Wednesday, 29 September 2010

spinach and parmesan meatballs

Crikey, it's binning it down today. It's not cold, just very very wet, and by the time I get home it's certainly blowing up a hoolie. This, combined with the fact we're two days off pay day means we're heading only one way for dinner tonight - the freezer.

Serendipitously I've been asked about this recipe a lot recently (recipe below), and what's the only thing in the freezer other than mini milks and an ice cube tray of red wine? Bingo!

spinach and parmesan meatballs
It's just as well it's a swift dish as last night somebody got up at 01:15 and stayed awake, demanding nibbles, television, playing and mucking about until about 06:00, so we're both absolutely shagged. Having said that, Ana hits the motherlode on tonight's Grand Designs, if they'd managed to include a barn for Nigerian Witch Children she'd have been in seventh Heaven.

Also, slowly slowly catchee monkey - I've managed to get around to dealing with *last* Tuesday's pasta and beetroot soup fest, and Wednesday night's Book Club.

Food of the Milos
Denying him nibbles or snacks this morning backfires slightly as the moment is lost and he hardly eats anything at Julia's before nursery. Things slightly perk up at lunchtime when he eats his chicken, veg and pasta but refuses pudding, but last night's macaroni cheese proves too tempting. Fingers-crossed he doesn't wake up tonight.

spinach and parmesan meatballs in a rich ragu - Angela Boggiano, Delicious 2007, p46

spinach and parmesan meatballs recipe

A bit like the peach, mozzarella and parma ham salad recently caught the zeitgeist, I've suddenly been inundated for requests for the spinach and parmesan meatballs recipe. I say inundated...

So for Kendra, Angela Hazel White, Hanne and I'm guessing Sarah (who asked aaaaaages ago), here it is.

Spinach and Parmesan Meatballs in a rich ragu
It's based on Angela Boggiano's family recipe from November 2007's edition of Delicious, I've just increased the portion control and added some other ingredients

Serves 4, plus a couple of milo-sized portions depending on your meatball size
Ready in 1 hour (upwards of)
2 tbsp olive oil (although I have been known to use the left-over sunflower oil from jars of roasted peppers)
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 red peppers, cubed
100g mushrooms, cubed
couple of ice cubes of frozen red wine, or just red wine
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
Big bag of spinach, washed
600g minced beef
50g stale breadcrumbs
25g grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
Large pinch of chilli flakes
Large bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 medium egg

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan - I favour a large diameter, lowish height pan. Add carrot, celery, onion, garlic, mushrooms and peppers, and cook gently for about 4-5 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the wine if you're using, stir in the tomatoes, rinse out the cans with water and add to the pan. Season to taste, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
2. Whilst it's simmering away, put the spinach in a colander and pour over about 2 kettles of boiling water to wilt it down. Cool it down with cold water, and then squeeze out all the liquid. Make sure it's cool though, otherwise you'll burn your hands. Once you've squeezed it out you'll be left with about a tenth of the spinach, probably no more than a handful of squashed leaves. Finely chop.
3. Put the meat, parsley, spinach, parmesan, egg, chilli flakes and some seasoning into a bowl, and mix together with your hands until completely combined. It should be firm and not too sticky.
4. Roll the mixture into small, walnut-sized balls - you should get between 25 and 30 balls out of the mixture. Drop them into the ragu pan, and shake them down. Don't stir them because it'll break the meatballs up. Cook for 45-50 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked and the sauce has thickened.
5. Serve with spaghetti, vino tinto and extra parmesan.

spinach and parmesan meatballs in a rich ragu - Angela Boggiano, Delicious 2007, p46

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

heston's pea & pancetta spaghetti & macaroni cheese

Who would've thought we'd have eaten three experimental dishes in a row this week, and I'd willingly cook a Heston Blumenthal recipe! Will wonders never cease?

I know Lucyfer is a massive fan of the Heston, but I've never really warmed to him or his molecular cuisine, but Waitrose Weekend has started a mini-thaw. I've picked up a couple of his recipe cards without being overly inspired but this pasta dish in last week's paper looked too good to miss.

heston's pea & pancetta spaghetti
It was equally a little garlicky, a little salty from the pancetta and there was a nice spike of heat in the aftertaste from the chilli, with a lovely rich parmesan and egg yolk sauce. Definitely having it again, although sadly because of the chilli it's NSFM.

However Heston hadn't stopped giving, because as it only took 20 odd minutes to make I had time to knock together a cheeky macaroni cheese for the monkey's dinner tomorrow:

macaroni cheese
Not only that, I could even watch the new Matt King (that's Peep Show's Super Hans)-penned, chef comedy Whites on BBC2. A-MAY-ZING! Heston has definitely gone up in my estimation, slightly anyway.

Food of the Milos
The usual breakfast, before heading out to see the Dinosaurs and play with water with Ana at the Natural History Museum and Science Museum. They had egg mayo sandwiches out, along with the full range of fruit-based snacks. Sadly his mood does not hold up, and he spurns last night's chick pea curry AND the spaghetti Ana cooks him. The ingrate.

heston's pea & pancetta spaghetti - Waitrose Weekend, 16th September, p10
macaroni cheese - My mind, but inspired by a combination of Jamie's four cheese macaroni and Annabel Karmel's cheese sauce

Monday, 27 September 2010

spinach, tomato and chick pea curry

Another rainy monday, it *must* be a Bobble Hat Blitz night!

