Monday, 24 September 2012

nigel slater's orzo with courgettes and grana padano

We're back to a full house tonight as Kay and Mike are up for the night before they skive off to Croatia on holiday, although the squeeze is slightly alleviated as it's a Bikini Blitz tonight. So whilst I'm out working on my running technique (apparently your legs have to cycle like you're riding a bike), Ana is at home getting all experimental with her favourite veg - the courgette.

It's a surprisingly great meal. Not surprising because Ana cooked it I hasten to add, but the way the sweet veg harmonises with the orzo and smokey/salty bacon. She may cook it again, but only if she can find the recipe again.

Here's a thing though, what's the point of The Observer Food Monthly? It just seems to be the personal PR department for Nigel Slater. It's very dull.

Wine Time
Anybody want to guess what the dominant flavours here are? It's going to be the salty cheese or the pancetta depending on how smoked it is, either way you'll probably onto a winner with a lighter red like a Beaujolais or a New World Pinot. If you fancy a white, how about a dry, mineral Riesling to cut through the fattiness?

orzo with courgettes and grana padano - Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries II, via The Observer

Sunday, 23 September 2012

spiced chicken and lentil soup

This looks properly delicious doesn't it?

Okay, so not as delicious as it tastes, but this Waitrose spiced chicken and lentil soup is a properly good meal, and I promise there is loads of chicken and lentils just under the veg, at the bottom of the bowl.

I love making this meal: I love boiling up the chicken carcasses (I use two), I love the earthy flavours of the lentils and spices, and I love the feeling of virtuousness it gives you eating it.

Unfortunately Ana does not love it as much. Well she does, but she particularly does not love the extensive time it takes to cook, particularly as after yesterday's late night back from Dave & Lucy's, and she wants Milo in bed early rather than watching DVDs late, waiting for the soup to cook. Still, carcasses!

spiced chicken and lentil soup - Waitrose Kitchen - January 2012, p89

Thursday, 20 September 2012

thai pork vermicelli salad

Thrifty and thrufty, tasty and enough to go round four people who want to watch the new and latest Midsomer Murders. Okay, I want to watch Midsomer Murders, but I'm also ravenous and given we've fed this to Kayosaurus & Mikeplodocus in a previous incarnation, I wanted to give them the spanking new version which is browner, and zestier:

The trick here is to have the hob on maximum, so the meat browns really quickly and stays moist, and double the amount of mint and coriander in the salad to really zest it up. It's the best yet, I think.

thai pork vermicelli salad - Delicious, June 2012, p115

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's creamy fish pie

It's been a long time since I last updated this blog - June as Kendra and Lucy have kindly pointed out - and I can only offer the excuse I've been very busy. Sorry. Hopefully we'll be back on it from now on, whatever 'it' is, and I'll attempt to catch up in someway over the coming weeks, or until the festive season of wine events my calendar/liver.

Still, we're back with a bang tonight with one of my favourite comfort dishes to make: Hugh's creamy fish pie. Every stage of this is a joy to make, and it's so easy: from letting the fish gently poach in milk, to mashing the potatoes and making the bechemel with the fishy cow juice, it's all strangely satisfying.

Given we're all suffering from some sort of cold at the moment, even Kay and Mike who are up for two day's school run, it's like a big fishy scarf/hot water bottle when it comes out of the oven. Just imagine that for a moment. It sounds terrible, but there's nothing more warming, welcoming and instantly snot-battling than the smell of smoked haddock and mashed potato.

Interestingly, we've switched to frozen fish these days, mainly because it's vastly cheaper. The only downside as far as I can tell is the fact the frozen fillet tend to lose their shape and flake, rather than stay chunky, but with the pie I think that's a minor gripe. Yet again we're all restrained enough to leave some for Milo's tea tomorrow, although he's insisted he wants the prawns separately for 'pudding', and for my lunch, so we must be coming down with something.

