Wednesday, 30 May 2012

jill dupliex's sesame chicken salad with cucumber and celery

I can't believe this is the first time we've eaten this, this year? Can it be true? God it used to be such a weekly standby I could make it my sleep.

It's just as well really as we're both a bit knackered tonight, so we want something as quick as possible - with the slim chance of having some for lunch tomorrow - so we can take advantage of eating in what's left of the sunshine. 

Wine Time
I'm tempted to say 'Stizzy water' or a beer, because nothing really matches that amazingly with molten peanut butter dressing, particularly something as sturdy as this is. Nope, I can't think of anything, I'll have to do some 'research'...

sesame chicken salad with cucumber and celery - Jill Dupleix, the Owl Book

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's white beans with artichokes

Ooooh, we're getting right creative in our attempts to lose weight not by doing any exercise, or by drinking less, but by trying to eat our way to becoming thinifers.

So after last week's resounding (and frankly unscripted) success, we're back on Saint Hugh's white beans with artichokes, if only because we've still got half a jar of artichokes in the fridge and everybody has some sort of half-abandoned bag of salad in there...

The only difference between this week and last week, is rather than large rounds of goat's cheese, we've gone for Feta which works much better in a not-clogging-your-mouth-up-with-a-cheesy-coating manner. I suspect however, if you could find that goats cheese that comes in a pot rather than a log, that would be even better.

white beans with artichokes - River Cottage Veg Everyday! HFW, p 240

Monday, 28 May 2012

thai pork vermicelli salad

It's not often we have pork. I quite like it but Ana pulls a face that looks like she's been sucking on an entire orchard of lemons, salted with anchovies, whenever it gets suggested, so I'm slightly surprised she actually chooses this recipe from the latest Delicious.

The deal is sealed when went shopping yesterday and found a pork fillet reduced to £2 as it's sell-by date is today, so there's plenty of experimental porky goodness to share around. Which is just as well as Kayosaurus is up to do some Milo-wrangling as Ana's got an extra day at work.

It's got a swag load of fresh, zippy ingredients in it, and the chilli-infused dressing really peps up the combination of noodles, broccoli and carrot, which are all barely cooked. It's one of those dishes which scream 'health' as soon as it goes in the bowl, although I think the pork needs a higher, quicker heat to cook it. Definitely a Yummingon Mummington dish of the future, and I rather suspect you could swap the pork for chicken or even, heaven forfend, turkey.

Wine Time
What with the lime, fish sauce, chilli, ginger, garlic and sesame oil in the dressing, there's a lot going on here, so I think we're in classic Pinot Gris territory, and particularly a new world number which has all the acidity and full-bodied qualities, but the fruit is riper. Or, if you're feeling really adventurous, how about a Gewurtztraminer? Crazy I know, but this peppery little aromatic has a lot going for it where spicy, fresh salads are concerned.

thai pork vermicelli salad - Delicious, June 2012, p115

Thursday, 24 May 2012

pasta with asparagus, pesto and poached egg

Can this be summer finally arriving? This week has been spent variously hungover, drinking in the streets and sipping pink champagne on the balcony of the Wellington Arch on Hyde Park Corner:

Today I spend it mainly sweltering in the kitchen whilst working from home. As ever with working-from-home Thursdays, after dropping Milo off at nursery I come home via my new-found (well, Ana found it) favourite coffee shop, Pickle & Rye on Sheen Lane, to pick up a flat white and a sandwich for lunch. The day then quite literally drains away in a torrent of rosé being shipped out to Putney for the weekend. By the time Ana and Milo get home, I'm starving and ready to get stuck into the 2-for-1 bunches of asparagus we got in Waitrose.

I have to say I'm a relatively new convert to the charms of angiosperms (snigger), partly because I'm one of that 22% who smell asparagus-y effluvia - you all make it mind - but this old recipe really kick-started our intake. 'Tis also in season, why not get stuck in eh?

Wine Time
Now this maybe purely because of the smell, but I'm going to go with a really grassy - rather than full-blown tropical fruit - New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. If that doesn't take your fancy, you couldn't go far wrong sticking with culture and trying it with a fruity Pinot Grigio, or a herbaceous Soave.

pasta with asparagus, pesto and poached egg - Delicious, May 2005, p110

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's white beans with artichoke

Christ, I'm a month behind - am I ever going to catch up? Am I bobbins, anyhoo whilst I flagellate myself in the background, let's crack on with some sort update that's at least relatively recent. Almost as it happens in fact.

To be honest you've only missed a litany of stews and such like to drive out the inclement weather we've been suffering but today - ooooooooh - it's freaking hot isn't it? Hurrah for summer, so although we've missed the chance of our first al fresco dinner of the year, we're still gunning for an experimental salad care of Lord Whittingstall of Fernley voila -white beans with artichokes!

Now given the preponderance of goat's cheese (a particularly beautiful version from Coer de Lion) AND roasted artichoke, this didn''t look the most promising dinner Ana-wise but hallelujah, it's bleedin' aces! The combination of the creamy cheese and butter beans really complements the smokey artichokes - no seriously, it does! Even more curiously, Mrs B wants crusty bread which is obviously kryptonite to womankind now it's bikini weather.

It's so alarmingly quick to put-together that I've unfortunately got time to get my hands into the remains of two chicken carcasses I've previously boiled up, and have since spent a day in the fridge, which has effectively turned the soon-to-be-soup into some sort jelly chicken trifle, with chicken bones suspended in them rather than fruit. It's strangely satisfying...