With Ana out I've got at least an hour in hand to try and catch up with the two weeks worth of blog posts I've randomly missed out on, safe in the knowledge tonight's experimental curry only takes 20 minutes (according to the recipe card). However, I don't take into account the fact Ana has a super-quick shower when she gets back, and I'm always at least five minutes slower than what the recipe suggests. Hmmm...

Despite the fact it uses a pre-made curry sauce (because Sainsbury's don't stock Veeraswamy Moglai Curry Paste - take note of my ire Anna Shirley), it's a pretty nifty veggie curry to add to my armoury. And given the fact we've now got a massive jar of curry sauce in the fridge, I'm sure we'll be seeing it again soon.

Further good news for you chaps is the fact tonight I managed to update the following posts:
Fill your boots! All I've got to do now is catch up last week...

Food of the Milos
The usual breakfast (apples, waffles, banana, baby bel, raisins and grapes) was followed by a less-usual - the celeriac soup he helped make yesterday, for lunch today. He's out and about at Zoe's this afternoon, where he scoffs two treats (a packet of crisps and a packet of chocolate buttons - although he gives Ana two), plus the mother of baby roast dinners!

spinach, tomato and chick pea curry - Waitrose Recipe Cards, Early September 2010

Sunday, 26 September 2010

sauteed chicken with cider & tarragon and celeriac soup

lazy sunday morning, turning into a cold and wet sunday afternoon in the park in putney, followed by a trip round richmond park and then downton abbey

celeriac soup
sauteed chicken with cider & tarragon

Saturday, 25 September 2010

milo and ana's jam buttons & rick's shepherd's pie

What with learning to drive in the mornings, disappearing off to play rugby in the afternoon as well last year would've taken some serious negotiation. However, now I'm the primary driver in this house, things are a little easier, but some things have definitely changed at home.

Whilst I'm losing 40-48 to Rossyln Park, the kitchen gets a new Saturday afternoon visitor:

milo and ana's jam buttons
Is there anything better than to come home from a hearty game of rugby and find a selection of tasty biscuits waiting to be eaten? And Bill Granger's Jam Buttons ala Ana and Milo are pretty darned tasty. I do have to play about 3 hours worth of "total wipeout" when I get home though, so it's not all a bed of rugby roses...

It's just a shame I couldn't step up to the mark later that night, instead slumping in front of a Midsomer repeat on ITV3, under the duvet with several large glasses of vin rouge and an even larger helping of frozen Rick Stein shepherd's pie.

shepherd's pie as cooked in india
Food of the Milos
The usual fruit and waffle-based breakfast is supplemented during our trip around Richmond Sainsbury's (we used up our pot of change) but a punnet of Tomberries, a smoothie, half a packet of grapes and some rice cakes. For dinner we knocked up some no-stir tomato risotto.

shepherd's pie as cooked in india - Rick Stein, Delicious circa 2005 and now in the Skull Recipe book
jam buttons - Bill Granger, Simply Bill, p96

Friday, 24 September 2010

moroccan chicken stew

After the Book Club debacle, last night I leave Ana and Hanne at home to gossip whilst I enjoy the dubious company of Mr Anil Mistry and Peter Magnus Leary in London Town.

Interestingly for a second successive night out we stay away from our usual haunts, mainly drinking in Noho, although we do end up in The Ship for last orders. It's still a hole, and I think the experience might finally break us of our gap-toothed-tattoed-ugly-Amy-Winehouse-on-crack habits.

Tonight we're entertaining the polar opposite of horrible rock metal chicks as Kendra is joining us for a farewell dinner with Hanne. Although having said that, I have seen both ladies smerking fags before, and Kendra went to Cardiff Uni so she's clearly sails close to the chip shop wind...

Anyway, there's a smell of winter in the air, Ana has the tinglings of a cold coming so she needs some snot-battling ginger in her diet, preferably in the form of a autumn chill defying stew.

At least this time I remember to make the gremolata, which makes it look slightly less jaundiced.

moroccan chicken stew - Delicious, February 2008, p28

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

book club: soup & salad

It's Book Club tonight, and to be honest it's a *complete disaster*.

Not culinary-speaking of course, apart from the fact I've suddenly realised we've served spinach in some form each time we've hosted Book Club: Spinach & Feta Pie in February (for The Road) and Thai-style beef and spinach salad (for Wolf Hall).

We kicked off with last night's beetroot borscht, which seems to go down so well even Ana eats it despite the vivid colour:

beetroot and apple borscht
I think it's slightly too sweet, but next time I'll half the amount of Bramley apples. It's pretty warming to drink in the park at lunchtime FYI. Anyway, back to the spinach-theme, can you guess what's tonight's main course:

mozzarella, peach and parma ham salad
*Sigh*. However, more disappointingly we have a very low reading score, and rather than discussing the pulsating heat and angst of Bonjour Tristesse, or the elegiac The Leopard, the main topic of discussion is school, and general gossip with guest of honour, Hanne Signy Natvik.

And I missed the new series of Midsomer for this? Gahh!

