Wednesday, 29 February 2012

bill granger's poached salmon and orzo salad

Why do we do this to ourselves? I can see out of the corner of my eye Ana's face whilst she's eating Bill Granger's by-now classic poached salmon and orzo salad, and it looks like she's sucking on the world's most bitter lemons.

I'm not exactly feeling it either, and that's with a veritable fistful of ground pepper, salt and as much dill as I could possibly put into it without turning into poached dill and dill salad. This seems a bit odd because we've had it loads over the years, however looking back at it's previous appearances we've never really raved about it. Ana decides it's because it's a much nicer summer dish, to eat in the garden, in the sun with a massive glass of wine, rather than an end of February, in the cold, and being forced into it before the salmon goes out of date.

It looks pretty good though, and obvs I have two plates, if only so I don't have to have it for lunch tomorrow.

poached salmon and orzo salad - Bill Granger, Holiday, p14

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

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

Having copped a puncture on the way into work yesterday, I'm late back tonight due to the usual 40 minute wrestle trying to get the inner tube out, and then back into my teeny-tiny wheels. Faced with a looming choice of defrosting some sausages or poaching some Salmon, Ana puts her foot down and chooses Peter Gordon's halloumi salad.

It's at least a fairly quick, if fiddly meal to create.  Given the amount of aromatic ingredients packed into it, like dill and sun-dried tomatoes, it's brilliantly balanced and filling, (if you eat a sandwich whilst you're making it) and quite-to-fairly healthy. I don't know why, but tonight's is probably the best version I've done to date, and I think it might have something to do with ditching the slightly slimey salad, and using a packet of Steve's Leaves instead - they seem to have a bit more flavour and texture than the blanched stuffed. Top Tip there...

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 February 2012

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

T N-D's chicken noodle soup is rapidly becoming a house classic: It's fragrant, packed with with zingy flavours, filling and good for the soul. It's also perfect for Monday evenings because I can leave the chicken simmering in the stock whilst I grab a post-run shower, and Ana puts the blond bomber to bed.

Even better tonight I finally *finally*get to get a bit creative with the basic recipe. We make it with last night's left-over chicken, add some left-over sugar snap peas and baby corn, and whack in a big dollop of ginger. Not only that, we've even got all the correct broth ingredients including my new-found favourite drink, Fino Sherry!

To be honest, the re-cooked chicken looks a bit wonky, but it tastes divinely healthy and hale. It also allows me to whack together a massive batch of Celeriac Soup for work this week. Bonus!

chicken noodle soup with mint and lemon - Tom Norrington-Davies, Delicious circa 2006 maybe, now The Owl Book
celeriac soup - Delicious circa 2005/6, now the Parsley Book

Sunday, 26 February 2012

sunday roast

Having gone all Olly Smith with Greg and Spandy last night, we decide to put our chin-stroking comments on the Christmas box white Burgundy being a better food wine than a quaffing wine to the test, by drinking the rest of it with a roast chicken.

Of course, to get to this point I do have to malinger in bed for another hour once the McPartlins (or Oz and Jilly as they're now known), have gone back oop North, take a really nice afternoon stroll in the sun around Barnes pond, and a panic shop in Sainsbury's during the last half-an-hour before it closed.

Even then I'm not sure I'm really sober/awake to be honest, because I forget loads of bits and bobs tonight, including the parsnips, peas, and broccoli to name but three. And the potatoes aren't crisp enough - #Fail.

It looks pretty good though,  Milo eats it all, and we're right - the Mercurey Blanc tastes bloody delicious paired with roast chicken.

Wine Match
Mercurey Blanc - haven't I just said that?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

hugh's beet tarte tatin

Kendra & Hanne Signy, as fellow beetroot lovers you are going to love this one - I promise!

We've had some beetroot malingering in the salad tray for weeks, just sat there waiting for me to turn them into soup. I even bought some horseradish the other day to force the issue, but flicking through Saint Hugh's by-now-I-think-we-can-all-agree-it's-amazing Veg book I found something so audacious and bonkers, I had to try it - beetroot tarte tatin.

Okay, so I'm a good half bottle of medicinal rioja down by this point, but what the hell! Milo's asleep, Ana's out for dinner and I've got a salad drawer primarily made up of rapidly going out of date veg and salad. Has Hugh let me down yet?

It is totes. mcgrotes. amazeballs. and dead easy to make, with plenty of baking stages which let you tidy up the bathroom whilst the beetroots roast, sort out the lounge whilst the puff pastry puffs, and get your things ready for work whilst it all rests.

The beetroots come out sweet, with a little bite, and the dressing is to die for. In fact I've had half the 20cm tart by the time I get around writing this, and the third quarter is already on my plate. Even better, seeing how it's a salad, it doesn't count - genius! Another glass of vino all round!

beet tarte tatin - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, p48

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

hugh's mushroom ragout with soft polenta

Of course, as soon as I say I'm home alone and will spend the next few nights studiously updating the blog, is the exact moment I come down with man 'flu which completely wipes Tuesday night out: I came home from work an hour early, went for a little pre-tidy catnap at about 1830, and was woken at 0900, fully clothed including scarf, lenses in, by work wondering where I was. Luckily I'd done enough sniffing and hacking on Tuesday to do a convincing enough impression of having the black lung, and was allowed to work from home today. In my sleeping bag.

It's massively vexing because I had planned on taking advantage of M&S' Valentine's Day £20 steak, wine and pudding offer, and eating all myself, and now I'll have to wait until next year. However, I did manage to cook tonight and it was hale and hearty in a way the Arsenal rearguard weren't, but will it be enough to cure me tomorrow?

Who cares, it was probably the best version of this dish I've made of it yet, with a decent slug of wine, some properly fleshy mushrooms and a big old fistful of herbs and seasoning to blast their way through the mucus coating my very innards. It was really warming and perking, perhaps too warming though, as I burnt my throat with my first mouthful of molten polenta. Still - aces!

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

Monday, 13 February 2012

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

Home Alone as Ana and Milo are living it up dans the Isle of Wight, and with an impending cold looming in the tickle in the back of my throat, is there any better way to spend a chilly evening than making chicken noodle soup?

I think this must the third version of this classic and I can't really separate the three as all have their merits. I revisited Tom Norrington-Davies' version tonight primarily as it's souper quick (snigger), but also because I quite fancied the fresh, zingy notes from the lemon and the chilli hit. I didn't have any mint (again), and I had to make up my own base using Oyster Sauce and Fish Sauce as apparently we don't have any Soy Sauce, but it was still quite fragrant and delicate. Of course if I really wanted to battle my man flu I should've whacked a massive spoonful of ginger in, but I forgot.

For the record, our other standby Chicken Soup recipes are the equally new Spiced Chicken and Lentil Soup, and a Jill Dupleix version I used to cook loads in Putney.  It involves boiling up a chicken carcass with star anise and various bits of veg, so I've not really done it for a couple of years but seeing how I've got three or four carcasses in the freezer, maybe it's due a return?

Also, being on my own means there's ample time for backdating of the blog, there's a couple I've caught up with here, and expect us to be sort-of-fully up to date by Friday, when I'll go out and immediately be a day out.
More to come...

chicken noodle soup with mint and lemon - Tom Norrington-Davies, Delicious circa 2006 maybe, now The Owl Book