Monday, 29 July 2013

jill dupliex's spaghetti alla carretiera

Let's face it, I've done zero experimenting since Ana and Milo left, and with one day to go before I get to kick back Wootton-stylee, I don't think we'll be doing much this time. Instead I feel like entertaining myself with an old favourite: Jill Dupliex's spaghetti alla carretiera.

It's a great combination of meaty tuna, and pungent and fleshy porcini mushrooms, all wrapped up in spaghetti. And another helping of huge squares of parmesan of course. It's feels deceptively light eating it, but I struggle to finish more than one plate, although I obviously struggle through.

Looking back, Mrs Dupliex's got a lot to answer as even a cursory glance down her list of recipes reveals pretty much a greatest hits of our favourite meals: Sesame chicken salad, polpettine, lamb tagliata, and the newly-discovered broad bean crostini to name but four. Interestingly this isn't one of Ana's faves, but it's a meal I look forward to as soon as the door slams on her bottom on her way out. Not that I don't miss her or her bottom of course...

jill dupleix's spaghetti alla carretiera - Jill Dupleix, Delicious, May 2007, p80

Sunday, 28 July 2013

raffaele and renata giacobazzi's cotechino al'Inglese

I'd like to wax long and lyrical about entertaining Mr Peter Magnus Leary this afternoon. To share the wide-ranging literary and sporting conversations we had, and the erudite and highly witty jokes bandied around in the afternoon sun, but I can't.

This is mainly because having met him at the station, we accidentally ended up in the pub between there and home for 3 hours, and then watched random Alpine stages of the Tour de France on the computer whilst drunkenly burbling about stuff we didn't really understand.

All of which impacted not only on making of lunch, but also my memories of eating it. This is a shame, and not just because of my fearsome hangover, as it's one of my very favouritist dinners to both make and wolf down. I mean, just look at it:

It's glorious! There's something amazingly warming and comforting about the combination of garlicky sausages, earthy lentils and the crunchy Yorkshires that puts a smile on face whilst I'm in the kitchen, and an even bigger one once it's in my mouth.

Wine Time
Obviously this was entirely wasted on us at the time, but I'd actually done some research on this before I went shopping, and came back with two reasonably (sub-£10) Italian reds I thought would be perfect: A Barbera and a Montepulciano D'Abruzzo. They probably were brilliant...

cotechino al'Inglese - Raffaele and Renata Giacobazzi, Delicious, May 2007, p56

Saturday, 27 July 2013

thai pork vermicelli salad


What better feast for a chap whose just run 20K around Richmond Park in the searing heat, than a cooling a brewski and a delicious double-helping (seeing as there's nobody to share the wok with), of spicy pork and noodles?

Admittedly it doesn't fall under the usual 'experimental' banner that comes out to play when Ana and Milo do one, but I think the addition of a packet of Singapore noodles which were reduced in Mr Waitrose's food emporia give it the necessary quotient of 'newitude':

Sadly though, whilst I bow to no man in my love of Singapore noodles, these are more carcinogenic and chemical than rich and spicy. Fortunately I had plenty of left-over marinade to kill their plastic-y flavours.

It's also a lesson learned, and whilst the pork was lovely and juicy, and the veg crispy, there's clearly a reason why fluorescent yellow noodles are half the price of the normal sort.

thai pork vermicelli salad - Delicious, June 2012, p115

Friday, 26 July 2013

nasi goreng with fried egg

Look at this - not only using up the prawns from monday, but a random yellow pepper (I can't remember what it's from) and the rest of the green beans, and all topped off with the last egg.

Man, I'm good, and whilst I'm taking one for the team and emptying the fridge for the good of the environment, Ana and Milo are getting into the holiday spirit:

nasi goreng with fried egg - Waitrose Kitchen - January 2012, p86

Thursday, 25 July 2013

mozzarella, peach and parma ham salad

There's not a great deal going on here today. Other than packing, packing and more packing as Ana and Milo are off on their annual summer retreat to the Isle of Wight.

The upshot is before I can get experimental in the kitchen, I need to empty the fridge of this week's leftovers. Luckily we're dealing with #middleclassleftovers - parma ham and peaches...