Food of the Milos
He's on hyperactive form today, not only because it's a Julia-Nursery day, but because he's very very VERY excited about the arrival of Hanne and Kornelius. I get him out the door and on his bike using bribes in the form of marmite rice cakes and humzingers, before cheerios, toast & Phili, raisins and apricots. He had jacket potatoes, spag bol and cheese for lunch, and then a mini scoff Fish Pie for dinner before showering Kornelius with toys/water/balls/dancing and other random stuff.

mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad - Delicious, August 2005
beetroot and apple borscht - Delicious, March 2010, p40

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

mushroom pappardelle & beetroot and apple borscht

What to do when you've got two half-punnets of mushrooms in the fridge? It's Book Club tomorrow, so given I've got to sort out a starter as well this evening, we need something quick and easy, and preferably cheap as chips. Step forward Nigel Slater:

mushroom pappardelle
It has the added bonus of using the awful dried tagliatelle Ana bought last week, so double-thumbs up all round!

Dinner out the way, tonight's fun involves making a massive batch of beetroot and apple borscht - enough for lunch for me, and as a starter for five tomorrow night. Curiously for the first time my fingers don't end up totally purple, no idea why though...

Food of the Milos
It's a day of visiting and playing today, fuelled by the usual breakfast nibbles and boiled egg for lunch. So far so good, however our banker - last night's Indian style Rick Stein shepherd's pie - turns out to be a bit of a damp squib. He ate it, mainly because Ana spooned it into his mouth, but he was slightly perturbed by the colour, and it's less-than-normal moistness.

mushroom pappardelle - Nigel Slater, Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries, p283
beetroot and apple borscht - Delicious, March 2010, p40

Monday, 20 September 2010

shepherd's pie as cooked in india

Having been gazumped by Jude on Saturday, I finally get around to cooking Rick Stein's Shepherd's Pie as Cooked in India tonight.

It's not a bad call to be honest, because although it is a lovely, balmy September day there is a definite whiff of Autumn in the air once the sun goes down. Also, given it's Bobble Hat Blitz tonight, it's the perfect dish: It takes about an hour to make, so whilst Ana is running around an astroturf in Chiswick, it's stewing away waiting for her to come back.

Naturally our Shepherd's Pie recipe of choice is Saint Hugh's, so we're going out on a limb with Rick's currified version. It certainly looked yellower than we're used to.

shepherd's pie as cooked in india
Actually it's pretty good, a really tasty variation on a classic. The turmeric, cumin, ground coriander and tamarind aren't as overpowering as you'd think, although the colour is slightly off-putting. Particularly as the picture of the finished dish looks much more normal.

However Rick does have a top tip which I'll certainly be re-using, namely draining the browned lamb halfway through the recipe. Even though we were using extra-lean lamb, you would not believe the amount of fat which came out of it...

Food of the Milos
It being Monday, and having suffered another broken night we're all knackered today so it's the usual fruit-waffle breakfast before spending the morning at Nursery. Energy levels are raised with a boiled egg and soldiers, before a hearty dinner of fishcakes and spaghetti hoops.

shepherd's pie as cooked in india - Rick Stein, Delicious circa 2005 and now in the Skull Recipe book

Sunday, 19 September 2010

picnics in the park, pumpkin soup & tomato curry

After last night's quintuple dinner we're feeling a little brackish today, so a leisurely picnic with Kendra, Brian, Finn, SJ, Dan and the boys in Richmond Park seems an ideal solution to lift the spirits, and revive the digestive organs.

Okay the weather isn't fantastic but it's warm, and I know for a fact both myself and Kendra will turn up with Scotch Eggs. We do, but our lardiness is off-set by the fine salami's and cheeses from the Bolgers, the individual Pavlova's from the Wethereds and a special version of Saint Hugh's pumpkin soup from us.

Admittedly it's a bit runnier than I planned, mainly because I forgot to take into account the fact I'd used half the pumpkin in the Levi Roots salad the other day failed to adjust the stock accordingly. However it did have a twist because rather than just pumpkin, I also roasted up a couple of peppers which were lurking in the bottom of the fridge, and used up the sunflower oil leftover from the jar of roast peppers used up the last time we had mediterranean salad. Being too runny aside, it was definitely different as the peppers gave it a smooth, smokier flavour which was quite nice.

The combination of Milo's recent 3AM alarm calls, the fresh air and running around after toddlers means none of us are good for anything but baths and bed. Milo goes first, and one comforting tomato curry and a quick snigger at Debbie McGee and Jodie Marsh on Come Dine with Me later, we're not far behind.

tomato curry
Gosh, it's tiring this parenting lark.

Food of the Milos
Today wasn't his greatest culinary odyssey. For breakfast he had a chocolate muffin Jude made for him last night, and a waffle. Lunch consisted of carrot sticks, crisps, houmous and pavlova , although mainly crisps, but for dinner he made up for all the awfulness by eating sausage, mini broccoli and mash, with gravy. I have to say, the mash was the best mash I've possibly ever made, but I have no idea how it occurred....

pumpkin soup - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Year, p 199
tomato curry - Simon Hopkinson, Delicious, November 2007, p86

Saturday, 18 September 2010

shepherd's pie & venison

No, not the promised-but-yet-appear Shepherd's Pie as cooked in India care of Mr Rick Stein, but Shepherd's Pie as cooked in Wandsworth Common care of Mrs Jude Judy Judith Hawes. And yes, that's actual deer, as shot in Northampton by Mr Pat Hawes Esquire, together on the same plate, at the same time!

