Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Monday, 29 November 2010

Sunday, 28 November 2010

smoked salmon brunch & moroccan lamb shanks

Can you believe one trip to the tip at about four aside, we spent all day in our pajamas today? It's amazing and I'm all over it!

After kicking around the lounge playing "Dens" and painting whilst Ana sorts stuff out for FARA, we eventually get around to having some sort of brunch. It's a big plate of smoked salmon on rye bread with scrambled egg, with a hearty large couple of mugs of tea to drive out the cold:

It's one of the great surprises of having Milo - especially given how fish-phobic me and Ana are - how much fish he actually likes. In fact I end up having to swap my fish for his eggs.

Yes Lucy, that's Ana's elbow stage left. Drink it in while you can because no doubt this picture will disappear soon. It never happened

A few hours of more lounging around later and it's dinner time. We haven't cooked lamb shanks for aaaaages, I can't believe we've not made it for since the blog started, and handily there are two nestling in the freezer. Despite the fact I've usually cooked it in a big casserole, I'm feeling experimental tonight and cook it in my new tagine with half the canned tomatoes, and none of the stock. Guess what, it's genius! I'm going to cook everything in a tagine from now on!

Food of the Milos
The nibbles and brunch you know about, and for dinner he has... sausages. Of course, what else could it be?

moroccan lamb shanks - Delicious, 2005

Saturday, 27 November 2010

spinach, tomato and chick pea curry

Any guest staying here quickly discovers the inflatable bed is a kiss of death.

It's not that it goes down during the night, or is uncomfortable, or is even too small - it's fairly comfortable and is a bog-standard inflatable. No, no - It's just its very presence guarantees an early wake-up call from a small blonde boy wanting to either bounce up and down on it OR make a den out of it. It's my mum's first experience of this phenomenon, but she deals with it so well we don't have to get up for a long time. Oh hurrah!

To thank her, I first lock us all out of the house on our way to the farmer's market, and then Milo makes her stand around in a freezing playground whilst he pushes me on the roundabout. It was cool seeing her though, and monkey loved it.

After lunch mum races the snow home and we race everyone else to Waitrose before the big Wales-New Zealand clash. Once again, I don't know why we bother. At least we scored this time I suppose... *sigh* At least Ana jollies things along with a pre-dinner starter of smoked salmon on rye bread with horseradish - delish!

With monkey in bed, and feeling slightly drunk/disappointed we decide to have a quick, hearty curry before slumping in front of the telly. Voila!

Food of the Milos
A combination of the cold and extreme inflatable-based activity give Milo a fairly hearty appetite today: Nibbles for first breakfast, chocolate (milo) porridge for breakfast and then a muffin and babyccino. Thomas the Tank Engine pasta shapes on toast for lunch, followed by the usual snacking in the trolley around Waitrose, and then a mighty plate of sausages, broccoli, mini carrots, two yoghurts and a satsuma. Aye caramba!

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

Friday, 26 November 2010

chorizo and butter bean casserole

Another cold one tonight, but by the time I get home Ana has taken the culinary bull by the horns and started knocking up a classic chorizo casserole for dinner. She's amay-zing, it's like being married to Nigella, only with fewer cream horns being lasciviously licked at two AM. You can't have it all.

It's a good one, really orangey and spicy with nice, chunky chilli - just what the doctor ordered:

Dinner done, we take advantage of my mum's residence and scoot off to the The Idle Hour for a couple of Friday night drinks. Happy days, it's like we're 29 again!

chorizo and butter bean casserole - The Black Book

Thursday, 25 November 2010

hot chilli

Ana has an extra day at work tomorrow, so with a childcare crisis looming mum steps into the breach and comes up for a day of Nanny duties. As snow is forecast she comes up tonight, and arrives in time for a) it to be bloody freezing, and b) for a large bowl of hot chilli!

