Tuesday, 31 January 2012

nigella's keralan fish curry

I've definitely got a cold coming, so last night's balls-up becomes a blessing in disguise as the combination of antiseptic turmeric and gingery-spicy goodness is just what the doctor ordered:

Interestingly I've spotted an oldie-yet-goldie Nigella recipe next to this one which I think Brenda you cooked for us once, (or it might have been Kiki), and we had a few times whilst flat-sitting for the Whites - Hot and Sour Soup. Given Milo's predilection for prawns and the imminent arrival of Arctic conditions, we may be seeing this sooner rather than later.

Sorry, dull update tonight. Must be ill, still I've got Hornblower in bed to look forward to - wahay!

keralan fish curry - nigella lawson, Delicious, February 2009, p83

Monday, 30 January 2012

jill dupliex's avocado, pumpkin seed and spinach salad

After a freezing run home (and an equally brassic morning spent blitzing bikinis), salad is not what was planned. However, having turmericked my fish and spent an hour updating the blog with blase abandon, Ana's arrival from catnapping with Milo heralds a disappointing discovery - we don't have any coconut milk. Gahhhhhhhhhhhh!3

Nobody wants dry, turmeric and salt-coated cod for dinner, no matter how sunny it looks, and the new series of Whitechapel is but a moment away, so we hit the panic button and knock-up Jilly D's super-quick, super-tasty, super-healthy (although not super-warming) avocado salad with pumpkin seeds:

I suppose we can at least feel smugger than usual. We later knit our own cassocks from sackcloth, and frown at the feckless youth of this country.

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

Thursday, 26 January 2012

spiced chicken and lentil soup

Hmmm, experimental warm beetroot and squash salad guaranteed to annoy Mrs Barnes or experimental chicken and lentil soup guaranteed not to annoy Mrs Barnes? Choices choices...

Ultimately it's soup, and not just because I don't fancy sleeping next to the world's biggest chastity belt that tuts every five minutes for the next 12 months, but because the chicken is closer to going off than the beetroot and pomegranate. Yes, I said beetroot and pomegranate.

Anyway, chicken and lentil soup. I was a bit sceptical whilst it was bubbling away because it looked a bit thin in flavour, being mainly carrot, lentil and leek (we didn't have celery), and having only one chicken breast I though it just wouldn't fill us up. But I was pleasantly surprised!*

It was really earthy from the cardamon pods and ginger, and hale from the lentils. It could've done with some more juice in mind, and maybe next time I'll add some peppers and chopped cherry tomatoes? Delicioso.

* Well, partly because I've been craving one all day, I still managed to squeeze in a post-soup cheese and tomato sandwich. Don't follow my lead though, I'm an oaf.

spiced chicken and lentil soup - Waitrose Kitchen - January 2012, p89

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

moroccan chicken stew

All these vegetarianism - albeit excellently tasty and moreish vegetarianism mainly inspired by Saint Hugh of Whittingstall, does tend to make us crave flesh. I mean *obviously* I try to offset all this do-gooding goodness with pretty much entirely pate and veal-based lunches at work, but e'en so, e'en so...

We're also lacking ginger in our diet, which may account for Ana's cold, so what better way to inject a hearty dose of zippy Zingiber officinale into our systems, than by slathering some chicken in it, and stewing Moroccan-stylee. If you're idea of authentic Moroccan cooking can be found in the Nation's Favourite Middle-aged Ladies Monthly Cookery Magazine?

Top tip, don't follow my lackadaisical approach and consistently forget the gremolata, it really does give the whole thing an extra dimension.

moroccan chicken stew - Delicious, February 2008, p28

Monday, 23 January 2012

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's pinto bean chilli

Wooh yeah! Can you feel the burn - woooh yeah! There are chest bumps all round tonight as we both totally smash some PBs, spot each other pumping 100K, hit the 'roids and other exercise-related cliches indicating we've either run somewhere, done some sit-ups, or both, and are now quite red-faced and feeling a bit faint and giddy. Still, MICROFOCUS, raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh!

Anyway, post-knocking out 1000 reps we've gone all experimental tonight with what turns out to be the BEST vegetarian chilli either of us have tried. And Ana actually was a vegetarian once, about 20 years ago, and that's all vegetarians ever ate!

Naturally it comes from the H-Dog's veg book, and manages to combine a healthy laissez faire attitude to ingredients and complexity (just stick in whatever's currently in season, and cook with pinto beans), with maximum flavour.

