Thursday, 31 January 2013

chorizo, pea and lemon cous cous

It's another super-Ana Louise cooking night tonight as I actually *am* out tonight, and I'm more-than delighted to stumble drunkenly home to find a formerly-steaming pile of cous cous, shot through with spicy chorizo, lemon zest, basil and peas.

This is actually entirely an Ana Louise dish as she dug it out of Delicious and cooked it lots before Christmas (which I promise to catch-up with). It's really punchy, with loads of big old badgers lurking amongst the cous cous, in which the lemon gives the illusion of healthy good times. You can also throw in some cherry tomatoes into the mixer if you've got some forlornly kicking around the fridge - delicious!

wine time
Lemon and basil say to me you want something acidic and aromatic, so I reckon a good Soave would nail this to the floor. You've also got the chorizo which needs something drier, with more body, so maybe rosé? Take your pick, I think they'd both work a treat.

chorizo, pea and lemon cous cous - Delicious, October 2012, p28

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

bill granger's rigatoni with chicken bolognese

Ahhh - a classic, and tonight's comforting fave comes with triple bonus points all round as Ana's in her pinny (mmmm sassy) because I'm supposed to be at a tasting. However a late cancellation means I can put my feet up on the sofa with the new Inspector Barnaby on the television, and the Wootton Vicky Michelle whipping up a storm in the kitchen.

Does it get any better? No it does not.

rigatoni with chicken bolognese - Bill Granger, Simply Bill, p87

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

jill dupleix's white bean polpettine

Despite having been bought on Saturday - so in theory at least four days old - we're still riffing on farmer's market veg today, which is looking much fresher and perkier than anything we picked up in Waitrose a day later. Could it be the key to freshness is not sitting in a sealed bag full of argon? Who would've thought...

Polpettine tonight, mainly because we've got some salami lurking in the fridge that could do with disappearing, and also so we can use up the salad in an attempt to assuage our growing addiction the fig and chilli dressing.

As time goes by, I've realised the key with polpettine is not to make them too big, otherwise they don't hold together in the pan, and not to have the pan too hot otherwise the outside burns whilst the inside remains claggy and cold. Top tips there, you can have them for free.

wine time
I think we're still in super crisp white territory here; there's not a huge amount of salami to warrant getting a red in, and you've got to balance the mouth-coating qualities of the cannellini beans. Sauvs, Chenins, white riojas would all be fine, but I'm tempted to go with a super-dry Provencal rose, mainly because I can: It's combination of acidity and red fruit, would be ideal, particularly if you luck out and get a bigger-than-anticipated chunk of salami.

white bean polpettine - Jilly D, the Parsley Book

Monday, 28 January 2013

bill granger's crisp chicken, cavalo nero and parmesan roast potatoes

In sort-of preparation for going to Canada next month, and sort-of attempting to off-set my growing wine-fuelled-girth, I'm back on the running back from work tonight.

It's grim as grim can be, freezing rain, howling wind and the sudden unwelcome appearance of geriatric runners sailing along every time I wanted to stop/puke. Having taken *slightly* longer than planned, I'm not cocking around tonight.

Billy G's crispy chicken is one of the fastest recipes to turn around in my armoury, and has the added bonus that the potatoes can roast away whilst I'm warming up in the shower.

I don't know why, possibly because it doesn't use an awful lot of ingredients, or that the cavalo nero is bursting with iron, but this is one of those dishes you just feel a tiny-bit healthier eating. Apart from the parmesan roast potatoes.

wine time
Whilst few in number, what is on the plate is quite punchy; chilli, the zest and juice of a lemon, plus the dark cabbage. Chicken loves a chardonnay, but I think given the greenness of the leaves, and the mouthwatering lemon dressing, a Loire Sauvignon would probably nail this completely, with it's high acidity and herbaceous notes. Anybody fancy trying and letting me know?

crispy chicken, parmesan roast potatoes and cavalo nero - Bill Granger, Simply Bill, p38

Sunday, 27 January 2013

angela boggiano's spinach and parmesan meatballs

Like most people, whilst trying to conform to the Good Life dream (especially if Margot wafts by in a kaftan) of buying our food locally and within reason, in season, I'm as susceptible as anybody to a meat-based BOGOF: Three packs of meat for a tenner is the sort of catnip guaranteed to see me turfing Milo out of the trolley in favour of kilos of mince.