Now, to more pressing middle class woes, what to do with the prawns in the fridge?

mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad - Delicious, 2005 now the Parsley Book

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

summer spaghetti

Schools out for summer, so like all good middle-class parents we decide to finish Milo's education the correct way: Down the pub, with crisps, beers and a couple of other similarly, educationally-minded parents. Okay so he can't write yet, but these are exactly the sort of life-lessons he'll thank us for when he's hanging off the bar at Swansea University...

What better way to round off some celebratory drinks in the sun, than with a super-quick spaghetti recipe? Despite the fact I always have to convince Ana that she likes summer spaghetti, there's something for everybody in this flavour-packed, summery plate: Chorizo, oregano, chilli, and lemon with the added bonus of becoming the new home for my new favourite tangy cheese, cow curd:

Obviously Ana's wrong (and has to admit it's lush), and I am right. Although Milo does pick out all the green beans and oregano.

Wine time
As you might have picked up, there's a lot going on this plate, but it's all underpinned by the sweet, acidic tomatoes, the punchy chorizo and the herbal oregano. Consequently you can go one of three ways with this, ticking two boxes with each:

  1. A fruity Cotes du Rhone, look for one with garrigue flavours which will complement the oregano;
  2. An extra-dry rosé, which will cut through the cheese and balance the tomatoes;
  3. A Sauvignon de Touraine, whose acidity will again cut through the cheese, tame the tomatoes and it's green flavours won't go amiss either.
Take your pick.

summer spaghetti - Delicious, July 2011, p38

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

mozzarella, peach and parma ham salad

Despite last night's massive portions of salad, the fridge seems to still be curiously full of greenery. I suppose this is what happens when the menfolk go away for the weekend, leaving Ana in charge of shopping: 10 bags of spinach and a copy of Zest.

Still needs must when the devil drives, although to be honest it's no hardship either morally or time-wise to assemble one of our favourite salads, before chowing down in the garden with a lovely glass of Sauv and an equally lovely wife:

mozzarella, peach, basil and parma ham salad - Delicious, 2005 now the Parsley Book

Monday, 22 July 2013

prawn, lime and mango salad

After a weekend under canvas, living off as much barbecued food and local ale as possible, it's time to get back on the health bus - for me as much as him.

Given we've still got a fridge full of mango and avocado, it seems silly not to chow down on another helping of last week's prawn, lime and mango salad:

prawn, lime and mango salad - Black Book

Friday, 19 July 2013

#GreatSummerOfBurger Episode 10: Waitrose aberdeen angus peppercrusted burger

It's been cracking summer so far, so determined to make the best of it myself and Milo head out to the wilds of Kent for a weekend's camping, with a side-order of using up our free Leeds Castle ticket.

Of course we can't legislate for the rest of London heading down the M20 at exactly the same time as us, using up the only nice weather of the weekend in a traffic jam. More disappointing is the next installment of the #GreatSummerOfBurger, tonight featuring pepper-crusted Aberdeen Angus burgers from the Waitrose meat counter.

I'll admit the three-hour Kent car park may have put me into a bit of a bad mood, and the fact the fire kept going out didn't improve it, but surely the smell and sizzle of some quite thick beef patties can lift the heart of any proto-caveman?

Sadly the smell (and sound) far out did the flavour which ended up being dominated by the peppery-herb crust, with a disappointingly watery body to the patty. Boring.

There must be an easy way to make burgers at home, before transporting them to a camp site for that night's dinner, because fire cooked burgers not only taste delicious, their smell and promise puts extra pep into any tent erecting going on. As does a couple of cheeky brewskis on ice.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

delia smith's chicken basque

We're at the arse-end of the shopping as Ana's out at a wedding tomorrow and us boys are off on a camping weekend in t'country.

However, rather than the usual panicked raiding of the freezer, with a side-order of marmite on toast, today I'm fully prepared to use up the shriveling green pepper, the random tomatoes and the lonely orange, because having recently lured Ana with Delia's roasted veg and cous cous salad, her chicken basque is lurking fresh in mind.

 It certainly looks much prettier than last time, with the added bonus that I didn't burn the rice to the bottom of the pan. If you like paella, but can't be bothered to spend ages at the stove, definitely give this dish a whirl: Despite the rice giving it some heft, the spices and orange really lighten the load, and the chicken is deliciously succulent - it's a perfect summer dinner.