Yes yes, times are a-changing this weekend as the usual Saturday fandango gets realigned to accommodate the beginning of the rugby season. The most immediate and obvious change is the fact we've moved onto eating two evening meals a night now.

Kinda. Tonight we're out visiting the delightful Hawes', who's very marvellousness goes up a notch when it's revealed not only is there Shepherd's Pie, red cabbage and peas for dinner, there's also fillet of deer with boulangerie potatoes. Even better, it's not an either/or choice - and that's a situation we both embrace.

The pie was particularly delicious, rich and moist with a lovely slightly-crispy potato topping, but more surprising was the deer. Ana's never had it, and I've only had really really irony venison in a restaurant in Exeter so initially we were only being polite. However it was beautiful. Not too strong, tender and really hearty. I think by dint of fact we both had seconds of the venison, we may become converts to the Game erm game.

Obviously realising having only two main meals might leave us a bit peckish, Jude followed it up with a mango and raspberry pav, and some chocolate muffins whilst Pat had to retire to digest. Two dinners a night, I definitely recommend it.

Although thinking back, given I had three portions of pie and two venison steaks, that would make five dinners a night. Good job it's the rugby season...

Friday, 17 September 2010

chicken with cavalo nero

No mini sous chef tonight as for the first time in a week he's sparko by the time I get home, which at least means we can be slightly more leisurely in cooking tonight, and eat before midnight.

As promised on Sunday, we have Bill Granger's much pined-for chicken with cavalo nero with the addition of his turmeric potatoes from an entirely different recipe book. The combination of the slightly spiced potatoes and irony cabbage work well together, although I didn't quite manage to crisp up the chicken skin. Not that Ana would've eaten it even if it was lovely and crisp...

chicken with cavala nero

Food of the Milos
Porridge for breakfast before I go to work accompanied by an illegal mini meatball (cold), followed by a small bowl of left-over spiced carrot soup for a post-nursery lunch. He's not sure about that though. Curiously though, he's not that interested by his meatballs which I can only put down to his snotty nose and cold.

chicken with cavalo nero - Bill Granger, Simply Bill, p38
turmeric potatoes - Bill Granger, Holiday, p190

Thursday, 16 September 2010

spinach and parmesan meatballs

Lucyfer Gusson, prepare your ovaries.

Once again a Nursery-induced cat nap means somebody is not really tired at bedtime. Normally we'd persevere trying to keep him in bed, and laying next to him until he drops off, but tonight as there is clearly no chance of him sleeping anytime soon we let him get up for a bit.

What usually happens when he's allowed up again is he becomes super-polite and super-cute, as if he knows he's on borrowed time. Tonight he takes it to a whole new level as he decided to help cook meatballs, which I seem to recall was something he's been keen to help with before.

After helping 'chop' various veg, he strips the rosemary:

Making the the meatballs, although his were more like sausages:

And finally dropping them into the tomato, carrot, celery, onion and rosemary sauce to cook:

Ooooooooh, I could eat him up! He didn't want to go to bed mind, and I had to promise he could hide some meatballs in the morning (like hell), but he was really good. I wonder if we can trick him into washing up next time?

The only downside of this evening is his mother, as that is who she apparently is, picked up rubbish tagliatelle rather than spaghetti. She's fired. Here's the end product though:

spinach and parmesan meatballs

Food of the Milos
He wasn't happy getting up this morning I can tell you, but he was quite keen to ride to Julia's. For breakfast he had cheerios, apricots, raisins and bread and butter on the school run, followed by a post-Nursery lunch of sausage and mash, with veg. He only ate the sausages though, probably because he had a jam tart amuse bouche, but recovered his appetite for dinner: pasta and sauce, and two apples. He also ate some onion, carrots, garlic and rosemary whilst making the meatballs.

spinach and parmesan meatballs - Delicious, December 2007, p46

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

roast squash, chilli and spinach salad with peanut and ginger dressing

What is going on? At least he slept a bit in our bed after waking up at TWO AM!!! Technically this is better than Monday night, but it is still double-bastard bad, and only a large amount of M&S biscuits this afternoon got me through the day.

I'm back home in time for bath, stories and bed (him, not us) which is useful as Ana has to go to our first parent's evening. However by the time he finally falls asleep it's half eight, which effectively rules out Rick Stein's Shepherd's Pie and the meatballs on the basis we don't want to be eating at midnight.

By this process of elimination we're left with experimental Levi Roots Caribbean pumpkin salad for tea:

roast squash, chilli and spinach salad with peanut and ginger dressing
Whilst the pumpkin was roasting I got quite excited by the prospect of eating not only stem ginger, but using the syrup as part of the salad dressing. Not quite enough to distract me from the mighty Arsenal's thumping of Braga, but excited enough for the final dish to be *slightly* disappointing.

It was nice, and we will have it again but as Ana pointed out, it's probably better as a Saturday brunch rather than a dinner. Certainly compared to say Donna Hay's classic toasted pine nut and sweet potato salad, it does seem to miss something from the ingredients. I was just disappointed it was really gingery.