I have to say I don't have a hard and fast recipe for chilli. Occasionally I'll add oregano and grated chocolate (like tonight), other times I start with a super-secret combination of spices and spices to make a paste, before simmering for as many hours as I can wait. Usually it's a minimum of two, but I have to caveat this by pointing out I spend two hours dipping bread for testing purposes. Anyway, it went down well:

Food of the Milos
It's a nursery and Julia day today. He has chocolate cheerios and apricot at Julia's, and then sausage, mash and veg, followed by a doughnut for lunch. Having finished dressing up as Snow White, complete with necklace and clacky mules, we bundle him home for a hearty portion of veggie pie and broccoli. It's a good day's eating for small cross-dressers.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

hearty vegetable pie

Having wolfed my chick pea and tomato soup in three seconds in a freezing Cavendish Square at lunchtime, I begin fantasising about dinner from about 1400. It's not a good place to be in for a growing lad, but luckily for some reason we've got a stack of biscuits in the office which keep me going until home time.

So, the question of the day is: Chilli, chorizo & butter bean casserole or hearty vegetable pie? A quick browse of the fridge reveals a few lip carrots, a leek and a courgette in the salad tray. Waste not want not, I take the executive decision to do the pie with Delia's cheesy leek topping:

We have it with peas, although for the first time in a long time I don't quite get the moistness right and some of the lentils burn to the bottom of the pan, which is vexing. It's okay but it does mean tomorrow's left-overs will need an extra dose of worcestershire sauce or something to loosen it up.

Food of the Milos
The usual breakfast at Julia's - chocolate cheerios - followed by a mighty Pepperami and cheese pizza for lunch. Get him! Sadly he doesn't have any chick pea, tomato and chorizo soup for dinner, so Ana knocks him up a dippy egg, with steamed carrots and yoghurt. Get him, again!

hearty vegetable cottage pie - Delicious, January 2007, p28

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

chick pea and tomato soup with chorizo

It's definitely getting colder whilst remaining generally beautifully bright and clear. Today however, is a bit grey and drizzly, too drizzly to sit in the park so instead I eat my sesame chicken salad - which I made this morning donchaknow? - at my desk before taking a quick scoot around the shops to get some early Christmas presents.

Back at home we banish the chill (and argument over Christmas presents) with another batch of the chick pea,  tomato and chorizo soup whilst watching Sue and Giles Live the Good Life:

The soup is definitely better than Sue and Giles, which is a shame as I loved The Supersizers eat...

chickpea and tomato soup with chorizo and green chilli - Bill Granger, Delicious, February 2008 p68

Monday, 22 November 2010

roasted stuffed butternut squash

Tonight we've been inspired by Brenda who cooked this when we went to Ashton for Bonfire night. To be honest we *always* seem to have some squash kicking around the house and I usually either curry them, risotto them, or make soup out of them which is fine if getting a little uninspiring.

It was delicious at Lucy's, but I don't remember them looking quite so phallic:

Something which didn't occur to me until I tried cooking them was just how similar it is to a dish we used to have when we lived in Brent Cross, although this version was much easier to hollow out. More importantly it's about fifty-times tastier, given that all food you cook in your early twenties is usually close to being inedible. We'll be having it again although maybe with a smaller squash to leave some room for greens.

roasted stuffed butternut squash - She Magazine, December 2010

Sunday, 21 November 2010

roast chicken

Ana has reports to finish today, so with the McCarthy seniors in residence the tactic today is to be out for as much of the day as possible - *obviously* once we've had a lay-in whilst he's playing "dens" for a couple of hours with Kay and Mike, of course.

Having run around Palewell Park until it started raining, wandered around East Sheen Waitrose and then going to see the Christmas lights in Homebase (very poor compared to last year's grotto showroom), we're back in time to continue our Sunday Roast odyssey. At least this time Mike got to eat...

Tonight we have roast chicken, roast potatoes, yorkshires and cauliflower cheese (although not an awful lot of that seeing as the cauliflower we chose turned out to be mainly leaves than cauli), with pancetta and brussel sprouts for me and Kay:

Food of the Milos
His chocolate porridge and marmite muffins, along with the usual cheese/berry/raisins nibbles, seem to carry him through most of the day, ably supplemented by some jelly dinosaurs and dried mango going around Waitrose. Roast dinner for dinner, *obvs*!

roast chicken - a version of Simon Hopkinson's classic;
Brussels sprouts ala Francais - The Black Book. Thank the Lord I've finally been able to cook this dish, I've only had my eyes on it for about ooohh about six years. Looking at the quality of the paper, I reckon it's from The Observer...

Saturday, 20 November 2010

more singapore noodles

It's Johnny Osborn's 40th today - hurrah!