Wine Time
There are a couple of things are going on here - there's a large element of mouth-coating creaminess via the butter beans and cheese, the artichokes are a bit mushy, and there's a lemony dressing - we're talking Sauvignon Blanc. It's acidic enough to match the dressing and to cut through the consistency of the beans/cheese/roasted veg. We had a Gruner Veltliner of course, which is this year's posh person's Sauv.

white beans with artichokes - River Cottage Veg Everyday! HFW, p 240

Monday, 21 May 2012

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's chillies stuffed with beans

To be honest, given the extreme faffiness this recipe entails I wasn't entirely sure I'd ever venture down this path again. However the irresistible combination of spotting some vaguely poblano-esque peppers reduced in Waitrose, the truth that roasting peppers isn't exactly hard, and the fact yesterday was pretty much spent entirely in a meat-and-alcohol-fuelled street party haze, means we're sort-of detoxing. And is there anything more detoxing than pulse-stuffed peppers with salad?

As it turns out, I was right to be sceptical and I should really pay attention to my dull, throbbing brain as Romano peppers are even more of a pain in the arse to roast and stuff without falling apart than normal bell peppers. Look at that middle one - and that had the most skin left on it to try and keep it together! It's still nice once made, but I remain on the fence.

Interestingly enough, whilst I'm cocking about with capsicums, Gok is presenting a totally uncharacteristically interesting show about cooking Chinese food. Not only is he not annoying and going on about bangers, presumably because he dad doesn't have any, but the food looks amazeballs. Any thoughts?

Wine time
Naturally we start on the water, but because we're total lushes we end up on the Rose which isn't a terrible match at all - the drier, the better.

chillies stuffed with beans - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, p36

Saturday, 19 May 2012

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

Being insufferable middle-class types, we've got two anniversaries: our wedding anniversary, and the anniversary of the day we first started going out 'officially'. Today is the latter and was something that grew in significance the longer I resisted getting married, but has waned since then and particularly so since Milo came onto the scene.

However who knew what was going to happen in Quids Inn on Swansea Kingsway 17 years ago (a pound to get in, a pound a pint), so we've decided to re-celebrate our unofficial anniversary with a day of treats for us all. Obviously as soon as the pressure to 'have fun' is put on it all goes a bit pear-shaped, but low-level bickering about my driving and where to park in Richmond Park aside, it turns into a lovely day, even if all the treats were concentrated on a smallish person rather than on my lovely wife.

Still, having spent all morning pottering in the sun we all played Batman in the park, pointed at deer and ate ice creams, before repairing to our local gastro-pub, The Victoria, for Milo's dinner and several celebratory chenin blancs for us. I said we were middle-class. The pub is run by celeb chef Paul Merrett, with the wine list curated by Olly Smith, even more importantly it knows about portion control for the kids menu:

One burger the size of his head later, we take a virtually comatose Milo home to bed and whilst Ana also zonks out, a victim of white wine, I get a hearty portion of Bill Granger's quick-roast chicken on the go. Yes, that is a crust of bread soaking up the juices...

Even better, and this is probably more of sign where we are as a couple 17 years on from our hedonistic student youth, we spend our anniversary not making the beast with two backs, fuelled by champagne and passion, but snuggled on the sofa watching the last two episodes of The Bridge/Broen/Bron, stuffed with chicken and wine, and fighting for space on the foot rest. In many ways it's better.

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

Thursday, 17 May 2012

hot chilli

What to do with that leftover block of mince you pick up in those seemingly-neverending two for one deals at the supermarket. The obvious immediate solution is to freeze the fucker, but what happens when your freezer ends up being 90% frozen bricks of beef?

In our house the long term solution is it either gets turned into spag bol or hot chilli, depending on the weather and how Ana is feeling about pasta at the time. It's raining, a bit chilly and we've got basmati and wild rice (which is clearly much better for you than spaghetti), ergo tonight it's hot chilli.

It still doesn't solve the problem of what to do with the rest of the freezer-load, but it's a start and there's plenty left over for my post-event dinner tomorrow night. Also, summer's around the corner so we're bound to use it all up in burgers for the BBQ and Spanish rice, every night during three months of sunny, al fresco dining. Pffft!

Wine Time
Chilli? Let's not muck about, there are rules which need to be upheld - It's got to be beer.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

puy lentils, tomato & feta

I'm not sure even in my wildest Good Life fantasies (which are obviously always going to be Margot-centric), did I ever think I'd end up having so many lentil-based dishes in my armoury. I've got recipes with them stewed with sausages, chicken soup, as dhal, roasted with parsnips in a salad, as a base for roasted fish - the list goes on! This week we stumbled on a rather tempting little salad in one of those pull-out mags you get in Waitrose, simply involving green beans, cheese and roasted tomatoes.

It's a fairly simple affair, and remarkably quick to put together (if you discount the roasting time), but if I've learned one thing it's to ignore the picture. Although I didn't, of course:

The lentils are nice and earthy, and the roasted tomatoes add a sweetness which is more than matched by the crisp beans. However, the massive wedges of Feta are almost entirely, mouth-claggingly indigestible. On re-reading the recipe I realise they've chosen to zhuzh up their picture with artfully placed cheese, drizzled with oil, whereas in fact the recipe stipulates 'small cubes'. Small cubes. It makes all the difference.

Wine Time
Assuming you've got your cheese portion control correct, this is still quite a mouth-filling, hefty meal, which requires something pinpoint sharp to cut through the rich flavours. I'm going to go with a Vouvray, which is fleshier than a Sauv, with some underlying sweetness even in the driest version, all of which balance the heft of the meal, but with the necessary acidity to combat the clag. Whatever we had got lost in the battle with the fermented sheep milk.

puy lentils, tomato & feta - Waitrose Early Summer Harvest 2012, p21