Food of the Milos
A hale and hearty breakfast of cheerios, raisins and apricots at Julia's before his second day at Nursery, which he didn't want to leave. Chocolate croissant on the way back to Julia's, followed by bolognese sauce with rice and cake for pudding. For dinner he ate pasta and tomato sauce, and half a mango for dessert. Fingers-crossed he sleeps tonight, me and McCarthy are the closest we've been to zombies for ages...

roast squash, chilli and spinach salad with peanut and ginger dressing - Levi Roots, Food for Friends c/o Delicious, September 2010, p39

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

take away & spiced carrot soup

Davisss Taylor is in town today so we're entertaining (on his credit card). Whilst normally this prospect would be met with joy and hosannas, we have been made excessively grumpy by a 3AM wake up call c/o Mad Milo McBad of Mortlake.

This is odd as yesterday was his first day at Nursery, and despite dropping his daytime sleep a month or so ago, Day One zonked him out. The knock-on effect of this illegal cat nap was we didn't get him into bed until nine-ish, so by rights he should sleep till at least eight. Grand contrarian that he is, he's up at 3, thrashing around in our bed for a couple of hours, and giving us a running commentary of Peppa Pig on TV by 5.45.

So, whilst we're not on top form as we wait for Davisss, we are highly effective. Ana researches the Tudors ahead of school tomorrow, and I cook up a batch of Bill Granger's Spiced Carrot Soup for lunch. I seem to recall overdoing the turmeric last time which made it chemically harsh, so definitely a lighter touch tonight. Incidentally, did you know Henry VIII executed over 78,000 people during his reign?

Seeing Davisss was lovely and not just because he treated us to a delightful curry from Tiffin Box. As ever our eyes were far too big for our bellies, but this is what we ordered:
  • Poppadums
  • Tarka Dhal
  • Lamb Achari (Me)
  • Old Fashioned Chicken Curry (Davisss)
  • Masaladaar King Prawn (Ana)
  • Saag Aloo
  • 3 x Plain Rice
  • 1 Tiffin Box Mixed Grill
Mixed Grill was an inspired choice, the King Prawns tasted good but I should've gone with the classic Old Fashioned as the Lamb was a bit tough tonight, and not as sour as usual. Still, DT makes for excellent company, he may come again...

Food of the Milos
An apple in bed, followed by porridge for breakfast (it is *almost* winter after all), followed by some of Sunday's batch of leek and potato soup for lunch. After an afternoon dominated by rice cakes and snacks, there was a fishcake for dinner accompanied by his new-found favourite things - mini-steamed veg. In this case carrots, broccoli and sweetcorn. Ana had to eat the mange tout though. Naturally he still has space for some more apple.

spiced carrot soup - Bill Granger, Feed Me Now, p144

Monday, 13 September 2010

oliver rowe's chicken, tomato, tarragon, bacon and sourdough salad

If you take one thing from today's blog it's this, always read the recipe before you try and cook it. That's not to say Oliver's chicken salad isn't lovely (it is), but I should've made it last night as the dressing pretty much relies on all the lovely chickeny gravy left over from the roasting.

The lovely chickeny gravy in fact, which I tend to mop up with bread whilst making our usual lemon/oil/balsamic/mustard/whatever salad dressing. Luckily I just happened to cast my eye over the recipe whilst I was dishing up, and saved enough juice last night, for tonight.

oliver rowe's chicken salad
It's our first experimental dish of the week and I suppose with the sourdough bread croutons and crispy bacon it's a sort of Caesar Salad, without the high fat sauce. However, reheated chicken juice isn't the best jus in the world, even with the addition of mustard, garlic and white wine vinegar.

Hmm, it's a difficult one to call but definitely one I'll try again next time we're roasting up a chicken.

Food of the Milos
It's the first day of nursery today, so we're all little fractious. We manage to get a fairly decent breakfast of porridge, apple, raisins and waffle into him before Ana takes him to play for the day. She stays with him, but the good news is he loves it, which is handy as he's going to be there for the next two years.

When he gets back he has a largish bowl of last night's leek and potato soup as it's one of his favourites, but I have no idea what he has for dinner... nope, it's completely slipped my mind. Sorry

oliver rowe's chicken, tomato, tarragon, bacon and sourdough salad - Delicious, September 2010, p103

Sunday, 12 September 2010

roast chicken and salad & leek and potato soup

Before I begin, I have one thing to say. *ahem*

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday Hayley TimBits Harlock Fisherrrrrrrrrrr
Happy Birthday to you!

Hope you had a marvellous Canadian-style birthday.

Right, after the hurley-burley of yesterday, today we take it easy. It is still beautiful, but with the backdoor open so monkey can run in and out of the house, we don't feel so guilty about not really getting organised to do anything apart from shopping after lunch, and then I took him swimming afterwards.

Having declared my stew-based strategy from now on, the generally sunny weather forecast for the next week dictates a reprieve for Mrs Barnes. Consequently this is what you'll be seeing at some point over the next seven days:
  • Rick Stein's Shepherd's Pie as cooked in India (don't worry Saint Hugh, we still heart you!);
  • A selection of soups for lunch - leek and potato, beetroot & apple borscht and spicy spinach and dhal;
  • Levi Roots' roast squash, chilli and spinach salad, with peanut and ginger dressing;
  • 'Classic' spinach and parmesan meatballs;
  • Chicken with cavalo nero, just because they finally had Cavalo Nero in stock. This might well be a record because looking back, I don't think we've actually had it *with* cavalo since I started the blog. We've had it with savoy cabbage, kale (twice), and some amazing rainbow chard, but no black cabbage;
  • Oliver Rowe's chicken, tomato, tarragon, bacon and sourdough salad

First up we've got an old favourite, roast chicken and salad:

roast chicken and salad
I am sad not all the salad was eaten, and I wonder if there are any things I can do to help the eating of said salad which was resident on a plate not my own?

