Thursday, 29 March 2012

pancetta-wrapped salmon with griddled asparagus

After last night's impromptu-post-inaugural-Vault-Club-Tasting-burgers-at-Sophie's, today I'm not only feeling brackish but also loquacious AND in need of a health kick. BUT, and there's a twist, it's a health kick that Ana will have to provide as I'd completely forgotten I was down for a Wine Challenge in the City tonight.

Still, is there anything more glorious than returning home after a highly-successful dip in the water at hosting a corporate challenge (Tom let me do a couple of rounds, which was nerve-wracking but strangely fun), to find dinner ready? Particularly as salmon and asparagus work just as well at room temperature as when hot from the oven*.

* And I'm not even joking.

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

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

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

After last night's outbursts, tonight I need something to tame the Grumposaurus masquerading as my wife. Particularly as I'm slightly late home not due to tonight's tasting I hasten to add, but more because I had another puncture.

Luckily I know there's nowt better to calm an Ana than half a bottle of Alsace Riesling, and anything that involves halloumi. Cheese and Wine, that's it. Oh, and diamonds. And Big Fat Gypsy Weddings...

As an aside, I'm not usually that impressed with Sainsbury's halloumi, but I think I've discovered the key to success is to cut it thickly, so you get the combination of creaminess and crispy, grilled edges.

Also, is "JubOlympic" going to be this year's catchphrase? I like to think so...

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

Monday, 26 March 2012

hot chilli

It's role-reversal night tonight, as I've gone for a trial at Bikini Blitz, and Ana's in charge of dinner, but it all ended in bitter recrimination. There's no use crying over spilled water though, even if she does do it every week, and I've spent the night bestriding the highest of horses.

I did dismount long-enough to eat two bowlfuls of left-over chilli though. Damn you Stepping Stones Nursery Quiz, for leaving 1KG of chilli in my fridge!

hot chilli - it's my own recipe, an amalgamation of a Valli Little recipe, a booklet I picked up in Ottowa's Chilly Chiles on our first trip to Canada, and a certain amount of my own wizened experience. Recipe available if you need it.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

First BBQ of 2012

After the combination of Sam's 40th Birthday last night, rugby in sub-Tropical Dorking and the Nursery quiz on Friday night, we're all feeling a trifle brackish today, and that's despite the 24-hour Milo care provided by Kay and Mike.

The only way to kill the pain of booze, aches, bruises and entertain Milo properly is to go swimming, go shopping on the way back, and then just when you're sobering up, invite Angela and Ed over for the first BBQ of the year:

The barbie feats:
  • More booze (Rioja, Gewurtztraminer, Beer, Bordeaux, Rose);
  • Kebabs at Milo's insistence. I don't know where he's had them, but he's obsessed!
  • Salad, with strangely loads left over;
  • Sausages!
  • Ultimate Burgers, although I couldn't find Johnnie #ParkhurstPoint's recommendation of Bloody Mary Burgers;
  • Photos by M Magic Esquire. He started with a couple of looseners:

Before finding his range:

ultimate burger - angela boggiano, Delicious, June 2009, p46
kebabs - made up, but they were lamb, with a sort of harissa and olive oil marinade

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

harissa salmon with spiced lentils and spinach

Last week's fish-gate has forced us to look long and hard at our fish dish courses, and where we get our recipes from. Of course a fashion magazine isn't going to have utterly delicious dinners in it, because by their very nature fashion magazines hate food, and only want you to lose an unhealthy amount of weight. I don't know what I was thinking to be honest, although I will of course trial Nuts for their recipes for a couple of weeks.

Anyway tonight, because I really can't be cracked to stuff and roast a squash, we've got a much-put-off Salmon recipe from February's Waitrose Kitchen Magazine, and we're rewarded with something quite amazing!

Looks good doesn't it? Despite using enough of the harissa marinade for four fish steaks, it's not that spicy, and the lentil and spinach stuff adds a really nice earthy quality to the dish. I hesitate to say it, but we might well have this one again.

Wine Match
Having finally finished my exams (although as I don't know whether I've passed yet, so obvs treat these with a pinch of salt), I think it's about time I restarted this bit of the blog. Don't know what you think, but we'll give it a go!