This is probably going to be a bad thing in the long term, particularly if what I've picked up turns out to be 100% horse, as we really shouldn't be encouraged to see meat as some sort of staple, if only for the welfare of said animals. On the other hand, I did get a lot of beefy goodness. That's a middle class quandary if ever I saw one.

Anyway some of the meat gets put to immediate use, and offset with some farmer's market spinach, to reencourageise Milo back into the kitchen after last night's mussel disaster. Meatballs are perfect fodder for him, as not only can you blitz up as much veg as you want in the sauce (tonight carrots, leftover broccoli, celery and some green beans), their construction involves a child-friendly amount of squidginess.

spinach and parmesan meatballs - Angela Boggiano, Delicious, December 2007, p46

Saturday, 26 January 2013

rachel allen's spanish mussels

What better antidote to an extended Date Night, thanks to drinking with the babysitter (cheers Lucyfer), than a lovely family day in the sun? Okay, so it's brassic, but it's bright and sunny, so we take ourselves off to Barnes Market for some fantastically cheap veg - today's haul included cavalo nero, onions, cauliflower, salad, two massive bunches of herbs, broccoli, carrots and beetroot for a bargain fiver - two coffees, a bacon bap for Milo and half a kilo of mussels.

The great thing about mussels, and very much like squid, are that they fall into the camp of 'Things Ana really doesn't like eating but has to eat in front of Milo'. After all, you can't tell your son to try new things and eat everything up if you're pulling faces and edging parts of your dinner to the side of your plate.

Ana's still scarred from our trip to the Mussel Boys restaurant in Havelock ooooh 16 years ago, where we were presented with 2KG of molluscs the size of my palm. We managed to chew our way through some of them, but that finished our mussel love for a looooonng time, until quite recently.

Anyway, inspired by our Breton holiday with the McPs a couple of years ago where Harald mangez-d his way through a tonne of them, me and Milo have been eating them for a while now. He even likes the whole de-bearding thing, so it's a great daddy-son cooking thing. Until tonight as we suffer a repeat of the massive Mussel Boys Mussel marathon:

You'd think the combination of chorizo and having cleaned the things - both of which he likes - this would be a winner, but the mussels are just too big and chewy. Okay, not NZ green lip big, but big enough. Ana looks secretly pleased as the uneaten pile shifts from her plate to his, to mine.

I never thought I'd say this, but it's small supermarket shellfish for us from now on. Sorry fishermen.

wine time
So as we know, mussels are quite meaty, and this sauce is rich and spicy, what with all the paprika in the chorizo, so something crisp and tangy would be amazeballs. Sans chorizo I'd suggest a zippy Muscadet, but as this is Iberican I don't think you'd go wrong with any of a dry Rosado, an Albarino (if you're feeling poncy and want to confuse the staff in Sainsburys) or a super-chilled and salty Fino sherry. Mmmm, sherry...

spanish mussels - Rachel Allen, Easy Meals (in Delicious January 2012, p24)

Friday, 25 January 2013

Date Night: Mango & Silk

Here's something slightly different. One of our resolutions this year was to have a monthly 'date night' where we do something that doesn't involve bickering about the washing up or discussing DIY projects.

*Obvs* we're not going go out every month but we'd thought we'd kick off by going for dinner, because we're ker-azy youths, and not middle-aged parents living in South West London.

So, having coerced lovely Lucy to babysit with the offer of non-carb-non-alcohol soup and as much wine/broadband as she could handle, we head out to the bright lights of Sheen (you can go too far in case him indoors wakes up), to discover... ...Sheen doesn't have an awful lot of restaurants really.

After dithering outside of Lofty Turtle whose menu looked great, but was packed with herds of other almost-40-somethings having their own date nights, so we ended up at the other end of the high street for a curry in Mango & Spice.

The chef comes with some pedigree, and I've heard it's part of the new wave of Indian restaurants: All sleek lines and modern interpretations. It almost nails the modern British Curry vibe, yet still manages a modicum of flock material, but the food was pretty good meal and service was really friendly.

