Hmmm, you seem to have spawned a food ponce. I wonder who he could take after? I found pies were the secret to Milo's stomach, which is just as well as the freezer is stuffed with them. Shepherd's pie always seems to win, as does that lentilly hearty vegetable version.

I think this winter we're going to ramping up the stews - he used to like them when he was v small and they were blended but he went off them a bit last winter. Excellent news he's eating though - hurrah! Also, a few weeks late but voila, here's the recipe!

donna hay's pad thai - recipe

Donna Hay's pad thai
300g thick noodles - I use the straight to wok ones you can microwave
2.5 tablespoons peanut oil (I use groundnut)
2 eggs lightly, beaten
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
chopped chilli
2 chicken breasts, sliced
spring onions, sliced
1/3 cup of fish sauce
1/3 cup lime juice
teaspoon brown sugar
bag of beansprouts
coriander leaves
garlic chives (I've never found any)
1/4 cup chopped peanuts

Me and Donna do disagree over some things but I'll highlight them as we go along. Also I think you can either have beansprouts or noodles, or both, it doesn't really matter. I sometimes add odd bits of veg to it as well - lonely courgettes, suicidal peppers etc.

1. Place the rice noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water to soak (or nuke 'em in the micro at the end).
2. Heat oil in wok and gently fry the eggs so they're just set - I don't bother with this bit, but I do add the eggs later. Doing it this way just creates a really oily omlette...
3. (Where I begin) Heat the remaining oil in wok and add the shrimp paste. Let it sizzle for a 1 minute, constantly stirring it, then add the chilli and chicken. Cook for three minutes.
4. Once the chicken is cooked this is where I add the beaten egg. It makes a much more pleasant eggy base. Nuke the noodles whilst the eggs are scrambling, then adding the to the wok with the spring onions, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar. Cook for three minutes and then toss through the beansprouts and coriander (and garlic chive should such mythical stuff exist).
5. Whack on plates and top with peanuts and the rest of the coriander.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

toasted pine nut and sweet potato salad

More diet-related stresses, only today the glee is on the other side of the kitchen. As it turns out there is a slight discrepancy between the scales at the gym and the analogue one, saggy from fat AOL staff constantly huffing and puffing on it, has gone to the great scales in the sky. The digital one is far less accommodating and my massive weight-loss is scaled down to half a kilo. Boo!

With this in mind we rock a classic tasty salad. I've cooked it a million times but for some reason it turns into a catalogue of errors: Whilst the potatoes and tomatoes are roasting I have to make a dash to Sainsbury's to get the spinach, which is okay. When I get back I realise I've forgotten to get any bloody avocado. Gah!

toasted pine nut and sweet potato saladThe evening even less impressively as I spend two hours revising for my theory test on Friday. This week looks like it's going to be 'fun'.

Food of the Milos
Porridge for breaker, the usual glut of fruit, cheese sandwiches at Zoe's and the ana's perform miracles getting the left-over fish curry down him. He usually likes it but he surprises us by wolfing the onion and french beans down. Wowzers!

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

keralan fish curry

The second week of the diet-and-no-booze-during-the-week has drawn new battlegrounds in Barnes mansions. The cracks start when I reveal according to the gym scales I've lost almost 4kg this week. The scales do not lie and I put it all down to a new regime of rowing. The two packets of chilli chocolate I've put in the fridge don't help either, although Ana has come up with a unique resolution: We can have chilli chocolate in the house if I ration it out *but* simply hiding it will be 'really annoying'. Hmmmm, I don't know what she's complaining about, she looks pretty good to me.

Anyway, back to the small portions of food and we go for some comfort fish curry tonight. I never thought I'd hear myself ever utter those words, but we do have a fish dish we both quite look forward to. It's doubly weird because before you get to the recipe you have wade through Nigella's cod temple-mummy bobbins. At least it's not 'express' shudder!

keralan fish curryFood of the Milos
The week starts with weetabix for breakfast, force-fed into him whilst he grizzled about 'not wanting it', post-swimming pasta for lunch at Andrea's, and a Mummy-special pizza for tea. Plus the usual puffs, fruits and cheese.

keralan fish curry - Nigella Lawson, Delicious Magazine, Feb 2009, p83
mummy special pizza - based on Annabel Karmel's finger food stuff

balsamic steak

Sunday dawns bright and early, and another busy day looms. We go shopping, my dad stops in for a cup of tea and a natter and we get a first look at Kiki's redecorated flat - but you're not interested in all that.

After the exotic intake of crisp courgette flowers and delicate salads at lunchtimes over the past weekends, today we've got museli. Grrrrreat.

