Thursday, 30 June 2011

jill dupleix's spaghetti alla carrettiera

After last night's drunken closing-then-saving party, tonight it's Ana's turn to go out. She hasn't got anything massively exciting planned, just going to Wembley to watch some fat, middle-aged men sing some songs that were quite-to-fairly popular back when we were at college. Take that? I'd rather not fanks...

Whilst she's out with menopausal women and the gays (and I'm not referring to Kendra, Lara or Rosie), I manage to squeeze in a powernap with Milo before knocking up Jilly D's classic home alone Roman spaghetti dish. This is the first time I've done it without pancetta - we didn't have any and I didn't think it needed any - but it's amazing the difference leaving out a tiny ingredient, seemingly only garnish, makes to the end product. I couldn't really be cracked with the photo either:

Dinner sort-of done, the rest of the evening is spent finishing the various left-over bottles of cider and rosé in the fridge whilst watching multiple episodes of my new favourite TV show - Horrible Histories.

It's entirely populated by amazing comedians like Alice Lowe, Simon Farnaby, Sarah Hadland, Matthew Baynton and Jim Howick, and is clearly the best thing on telly. I can't believe it's taken me this long to discover it, I wish I was a kid again. Here's their take on Masterchef:


jill dupleix's spaghetti alla carretiera - Jill Dupleix, Delicious, May 2007, p80

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

you say goodbye, we say hello. again

For the past few weeks we've been entertained by this on the fake hedges at work:

Forget about who on earth populates their offices with fake hedges, more to the point is the signs finally came down. Today was to be our final day at SeeSaw towers, but somewhat incredibly we've been saved quite literally at the last minute, so our closing wake has now become a celebratory shindig at Sanctum's roof top terrace. As you'd imagine this didn't at all get completely messy, given we started at a quite sensible 1400 military hours, and I didn't get home till gone midnight.

It started in fairly jolly form...

...before the booze started kicking in...

...and things started getting blurrier...

...and blurrier (although this is an actual shot of some editorial strategising)...

...and just to prove she's not a massive piss-head, here's a picture of Angela Hazel not getting lairy, not going off on one after two vinos, and not getting on the nearest Boris Bike to drunkenly cycle home:

However, it turns out for me it IS my last day at SeeSaw. I can't quite believe I'm doing this, but after a 15 year career working TV new media, taking in Playboy TV, Flextech, Channel 4, Aol and Kangaroo/SeeSaw I've turned my back on it all to become a vintner. For THE vintner in fact.

I'm swinging wildly between being massively excited, and completely terrified, and it hasn't really sunk in yet. Still, I drink wine and now I'm selling it - what could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

peter gordon's fried halloumi topped with chilli, spinach, water chestnut, hazelnut, orange and sun-blushed tomato salad

Another day of pleasing 'er indoors, but today it's born more out of necessity than anything else. We've got a random selection of stuff in the fridge, so it's simply a matter of finding a recipe that requires me to pick up the least ingredients on the way home.

Given Ana is never willingly more than three metres from halloumi, and there's some salad and tomatoes lurking in the crisper, Mr P Gordon's most felicitous salad gets the nod. Alongside another bottle of that fine new cider we like from Waitrose.

Incidentally I forgot to mention, this dish has also enabled me to rediscover another one of my hard-earned knife-skills course, with the easy segmenting of oranges. God, that present gets better and better!

fried halloumi topped with chilli, spinach, water chestnut, hazelnut, orange and sun-blushed tomato salad - Peter Gordon, Salads: The New Main Course, p65

Monday, 27 June 2011

fresh borlotti bean soup alla maruzzara

Having worn me down over the past month, today Ana Louise gets her heart's desire with another helping of Carluccio and Contaldo's borlotti bean soup.

Unlike last time, this time we're using canned borlotti beans, which I'm not sure are any better than the dried version. Despite spending a day cluttering up the work surface soaking, I think you get a nuttier, firmer pulse - and more of them - with dried pulses, which outweighs the convenience of a tin.

Despite the picture, we did *not* sit in the garden and eat, we sat in the lounge watching stupid, stupid telly.

fresh borlotti bean soup alla maruzzara - Gennaro Contaldo and Antonio Carluccio, Two Greedy Italians, from Delicious, June 2011, p38

Sunday, 26 June 2011

pan-fried broccoli with chorizo, new potatoes and eggs

We're all feeling slightly jaded today. Ana because she got drunk after the Mortlake Fair with the other Nursery mums, fell asleep in bed with Milo, and had to be forcibly removed to eat her dinner. Milo because he's just tired and me because two days drinking is now just beyond my natural skills. I need to up my rating, particularly as I gave up on a Marple to go to bed last night.

