Thursday, 31 October 2013

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

hannah thompson's kaukswe noodles

There’s nothing like making things hard for yourself when time is short to really get the blood pumping. Usually this ends up in complete disaster but for some reason definitely not related to the fact Ana is out with Kendra, not only does all of the following get done, it gets done well:
  • One out two pumpkins is carved for Halloween tomorrow. Iron Man turns out to be surprisingly easy, even allowing for the tiny canvas I’ve got to work with;
  • Rather than discarding them, I make Gizzi Erskine’s cumin, paprika and salt-roasted pumpkin seeds as a delicious snack:

  • Wash up and tidy the kitchen
  • Glue new go-faster red handles onto my beloved Brompton
  • Watch the new Poirot. Well ‘new’, but you know what I mean
  • Do some research on Comedy Central ahead of my interview tomorrow morning
  • Make possibly the pfaffiest, messiest soup I’ve ever made, featuring rubbing chicken legs with turmeric, cooling chicken legs, removing the meat and chopping it, making a curry-paste, making a thickening paste with gram flour (which didn’t thicken and just stayed a gloopy splodge later discovered on my spoon), and then and only then, mixing it all up with coconut milk to make the soup proper, before adding noodles. Oh, and boiling an egg for garnish.

Unsurprisingly there’s more carnage in the kitchen than in the country house Poirot is lurking around but it is well worth the effort, and just in time to be brainwashed into going on a Viking River Cruise.

Even better, I can see some shortcuts I can make with the recipe which hopefully mean there will be less mess and fewer steps.

kaukswe noodles - hannah thompson, Delicious, October 2013, p34

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

hot chilli and my very first loaf of bread

Apologies, the chilli is slightly out of focus...

...and although the bread is in focus, it turns out it wasn't quite cooked enough, and is still a little bit doughy inside:

Can I be cracked to try this experiment again, or shall I accidentally 'kill' the starter and fill the Kilner jar with stuff?

Monday, 28 October 2013

poached egg and new potato salad with crispy bacon and mustard dressing

ONLY 255kcals? I can't believe it so much I eat two portions, just in case.

poached egg and new potato salad with crispy bacon and mustard dressing - Delicious One Month Healthy Eating Plan, February 2007, p10

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Monday, 21 October 2013

mimi spencer's thai salad

Once again fasting day dawns with a vengeance. This end of the year gets harder not only because the last thing you want after a wet and woolly ride home is a (very small) salad, but I’m convinced the body simply needs more stodge in the winter. Are there any diet stews and casseroles out there? I suppose a bulky-yet-veggie-packed soup sort of counts, but only just, and the best soups require the addition of left-over parmesan rinds and large hunks of bread, so maybe they’re similarly to be avoided on diet death day?

Ana is suspiciously quiet on this subject tonight. In fact she seems alarmingly happy to watch Rick Stein’s Indian thingamabob followed by Tom Kerridge’s super-fat pub food without any visible signs of drooling or light-headedness, whilst I can barely muster the energy to sadly grate 4 carrots into a bowl and count out 20 prawns.

As it turns out, she’s already caved in, blaming half-term of course, and made herself a sandwich earlier, as well as having ‘something else later’ because she was bored. Adding insult to injury, she then takes the slightly bigger portion of dinner…

Luckily enough this is another one of those 300-odd kcal meals that’s bewilderingly satisfying. Partially I suspect because the punchy thai-style sauce is lip-smackingly good, but also because of the counter-intuitive fact grated carrots seem to take up more stomach space than non-grated carrots. I don’t know why, it’s just the way it is.

thai salad - mimi spencer & dr michael mosley, The Fast Diet, p143

Sunday, 20 October 2013

jamie oliver's chicken, olive and preserved lemon tagine

Having eaten out on Friday at Team Pettigrew, today it’s our turn to entertain with a little SceneOne reunion featuring television’s Louise Pepper, Great Britain’s Peter Magnus Leary, and Yorkshire’s Paul ‘Appen Thomas.

Mention of the Pettigrew’s is apt as they are the driving force behind our new campaign against tardiness, because when they came round for Sunday lunch a fortnight ago I once again delivered food a full two hours later than planned. This is obviously fine as we’re all friends and the kids were more-than happy playing, but it is annoying and it’s a habit I’m determined to break. Luckily Milo starts helping early doors by getting up at 07.30 and requiring more or less constant surveillance from that point on. Whilst there is NO upside to this, it does mean we’re in and out of Sainsbury’s in record time, Ana’s tidied the house and everything is actually cooking a full hour before everybody arrives.

