Wednesday, 13 June 2012

rosie lovell's chorizo-spiked ratatouille

Now here's a thing: Regular readers (whilst despairing about my lack of updates), will know we've tried a few different ratatouille recipes, but none have come close to toppling Saint Hugh's multi-pan approach. It's a pain in the arse to wash up, but it's the best.

Maybe it's the washing, but I don't know why I even considered Rosie Lovell's recipe in this month's Delicious, but I'm glad I did because it's aces. Not only is it relatively quick, but the addition of chorizo and anchovies really take it to another level.

Whisper it, but I think I prefer this version to Hugh's, what with the extra spice from the sausage, and I suspect Ana might favour the lack of aubergine (although you can clearly add it along with a stack of other things). Definitely having it again.

Wine Time
Well this is an interesting one. It's a fairly chunky dish with loads of big flavours - paprika, herbs and the sweetness and acidity from the tomato, so I'm going to go either a light-to-medium red - Pinot, Montepulciano - or completely mad and suggest a big old Rhone red. Mmmmmmm tasty!

chorizo-spiked ratatouille - Rosie Lovell, Delicious, June 2012, p22

Monday, 11 June 2012

jill dupleix's white bean polpettine

Despite the fact it's summer, and therefore allegedly supposed to be getting quieter, we teeter on the edge of a super-busy fortnight with a whole stack of evening tastings before everybody disappears off on holiday.

With this in mind, and the fact tonight being a Monday, whatever's on the menu needs to be quicker than lightening. And really really filling, as I've just spent an hour doing burpees. And really healthy for the usual bikini-based reasons. Like we're going anywhere that needs a bikini this year...

It's a classic, and as we've never really convinced Milo about the merits of what are essentially mini veggie burgers with salami in, it all means more for us. With wine. And salad.

white bean polpettine - Jilly D, the Parsley Book

Sunday, 10 June 2012

donna hay's prawn pad thai

After last night's midnight drive home, the Whanau are taking it easy today. A little light Lego, some Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom to ease us into the day, coffee from new-favourite coffee shop Pickle & Rye (who needs Kaffiene/Orange Pekoe?), and a quick trip around Waitrose and we're done. Who knew the day could go so fast when you're having fun?

With prawns on massive discount we're feeling adventurous tonight. Milo loves them, but he's also said he likes noodles, and we're keen to broaden his horizons a bit as he's fallen into a bit of a sausage rut. Steady, he's a child.

Given he wants to help, some sort of stir fry beckons so he can chop and stir and throw lots of Soy Sauce around, and then we hit the jackpot: Dame Donna's Pad Thai. We haven't had it for ages, it's always a winner and it's full of Milo-tastic things, including omlette, baby corn and other stuff.

It's a massive win all round, apart from our discovery he hates the smell of shrimp paste frying. At least I've got something to threaten him with now I suppose.

Wine Time
Compared to a lot of Thai dishes, Pad Thai is relatively restrained, but there's still a lot of sour and spicy flavours which make pairing with wine a bit of a challenge. I think generally I'd go with something a little bit of residual sugar, and with a lot of fruitiness, like a Pinot Gris, a Riesling or something like a South African Chenin. However I read the other day about something that's the perfect match and bound to appeal to all of you. And by 'you' I'm thinking of 'all girls, particularly the ones I know': Fizz. A Prosecco or a Cremant would be amazing as their both really light, and importantly, have some sweetness. Winners all round, apart from my bank account.

prawn pad thai - Donna Hay, Modern Classics Book 1, p133

Saturday, 9 June 2012

delia smith's chicken basque

With zero in the bank account, and my life partner/banker living it up on the Isle of Wight things are looking bleak. Well, not bleak, boring because I suspect it's probably frowned upon for an almost-40-year-old to spend the weekend playing Lego and watching Horrible Histories on his own all weekend.

I did make a pretty bloody spectacular truck mind, and I accidentally managed to run 16K when I decided to drag my arse off for a time-consuming run down to Putney Bridge and back the other side to Chiswick, and failing to take into account the strength of the prevailing wind coming back.

Even better, whilst recovering in the sunny garden with a chilled rosé and the latest copy of The Middle Aged Woman's Bible, I stumbled upon tonight's dinner. It ticked all boxes: It looked delicious, it was summery and crucially, I had all the ingredients either in the freezer or malingering in the fridge:

It's from Delia's Summer Collection, which they've just reissued and to be honest it all looks brilliant. I might have to lurk around the local second hand shops as I'm sure they're going to be stuffed with copies of the 20 year old original.

I think it's a lot like a one-pot version of paella with less of the pfaff, and naturally I ate far too much, and it was only much later I realised Lia had cooked this for us over Easter, and I've got the recipe on my phone from her book. A definite winner, and it makes a change from our usual Delia fare.

