Monday, 19 December 2011

hugh's vedgeree

Somewhat incredibly I'm super-efficient tonight. Within 10 minutes of walking through the door I've got the oven pre-heating, the rubbish out and the washing on, five minutes later and I've got the aubergine, onion and courgette for Hugh's experimental vedgeree roasting away.

It's just as well I'm on top of things seeing how it's 21:45 by the time I walk in! Sweet Jesus it's busy today, as my esteemed co-colleagues have pointed out. Even worse than being completely shagged, is the devastating news Hugh's vedgeree isn't quite as great as I'd planned. Okay, it looks pretty good, but it was lacking some serious oompf:

Seeing as it's so easy to cook, I'm simply going to try it again (mainly because got another aubergine and courgette in the fridge) but this time with a jazzier curry sauce. And maybe some coriander.

vedgeree - hugh fearnley-whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, p276

Thursday, 15 December 2011

donna hay's garlic chickpeas and chorizo

A super-quick post tonight I'm afraid. In fact I was close to not bothering at all, but because I want to  gloat about eating out tomorrow night, I'm merely going to go through the motions tonight. It's not quite "we had this, here's a picture of something I've crafted, and finish with a sign-off that pokes fun at somebody, usually by favourite wife", but it's going to be close.

As we discovered last week, this is one of the little lady's dishes, but despite her expertise I'm somehow in trouble for not noticing from the presence of lemon zest or basil from the 320x240 pixel image on a blog. Wimmin eh? It must be her special time.

Here it is, look at it, marvel at it, and come back tomorrow and let's talk steak. Actually, best make that Monday as I suspect it's going to get messy...

Incidentally, two days in the fridge makes the egg curry even better - FACT!

garlic chickpeas and chorizo - Donna Hay, Fast, Fresh, Simple - p14

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

tagliatelle with peas and lemon

Late again. I'm bored with being too-tired and uninspired to cook when I eventually get home, particularly when there's nothing in the fridge apart from cheese. Mmmm cheese.

Anyhoo, having misplaced the toasted sandwich maker we're down to trying to make something out of pasta, peas, creme fraiche and half a lemon in the fridge. I thought we might be able to make Heston's pea & pancetta spaghetti, but there was no pancetta in the fridge and I figured Ana would draw the line substituting mini pepperami instead. I was probably right.

It was okay.

tagliatelle with peas and lemon - Bill Granger, Holiday, p46

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

tom norrington-davies' anglo-indian egg curry

The Christmas rush is seriously impinging on getting home early, but the up-side is I manage to waft this previously, systematically pooh-poohed curry under Ana's nose whilst she's distracted by tiredness/buying Christmas presents online / sending Christmas cards. And do you know what? SHE BLOODY LOVED IT! I knew I was right...

It's a great autumnal/winter dish with some really earthy flavours, complemented by the creaminess of the creme fraiche and egg. However because it's mainly potato I reckon you could do without the rice as it is quite filling. More for me for lunch then, hurrah.

a very anglo-indian egg curry - Tom Norrington-Davies, Delicious circa 2005, The Parsley Book

Monday, 12 December 2011

moroccan-spiced chickpea cakes

It's the beginning of the week, we're all knackered, I've run home in a howling gale, and Milo's had to have a tooth pulled, so what else would you do but attempt to make an experimental, salad-y meal? Particularly one seemingly designed to almost definitely not be Mikelodocus-friendly, and be at least two chickpea cakes too small for a fully satisfying meal?

The are very much like Jill Dupleix's Polpettine, although obviously slightly spicier and a little bit easier to craft. Definitely having again, and definitely doubling the quantities. Incidentally, I think if you made the cakes walnut-sized, they'd be perfect for Festive amuse bouches. I'm here to help.... sort of.

moroccan-spiced chickpea cakes - Waitrose Kitchen, November 2011, p103

Friday, 9 December 2011

delia smith's lime chicken curry

Hurrah, it's Ana Louise's birthday! She's off to the country for a weekend of what I can only presume is two days of stitching samplers, reading the good book and singing psalms of salvation with her fellow sisters of the not-at-all fallen virtue - Lucy, Spandy and Kendra.

However, before her weekend of purity she first has to get through a single night of devilment featuring Mrs Sam Carter, Mr Davisss Taylor, Mr Benjamin Jack Taylor, a whole host of booze and Mrs Delia Smith's patented Lime Chicken Curry:

Did she manage it? What do you think...

lime chicken curry - Delia, How to Cook Book Two, p107

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

hugh's stuffed peppers with new potatoes, feta and pesto

Another day, another stuffed pepper recipe - and another one from St Hugh no less!

To be honest, once Ana has crowbarred me out of Milo's bed at half eight, I'm not really in the mood to cook anything. Particularly as this recipe's cooking time clocks in at about an hour and a half - yet is still the quickest thing we've got on the menu this week, and I'm even less enthused with the discovery we've got no pesto. Something I think you'll agree, which is pretty key to this dish.

However you should never underestimate the inspirational effect of knocking together some homemade pesto. Basil and garlic bashed, I'm ready to slather the potatoes and feta in green gloop and bake the peppers, and you know what? It's pretty bloody good!

It's a pretty good variation on the usual cheese and carb stuffing, hearty enough to take the edge of today's frost, and I'm secretly a little bit pleased with the pesto.

stuffed peppers with new potatoes, feta and pesto - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, p256

Monday, 5 December 2011

hugh's cannellini bean and leek soup

By cock it's freezing today, with an extra knuckle of lung burn on my run back. Bring on the snow I say!

