Sunday, 30 June 2013

mark sargeant's italian pork chop tagliatelle

I've been been interested in Mark Sargeant for a while now, ever since he unexpectedly pitched up in my hometown of Folkestone with not just restaurant, Rock Salt, but a swanky chip shop next door called The Smokehouse. Lord knows why he'd bother, but I'm glad he has if only because the prices annoy my mother, but the town needs something other than kebab shops and I'm desperate to go next time I'm home.

In the meantime he's popped up in the latest Delicious with a spread of meals that all look well, delicious. First up is a pork'n'pasta affair, complete with spinach and tenderstem broccoli, which looks simple enough to knock together for the massed ranks of the Barnes' of Barnes, and the visiting McCarthy royalty who have spent the day cheering on our Andy at Wimbledon.

It *almost* works. We seemed to have rediscovered pork this year, and the chop is nice and juicy here, helped by the combination of the lemon juice, anchovy fillets and garlic give it a punchy base. Despite this, the whole thing is just a little dry. Next time - and there will be a next time as the flavours are all very moreish - I'm going to add some creme fraiche to make a bit more of a sauce to coat the pasta in.

Wine Time
The sauce is key here: It's piquant with the salty umami flavours from the anchovies, parmesan and garlic, with a large wallop of fresh acidity from the lemon juice. A crisp and acidic white would be pretty good, but pork loves pink, so get a bottle of pale, super-dry rosé in the fridge and you won't go wrong!

italian pork chop tagliatelle - Mark Sargeant, Delicious, August 2013, p91

Saturday, 29 June 2013

#GreatSummerOfBurger Episode 9: Angela Boggiano's ultimate burger

Whilst the Lions let us down this morning, (although I suspect the blame can be more specifically laid at the referee's door for allowing the Wallaby pack to fall over at ever scrum), the rest of the day is fantastic.

It's super hot, we go to the school summer fair, we buy a Darth Vader costume for 50p, we have a pint in the pub with some other parents and kids, we get the paddling pool out, did I mention it's hot? Even better, from my point of view anyway, it's burgers for dinner!

I crave burgers more than ever at the moment, partially I think because of our triumphant #GreatSummerOfBurger campagin, but increasingly because a trip to GBK is agreed reward for finally getting a job. Tonight I've definitely Kiwi Burger on my mind:

Beetroot, pickles, fried egg and melted cheese - mmmm! The base for this towering creation is another new edition for this year's #GreatSummerOfBurger, although it's not a new recipe, Angela Boggiano's Ultimate Burger.

This has been our go-to burger for years, and I can't believe it's taken so long to add it to this year's challenge. I love it, maybe not as much as Silvana Franco's bloody mary burger now, but it's still aces, the twist being you mix in chopped gherkin into the patty, along with red onion and a dash of ketchup. Delish!

Ultimate Beef Burger - Angela Boggiano, Delicious, June 2009, p46

Friday, 28 June 2013

artichoke, asparagus, broad bean and almond pilaf

I'd like to say that one of the problems I have with attempting to eat seasonally whilst supporting UK farmers, is finding honest-to-goodness produce from Blighty. But that's not strictly true, because whilst happy to get all huffy that my asparagus comes from Ecuador rather than Evesham, I still buy it because it's seasonal, and conveniently ignore the fact it's had to fly here so I can buy it.

Sadly my issue is much more prosaic and not particularly ethical: Finding enough recipes to tackle the growing mountain of international asparagus logs building up in the fridge. For one reason or another, this year has been particularly ripe for killer angiosperm recipes, with last night's beetroot and lentil combination and Franco Mazzei's risotto being good cases in point. Tonight is another step in that direction, although to be perfectly honest, it's the not best asparagus dish I've come across.

Sadly, despite a fairly hefty list of ingredients, it's not a hugely flavour-packed meal. In fact it flirts with being a bit wishy-washy, with the strongest notes coming from the lemon juice and the oil from the artichoke oil. Oh well, onwards and upwards.

