Saturday, 31 July 2010


Things don't get much more filling than a hearty bowl of meatballs and spaghetti, dripping with ragu and stuffed with spinach and parmesan. It's a meal for MEN! However, what if it wasn't filling enough? In fact, what if you wanted to create something so filling you'd never need eat again? Ladies and gentlemen I give you spinach and parmesan meatballs in a sausage and lentil jus - BEHOLD!

spinach and parmesan meatballs in a sausage and lentil ragu
At any minute I expect the unwashed of Barnes to turn up at the door with flaming torches and pitchforks, trying to wrest my creature away from me. I won't let them get you my pretty. Rest now, rest... I have work for you later.

Sadly my first ever contribution to the culinary folklore of this proud nation wasn't planned. Usually when Ana goes away I take the opportunity to clear out the freezer, and it's also a time of experimenting with new dishes.

Today I simply combined the two processes. I found a tub of what I thought was pasta sauce in the freezer but turned out to be left-over lentil and sausage hotpot, sans sausages.

sausage lentil hotpot
I didn't realise until I came to put the meatballs in and by then it was too late. Despite being thinned out with some passata it was still quite thick but surprisingly delicious. I couldn't have any more than one bowl though.

The only other benefit of Ana being away is I get the chance to catch up on the many draft posts cluttering up the blog. So if you're at all interested, here's what I've added:

I made this although I suppose *technically* it's a combination of Angela Boggiano's meatballs from the December 2007 edition of Delicious, and the hotpot from the Black Book.

Friday, 30 July 2010

cheese and tomato sandwiches

Tonight is the final hurdle of my week (3 days on the sauce), and it's a charming shindig at the classic C4 new media editorial watering hole aka The Oak:

Cathers drinks
Because I've got a motorway driving lesson booked in the morning I leave at a fairly acceptable 2100hrs, and get home to make cheese and tomato sandwiches for the lack of anything else to cook.

Not the most interesting post I think you'll agree, but I think that's because I think I must have channeled the spirit of Dennis from the pub last night, because I woke up this morning with a gentleman guest in the lounge. Okay, it was only Davisss and I didn't strangle him before dismembering his body under the floorboards, but I felt like it after hearing him trying to extricate the ironing board from the golf clubs under the stairs at half six this morning.

Ironing board extracted, we paid our very own homage to Eric and Ern's breakfast sketch, only in our pants:

Thursday, 29 July 2010

drinking with daviss and pete

Russell's Week on the Sauce: Stage Two kicks in today, with a high-powered post-business meeting with Mr Davisss Taylor and Mr Peter Magnus Leary Esquires.

We discuss the current political and economic situation in France at present in trendy Carnaby Street watering hole The White Horse.

France done, we skip over to The Sun & 13 Cantons for one more. It was a bit of a risk to be honest because whilst the Horse is always 10 deep at the bar, The Sun is much smaller and much busier. It's usually rammed with awful media types wearing trainers and t-shirts and with hair and stuff, and definitely not a place to pitch up with a small suitcase on wheels. Surprisingly it's fairly empty as most people seem to be drinking on the pavement, so not only do we get a pint fairly quickly, Davisss' teeny tiny chariot doesn't cause too much damage.

I think it is a sign of how much we've matured that we head off into Soho for dinner whereas a few years ago we'd simply have got a packet of nuts and several more rounds of beer. On Magnus' recommendation we go to an Italian he knows on Dean Street. Curiously it isn't there when we arrive but there is one two minutes down the road. Maybe his internal GPS is off?

Il Siciliano is fairly atmospheric inside if the food is a bit hit and miss, and I feel exactly like Don Fabrizo in The Leopard - hurrah for Book Club. The house red is rough as boots though. Me and Leary opt for parmesan-stuffed meatballs for starters and Davisss has the bresaola salad, all of which were fairly good I think.

It goes a bit pear-shaped over the mains though. My vongole was pretty good but I think Davisss' illegal veal escalopes were dry and Magnus was left bewildered by the arrival of his bolognese in a bowl with a crispy, cheesy top.

We finish the evening in Dennis Nilsen's favourite pub, The Golden Lion, for a quick pint to remove the taste of rough house red.