Anyway, by the time I get back and we've erected the Christmas tree, put the rubbish out, tidied up and Ana's cracked on with her planning for the week, I'm not really in the mood to make moroccan chickpea thingies, or stuffed peppers, or anything on our weekly menu which is likely to take longer than 10 minutes and requires any brain power. Soup it is then.

Actually, this being an experimental Hugh dish we were supposed to have last week but didn't, it does require some forethought, but the trade off means I can luxuriate in the shower whilst it ticks away.

Gallingly, it's a bit of a fail from the Hugh. I suppose he had to at some point. I mean it's okay, but it's hardly packed with flavour; it's wishy-washy and just a bit meh and I suspect the chilli oil is just a ruse to cover up it's lack of va-va-voom. I'd rather have a heartier minestrone, or leek and potato next time...

cannellini bean and leek soup - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, HFW, p165

Sunday, 4 December 2011

hugh's mushroom ragout with soft polenta

Winter is definitely creeping in. It's cold and wet, and we're all under the weather for one reason or another: Milo is struggling with a cold, and me and Mrs Barnes are hungover from last night's slap-up dinner with The Kings of Kingston.

Nobody wants to get up, so we're obviously delighted to be forced into action early doors. Ana has to go to school to continue preparing for this week's Ofsted inspection, we've got no food and this afternoon it's the nursery Christmas Fair. Woo-hoo!

By crikey we need a couple of cheeky end-of-day drinks whilst getting the kids ready for bed at Sam and Alistair's, and we're more-than ready for something hearty and beefy to take the edge off it all. With the obvious caveats of it being healthy, and vegetarian. Step forward HFW with this brilliant combination of all our current favourite things - juicy mushrooms, red wine and polenta. Mmmmmm:

Even more brilliantly, Ana hates it. So it's lucky I only cooked the polenta in milk which had infused with bay leaves, peppercorns and garlic for an hour, and I only got three different sorts of mushrooms for the recipe. How vexing? She's completely unreasonable, it must be the change.

mushroom ragout with soft polenta - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, HFW, p57

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

donna hay's garlic chickpeas and chorizo

By crikey it's busy today: there are two challenges tonight, and we've had a tasting in the office with the lovely Mr Peter Franus and his Zinfandel, and his to-die-for Merlot. Seriously - To. Die. For.

Not only that, I had to do some white man van-ing on the way home, all of which meant Ana is in charge of dinner, and to be honest the little lady plays a blinder *pats her bottom, but in a supportive feminist manner, thinks about signing her up on a secretarial course*.

The house was tidy, she'd done a full day at her hobby-job, Milo was asleep and there was Donna Hay's garlic chickpeas and chorizo on the hob. Not quite warm on the table, and not quite enough, but she did well. For a woman. Opens a beer, reads Nuts and Zoo...

garlic chickpeas and chorizo - Donna Hay, Fast, Fresh, Simple - p14

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

hugh's mushroom risoniotto

God, I'm knackered today and all I've done is sit in front of a slowly-working computer, chasing wine around Oxfordshire on the phone. Maybe I'm mentally knackered? Anyway, I can't be cracked to do an awful lot tonight, and as Ana's lost our weekly menu my inspiration only stretches as far as another dose of Hugh's mushroom risoniotto.

It's quick, easy, and very tasty and tonight it has a twist: For the first time in three (or four) attempts we've actually had some white cooking wine left in the cupboard, meaning it's prepared as-per the recipe. Makes nix all difference mind, but it's comforting to know you can make-do with red wine...

mushroom risoniotto - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, HFW, p258

Monday, 28 November 2011

moroccan chicken stew

Ahh, it's just like the olden days! We've eaten watching Come Dine With Me, it being a Monday there's absolutely nothing on, so I get to finally do some blogging whilst Ana watches something harrowing on TV. The only difference is now we're open-plan, I've got to wear headphones to block the tears, wailing and gnashing teeth. And that's just Kate Bush - boom! Boom!

Anyhoo, we're finally getting our first dose of wintery weather. It's quite-to-fairly parky Bromptoning from work, and we both need a zingy, warming antidote that creates a barrier of golden warmth not seen since the Ready Brek adverts of our youth. Mmm, lashings!

Actually, given the amount of turmeric and saffron in this by-now-classic stew, the orange tidemark turns out to be more than figurative:

It's officially 'Delicious'.

Wine Time
Any keen-eyed readers will have noticed not only a dearth of recipes, but also of relevant wine matches - soz. This is mainly because I've pretty much shot my bolt knowledge-wise. It will return, but maybe in a couple of months when I've got my head around some more vino.

moroccan chicken stew - Delicious, February 2008, p28

Monday, 21 November 2011

hugh's chachouka

That HFW, he's blimmin good isn't he? I've always hearted him, but I have never *never* cooked so many recipes from one of his books before. I've always seen them as a lovely lifestyle choice rather than actual cookery books, but this one is amazingly practical in a completely non-Hugh way, so much so that this is my fifth recipe from it. Only Billy G can claim a higher hit rate - but this is a book of solely veggie food... I'm in shock.