Wine Time
I'm not going to be surprising anybody I don't think when I suggest a green Sauv might be the way to go, for all the usual reasons of matching the herbaceous flavours of the asparagus as well as the lemon juice. However, let's go slightly off-beam and rather than New Zealand or the Loire, why not try a cheeky hombre from Chile? You might have to do some research to separate the tropical fruit bombs, from the nettle-y numbers you're looking for, but at half the price (generally) it's definitely worth asking some questions in the offie.

artichoke, asparagus, broad bean and almond pilaf - Delicious, June 2013, p99

Thursday, 27 June 2013

bill granger's goats curd and lentil salad with roasted beetroot

Holy shit - look at this:

I think I may have mentioned it at some point previously, but one of the many many benefits of helping out the K-Kats is the weekly chance to pore through her collection of cookery books, before getting all experimental on her time, with one eye on trying stuff out for home. Brucie bonus!

Today she gets to enjoy my very-own made-up mushroom risotto, handily using up her petrified fridge fungi in the process, enlivened with a wee nip of vermouth to help Rafe sleep. Tonight I get to enjoy this experimental salad culled from her copy of Bill Granger's Sydney Food, whilst Ana is lording up her literature knowledge at Book Club.

There's so much to love about this: the earthy lentils, sweet roast beetroot, asparagus, balsamic vinegar and creamy curd cheese. I think it's officially my favourite salad. Of 2013. It's also super, super easy, taking less than 10 minutes, if you discount the roasting time.

Now for message from our sponsors: Usually my balsamic needs are taken care of by Waitrose Essentials and/or the bottle that looks like a mini-jug, you know the one. Anyway, on offer recently was Belazu's Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. Total. Game. Changer.

You think you know balsamic, but I've now discovered the Holy Grail of Modena, Plato's Perfect Form of vinegar if you will. It's thicker than usual, unctuous and honeyed, with a lovely rounded finish from being aged in oak barrels. I promise you, you will not go back once you've tried it.

In other sponsorship news, you will not believe how cheap curd cheese is. According to the lady on the cheese counter, I was the first person she can remember ever buying some. At 60p per 100g, I will be back, if only because I need something to go with the rest of the bunch of beetroot I've roasted.

Wine Time
There are a couple of the red herrings lurking in this recipe: asparagus and lentils. Usually these would be front and centre on the palate, dominating everything around them, but here they only provide background notes to the sweetness of beetroots and balsamic (did I mention you should get some Belazu Balsamic?) and the creamy curd cheese.

With this in mind I reckon what would go down a treat here are either a lovely New World Pinot Noir, which has low tannins and lots of lovely dark fruit flavours OR a good quality Alsatian Riesling, which again has the acidity to balance the claggy qualities of the cheese/lentils, and the necessary residual sugar for the beets/vinegar.

Two of my favourites there, so go wild and crazy.

goats curd and lentil salad with roasted beetroot - Bill Granger, Bill's Sydney Food, p83

PS Asparagus AND Beetroot - I look forward to reporting back on the colour of my wee tomorrow.

PPS Asparagus now from Chile. What is this country coming to?

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

kay's beef stir fry

Gosh, we haven't had this for aaaaages - classic Kayosaurus beef stir fry. To be perfectly honest, I can't say it's planned and it's rebirth is due to a combination of two salient facts:

1. for some reason our salad crisper is full of peppers
2. I forgot to buy the key ingredients required for this week's experimental stir fry

Sometimes, the oldies are the best for a reason. And I'm not just talking about Kay.

kayosaurus' beef and pepper stir fry - Black Book

Monday, 24 June 2013

bill granger's spaghettini with crab, lime and chilli

Back-to-back fish this week, bouyed after the success of yesterday's cod, we're inspired by the delicious crab offering in Bill's Sydney Food. After all, who can resist sweet flakes of white crab meat in warm pasta, scattered with fiery jewels of chilli? Particularly on a hot summer's day, surely it's the perfect combination?