As there's no photo-record of this great event I feel there's space to stick something else up. Luckily I've got a new obsession, thanks to Radio 7, Armstrong & Miller's fake Norwegian band Strijka from their pre-BBC days when they were good. Here's Tjildsen, which I pretty much listened to 1 billion times today, and then annoyed Lucy Ferguson with. Please, don't applause now

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

baked chicken, green beans and tomatoes

It's the last night before the ana's and milo disappear to the diamond isle, so we need something to eat that both empties the fridge *and* can be left to cook itself whilst we root out suitcases and pack clothes. Oh, as there's no Bikini Blitz, it also has to be healthy. We haven't had it for a while but baked chicken with green beans, tomato and feta seems to hit the spot:

baked chicken, green beans and tomatoes
I think we've pretty much established this is a Jamie Oliver dish - any idea where it's from, anybody? Lucy's (good or bad)? Sarah? - but I've developed my own hard and fast rule when I cook it.

Part of its beauty is the lovely herb and cheesey sauce which you can pour over the chicken once you've plated up. However, if you cook it in a shallow oven dish the juices boil away (and the chicken gets a bit dry) so the trick is to use a deeper casserole with a lid. All I've got to do is find one...

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

drinking with anil and pete

Whilst ana and milo are entertaining brenda's and benny jack and eating tomato tart, it's the beginning of Russell's Week on the Sauce: Stage One - Anil & Pete in the hat & stick on Great Titchfield Street, before having a fairly good curry in Shikara opposite.

Can't remember what I had, I think it was a chicken rogan, but of more interest was what I had for lunch earlier. I'm bored of buying sandwiches from M&S/Pret/Whatever, and summer isn't as good as winter/autumn for left-over lunches, so currently lunches are a bit meh!

However I have discovered a number of exciting new possibilities now we've moved offices, and the first one to catch my eye (advertised as "brilliant at curing hangovers and colds" outside) is a Vietnamese street food restaurant called Pho. I had the chicken noodle soup to take away and it. was. amazing! Really fresh and zingy, and massive portions.

I deffo recommend it if you're ever out in town.

Monday, 26 July 2010

mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad

Half day today as I had my driving lesson this afternoon. It's a bit of a scorcher, until my nerve-calming pre-test lesson when it bins it down and I have my worse afternoon driving on record. Until the test, WHICH I PASS! Wooo - I'm strictly legal, finally!

I only got one minor error, and after 15 years ana has pretty much given up driving. Better and better there's no Bikini Blitz tonight, so after a cup of tea at Des and Ali's next door and the usual bath and bed routine we have a couple of cheeky vinos to celebrate!

For dinner we have one of our new-found classics, but with an exciting twist - we've grown our own salad! Here it is, a combination of pak choi, rocket, mizuna, mibuna (?), cima di rapa, green mustard and red mustard. It was a free packet given away by the D-Bone last year, and apparently it'll grow though the winter - behold it's fecund beauty!

And in situ nestling next to it's new friends, mozzarella, proscuitto and peaches. They played very nicely together:

mozzarella, peach and parma ham salad
The swift nature of this dish (if you don't count growing the salad leaves) means I can pre-prepare something for the ana's as I'm out tomorrow night with Anil and Magnus, pulling birds. We opt for tomato, red onion and creme fraiche tart, if only to use up the punnets of cherry tomatoes cluttering up the fridge since Milo decided he doesn't eat them anymore. Naturally it's a triumph!

tomato, red onion and creme fraiche tart

mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad - Delicious, August 2005
tomato, red onion and creme fraiche tart - Delicious, 2005 or 2006

Sunday, 25 July 2010

the white lion, walkern & mediterranean salad

More visiting today. This time we're going to the country to visit Jacqui and Tristan who used to rent our flat in Dyer's Lane before we moved into it, and whom we bumped into in New World Wellington about five years later. They very kindly put us up and and then let us steal all their NZ friends once they'd returned to Blighty, so they're clearly top people even if they are foreign.

We haven't seen them since our wedding, but diligent Facebooking on Ana's behalf drew us back into their orbit and I for one am very pleased, particularly as they have a beautiful dog retriever-cross called Tui.

Like the troopers they are, the pair of them take us to a picturesque country pub called The White Lion, with a massive(ish) kids playground at the end of the garden. The food and service is pretty good - I think we all have burgers apart from Jacqui who had retro-70s gammon, egg and chips, complete with pineapple ring, and Milo who had sausages. Half of which ended up being donated to Tui, or "Fella" as Milo insisted on calling her because he confused her with Sophie's lab.

It's a lovely day but I find when you're visiting people, you do spend most of the journey home piecing together the half-conversations you've had, because you miss half of everything that's said as one of you has to be swinging or sliding or running around rather than relaxing with friends you haven't seen for ages.

We're going to do it again so maybe I'll pick up the bits I missed next time?