In the evening we fare much better with a balsamic and thyme steak from the One Month Eating Plan booklet given away for fat bifters in 2007 by Delicious. Because it's mash potato and red wine gravy heavy we tend to have it in the winter but today it's adapted for summer living with a spinach and tomato salad, and Bill's baked new potatoes on a bed of salt. Al fresco in a freshly sorted garden, with some elderflower and pomegranate cordial and pineapple, strawberry and mint salad after, what could be better? Booze, obviously.

balsamic steakFood of the Milos
Scrambled eggs for brekker, large quantities of puffs, orange juice, and raisins when were shopping, a smorgasbord of cheese, cherry tomatoes and avocado for lunch and fish balls and HVS which go down a storm - albeit with the expedient of just referring to them as 'meatballs' in an exaggerated Italian accent.

balsamic and thyme steak - Delicious, One Month Healthy Eating Plan Booklet, February 2007 p19
baked new potatoes on a bed of salt - Bill Granger, Holiday, p158
pineapple and mint - I think it's a Jamie Oliver, but I remember Kendra giving it to us when she was still at teaching college and living in a damp flat in Wandsworth. That probably hasn't helped, although I added strawberries which probably *has* helped.

gingerbread men, crips and burgers

It's a beautiful day and we've got a packed weekend; saturday I've got a driving lesson, the usual trip to the farmer's market, duck pond and paddling pool for a mini-picnic. Then post-snoopy snooze, we're off to Bad Lucy's for a barbie. Are you ready? Then I'll begin...

So driving lesson over (I fail my first mock by just the five serious driver errors) me and the monkey get our usual quota of babyccinos (weirdly they make much better ones in bad-conglomerate Cafe Nero than lovely Orange Pekoe) and veg and head off to feed the ducks. Ducks duly fed a combination of seed and small stones, we go to the park for a paddle. It's baking and somebody needs to be bribed with a giant gingerbread man before he'll come out of the pool and get into the buggy. He licks it all the way home, creating a great moustache-effect from the dye in the eyes.

run run as fast as you can
you can't catch me, i'm the gingerbread man
Whilst he sleeps we down mugs of tea and finish cutting the grass and tidying the garden - so no lunch you notice. Diets in full swing, hurrah and all that.

Post snooze we head off to London's trendy 'Tooting' quarter for Lucyfer's excellent barbie. Monkey is quite well-behaved even if he did eat an entire packet of crips and wipe houmous on Sash's new dress. Others are less so, and yellow cards are duly given out for constant swearing (S Breslau) and consistent and malicious taunting small children by saying the word 'balloons' over and over when there clearly weren't any (Mrs S Cruz). Despite that it was a very nice afternoon. We had a burger each, and that was IT for Saturday. By Christ I best get into that bikini...

When we get back the milos go to bed without any tea... ...because he'd eaten his weight in snacks at Lucy's.

And so to sleep, knackered (and just a teensy bit hungry)

pasta with cherry tomato sauce

Finally we get some sun and because I'm back early, (having gone into work early to put up this bad boy in a 'world exclusive' type style), we get to enjoy a couple of hours in the garden.

Claire and Isla are also over for the day so we have a pretty laid back stumble into the evening routine, mainly focussed on chasing, hiding and trapping Claire's thumb in doors. It does mean a late-ish bed time so with a box of cherry tomatoes in the fridge and half a pack of spaghetti malingering in the cupboard, we have pasta with cherry tomato sauce for tea. We also get to break our booze fast - hurrah!

Food of the milos
After the last disaster with the fish balls, I've decided the milos need them with Jamie's veg sauce (which I had used up in the lasagne). With grim predictability *this* time I make up far too much so we're swimming in hearty vegetable sauce. Consequently tonight he's got pasta wheels and guess what, hearty vegetable sauce. It goes down well and we send Claire and Isla home with half a litre of HVS, and a tub of fish meatballs.

pasta with cherry tomato sauce - Donna Hay, The Instant Cook, p58
tomato sauce - Delicious, September 2005, p32
fish meatballs - Jamie Oliver, Delicious, September 2005, p 32

Sunday, 9 August 2009

poached salmon and risoni salad

The rain coming home is biblical tonight, which makes the fact we've got *more* salad for tea seem less appealing. Particularly seeing as I've had to cycle up to Valentina's get the orzo on the way home.

Further insult to injury is added when I realise we've also got no frozen peas, so I have to run down to Sainsbury's to get some whilst the salmon is poaching. And then forgetting to pick up a lemon and some dill. I had the rest of the ingredients though...

poached salmon and risoni saladFood of the Milos
This week the milos have been so sweet, so he gets one of his favourites for tea tonight - PIZZA! I'm damn lucky there's a couple of slices left-over for me when I get home, I can tell you.

pizza catssources
poached salmon & risoni salad - Bill Granger, Holiday, p14
pizza - Annabel Karmel - Top 100 Finger Foods, p28

lamb tagliata

A combination of the continuing salad binge and the fact we're on schedule because I've finally got a chance to watch the new series of Midsomer Murders. With the clock ticking we go for the lovely Jill Dupleix's lamb tagliata because it can roast away and then rest whilst I'm trying to work out who killed the old lady who sold the painting.

lamb tagliataIncidentally, this week's episode featured two cast members of Pride & Prejudice (Jane and Mr Collins), Hornblower AND Sharpe - clearly it's the best show on telly.