The great thing about Milo dropping his daytime sleep is he's zonked by 1900 military hours, which means not only do we get to eat at a sensible time, but whilst the chicken is roasting, I also have time to whizz up a massive batch of leek & potato soup for our lunch tomorrow. Happy days.

Food of the Milos
Still not a great amount of food going down his gullet today, relative to normal let alone Friday's mighty feast: Apple, fruit bread, cheese and raisins for breakfast, various snacking around Waitrose, and ham sandwiches for lunch. He did eat all his dinner though, macaroni cheese using my own version of Annabel Karmel's cheese sauce, and mini broccoli. He did wear pants for most of the day, for the first time so maybe he's more anxious about not weeing than eating? The little boy...

roast chicken - Simon Hopkinson, Roast Chicken and Other Stories, p36
leek and potato soup - - Delicious Magazine, January 2007, p104

Saturday, 11 September 2010

mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad

Having complained earlier in the year about the unavailability of the pre-requisite peaches, I now simply cannot wait for the peach and nectarine season to be over.

I suppose the upside of making this particular salad so often this year (and it *is* nice so I don't know why I'm complaining) is I can now definitely log it away as a meal I can cook without needing the recipe to hand. However despite the beer and pate I munched on whilst making Milo's dinner, it doesn't really feel like a Saturday night dinner.

mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad
Ana's happy mind, not only because she hearts it to the max, but because as the weather is slowly turning to custard, I've vowed from now on we're only going to eat stews, soups and casseroles, until next Summer dawns.

Food of the Milos
Early up and late to bed tonight, it was a very busy day for Milo today, but not one which featured a repeat of yesterday's gorging. This is odd considering today he cycled into and around Barnes, then we cycled from Kendra's house to the Dead Di Disaster Day Memorial playground near Queensway, ran around there for a couple of hours including climbing to the top of the mast, twice, and then cycled back. By rights he should be famished, but he didn't eat much today:

Cold sausage, banana, raisins, fruit toast and apple for breakfast, half a cookie in Barnes, some apple in the Farmer's Market, force-fed a boiled egg for lunch, some cake and grapes in the park, houmous and breadsticks during Strictly and then a miniscoff chilli yum-yum for dinner.

My only regret is we didn't take a camera to the park, not only for the Crows Nest photo opportunity, but because incredibly, Ana looks well elegant on a Boris Bike.

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

Friday, 10 September 2010

creamy prawn curry

Hurrah for Friday! I'm hardly finding a cure for cancer but the last few days have been dreadfully vexing. However a combination of a funny text from ana on the way home, and the prospect of boozy ginger beer, experimental curry and the mighty Ospreys game being streamed live cheers me up immeasurably.

We're having experimental curry for two reasons:
1. I found a packet of the blighters lurking in the back of the freezer left-over from the last 2-for-1 offer down Sainsburys;
2. I have a theory you can only use frozen prawns for curries or soups, rather then the usual salads and things. Do you think that's right?

The next little piece of serendipity occurred last night whilst I was idly leafing through a recipe book Ana bought for my birthday in New Zealand (what, six years ago?), a book I've never cooked from and have contemplated binning at least three times. Guess what page it fell open at?

creamy prawn curry
The recipe was quite simple, although I do recommend using the right amount of coconut cream rather than too much, and the lemon - which I didn't have - is quite necessary to curdle and thicken the sauce. Either way, it was groovy and I've now found about ten other recipes I want to try.

Food of the Milos
Growth spurt ahoy? Rather than my usual, rambling explanation of Ana and Milos day, tonight I'm just going list out what is possibly the most food any small, blonde, curly-haired boy has eaten in one day:
Breakfast #1 - apple, cheese, raisins
Breakfast #2 - another apple, more cheese, more raisins & strawberries
Park snacks - 2 x marmite rice cakes, humzinger, noughts & crosses
Lunch - 2 x sausages, chips & beans
Afternoon snacks - 2 x smoothie tubes, grapes, milky way
Dinner - spag bol (wanted more but he'd eaten it all), yoghurt, strawberries, 2 x slices of malt loaf

creamy prawn curry - Priya Wickramasinghe and Carol Selva Rajah, a little taste of... India, p104

Thursday, 9 September 2010

garlic, chilli and olive oil spaghetti

It's ladies night and the feeling's right, for me to sit at home eating plain(ish) pasta whilst Ana and Kendra whoop it up at The Depot, for no other reason than they can. Damn them. To add insult to injury, Ana doesn't wear her new shoes. Bah!

At least this time I remembered not to burn the garlic or (homegrown) chilli, so it was a much more rounded dish. So rounded in fact, I had two fairly hefty bowls before retiring to watch Sharpe. Again.

garlic, chilli and olive oil spaghetti
Once again, I must insist there are chillies in the dish, you just can't see them. Next time I'll sprinkle some on top to prove the point.