We shared a Samosa Chaat starter, which was fruity-hot and moreish, followed by Tandoori Chicken for her and Kozhi Vartha for me, plus the usual dhal paraphenalia. I think I won the battle of the mains, particularly as my unctuous, meaty gravy was perfect for a cold night.

Portions weren't huge, and strangely neither was the menu, but the food was well presented and well-cooked. Overall, I'd say it was pretty good, and we'll be going back post Canada (woot!) if only because they do a Sunday buffet which might just be the perfect opportunity to start Milo's curry education.

Even better, there were no date night arguments and we had an ace time. 

Now, here's a picture of Lucy's soup:

chickpea and tomato soup with chorizo and green chilli - Bill Granger, Delicious, February 2008 p68

Thursday, 24 January 2013

donna hay's pasta with cherry tomato sauce

To be honest, there's not much to see here tonight.

It's Book Club, so Ana's out, we've emptied the fridge and whatever it is I am going to cook has to solve the twin dilemmas of being made at half-eight after snuggling with Milo, and make use of limited ingredients.

Luckily what we do have - seemingly a mountain of cherry tomatoes - lends itself very well to Donna Hay's by-now-classic pasta dish, which being fairly quick to make, answers very well to both points.

Wine Time
There's no getting away from the fact tomatoes are very acidic, and slightly, let's say 'ripe' cherry tomatoes also tend to sweetness. If I hadn't spent all night drinking left-over Sauvignon, I'd be professional tempted to go with a light, fresh red, probably Northern Italian or a fruity Spanish table wine. Essentially you don't want anything with oak or huge tannins, but it needs plenty of fruit which lends sweetness and acidity.

Out of our wines I'd go with Sierra de Siles Tinto, or our House Wine - see, wine doesn't have to be pricey to be good.

pasta with cherry tomato sauce - Donna Hay, Instant Cook, p58

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

valli little's hot chilli

I love making chilli. I love the variety of recipes, I love the lengthy stewing time (and it's associated opportunities to dip in bread whilst it ticks away), I love the flavour and the fact you can make sandwiches out of it - although don't tell Ana the latter point.

However school nights are not the right forum for a two-hour stew, so sometimes you need to go with a super-quick version, and Valli Little's is the best-est: It's got a lot of surprising herbs, punchy spice and that great sweet-umami combination of dark chocolate. Plus a slice of avocado so you can pretend you're eating salad.

I love it!

Wine Time
Chilli really needs a brewski, and I think a rick, chocolately Porter or a dark hoppy Ale would be much classier. If you're desperate for wine, you need to avoid tannins which will react badly with the spice, so look for something light, fruity and with a bit of sweetness. Beaujolais would work well, or a Spanish red (not Rioja), or even a Carmenere which whilst not sweet, is fruity and generally goes very well with curry, so y'know, I'm just saying...

rich chilli beef with fresh avocado - Valli Little, Delicious circa 2005/6, now The Skull Book

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

spiced chicken and lentil soup

This is probably the least-photogenic dish in the world, and there's nothing you can do to tzuh up boiled chicken carcass, orange lentils and brown stock.

Tonight the muddy-concoction get's glammed up with some left-over spring onions, mini sweetcorn and a chili, but we're still very much in the realms of polishing a turd. It's a technical cooking term.

It is delicious mind, and I heartily urge you to try it... assuming I ever get around to sticking up any more recipes.

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

Monday, 21 January 2013

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

After a white weekend we enter the worst phase of British snow; the bastard-cold-but-mainly-grey-brown-slush. Not even a late afternoon blizzard-esque flurry managed to raise the mood, as it just turned into more grey slurry for me to cycle through on the way home. Thanks Blighty.

It doesn't feel like a salad night tonight, so we agree that the done thing would naturally be a roast dinner with as many roasted vegetables as we can muster. With added cheese. And illegal school-night wine:

Because Monday nights are no nights for three-hour roasts, the trick here is speed and Billy G's recipe, with it's quartered chicken, high heat and wine braise is the perfect ticket.

