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