Sadly the reality is far removed from the beautifully styled bowl presented on page 81. Gone are the flakes and jewels, replaced with a brown slurry of fishy-smelling cat sick, liberally spattered with greenish-goo:

It looked terrible. However *however*, despite it's grim looks, it tasted delicious: full of zingy limes, some fruity fire from the chilli and the crab meat was sweet and meaty. I'll definitely try finding some white meat next time, rather than cutting corners with the cheaper, brown stuff. Lesson learned.

spaghettini with crab, lime and chilli - Bill Granger, Sydney Food, p80

Sunday, 23 June 2013

valli little's cod with garlic butter and gremolata

What are traditions for if not tearing down? Today we make our own stand by spurning the chance for a delicious Sunday roast by having an experimental Fish fandango.

To be perfectly honest this was Ana's call, but she's right to insist on us eating more piscky critters, and the fact we're having it on a Sunday is born more out of the fact nothing from Sainsbury's seems to stay fresh so we might as well eat it now as throw it out later.

As it happens, this is pretty unfishy as fish dishes go: Most of the flavour comes from the gremolata and garlic butter, and the cous cous which soaks up most of the butter. Even better, it's a curiously healthy way to end/begin the week, which is something I'd never have ever contemplated.

As much as it pains me to admit it, Mrs B is right, as usual, and even Milo wolfs it down whilst providing his own view of his dinner:

We'll make a blogger of him yet.

Wine Time
Obviously the biggest flavour here is the lemony, herby gremolata, which even overpowers the garlic butter, so you want something equally punchy on the flavour front, whilst retaining the acidity for the fish.

As ever the rule of thumb of drinking from the country your dish is from comes to the rescue as either a mouth-watering Gavi or good quality (note 'good') Soave would be go down a treat here. Also, if you can find it, I suspect an unoaked Italian Chardonnay would also be surprisingly good.

cod with garlic butter and gremolata - Valli Little, Delicious, June 2013, p60

Saturday, 22 June 2013

bill granger's puy lentil soup

I would not blame anybody for giving up on this blog given its general tardiness, quite niche audience and it transpires now, a case of overselling. In this case, last night's burnt-to-a-crip roast chicken which was still soaking in the bowl this afternoon.

Always the critic, especially when hungover, Ana quite rightly points out there's no point bigging up a cookery book if the first thing you cook from it is stuck to the bottom of the dish and tough as old boots. She might have a point, but I'm telling you because I want to, not because she told me to.

So in an effort to show why I love Bill Granger's Sydney Food, I roll out his puy lentil soup for a post Lions victory dinner. It also has the added bonus that I know it's a winner because I've cooked it at Kendras...

Essentially this is Bill's version of minestrone, with the addition of puy lentils.  Given it's provenance I also took the liberty of chucking in a couple of parmesan rinds from the freezer, which definitely adds some oompf.

Luckily for me it goes down a storm with both hungover Ana and hyperactive Milo: It's earthy, filling and stuffed with flavour. It's also pretty quick, has a headache-soothing zen amount of chopping and it turns out, is perfect for freezing. Bill's back in the game.

Wine Time
Plenty to get out teeth into here - sweet, acidic tomatoes, salty parmesan, earthy lentils plus a variety of herbs. Generally with soups you can get away with drinking crisp, dry aperitif wines like Chablis, but with the more rustic-style, heartier varieties you need something a little fuller-bodied. Given this is Italian in intent I reckon a Sangiovese would work a treat, as would I imagine the ever popular Montepulciano.

puy lentil soup - Bill Granger, Sydney Food, p76

Friday, 21 June 2013

bill granger's roast chicken with yoghurt garlic sauce

Since becoming a nanny, I spend my Thursdays casting envious glances through Kendra's cookery books whilst her and Finn are asleep. Obviously once I've finished constructing furniture and washing up, I hasten to say!