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

Saturday, 19 January 2013

hugh's roast pumpkin soup

What's better than a day at work watching it snow outside? Why a whole evening of heavy snow, and the next day being a Saturday of course!

It's the perfect training weekend for Milo, to get him prepared for the holiday of a lifetime chez Hamilton's amazing Harlock Household (get those chicken wings on Hayley!); we go sledging in Richmond Park, we build snowmen, we throw snowballs and we generally arse about. It's aces!

And the best way to warm up? Why with a hearty bowl of Saint Hugh's amazing roast pumpkin soup with a side portion of cheese (and Worcestershire sauce) on toast!

Mmmm, thick, warming, garlicky goodness. Even better (other than the fact there's loads for lunch this week) is the fact Milo decides he doesn't like cheese on toast. Mu-ha-ha-ha!

Wine Time
The keen-eyed will spot I wasn't actually drinking wine with my soup, I had a brewski. Partly this is because I'm not a massive fan of wine and soup; it's the liquid-liquid thing I struggle with, and on reflection I don't actually remember drinking anything whilst eating it.

I suppose if you wanted to try something, I suppose the best thing you can do is go with a trad match of an off-dry Riesling or a Gewurtztraminer, particularly as the soup has a lot of garlic which gives it a bit more sweetness.

pumpkin soup - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Year, p 199

Friday, 18 January 2013

nigella's curly-edged pasta with lamb ragu

Oooh looky - another sort-of-experimental-dish-that-now-counts-as-experimental-because-Ana-never-previously-cooked-it. I wonder if I should create 'David Irving' tag? Oh look snow!

Actually, "Look, snow!" because today it's not only flipping freezing, but it's actually properly snowing. All of this means I need something in the line of molten magma to warm up my frozen bones tonight.

When Ana didn't cook this two or three times previously, I didn't remember it being brilliantly cockle-warming in any way, so it seemed perfect to try for the first time tonight. This is tiring isn't it? I'll stop.

It's a Nigella classic: Quick, simple, filling and packed with loads of different flavours, particularly chili and fruitiness from the red currant jelly. It's bloody brilliant, although word to the wise, frozen mince doesn't work as well as fresh.

Wine Time
This is simple as, for two reasons:
1. Lamb is fatty and strongly flavoured, so you need something acidic and bold;
2. The red currant jelly dominates, so you need something with some residual sugar.

So I'd go for either a Rioja, either a young or New Wave vintage-labelled one which is all about the fruit, with some sweet spices, or a New World Pinot Noir, which is all about fruit with some residual sugar. Boom.

curly-edged pasta with lamb ragu - Nigella, Nigelissima, serialised in Delicious, November 2012, p22

Thursday, 17 January 2013

warm tuna and white bean salad

After last night's great-yet-ultimately-disappointing-tasting-because-after-a-fab-evening-on-the-Puligny-I-turned-down-a-steak-to-find-Ana-had-'cooked'-toast. For herself. Tonight, we're using up a bunch of lovely rocket in the fridge to bulk out a fab-discovery of Ana Louise - warm tuna and white bean salad.

Now, you'd be forgiven for thinking this actually is an experimental dish, but sadly it's not. Well it is, but it was experimental in December (or possibly November) when Ana first cooked it, but I've basically wiped her contribution off the face of the earth because it never happened. Look at that... oiseaux?

It's seriously good and hearty, and surprisingly it does beat out the imminent snow-storm engulfing the country. Particularly if you're drinking, and eating double portions. Delish.

Wine Time
Tuna and New World Pinot Noir love each-other. In fact if they would definitely need to get a room so the tuna could rub it's fins up and down the Pinot's thin, sexy skin - yowsa! However, the lemony-mustardy-dressing is quite acidic so let's hose the fish-and-pinot down with a cold shower, and get some lovely dry rose into the glass.

warm tuna and white bean salad - Delicious, October 2012, p27

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

tom norrington-davies' chicken noodle soup with mint and lemon

Blinking hell, it's brassic - but where's the snow? (Work with me people - we all know I'm two weeks late, and it's arrived, melted and started again - suspend your reality!) After almost freezing to my bike on the way home, Ana's taken the executive decision we're having one her favourite soups: Tom N-D's health-bang, frost-proof chicken noodle soup.