It being the hottest day of the year doesn't improve anybodies mood, although we make a good fist of it over at Chiswick park, splashing in the paddling pool and playing in the adventure playground, before going home and getting our paddling pool out.

We even managed to eat together in the garden, although this time with the slightly less-spicy chorizo than last time:

Strangely it wasn't as moist as last time, possibly because I didn't use as much red wine vinegar as Milo was eating it. I think adding cherry tomatoes to the final fry might add a little something extra as well. Also, didn't bother with poaching the eggs (although I do think they would've been ace), mainly because I couldn't be bothered pfaffing with three eggs, and also given Milo had managed to burn his arms on both saucepans, I figured the addition of further hot pans could only have ended in more disaster.

pan-fried broccoli with chorizo, new potatoes and eggs - Silvana Franco, Delicious, June 2011, p22

Saturday, 25 June 2011

simon hopkinson's tomato curry

Despite the rather patchy beginning to the day, both weather-wise and my post-evening out with Panther and Magnus mini-hangover, it ends gloriously.

To start with me and Milo pick yet another punnet of raspberries and blueberries from the canes in the garden. I think we must have taken a kilo of raspberries this year, with more to come, so they've definitely paid for themselves, and the blueberry has having it's best. Year. Ever. A quick trim of our extensive lawn later, and we're all having poached egg and salmon for brunch. It's the South West 14 way.

Angela Hazel pops over for a tea whilst she's walking her neighbour's dog, and once she's gone we head out to Mortlake Fair for an afternoon's bouncy castle action. This then morphs, as the weather perks up, into an impromptu couple of bottles of wine round one of the other mum's house. Women deal with children's dinner, men deal with several K-bourgs - what's not to like?

This comes back to bite me in the ass later though, as whilst I'm speed-cooking tonight's slightly-squiffy-and-sun-burned curry so as to be ready for the evening's Marple, Ana is going to sleep in Milo's bed. And will she get up? Will she bobbins...

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

Thursday, 23 June 2011

jill dupleix's polpettine

It's rare we have a variation on a theme two days running, or three if you count Ana cooking the left-over potato cakes tomorrow night whilst I'm out with Anil and Pete, so tonight is somewhat of a novelty. This is almost entirely due to the fact I'm out having a sort-of interview in The Sun Inn, meaning I'm later home than usual (and drunker), and therefore the requirement is not necessarily the tastiest dinner, but the easiest to cook... in this case it's Jill Dupliex's polpettine. Or vegetable patties part two.

It's a pretty standard dish in the repertoire by now, but I still managed to forget to add the Parmesan (damn you booze!), and had to put all the ingredients back into the bowl, add the Parmesan, and then recreate the patties. Ultimately this isn't a problem but still, when you're a little squiffy it's the last thing you need. My mum's spicy tomato chutney got a second outing...

white bean polpettine - Jilly D, the Parsley Book

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

aloo tikki

With Ana out at the nursery AGM, and a fridge full of food, I'm in somewhat of a quandary what to cook tonight. Nearly everything we've got planned this week requires zero prep, or needs to be warm, so either way I've got to wait for her return before I can start to cook, which could mean eating late - never good on a school night.

However, some experimental curried potato cakes (for that is what aloo tikki are) seem perfect: They need 20 minutes resting time in the fridge after being made, and only a quick 3 minutes on each side in the frying pan. Served with my mum's spicy tomato chutney they are, even if I say so myself, farqing brilliant:

Brilliantly enough, we've got enough potatoes in the cupboard to make this every day, between now and Doomsday... although they are slightly too spicy for Milo. Maybe.

aloo tikki - Observer Food Monthly, Parsley Book

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

peter gordon's fried halloumi topped with chilli, spinach, water chestnut, hazelnut, orange and sun-blushed tomato salad & beth's lemon and thyme drizzle cake

It's book club, but luckily our recent dalliance with Peter Gordon means we don't have to go through the usual "what shall we give the ladies" conversation. The question is though, which salad? Ana vetoes the courgette and chick pea one because she's bored of it, and the chorizo, olive and potato salad gets the elbow due to the presence of the spuds. Naturally in the end she throws her tiny weight behind anything involving halloumi.