Sadly this means there is minimal foodie updates today. This partly because I have to dash into town to fix something at work, and by the time I get back I have to leave to catch the lads post-Twickenham. When I get to the pub it's clear all 40 years are telling on the assorted slumped figures in England attire, and not even Jon's elaborate and extravagant choice of dinner in The Thai Elephant can jerk people out of their post-rugby malaise.

Behold - volcano chicken!

I wish I had Volcano chicken rather than a less-than-impressive-compared-to-yesterdays-Singapore-noodles, and 15 bottles of fizzy lager.

Friday, 19 November 2010

chicken bolognese

No pictures tonight I'm afraid, but that's because I wasn't cooking - oh no!

Tonight we celebrated launching the next phase of development at work, so we all finished early and toddled off the pub on the company credit card. Being a sensible chap I only had a couple before cycling home... only to watch the most abysmal game of rugby I've ever seen. Ever.

The only bright spot in an otherwise thoroughly depressing evening was by the time I got home (with wine), Ana and Kay had knocked up a quite spectacular batch of Bill Granger's chicken bolognese. To be honest she pioneered cooking this in Wellington, (I particularly remember her dropping a whole jar of salt into when the lid came off, whilst we were living on Evans Bay Parade) so this was clearly second nature to her.

Obviously the gloss was taken off once she managed to complete her daily small act of clumsiness by knocking her wine glass off the arm of the sofa and breaking it on Milo's toybox, but despite that dinner was still delicious.

Another bright spot occurred earlier in the day when our director took myself and Angela Hazel out for lunch. We went for noodles at Cha Cha Moon just off Carnaby Street, which were really good whilst still being respectably priced. They're not as rustic as Talad Thai but equally flavoursome, and I had probably the best Singapore noodles I've had for ages, plus beetroot and apple juice, which was divine! I heartily recommend if you're in the area, although steer clear of the taro cake.

Food of the Milos
If there's one thing Milo likes more than Octonauts/Peppa Pig/Enchanted/White Bear/White Rabbit/His bike is Grandparents. He's got Kay and Mike (briefly) in residence this weekend, so he naturally goes barmy post Nursery, making dens, making camps and generally running the pair of them ragged.

Despite having two fish cakes in the fridge for him, he gets one of his absolute favourites for dinner as Kay makes him her 'special' macaroni cheese. Christ knows what's in it, but it lasts about two seconds. He's a hateful child.

chicken bolognese - Bill Granger, Every Day, p87

Thursday, 18 November 2010

smoked mackerel and coconut fishcakes

We've decided yet again to try and eat more fish, and to do it in a more Milo and wallet-friendly manner. After all, there's only so many times you can get your essential oils from two sorts of fish curry, particularly as they involve either the expensive haddock, or the very expensive sea bass.

Having been encouraged by it back at the tail-end of the summer, I give Anna Hansen's fish cakes another spin, this time for the McCarthy audience. With this in mind I paid close attention to the mistakes of last time:
  • I make slightly smaller cakes this time, and let them sit in the fridge for about half-an-hour, which really firms them up;
  • I buy a big 500g bag of spinach (it was on offer), knowing it'll shrink to nowt in the blink of an eye;
  • And I poach the eggs just so!
I am a winner.

It doesn't look much, but the cakes are surprisingly filling, so you only really need two for a decent dinner (although I have three). The only down point was I've discovered I do *not* have the asbestos fingers of a professional chef when I suffer first degree burns to my middle finger turning the cakes over in the pan. I have a blister instead.

Food of the Milos
As it's raining this morning I get to rest my knackered knees as Ana drives us to Julia's. Quite why we both have to go I don't know, but he insists. He has toast and Phili for breakfast and a rice cake on the way to nursery, followed by pasta and two yoghurts for lunch. Strangely he decides he doesn't eat courgette, or onion or tomatoes at dinner, which is a shame as they made up about 3/4 of his ratatouille. He still ate it all though, albeit with Ana shoveling it into his gaping maw whilst he watched The Octonauts.

Note to the makers of The Octonauts - could you hurry up and release toys and DVDs and the like? Every child I know is obsessed by them.

tea-smoked salmon and coconut fishcakes - Anna Hansen, Delicious, August 2010, p62

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

mediterranean halloumi salad - recipe

Here you go Sarah, just in time for your summer! 