I've seen versions of this recipe over the years in Delicious and OFM, but seeing it being made on the accompanying River Cottage show gave me the requisite kick up the arse to make it. Strangely enough for somebody who has actually worked in TV, I failed to take into account the compressed time on a half-hour show. It does not take less-than-five minutes to make, rather an unexpected hour plus, which you don't want to think about having run home. It is marvellous though:

Throw in some salad, a glass of wine, a shower,  and 5000 piece jigsaw and it's just about ready.

chachouka - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, HFW, p20

Sunday, 20 November 2011

anjum anand's green chicken biryani

With Ana due back from Norge this evening, the plan is to loaf around for most of the day before getting a slow stew on the go for a couple of hours. This then leaves plenty of time to give Milo a bath, get him into his rumble suit, pick up mummy from Heathrow, and get back in time for dinner. What could possibly go wrong?

As it turns out, good old British Fog is too 'hard' for the weak-willed Norwegians, and whilst we're playing hide-and-seek in the park, Oslo has shut down. When Ana does eventually arrive home, a full four hours late on the last plane out of Norway, she's less-than impressed and not at all in the mood for an experimental curry.  Which is tough as it's spent the last two hours ticking away...


It's only experimental in the sense I've never cooked it before but I have eaten it, care of the divine Mrs Lucy Brenda Taylor Baxendale on our last trip to the Country, and sweet lord it's a good 'un! As is she, of course.

green chicken biryani - Anjum's New India. I found the recipe here, although I'm definitely getting the book. Lucy, you're sooo inspirational!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

delia smith's toad in the hole

What a great day! Okay, so Ana's in Oslo buying reindeer jumpers in H&M - like you can't get those in Blighty - but despite her absence it's still briliant: It's a beautifully sunny and crisp, Milo's on ace form and Kayosaurus is in town so we can share the childcare in a totally-fair 5-95% split, which allows me to sleep all morning.

We have pancakes for brunch, attempt to tidy the nursery garden in the sun, go shopping, romp around  Palewell park, AND we watch Home Alone (which is aces incidentally). We also manage to eat dinner together, which was almost a success but not for any Milo based reasons.

It turns out toad in the hole could well be my culinary bete-noir. This time the batter isn't as blackened as my last attempt, although the sausages are, but it's much more welded to the bottom of the dish. Definitely more oil needed in the bottom next time:

Still, Delia's gravy is blimmin' nice.

Even better, whilst I'm snuggled up with Milo, Kay has done all the washing-up so all I've got to do when I eventually get up, is settle in for the return of Forbrydelsen II. Yay for Saturdays! Not THE Saturday's *obvs*, they're ghastly...

toad in the hole with roasted onion gravy - Delia Smith, How to Cook Book One p164

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

donna hay's garlic chickpeas and chorizo

I love Donna Hay, she's aces! Like a hot Delia, or less-annoying Nigella, her food looks brilliantly impressive but it's always fairly easy, and are perfect for those evenings when you're pushed for time. Tonight's experimental fayre from her new book is no exception - it's quick, hearty without being heavy, spicy and really fresh:

Not only that, I'm laying claim to this being my own version as I - yes ME - decided to par-boil some new potatoes and then fry them with the chorizo. I'm totally like an ugly Delia or really un-annoying Nigella! No hang on...

Wine Time
I'm conflicted here, and by 'conflicted' I mean 'completely out of my depth'. I suspect you'd want something zingy to balance the lemon juice, but the chorizo generally requires something equally spicy, like a Syrah (or Shiraz to you Antipodeans), which would completely over-deliver on pepperiness. I'm going to go with a chardonnay  - but a fresh, buttery Old World one, rather than a big old Aussie classic.

garlic chickpeas and chorizo - Donna Hay, Fast, Fresh, Simple - p14

Monday, 14 November 2011

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's roasted parsnip, lentil and watercress salad

Holy Moly - who knew parsnips could taste so amazing, and as a salad?

To be honest we're a bit of a parsnip house; we like 'em roasted with carrots, honey and parmesan, in a curried soup, with of a roast and mashed - but even we baulked at essentially, giant farting white carrots, and leaves. In fact we've had the ingredients kicking around the fridge for the past week or so, before European Economic Meltdown forced our hand. Sort of.

However, Greece and Italy's (and Spain's, Guernsey's etc etc) loss is our gain because this is freaking fantastic!

Who ever new parsnips, lentils and watercress could make the most divine autumnal salad? Well Hugh, obviously *sigh* he's so dreamy! I like his new hair.

roasted parsnip, lentil and watercress salad - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday, p90

Sunday, 13 November 2011

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's moussaka

After much promising to buy aubergines whilst shopping, today Milo finally gets his wish. He's lucky to get even them to be honest, having spent most of the afternoon breaking down in tears, or being told off and then breaking down in tears. It's his own fault; he should've stayed asleep rather than getting up at 0600 and then burning himself out by lunchtime, but you try explaining that to a four year-old.

Anyhoo, we have aubergines - a fact that pleases me and him more than Ana, who apparently hates them. However, I've *promised* in our first ever foray into the world of moussaka the aubergine will not be slimey, or slippery, or even soggy.

Luckily it's none of these, instead it's luxurious and warming. The aubergine gets a good salting and roasting, which gave it the texture of thick mushrooms, before being covered in a thick lamb stew laced with cinnamon, garlic, sweetened with a healthy dose of tomato puree, and topped with a combination of Greek yoghurt, cheeses and paprika. We're definitely DEFINITELY having it again, and maybe next time we'll use up some left-over roast lamb, as Hugh recommends.

Strangely enough, my mum went through a phase of cooking moussaka when we were at school, but I cannot for the life of me remember what the aubergines were like in it, or if it even had any in. Bonkers.