However, we're still in the throes of pretending to be intermittently fasting, so rather than noodles (which I love), we're bulking up it's spicy, fragrant goodness with a whacking bag of beansprouts:

Beansprouts are good, apparently, as they're a veg (or pulse sprouting - I'm not sure), but why do they come in such unhandy, large bags. I mean I know we used them all this time, along with a lurking pak choi, but I usually end up binning half a bag as you can't freeze them because they go all sloppy when they defrost. Boo to beansprouts.

Wine Time
It's difficult to pin a style of cuisine going on in the bowl, there's a little bit of everything really - ginger, soy sauce, honey, rice wine, chili, mint - I think we're fairly safe with 'Asian'. It's not massively aromatic, the honey gives it some sweetness and it's surprisingly hearty, so I'm going not with a Riesling or Gewurtztraminer, but a Pinot Gris.

Pinot Gris fact fans, is Pinot Grigio that's been ripened longer and picked later, so it's much riper and a touch sweeter, so it's got a great combination of body and acidity to match everything going on here. Actually a later-harvested Riesling would also work, but I like Pinot Gris' more, so there...

chicken noodle soup with mint and lemon - Tom Norrington-Davies, was Delicious now The Owl Book

Monday, 14 January 2013

thyme crumbed fish with turmeric potatoes

We've been busy this weekend: An excellent sleep-over at Kendra Kat's Kensington Kastle on Friday night, then a pretty bloody important work meeting at Rosslyn Park, which left me too tired for tea, and then we went for a hearty walk in the West Sussex countryside with Ed, Kate, Lolly and Fred. Glorious, and gloriously cold.

Given we're trying to eat a little earlier - and that's including Milo snuggling time - we've decided to revisit the crumbed fish thing we had ages ago, and already it's looking better than last time:

It not only looks better, it tastes so much better, and I think that's the addition of the thyme to the crumbs, and I think having the pan (and obvs it's a different pan compared to last time) very hot make all the difference: the fish is sweet and creamy, the crumbs are crunchy and herby, and the potatoes are pretty blinking good as well. Good parenting just-about kicks in and we leave Milo a fillet for dinner tomorrow.

Wine Time
Now this is an odd one because of the mix of flavours in what appears an otherwise simple dish: There's pungent thyme in the crumb, surrounding creamy fish, plus the salad dressing (the fig one) and the turmeric potatoes, which are pungent in a more antiseptic way.

Strangely though, it's the fish which holds the biggest sway here; it's sweet, fleshy and creamy, all of which leads me to a Chardonnay, and probably a New World unoaked one at that. It'll still have gone through malolactic fermentation, so you'll still get the buttery flavours you'd expect, and because the fruit will tend to the tropical end of the scale, it'll also be perfect foil for the other ingredients on the plate.

crumbed fish with thyme potatoes - Delicious, February 2010, p25

Thursday, 10 January 2013

aloo tikka

After last night's long faces in the fasting part of the house, tonight we're all about filling up empty stomachs with as much 'healthy' stodge as possible, whilst using up more bits from the fridge.

As it turns out the pantry is in more need of emptying as the bags of potatoes seem to be multiplying quicker than they can sprout eyes, as are jars of my mum's homemade chutney. Not that she's sprouting extra eyes of course, but I think the point stands.

Anyway, with a bag of almost sad-looking salad, a lonely advocado and some cherry tomatoes looking for friends in the fridge, we're good to go with almost entirely free meal - and with a couple of cakes left over for lunch for both of us tomorrow!

Over and above my mum's spicy tomato chutney which is always ace, two other things make tonight's a better-than-usual installment of Aloo Tikka: As Milo isn't having any, I added a chili to the potato cake mixture which gives them a nice bite, but even better is the bottle of Spiced Fig & Chili Balsamic dip/dressing Kayosaurus gave me for Christmas. God the Isle of Wight is good!