Wine Time
Tomatoes and orange are going to be a hard match but the key here is the fruity acidity they bring to the dish. Rosé is going to work well here, but anything with some fleshy, bright fruit will go well. If you're sticking with Spain, look for a good Rueda which has a nice green apple bite or an Albarino if you're feeling flash. A young red Tempranillo will also work well here, especially if you chill it - gasp!

chicken basque - Delia's Smith's Summer Collection, p130

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

tom kime's kebab ki baraz (lamb meatballs with a sour cherry sauce)

After a week mucking about in the countryside, entertaining Norwegians (and small children) variously in sunny Ashton-under-Hill followed by glamorous SW14, we're back on the diets. Not that the past week has been a dietary disaster of course, but there has been a lot of booze being knocked back which no amount of running in searing heat can off-set.

So tonight we're back with a super-tasty Moroccan-inspired meatball recipe, which handily uses up about 1Kg of the cherries we foraged behind Dave and Lucy's house:

We don't have this dish enough for my liking. I love the spices and herbs that really lift the lamb mince, but the sour cherry sauce makes all the difference, and really peps up the cous cous.

Wine Time
Lamb and cherries? I don't think I'll be looking any further than a Pinot Noir, which is bursting with sour red cherry flavours, which handily also cuts through the fatty meat. If you did want to go elsewhere,  a young, spicy rioja would also go down a treat, as its spicy notes would mingle nicely with the herbs in the meatballs.

kebab bi karaz - Tom Kime, Australian Delicious but now the Skull Book

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

delia smith's roasted vegetable cous cous salad with harrissa and valli little's courgette spaghetti with pesto

After yesterday's love-in, we're back to marital strife today, although luckily it's dinner/lunch-based rather than anything more tragic.

To be honest we can't hate each other too much as we spent most of the day ignoring the sun, sat on the sofa watching back-to-back Tour de France. It's only when food is required that it all goes slightly awry, firstly with a late-ish lunch. It being summer, the fridge is full of courgettes, and I know Ana loves a courgette, so a Valli Little experimental pretend pasta dish of courgette 'spaghetti' is obviously going to be a winner, particularly off the back of last night's experimental winner, also care of Valli's rainbow rhythms healthy meals:

I could not be more wrong, and not even an extra big glass of lunchtime white can offset her disgust. In fact she only has one mouthful before giving it the widest of berths, and she's more annoyed when I nick off to pick Milo up without making her a replacement lunch. Having eaten two bowls, I think she had a small point - certainly you need to make sure you strip the mint properly, otherwise your pesto ends up 'woody' - but otherwise I think this amazing. It's fresh, lemony and filling - perfect for the Yummington. Still, 1-0 to Ana.

By the time it gets to dinner she's clearly wary, and there is some extended low-level bickering about having Delia's roasted vegetable cous cous salad: She's never had it, it won't taste nice, it looks horrible etc

Luckily I know a blog that will not only prove we've had it before, it'll also indicate that Lady Barnes was pleasantly surprised how tasty it was. Luckily it's even better this time around, mainly because I didn't burn the veg, making it feel lighter than previously, and I also swapped the goat's cheese for the infinitely more Ana-friendly feta. It's a total winner, and means we end the evening with an honorable draw, 1-1.

courgette spaghetti with mint and basil pesto - Valli Little, August 2013, Delicious, p110
roasted vegetable cous cous salad with harissa-style dressing - Delia Smith, Delia Smith's Summer Collection, p106

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

valli little's char siu beef and tenderstem broccoli stir-fry

Having been at each others throats for most of the summer, due to financial pressures I hasten to add rather than any fading affection, it's nice to remember that we do love each other, and it's nice being married to each. And our eighth wedding anniversary seems a good enough reason as any to remind ourselves that each of us is really alright, even if one of us doesn't clean the bathroom enough for the other's liking, and one of us is massively OCD.

Strangely for our anniversary we've got something completely new and experimental, rather than a comforting curry. Not only that, according to Delicious it's also extra good for us because it harnesses the powers of the rainbow!

 It's cobblers of course, but it is another Valli Little humdinger - spicy, filling, quick and super, super-tasty. Happy anniversary us!