Jamie's Italy looks particularly fab, as does Bill Granger's first cookery book, Sydney Food. I've had a couple of great lunchtime snacks from it already, so I was really pleased to get my hands on her copy and start ploughing through it.

However, I suspect drunkenly trying to construct a spatchcock chicken, marinaded in onions, oregano and lemon after spending three hours in the pub celebrating Milo's Sports Day debut, probably wasn't the best idea:

As you can see, it was mainly burned to the bottom of the roasting dish, so tasted mainly of chicken, burnt lemon and burnt oregano. I'm willing to hazard a guess this might be the fault of the chef rather than the recipe, and with this in mind I'll graciously put this one down to experience and try again when I'm less battered.

roast chicken with yoghurt garlic sauce - Bill Granger, Sydney Food, p136

Thursday, 20 June 2013

peter gordon's fried halloumi topped with chilli, spinach, water chestnut, hazelnut, orange and sun-blushed tomato salad

After the chaos of yesterday, there's not an awful lot happening in SW14.

Milo's got a mufti-day at school and is packed off in his shorts and t-shirt, happy as larry, Ana's got her easiest day of the week at school (in so much as working as a teacher is in any way easy of course), and I fanny around in the sun.

The benefit of having time on my hands is I can construct the pfaffiest salad in our repertoire: Peter Gordon's halloumi fandago:

We've had this plenty, do I need to say more?

Wine Time
Even though we're not drinking during the week, we had this with a Rosé on offer in Waitrose: Laurent Miquel's night harvested pink. It's got enough acidity and fruit to stand up to most of the flavours in this dish, but if I was choosing I'd go with something like a new world Sauvignon, which is full of both characteristics. Like the Miquel, it's usually on offer as well, so bargain.

fried halloumi topped with chilli, spinach, water chestnut, hazelnut, orange and sun-blushed tomato salad - Peter Gordon, Salads: The New Main Course, p65

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

prawn, lime and mango salad

It's all going off today, in as much it can go 'off' in Mortlake. Suffice to say we're all out and about: In order of financial importance Ana's at work, Milo's got a school boat trip to Hampton Court Palace and I've got an interview at an agency in Kings Cross. Fingers-crossed eh?

Sticking to the things I can control, Milo's school trip is a fab excuse to make a monster packed lunch, complete with a suitably royal sandwich doodle. It's a scorcher today, so we also go large on water and sun cream.

Given there's a definite 'end of term' air, I've also got a surprise dinner in store for him and Ana: Prawns. Not only that prawns with mango, red onion AND avocado! It's one of Ana's old favourites, and full of Milo-friendly ingredients so surely nothing could go wrong?

Actually it all passes off without comment, relatively. Okay he doesn't eat the salad leaves, but I think double helpings of everything else probably off sets that, which means I'll be hoiking it out of the Black Book sooner than the three years it took for us to rediscover it last time.

A bit like the peach and mozzarella salad, I think the key to successfully creating this dish is ensuring you've got completely ripe avocados and mango, nothing else will do. I've also discovered that blanching the red onion in boiling water for a minute or so, a tip I since picked up from Peter Gordon (I think), makes all the difference for a successful salad.

Wine Time
You've got to stick with the Sauv with this I think, and to be honest you can take your pick from the greener Old World styles, or the tropical fruit bombs of the New World. This is because despite the creaminess of the avocado, the sweetness of the mango and prawns, all of these flavours play second fiddle to the lime dressing, so you might as well suck it up with something equally citric and punchy.

prawn, lime and mango salad - Black Book

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

pasta with asparagus, mint pesto and poached egg

After last night's non-event due to Ana coming down with the lurgy, our ongoing experiment in family eating continues apace with an, in theory, Milo pleasing pasta/pesto combo. We've had it loads and loads, and with the exception of asparagus which we're working on, the parts are all staples of his diet. But will the sum add up to a Milo-friendly meal?