Wine Time
Stodgy cakes, spices, and acidic chutney and salad? It's got to be a Sauvignon hasn't it, and probably a New World one at that, with all it's lovely tropical flavours to go with the fig and spices. If you fancy something fleshier, a South African Chenin would do all the above but with less acidity.

aloo tikki - Observer Food Monthly, Parsley Book

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

heston blumenthal's pea and pancetta spaghetti

We're on a schedule tonight, a schedule helped by the fact it's an intermittent dieting day for one third of the household - dietary slack the other two thirds of Team Barnes are happy to pick up by the way.

Anyway, there's a three-part plan in action: Stage one, use up stuff in the fridge before it fossilizes, followed by Stage two, find a recipe that uses it all (or as much as possible) in as quick a time as possible, so I can action Stage three - watch the new episode of Midsomer Murders whilst Ana pines away in the corner, and develops nutritionally-deficient rickets.

Who's the winner? I'M the winner:

Before we go, I have a question: The new series of Midsomer, actually very good and better than the last few Nettles series? Discuss.

Wine Time
This one is an easy one: Salty bacon and parmesan, sweet peas and creamy pasta sauce. Hands up who wants a good, aromatic and crisp Pinot Grigio, and hands up who wants a light and fruity Beaujolais? Ahh you're both right, yay for you!

heston's pea & pancetta spaghetti - Waitrose Weekend, 16th September, p10

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

spinach, tomato and chick pea curry

Ooooh we're a grumpy house today: Milo's back to school, Ana's back to school and I've developed Right Nostril Randomly Leaking Bright Yellow Liquid Snot, or sinusitis according to the internet.

Less-than-replete from the left-over mushroom soup, we all need a pick-me-up, with added cold and Right Nostril Randomly Leaking Bright Yellow Liquid Snot-beating properties. So hearty curry it is, with extra ginger for health, and extra spices to try and get through the plug of mucus:

Even if I say so myself, it's probably my best effort yet, and certainly more entertaining and satisfying than Gok's new dating show. At least Ana has promised never to watch it again...

Wine Time
So what have we got here then? This dish is a strange mix of earthiness from the pulses and spinach, and some sweetness and aromatics from the spices. Kiwi Sauvignon loves Asian foods, as would an off-dry Riesling or even a Gewurztraminer for all the same reason - the residual sugar balances the heat of the spice, and they're all packed with tropical aromas.

Your other port of call I reckon would be a great Rosé - you know the drill though: super crisp, pale pink and very dry.

spinach, tomato and chick pea curry - Waitrose Recipe Cards, Early September 2010

Monday, 7 January 2013

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's creamy mushroom soup

After last week's two-day return to work, it all kicks off with a vengeance today: 0800 meeting, cold ride to work and cold paella for lunch. Despite not drinking yesterday, on reflection I don't think putting in a three hour stint until 00.45 watching Any Human Heart (whilst openly weeping) properly prepared me for the return.

By the time I get home, mercifully early for the first time in three months, I'm not only famished, I'm also still dehydrated from all the crying. The good news is soup is pretty much 100% water, so that's the latter point sorted, and even better (although not for her grumbling stomach) Ana's back on the intermittent fasting, so I've got loads for lunch tomorrow.


Despite being a far superior accompaniment to the latest Midsomer on catch-up than a corn cake with some peanut butter, it's strangely unsatisfying. I think I might have used slightly too much water because the flavour is oddly lacking; you don't really get much thyme, or garlic OR the variety of fungi - portobello, chestnut, button and some porcini - in it. Odd. But as I say, better than a corn cake.

Wine Time
I don't really hold with wine with soup, mainly because it's liquid and liquid, unless you're being jazzy and serving shots of soup as amuse-style bouches. However I appreciate if you're serving as a starter (and therefore presenting significantly smaller portions), you would want some wine to accompany it.

Assuming you manage to get more flavour into your soup, you need look no further than a great Old World Pinot Noir. Red Burgundy loves mushrooms as it's full of earthy flavours that perfectly compliment fungi, in fact the earthier the better! Or if your feeling a bit more left-field, and you could add a bit to the soup to give it a lavish edge, Madeira would be similarly magic. It's the oldest-lived wine you know?

creamy mushroom soup - hugh fearnley-whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, p152

Sunday, 6 January 2013

sort of delia smith's paella


Christ, what is going on in our lives? I don't think I've ever eaten so many fish in such a short period of time, and tonight the shoals currently slipping down our gullets get a little boost with a hearty dose of prawns and some Milo-endorsed squid - featuring tentacles.

