Wednesday, 25 April 2012

donna hay's rocket pasta with seared tuna

The best laid plans slip twixt lip and a bush tonight as Donna Hay's mooted warm white bean and tuna salad founders on the lack of cannellini beans. For some reason we've got two cans of chick peas, which aren't really interchangeable and suggest I was slightly more asleep on Saturday than I thought at the time.

Anyhoo, a quick flick through Miss Hay's latest tome not only comes up trumps with this alternative recipe (meaning I don't have to bin the tuna), but it also manages to use a bunch of malingering things in the fridge - hurrah!

Even better, for something that is 80% scrounged from the fridge Ana gives it a thumbs up, so definitely one for The Yummington Mummington.

Wine Time
Meaty fish and acidic dressing? Simples, especially for the denizens of the Yummington. Rose, and lashes of it - but not a flabby, cheap one mind, you need one with bags of acidity, bone dry and with plenty of fruitiness. If only I knew where to get one...

rocket pasta with seared tuna - Donna Hay, Fast, Fresh and Simple, p27

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's warm salad of mushrooms and roasted squash

When I own my first Bistro in Barnes, called 'The Yummington Mummington', I will be churning out exactly this sort of fayre to SW14s mummies at lunchtime, 14 quid a pop, along with a large bottle of Rosé or Sauvignon Blanc with a straw in it.

However Queen Yummington Mummington (or Qym as I'm now calling her), says there's too much blue cheese in it, which is a fair point as I doubled the amount on the basis it'll only go off in the fridge. So maybe I'll use some sort of Blue Halloumi - Yummington's love halloumi!

warm salad of mushrooms of roasted squash - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg! Everday, p94

Monday, 23 April 2012

fay ripley's miso noodle broth with salmon

No, I still can't believe we're actually eating a Fay Ripley meal either. Twice as well! What'll be next, Natalie Cassidy's giant cream baps? Phil Spencer's spicy sausage? Can celebrities just stop taking everything over?

Anyway, unlike last time, tonight we have it with a fillet of trout, which we decided worked much better than salmon. It's slightly more delicate, with a sweetness that seems to battle less with the otherwise-entirely-worthy other ingredients. Also, an interesting fact I did not know about Ana after 18 years together - she doesn't like broccoli. Who'd have thunk it? Obvs not me because we have it about twice a week...

Word to the wise on this one - this is OFFICIALLY the easiest recipe ever to make. You quite literally lob it all into on pan and let it do it's stuff for five minutes. Of course you have to first get some feckless teenager in Waitrose attempt to skin the trout with completely the wrong knife. 

fay ripley's miso noodle broth with salmon - Delicious, May 2012, p112

Sunday, 22 April 2012

anthony worrall thompson's moroccan lamb tagine

I promise you I did not choose this particular recipe for any latent SEO benefits I might reap from people looking up "cheese thief".

In fact it was totally Ana's choice as we've got Mr Peter Magnus Leary coming over for lunch, and I was feeling uninspired. With yet-another "We've got friends coming round, let's bang a roast into the oven" looming, she takes the executive decision and plumps for Le Voleur Fromage's pretty blinking good tagine - and this one gets the full 24 hour marinading!

For once, I think the marinading time does make a difference: the depth of the flavour is really marked, rather than being slightly overpowered by turmeric, and what better way to finish it off than with a large wodge of carrot cake from Carluccio's? I love that other people supply pudding these days...

Certainly it was more successful than our entertaining, (or my posh couscous which was a bit too sloppy) which consisted of making Pete meet us in the park, walk home, play Lego and then slump on the sofa watching Horrible Histories. It turns out we're not very good hosts after all.

Wine Time
There's all sorts of things going on here - spices like cinnamon, dried fruit, acidic tomato and rich, unctuous lamb. Mmm, so what you're probably looking at is an equally complex red, with spice, dried fruit notes, and enough acidity to cut through the fat whilst balancing the fattiness of the lamb: We're talking Rhone. A villages appellation is probably the best place to start, but if you wanted to push the boat out head to one of the premier ACs - I think a ten year old Gigondas or Vacqueyras would nail it. And you'd look classy an all.

moroccan lamb tagine - Anthony Worrall Thompson, BBC Food Site

Saturday, 21 April 2012

kay's sausage & guinness casserole

Booze is a fickle mistress, so we're a bit all over the shop today. I have a little work delivery in the morning, and then whilst Ana combats the explosion of toys/old clothes/washing/washing-up me and the Milo get the shopping in.