Food of the Milos
Shepherd's pie for the monkey tonight, just because we can. It's the food equivalent of Inspector Barnaby; refined, intriguing, Joyce's favourite and popular with millions of people.

lamb tagliata - Delicious, October 2007, p138.

Friday, 7 August 2009

roast chicken and three rice salad & chorizo and tomato salad

Another day, another evening of no booze and plenty of salad - *this* is living! With what's left of last-night's chicken we've planned for chicken and three rice salad (although I only ever use one rice), accompanied by chorizo and tomato salad.

roast chicken and three rice salad & chorizo and tomato saladFood of the Milos
Salad isn't particularly milo-friendly so it's more defrosted food for him, tonight it's hugh's ratatouille and jacket spud. He's brilliantly garlicky afterwards so no snogging for him tonight, just a couple of reads of Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See?

chorizo & tomato salad - Delicious, July 2006, p59
roast chicken & three-rice salad (although I use one rice) - Delicious, July 2008, p64

roast chicken & salad

Monday Bloody Monday! Having spent a week in the house of biscuits and cakes AKA Kayosaurus' house, the anas have decided I'm too fat to get into my bikini and with Italia only two weeks away, drastic action is required. I'm immediately put on a no-alcohol and salad diet for the week. Boooo! And I'm the one who goes to the gym - gah!

Sadly the Ocado man doesn't have any chickens for our delivery so a crack blonde mummy and baby shopping squad heads out to pick a nice bird for the evening.

roast chicken & saladInterestingly, having had roast chicken and salad the anas, like a famished victorian orphan, wants more. Not only that, she takes the remaining breast meat reserved for tomorrow's salad because 'it's easier'. I'm suspicious...

Food of the Milos
Due to the fact we've not got any food in the house when we get back from our mini-break, we defrost some classic meatballs for him. I'm going to have to make some more because we've run out now - lucky summer seems to have finished so it might just be cold enough to mix up a batch.

roast chicken & salad - Simon Hopkinson, Roast Chicken and Other Stories, p36
spinach and parmesan meatballs - December 2007, p47

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

three days on vectis

Hurrah for mini-breaks! One train and catamaran journey later I'm on the island for the weekend - yay!

The weekend highlights include:
After 13 years finally being allowed to go to Blackgang Chine and it's ACES! Had I realised 13 years ago all I needed to go was have a small baby things would've been different...
Seeing Kayosaurus and Mikeleodocus naturellement
Friday night out at the White Lion with Tamsin, although we're clearly now dull, middle-aged types now as we just talk about babies. Hmmm, what happened to drinking games?
Mikeledocus going all Nigella on our asses with a superb saturday night curry. Mmmmm
and finally, a hearty barbie at Lucy and Martin's on the way home.

Hurrah for minibreaks!

out with the panther and magnus

Having cocked about for weeks with tit-for-tat cancellations, panther, magnus and myself finally manage to book an evening out. Not only that we don't even go to The Ship *gasp*! No more being surrounded by burly tattooed rockers and skanky Amy Winehouse lookalikes for us, oh no!

Instead, like the good media types we are, we go to The Endurance on Berwick Street to sup fizzy style lager and talk about the world of meeja. Topics discussed; how you go camping with two toddlers, how magnus looks like Garry Birtles, and panther's new buffy-buffster look.

Afterwards we go for a curry round the corner, it's pretty good even if there's only one toilet.

Monday, 3 August 2009

shepherd's pie

Another lonely day on my own, with no friends, whilst my precious family are living the high life on Vectis.

Whilst they are being carted around on golden platters by genuflecting locals, I decide to double the freezer intake with a hearty Shepherd's Pie. It's a winner on three counts; it's cold, it gives me time to practise for my mock driving test whilst it's bubbling away, and the milos love it.

Two hours later things have gone slightly awry. Although I've passed my mock theory test *and* won the theory test quiz, I'm also a bit-to-very squiffy. I've also eaten four platefuls of pie, and presentation always at a premium, stuffed the rest into a box for the freezer.

shepherd's pie - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Meat Book, p504

thai meatball coconut curry

With the Whanau on the Diamond Isle for the week, it's the ideal opportunity to get the freezer full of hearty meals to feed us when we come back from holiday, bereft of cash.

First up a dish which combines two favourites: meatballs and curry. What could go wrong? Actually nothing, I get a hearty curry, the meatballs were marvellous, and there are two foil containers in the freezer. Whether the meatballs encourage curry-eating in a small blond monkey is a question to be answered, although given the last combination of meatballs and 'something else' ended-up mainly on the floor, I'm not hopeful.

thai meatball coconut curry - Delicious - August 2009, p55