Mediterranean halloumi salad
serves 2 (with a decent amount left-over for seconds)

1/5 small red onion, finely sliced
6-8 medium vine tomatoes, sliced
100g roasted peppers in sunflower oil, drained but keep the oil
black olives (ana doesn't allow these)
1 pack of halloumi
handful of basil
crusty bread

1. Put the onion in a bowl and pour over enough freshly boiled water to cover. Leave for a couple of minutes, then rinse with cold water in a sieve. This takes the edge off of the onions.
2. Sliced the sliced onions on the plates, and scatter over the onions, roasted peppers, caperberries and olives. Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of the reserved sunflower oil.
3. Thickly slice the halloumi. Heat a frying pan over a high heat, and cook the cheese in batches for one minute on each side until golden. Layer the cooked halloumi over the tomatoes, sprinkle a good handful of basil and drizzle some more oil over the top.


mediterranean halloumi salad - Delicious, June 2010, p24

white chilli

We haven't had this cheeky Simon Rimmer dish for a well over a year, but Ana's inspired by it's warming qualities, and it's veggie goodness - something that automatically translates into being slightly cheaper than a meaty alternative.

I think the trick with this dish is to get the balance of spices right, because as it does have a lot of juice if you go slightly overboard with one thing - let's say cumin like I did last time - it does tend towards a definite acrid aftertaste. Tonight turns out to be the best version yet, and addition of the cheese sets off the heat very nicely, and the lime gives it some zing:

Food of the Milos
We've got ourselves into an annoying new routine going to Julia's these days: he sits in the buggy, and I have to run as fast as I can. This was okay for a little bit, but he wants to go further now and I'm knackered. Anyway I digress...

He has Weetos and apricots at Julia's before Nursery, followed by beef stew and rice for lunch. I think he had Chicken and Leek pie today, rather than yesterday, but without the crust which probably hadn't survived too well in the fridge.

white chilli - Simon Rimmer, Delicious, March 2009, p123

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

beef stroganoff

Nothing wildly exciting today; it's still cold and Ana still has a cold. To combat this symmetry of illness and inclement weather we go back to the old school, again. This time with a Bill Granger classic, beef stroganoff:

My version has an infinitesimal change to Bill's recipe, with the inclusion of smoked paprika which punches up the flavour somewhat. Oh, and we have it rice because we can't agree on a pasta. Well, we couldn't agree on a pasta about four years ago, so since then we've mainly eaten it with rice...

In other tangential news, I've finally been able to emulate Jamie Oliver's patented method of stripping sprigs of thyme and I think the key is using fresh, homegrown herbs. Whenever I've used shop-bought the leaves refuse to simply fall off, however I can do it really easily using the stuff growing in pots outside. Truly this is the final evidence that proves the benefits of The Good Life!

beef stroganoff - bill granger, Simply Bill, p33

Monday, 15 November 2010

chicken & leek pie

You can tell winter's on it's way not because of the freezing fog I have to cycle through on the way home, and not because the of the fact the heating is slowly increasing it's temperature, but because Ana requests Pie for dinner.

As Carl Puttnam would say, it's an oldie but somehow gold by comparison, and perfect for warming up poorly cockles even if it does take about two hours to cook.

Food of the Milos
It's a nursery day today, so the trick is to feed him up as much as you can before he goes, and then to try to keep him awake when he gets home. It pretty much goes to plan apart from the usual nibbles-based breakfast, but when he gets back he has something new up his sleeve and asks Ana for some hot milk whilst "he relaxes in the lounge". Hmmmmmm....

There's sausages and mini-veg for dinner, which is usually winner but today it all takes some cajoling. Growth spurt, under the weather, or just being pickley - you decide.

chicken & leek pie - Jamie Oliver Christmas Special

Sunday, 14 November 2010

roast chicken

After last night's entertaining, we've got a double-whammy of the weather being awful, so we can't escape out, and there are two lots of guests hoving to on the horizon. If that wasn't enough, Ana seems to have developed man flu.

First to enter the sick lair are Matt and Virginie who pop over for a pot of tea, a pain au chocolat (well Virginie *is* French), and amazingly to measure our walls for some of Matt's artwork we've bought. It's all very Left Bank, despite the constant interruptions to put Monsters Inc on, bring all his cuddly friends into the lounge and requests to use the toilet.