By the time we get home three hours later (thanks M25), we're both knackered and starving. Hustling a very well-behaved monkey into bed, I've only got enough energy to knock together a quick Ana favourite for dinner: mediterranean salad, this time with caper berries. She's only mildly challenged.

mediterranean salad

Then it's to bed to read a chapter of The Leopard, before getting a semi-early night ready for tomorrow's DRIVING TEST - ARRRRRRRRGH!

Food of the Milos
We're a bit all over the shop this weekend but today is pretty good *if* snack and chip heavy: Boiled egg and fruit bread for breakfast, snacks in the car up to Letchworth, sausage and chips for lunch, snacks stuck on the M25 (mainly marmite rice cakes) and then a smorgasbord of cheese, avocado, raisins, cherry tomatoes and cherries for dinner.

mediterranean halloumi salad - Delicious, June 2010, p24

Saturday, 24 July 2010

salmon and beetroot & watercress salad

You'd think going out for dinner and therefore not cooking would have a positive affect on the updating of a blog, but not this one. Being full of fish, beetroot and wine just made me sleepy so although the date stamp is correct, I'm actually writing in the future - wooooo!

Back to the past though and a busy busy scorching Saturday. Sandwiched between my final mock driving test and dinner at Kiki and Brian's, I get to grips with the new, full-on milo magic experience. And on a hot scorching day it's HELL!

Ana looks like she's run 10 marathons by the time I confidently hustle him out of the door for our traditional daddy time, but things have changed since the last time the routine was in action, mainly in the high maintenance stakes. Much like his mother in fact...

  • Spend 20 minutes looking at ladybird on a wall, and that's before we've even got to the end of the road;
  • Get some money out of the cash machine on White Hart Lane, which involves pressing all the buttons;
  • Go halfway up the alley to listen to the cockerels. They aren't crowing, but we have to wait a long time to confirm this fact;
  • Scoot along to the wall opposite the chip shop in Barnes, whereupon we walk along half the length before doing numerous fireman's slides down the sign post;
  • Ransack Fara for toys and books, carefully steering him past the large collection of vaguely familiar things on the shelves. "I've got one of those at home daddy!" Erm, yeesssss - look at that leaf!
  • Drink a babyccino and eat some lemon drizzle cake in Cafe Nero whilst performing a "show" by the door. Stroke a dog;
  • Go into Barnes Fish Shop and pick up a crab, literally rather than buying it;
  • Buy apples, cherries, and courgette flowers at Barnes Market. Bite the girl serving us with new shark toy friend;
  • Buy seeds for ducks in Membury's. Talk to new as-yet-unknown girlfriends using toy shark as a chat up line;
  • Eat ice creams on a bench by the pond. Fail to feed ducks.
  • Scoot to Vine Road playground and spend an hour and a half in paddling pool before moving on to various slides, swings and rope bridges. Refuse to go home and I have to walk to the end of the path whilst he goes in the opposite direction before he caves in;
  • Snack lunch at home before heading out to Sheen to buy him some sandals. I force Ana to dress like 'a lady' and she complains all the way. We have coffee and lemon moons at Orange Pekoe on the way back;
  • Dinner, pasta bolognese, bath in which I have to paddle my feet. They get eaten by a new toy shark friend. Books, bed and sparko by Six PM.
Forget him, I'm shagged.

As I said earlier, luckily Brian and Kendra are on kitchen duty tonight so we have a marvellous salmon and beetroot salad for dinner, followed by some sort of stewed fruit pudding and one or two glasses of wine. It's a lovely evening, and one I'm going to encouragise the Bolger's to repeat.

In the meantime Kiki, could you give us the recipe? I think you said it's a Jamie number...

m thanks

Food of the Milos
The inevitable Cheerios for breakfast, not that he eats many of them, followed by his new favourite thing "making toast and tea". Not that he eats much of it once he's made it, in fact he mainly just licks butter and marmite off the knife, so beware if he ever offers you breakfast. Cheese on toast for lunch, and spag bol for dinner. Plus all the cakes, snacks and ice creams of course...

mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad - recipe

Spandy, your will is my command - BEHOLD!

mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad

Serves 2
2 ripe peaches, halved, stones removed and cut into thick wedges
ball of mozzarella, cut into large chunks
Big handful of spinach leaves, baby leaf works best
Big handful of basil leaves (we only had epinard in France, and it wasn't baby leaf so you can judge for yourself what's necessary or not. Basil does make it nicer, but as long as your spinach isn't too big, it should be fine)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Pinch of chilli flakes
Pinch of sugar
4 slices of Parma ham (I always use Prosciutto Crudo 'cos it's cheaper)

1. Put the peaches, mozzarella, spinach and basil in a salad bowl;
2. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, sugar and chilli flakes together, season well and drizzle over the salad. Toss well (matron!)
3. Divide the salad between two plates. Roughly tear the ham and add to the plates, finally grind some black pepper over the top.