Wine Time
So what have we got here - a combination of a creamy, cheesey sauce, and a tomato-based lamb stew - a lamb spag bol, if you will. If it was a spag bol we'd be racking up a Chianti or another high tannin red, but it's not, and according to some hurried research, I'm going to suggest a smooth Southern French like a Costières de Nimes. Oh look, there's one, thanks internet!

moussaka - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Meat Book, p503

Saturday, 12 November 2011

jill dupleix's avocado, pumpkin seed and spinach salad

It's the weekend - hurrah! The perfect time to unwind, relax and shake off the stresses of the week... or to get up early, and spend the day battling a mountain of chores. To be fair, Ana is both up before me, and does more chores, although I do have to attempt some DIY electrickery on our new 'statement' lampshade, and entertain Milo at the cinema this afternoon. We're booking to see this btw...

Anyway, with massive lampshades sort-of dealt-with, knackered computers collected and the house spruced from top-to-bottom, we can't be too cracked to make an awful lot for dinner, so it's a quick and easy salad.

It doesn't look much, but it's a surprisingly hearty concoction, more so tonight because I couldn't get alfalfa sprouts and opted for chickpea sprouts instead. Ana describes it all as 'earthy', which could be good, could be bad. The fact she had seconds, and wanted to know how to make it for lunch this week, makes me think it's possibly a good earthiness.

This is officially an 'experimental' dish, although it's not - we originally road-tested it during the now-lost no-broadband-knackered-computer nine weeks.

avocado, pumpkin seed and spinach salad - Jill Dupleix, Delicious, February 2009, now the Parsley Book

Thursday, 10 November 2011

hugh's north african squash & chickpea stew and bill granger's sweetcorn chowder

Oooh, a double-whammy today - you lucky, lucky people!

It's my weekly "marketing day" at home, so after a hearty morning tweeting/facebooking/blogging, rather than nipping out to the office favourite purveyors of fine French baguettes, Tray Gourmet, today it's freshly made soup. More specifically it's a chance to use up some of the corn cobs we picked at Garston's Farm a couple of week's ago, in the guise of Bill Granger's fab Sweetcorn Chowder:

Serendipitously the smoked pancetta *really* works in this context; the smokey and saltiness complementing the sweetness of the corn. Clearly the three pens scattered around the table indicate a particularly high work rate.

The other presumed benefit of working from home is that we can have a recipe which takes longer than the usual evening dinner. Assuming I don't fall asleep snuggling with Milo of course...

Tonight it's an experimental tagine-esque stew from my new Hugh book, and despite taking an hour longer than planned, it's farqing excellent! It's well-filling with orzo pasta, lentils and squash zinged up with a healthy dollop of ginger, saffron, and turmeric. Perfect for an autumnal evening!

I reckon you could probably chuck a few dried apricots in if you really wanted to zhush it up a bit.

Wine Time
This stew offers a different sort of spice to last night's curry; it's more elegant and warming rather than "burning", but it still needs a equally-balanced spicy red. There's only one winner, Vina Zaco Rioja, which is so good I've managed to flog a case to DT and Angela - that's how brilliant it is! Seriously though, it's aces.

sweetcorn chowder - Bill Granger, Every Day, p246

north african squash & chick pea stew - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, p30

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

simon hopkinson's tomato curry

Crikey, another late night but this time we're a much happier house: Despite his cold Milo is on excellent form, Ana's lessons were aces even though she didn't get inspected, and whilst manic, work was pretty aces. Even better,  Rick Stein came into the office (but my idiot assistant didn't drag me kicking and screaming to meet the great man) and we in-directly sold Dannii Minogue some fizz. Man we're good.

Anyhoo, Ana needs some post-Ofsted reward (other than vino) so we have Simon Hopkinson's very-excellent Tomato Curry. We've had it so often it needs no more introduction - just marvel at its loveliness:

Wine Time
Curry and Tomato, there's a split. If it was a meaty curry, I'd go Carmenere (again) as it's slightly spicy and fairly full-body would work really well, but as the main constituent here is cream and tomato I'm going to go a high-tannin red to cut through the dairy and balance the acidic tomato. We've got two, both from the same producer - Giovanni Viberti: The Barbera is absolutely perfect; rich, acidic and full *and* it's tasting utterly amazingly at the moment. If you don't fancy a Babs, try a slightly softer Dolba.

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

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

hugh's mushroom risoniotto

After last night's fairly late dinner, for one reason or another our plans for an early night are shot to shreds by the twin evils of Milo being under the weather, which means he didn't get up until after nine this morning, meaning he's rather awake tonight, the fact we need to go shopping and Ana's looming Ofsted inspection.

So whilst Ana gets down to revising the process handbook for the school she's only taught in for ten years, the boys are sent to Waitrose before it closes. The knock-on effect to all this malarky is that once Milo is in bed, it's almost half nine, we're both starving, and there's only one meal in our weekly recipe choice that is in any way relatively quick - Hugh's Mushroom Risoniotto, from his new Veg book.

Now technically this isn't an experimental dish as I had it whilst Ana was on the Isle of Wight recently, but as this is the first time she's had it, and since we've been online, I'm counting it as 'new'.

Interestingly for a second time running we've got no white wine to simmer the mushrooms in (this time because Ana has drunk all the cooking wine), so we have to make-do with red. It makes the finished dish smell, look and taste much closer to Bill Granger's beef stroganoff than a pasta risotto.

Vexingly Ana points out that it's also quite close to Nigel Slater's mushroom pappardelle, but obviously it's *much* better.