Wine Time
You've got creamy bechemel and smokey haddock dominating this dish, so I'd go with something similarly rich and buttery, but with a touch of the timber - but only a touch, otherwise you'd overpower it all. An AC Burgundy should do it, or any lightly-oaked chardonnay depending on whether you like greener fruit (Old World) or more tropical flavours (New World). Or steaming mugs of tea, like us.

creamy fish pie - Saint Hugh and Fizz Carr, The River Cottage Family Cookbook, p248

Monday, 17 September 2012

gennaro and carluccio's borlotti bean soup

Strangely there were no tears this morning. This was because Milo decided he needed to cycle to school on his first morning, which meant rather than a moment to be cherished, there was only shame for the Barnes family as he was the last child through the door, and we instantly became 'those parents' Ana hates. Still, I'm presuming we don't have to pick him up for another 11 years now?

Off to work with a left-over chicken leg and salad for me, and Ana's first day of peace for three months, we're heading into virgin territory for other reasons than new schools: Bikini Blitz is back tonight and rather than eating at midnight because I've barely started prepping until 21.30 military hours, Monday nights are now Ana Nights.

I thinks she's got a pretty good repertoire, she just doesn't enjoy cooking as much as me so I'm quite impressed she decided to kick off with an experimental-for-her Gennaro Contaldo/Carluccio borlotti bean soup.

I'm even more impressed when I return from giving my bikini a thorough going-over by the delicious smell wafting down the corridor, and the feast of warming, tomato-y, goodness waiting for me, finished off with some left-over fried chorizo:

I imagine this is exactly what it's like living with Nigella. Admittedly a slightly grumpier Nigella who doesn't like cooking when tragic TV shows are on, and doesn't really want to 'accidentally' spill cream from an eclair down her front, despite me begging, but a very nice version of Nigella nevertheless. Even better, there's clearly enough for two lunchtimes this week!

Wine Time
Hmmm, I'm not entirely sure what you should drink with soup, after all it's already quite liquid-y. When in doubt I tend to fall back to the rule of thumb of pairing with food and wine from the same country; so I'm going to go with a juicy, Italian red like a Montepulciano or a Sangiovese, both of which are acidic enough to match the tomato, but full-bodied enough to balance the creamy pulses. Plus they've got some spice as well, which helps here I think.

fresh borlotti bean soup alla maruzzara - Gennaro Contaldo and Antonio Carluccio, Two Greedy Italians, from Delicious, June 2011, p38

Sunday, 16 September 2012

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

Today marks the end of an era, as almost five years after he appeared, Milo starts big school tomorrow. Well, big-ger school, but still none of us are entirely sure what this means or how we feel. Certainly he's ready to go, having out-grown nursery, and he's (currently) quite excited by the prospect of joining Giraffe class but... well, he's still our little boy! He should be making dens and snuggling and reading The Guffalo with Scruffy Dog, not going to school to do the book-learning!

Giving in to our fin de siecle feelings, we try to make his last day of freedom is fun, as much to take our minds off it as his. It all starts off very well; we all get up late, Kendra Kats and the whanau come over for tea, and we then go to the park for riding bikes and eating Pickles & Rye brownies and Toronto sandwiches on the bench. However,  it then all goes a bit pear-shaped as we realise he's got no uniform for tomorrow, and we end up bringing the whole looming school-thing to the very front of his mind with a mad dash to buy shoes and trousers, only marginally off-set by a trip to the Lego shop to decide what he wants for his birthday.

Knackered out and asleep, the only thing left to do is  cave-in to the Autumnal 'Back to School' vibe, knock up a comforting Sunday roast and watch the new series of Downton:

Naturally we're still in the pre-hopefully-being-zonked-by-school age, so with time of the essence between snuggling and Lady Mary appearing, we opt for Bill Granger's super-quick roast chicken recipe (with lashings of juices to be mopped up with bread), some cauliflower cheese, and mini-roasties in their skins.

I think the bistro nature of this hints towards winter, without actually involving the usual (and welcome) masses of a proper roast. That's coming though, I can feel it in the air...

Wine Time
We're not quite in White Burgundy territory yet, but it is getting nippier. I'd go with either a dry Vouvray with it's fuller-body to complement the chicken, and acidity to cut through the cauliflower cheese or, seeing how it as 'the season', a nice, young New World Pinot Noir would go down a treat.

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