Later, Mr Peter Magnus Leary is in attendance for our now-regular family sunday roast. This week it's roast chicken, roast potatoes and the last of our Pumpkin picking veg - a massive roast beetroot, a red cabbage and some carrots, all of which are in fairly good shape.

Sadly I forgot to take a picture of the dinner, but here's one of Pete and Ana enjoying the high life instead. Ana may look upset but you have bear in mind despite her illness, she did manage to finish a couple of glasses of Moet:

Incidentally, we got two chickens tonight, not because we're massively greedy but because we've got one eye on trying to stretch out the meals. Once I've jointed them up we freeze the legs and wings for Zanzibar Chicken next week, with the remaining carcasses - four breasts and the rest - for tonight's roast, and then if we're lucky, chicken, leek and bacon pie tomorrow.

Food of the Milos
What with all the people, rain and Scooby Doo, today isn't the most balanced of diets. He tricks me into buying him a lolly on the way to the croissant shop, aka Sainsbury's, before not eating his breakfast.

He does eat his lunch - we all have poached eggs on rye bread, with the left-over salmon, but dinner is a battle as he's more interested in entertaining Pete. In the end we get most of it down him before he crashes out in bed, leaving the menfolk to discuss worldly matters.

sweet potato & halloumi casserole - recipe

I realised the other day, whilst I was looking back to see the last time we'd had sweet potato and halloumi casserole, that I'd cruelly and meanly ignored Bryony's request for the recipe. I have no excuse, apologias Bryony, I hope it's better late than never...

Sweet Potato & Halloumi Casserole
Serves 4
Olive oil
10 shallots, peeled and halved
1 red pepper, sliced
1 leek, sliced
30 cherry tomatoes
10 green olives
1 pack of halloumi, thickly cut into chunks
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
10 new potatoes, halved
150-200ml veg stock
1-2 tablespoons of pesto
2 chopped chillis

1. Preheat the oven to 200C;
2. In an ovenproof casserole, fry the onion, leek and pepper until just soft;
3. Add the tomatoes, olives, halloumi and potatoes, pour over the stock and stir in the pesto and chilli;
4. Put in oven and cook for 40 minutes, serve with rice or crusty bread.

I tend to use whatever veg is around really, i've done it with carrots and the other night when I left out potatoes I replaced them with butternut squash. I think because the pesto, olives and halloumi have such strong flavours, you've got some scope to go a bit experimental.


Saturday, 13 November 2010

moroccan lamb tagine

After a hard day watching rugby (featuring Wales finding yet another way to lose a match they should've won), and putting together Ana's vast collection of new things from IKEA, tonight we've got an experimental extravaganza planned for Kendra and Brian.

The starter is fairly easy: Smoked salmon on toasted rye bread and horseradish. Sadly we've run out of the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm horseradish, which is just about the most perfect accompaniment, but Ana more than makes up for it by discovering a pack of salmon featuring three different cures, and on massive discount offer!

From left to right - Romanov cure (beetroot & dill), Highland Peat (peat I suppose) and Lemon and Pepper (you get the picture):

I can eat smoked salmon all day, particularly the Highland Peat and Romanov varieties, and whilst we're wolfing fish and wine, in the oven a culinary miracle is taking place.

Ana bought me an amazing fig Emile Henry tagine for my birthday, and having seasoned it with milk (really), tonight is it's inaugural outing. Hold onto your hats though because controversially it's a recipe from Anthony Worrall Thompson.

It was recommended to me by Angela Hazel at work and it's amazing, even if I do say so myself:

I have to do a bit of fiddling as he doesn't use a tagine in his recipe, consequently I only use the bare minimum of tomato juice and only half the amount of chopped tomatoes. I don't marinate the meat overnight either (it gets an hour tops), but I think everybody was happy.

Certainly the ladies had two portions each, which was good from my point of view as it meant I could drink the leftover pudding custard once Brian and Kendra had gone. By crikey I was full though!

Next stop, a chicken and preserved lemon version - there must a decent recipe out there somewhere!

Food of the Milos
Today he was mainly fuelled by sweets in our continued effort to bribe him into potty training. To be honest he picked it up a couple of weeks ago when Kay was up for half-term, but every now and then he remembers the chocolate buttons/jelly dinosaurs in the cupboard and plays hardball.