Obviously there were too many polpo parts in Ana's paella, but she was proud to partake of the predominantly prawn pieces.

Oddly this is the first time I've used Delia's version, despite it being in my oldest cookbook which Kayosaurus gave to me in the first couple of years of me taking her daughter off her hands. This is mainly because I'm addicted to the 2005 Delicious version, but it's pretty good, which is just as well as I seem to have misplaced the other one.

Wine Time
Paella is a great gutsy dish which can have a whole world of flavour combinations. When in doubt I stick to local wine matches, and if this had chicken in I'd be opting for a young Rioja - Jovan, Crianza or even new wave vintage - or a Tempranillo (same grape, just aged in oak, so it's fresher). This is more shellfish-based, so you could go with a white Rioja, which are quite on-trend currently, but I think the inclusion of the chorizo make it a great match for a bone dry rose; either a deep fuchsia Spanish Rosado or pale Provencal pink.

paella - Delia Smith, How to Cook Book Two, p106

Saturday, 5 January 2013

nigella's keralan fish curry

Saturday night's alright alright alright, ooo-oo-oo-oooooo! Although chez Barnes rather than hitting the town and getting plastered, Saturday night's alright for recovering from five year-old birthday parties, more man 'flu and watching (and drunkenly weeping) Any Human Heart. Again.

However, much to Ana's chagrin, such louche lifestyles require energy-giving food to fuel all the Lego-building/present-buying/sleeping-in. But can we be cracked to go to the supermarket to buy food? No, and it's raining, so tonight we raid the freezer and lo and behold, one packet of frozen fish ends up yielding a mighty bowl of Nigella's Keralan Fish Curry.

Admittedly we did have to get some coconut milk, but the rest totally came from the freezer, fridge and erm, pantry. Sorry Brothers & Sisters, come the revolution I will be giving the pantry space to a lesbitarian art kollektive.

Being mildly serious for a nano-second, it's one of those dishes that are great if you've got a cold, mainly because it's packed with turmeric, ginger and chilli rather than because Nigella channels Miranda's mother and describes it as being what she calls "temple food". There's also plenty for Milo, which will be interesting as this is something he used to eat loads of as a baby, but as he hasn't had it for a while I'll be keen to see if he's still game.

Wine Time
Curry and fish delivers a whole host of flavours and textures, particularly from the almost antiseptic-tasting turmeric and warming ginger. Generally with eastern food you'd look for something aromatic, but this has a more pungent quality along with the creamy coconut, so I'm going to go with a New World Chenin Blanc which has lots of tropical notes along with some nice acidity and is full-bodied to go with the fish. We had Prosecco though, as it was on offer...

keralan fish curry - nigella lawson, Delicious, February 2009, p83

Friday, 4 January 2013

hot-smoked salmon (mackerel) burger. Again

It's amazing how quickly you can get back into a work routine. Second day after the holidays and already I've overslept massively (having spent the night snoring apparently), and arrived just-about within the parametres of 'on time'. Although to accomplish this feat I had to swap breakfast for showering, and I forget to pack my lunch and wallet. Still, if DT can fast, so can I!

Sadly left-over festive biscuits are no substitute for food, so I arrive home racked by cold and starving rather than healthily fasting, and looking forward to hearty meal of Hugh's mushroom ragout with soft polenta whilst Ana lives it up at the Cinema with Kendra. However, Ana's clearly off-set her day of fasting with urns of tea so there's no milk. Left-overs it is, this time with chips!

Wine Time
I think we did this yesterday - New World Sauv, so probably Kiwi or if you're on a budget Chile does an excellent range of varietals at probably half the price. If you're a bit bored of Sauv, go completely bonkers and get a Gewurztraminer (with or without the umlaut depending where it's from), which has all the crazy tropicality but with less acidity.

hot-smoked salmon burger with cucumber salad - Delicious, February 2010, p21

Thursday, 3 January 2013

hot-smoked salmon burger with cucumber salad

I'm not sure whether 21st January is the most depressing day of the year or not, but I'm pretty blinking sure the first day back at work must win hands down.

