Monday, 30 September 2013

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

It’s a Monday so naturally we’re both struggling with the howling wolves of starvation that take up residence in our stomachs each week, crying out for food. Just a nibble, for the love of Pete…

For a couple of reasons I seem to fair okay-ish this week, partly I suspect because of roast overload yesterday, and also because I’m on a training course for most of the day, so I’m otherwise too engaged to notice any pangs of hunger. Having said that, my stomach rumbled all the way through the late afternoon session, which turned out to be a boon as its growling woke me up from my powerpoint-induced slumbers before too many people noticed.

Back home, I’ve noticed another corollary of weekly fasting other than being grumpy, losing weight and drinking lots of tea/coffee, and that’s the unexpected benefit of massively increased efficiency in putting Milo to bed. I’d like to claim this is because we’re both highly caring parents, completely focused on his well-being, but it’s not. The truth is we’re starving, so the longer he stays up, the later we get to eat our daily allowance of calories, and in fact if Ana had her way he’d be in bed by 4.30.
At least the pfaffing around in the bath and fannying around reading stories allows one of us time to poach some chicken ahead of making our by-now-traditional chicken noodle soup, with lemon and mint:
And no noodles, obviously, as they’re far too calorific.

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

Sunday, 29 September 2013

slow-cooked onion and cider soup with gruyere toasts and roast chicken

Having had a good dump of snow after Christmas, and enjoyed the first good summer for what seems like years, 2013 looks like delivering the full monty as autumn seems to be developing in some style: Warm, sunny but with a little edge in the air and a tang of wood smoke on the breeze. In fact, what better way to spend a sunny afternoon (whilst Ana is getting her hair styled), than kicking around the golden leaves by Barnes pond looking for conkers?

The obvious answer is ‘getting our arses back home to start cooking Sunday lunch for the impending arrival of guests’, but as ever we spurn the sensible option and fill up our bags with conkers, thus allowing the minimum time possible to make a two-course lunch for four adults and three children.

The usual complexities of turning out a roast, on time, at the same time, are further banjaxed by the mysterious disappearance of the potato peeler. Still, a mere two hours later than planned, we’ve got an experimental cider onion soup:

Followed by a roast with cauliflower cheese, roast potatoes, carrots (slightly under done), roast golden beetroot and over-tired, hyper-active children, who finish the evening sat in their pants in the bath.

Still, it’s not as late as my famed New Year’s Eve meal of 2000, which due to a combination of not allowing for the size of the oven and being drunk, saw a gap of six hours between a starter of stuffed squash & gruyere soup at 19.30 and a main meal being ready at 02.30.  Ana, Kendra, Greg, Amanda, Bill, Nicky, Ellie and Rob know what I'm talking about...

slow-cooked onion and cider soup with gruyere toasts - Delicious, November 2009, p86

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

allegra mcevedy's karma soupra

It’s remarkable how quickly you settle back into the routines of work, and I include all three of us in this sweeping statement: Ana gets up unfeasibly early and gets ready whilst pretending to be quiet and occasionally making me tea. I’ll get up, make two lots of packed lunches and wrangle Milo out of pajamas and out the door.

In the evening Ana does the wrangling, and get back in time for some stories and to cook, whilst she does her homework. It’s like the last year hasn’t happened.

Our precarious financial state make things are even slicker, even allowing for a mild Milo tantrum, as we’re raiding the freezer in the countdown to payday. Tonight it’s a re-run of Allegra Mcevedy’s fabulously warming Karma Soupra, with an added handful of lentils to bulk things out:

karma soupra - Allegra McEvedy, Delicious circa 2005, now the Parsley Book

Monday, 23 September 2013

simon rimmer's italian bean casserole

Having generally lorded it up over the last month or so how easy I’ve found fasting on Mondays, today it all comes back to bite me in the bum.
I blame yesterday’s Sunday roast-a-thon at JPs, complete with double-helpings of both lamb, roasties, red wine and sticky toffee pudding. I think in trying to offset today’s deficit a day ahead, I’ve accidentally opened a massively hungry can of worms. Fat worms that are really, really hungry.
Stomachs started rumbling within seconds of waking, and continued all day, all through the 1500 starvation witching hour, all the way home and right up until the point I’d heated up some of Simon Rimmer’s Italian Bean Casserole we’d carefully secreted in the freezer last time we had it.
It was a little soupier as I added a can of tomatoes, but not enough to deaden the flavours of the herbs. Obviously it’d have been nicer with some parmesan, but you can’t underestimate the value of having  dinner pretty much ready when you return home, when you would willingly eat your own arm off.
Sadly though, the casserole did not assuage our groaning tums, which continued to gurgle all through The Killing and deep into the night.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

hugh's north african squash and chickpea stew

Other than a roast, nothing says autumn is on it's way more than a hearty stew ticking away on the hob, and guess what's cooking tonight?