He has poached eggs for lunch (and me and Ana have left-over halloumi casserole), and follows it up with a miniscoff chilli yum yum for dinner. As he came shopping he knows we've got sausages in the house and kicks up an almighty fuss when he realises it's chilli, but remarkably the power of Scooby Doo on the computer seems to trick him into eating it all.

Moroccan lamb tagine - Anthony Worrall Thompson, BBC Food Site

Friday, 12 November 2010

sweet potato and halloumi casserole

Tonight we're using up a variety of things which have been kicking around the vegetable bowl to make a lovely sweet potato and halloumi casserole

It's an odd recipe from the pre-New Zealand Black Book, and I distinctly remember cooking it for Manwaring on his trip to Upland Road, Kelburn. We've had it a few times since but the combination of ingredients is suitably challenging enough for Ana to need to be convinced each time I cook it, and usually I can't be bothered to try.

She loves the halloumi, (even if stewing it makes it squeakier than usual), and cherry tomatoes are a staple of our diet, but shallots and pesto aren't high on her list of favourites. However, it's the very pesto and chilli which really gives the dish a big ole flavour you wouldn't expect from such light ingredients.

However tonight I leave out the new potatoes and accidentally hit upon the perfect combination of veg for Ana, so much so she has two bowls whilst watching Come Dine with Me:

Food of the Milos
There's no point fannying around with what he has for breakfast as it's the same most days, the variety in Milo's diet happens from lunchtime onwards. Today he and Ana have boiled eggs for lunch, and then he reluctantly has ratatouille for dinner. Usually he loves it, and indeed he positively cheers when Ana tells him what's for tea, but then it has to be spooned into him as he won't feed himself.

sweet potato and halloumi casserole - Possibly Sainsbury's Magazine, now in the Black Book

Thursday, 11 November 2010

ratatouille & jacket potato

After last night's culinary disaster we go back to basics with classic HFW ratatouille, only with the addition of pepper to the mix. I also manage to make my best ever jacket spuds, with perfectly fluffy insides and crispy skins. Here's the secret:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
2. Stab the potatoes several times and wrap them in newspaper. Microwave for on one side for 5 minutes, then turn over and microwave for another five minutes;
3. Rub potatoes in oil, grind some salt over the top and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. I've a top tip here, as Hugh's recipe demands multiple pans with leftover oil in I just whacked them in there to coat.
4. Voila, perfectly fluffy and perfectly crispy!

It's the perfect antidote to poisonous stew and dumplings.

Food of the Milos
Today he manages to have both milk and nibbles in bed watching Octonauts with us, before filling up with cheerios, apricots, bread and Phili at Julias. Again, not much lunch was eaten (scrambled egg, tomato, bacon and toast), but he did eat his MiniScoff Ocean Pie for dinner. By the time I get home he's bouncing on his bed learning to count with Ana. He doesn't want me any more.

ratatouille - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Cookbook, p105

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

evil vegetable stew and poisonous dumplings

If ever a post needed a tag 'never again' this is it. And it all started so well...

Having decided we'll have a vegetarian week, and having also observed the weather forecast was for "turning to custard", we plan ahead. Actually I planned ahead on Friday before we went to Dave and Lucy's for the weekend, but Ana needs constant prompting to make a decision re food for the week, but I digress. Knowing it's going to be cold and therefore fancying something along the lines of a stew, I spot this beauty in the Parsley book.

It's from Delicious, it contains mixed pulses which I know Ana likes, and generally speaking their recipes are idiot-proof. So how come the beans immediately burn to the bottom of the pan, the leek is slimy, the gravy is gloopy beyond redemption and the dumplings? The DUMPLINGS!? Crikey, I've never tasted anything so rancid in all my life. Can vegetable suet go off? Really?

I figure a few things:
1. Despite what the recipe says, three tablespoons of flour is probably two tablespoons too many;
2. Despite the dumplings looking and feeling the best I've ever made, I should pay more attention to their rancid smell;
3. You can't stir things once the dumplings are in, so things will stick;
4. The less said about this debacle, the better.

I suppose the only upside on not eating any dinner is a) we'll be inexplicably thinner through lack of any nutrition (apart from the cheese and picalilli sandwiches I had earlier) and b) I can watch Pillars of the Earth on catch up.

