Saturday, 13 October 2012

Almost 40

After desperately chasing my youth in the pub with Charlie and Gavroche from work - including getting accidentally sprayed with shampagum by a waitress - today I wake up ever-so slightly older.

Sadly Milo doesn't respect my new-found wisdom and a) wakes up heinously early and demands nibbles, and b) tells me he's not going to tell me about my surprise breakfast, which the lovely Ana cooks whilst I have a much-needed post-nibble snooze.

Even better, after a leisurely breakfast/game of Lego, we head out for a birthday Gourmet Burger - which I've craved since he was born - before buying a birthday table cloth (which I've also craved) and some birthday flowers (which I've also apparently desired for ages), and hurrying back to prep dinner.

The thing is I don't really feel a massive urge to go out, but I do fancy a nice dinner, with booze and friends. But I'm not cooking it all as it's my freaking birthday!

Kendra Kats, sans the sickly Brian, turns up with a wooden boat full of crudites, and Hugh's carrot houmous and dukka, which turns out to be almost fatally more filling than we thought.

We weigh in with classic Bill Granger Kashmiri potatoes, dhal with lime and fragrant chicken and spinach curry. Which myself and Greg bravely soldier through for the greater good of the ladies waistlines.

Having eaten our weight in dinner (well, hopefully not mine and Greg's), Spandy comes up trumps not only eschewing her standard Lemon Soup, but turning up with an amazing plum crumble cake AND musical candle arrangement. Luckily off-setting my silly hair.

Happy Birthday me. 39 years and now stone.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's vedgeree

After the first of the year's Christmas corporate tastings last night (Christmas in October - wtf?), tonight we hit the Hugh double, and it's a controversial number: Hugh's Vedgeree.

It's controversial for a couple of reasons; One, it wasn't the best thing I cooked last time, lacking something and being a bit bland really. I'd confined it to the experimental bin to be honest, so it was a bit of a curve ball when Ana decided it looked delicious - and that's even with her personal kryptonite, aubergine. Even more controversially, I sort of managed to burn the veg...

The egg doesn't look that sharp either does it? As it happens though, it's a marked improvement on the last effort: I used more spices this time, and the poached egg (Ana's was much better, I promise) I think is a better option than soft-boiled, as you can you at least guarantee you've got some yolk to help moisten the otherwise-dry-ish rice dish.

Are we going to have it again? Lord knows - it's probably more likely than it was, but I might have to work on my poaching technique at least. Anybody else convinced?

vedgeree - hugh fearnley-whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, p276

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's roasted parsnip, lentil and watercress salad

Ooooh finally it's getting a bit Autumnal - at least the nice bit of Autumn: It's bright and crisp, clear and erm, even. Well not even, but bright, sunny, and lovely. It's a pleasure cycling in, and even quite nice winging it back, having a quick play with monkey and roasting me 'nips whilst snuggling up in bed with him.

This is definitely not a summer salad: It's earthy and surprisingly hearty (if you eat the whole thing between the two of you, despite the fact it's supposed to serve four people), but it's freshened by the peppery watercress, and the dressing spiked with garlic and mustard.

Wine Time
See what I said above? Garlic, mustard, lemon, earthy lentils and hefty parsnips. Oh and peppery watercress - that's a whole lot of flavours that need taming-slash-balancing.

I'm a bit torn with this one; on the one hand I think something like a warming, white Burgundy would work: It's acidic, warming and has a big enough body to stand up to the lentils.

On the other hand I reckon something juicy with some pepperiness would probably work equally be good, like a Cotes du Rhone villages. Conflicted, or what?

roasted parsnip, lentil and watercress salad - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday, p90

Monday, 8 October 2012

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's pasta with raw tomato

Another month goes by, and once more I've failed to do any updates. Hurrah for me, or not - hey ho. What better way to kick-start yet-another second coming, than with another Ana smasher?

Tonight, whilst I'm doing the circuits in the rain, she's gamely de-seeding and de-skinning tomatoes, before pushing it all through a sieve, and then marinading it all. She blinking loves it, although of course she doesn't and finds it all a massive pfaff and will. never. cook. it. again.

I could've told her this of course, having made a similar Bill Granger number when we were in Wundy Wullington, but she needs to find these things out for herself. Plus I was battling burping up snails and Barolo, and trying not to be sick in a park of course, so I couldn't tell her.

It is however, very, very lovely, so she's going to have to make it again next week:

Wine Time
I might have mentioned this before somewhere, but what's going on here - other than spiky garlic and peppery basil - is a whole load of acidic tomato, which as we all know, needs something equally acidic to balance it. The key difference to my amazing video debut, is the tomatoes aren't cooked, and whilst red wine nails a ragu it completely overpowers the raw fruit.

This is a zesty dish, so you'd want something similarly zingy, with some fleshiness to it to work with the weight of the pasta. I thinking a good, bone-dry, Provencal Rose would go down a storm, as would something like an Albarino from Spain or even something like a Loire Sauvignon - or even better, given the peppery herbs, a Rhone pink might just be perfect.

pasta with raw tomato - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday! p254