Wine Time
Hmm, this is a difficult one; It's quite creamy, whilst the mushrooms are fleshy and meaty. Now if we'd had a cooking white, I'd have gone for something like a zingy Sauv or a Chablis to cut through the creaminess. As it is, the combination of the 'shrooms and red wine beefs it up slightly, so I'd recommend a Pinot Noir or a similar low-tannin red.

mushroom risoniotto - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, HFW, p258

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

hugh's chillies stuffed with beans

Oh faffy-ness, thy name is Hugh! After last night's relatively painless experimental salad construction (if you discount the physical pain inflicted by the extra chilli), tonight's recipe features maximum faff.

You've got to first source the peppers, which only cost a bargain 80p each plus £6 delivery from Hugh's recommended supplier, then roast them for 20 minutes, turning them regularly, cooling them, peeling them and then carefully de-seeding them, stuffing them with a lovely smoked-paprika, grated tomatoes and borlotti bean mixture, and baking them for 20 more minutes.

Slippy fingers, sticky pepper seeds up the walls, and a big pile of tomato skins, and all for this:

Actually it's quite nice; the roasted peppers compliment the smoked paprika in the stuffing, which is in itself quite meaty and hearty. But it's not worth all the pain, particularly if you've just run home and are slight-to-quite smelly/knackered, and have survived the day on illicit sweets nicked from Milo's Halloween stash.

Wine Time
Brilliantly it's day two and already I'm out on a limb. The tomatoes and the smoked paprika are the biggest flavours here, and the borlotti beans give it some oompf, all of which need balancing in the glass. It tastes a bit like a veggie chilli, so let's go slightly renegade with a Carmenere which is spicy and has quite a full body, but is surprisingly smooth and utterly drinkable. It's a cool grape variety too, which is becoming increasingly popular.

chillies stuffed with beans - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, p36

Monday, 31 October 2011

hugh's tahini-dressed courgette and green bean salad

False dawn over, we're officially "back" and this time we've got a sponsor! Barnes-Cubed now comes to you courtesy of Kendra & Brian Kats - now with added Finn, for all your Kendra Kats needs.

Not only am I typing on the keyboard of a kindly-loaned laptop (my elegant ballerina of a wife having knocked a glass of wine across the keyboard of our laptop, permanently killing it), but tonight's dish comes from Hugh's new book, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, which the Bolger's bought for my birthday, and Kiki recommended this recipe. Clearly they are the ace-est people in the world, and the quicker they move to SW14, the better!

She's right to recommend it, because it's alarmingly easy but really packed-full of flavours. Perhaps we could've done with slightly less-chilli, and I think my budget tahini-"sauce" didn't exactly have the promised Ottolenghi consistency, but it was still pretty darn tasty.

hugh's tahini-dressed courgette and green bean salad

We would've been even more virtuous if we hadn't spent the hour or so leading up to dinner eating all of Milo's trick-or-treat sweets whilst he was asleep, and that huge packet of crisps I'd manage to save from Saturday...

Wine Time
So, given I now actually work in the wine trade I figured I'd best start trying to put some of my new-found knowledge to good use, by trying to match wine to our dinners. Obviously this isn't an exact science, particularly as I'm still at the stage of taking whatever is in the sample cupboard, but hopefully it'll get better as time goes by, and my liver hardens up. I'll be clear, most of the wines I suggest will be ones we sell, but that's more because I know them, rather than anything more sinister. Although if you do buy any, that will be amay-zing!

Okay, this is quite a power-packed meal with the chilli, smokey courgette, mint, and sun-dried tomatoes all competing with each other, but ultimately the dressing is the dominant flavour. It's an odd combination of very citrusy combined with the tahini's creamy-yet-gritty consistency, so you'd need something equally high in acidity to compliment the lemon and orange juice, and to cut through the creaminess. Something like a Sauvignon Blanc would work really well I think, either the L'escargot at a bargain £7.95, the Morton from New Zealand if you prefer something New World-y, or the Coteaux du Giennois 2010, if you want to push the boat out a bit.

Was that useful at all? We'll see how it goes I suppose...

tahini-dressed courgette and green bean salad - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, p74

Monday, 17 October 2011

waitrose spinach, tomato and chick pea curry

And we're back... no thanks for Virgin Media, the fricking idiots! So, what have you missed? Weeeelll, loads to be honest, far too much to spend the next two months catching up on the last two months, but essentially we've moved home (although we're still in the neighbourhood - go SW14!), and we've eaten loads of loads of experimental meals - go figure. Take it as read it was all highly successful, naturellement!

Tonight, we're going old skool as we're both tired after a hearty weekend playing with the Taylor's, and we both fancy an early night. Also, as Ana's got a bit of a persistent cold, I figure she could do with a little extra ginger to combat the snot.

Okay, it's the most exciting return in the world, but it is a return.

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

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

jamie oliver's roast chicken, feta and green bean bake

What a weird day. I cycled in the heaviest downpour of the year, but it was sooo humid. Within an hour of getting to work and cooling down, the sun came out and the rest of the day was baking.

Luckily the afternoon drowse was enlivened by the appearance of Mr David Taylor Esq, complete with golfing/carp fishing splinter in his massive, massive hand, for a glamorous 'business' lunch at Sophies. It was really cool to see him, even if I did bore him at great length with what we in the wine trade call 'utter crap'. He was polite enough not to mind too much, or at least appear not to.

Back at home we're beginning the slow process of packing up for next weekend's move. We've got a stack of boxes, many of which Ana has already filled, so whilst Jamie's by-now-classic baked chicken dish is ticking away in the oven we start de-constructing the flat.