Funnily enough I'm not as famished as I usually am after yesterday's 5:2 starvathon, so I don't have to instantly make a huge pile of sandwiches when I get home. This means I've got more time to chop up squash/onions/garlic/celery when I get home, and indeed get a bit frisky with some left-over chorizo lurking in the fridge.

What we end up with is a great heart-warming, satisfying stew which is made even richer by the addition of the chorizo, which adds a piquant dimension and greater depth for flavour. This is all to the good as we both knackered, hence the picture wobble:

There's simply too much to do at the moment, and things aren't helped by a Milo discovering hitherto untapped mines of energy after some post-school swimming.

And if we weren't sure it the seasons were turning, watching The Killing is final confirmation. We still can't work out whodunnit though...

north african squash and chickpea stew - HFW, River Cottage Veg Everyday, p30

Monday, 16 September 2013

mimi spencer's chicken stir fry

Do you know the worst thing about doing the 5:2 diet? It's not the actual day, although the hour between 1500 and 1600 went very slowly today, but it's the paucity of recipes out there that come in at under 300 calories.

Generally, I don't struggle too badly with it, with the obvious caveat I'm only doing it one day a week compared to Ana's two: I think Monday's are an easy day to cope with mainly because you're probably full from the weekend, plus everybody is a bit sleepy and you've got to crack on with getting the week going. My top tip is rewarding myself with a black americano for 'lunch', which also helps get through to the evening, but then rather than looking forward to dinner, I'm just a bit bored by it.

Tonight is a good case in point: Having vowed never to cook it again, we're having the same Thai chicken salad recipe we had last week. We've also had the steak and roast veg salad two weeks running. I think what I'm trying to say is, does anybody out there have any brilliant, sub-300Kcal recipes we can nick?

Having said that, the Thai salad turns out to be easier to cook this time around, and therefore I'm more amenable to it. In fact it's not too far off tasting like Jilly D's seasame chicken salad, which is ludicrously popular round our way and therefore 'a very good thing'. It's also surprisingly hearty, although I suspect the addition of beansprouts which I forgot last week probably helps...

What does NOT work on a fasting day though, is watching food porn. Luckily every minute spent salivating with a grumbling stomach watching the Hairy Bikers cook blackberry duffs was offset by the calories spent smacking my forehead in exasperation at the utter shite presented in Jamie's budget twatfuckery. Alors!  

chicken stir fry - mimi spencer & dr michael mosley, The Fast Diet, p143

Sunday, 15 September 2013

roast pork and veg

How the seasons turn! This week started off with a slight whiff of autumn in the air, and finished in a deluge of rain, wind and leaves. Luckily there was a small window of opportunity for small boys (and dads) to have a kick about in the sun this morning, but by lunchtime it was chucking it down.

Even better from our point of view, Milo was at a birthday party in the afternoon, which gave us a two hour glimpse of what our lives were like before we had the blonde bomber.

We drank tea, listened to the radio, read the paper and roasted a pig. OK, I suspect Ana might have wanted to do more paper-reading and less planning, but it was still the sort of peaceful Sunday afternoon you see on the TV. We even had the heating on, and for once we’re not having roast chicken, nice though they are, but dabbling with pork and crackling instead:

If I'm brutally honest I slightly overdid the pork, which was a little dry (as was the crackling) and we might have to invest in some apple sauce, but I’m pretty pleased with my porcine debut.

Even Milo had seconds, although he didn’t eat as many peas as we’d like, and I’ve got enough in the fridge for sandwiches at work this week. Time will tell if Ana’s seal of approval is a genuine desire to have it again, or if it’s one of her temporary 'likes'.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

rick stein's kati rolls with pickled red onion

Despite being back at work, and therefore no longer having a reason to bicker at each other, today we’re in full-on snipe mode.