As I've said before, the only issue with these dishes is the fact they involve a fair bit of construction, which should be fine, but I get distracted by wine and a discussion on breast enlargement, and take my eye off the ball whilst the cheese is grilling. Consequently it's slightly crisper than I'd like.

To balance the healthy first course, Beth comes up trumps with an amazing thyme and lemon drizzle cake, and we supply a massive punnet-load of raspberries from our super-abundant bushes. We even have real mint tea - crikey, it's like The Good Life, with Kendra in the Margot role of course...

fried halloumi topped with chilli, spinach, water chestnut, hazelnut, orange and sun-blushed tomato salad - Peter Gordon, Salads: The New Main Course, p65
lemon and thyme drizzle - Mrs Bethany Gilbey, she's aces

Monday, 20 June 2011

bill granger's chick pea and tomato soup with chorizo

Despite it being Midsummer tomorrow (the longest day rather than the 'hit' crime drama), it's absolutely tanking it down today and I get soaked riding home. It's also cocking freezing *and* our cupboards are suffering post-Taylor bareness, so we crank out Billy G's classic soup, mainly because it's almost entirely can/tin-based. Canned food? It's like living in the future!

Sadly we didn't have much chorizo kicking around, but it's one of Ana's favourite things and she's got enough for lunch tomorrow so she's relatively happy.

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

Sunday, 19 June 2011

a weekend in worcestershire

Whilst contemplating writing a post about our amazing Canadian holiday (which I've still not actually written, natch), I came across a new formula for dealing with these multi-day extravaganza's - I'm just going to list the five best things. Simples!

So without further ado, here they are:

1. A run around the hills of Worcestershire, followed by Chicken Dansak
After a slightly fraught journey, involving a sudden panic at work and my decision to go off-road to avoid the non-existent traffic, everybody is still fairly jolly on arrival. An hour or so of combination toddler-wrestling later, Dave and myself leave the ladies cooking a spanking chicken dansak and we head out to battle the hills of Worcestershire. DT immediately puts his local knowledge/longer legs/better fitness to good use to leaves me gasping in the middle of a wood. Despite our laboured breathing, and Dave's curious pickled onion fumes, we still manage to see a deer on the track, no doubt stunned by our majestic bearing as we crested a hill. However our return sees one small blonde boy still awake, and watching Scooby-Doo. Naturally it being beyond his bedtime he's on maximum cuteness levels, so it's not too bad. Strangely we don't drink that much...

2. summer spaghetti
After the usual Saturday shenanigans (rugby for the mini-men, shopping for the slightly bigger-ladies, and a trip to the pub in the rain for everybody), Lucy pulls out all the stops with a summer spaghetti recipe I've had my eye on in the latest Delicious. It's a weird combination of pretty much everything in the fridge, so I suspect it'll be a pretty good user-up-of-fridge-stuff recipe. Despite their carping to the contrary, the Taylors are excellent cooks, I thoroughly Bridport their work should you be in the neighbourhood - particularly Dave's Saturday lunchtime smorgasbord...

3. Father's Day at Cheltenham Food Festival
I like eating, Dave likes eating, so what better present than a trip to the Cheltenham Food Festival? Even better, it gave my wife a chance to demonstrate her X-Man powers of sniffing out free booze at 1000 paces, viz walking through the gates she managed to spot Beth's husband Tom and Hugo the van full of prosecco at an angle of almost 180 degrees behind her.

4. Hugh's baker's oven shoulder of mutton
Whilst we're living it up in Cheltenham, there's a thing of magic going on in the kitchen chez Taylor, as a leg of hogget is slowly roasting over it's own layer of boulangerie potatoes. I love a good roast, and I love boulangerie potatoes, but I've never thought of sticking the two of them together in one dish. It's a thing of unctuous beauty, the meat falling off the bone, the potatoes crispy on one side and soft on the other, and a salty gravy - mmmmm! It's not such a good pre-two and a half hour drive home dinner though, as it does tend to induce sleepiness.