I like it with crusty bread and extra ham, and a whacking bottle of chilled wine...

It's from the 2005 August Delicious issue, and features my favourite Delicious editor Mitzie Wilson, and in the absence of a picture of the dish, here she is enjoying a glass of wine:

look into Mitzie's eyes not around the eyes

Friday, 23 July 2010


Day Four of Operation No Dummy has taken a dramatic turn to such an extent the whole raison d'etre of this blog might have to change, from 'food' to 'dealing with a recalcitrant and uppity toddler'.

Luckily I was work all day putting three years writing The IT Crowd website for Channel 4 to some use, Ana got it full-blast though with her only respite coming at Battersea Children's Zoo. I may try to go to work tomorrow, where has our cute baby gone? The only consolation seems to be that being evil and nefarious is clearly quite knackering, because he's zonked pretty quickly every night this week.

Maybe I should focus on him because food isn't that interesting tonight, we had last night's ratatouille with pasta:


You'll be pleased to know I've used the time I would've spent slaving over a stove adding some more catch-up posts. Go wild and crazy:
More soon, I promise.

Food of the Milos
We seem to have also dropped the morning 12 litres of milk, at least we did today as instead the monkey helped make tea and toast for mummy, and he even ate his toast and marmite for breakfast. It all went down hill from there, although he did eat a fairly hefty bowl of ratatouille for dinner. I think he must be hitting his teenage years slightly early...

P.S Robert Peter Manwaring, we've run out of the Haigh's Mint chocolate buttons, do send some over in the next clipper. m thanks

Thursday, 22 July 2010

mixed tomato puff tart & ratatouille

Despite the usual delaying tactics by milo, it's a double cooking night tonight as we're running out of fresh food for him, and certainly the freezer is looking a bit empty. If you discount the packet of oven chips left in there by kayosaurus and mikeplodocus that is.

So, whilst the mini ball of puff pastry (left-over from April's roasted cherry tomato tarte tatin), comes up to room temperature, we drink wine and knock together a monster St Hugh ratatouille.

It really is the best way to both use up veg kicking around the fridge - tonight's batch includes red and yellow peppers, celery and a variety of tomatoes on top of the usual ingredients - and it's an ace way of getting veg down the milos.

Ratatouille done, the pastry is ready for a swift(ish) puff tart, with a salad jazzed up with a version of the mustard, vinegar and olive oil dressing from the steak and white beans dish I cooked for Kiki recently. It worked pretty well despite not being warm, and lacking the garlic because I'd used it all up in the ratatouille.

tart and ratatouille
Food of the Milos
Day Three of Operation No Dummy seems to be slightly more successful than the last two times. He didn't ask for it all day, not even when he went to bed tonight so fingers crossed. The downside is he's running on about 1000% energy, leaving no rest for concerned parents.

In an attempt to wear him down, the ana's run him hard. They go for his 2.5 year check up, before going to Isla, Steve, Claire & Phoebe's on the way home. No lunchtime sleep, instead it's straight out to Lara's house with Kiki and Finn for several hours scampering up and down their treehouse, around their garden and with their guniea pigs. Ahhh, the benefits of landed gentry for friends. He sparks out in bed after stories, although he does try a lot of stalling.

Food: Crumpet for breakfast, babyccino and biscuits out, pasta for lunch and a jacket spud and cheese for dinner. Plus the usual snacks of course.

mixed tomato puff tart - Delicious, June 2008, p158
ratatouille - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Cookbook, p105

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

sesame chicken salad with cucumber and celery

Blimey, this is rapidly becoming one of our most-eaten meals this year. It's funny how you rediscover old recipes isn't it? I seem to recall when we first had it around our wedding we thought it was okay-ish, but now we can't get enough and we've had it pretty much every week since it re-emerged in June.

sesame chicken salad with cucumber and celery

Again we resist the lure of bad television and have dinner together in the dining room, over a glass of rose. I wish it was always summer.

sesame chicken salad with cucumber and celery - Jill Dupleix

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad

Is this the new Mediterranean halloumi salad? Possibly because we're slap bang in the middle of peach season (in France anyway), we're overrun with ripe fruits simply aching to be turned into salad.

No basil today, but I don't think you'd notice the difference. Actually I take that back, you *do* notice the difference, the basil takes the edge off the lemon and chilli-spiked dressing, but it's not disastrous if you don't have it.

mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad
mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad - Delicious, August 2005

Monday, 19 July 2010

thai-style beef and spinach

I think we're still in post-holiday fat-busters mode. Holidays are more trouble than they are worth, you've got diet to get into your bikini before you go on holiday, and then you can only eat rabbit food when you get back because you've put so much weight on. Bah!