The overwhelming flavours are of the lemon juice and zest in the marinade, the earthiness of the lentils and the full-bodied mouthfeel of the fish. They recommended a Viognier, but we had a Vouvray (Wine of the Month fact fans), which more than balanced the citrus, and with it's added body stands up to the salmon whilst cutting through the pulses.

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest these will also work for similar reasons: 1er Cru Chablis (more body see), Pinot Gris, a bone dry Rose, and salmon juice infused with lemon and lentils would be perfect.

harissa salmon with spiced lentils and spinach - Waitrose Kitchen, February, p86

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

jamie oliver's proper bloke's fusilli

God Wednesday's are tragic. Not for any particularly tragic reasons you understand, but more because of the parade of utter shit paraded across the TV, and consequently my ears whilst I'm cooking. There's only one guaranteed way to combat this outpouring of ghastly bobbins, and that's with a good manly dinner of SAUSAGES and PASTA. With WINE!

A charming BOGOF in the supermarket a few weeks ago has seen the freezer awash with Toulouse inspired bangers, and some go west tonight in the most noble of causes: Bladddy Jamie's bladddy pukka cockernee proper blokes fusilli, as noshed by the dear ol' Queen of Blighty. Lor bless her apples and pears, innit.

As much as I jealously take the piss out of La Oliver, he's an amazing cook and his recipes are sooo accessible. I love him and hate him, but his food is brilliant. So good in fact Ana gets a touch of the Natalie Cassidy's and embraces her curves by having seconds AND a couple of spoonfuls for good measure, even though she's a bird and this dish is categorically not for the likes of her. If that's not an endorsement, I don't know what is.

proper bloke's sausage fusilli - Jamie Oliver, Cook With Jamie, p72

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

bill granger's quick roast chicken with white wine and shallots

After last night's disappointing-to-very-dull-athon, tonight we smack the ball out of the park, into the far, far distance.

According to Bill Granger, this is the one recipe he wouldn't be without, and he's pretty much bang-on: It combines the Holy Trinity of roasting chicken, cooked in less than the usual two hours, and it comes with it's own, instant, gravy which I can repeatedly 'test' with half a baguette. What is not to like?

I think a useful guide to how successful an experimental dish is, is seeing how much Ana eats. Tonight she literally eats half a chicken. Half a chicken! I'm definitely telling Lara...

quick roast chicken with white wine and shallots - Bill Granger, Delicious March 2012, p57

Monday, 5 March 2012

baked fish with courgettes

The thing with new, experimental recipes, is there is always an element of luck as to whether you'll actually like the end result or not. Of course you can sort-of manage the risk by attempting to second guess the success by a careful perusal of the ingredients, for example making sure you filter out any recipes which involve tripe, or beetroot (if you're Ana).

However we're pretty much out on a limb with experimental fish dishes, mainly because we only pretend to like them, and really only eat them out of misplaced middle-class guilt - it's good for the brain, eat up Milo! It's also even harder to make the aforementioned experimental fish dishes if you throw away the magazine with the recipe in, causing a panicked rummage through the bins, in the rain, to recover it. And then it turns out to be fairly fiddly. So having gone through all of that, you've got to hope it's really pretty bloody good:

Sadly it's not. It's dull, bland and flavourless, and that's despite the two different herbal marinades and crusts involved. Boring! It looks quite impressive though.

baked fish with courgettes - Easy Living Magazine, March 2012, 148

Thursday, 1 March 2012

donna hay's pasta with cherry tomato sauce

Happy Saint David's Day! I proudly cycled into work wearing my Wales shirt and got not one, not two but THREE* waves and cheers - harrumble! There was even some Welsh Wine knocking around the office, bizarrely.

It wasn't quite such a glorious return journey however. With Ana out at Nursery Book Club, I've got carte blanche to roast up a curried chicken and drink my new-found favourite beverage, super-chilled Fino Sherry. Or fall asleep for two hours with Milo, wake up in a panic and realise the curry is well out. Donna Hay's super-quick super-tasty pasta with cherry tomato sauce it is then, although I obvs still get to drink Sherry and even better, listen to the last series of Bleak Expectations - double harrumble!

Can one man eat three bowlfuls of pasta? Of course, although I do feel a little let's say 'tight' around the waist.

Incidentally, I think I can add two days of celeriac soup for lunch to the list of things I'm not allowed to eat for social reasons.

pasta with cherry tomato sauce - Donna Hay, Instant Cook, p58