Food of the Milos
More one-handed riding this morning, eating a marmite rice cake, before tucking into another round of cheerios, toast & phili, raisins and apricots at Julia's. For lunch he had sausages, veg and mash with two yoghurts, and a miniscoff shepherd's pie for dinner. Hurrah for miniscoff!

garlic, chilli and olive oil spaghetti - Donna Hay, Modern Classics Book One, p148

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

mediterranean halloumi salad, midsomer murders and miss marple

Tonight is all about one thing, (much to Ana's chagrin) - MURDER! There's a new Midsomer on at eight and I've also baggsied the post-Midsomer slot as ITV3 are showing the Geraldine McEwen Miss Marple series, and tonight's is a corker: The hyper-real, super-saturated The Moving Finger, starring James D'Arcy for Ana (who was in bed), and future wife Emilia Fox and Kelly Brook (who's obviously an amazing actor) for me.

So, with four hours of top quality murder ahead, I not only need to cook something double quick but it needs to be something to placate Ana, who is definitely not looking forward to four hours of murders in middle England. Et voila!

mediterranean halloumi salad
Food of the Milos
It's his first day back at Julia's today, and he wants to ride his bike. Which is fine, but it makes eating breakfast snacks of rice cakes and humzingers difficult, although he is trying to ride no hands these days. For once he tucks into the cheerios, toast & philadelphia, raisins and apricots, before having dippy egg with toast and cheese for lunch. I can't remember what he had for dinner though, I think as Ana was working it was a miniscoff chilli yum yum. Which he does yum yum.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad

Not a great deal to report tonight. Kate is babysitting as we are out choosing which shots we want from Milo's recent photoshoot. He had them done at a new company in Mortlake called Isoo, who mix the photos with artworks in the background.

I haven't explained it particularly well, and I wasn't particularly keen when we went as all the pictures in the window look terrible. However we pretty quickly narrow the shots down to three we like, and I'm interested to see what they look like when we eventually get our hands on them.

Once back, and a glass of G&T with Mrs Danvers later, we've only got time for a quick dinner - the classic mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad.

mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad
Once again, the ham from Unearthed is on offer, and the [white-fleshed] peaches were reduced, so this meal seems to get cheaper the more we have. And every time we have it, because there's a spare packet of ham in the fridge, and half a packet of spinach, encourages you to eat it again.

Winter soon though, so this will obviously all stop in favour of pig knuckle stew.

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

Monday, 6 September 2010

slow-cooked lamb with spring onions, cherries and lemon

It's a monday, it's the first week back to school proper for some teachers, it's the first night of Bobble hat Blitz and naturally it's raining. In fact it's tipping it down, so Ana is really looking forward to spending an hour doing press ups on some astroturf in Chiswick.

She definitely needs something warming when she gets home, and after thinking about making it last night, I decide to use up the rest of the lamb to make Yianni. However, can anybody guess what I forgot I didn't have last night, and certainly didn't pick up today? Sour cherries.

And then I forgot to take a photo, sorry. Still, it was the perfect accompaniment to watching Jamie Oliver's latest show, Jamie's American Food Revolution, which has me in all sorts of conflicting states of mind:
  1. Jamie's School Dinners was obviously brilliant, so if he's doing the same thing in the US, why haven't they at least shown the stroppy cows manning the breakfast pizza bar in the school canteen what happened over here;
  2. Nobody likes being told they are wrong, particularly Americans. However, if you live in the fattest city, in the fattest country surely - SURELY - you might see giving kids a diet of nuggets, pizza and milkshake might be contributing to the problem;
  3. The show is more about entertainment, as is made clear by the fact it's an American show made by Ryan Seacrest's production company rather than an Oliver doc. Consequently I feel less sorry for him, and figure he deserves all he gets for sticking his nose in...
I wonder what I'll think with episode two?

Food of the Milos
He starts the day with the usual smorgasbord of apple, raisins, fruit toast and banana, before moving up a gear by sharing my porridge. I think the bear-shaped honey squeezer is probably more of a draw than rolled oats, but he does eat it all. Also, he's going through a massive apple eating phase at the moment. There's half-eaten apples turning up all over the place.

For dinner he has a portion of last night's lamb pilaf which, after complaining, he does eat even if Ana has to spoon into him whilst he's distracted by the computer.

slow-cooked lamb with spring onions, cherries and lemon - Silvena Rowe, Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume. Reviewed in Delicious, July 2010, p17

Sunday, 5 September 2010

lamb & chickpea pilaf

After yesterdays exertions today is all about slowly making our way home from St Albans. Naturally this does involve a certain amount of paying lip service to the local customs, although I do restrain myself to only one (and half) of Greg's bacon sandwiches for lunch, and one post-walk gingerbread man.

Of more culinary note was the fact all the blackberry bushes in the woods near them were heaving with ripe berries, which the kids took full advantage of. Even better, there was also a load of Blackthorns laden with bitter, purple sloes. They're a few weeks off being ready for making into gin as you've really got to wait until the first frosts, but I've got my eye on another trip up north fairly soon...

Back home we've 800g of chopped lamb neck clogging up the fridge, which would've got used on Friday if we hadn't ended up at Kendra's instead. I quite fancy doing the Yianni (slow-cooked lamb with sour cherries) again, but it takes ages. And we don't have any cherries.

Instead, with one eye on possible cooking time whilst we're doing the whole bath-book-bed routine, and another on the huge cost of Ras El Hanout, we revisit a moroccan-ish although actually Turkish lamb stew from April.

lamb & chickpea pilaf
Strangely it's better than I remember, but maybe that's because I doubled up on the spice, otherwise it's quite delicate. Also, if I don't have sour cherries in the cupboard, why do I think I've got lots of apricots?