5. The Number One Ladies Running Club
For the lack of anything else to list in an as-ever excellent weekend (why WHY did I pick five things?), I'm going to make cheap jibes at being invaded on Sunday morning by two red-faced, sweaty harridans, who appeared in the kitchen shortly after Lucy and Ana went out running. I know they like to encourage neighbours to pop over in the country, but I think in this case the open door policy went too far...

chicken dansak - Anjum Anand, Anjum's New Indian, p87
summer spaghetti - Delicious, July 2011, p39
baker's oven shoulder of mutton - Saint Hugh, The River Cottage Meat Book, p241

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

persian-style lamb and rhubarb stew

Holy Mary, this has to be one of my favourite dishes we eat, seriously, and that's not the three bottles of Honeydew talking either. It's right up there with the meatballs, and various curries, and the lamb and sour cherries stew.

Anyway, with yet another dull half-day at work enlivened by a lunchtime pint with the Panther in The Phoneix, and a frothy-style coffee with Miss S Breslau at ITV glamorous riverside restaurant (well, "glamorous" in the sense a couple of the TOWIE harridans were tottering about reception, in a haze of St Tropez), I get home early to start the two hour stewing process. Although of course I don't start cooking when I get home, I fanny about reading, then have a bath with Milo before beginning, a mere half-an-hour before the start of tonight's Marple. Two hours of premium post-war crime drama later, Ana is starving and the lamb has almost completely fallen apart. As ever, there's never enough.

I *still* haven't found the blinking recipe, so I might have to simply write it out on here to save having to dig through the cocking Delicious website.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

pan-fried broccoli with chorizo, new potatoes and eggs

Another night of report writing ahead for Mrs Barnes, gets off to a semi-slow start as Milo resisted sleeping for longer than is strictly necessary. However for once this isn't particularly vexing tonight as we're all a little tired from holiday, and I'm more than happy to pretend to be asleep in his bed for half an hour. And then to actually be asleep for slightly longer.

Anyway, I've got a fun experimental dish to construct when I do eventually get up. I'm slightly nervous because although on paper - chorizo, eggs, broccoli - this should be right up Ana's street, she's resisted so far. And potatoes aren't her thing. How little I know her - she loves it!

I suspect the difference might be using oh-so-seasonal Jersey New Potatoes, which are creamier than normal new potatoes, and off-set the spicy chorizo beautifully. Also, next time I might make the eggs softer boiled, to provide a bit more unctuousness, and maybe bunging some cherry toms into the mixer...

pan-fried broccoli with chorizo, new potatoes and eggs - Silvana Franco, Delicious, June 2011, p22

Monday, 13 June 2011

blackened fish with mango salad

Oh Saint Hugh WILL be pleased! Not only is our fish line-caught, but it's an oh-so-sustainable Black Bream. We're a long way from eating megrim though, a very long way...

It was slightly on the fishy-side compared to cod or haddock, maybe like mackerel, but the cajun rub offset it enough for it to be repeated at some point.

It wasn't very filling although it was quick, which give Ana the opportunity to spend the long, summer evening uploading a billion holiday photos to facebook. All night, and in fact she's still going at midnight.

blackened fish with mango salad - Delicious, June 2011, p22

Sunday, 12 June 2011

mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad

After yesterday's street party high jinks, today is very slow. Ana's got reports to do, and a combination of eight hours of bouncy castling and the final dregs of post-holiday tiredness mean Milo is in a right grump today. So much so me and him spend pretty much all day sat in a sleeping bag, with only a trip out to Putney to get the shopping and two films to watch that afternoon - Kung-Fu Panda and Monsters V Aliens. It's all research I *promise*.

Early beds all round beckon, but unfortunately some cider-accompanying salad, and a God-awful-but-eminently-watchable RomCom on C4 mean it's still late. And salad is never enough to soak up a big bottle of cider is it?

mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad - Delicious, 2005 now the Parsley Book

Saturday, 11 June 2011

happy birthday cowley road!

There is slim food pickings today, for today was the Cowley Road 100th birthday street party and other than the take away we had in the evening, I only had one burger all day. And 1000000 pints of larry lager. Which is odd, as I made a kilo of burger mix, and a big bowl of the cherry tomato and chorizo salad...

Essentially Milo spends all day on a Scooby-Doo-themed bouncy castle, dressed as a Pirate, and we natter and gossip with our neighbours and Miss Kate Smither in the blazing sun, with occasional breaks for drinking, egg and spoon races, barbecue duty, and drinking. Voila!