To be honest, I made it slightly too soupy tonight, and it could've done with some wraps to go with the guacamole/salad/grated cheese accompaniments. However, in terms of flavour-delivered-to-time-spent-pfaffing, it's streets ahead of Simon Rimmer's admittedly quite-tasty white bean chilli, and not having rice makes for a good change.

pinto bean chilli - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday! p23

Sunday, 22 January 2012

nasi goreng with fried egg

Having been to see my family and some friends back home today, tonight we have culinary trip down memory lane. Well for me at least as nasi goreng is one of those dishes I remember my dad cooking loads when me and my brother were growing up.

He used to claim it was a recipe he learned whilst he was in the Army, but he's since admitted whilst that's where he first encountered it, he mainly made it up from packet mixes when were kids. Illusions shattered. Still, they were amazing and memorable Saturday-night dinners that have stuck in my memory.

Having spotted this version in the latest version of Waitrose Kitchen, featuring zero packet mix, galvanises me to try and recreate some of my youth for Milo, with the added benefit of containing his current ingredient du jour, Prawns. Loads of prawns, and in a nod to my dad, I also add some chicken:

I think it's probably an amazingly versatile recipe. I remember my dad's version was much more tangy and spicy (probably not so good for him yet), and had bacon and celery in as well a sort of omlette accompaniment. So scope for change, which is just as well as it's totally wolfed down by all and sundry.

nasi goreng with fried egg - Waitrose Kitchen - January 2012, p86

Saturday, 21 January 2012

rick stein's shepherd's pie, as cooked in India

Today is not my greatest day by quite some measure.

We're late up, I'm late going shopping with Milo which makes him late for ballet practise and me late for rugby. In fact I'm only just in time for kick-off against Esher Vets, whereupon I'm pretty much late for all my tackling appointments, only just making it on time to be hit repeatedly hard by this chap breaking off the back of the scrum. Luckily for us all Tracy Chapman was so late she didn't appear at all, otherwise that would've been really annoying as there's nothing worse than being slowly pummeled to the acoustic strains of Cleveland's biggest export.

Naturally I'm late home, but this time I'm forearmed and manage to scoff some chicken casserole before I go, leaving much full-enough to contemplate creating the glory that is Rick Stein's Shepherd's Pie as cooked in India:

Not only is it full of a rich, juicy and tangy lamb-filling (not forgetting the top tip of draining the fat off the meat halfway through), I also go slightly off-menu and make kale mash to up the veg quotient. And the best part is not only is there loads to go in the freezer, nobody notices the finely sliced, much-disputed brassica - winner!

I really must try one of his fish dishes at some point.

shepherd's pie as cooked in India - Rick Stein, Delicious circa 2005 and now in the Skull Recipe book

Friday, 20 January 2012

bill granger's dhal with tamarind and lime

Whilst I am learning heaps in our Friday tasting sessions at work, if there is a downside - other than impending gout - it's the fact I really cannot be cracked to cook anything by the time I've managed to get home. Still less so when faced with the uninspiring vision that is an empty pre-shopping fridge. Yeo Valley fruit tubes and slightly wilted salad for dinner anybody?

However cometh the hour, cometh the man as not only is Bill Granger's delish dhal still fresh in our mind, it's also made almost entirely from pantry staples and satisfies our curry cravings. Yes, we have a pantry now, is that so wrong?

Look - there's even a cheeky bed of slightly-wilted salad! God I'm a genius, now all I need to do is sober up.

dhal with tamarind and lime - bill granger, Delicious 2008, p67

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

mediterranean halloumi salad

Tonight I really should make the shepherd's pie with kale mash I'd mentally scheduled, (and had been thinking about for pretty much most of the day), but by the time I'd dragged myself out of Milo's bed I really could not be cracked.

This sleepiness is mostly due to an afternoon spent tasting Sancerre in a basement at the RSA, stood next to Oz Clarke in fact - he's got a very deep voice btw - followed by a trip to Lord's for some more French wine.

Whilst I learned a lot about Sancerre, as well as discovering an amazing Chiroubles, this has come at the cost of any sort of gumption, so once again it's a post-tasting edition of Ana's favourite halloumi-based salad:

Brenda I think I've finally managed to nail the key to admittedly not my favourite salad. The trick is to leave the tomatoes out for a couple of days so they don't taste of the fridge and have less structure to the flesh, and to pretty much drain the peppers from Sainsbury's poisonous sunflower oil. Crusty bread with butter would probably help, as would a pint. Or two.

As I say, not my favourite but a definite improvement, and at least it meant I didn't have to watch DIY SOS/One Born Every Minute which I notice you all watching via Facebook.

mediterranean halloumi salad - Delicious, June 2010, p24

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

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

Having totally failed to make this last night due to a disappointing lack of parmesan, tonight we make like Blue Peter with our "Here's some we chopped earlier" parsnips, and roast the hell out of Saint Hugh's crowd-pleasing salad.