Luckily the trick with him is to let him 'help' as much as he wants, and if that help involves a certain amount of harvesting and blitzing to make the pesto, all the better.  He also likes stirring stuff, but that's a moot point tonight.

As I mentioned last time, it's definitely worth making your own pesto, particularly if you've got mint going crazy in the garden. Other than the asparagus, this was the one element of the dinner I thought would cause problems, but as it was more successful than I thought: He only had the one stem, but everything else was firmly wolfed.

You'll also be pleased to note we've finally managed to source some down-to-earth, common or garden, Heavens to Betsy British Asparagus. But we did have to go to Whole Foods in the Asparagus Triangle (try and see it from my angle) to do it.

Wine Time
As this is such a classic on the blog, I don't feel a huge need to wax lyrical again: A green, elderflowery Kiwi Sauv will tick all boxes

pasta with asparagus, pesto and poached egg - Delicious, May 2005, p110 - now the Parsley Book

Monday, 17 June 2013

Meanwhile, over in Canada...

This weekend we're living it up in glorious Ashton-under-Hill, which usually sounds a death knell for any sort of blog update, mainly due to alcohol reasons you understand - we always eat amazingly there!

Luckily help is at hand care of Lady Harlock of the Hammer, who kindly sent over a picture of her latest BBQ creation: Stuffed portobello mushrooms with sweet potato fries:

I love a good stuffed mushroom, and although we've not dabbled for ages, I'm definitely going to give this a spin sooner rather than later. Although perhaps not on our kettle BBQ... Recipe please Mrs H!

Anybody else fancy sending in their creations, feel free and I'll whack 'em for everybody to salivate over. Particularly if I can use them to fill in the gaps of my tardy writing.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

delia's roasted vegetable cous cous salad with harissa-style dressing

Despite the weather doing it's level best to prove the contrary, it is actually summer here in Blighty at the moment. So once again we stand on the precipice of trying to find enough variety of salad dishes to get us through the next three months. Or two weeks if the last few years have been anything to go by.

Peter Gordon's book have added a couple of stalwarts to the salad cannon, and we've also picked up the odd thai dish here and there to put alongside our regulars: sesame chicken, polpetine, aloo tikka, mediterranean salad and the couple of halloumi dishes I'm regularly forced to cook. Consequently, ever since I picked it up in Tewkesbury in the grim mid-winter, I've been itching to get Delia Smith's Summer Collection out for a play.

I had a mini-dabble last year when Delicious did a piece on it and included her Chicken Basque recipe in the feature, and I've been drooling over the photos ever since, praying for some sun. Featuring cous cous and salad, this  should be an easy sell to Lady Barnes, but the layering in the picture puts her on her guard, as does the look of the roasted veg. I daren't tell her about the goat's cheese. My low-level fears get ramped up when I fail to take into account they didn't have fan ovens back in the day, so the veg ends up slightly more char-grilled around the edges than unctuously roasted.

It surprises us both though as it's much tastier than it looks. Even the burnt bits!

There's a bit of everything going on this dish: The veg (burnt bits aside) is sweet, the dressing is pungent and acidic, and the cheese gives it creaminess: It's really delicious, and very easy to make. Well, it will be next time.

Wine Time
As mentioned above, there's a lot happening here plus the mouth-filling properties of the cous cous, but the two biggest flavour here are the cheese and the rich veg. You're looking for something with weight and acidity, and I'd suggest not too fruity. Chardonnay's apply acidity is a classic roast veg match, but its creaminess would also perfectly snuggle up to the goat's cheese. If you want something a little zingier, go with Chenin Blanc but think Old World Vouvray rather than new world tropicality.

roasted vegetable cous cous salad with harissa-style dressing - Delia Smith, Delia Smith's Summer Collection, p106

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's white beans with artichokes

Last night I was eating leftover burgers and panzanalla from lunchboxes in the fridge whilst Milo refused to go to bed and my erstwhile wives were living it up eating foraged nettle ricotta (hopefully the nettles were foraged, rather than the cheese) at The Shed in Notting Hill, hence the lack of updates.