Wine Time
This is a big old, mouth-filling meal with an hearty amount of earthy spices and piquant chorizo, so I think you could get away with something quite punchy, like a youngish Rioja, or a peppery and rustic Southern French or Spanish red, or even a Spanish Rosada rather than the more elegant provencal rose.

Chicken Basque - Delia Smith, Delicious, July 2012, p66

Friday, 8 June 2012

pancetta-wrapped salmon with griddled asparagus

I'm not sure four days of asparagus (five if you count two portions of Ottolenghi's salad for lunch this week), is very good for you. It's certainly not good for the ambiance of the flat, and tonight's final installment has become something of a mental battle. I do not feel in the mood for fish, and I'm certainly not in the mood for more of Evesham's finest, but neither can I make a meal out of pickled garlic, blueberries and cheese, which is all that's left in the fridge. Sigh

Hopefully the addition of the new potatoes will dilute the smell tomorrow.

Wine Time
I drank Rueda because I love it at the moment: It's fruity, got some body to it and has enough acidity to cut through the fleshiness of the fish. However I suspect a Sauv would go equally well, as would an Alsatian Riesling that's dry and crisp rather than full of residual sugar.

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

Thursday, 7 June 2012

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's baby carrot and broad bean risotto

I don't know about you lot but carrots, and more specifically left-over carrots are a hardy staple of our fridge: We all sort of eat them, but we eat less of them than we buy. Some go into the freezer to go into stocks, Milo has them for dinner a couple of times a week, and we also panic chop and eat them with houmous, but we bin a lot more than we consume.

'Tis vexing, which is why when I spotted this in St Hugh's Veg! Everyday book I thought I might have found one of those recipes that will adequately absorb the carrot surplus. It looks pretty good, and as His Holiness points out, it is a little taste of early summer. After all nobody wants Carrot Soup in July:

The thing is though, whilst it is nice - although I suspect fresh broad beans would be more vibrant than canned - and filling, it just tastes like almost-every-other risotto: rice, cheese and whatever else you throw in as a third flavour. Given the sheer weight of carrots, we will be having this again but I wonder what I can add to make it really special?

I realise I'm sounding a little negative, which I don't mean to be. Clearly eating the whole lot (serves 4-6) indicates how tasty it was, and it was a great accompaniment to watching my new favourite thinking-man's crumpet, Dr Helen Castor. She's my second favorite lady historian after Mrs A Barnes BA, PGCE of course.

Wine Time
Again, another one for The Yummington menu I think. It's not a particularly citrus-y risotto this and neither is very earthy, so I think a white with some body would be perfect: A Burgundy would be divine if you were minted, failing that a New World Chenin or Chardonnay would fit the bill.

baby carrot and broad bean risotto - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday! p269

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

ottlenghi's chargrilled asparagus, courgettes and halloumi

This is one of those salad-y dishes I've been desperate to try it every time we make the recipe opposite it, roast chicken and three-rice salad, which as you know we have loads...

So with a fridge full of angiosperms and the inevitable four half-eaten punnets of cherry tomatoes, and without the usual eye-rolling accompaniment from Mrs Barnes, tonight is the night it gets its debut. I don't get Ana's attitude to this - halloumi, courgette, cherry tomatoes, salad - these are all key food groups of the McCarthy. We've also had plenty of amazing Ottolenghi dishes whether we've cooked them or supplied variously by Kendra Kats and Miss Smither, but she's strangely resistant to it's charms:

Two smokey, hellish hours later, I'm firmly in the HATE camp. It's not that it's difficult per se and it's not that it doesn't taste delish, it does. It's the multiple levels of admittedly-easy stages that essentially I'm going to boil down to 'blanch and grill the lot in one go' if, God-forbid I ever make it again. Add to that I simply don't have enough bowls to take various part-boiled, part-grilled marinading veg. It is nice though...

Wine Time
Should The Yummington Mummington ever take shape, and I get a chef to cook it rather than having me weeping in frustration in the kitchen, this has "Lunch" or "Light Bite" all over it, and it also has Sauvignon Blanc. And not just because it's the default fuel of all Yummy Mummies, but because it's perfect for this dish. The thing with Sauvs is there are loads of varieties you can choose from, you can go all classy with a Sancerre with it's mineral bite that'll cleanse your palate of the creamy halloumi, a lemony Bordeaux or Aussie number to match the dressing, or even go wild and crazy with an herbaceous Kiwi wonder to harmonise with the asparagus. You pays your money, you takes your choice.

chargrilled asparagus, courgettes and halloumi - Yotam Ottolenghi, Delicious July 2008, p64, from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

thai pork vermicelli salad

Finally this weekend, we've got nothing to miss or be late for, so everybody is a bit happier.