Food of the Milos
After his two week half-term the monkey is back in the saddle today. Surprisingly he doesn't have anything for breakfast or nibbles here, but this does mean he eats at Julia's - Classic Phili, toast and apricots. He had good "tippy toes" in ballet at Nursery today apparently, but he didn't really eat any lunch which was odd as it was spaghetti and meatballs. Neither did he eat any of last night's pumpkin risotto, again odd as he usually loves it.

vegetable stew with herb dumplings - Delicious circa 2005, now the Parsley Book

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

pumpkin & feta risotto

Another night, another vegetarian feast. Tonight it's a massive batch of Donna Hay's pumpkin risotto, enough to feed us, give me a massive lunch tomorrow and a bowl for Milo's dinner.

Like Bill Granger's no-stir tomato risotto, it's a pretty easy version seeing as you just whack it into the oven and, rather than stirring the stock in for 20 minutes, you just do four minutes mad stirring at the end of the cooking time. You do need plenty - and I mean PLENTY - of black pepper and parmesan though...

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

Monday, 8 November 2010

tomato curry

Having spent a weekend eating amazing food c/o Brenda Baxendale-Taylor (and a nice-if-average roast in the pub), tonight we have possibly the most expensive curry we've ever had. Not because of any extravagant ingredients like goldleaf, or hand-fed chickens with diamond beaks, but because I have to get it all from M&S at work.

It makes no quantifiable difference to the flavour of course, but on the upside I got the chance to browse coriander under a big picture of Ana Beatriz Barros in pants. Maybe Waitrose could do a deal with Nuts?

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

Sunday, 7 November 2010

bonfire weekend at ashton under hill

Remember, remember the 5th, 6th and 7th of November, value lager, experimental cooking and IKEA. Admittedly it's not quite how the rhyme goes but it pretty much sums up another fantastic weekend in glorious Ashton under Hill.

Contrary to tradition Tewkesbury Abbey fireworks aren't on the 5th, so when we get down on Friday we let the kids go mental in Dave and Lucy's swanky new front room before settling down to some 2% Morrison's value lager (mmmm, refreshing) and the first of Brenda's amazing experimental dishes - stuffed roasted butternut squash.

This is a controversial choice for a couple of reasons:
1. There's only butternut squash, no side;
2. Dave wants a take away curry;
3. It's a recipe from She Magazine;
4. Dave wants a take away curry.

However it is a definite winner, and I've taken the recipe away to repeat Les Bren's stunning culinary success.

There is more success looming on Saturday, although not from a rugby point of view. The mighty Tewkesbury 2s lost a hard battle against Gordon League (crazy name, crazy guys), before Australia managed to cheat their way to beating Wales without a front row. Hmmm...

Things then get much, much better with an amazing bonfire and fireworks display in front of the Abbey, followed by some quality bouncy castle time for Milo. We then hit the motherload at home with a massive bowl of lamb and prune tagine, which I believe was from Delicious? Lucy?

Sunday is much slower affair; the girls go to IKEA and the boys go the pub for a Sunday roast, via the pub.

It's a long, sleepy journey home, but we can't wait for the next weekend trip to Worcestershire. Hurrah for the country!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

chickpea and tomato soup with chorizo and green chilli

Having only eaten the last of Monday's beetroot borscht for lunch (okay, and some toasted banana bread from Kaffiene), cycling home into the teeth of a headwind is very hard tonight. I've got no energy whatsoever, I'm getting the bonk by the time I come out of Hyde Park and it's by only fixating on getting a bar of fruit and nut from the newsagents at the end of our road which gets me home.

What I don't want to do when I get in is even contemplate any more soup. Two bowls of soup isn't enough for a growing chap like myself, I'll fade away! However Ana cajoles me into it, and weakened by an alcoholic ginger beer and a 7.45 mile cycle ride, I cave in - and I'm bloody glad I did as the end result is utterly delish!

Warm, hearty and slightly spicy, the crispy chorizo and lime juice set it all off beautifully. We will definitely, DEFINITELY be having it again, although I think it's too thick to get into my thermos for lunch.