Jamie’s preserved lemon tagine is a no-brainer as once it’s marinated it can happily sit on the hob doing its own thing until we’re ready, but the starter is a revisit to a darker time when I managed to cook a New Year’s Eve roast with a full six hours between the first course and main. All you need to know is I hadn’t taken into account if the oven is full of stuffed pumpkin starters, there’s no room for a roast and, it’s probably better to get the vegetarian course in the oven so it can cook for its recommended 3 hours rather than just assuming, as it’s a pie, that it’ll only take half an hour tops, and only discovering your mistake when you go to put the roasties in. Luckily Greg helped, by pointing out my mistakes, and prosecco helped by getting everybody too smashed to notice their grumbling stomachs.

This time around everything runs like clockwork, and in fact I’ve got to juggle things about as everybody was late, but I even though I say so myself, I think it was a minor triumph. You should definitely give the gruyere-stuffed squash soup a go (use squash, as pumpkin takes ages) as it’s so simple but sooooo tasty, and the salted caramel tarte tatin was about 40 times easier than I thought.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

rick stein's chicken chettinad

It’s amazing how quickly you can develop a routine from scratch, and one that everybody is relatively happy to follow at that.

Saturday’s no longer stretch out in a seemingly never-ending day of relentless child entertainment from the moment Milo gets up until we the point we wrestle him into bed. Instead everybody gets some quality time to do their own thing, stuff is achieved and fun is had by all. How come it’s taken us six years to work this out? The surprising scientific secret is ‘rugby’, and I highly recommend it. All you’ve got to do is:
  • Saturday morning: I get up; make breakfast for me and Milo, tea in bed for Ana, and then the boys cycle to the mighty Barnes RFC minis for training. Ana has stays in bed.
  • After minis we go for a ‘pint’ in the club house and the boys run about some more before cycling home.
  • Lunchtime handover: We get home, Ana makes lunch and I get my kit and go and play for the mighty Barnes RFC Vets. Ana wishes she’d stayed in bed.
  • Post-match pint, and then I go home via Waitrose to get ingredients for Saturday night dinner. Plus wine of course. Ana and Milo watch Strictly
Generally this works like clockwork, Milo is knackered, Ana’s had a lay-in and I get to play rugby.

The only variable is what we have for dinner, but this variable – let’s call it ‘X’ – is dependent on Ana (‘A’) having an opinion on what she wants other than wine (‘Y’).

Broadly the Saturday night formula should be A+Y+Y (if thirsty)=Y. However A’s value tends to be zero (0), other than wine of course. So because I’ve got no time for maths, we have Rick Stein’s Chicken Chettinad because I love cooking it, and it’s blydi delicious!

It’s another Saturday tick in the box. If only they’d hurry up with the Bridge 2 or some more Wallander our weekends will be complete.

chicken chettinad - Rick Stein's India, in Delicious August 2013, p47

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

butternut squash and caramelised onion risotto

Is there anything better on a crisp and cold autumnal evening, than  running home from work in record time (mostly due to my new watch, I suspect. Best birthday present ever), and then finding a spanking new risotto recipe, care of one of those free cards you pick up in the supermarket?

We’re loving our risottos at the moment, and squash and pumpkin are obviously terribly du jour, so clearly pumpkin risotto is a match made in autumnal heaven. As with everything, we’ve already got a standard version care of Donna Hay and her leek and feta-laced version, but by dint of fact we’ve not had it since 2010 I’m willing to suggest it’s not our bestest Arborio-Cucurbita love-in.

As it turns out, this one from Waitrose is amazing. Not only is it rich, warming and hearty enough to sooth Ana’s cold, I also get to use my new birthday-risotto spoon. Even better not only do you not have to stir it (much), it’s also a handy home for my rapidly going out of date jar of dried thyme. BOOMTOWN!

butternut squash and caramelised onion risotto - Waitrose October recipe card 2013

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

vietnamese beef noodle soup

There’s a definite touch of winter in the air in SW14, not least because everybody is suffering some sort of cold. Milo for one is pleased as he can finally have his favourite menthol vaporising nightlight in his bedroom, which he’s been banging on about since the evenings started drawing in.