However we're nothing if not keen on a challenge, and tonight we conjure up two:

1. I fall asleep with Milo whilst roasting the parsnips, which then call for careful management once I wake up with a vague smell of caramelising root veg in my nostrils;
2. Ana has a parent's evening at Nursery, which has the knock on effect of not only rescuing the 'snips, but the lentils also need some extra loving to stop them turning to mush. And then it all needs to be kept warmish for longer than anticipated.

Though I say it myself it's a triumph, although I do fall into the trap of thinking I'm actually more hungry than I really am, and eat far too much before bed. It's the not-naughty-but-now-time-out-or-thoughtful-step for me.

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

bill granger's dhal with tamarind and lime - recipe

Mrs White - your will, my command! To be honest I've shortlisted this so many times to try, I can't believe how long it's taken to finally fall under it's umami-spell. I think maybe it looked more complicated that it actually is...

bill granger's dhal with tamarind and lime
serves 4-ish. Let's face it, two with some extras...

200g red lentils
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions cut into wedges
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1tsp tumeric
1tsp tamarind paste
Lime juice, to taste
Small bunch of coriander, chopped for garnish

1. Put lentils and 1 litre of cold water in a large saucepan, cover and bring to boil. Once boiling reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until tender.
2. Whilst that's simmering, heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat, and fry the onions with a pinch of salt for 10-12 minutes, until soft and golden. Add the garlic and spices and cook for another two minutes.
3. Add the lentils and any remaining cooking liquid to the pan and simmer for another five minutes, until thickened slightly.
4. Stir in the tamarind paste and cook for another two minutes, stirring occasionally, season and remove from the heat. Squeeze over the lime juice and serve with rice, and the coriander sprinkled over the top.

dhal with tamarind and lime - bill granger, Delicious 2008, p67

Monday, 16 January 2012

tom norrington-davies' chicken noodle soup with mint and lemon

Oooh it's brisk today but we're totally exercising to the MAX! Despite having a steenky cold, Ana manages to power through Bikini Blitzing this morning, and I've just scoured my lungs out on running home on a freezing night (personal best folks) - fitness, YEAH!

In between high-five-ing in the kitchen, and micro-focusing in the lounge (and reading Zest) we're both in the need of something hellishly warming, fiendishly hearty but still delivering a health kick. We started out making Hugh's amazingly brilliant parsnip and lentil salad, until we realise we've got no Parmesan, so Tom Norrington-Davies' experimental chicken noodle soup with mint and lemon it is. Apart from we've got no mint.

Now initially I didn't think this was much cop. Just before it was ready it felt a bit, well thin - and that's despite the honey, chinese cooking wine and soy sauce, five minutes later however - completely different. It's lemony, there's a salty undertone from the soy sauce, and the poached chicken and noodles give it some extra body.

In hindsight it's an excellent base; you could probably throw in some sliced ginger, maybe some spinach, star anise etc to give it some proper welly. Alternatively you could keep it light and elegant (with the addition of mint).

Chest bumps, anybody?

Sunday, 15 January 2012

delia smith's lime chicken curry

There's an unhappy person in the flat today, somebody who possibly had a leetle bit too much to drink at the New Stepping Stones parents drinks last night. Consequently the menfolk had to decamp to Brentford fountains for a splash, whilst Ana reflected on her evening whilst camped in bed.

We finally drag ourselves out to Richmond en famile so speccy Ana Barnes can get her eyes tested (and consequently buy some x-rays), and even manage to squeeze in a quick reviving frothy coffee and Black Forest Gateau at Patisserie Valerie. Tea Box was closed *sigh*.

Spirits are further revived with a hearty bowl of Delia's Lime Chicken Curry...

...and the Sherlock finale - Yay! Although Boo, because it's finished. But Conan Doyle revived him - Yay! But it's work tomorrow - Boo! This could go on.

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

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

mediterranean halloumi salad

For the first time since I became I wine merchant, today I finally experienced the old school tie/ crusty old major culture associated with the industry, and it was amazing!

I spent most of the day in the library of The Traveller's Club on Pall Mall, tasting 115 Burgundies from apparently one of the best vintage for years. Obviously I couldn't tell whether it is a great vintage yet, but the surroundings and the very old bufferishness of it all was just brilliant.