Food of the Milos
Despite being a bit pickley today, the little boy has a much better Thursday. Toast and Phili for breakfast, and pasta bolognese with fruit salad for lunch at Julia's. For dinner he has one of his new favourite dishes, Lucy Brenda Baxter's Chicken Curry. He maybe preparing for a weekend of being a minx in Ashton-Under-Hill however, because it wasn't particularly wolfed down. More weaseled I'd say...

chickpea and tomato soup with chorizo and green chilli - Bill Granger, Delicious, February 2008 p68. It's not in any of my Bill Granger books, so I'm intrigued as to which it's in...

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

beef and bok choi noodles

Incredibly this is our fourth experimental dish in five days, and not only that this is the third meal in a row from the same two year old copy of Delicious. Tomorrow we've got another one lined up, and even more bizarrely Ana has chosen all of the recipes. I feel quite faint.

We have a few stir fry dishes up our sleeves, but this one turns out to be a bit of a revelation. It's a neat combination of being super quick, very tasty (despite the fact I'd run out of ginger), and quite similar without being too similar to a Bill Granger classic we used to have loads. I think it'll become one of those recipes that depending our mood, we'll either have the BG one or this one. Does that even make sense?

Food of the Milos
Much to his disappointment, he's back at Julia's today as Ana is back at work. Curiously he has almost no breakfast today, only a few snacks before having chicken, mash, veg, grapes and yoghurt for lunch. There's defrosted Tana Ramsay sausage casserole for tea, which he loves apart from the cabbage (fair enough), and a further dose of trick or treat sweets.

beef and bok choi noodles - Delicious, February 2008, p28

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

baked fish with herb and lemon crust

Is there anything better than trying a delightfully healthy and experimental fish dish after a brisk autumnal day, particularly when the person who decided on the meal is actually out at yet another of her book clubs?

Faced with the stark choice of eating it or binning it, I reluctantly opt - for the sake of our budget - to take one for the team and cook the sodding thing. Things don't get any better once I discover the fish has both skin AND scales, the herb crust is a good deal greener than the advertised picture, and to add insult to injury there's only fairly limp broccoli in the fridge.

There is a serious amount of back o my hand brewing for McCarthy's head and no mistake, but she's saved. SAVED I TELL YOU because despite the scales, skin, faded broccoli and emerald green lemon and herb crust, it's amazing! It's the last time I let her read Delicious mind...

Also I forgot to say last night, but this time the Beetroot Borscht is infinitely less sweet, and therefore a much more pleasant proposition than last time. It certainly took the edge off the wind in the park today, and the colour drew some curious glances from my fellow Cavendish Square literati, including the BBC's Chris Hollins. I tipped them wink, nodded sagely and returned to Midnight's Children.

Food of the Milos
It's a double nibbles morning for Milo today, but sadly no breakfast. He has a cheese sandwich for lunch, and last night's fragrant chicken stew with a jacket spud for dinner. Plus a variety of sweets from his trick or treat pumpkin of course.

baked fish with herb and lemon crust - Delicious February 2008, p24

Monday, 1 November 2010

moroccan chicken stew

Monday monday eh? To be honest I don't mind Monday's that much; everybody in the office sits around in a post-weekend coma so I usually get left alone to listen to Radio 7, and I even managed to prepare a post about Whites for the coming Wednesday. A quick read in the park at lunchtime and a pleasant cycle home in the winter sunshine later, what's not to like?

By the time I get home Ana is ready to depart for Bobble Hat Blitz, leaving me to spend a delightful hour turning half our sack of beetroots from last week's foraging trip into more soup, and knock up some warming Moroccan chicken stew whilst continuing the Radio 7 marathon.

If you want to know, I listened to The Sit Crom and some Edgar Wallace Short Stories. Brilliantly Sue Limb, who wrote The Sit Crom, coined the phrase Bonkbuster, for which I salute her!

Still searching for that perfect tagine to christen the pot with, btw. Angela Hazel at work as supplied a definite contender but if anybody has any decent recipes, so pass them on.

Food of the Milos
After his usual breakfast of nibbles and porridge, (and safe in the knowledge he's got a pumpkin bag full of sweets in the cupboard), attempts the rest of the day in reverse. He eats his main meal of sausages, mash and peas for lunch at Claire and Isla's, before eating his usual lunch, boiled egg and sausages, at home later for dinner. Babies eh?

moroccan chicken stew - Delicious, February 2008, p28
beetroot and apple borscht - Delicious, March 2010, p40