Apart from Milo of course who has spotted some toys which he hasn't played with since he was a baby earmarked for a trip to FARA. Of course the small wooden truck is a old favorite (never played with), and I totally understand his disappointment losing those baby jigsaws that have been in a drawer for two years, but a trip to Barnes for lunch beckons.

Once there we effectively swop one set of toys for another whilst Ana checks our just how vastly over-priced Nicola Horlick's new restaurant Georgina's is. The answer is "VASTLY", which is completely bonkers given the restaurant it has replaced was about £5 cheaper, and that was overpriced, which is why it was always empty. I know this is Barnes, but I wonder how long it'll last.

Obviously it didn't get our custom as we went off to The Sun for lunch, before Ana and Milo head to the Diamond Isle for the rest of the week. Home alone with a pantry full wine, I naturally celebrate by going for a catnap for two hours. *Yawn*

Having eventually got up, there's an element of planning ahead to be done as I want to have enough left over for lunch, and I don't want asparagus everyday. I'm not sure my nasal passages could take the pain to be honest, so I kick off the week with a re-run of last week's highly successful Thai Pork Vermicelli Salad as I picked up some fillet on offer this week.

The trick here I've found is to a double the amount of marinade because the veg and noodles don't really absorb much of the flavour, and flash frying is the way forward with the pork to get it browned and cooked quickly to keep it moist, rather than drying it out.

thai pork vermicelli salad - Delicious, June 2012, p115

Monday, 4 June 2012

simple fish stew

Will this Royal fever never end? It's only Monday and already I feel like my liver has been beaten with a stick. At least it's sunnier today, and after the bitter recriminations of missing Her Maj yesterday, today we decide we need to be more organised. Again.

Sadly the sum of our parts seem to magnetically repel organisation, and we're an hour late to Wandsworth Royalty Jude's BBQ. And I left the wine on the kitchen table.

Still, one afternoon watching chickens with beer cans up their bums cooking on the grill, relentlessly playing games with Milo, and picking at salad, we're all ready to come home - and I've not even been drinking today!

As ever the bedtime routine dragged on, leaving us out on our feet once he was a-kip. What we both need is a healthy, zesty dinner that makes you feel instantly healthy and alive, whilst doing fair battle with the torrential rain that has set in. I have to say experimental fish stew is not top of my list of things to cook, but neither am I inspired by anything else in the fridge, and what does excite me gets ruled out by the extensive marinading time. Still, cooking fish whilst you're hungover? I don't think so!

How wrong can you be? It was amazing. Simple, zesty, healthy and packed full of flavours - so much so there was none left for Milo tomorrow or my planned lunch portion. All gone, and even with some plate licking and plenty of mopping up with rustic bread.

When we do it again I might throw some chilli in to give it some more zing, and maybe replace the orange with lemon, as the combination of tomatoes and orange reminds me too much of our chorizo and butter bean stew. Actually, it's weird how tomatoes and orange do go together...

Wine Time
Essentially this is bouillabaisse I suppose, although without all the spider fish, spiny badger fish, gurnard, guts and shellfish. It's rich and full-bodied, the fish is fairly sweet and subtle, but you've also got hearty tomatoes and pungent fennel. In this sort of "Oh My God" scenario I tend to go with the local wine for the very good reason the food and wine tend to support each other - so in this case I reckon a good Provencal Rosé would do the trick a treat.

simple fish stew - Waitrose Love Life, Summer 2012, p45

Sunday, 3 June 2012

jamie oliver's proper bloke's fusilli

Hurrah for The Queen! Negative "Hurrumble" for our time-keeping. Something happened today, something to do with boats, Royalty and torrential rain, but as we weren't there in time (again) let's draw a line under this sort of thing (care of Les Bren):

It never happened. Anyway who needs to be about 10metres away from the red carpet? Milo saw her and Phil in Sheen last month, if he sees her again he'll start to think they're friends and she owes him some Lego.

No, let's concentrate on the purpose of this blog, not bitter recriminations about getting up but food glorious food! Essentially nothing has happened for six or so hours, in the rain, apart from a couple of bottles of beer were drunk, maybe some wine and a variety of cold meats and crisps. Doesn't matter where, or why, the upshot is we're starving, and because of yesterday's BBQ there is a surfeit of sausages in the fridge ergo let's pig out on Jamie's proper bloke's fusilli:

Do we save any for Milo's lunch tomorrow? Do we bollocks. Do we dredge up the day's failings for a slightly drunken inquest into what went wrong? Mais oui!

Wine Time
Well we've had loads of everything so I suspect our palates were slightly blunted by this point. We drank rose, but I would imagine a lovely silky red, like a Montepulciano would be lush. Or just some more rose - it's dangerously easy-drinking!

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