Top tip here RE the thai-style beef and spinach: By planning ahead you can take advantage of buying spinach in bulk, using half tonight and the other half we'll have in the mozzarella, peach and parma ham salad.

thai-style beef and spinach - Delicious, July 2007, p130

Sunday, 18 July 2010

recovering at the treehouse & cereal

It's amazing what one night in my own sweet, sweet bed can do to a man. I'm still knackered - and bear in mind compared to Greg's driving, and ana and Spandy's crowd control the *only* thing I did on the drive to and from Brittany was talk to the French peage dollies (Bonjour. Cn'est pas logical pour moi, mais c'est tres practical) - but I feel ready to tackle our bulging holiday bags.

Lucky Mike and Kay are in attendance to entertain le Milos, whilst we do a bazillion loads of washing, put everything away and yes Lucy Ferguson, carry out a selection of self-inflicted bike repairs.

Cooking is the last thing on my mind so we repair to The Treehouse for an early-ish lunch, and where Milo's usual tour of the bamboo jungle, gentleman's loo and decorative toy wall is enlivened by an accidental visit to the kitchen. It's pretty cool though, the chef is showing a sous how to make chocolate sauce, and because we're out of lickage reach we stay for a bit.

Back in the sun (curse you miasma of molten plasma, where were you in France?), we have the following:
Burger and chips - Me
Salmon fish cakes - Milo (with chips and broccoli) and Kayosaurus
Disappointing asparagus risotto - The Anas
Roast chicken - Mikeploducus

milo at the white hart
There's so much we're still stuffed in the evening, with only room for cereal for dinner. Or is that supper? I forget...

en vacance en France

Holiday, o a holiday, and the best one of the year! Despite my recent claims to be getting back on top of the blogging our looming holiday to Brittany with the family Thompson-McPartlin has taken precedence.

Well, secondary precedence to having to fix my bike after riding into a flight of steps on the Chiswick bank, blowing out my front tyre and flattening my handlebars, which was a direct consequence (tertiary precedence?) of a more-than-pleasant evening sat by the river with Miss Lucy Ferguson ESQ. Or CougarTown as she's now known...

Anyway, after a delightful week only slightly ruined by the awful weather we're back, a mere 3000 hours of travelling in a people carrier under our belts - well done Greggy - and I need another holiday. Holidaying with children although lovely, just isn't relaxing...

Over the week we ate the following diner:
  • Mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad - on arrival, post 10 hour drive, stop off at Carrefour Saint Breiuc, and wrestling the kids into bed. This was one of only two days we were able to eat outside at the gite;
  • Day one: Relatively sunny so spent in the garden, paddling and generally unwinding. We ate pate (part one of the 10kilos we bought), cheese, bread and salad for petit dejuner, followed by Simon Hopkinson roast chicken and salad for dinner;
  • Day two: Moules Marinere (Me, Spandy and Greg), Jambon Crepe (Honey Louise), Pizza (Harry and Milo) and Spag Bol (Cerys) for lunch in rainy rainy Perros-Guirac. Although on the upside we do find a vending machine where Greg may have got his peado-lunettes from. Classic pasta with cherry tomato sauce for grand dejuner;
  • Day three: Rainy mystical boulders in Huelgoat, by an artificial lake. It's all very pretty, and we have a fun if damp lunch in some sort of chalet hidden in the woods. Well it would've been fun if I hadn't ordered the chitterlings crepe, accompanied by baked potato and mustard. On the upside, ana discovers the Breton's drink cidre from tea cups:

    ana cidre
    Only the chemical taste of a Twizzler ice lolly could remove the stench of death from my mouth:

    After driving a billion miles, Greg's next trick is to construct a really hearty chicken casserole. Perfect for the weather;
  • Day four: Bastille Day and SUN! We scoot west to Douarnenez and spend a great day on the beach, playing in the rock pools and for the truly brave (McPartlins) swimming in the Atlantic. We have snacks in the car, and spinach and parmesan meatballs for dinner. I think;
  • Day five, more rain but it's sporadic. We head back up north to Roscoff and spend the morning wandering around the old fishing town and having lunch on the dock. Moules for Harry(!), Goat's cheese salad for me, omlette for milo and spandy,. The kids get last night's meatballs for dinner, and we get a barbecue cooked in torrential rain by Greggy;
  • Day six: As it's wet (no!) we spend it mostly watching DVDs and reading, with the occasional mini-dip in the pool. In the afternoon we take a walk around Carhaix before taking a last swim as it's finally sunny. Baguettes for lunch, just to use up that final block of pate, and spag bol for all for dinner. Milo eats two lots without having to be fed, plus a yoghurt and about a litre of water.
Yay for holidays! Boo to weather! I'm sure ana will have photos up on Facebook

Friday, 9 July 2010

paper anniversary

It's a day of celebrations. It's either Holiday D-Day minus One, which is good if you're a Milo because you get to eat an ice lolly on a baking Barnes Green whilst they're putting out the tables for this weekend's fair, or it's Wedding D-Day Plus five years.