The downside of all this tasting is that my teeth haven't yet hardened yet to drinking that much white wine, nice though it was, and the rest of the day is spent in agony. An agony only relieved by eating a fairly stodgy, but mercifully citrus-free salad this evening:

Whilst I'm in a compare and contrast mood, I don't think Sainsbury's roasted red peppers in sunflower oil are a patch on Waitrose's mixed peppers in sunflower sauce. For some reason the sauce was really over powering, which suggests we may have to do some tactical shopping where anti-pasti is concerned. Because we're middle-class wankers of course.

mediterranean halloumi salad - Delicious, June 2010, p24

Monday, 9 January 2012

moroccan-spiced chickpea cakes

Another day, another meal made out beans and pulses - we're clearly playing with fire, or at least a selection of noxious cases and unsavoury miasmas. Lucky I didn't have a massive portion of last night's lentil-based pie for lunch then.

After a fairly crippling run home, hampered as I was by a particularly stodgy hunk of Christmas cake for tiffin, we switch our pulses from lentils to chickpeas, with another helping of moroccan-spiced chickpea cakes.

Strangely they are most definitely NOT as successful as last time, and I can't quite put my finger on why. Okay so I ballsed up my dried chickpea quantities (who knew 400g would double in size?), and on reflection I probably over-blended the mix, so they were more felafel-y than cake-y, and they were maybe slightly too big... I think I may have put my finger on the reasons after all.

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

Sunday, 8 January 2012

valli little's hearty vegetable pie

Pancakes for breakfast, and now only eight days in to the New Year, it's time to welcome the first pie of 2012, and not before time too if you ask me.

It's not that it's been cold enough recently for big old hearty pie (or stew for that matter), but given the age of austerity we're all enjoying, and the fact you need to use any veg bought from Sainsbury's tout suite before they become useless - what is it with their fresh stuff? Anyway, it seems the sensible option, and I get to use my new potato masher - which is BRILLIANT!

All this practicality doesn't take into account my divine family though, one of whom decides he doesn't like peas/potato/carrots/broccoli/kale (which left only the lentils), and the other only pretended to like it for previously-stated reasons. Apparently the home-made pesto makes it taste funny. Imagine living in SW14 and complaining about homemade pesto? Honestly!

hearty vegetable pie - valli little, Delicious, January 2007, Parsley Book

Saturday, 7 January 2012

bill granger's dhal with tamarind and lime

For one reason or another, tonight feels like the first normal Saturday for a long time, and it feels goooood!

With Kayosaurus and Mikelodocus staying over, we both get a much-needed lie-in, which is in itself aces. They then Milo-wrangle for the rest of the day while Ana gets to forensically clean the flat and I, whisper it, play rugby for the first time this season.

To be honest I was v nervous which I haven't been about playing since college; I haven't played for ages and I'm completely out of condition but it worked out okay. We stuck 45 points past Purley John Fisher 2s & 3s, I had several rampaging blasts and even came up with a try. Genius! I bet I ache in the morning mind.

To top it off we even managed to squeeze in a really tasty experimental curry whilst watching the last three episodes of The Killing II. Welcome back Saturday nights, it's good to have you back.

Now we've had several dhal recipes over the years, and this is the second Bill Granger recipe that's been kicking around, but despite having my eye on it for ages,  it's the first time we've tried it. I wish we'd given it a go earlier as it is really lovely.

The addition of a healthy dollop of tamarind and the lime juice, combined with the caramelised onions, lift it well above the realms of a mere side dish, and into a filling, earthy and tangy delight. We'll be seeing this one again, mark my words.

dhal with tamarind and lime - Bill Granger, Delicious, February 2008, p67

Friday, 6 January 2012

simon hopkinson's tomato curry

With a New Year comes a new start and all that jazz, and we're no different at work, and our much-feared new regime began in earnest today. With a 20 wine taste challenge against one of our competitors wines*.

I know, I know, it's a tough job, but together we pulled through and at the end of our afternoon ordeal we were pretty blinking pleased. Okay, so they had a few wines which caught the eye, particularly a Claret, and a massively tropical Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, but pretty much across the board I think we the more interesting, full-flavoured wines.

With our brave work done, I manage to stumble home with a bag full of samples to entertain the in-laws, who are up for some Milo rustling. Handily the booze also takes their minds off the cack-handed, blundering knife-skills being exhibited in front of them.

Narrowly avoiding losing the odd limb, and not succumbing to a take away, I have just enough co-ordination and ingredients in the fridge to make us all a curry.

