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