It's a bit sad, but at the same time now I know we're going, I really can't be bothered with keeping the flat tidy, or indeed making any effort whatsoever. And clearly I'm suffering from some sort of wobbly hand syndrome, by the look of this photo...

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

fish fingers and crinkle-cut chips

Going by her face when I revealed we're having fish fingers and chips for tea tonight, Lady Ana clearly has got too used to the high life. But what is wrong being inspired by a children's book? Can a grown man not read a story to a three year-old and take some inspiration from the menu at the Mouse Motel? A nice surprise, fish fingers and fries...

I don't know why she's complaining, at least I didn't make hairy pears or soapy sausages.

On the other hand, Milo had some gourmet mac 'n' cheese. But then, he does sleep like this...

Monday, 22 August 2011

summer spaghetti

Despite having spent 8 hours fruitlessly writing a user guide for our order system, I'm feeling remarkably chipper today. Okay, I've rewarded myself with a new saucepan, but there's no earthly reason why this should be, but I'm happy to go with the flow.

Other than cracking opening a now strictly verboten mid-week bottle of vino tinto, my rediscovered sense of me manifests itself in two main ways: I try and recreate the new tresemme advert where the man kisses his new client, and then flicks her hair all over the shop, with Ana, and then I go all experimental with the summer spaghetti recipe we last week.

Now, for some reason or another it just didn't taste as nice as when Lucy cooked it for us down in t'country. It felt stodgier somehow, and less zesty, so this time I go completely off road and whack in half a tub of marscapone, use a harder goats cheese, double the amounts of tomatoes, and top it off with a good pinch of chilli flakes. It's much better than last time, almost as good as Lucy's in fact, and brilliantly by using the "change a word, take a third" rule, it's now my very own recipe - Harrumble!

summer spaghetti - Delicious, July 2011, p38

Sunday, 21 August 2011

sticky chicken with harissa and green cous cous

I'm usually packed off with Milo at the weekends as Ana's had enough by Saturday, but this weekend there's a triple-whammy of guilt as 1) she's spending the day sorting out things for our imminent move down the road, which I've done nothing to help with, 2) due to work, I've not really seen the little blonde monkey, and 3) it's the rules.

So, up with the lark (or next doors kids screaming in the garden at 0715), we spend the day at both The Science Museum AND the Natural History Museum. We did pretty much everything that was possible to do: the Garden, the microwave chicken, the steam engines, space, LaunchPad, the new Butterfly tent, the new Dinosaur exhibit, the usual Dinosaur exhibit, sandwiches and an ice cream, and a go on the kids version of the Red Arrow simulators if you must know, before finishing up in Ye White Hart for the most expensive riverside drinks in London.

The upshot of all this activity is Milo volunteers to go to bed, which means once more I'm being shaken awake at about nine-ish having fallen asleep with him, again. I suppose the changes have been rung slightly as tonight I've woken up with a massive drool stain on my shoulder. I'm not sure if it's his or mine.

In many ways I should've stayed in bed because other than dinner, the only thing I seem to have got up for is to start bickering about updating the nursery blog, and Sex and The City the Movie. And to be honest, bickering is the more enjoyable half of that equation.

To finish on a high though, tonight's experimental dinner was pretty darn good: The cous cous was really herby, and might swiftly become my default way of serving it as there's always some herbs malingering in the fridge, and although there wasn't any of the as-advertised pan juices in said pan, the chicken was sticky, with the harissa giving it a lovely kick.

Even Ana has voted it in for another try at some point. Until she exclusively changes her mind, of course. See, the bickering never ends...

sticky chicken with harissa and green cous cous - Delicious, September 2011, p38

Saturday, 20 August 2011

jill dupleix's lamb tagliata

What is wrong with me? I fell asleep not once but twice this afternoon watching La Vueleta this afternoon, and all I've done was take Milo to a birthday party and watch Wales sort-of put the smack-down on Argentina. Maybe I've got sleeping sickness. I also fell asleep reading stories tonight again...

So, once again we're down to whatever I can cook fairly quickly, and so we're not eating at midnight. Again. Lucky I earlier managed to replace the vine tomatoes Ana ate yesterday then, as we've got classic Jilly D's lamb tagliata:

Here's an interesting question Ana came up with last night: What would you cook if you were on Come Dine With Me? I'm not sure I know to be honest. I suppose you'd need something you'd feel confident enough to cook so it couldn't possibly go wrong, but it'd also need to look amazing AND you'd need to be able to carry a theme across three courses. Any ideas?

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

Friday, 19 August 2011

mediterranean halloumi salad

Sweet Jebus I'm knackered today, I think I'm still recovering from Edinburgh. I'm so tired I manage to crash out not once but twice whilst snuggling with Milo tonight, and don't actually get up until Ana gets me out at half nine.

Interestingly after all the rain we've had, today I get a distinct smell of winter: It's cold, bright and crisp on the way into work, and on my way back somebody has a bonfire going on Lonsdale Road. I had planned on cooking a stew, but by the time I clamber out of Milo's bed, time is of the essence. At least Ana's happy as it's one of her favourites:

I suppose now I'm Vintner I should really tell you what we drank it with? Well I came back tonight with a selection of products we sold at Edinburgh, as Ana was interested. We're hardly scientific in our choice though, we simply have the coldest bottle - the La Bastille Rose. It's really dry and really fruity - an really excellent choice by co-colleague, Julia. I may listen to her more often from now on...

mediterranean halloumi salad - Delicious, June 2010, p24

Thursday, 18 August 2011

white bean, chorizo and herb salad

After last week's triumphant experimentation for Katie David, and given we've still got a can of cannelini beans in the cupboard and somewhat bizarrely given Milo's love of it, half a chorizo in the fridge, it behoves us to have it again.