Firstly you've actually got to get up, have a shower and get somewhere before midday, if you can believe that, and then you have to do some sort of stuff you probably wouldn't do if you had a choice. Admittedly January in the wine trade is like an extra holiday as most people are pretending not to drink for a month, so I've got plenty of time to make a start on the mountain of paperwork Christmas creates, drink herbal tea and eat left-over biscuits and cake. I suppose by the 21st everybody will be back on it so I'll have to do come proper work. Oh, I get it now.

Anyway, continuing the frugality and health theme, tonight we're all about the fish (omega 3s - yum) and salad (erm, chlorophyll - delicious!), with some thai-flavoured fish cakes. Recession-Britain points are doubled (as are wanky middle-class points) by the fact East Sheen Waitrose is currently styling itself with an 80s Russian vibe, and features only cabbage and beans on the shelves and massive queues at the checkout, so we swop hot-smoked salmon for smoked mackerel. And fresh coriander for dry.

 Still, they're pretty successful - certainly almost as good as the lovely Anna Hansen version made with coconut I'd forgotten about, and with enough for lunch tomorrow - harrumble!

Incidentally, if you want to know what a hard-working wine merchant does over Christmas, it looks a lot like this, or if you want to see me doing my famed Hugh Grant impression, here about half-way through. Gosh.

Wine Time
As we all know mackerel is quite an oily dish, so first-off you need something super crisp, but you've also got some sweet, tropical notes in there from the coriander (even dried), spring onions and ginger, so I think what you need here is a New World Sauvignon. It's got all the lip-smacking acidity you need, with a hefty welly of tropical fruit flavours. A bit like alcoholic Um Bongo.

hot-smoked salmon burger with cucumber salad - Delicious, February 2010, p21

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

the hairy bikers stuffed peppers

As some of you may know, stuffed peppers are the bane of my life: They look like they're going to be amazingly tasty - and generally they are, sort of - but they are the very acme of pfaffage. Hours are spent roasting, skinning, de-seeding, stuffing, re-roasting, and at the end of it all, all you can taste is feta.

Luckily tonight *somebody*, having spent most of December and November cooking for me, has ideas above her station and inspired by their new weight-loss bible is embarking on the good ship Getting Really Cocking Annoyed With Peppers. She won't make that mistake again.

As ever, the end result is pretty blinking tasty, with the obligatory feta getting a run for it's money with the crispy, museli-esque topping of sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, chopped and blanched hazelnuts (she really enjoyed that bit) and breadcrumbs. We will definitely be having it again, especially if Ana cooks it again.

Wine Time
Obviously we're on a mini-detox diet ahead of going to glorious Canada, so we won't be drinking during the week. But, if we were to be eating this again - maybe next week when our will has collapsed, I'd go with something like a Pinot Gris, a French Sauv or even a Riesling. It's the salty, pungent cheese you need to balance here, with some acidity for the salad dressing. Or maybe just several litres of refreshing, healthy water.

stuffed peppers - Dave Myers & Si King, The Hairy Dieters. I don't know what page.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

squash and cumin soup with thyme and chorizo

One day into 2013 and already we're being (relatively) healthy. Admittedly we had spent the morning lolling around the lounge with the McPartlins, battling terrible hangovers with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and scrambled eggs and marmite on toast, before joining the rest of South West London trying to blow away the cobwebs with a hearty walk around Richmond Park.

So what better reward than a hale and hearty soup ticking away on the hob whilst we watch festive animated films, and Ana slept? Naturally we did keep our spirits up with some Christmas chocolate biscuits, but apparently I'm taking them into the office this week, so expect massive weight loss soon.

Anyway, the soup: It was interesting in a good way I think. Certainly roasting it with thyme, and gently frying the onions and garlic with cumin and coriander, gave it a bit of warming oompf, but it also had a sweetness to it, a bit like carrot and coriander soup which is one of my least favourite flavours. Ultimately I think it loses out to Hugh's roast pumpkin soup, which is just delicious - although I will be stealing the herb addition, and chorizo topping.

squash and cumin soup with thyme and chorizo - Delicious, March 2010, p40