Obviously the latter is more exciting, although as we'll be packing people carrier's in Folkestone tonight ahead of an early departure tomorrow morning, we haven't got much planned. Instead we have a nice day in sunny SW14.

It's pretty successful, we have cards and breakfast together before heading out to get some last minute summer dresses for the Mrs Barnes of the last five years. As ever Froxy Bee comes up trumps, and replete with two fine outfits we head to The White Hart for a riverside lunch.

Food there has always been a bit hit and miss, usually miss to be honest, but since the refit it's got much better. As it's all cooked on the barbie these days it's *still* slow but we do get an amazing vibrating bar mat to tell us when it's ready.

I have a pretty good burger and chips, and milo has a pretty good sausage and chips, and both came with amazing homemade pickles and mustard. With two eyes on being in a bikini next week, Ana opts for grilled halloumi and a platter of houmous and pitta bread. It's only partly successful. Again, whilst the homemade houmous was lovely, but there was hardly any houmous - boo!

One lengthy and delayed drive to Folkestone later and it's time to eat again - yay! Mum has got a cottage pie on the go for Milo, which he scoffs tout suite before his bath and bed, we've got other plans in mind though. We need to train our stomachs for a week of Frenchified food, so we have pate and tiger bread baguette for dinner. And booze.

Holiday, here we come

Thursday, 8 July 2010

t box

It's the last day of school, it's the last day of work before the holiday, so naturally we've got nothing in the fridge to cook. Well we have, we've got loads, but I can't be arsed so we celebrate the start of the holiday with our first take away curry for aaaaaages! Okay, I'm hungover and broken from last night's boozing.

As a creature of habit I opt for the Sheen branch of Tiffin Box, although we have had some interesting menus flop through the letterbox recently - Ma Goa's new menu looks good, as does Cochin Brasserie.

With bags to back rather than side dishes to choose, it's the tried and trusted formula of a medium Old Fashioned Chicken curry, Chicken tikka and salad (for guess who), with sides of tarka dhal and vegetable curry.

Maybe the anticipation was too much, because I was strangely disappointed with my old fashioned. Maybe it's not a hot, summer night dish, I think I'll go back to the Lamb Achari until the rain kicks in.

Food of the Milos
Milo prepares for the holiday by indulging in a pate-fest for breakfast at Julia's, with some Philadelphia thrown in for good measure, and some malt loaf. Acclimatised to the European way of eating, he stays in touch with his roots with Cottage Pie and Jelly for lunch.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

pistachios & alcohol & a broken brompton

Although it sounds more like a song by a middle class Oasis, this was in fact the sum of my Wednesday night out by the river with 'Bad' Lucy Ferguson.

What I should've done was not go out for drinks with her, I should've gone home and watched the Midsomer repeat on telly but no, my misguided sense of friendship led me astray pretty much from when I got up.

I had a bowl of cereal before I left for work, and because I'd eaten out with Davisss yesterday I still had a portion of Monday's rainbow tortilla in the fridge at work so that was lunch sorted. However that was it, apart from booze, idle gossip and, because we hadn't noticed the kitchen shuts early, a packet of crisps and some pistachios.

Okay so I shouldn't have attempted to ride home even though it's a shared pedestrian bike path all along the river to Barnes Bridge, but I *should've* spotted the path diverge and I *shouldn't* have smacked into the flight of steps going up the pedestrian half.

If any picture can encapsulate Pride Before a Fall, this is it:

pride before a fall
Luckily there was a man with a brompton taking pictures of the river who, once he stopped laughing at my somersault, lent me his tools. Not that I could fix it in my state, apart from straightening the handlebars.

It was a long, forlorn walk home...

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

sesame chicken salad with cucumber and celery and Davisss

Today is a scorcher, and whilst Ana and Milo go to visit to his new nursery I head off to my own daycare establishment.