Although this time I make double-measures so I've got enough for lunch tomorrow, and with a lovely bottle of chablis on the side:

And then we eat all of it, drink all the wine, and go to bed with headaches. Only two years until we're 40 - will we (n)ever learn?

white bean, chorizo and herb salad - Delicious, August 2011, p18

Monday, 8 August 2011

jamie oliver's chicken, olive and preserved lemon tagine

Tay-Jean! Oooooh, I've been looking forward to cooking this for about two years, since we watched Jamie Does... and then I later got a tay-jean. As with all great stews, it involves a modicum of prep, if you discount the 24 hours worth of marinading, and having to quarter a chicken (thanks knife skills course!), but once it starts ticking away you get an hour and a half to deal with a selection of chores.

Picking up Milo's toys, packing my bag for tomorrow, emptying the dishwasher, doing the washing up, and chilling some wine - check, check, check, check and checkity-check! 90 minutes later, and we're good to go...

It's not as highly-spiced as other Moroccan stews we've had. Instead it's quite fresh, the fennel isn't particularly over-powering, and neither is the lemon, making it a perfect stew for the summer. Even better, there's enough for Milo's tea tomorrow *AND* a hearty and hale lunch for me! Harrumble!

chicken, olive and preserved lemon tagine - Jamie Oliver, Jamie Does..., although you can find it right here on The Times.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

donna hay's prawn pad thai

Whilst not wishing to reinforce any stereotypes about being British, what the cock-a-doodle-doo is going on with the weather eh? It's supposed to be freaking August!

Our jolly jaunt to the Wetland's Centre today, for pond-dipping, playing in their amazing playground and admiring rain gardens, is somewhat battered by a Biblical deluge. I suppose an large exhibit of "rain gardens" should've given us a clue. Anyway, there's a definite Autumnal chill in the air, particularly whilst waiting in the queue for coffee, faced with an array of roast beef, Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes, and with our breath misting in the air outside...

Back home we immediately opt for Jamie Oliver's chicken, olive and preserved lemon tagine, which I'd found on the Times website yesterday. Until I notice we need at least 24 hours of marinading, so whilst my newly-quartered chicken does it's thing in the fridge, we take a secondary order of Donna Hay's Pad Thai - this time with Prawns!

Unlike last week's slightly chewy version using chicken thighs, the prawns are bang-on - really juicy, and zesty - but it really does need some extra crunchy greens, like sugar snap peas. Next time I think. Actually pretty soon, as I've got a jar of shrimp paste in the fridge, which needs using up tout suite!

prawn pad thai - Donna Hay, Modern Classics Book 1, p133

Friday, 5 August 2011

take away curry from cochin brasserie

Crikey, I'm not sure the world of vintner-ing is doing me any good - my brain is fried, my head hurts and I'm absolutely shagged. What better reason to order a curry in, rather than actually cooking it? Okay, we had our best stock-take ever - yay for rewarding ourselves with take-away!

However in a stunning change of routine, tonight we pooh-pooh Tiffin Box in favour of one of our favourite curry restaurants from when we lived in Putney - Cochin Brasserie. It used to be fairly experimental with things like black lentil dhal, and an amazing starter of chicken livers. Literally a pile of livers, cooked in beetroot and spices, which melted in your mouth. We're having none of that tonight though...

Ana opted for Prawn Mango, which actually tasted like a combination of every foreign holiday you've every been on, and a weirdly-not-at-all-off-putting-petrol aroma. Slightly dully, I had a version of my usual take away fayre, Lamb Achari, which was much thicker although not as sour as I like it. Still good though, certainly better than the chicken lollipops we had as a starter.

It's almost the perfect accompaniment to Rick Stein's Spain, without actually being Spanish. Okay, *not* such a perfect accompaniment then, although still v tasty.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

warm new potato, rocket and smoked mackerel salad

First up, having roundly dissed last night's sausage fest (man, it was dense), today I'm going to take it back slightly because it makes a very tasty lunch the next day. Particularly if you slice the sausages up thickly - it's almost like an entirely different meal. Weird.

Anyway on to tonight's dinner, which might well make the cut for Ana *despite* the controversial inclusion of smoked mackerel:

It's one of those strange dishes which really should not work, but the combination of bacon, lemon juice, warmed potatoes, rocket and the smoked mackerel - all big old flavours in their own right - really harmonise well.

Even better, there's plenty to stink the office out tomorrow.

warm new potato, rocket and smoked mackerel salad - Delicious, September 2011, p32

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

michal symon's bratwurst stewed with sauerkraut

I can only assume I've been spending too much time with my Polish co-colleagues, because this tasted as bad as it looks.

Angela Hazel White is partially to blame because for failing to meet me for a drink (because she was already drunk in Regent's Park), leaving me to be aimlessly inspired in Fulham Waitrose. With vague recollections of a holiday in West Berlin in 1986 floating about, I thought "Why not?"