The bouncy castle outside our flat:

Our amazing pirate and nautical flag bunting:

Hot BBQ-action featuring Barnes Vet's least-fastest winger Paul "Robbo" Robinson, and their least effective tight-head - fight the power kids:

Captain Jack Sparrow:

We're all very tired, and only some serious Marple, a take away from Talad Thai and more wine keep the adults going until bed time. Man, being 100 is tiring.

Friday, 10 June 2011

peter gordon's yellow courgette, chick pea, red onion, chilli, watercress and feta salad

Another day of absolutely naff all today, other than relentless LinkedIn updating. However, the day is enlivened by a massive storm at lunchtime, and even better, the arrival of our bunting for tomorrow's street party to celebrate it's 100th Birthday! I went for pirate and nautical flags with the thought we might get some re-use out of them over the years. They certainly looked pretty cool strung out across our (mainly empty) desks.

Anyway, with a mighty wedge of burgers booked into the fridge for the BBQ tomorrow, we opt for Peter Gordon's healthy, curiously spicy, yet somehow tres filling courgette and chick pea salad:

Bring on the burgers!

yellow courgette, chickpea, red onion, chilli, watercress and feta salad - Peter Gordon, Salads: The New Main Course, p56

Thursday, 9 June 2011

jill dupleix's sesame chicken salad with cucumber and celery

Ahhh, whilst most people at work are depressed by our having-to-come-into-work-even-though-there's-no-work-to-actually-do pre-redundancy stance, I choose to see the positives.

1. I get to have a leisurely lunch with Worcestershire's finest staple salesman in Pho, followed by a coffee at Kaffeine (I'll miss you...);
2. I get to have a leisurely read of my book in the park, meaning I'm well on track to make up all the novels I failed to read on holiday due to child entertaining / laughing at Hayley's chins / watching hockey;
3. I get home early enough to help out with Milo's evening routine, which means we can have a relatively early dinner.

Point three is important as we're still suffering slightly from out transatlantic globetrotting. And being fat it turns out, so a zingy chicken salad it is!

Incidentally, yesterday was enlivened by this find from Miss Nicola Morris: - go on, you know you want to! Here's me and my doggelganger Grace:

And Ana (on her umpteenth go) and Toodles:

sesame chicken salad with cucumber and celery - Jill Dupleix, the Owl Book

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

pancetta-wrapped salmon with griddled asparagus and jersey royals

How can we still be jet-lagged? Despite coming home yesterday morning, and having an afternoon cat nap, Ana still manages to fall asleep for the second night running whilst doing the evening snuggle with Milo. And despite eating my own body weight in Canadian sweets at work, by two o'clock closing my eyes has become quite hazardous...

With an early night looming, more unpacking to do *and* a desperate desire to undo ten days worth of chicken wings, booze, sausages, salami and Timbits, we're back on the healthy stuff. Were we ever off it I wonder?

All in all tonight sees a much more successful skinning of the fillet, (there seems to be a weird extra place on salmon fillets where the flesh sticks to the skin more, like an extra area of fibre - anyway, I've worked that out now), and general crisping of pancetta etc etc.

Strange but true - despite being the asparagus season, I noticed Waitrose's asparagus' comes from Peru. Surely that's not right, particularly as the potatoes are also in season?

Massive Canada post to come

pancetta-wrapped salmon with griddled asparagus and lime creme fraiche - Delicious, June 2010, p23

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

fino's chorizo and tomato salad, with bread and goat's cheese

Hmmm, night flights are great aren't they? Especially when you don't want to come home...

All in all it's an odd old culinary day. Having landed this morning, which meant we had to suffer the usual slightly stale airline breakfast fayre, we got back home for lunch. However as this got slightly delayed as we all decided to take a midday three hour cat nap, we didn't eat our sandwiches we'd got at Toronto airport, and I ate the last three Timbits, until five-ish. We also had the first of this year's raspberry and blueberry crops:

One panic drive to East Sheen to get the shopping before Waitrose closed later, we shoveled dinner into Milo, gave him a swift bath and got him into bed for erm, 2200 military hours. This then left us plenty of time to eat Fino's by-now-classic chorizo and tomato salad, which had been marinading all afternoon, whilst reminiscing over the holiday snaps with a glass of wine.

Work tomorrow, *sigh*. Oh Canada - HAIL!

chorizo and tomato salad - Fino, Delicious, July 2006, p59