The usual routine of reading in Golden Square is only slightly offset by the arrival of Davisss Taylor for lunch. I still make him sit in the square, in his suit, but as a quid pro quo I take him (although he pays - thanks Davisss) to my new favourite vegetarian restaurant - Mrs Marengos.

It's an off-shoot of Mildreds, (in fact it's next door), and was heartily recommended to me by Angela Hazel White and Sally at work. Other than the amazing cupcakes the best thing on the menu are the halloumi burgers with a pesto dressing and sweet potato chips. They are divine, although obviously not as good as a GBK kiwi burger...

Power-lunching over it's home time, and I have to get a shift on because Davisss is also coming for a power dinner of sesame chicken, with a side order of dancing milo (not pictured).

davisss & anas
sesame chicken salad with cucumber and celery - Jill Dupleix, and here's the recipe!

Monday, 5 July 2010

rainbow tortilla

Okay we're going to be entering a bit of Wayne & Garth style zipping forward and backwards in time. This is me now (22nd July) pretending it's actually the past - wooooo! Basically we've done loads and the backlog needs to get tackled somewhere, so we might as well start here. This is going to look well odd when it actually IS the 22nd and you scoot down the page. Anyway, are we holding tight? Then let's begin with a proper Wayne's World time fade, do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do, do-do-do...

After yesterday's Wigglesfest, it's t-minus five days until the holiday and despite the projected grim weather, BikiniBlast2010 goes into overdrive. Tonight it's salad (again) teamed with a slightly more filling rainbow tortilla.

rainbow tortilla
Having made it a couple of times now I'd like to think I've pretty much got the hang of it but no, tonight pride kicks me well and truly up the arse. Ana has used the non-stick pan to cook milo's dinner and I can't be bothered to wash it, so I just use the big frying pan because that'll be fine, won't it? Won't it? Hmmm, maybe non-stick pans are better for this sort of thing:


Lucky it was so big we had enough for each of us, plus some for lunch tomorrow despite leaving half of it on the bottom of the pan.

rainbow tortilla - Delicious, June 2010, p148

More catching up

Okay, I'm slowly getting there. I've still got loads of the past to pick up on - Lucyfer's three-vegetarian curry night springs to mind, a weekend with Daviss and Good Lucy, plus other random things - but tonight I've managed to piece together the weekend just gone:
To be honest, not much cooking but plenty of milo action, and an exclusive picture of ana coming down a death-defying slide. What more could you want?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

the wiggles and mushroom pappardelle

More frugal eating this evening - holiday beckons after all. And what better way to use up some unhappy looking mushrooms in the fridge, than by combining them with garlic, pasta (sadly spaghetti was all we had in the cupboard, if you discount the horrid gluten-free fuselli in the corner), and more of our home-grown parsley? None better ways, that's how many.

mushroom pappardelle
Actually, it makes a change cooking a Nigel Slater dish that isn't laksa. I really must get over my intense dislike of him and make more effort with Kitchen Diaries.

Before we got to this fine creation however, we first had to experience Milo's first ever concert - The Wiggles at Hammersmith Apollo! Rock and Roll!

Here we are before, fortified by a pint at Ye White Hart with Steve, Isla-boo and Claire. Do we look like we know what we're getting into? Frankly no, but at least me and mccarthy have two years of training under our belts, which is more than can be said of the Harcups.

the wiggles
Here we are after, back in the pub, recovering with our Wags the Dog ears, light-up wiggles stick and Captain Feathersword erm, Feather sword:

post pub wigglesIn a word it was utter-genius! I loved it, anas loved and the milo and isla's definitely loved it. Steve and Claire looked stunned, but aircon failure aside it was the best gig I've been to this year.

Milo's favourite bit were probably the appearance of Murry and Jeff in the crowd, and Twinkle Twinkle. Sadly no sign of Kylie this year. What's the point of being a dad eh? At least my dad had Suzi Quatro in Happy Days to pretend to appreciate for her acting...

Right, food. Post Wiggles we had an abortive barbecue which just didn't seem to catch or do anything other than smoke for about 3 hours, before finally getting going just as I was going to bed.

It almost caused a divorce I can tell you, but ana hit upon the perfect solution. Whilst me and milo pushed not-very-burning coals around, she cooked his sausages and corn-on-the-cob in the kitchen. They then got transferred to the barbie to 'cook' for as long as his patience could hold out. Which was about a minute, and he ate the lot.

We had the pasta, but you knew that, didn't you? Didn't you?

mushroom pappardelle - Nigel Slater, Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries, p283

sesame chicken recipe

Seeing as you've all asked so very nicely, I give you sesame chicken!