Interestingly smoked salmon is back on the shopping list as the other fickle mistress in our house has decided he likes it again, but as long it's not 'cooked'. He's a fool, and a fool and his fish are soon partied.

Anyway, after possibly the longest day in history, complete with Wellington-esque weather, we finally get to relax under with a hearty plate of classic sausage & Guinness casserole, and the latest Skandi Crime Sensation on BBC4, Broen. Is it as good as The Killing? I'm not sure yet, but the quantity of nudity and sexytime ensures next week's viewing...

Back to the point though: Sausage casserole - mmmmmm.

Wine Time
Difficult one to match this, mainly because there's a whole bottle of stout in the mixer, which is quite an overpowering flavour, plus there's all the apple and smokey notes from the sausages and bacon. I'm going to say 'ale' or indeed more stout works well, but if pushed I'm going to go with a big, spicy red - maybe a Syrah/Shiraz? I'm slightly unsure.

sausage and Guinness casserole - It's a Kay McCarthy special, from the Black Book

Friday, 20 April 2012

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's warm salad of mushrooms and roasted squash

So, Ana's out tonight with the laydeez having cocktails (and cote de boef it turns out) in The Depot, and having completely crashed out with Milo after dropping Ana off, I'm keen to put myself back to bed. Only this time using the tried-and-trusted method of two bottles of vino collapso, and a good book.

However, that two hour power nap peps me up slightly more than I had allowed for. So rather than getting an early night I end up, well, updating the blog at 01:16 having first watched the Osprey's put the Dragons to the Sword on BBC Wales (Shane Williams: Legend), slightly drunkenly collecting Ana on the Best Bike Ever, listening to the Horrible Histories soundtrack, and then phoning Dr Robert Peter Manwaring. An Englishman.

Fortunately for the purposes of this blog, I also managed to squeeze in a little experimental creation which despite my drunken fumbling with a very-large-but-mercifully-slightly-blunt knife, was bloody delicious. Behold Saint Hugh's Warm Salad of Mushrooms and Roasted Squash:

I have to say, despite being one bottle of Rioja, one bottle of Vouvray and a cheeky sloe gin down, it really is lovely: Rich and earthy, but offset by the creaminess of the blue cheese, and the peppery-ness of the rocket. Not for nothing is it in the 'Hearty Salad' section, and we'll be having this again, hopefully when I'm not as drunk - although does that matter?

Wine Time
Rioja and Vouvray. And Sloe Gin. Although if you're being sensible, a light red would work really well, so actually a young Rioja, or maybe a Cote du Rhone to offset the pepper of rocket and the seasoning.

warm salad of mushrooms of roasted squash - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg! Everday, p94

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

ottolenghi's roast chicken and three rice salad

It's all go today, particularly as everybody has gone into hiding in the office leaving only two of us to man the phones, sort out logistical spaghetti, write thought-provoking blogs about Rioja, eat large baguettes from our favourite French ladies on Fulham Road, and try premium South African Wines. Who said the wine trade was hard?

By the time I get home, in the pouring rain mind, a newly-accepted-into-school little boy is passed out, and his mother looks like she's about five minutes behind him. She bravely soldiers through though, and from her throne on the sofa she commands wine and chocolate be bought to her during the bits of time I'm not creating possibly her favourite meal: Yottam Ottolenghi's roast chicken and three rice salad. Although we only use one rice of course, but you've all been here long enough to know that!

Though I say it myself, it's a pretty flipping good edition: Zingy, spicy, refreshing and filling. So I was slightly taken aback by Her Maj asking where the Fino chorizo and cherry tomato salad was. Why I oughta, back o' my hand!

Lady Muck's irrational demands aside, I love the fact it's warm enough to start eating this again even if it is turfing it down. It's a lovely dish to make, and delivers spades of flavour for pretty minimal effort. Hopefully this year I might get around to trying another of his recipes, there's a griddled courgette salad I've got my eye, so maybe next week the 'Ottolenghi' tag might make it past one dish...