This time I avoid the usual balancing act of the need for heat versus Kayosaurus' need for no-heat by getting her to choose her own enemy. As it turns out she chooses the wrong chillies, and her dinner comes with a whacking great helping of yoghurt, as that's all we've got by-way-of creme fraiche alternatives. Still, it was very nice for the rest of us who prefer our curry with slightly less vanilla essence...

*Yes Greg, I'm talking about The Wine Society

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

Thursday, 5 January 2012

hugh's mushroom risoniotto

This is fast becoming a regular in the Barnes household. It's quick, hale and hearty, packed with lots of warming, earthy flavours and, even more importantly, can be pretty much made entirely with cupboard staples. Which is handy if you've run out of nearly-all your fresh ingredients...

And to Kendra's recent point, I use Orzo which you can get in Waitrose - it's in a long, thin packet - and you can usually get it in most delis. Certainly Valentino's in Sheen sell it, so I presume you must be able to find it in glamorous K&C?

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

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

bill granger's chick pea and tomato soup with chorizo

Only four day's in and our New Year's pro activity went slightly awry this evening, when I fell asleep with Milo, and then we managed not to apply for his school place in September. Again. I'm fairly sure as I'm married to a teacher, and knowing so many other fine educators, we could just home school him? I did manage to sign-up to our Milkman's website ordering though, so that's one thing. Electronic milk - it's the future!

Whilst all this internet jiggery-pokery was going on, we had a sort-of experimental soup ticking away on the hob. Experimental in the sense I only had one can of chickpeas and had to make it up with the array of 2-for-1 cans of pulses I bought ages ago.

Behold, a strangely super-saturated photo of Bill Granger's chick pea and tomato soup with chorizo AND mystery ingredients.

To be fair you would never know there was flageolet and cannelini beans in there as the chick peas only really add bulk and some texture, but three sorts of pulses? We won't need the central heating tonight, and I apologise in advance to my co-colleagues tomorrow...

Finally, don't forget to ask for any specific recipes you want listed. I won't be cracked to write them up otherwise.

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

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

donna hay's garlic chickpeas and chorizo

Back to work - negative hurrah! Actually, work isn't too bad at all, it's just the getting up early I take issue with.

In fact, other than having to redo the office stocktake (the joy), it was a pretty positive start to the year; I cleared my desk almost completely, our pink fizz was featured in The Independent's Top 10 Sparkling Wines, and my fragrant legacy Glorious Leaderine JoMo managed to supply a medically sound reason NOT to give up drinking for January. So we haven't.

We have decided to be more proactive this year however, so hopefully this will be up-to-date more often, and to get some more exercise. Aren't resolutions just the fun-est things ever? They always make me feel a bit like Blackadder's Puritan cousins, the Whiteadders.

Anyhoo, the kicking off the usual New Year health regime (which is going to be the same as our default less-meat-and-take-aways-more-veg-and-fish, so much so I don't know why I've bother mentioning it), is Miss D Hay's garlic chickpeas and chorizo. This time with the addition of rocket and some crispy-ish new potatoes - both of which are required to remove the need of having to eat two or three side sandwiches to fill up during the admittedly quick cooking process.

The potatoes naturally don't preclude eating chocolate on the sofa whilst catching up on The Killing...

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

Monday, 2 January 2012

hugh's squash and fennel lasagne

Happy New Year! Please to help me with my rucksack, Beef Jerky! Etc

Having spent a v delightful and sort-of relaxing weekend in the Country for New Year, (if you discount the Dingbats farrago), the drive back this afternoon sapped every last ounce of joy with every passing mile back. Damn you London!

This ennui was compounded on arrival home when every fibre cries out for take away, but you know you can neither afford it financially or physically, and you know for a fact a tarka dhal and chicken chettinand just isn't going to cut the mustard with Milo.

It was at this point I was suddenly reminded of meeting a reader of this very blog on Christmas Eve; a time-short mum, (long-time reader first time caller), who wanted a quick meal she could knock together for her and the kids when they got back from school. Her tearful face as she clutched her bucket of Echo Falls and packet of pork scratchings inspired me to dig this experimental lasagne out of HFW's amazing Veg book and set to...

Yes Sam Anda MacTartlin (name changed to protect innocent - Legal Ed), in just two quick hours (and that's including an unscheduled ride to Sainsbury's to buy the missing fennel), you can create a beautifully earthy, wintry lasagne, with sweet caramelised fennel and creamy goats cheese, that your child will decide they don't like, and your life partner will only pretend to eat as a form of encouragement for the recalcitrant fruit of your loins. But she doesn't really like, not really, I can see it in her eyes.

No, don't thank me Sam Anda, it's what I do... ...Much to Ana's chagrin.

squash and fennel lasagne - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday! p33