Today I repeated the trick with Claire's left-over roasted veg, asparagus and quinoa salad for lunch, and by tea-time I'm regretting this commitment to thrift. There are only two upsides to my increased methane output:
1. Most of this evening's run around Kew with Al was jet-propelled. Whilst not recording any personal best, I could at least keep up with the long-legged lug, thanks to quinoa power.
2. Whilst I'm out de-gassing, Ana is forced into the kitchen as she's starving.

Faced with cooking an experimental Delia salad she doesn't want to eat anyway, she takes the path of least resistance and uses up the artichokes in the fridge with a second installment of Hugh's white bean salad. Not only that, she fails to burn the garlic like I do, every time.

I suppose this could technically count as 'left over', because one of the benefits of our new tryingnottoeatasmanyportionspernight fat person diet is we actually do have left-over ingredients. Not only does this mean we're not stuffing as much into our ravening maws of an evening, but you've also got half a meal ready for next week, saving money as well as weight. Sort of.

Wine Time
Roasted artichoke is a bugger to match, but I learned a top tip from one of the restaurants I used to deal with which whilst not 100% accurate, is a pretty good rule of thumb: Think of it in the same terms as that other odd-and-pungent veg, the asparagus. In this case, a really green rather than tropical Sauv should would work a treat, with a big wodge of acidity to counter the oily dressing and powdery cannellini beans.

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

Monday, 10 June 2013

spinach, tomato and chick pea curry

We're all feeling a little brackish after yesterday's BBQ. It's been a slow back-to-school sort-of day, ticking things off our "What have you done today to make you feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel Proud" list, so we're looking for something peppy to put some zing into our Monday.

Another facet to consider comes in the form of a constantly-hungry five year-old, who combines Victorian urchin-esque levels of starvation with previously unfathomable levels of not being tired. Determined to break this habit, tonight he's having a rice and pulses-laden curry with us. Bosh! Yeah, try and claim you're hungry and resist sleep with this weighing you down!

I know I've mentioned this before, but one of the many pleasures of making this dish is the fact you can vary the curry paste every time, so you in theory you can never get bored of it. That and the lovely combination of zippy, warming ginger and earthy chick peas. It's fab for winter or a unseasonably cold summer day.

wine time
We had some left-over beers in the fridge which are an obviously fine match with curry, but if you wanted to drink vino usually I'd recommend either a Carmenere/Merlot if you wanted red, or Riesling/Gerwurtz for whites. However, I had some Cremant du Bourgogne with curry recently and it was divine as the fizz and residual sugar really complemented both the spices and the heat. Even better, it's half the price of Champagne for almost the same juice!

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

Sunday, 9 June 2013

#GreatSummerOfBurger Episode 8: Another cold BBQ

We have a very poor record entertaining people with summer BBQs. It's not for want of trying mind, it's more whatever date we pick is guaranteed to be the one cold and drizzly day in the middle of a run of scorchers.

Today is no different for the hordes of Pettigrews and Harcups eager take part in another exciting installment of #GreatSummerOfBurger, who have to make do with sheltering from the inclemency in-doors. Still, despite these climactic handicaps,  we ate and drank like fat, bibulous kings on a menu that featured:
  • Silvana Franco's Bloody Mary burgers (ably cooked by Milo, with a local 'celebrity' helping out):
  • Silvana Franco's spiced cannellini and cous cous burgers
  • Fino's chorizo and cherry tomato salad
  • Georgio Locatelli's panzanella
  • Belazu's Claire Harcup's quinoa, roasted squash and griddled asparagus salad
  • Much rosé
  • Lots of lager
  • Chocolate puddings
Who needs sunshine, when you've got booze to keep you artificially warm and moaning children to distract you from the mizzly weather?