Wine Time
It's a full-bodied, spicy little number this, bulked out by creamy chicken and carby rice, so if we'd had it in the fridge, an oily, fruity Kiwi Pinot Gris, which has a touch of residual sugar amongst the acidity and tropical fruit, would've been perfect. We had half a bottle of knackered Riesling though, which worked pretty well.

yotam ottolenghi's roast chicken and three-rice salad - Delicious, July 2008, p64

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

roast chicken and other stories

Having got rid of two chicken carcasses from the freezer, of course the next logical step is to make up the difference with another one, as if the remaining 10 are now lonely...

The original plan was to knock up another serving of Billy G's utterly-blydi-divine quick roast chicken with white wine and shallots. However curiously for a house now entirely funded by hooch, we didn't have any wine, so we're fell back to a sort-of approximation of Simon Hopkinson's classic roast chicken recipe (feat StarVest's Lucy Ferguson and the BBC's Louise Pepper).

It's funny how quickly a dish that has been completely in our top ten for the past three years, and one I really looked forward to cooking, has now been superseded within a matter of weeks by the new version, and to the extent I was genuinely annoyed I had to make it. Or maybe that was the lack of booze? Anyway, it's even stranger when you think roasting a chicken was merely a means to an end to another fantastic meal using the left-overs: Yottam Ottolenghi's roast chicken and three rice salad - Roll on Wednesday!

Still, roast chicken and an avocado salad with a beautiful wife, what's not to like? Even if she is stressing about tomorrow's school application results?

Wine Time
After Easter Sunday's finishing off of the Christmas Box, there's only one thing I want at the moment with roast chicken: Puligny-Montrachet. However I've drunk my 2009 and let's face it none of us are £30 bottle of wine people, but the point remains: Creamy, warming, toasty Chardonnay loves roast chicken. Find any fairly good White Burgundy - and there plenty in the £9 zone - and you won't go wrong.

Monday, 16 April 2012

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

Hold on to your hats: Tonight rather than Ana going to Bikini Blitz I have joined the sweaty, lung-scraping, spleen-clenching Monday evening craze that's sweeping East Shene!

I know I know, what does a veritable Hercules of a man, who is no stranger to the alliterative prefix 'rippling' need to lose weight for? Well, let's face it we're all getting older; 40 next year, and the wine trade is hardly conducive to being trim, but what really sealed it was spending an hour on my induction session hacking my guts up, and clutching my shoulder or groin, and lagging in second last position for most of the evening. And then eating my body weight in meat and potatoes at Lia's. At least I didn't feel physically sick this time.

Anyway, the upshot is I need something super-quick to cook on my return. Or least something that is allowed time to marinade/toast whilst I shower, and then just needs to be thrown together whilst drip dry, and at the same time something which will offset recent Easter Egg ingestion. Voila!

I've discovered the trick to this dish, is actually to double up the orange, so everybody gets one each, and you can also throw in a good handful of cherry tomatoes, plus the grilling of the cheese of course. It's all grist to the filling-yet-zesty-and-healthy-salad mill.

Wine Time
Obviously tonight it's Powerades all round, but usually I suspect a good tropical Sauvvy B would be perfect! It's the combination of prickly tropical fruit like passion fruit, paw paw and mango, plus the high acidity to neuter the lemon juice and orange, that really makes it fit. If you burn the chilli/garlic of course, it's all knackered but a properly tropical Kiwi SB might just about cover that off. Or Lucozade sport of course.

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

Saturday, 14 April 2012

pancetta-wrapped salmon and asparagus

There's something rotten in the state of Mortlake. I can't put my finger on it but there's a high-level of bickering going on today.

Obviously it's all Ana's fault, as woman she's prone to irrationality, but she makes up for it by cooking one of her specialties whilst I'm dahn the booze with Al from down the road. I'm still having her done mind, it must be the hormones affecting her mind!

Once again, it's as good cold as it is hot, which is just as well as effectively we were in a lock-in, and only the fact we knew our children would be up at stupid-o'clock meant we chickened out and came home.

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

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

vietnamese beef noodle soup

Okay, after last night's false start tonight is the night we get healthy. Ana even says she feels healthy eating it, so the pounds must be dropping off with each spoonful, particularly that packet of Percy Pigs and extra-calorific M&S doorstop I ate at lunchtime. Swings, roundabouts.

I love it, mainly because it's one of those dishes with maximum flavour quotient to minimum prep time. Not only that it positively vibrates with healthy things; ginger, chilli, lemon grass and other fragrant Asian spices, the beef is ridiculously tender and even better, it's ready in about 20 minutes tops!