I'd like to show you a picture of our happy family unit eating together in the garden, enjoying each others company and good food in the evening sun, but David Irving Ana has vetoed the picture of her - despite the fact she's looking magma hot - so you'll have to make do with a) the fab card she got me:

And b) me and Milo celebrating on her behalf:

 She's a silly sausage, but I still love her...

char siu beef and tenderstem broccoli stir-fry - Valli Little, Delicious, August 2013, p110

Monday, 8 July 2013

jill dupleix's sesame chicken salad with celery and cucumber

The *other* best thing about roast chicken are the left-overs, and if you can resist picking the warm flesh off the carcass and chowing down on the still-crispy skin, box it all up - including any remaining gravy/juice - bung it in the fridge, and you'll find you've got everything you need to knock-up super Jilly D's fantastic asian-inspired sesame chicken salad.

It's obviously one of our favourites, but you should really give it a go. It's stuffed with crunchy carrots and cucumbers, along with juicy chicken pieces, zingy lime and a sweet-sour sauce made up from peanut butter and some other cupboard staples. It just lifts your mood, and is perfect for a warm evening. Go on,  give it a go - 'tis easy!

Wine Time
Generally with asian food, swirling as it is with acidity, spicy heat and umami flavours, you should look for a crisp, white with a little bit of sweetness in it. Classic matches include off-dry Rieslings, Gewurtztraminers, Moscato, and Prosecco. Luckily we till had some Viognier in the fridge from yesterday, which also fits the bill a treat.

sesame chicken salad with cucumber and celery - Jill Dupleix, the Owl Book

Sunday, 7 July 2013

roast chicken and salad

After a long weekend spent either on the Isle of Wight running grandparents into the ground and surfing, or hungover after another drunken parent's pot luck, followed by Sean and Suzie's wedding of the year, we're all back in the SW14 hood for sunday dinner en familie.

As it's so clement, and with headaches lurking behind the eyes of adults, we settle on a relaxed roast chicken salad, sat in the late-afternoon sun. What could be better, and I love everything about this meal, the chicken, the rocket and avocado salad (with pumpkin seeds), yellow cherry tomatoes and a baguette, all of which are key ingredients for a cracking sandwich. Although not if your wife cuts the bread crostini-style:

Luckily enough I'm not the only one who like a good roast chicken, although we're still working on the rocket...

Wine Time
Roast chicken is an amazing beast in wine terms, as it can happily snuggle up to a huge variety of flavours, mainly because it lacks oompf itself. With a simple roast like this one, you could easily go with anything from a buttery Chardonnay, to a minerally Gavi or a zippy Sauv, taking pretty much all compass point in between. We decided (mainly because it was on offer) to chill a bottle of Viognier brimming with peach note and mouth-watering acidity, and it was really very tasty. The second bottle tasted even better, which I think is the mark of a good wine.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

jamie oliver's chicken, olive and preserved lemon tagine

Tagines are made for entertaining: They are the glamorous face of stews and casserole, you can leave them to cook themselves, and even better they seem to primarily be made up from cheaper ingredients - preserved lemons aside of course.

This chicken version is also perfect for tonight's book club as it's completely lady friendly because the lemons give the illusion of being lighter than most tagines, keeping it fresh and packed with mouth-watering flavours. More importantly, given this club is entirely populated by women, there's more-than enough left over for my lunch tomorrow.

chicken, olive and preserved lemon tagine - Jamie Oliver, Jamie Does..., or you can find it right here.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

gennaro and carluccio's borlotti bean soup

Soup is a funny thing. You naturally think of it as a winter staple, but I think we're slowly developing a fair clutch of summer versions that work just as well after a hot July day as a wet and woolly November one.

Gazpacho is an obvious choice, but I've noticed the summer versions tend to fall into two styles: Spicy Asian-influenced broths, like Vietnamese beef noodle soup and Tom Norrington-Davies' classic chicken noodle soup with mint and lemon, and those that can trace their lineage to minestrone. Bill Granger's puy lentil soup is a good example, as is tonight's fare - Gennaro Contaldo and Antonio Carluccio's borlotti bean soup:

I think the latter versions work mainly because they're predominantly tomato-based, and they manage to retain their acidity which keeps the soup fresh and vibrant, and perfect for warmer weather.

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