Serves 4 as a light lunch, or 8 as a starter
or 2 for dinner in photo-actuality

2 chicken breasts
1/2 a large cucumber
2 medium carrots
2 celery stalks
2 tbsp of rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 lime quartered

For the Dressing:
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sweet chilli oil
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp sugar

1. Poach the chicken in a pan of salted, simmering water for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. Drain and cool. When it's cool enough to handle, shred the chicken.
2. Peel the cucumber into long strips, avoiding the seeds in the middle, and then into matchsticks. Peel the carrots into long strips, and again cut into matchsticks. Finely chop the celery. Amazing knife skills courses come in very handy at this point.
3. Toss the chopped veg, with the shredded chicken, chopped coriander and the sesame oil, and rice vinegar.
4. Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl and microwaving for 30 seconds, stir, then another 20 odd seconds. The actual recipe calls for you to slowly mix in a saucepan on the hob, but it's easier to blitz in the micro and actually, the peanut butter melts better this way.
5. Drizzle over the salad, scatter with the sesame seeds, and serve with the lime quarter.

So how are you chaps? As you can tell, I'm WELL behind with the blog at the moment. The arrival of Manwaring, followed by my mum's birthday and then going to see The Wiggles has put me massively back. Fingers-crossed I catch up before going on holiday. Which will then put me back again. What's the point eh?

Saturday, 3 July 2010

international babs cabs weekend

Forget the septics, July the 4th is all about the International Day of Babs Cabs. Unfortunately we've double-booked ourselves for my mum's birthday. So, the plan is to go down a day early, and come back late-ish Saturday night in time for our date with Australia's greatest entertainers on the Sunday. It's a triumph!

We get down just after lunch on a scorching afternoon chez Shepway, and spend most of rest of the afternoon splashing around in the paddling pool set in the west lawn of my mum's extensive grounds. There's time to marvel at my brother's ludicrous fake tan, and milo also seizes the chance to dress like a bunny:

Tuckered out from all the sliding into water, monkey drops off about 9-ish which gives nanny the opportunity to indulge in some vital babysitting time and me and bobyena head out The Clarendon for some summer evening seaside drinks.

Saturday is all-action:

1. We find a slow-worm by the kitchen door. To be honest, my mum's garden is heaving with them but this is milo's first one. He's not too bothered by it, and even picks it up by the head:

slow worm
2. We slide down terrifying death slides with mummy:

3. And we spend all afternoon in the garden, splashing in the pool with nanny, ollie, dylan and TC. Clokey, Pam, Saucepan, Jan, Tom, Roisin, Dan, JP, Moose, Lee, Jo, Keira, Hannah and Sarah take the sensible option and recline on deckchairs eating my mum's birthday chilli - hotter than last year fact fans!

Somebody conks out in the car on the way home, and I'm not too far behind by the time we get back. It's a good day, and as much as I complain about the old fruitbat my mum's birthday's are pretty cool affairs. Happy Birthday Babs!

Food of the Milos and the Anas and the Russells
After a breakfast of boiled eggs, we have ham sandwiches and houmous for lunch friday, and we all have my mum's thai coconut chicken for dinner. Saturday isn't so good for breakfast but once out Milo does have space for a 99 with flake. An ice cream total he manages to triple by the end of the day. Party food is salad and chilli, and tactically I take one for the team, and have about six bowls during the day, mainly to stop most of it coming back to our house in an ice cream tub. It doesn't work, and we still come back with a box of salad, some beetroot, half a pepper and some celery.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

toasted pine nut and sweet potato salad

As we're off to Folkestone-by-the-Sea for my mum's 69th birthday (or 70th if you're my brother), tonight's dinner is a matter of using up what we've got in the fridge. Luckily we've got *just* enough spinach for both of us, meaning I don't have to take a jaunt to Sainsburys.

I bulk it up with the last of the basil leaves, double pine nuts and a highly un-bikini blitz extra portion of Sweet Potato:

toasted pine nut and sweet potato salad
Strangely, unlike last time there doesn't seem to be any issues with it tonight. Okay the avocado is a little soft, but the potato and the vinegar dressing are all in working order. Maybe our taste buds were a being a little wonky? Although I take Sarah's point, I didn't mention the presence of the lurrve pear so maybe the whole thing was sulking?

Food of the Milos
Back to Julia's and it seems the tactic of not giving him so much milk in the morning, and avoiding the snacks on the way, means he eats more breakfast. Well, a sweet yum yum on top of his toast and phili anyway. Cheesey pasta for dinner, and then he gets a double dose of pasta with the remainder of Rob's mushroom pasta 'sauce'. If you can call mushrooms in tinned tomatoes a sauce. Maybe it counts down under? Snigger

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