Actually it was all v jolly, and even better I picked up a couple of top tips. At least, I was able to confirm Greggy McP's tip about pre-cooking the burgers before whacking them on the grill worked a treat - especially if you use a half pork-half beef mix to maintain moistness (oo-er). This doesn't work with the cous cous burgers though. Both got thumbs up though, which was gratifying.

I also discovered I like quinoa and, the longer you leave panzanella in the fridge the better it tastes, but it does need to come out about two hours before serving, otherwise you're essentially eating frozen, stale bread. Luckily everybody was late arriving so it had managed de-chill.

Do with these tips what you want, I judge not.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

angela boggiano's tuna, cannellini bean and red onion salad and peter gordon's fried halloumi topped with chilli, spinach, water chestnut, hazelnut, orange and sun-blushed tomato salad

Nothing to see here. The usual Saturday round of Lego, TV, shopping and chores is only enlivened by yet another triumphant installment of Lions Club. This is partly because Ana's still in recovery from her welcome back to the crease 6k-er yesterday, but more because we're battening down the hatches ahead of some hot BBQ-action chez Barnes tomorrow.

So whilst several sorts of burger are prepped, and the house is scrubbed to within an inch of its life, we have a couple of classic Yummington salads, viz:

Angela Boggiano's tuna and cannellini bean salad:

Followed by a close-ish approximation of Peter Gordon's halloumi salad:

As I say, there's nothing new here, we've seen it all before. Please move along...

tuna, cannellini bean and red onion salad on tomato bread - Angela Boggiano, Delicious, May 2008, p95
fried halloumi topped with chilli, spinach, water chestnut, hazelnut, orange and sun-blushed tomato salad - Peter Gordon, Salads: The New Main Course, p65

Friday, 7 June 2013

tom norrington-davies' chicken, broad bean and chorizo rice

Now today we do have details, well the calendar is marginally filled in anyway, which allows some scope for jogging my memory.

The easy bit is 'Giraffe Class Cake Sale': It was hot, but there was a quick shower. Ana made Bill Granger's jam buttons, and I loitered around behind the table whilst the mum's did a brisk business in angel cakes, biscuits and chocolate lollipops.

'Quiz Night in St Albans' has more painful memories if you're a McPartlin and want to maintain your reputation for organisational abilities, rather than forgetting and going out on a netball night instead. No names mentioned naturally.

The upshot is we have to raid the freezer to concoct something at short notice. Luckily we're never short of chorizo, and our current predilection with Jill Dupliex's broad bean crostini means we're similarly never knowingly out of frozen beans. Nestled happily next to them is half a packet of chicken thighs. A swift browse through the books and we're in business thanks to the sadly under-represented Tom Norrington-Davies and his not-paella-but-clearly-is-paella:

One of the many joys of paella is the lengthy amount time it takes to make it: There are no shortcuts to sofrito, but this does rather limit it to a weekend affair. This version takes about an hour, which just about makes a more-than acceptable school night version, although what you sacrifice are the depths of flavour that only come through satisfying slow-cooking. You also get a lot more tutting as people hang around waiting for their dinner. Still, it's a moreish-if-longer-than-anticipated dinner and I'm pretty pleased to rediscover it.

Wine Time
Let's call it paella shall we? A classic choice would be a super-chilled rosé or a fruity, young Spanish red, but the sheer variety of textures and flavours mean paella can stand-up to a variety of wine choices. The key is to keep it light and fruity if you try a red, think Pinot Noir or tempranillo, or ripe and fruity if go down the white route, like an unoaked Chardonnay, or even a Viognier. Plenty to be getting on with there I think.

chicken, broad bean and chorizo rice - Tom Norrington-Davies, Delicious circa 2005, now the Owl Book

Thursday, 6 June 2013

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's white beans with artichoke

In the interests of moving this blog along (yet again), strap yourselves in for a whirlwind catch-up. Today is a good day to start this process as three months on, I've lost my notes so I've got absolutely no idea what I was doing on this particular day: The calendar is blank, but it does look sunny in the picture...