It turns out the most obvious reason is that stewed sauerkraut with large, dense vacuum-packed sausages is just a pretty rancid, acrid, sloppy combination, and simply isn't justification enough for my first "german"culinary tag. The fact I didn't have any caraway seeds was probably a blessing in hindsight...

bratwurst stewed with sauerkraut - Michael Symon, Food Network

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

a slightly drunken burger with lucyfer

Something tells me spending every waking moment panicking about wine, and then desperately trying to sleep when I'm not, hasn't endeared me to the whanau. After yesterday's post-Southbank coma, Ana's had enough and returned to the IoW for some quality Kay and Mike time. Me? I need a drink.

Luckily Miss Lucy Ferguson happens to be at a loose end and after some random wandering around South Kensington, we alight in the floral splendour that is The Hereford Arms on Gloucester Road. It's a beautiful night, and for one reason or another we're both in need of a debrief. Or a pre-brief you're Lucy.

Both of us at least pretending to have an interest in food, and surrounded by some pretty tasty restaurants, the conversation soon turned to dinner. Naturally there really was only one choice for two half-cut people, one of whom was wielding a folded-up bicycle:

Man I look like my dad (when my photo is taken in an out-of-focus manner, by a slightly drunk woman and I'm stuffing beef into my mouth in what looks a concentration camp)...

burgers - Byron

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Vintage at Southbank

Hmmm, if I ever wanted the definition of 'hubris', remembering this weekend's events might well become my go-to reference point. Well, Friday anyway.

Thursday night I was fairly happy with everything I'd organised, and if not exactly sleeping like a baby, I had a modicum of peace of mind. Little did I know by about 1500 on Friday I'd be close to tears, with no jugs, no glasses (I ordered too late), no staff (sent off to the warehouse to find jugs/glasses), no customers and a very angry man looming over me. I was definitely having second thoughts about this new career.

However, once the cavalry arrived in the form of the boys with the long-lost glassware, Tom and Richie P from the office, and we started selling some booze, I was a much happier bunny. I was also knackered. By the time we finished at 0100 Sunday night/Monday morning, I'd pretty much worked three 20 hour days, and all of them fuelled only by Polish sausage and Breton cider:

In the end, whilst hardly setting the financial world alight, it was a brilliant if painful introduction to the world of events. Running them is totally euphoric, you're pretty much running on adrenalin (and sausage) for the entire time, so you're either massively depressed and emotional (Friday) or amazingly high and emotional (Saturday-Sunday), before hitting a big crash on Monday.

Thanks to everybody who came down to see us: Lucyfer, Tangela, Harry, Sash & Matt, Layla, Edders, Sophie and Emma, Uncle Gerald - you all made my weekend a much happier place - and most of all to Ana who didn't see me all weekend, until Sunday when she, Milo, Kay and Mike came out for fizzy drinks.

If you're interested, and seeing as I didn't have time to take any piccies, here's the official work view of the weekend.

I'm not sure I'm looking forward to the next one.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

georgio locatelli's panzanella

It's Southbank t minus-1, and I'm feeling strangely positive: The bar is up, I've got the glasses on order, I know who's working, the stock is in the warehouse and with super Gregory in the hot seat, we drove Hugo into into position:

Hugo on his trailer

Greg reversing Hugo off the trailer

Greggy sticking Hugo into position

It's so hot, I'm thinking about doubling our Prosecco order - whaddaya reckon?

Back at home, despite everything being more-or-less in place, I'm too nervous to actually cook anything, so it's just as well I actually planned ahead this time and had a bowl of panzanella marinading in the fridge:

I've slightly twisted the recipe this time as Ana didn't like the bread being too sloppy, so I put it in with about an hour-hour-and-a-half to go. I also used up some bits and bobs in the fridge to bulk it out - there's a yellow pepper in there, some baby broccoli and some finely sliced french beans - none of it cooked, but all of it cooked in the acid of the dressing.

panzanella - georgio locatelli, The Independent, 30th May 2008

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

ghillie basan's haricot bean tagine

Only two days to go until my inaugural event for work, and the Southbank and the possibilities of things going terribly, terribly wrong are beginning to intrude in what's left of my sleep. On the upside, the cricket whites have turned up, and it looks like it's going to be a scorcher...

In better news, I randomly came across a vegetarian tagine in an old issue of Delicious the other day, that not only looked dead easy, but was comparatively quick for a tagine:

As it turns out it wasn't massively flavoursome, even though I whacked a load of harissa paste in and doubled the quantities or coriander and parsley. It was still pretty good mind, although if we have it again (if? when!) I'd be tempted to add some cumin, and finish it with some lime juice. Get me.

haricot bean tagine - Ghillie Basan, Delicious, August 2009, p94

Monday, 25 July 2011

salad lyonnaise

The sun is out, 'tis a Monday so Ana feels like she should be at the gym, and for we've inexplicably got 2 litres of red wine vinegar in the house. What to do, what to do?

As it happens, what with the salad and eggs over-flowing in the fridge, the answer is staring me in the face: Salad Lyonnaise:

I don't quite get the eggs perfect, I think they're a bit old to be honest, but what with the croutons it's a fairly hearty, if garlicky, salad. There's even bacon in there as well, I promise, but you just can't quite see it.

salad lyonnaise - Delicious, August 2009, p80

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Leon's broccoli with sausage, chilli and fennel

Hurrah - everybody is home! What better way to celebrate than by having a family meal featuring one Milo's favourite things - sausages!

Despite being able to go to sleep with the window and curtains open, listening to music and being able to do pretty much what I want, I have to say it's nice to see everybody again. Apart from the relentless creation of dens of course...

Leon's broccoli with sausage, chilli and fennel - Leon, Naturally Fast Food, p61