Food of the Milos
He didn't really eat much for breakfast at Greg and Spandy's, vaguely pursuing some rice pops before making a pirate boat with Harry, and having odd bits of marmite sandwich shoved down his throat in between digging for treasure. For lunch he had mainly cake, some cheese, ham and fruit, and for dinner he had Bill's tomato risotto.

lamb & chickpea pilaf - Delicious, March 2010, p25

Saturday, 4 September 2010

north london, and further north

More visiting today, but again no photos. Sorry. Actually I *do* have a photo of Sash's mum's curry (it'll make sense in a sec), but I took it on Ana's iPhone, and I've forgotten to mail it to myself. I will though, don't worry. Like you are.

Anyhoo, we've got a bit of to-ing and fro-ing today. We do some quite dull chores (punctures, washing up, hoovering etc) before heading up to the divine Miss Sasha Breslau's in Stanmore for a house warming cum late birthday party. The draw isn't just seeing lovely, lovely people from C4, nor just to see Sash and Matt's bijou flat, but to try Sash's mum's curry and dhal. Okay, it was entirely the curry.

The dhal was definitely not what I expected, turning out as a soup starter rather than a gloopy side, but it was really, garlicky and hearty. In fact perfect for this autumnal weather. Also excellent for driving out the chills is the chicken curry.

Sasha's mum is West Indian, so it was fruitier than I thought it would be and actually it tasted a bit retro if that makes sense? It was certainly punchier, with really strong spices than you'd get in a restaurant. Oh it was good.

From curry (and Haribo if you're Milo) in North London, we head further into the grim north to St Albans for an evening recreating our Brittany glory evenings with Greg and Spandy. Sadly I wasn't able to demonstrate my mastery of Trivial Pursuit, but we did lay waste to a very huge late dinner platter of saucisson, three sorts of cheese and bread. Hurrah for McPartlins!

Friday, 3 September 2010

impromptu burgers

Curiously, Ana's cup of tea at Kendra Kats after her inset day at The Science Museum manages to turn into multiple wine bottle-fueled burgerfest. Who would've thought?

It is Friday night after all, and Kayosaurus and Mikeplodocus are in residence to deal with the Milos. So he gets quality grandparents time for a second week running, and once I managed to find a Boris bike to get there, we get quality K Kats, Brian and precious wine time. It's a fair swap I think.

To accompany the fine conversazione and fine wine we decide on take away burgers, in this case Byron Burgers.

Being a massive GBK fan I was intrigued to see what this posh competitor was like, and I'm glad I did if only to realise how much better GBK is. That's not to say the Byron Burgers weren't bad, they were pretty good, just underwhelming. In fact there was only one burger on offer, and it was up to you how you wanted it and what toppings and bits of leaf you wanted from a selection on the menu.

Me and K Kats wanted GBK Kiwi Burgers, and I reckon you could've created as close an approximation as possible using the menu of 'extras', but it would've taken ages to work out and it would've costed as much as their palatial Gloucester Road apartment.

Chips were good though, as was the company.

brian - byron burger and chips, at least one bottle of white wine
russell - byron burger with blue cheese and mushroom, and chips, at least one bottle of red wine
ana - cheese burger, with everything on the side, and chips. On the side is very big with her. At least 3/4 bottle of white wine
kendra - cheese burger with no chips, at least 3/4 bottle of white wine

Thursday, 2 September 2010

moroccan chicken stew

Ooooh, there's a definite thousand yard stare in residence when I get back today. *Somebody* isn't happy about returning to work, and no amount of bike-based wearing out by Kay and Mike helps make the evening session easier.

The only thing which seems to take the edge off is booze, which goes some way to explain why she's going out to the offie as I'm coming in - Fruity cider ahoy!

Whilst she's out I crack on with another Kay-favourite, moroccan chicken stew. I don't make the gremolata tonight, which is why it looks a bit anaemic, but are we liking the overhead shot?

moroccan chicken stew
Interestingly (or not), this was the second ever moroccan dish I mastered, the original being one handed over by Melissa Turner way back in 2005. However it's not been really until this year that we've gone a bit middle eastern crazy, and in fact I've got my eyes on a chicken tagine to experiment with...

moroccan chicken stew - Delicious, February 2008, p28

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

jamie's southern sausage stew

It's the last day of freedom for Ana and Milo, and it's a busy one: cycling, seeing Mrs Danvers, cycling, going to the playground, paddling, cycling, and then doing it all again when Kayosaurus and Mikeplodocus arrive for two days of toddlercare.

By the time I get back from work there are three very tired people slumped in the front room, and one zonked out blonde baby in his room. As I picked up two packets of reduced sausages yesterday and we had three peppers in the fridge, (plus we need something for dinner for Milo tomorrow), Ana makes the call for Jamie's sausage stew.

jamie's southern sausage stew
As Kay has been ill recently it's a risky call because it is *quite* spicy, but simply leaving out the chilli (and half of the paprika) makes it the perfect spiciness for her and Milo, and all we have to add is our own chilli flakes. Kay still only has one sausage mind, that's hers on the left, which means I get to have four plus there's still enough for lunch tomorrow. Yay!

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