Let's say I spent the day hard at work applying for jobs, before taking on a number of chores around the house. I did not, repeat NOT spend the day fannying about in the sun.

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

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

#GreatSummerOfBurger Episode 7: bill granger's LA Burger

I'm feeling hot, hot, hot today and cycling to Kings Cross and back for an interview, via Twickenham job centre and then school to pick up Milo hardly helped my soaring temperatures. Although having said that, my calves are now rupped to the tuts.

Scorching sun, sat in the saddle all day, and nothing to eat or drink (thanks interviewer) - it feels the perfect excuse for yet another installment of the cooking trend everybody's calling GSOB! Obviously via Sainsbury's (again) for pickles and cider.

This week's burger of the week comes courtesy of Mr Bill Granger's "Every Day" book - The LA Burger.

I'm not sure in what way LA is relevant to this - maybe something to do with large baps? Anyway, it gets a mixed reception chez Barnes: Ana decides it's not her favourite compared to the Bloody Mary Burgers, and when she finds out it's got fennel seeds and pork in it, she pulls a better/worse face. I quite like though; I like the freshness of the fennel, and I like the fact pork is juicier and less dense than beef. However, I make the same mistake as last time and make them patties too thick, so they took ages to cook. Even then they were still slightly raw, and I had to cut them in half and and cook the middles.

Here are the scores on the doors so far:
1st Silvana Franco's cannelini burgers
2nd Bloody Mary Burgers
3rd Delicious Turkey Burgers
4th Greg & Lou's super-dense Dorset Beef Bad Boy Burgers
5th Bill Granger's LA Burgers

LA Burger - Bill Granger, Every Day, p86

Monday, 3 June 2013

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

Summer is deffo on the way; it's bright, warm and sunny and even better (well relatively anyway) there's an inset day at school so we've got an extra day to entertain a hyper-active five year-old after the weekend.

The best way is the simplest way - four hours swimming, a quick trip to the supermarkets, getting an exhaust put on the car, some gardening before finishing with some intense contact now he's been inspired by the mighty Lions to actually want to learn to pass the ball. He also likes his new future Welsh cap name, Milo Wyn Barnes.

Job done, we can kick back with some more redundancy-based bickering, pink wine and pseudo-fasting chicken noodle soup. Although without the noodles, obvious, as they're full of evil carbs.

Interestingly tonight we make it with mini-chicken fillets rather than the big boomshankas as they were on offer, but ultimately they weren't as good. The meat was drier and tougher, although I suppose next time I'm lured by cheap breasts I could simply add them to the poaching liquid later.

Also, did anybody catch the new Simon Hopkinson show on More4? Thoughts, other than about the total shiteness of the website?

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

Sunday, 2 June 2013

jill dupliex's white bean polpettine

For athletes, we're very hungover. Yesterday not only was there the first installment of Lions Club to contend with (take that BaaBaas!), we followed it up with a Giraffe class lunch at our neighbours, Nick and Serena's.

Now the thing here is other than being lovely people in their own right, Nick is also the Nick Bell, former chef at Lanesborough and Bocca di Lupo. Having done my homework using scraps of information he's dropped at various PTA things here and there, I'm secretly very excited, and the table heaving full of rustic Italian fare did not disappoint, even if my memory has been somewhat blunted by lager.

Still today we're in recovery mode, and with Milo full from a birthday party, we opt for something light and quick. Do Poplettine count as 'burgers'? Despite being very similar to Silvana Franco's genius spiced cannellini and cous cous burgers we decide not, although I imagine if I made two massive patties rather than the smaller balls, they might just edge into the universal set of burgers. Anyway, as ever they are aces, although a conversation with Brenda reveals the Delicious version I cook, with salami in, is different to her recipe in Jilly D's book Delicious culled it from. I know, I'm sad.

white bean polpettine - Jilly D, the Parsley Book