Healthy, quick and leaves you enough room to have some chocolate for pudding - what's not to like?

vietnamese beef noodle soup - Waitrose Kitchen, Feburary 2012, p88

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

jamie oliver's proper bloke's fusilli

After yet another weekend of excess, this time Chez Copestake in the finest of Counties, this week we're definitely starting a healthy dose of de-toxing. Well, restarting anyway. Call it a health re-boot.V.40

Things thrown into the mixer this week include healthy Vietnamese beef noodle salad (feel the pounds dropping off), a Miso Salmon broth (ooh, the health!), and a warm salad of mushrooms and squash (bikini here I come!). We then defrost some sausages and have some bloody pukka proper bloke's fusilli care of not-at-all-chubby J Oliver, whilst Ana gets stuck into the cooking white.

In other, slightly bonkers news, I was idly looking at the website stats this evening and not only did I see Mrs Jackie Collins is one of my top referrers that's not Google (Lor' bless you Jacq Jacq Jacquie!), but even better "Captain Feathersword" is my third most powerful search term! No, I don't get it either, but I love it! A-hoy!

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

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

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

I think the last six months have probably the most fruitful in terms of unearthing a swathe of amazing, copper-bottom, bang-on, everybody-pleasing recipes.

Saint Hugh's Veg book probably started it all, as did the slow recycling of old magazines, followed by rediscovering Waitrose Illustrated. This weekend flicking through Brenda's cookbooks revealed a clutch of delicious-looking meals from Anjum Anand, and even a repeat of Forever Summer saw a hasty browse for any remaining copies of Nigella's debut.

However, I think this Bill Granger number - and I've seen two different varieties in two different mags - is probably the daddy of them all. I love it! I love jointing the chicken, I love cooking it, I love dipping bread into the juices to 'test' and I love eating it. It's quite possibly the best thing I've seen this year...

Before this point though, we've breakfast and lunch to get through. Well, not lunch per se, but nibbling small children's evening dinner to get us through.

Pancakes for breakfast are a weekend treat, but as I'm off we get stuck in today. I don't have a whisk mind, which forces my inner Celia Imrie into sieving the batter, but I offset this by making faces for Milo:

I used to entertain him with faces in his food loads, I don't know why I've stopped really. Ana tops it off by making an Octopus pancake, which I can't beat. I think from now on it's amusingly arranged food all the way us, which bodes well for the two melons and packet of cherries in the pantry.

Anyway, the pancakes are much more successful than the Toad in the Hole I attempted, again, and burned to the bottom of the dish, again, for his and our neighbour's kids dinner. I know I'm supposed to use a great wodge of fat, but it doesn't seem right to inflict that much lard on the under-5s. Any top tips?

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

Monday, 2 April 2012

Slightly Drunk Parents Conference: Ashton

With extensive holiday carried over from last year, this weekend we take a long trip down to our favourite West Country resort in Ashton-Under-Hill. It's noticeably our sober-est weekend yet, entirely due to Lucy letting her guard down for a moment and getting up spout, but still an ace weekend of putting the world to rights nevertheless.

I say 'nevertheless' but perhaps it was more-than-usually ace because we were mainly sober-ish?

Anyway, the culinary highlights were thither:
  • Because we haven't had it for ages and ages, on Friday night I cook a chilli! I know, crazy, but it just felt right. Like an old friend coming back, this time with a soupcon of cinnamon included into to the spice base. Don't know where I got that idea from..
  • Two curries. The first was at Gordon League RFC, and very pleasant it was after my impromptu extended kicking workshop! The second was made by Brenda and DT, and was a lamb and spinach creation by Anjum Anand, which was an amazing combination of spicy, meaty and with a silky texture from the spinach.
  • A post cinema visit to Nandos for the boys, followed by party food for Ben's birthday - featuring possibly the 8th or 9th best birthday cake I've ever seen. Points deducted for anatomical incorrectness.
  • A less-exciting Thai take away from somewhere in Evesham. It was okay, just a bit cold and underwhelming, so we won't be ordering to deliver here anytime soon.
  • A frankly huge ploughman's from the pub.
By the time we got back tonight, I really couldn't be bothered to cook but luckily Ana managed to find some chilli in the freezer - who'd have thought it! So, more chilli for dinner tonight... *sigh*.