I rather suspect it’s precisely because of work (and the fact we stayed up extra late to finish watching Game of Thrones), that we’re temporarily at loggerheads: We’re tired, and with both of us out all week the flat is overflowing with dirty washing, dishwashers which need emptying, toys that need picking up plus small boys who need almost-constant entertaining. Plus Ana’s got lots of planning. 

Weekends are no longer fun and we’re going to have to get ourselves slightly more organised so we don’t have to spend next Saturday doing chores all day. Even worse, having looked forward to it all week after the triumphs of the Chicken Chettinad, Cabbage Thoram and prawn thingy, the next installment of our Rick Stein Curry odyssey turns out to be a bit of a damp squib.

They look nice, and to be honest they tasted quite nice, but essentially Kati rolls turn out to be small steak sandwiches: A main meal after spending all day washing/tidying/shopping/entertaining they do not make.

Having said that, Milo liked his, and I think if you swap the paratha for a thinner chapatti, and maybe even throw in dhal to dip it in, and add some shredded lettuce to the wrap, they’ll make a much more satisfying dinner. Plus beer, they need beer.

kati rolls with pickled red onion - Rick Stein, Delicious August 2013, p44

Friday, 13 September 2013

simon hopkinson's tomato curry

Rain rain go away, come again another day. What is it with this country and our extremes of weather? One week we’re sweltering in the hottest summer since we were riding BMXs in satin, split leg shorts and John McEnroe t-shirts, the next we have to get boats to work. I mean really?

Luckily for my usual lunchtime sandwich and reading routine outside of the Home Office, I have an invite to the prestigious Channel 4 canteen for lunch with DVD diva Ashley Smith. It’s good to see some things never change, and I include the fish and chips I had, which I’m fairly sure has been on the hotplate since I left five years ago…

After a post work beer for me, and post work wine for Ana and Milo, we all arrive home cold and bedraggled, and ready for something warming. Unfortunately the fridge doesn’t seem to agree, so whilst Ana reads to Milo in bed, I managed to knock up a version of Simon Hopkinson’s super-warming tomato curry using two packets of cherry tomatoes and half a can of coconut milk. It’s a pretty good approximation, and if anything the cherry toms give it a lick of sweetness you don’t get from their bigger brothers.

t’s also a perfect accompaniment to the last two episodes of Game of Thrones. And a bottle of vino. All in all, a pretty good end to a damp Friday night.

tomato curry - Simon Hopkinson, Delicious, November 2007, p86

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

mimi spencer's chicken stir fry

Why is everything in The Fast Diet book such an enormous pain in the cock to prepare and cook for such little reward? Other than feeling virtuous for five minutes of course, before your stomach starts rumbling again...

For a variety of reasons, we won't be having this again.

chicken stir fry - mimi spencer & dr michael mosley, The Fast Diet, p143

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

bill granger's porcini and pancetta risotto

I like to think because I can now cook this, (with occasional minor variations), without Mr Granger's help that this is my very own recipe. For legal and moral reasons I suspect this isn't so...

porcini and pancetta risotto - Bill Granger, Feed Me Now, p76

Monday, 9 September 2013

Friday, 6 September 2013

magic bean soup and 'porrot'

This morning I invented my own breakfast: porridge with grated carrot, or porrot. I'm still trying to convince myself it was huge success a few hours later, but I don't think it'll catch on. Milo won't even touch his, so I have to have both bowls whilst making him some more porridge.

In better news, I briefly rediscovered the recipe for magic bean soup - yay! But I have since managed to lose it again. Still, it looked nice:

Thursday, 5 September 2013

rick stein's dry curry of cabbage, carrot and coconut and haddock with watercress and radish salad

Fasting food for Ana:

Experimental curry for me:

haddock with watercress and radish salad - Delicious One Month Healthy Eating Plan, February 2007, p13
dry curry of cabbage, carrot and coconut (thoran) - Rick Stein, Delicious August 2013, p47

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Monday, 2 September 2013

seared steak on mediterranean vegetables

seared steak on Mediterranean vegetables - Delicious One Month Healthy Eating Plan, February 2007, p12

Sunday, 1 September 2013