Even better (for me) is the unexpected appearance of 36 bottles of beer on my doorstep, care of Dr R P Manwaring, all the way from Australia via Beer Hawk.

Best. Birthday. Ever.

Anyway, faced with the spectre of snot, hacking coughs and a dramatic increase in front room blankets, emergency intervention is required in the form of our favourite ginger-infused, spicy Vietnamese beef and noodle soup, after the last of the black forest gateaux of course...

Just the smell of the spicy broth simmering away is enough to clear the sinuses, although once again I forgot about the lemon grass:

Amongst the many beauties of this recipe is once you’ve got the base broth (cinnamon, star anise, ginger, chicken stock, fish sauce, and erm lemon grass), you can add any variety of chopped veg to it depending on your mood. We didn’t have pak choi because I forgot it, but we did have beansprouts and red pepper, and I’ve also been known to throw in matchsticked carrots, mini corn, tenderstem broccoli and shredded cabbage – all delicious additions.

vietnamese beef noodle soup - Waitrose Kitchen, Feburary 2012, p88 

Monday, 14 October 2013

seared steak on mediterranean vegetables

You would think today’s fast would be easy-peasy, given we’re entirely fuelled by a weekend’s worth of burgers, cottage pie, take away curry, roast beef with all the trimmings, an amazing black forest gateaux (thanks Lucy!) and a cheese board. But you would be wrong.

It’s almost as if the more calories you consume over the weekend, the bigger the crash on Monday, and no amount of porridge made with water and lashings of black coffee can ameliorate the pangs of hunger. In fact I was so light-headed and giddy in the afternoon that I was sent downstairs to calm down by my boss as I was finding everything hysterically funny.

Even worse, I had to go through the torture of a trip around Waitrose on the way home so we had something to eat. It’s hard enough not filling the trolley up with delicious gewgaws and fripperies on a normal day, but tonight was hell on earth seeking out the calorie-mimsey ingredients for seared steak and grilled vegetables. A dish incidentally which whilst very tasty, is also seemingly the longest thing ever to prepare:

Personally I think Dijon mustard works better with this than English, but neither fill the stomach as well as chateaubriand, chips and mushrooms.

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

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Friday, 4 October 2013

birthday shenanigans part 1

 Nothing says ‘six year-old birthday food’ more than crust-less sarnies (egg mayo or ham), cocktail sausages, hula hoops, carrot sticks, houmous, juice, haribo, cake and chocolate biscuits. It’s just a shame Ana and Claire chose to eat it all – accompanied with large glasses of wine rather than juice – rather than save themselves for curry.

Consequently our initial foray supporting this year’s National Curry Week ends up being postponed in favour of tea (for Mrs B) and a frozen pizza for me, along with random left-overs.

This is not what you expect when you look at a food blog, is it? Apologies

Thursday, 3 October 2013

seared steak on mediterranean vegetables

Another midweek meal looms on the horizon, and once again we’re in diet territory. At least Ana is, I had a cheese and tomato sandwich both before and after tonight’s >300 Kcal steak installment.

It is an extremely pfaffy meal, having to grill each vegetable just so and then keeping it warm whilst you get on with the next one, but the punchy flavours and satisfaction you get from eating it, more than make up for filling the house up with smoke.

Actually, given the fact all you’re doing is grilling three types of veg, and then some steak, with nothing else but olive oil and some sea salt, it’s an unexpectedly toothsome dinner. Lord knows how good it’ll taste  if we ever try it on a non-diet day, giving me the excuse to make the gut-enhancing garlic crème fraiche…

Sort-of stuffed with steak (and/or sandwiches) the rest of the evening passes in a blur of present wrapping for tomorrow’s sixth birthday extravaganza, which handily distracts Ana from her rumbling tummy for another night.

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

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

nigella lawson's curly-edged pasta with lamb

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

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

jamie oliver's southern sausage stew

Having successfully fasted yesterday, tonight we undo all the good work by massively over-stuffing ourselves with porky goodness, and that’s not including the several-to-many cakes I managed to digest at work.

I rather suspect over-eating the following day is an inherent risk with the 5:2 diet, but generally we’ve been quite good at keeping our portion sizes down compared to last year. It’s even had a positive knock-on effect to how we view food, as we/I are much less likely to idly snack through boredom during the week, having put ourselves through the (relative) pain of rumbling stomachs and dizzy spells.

Not tonight though, and although Ana makes a show of complaining about the mountain of rice and spicy, sausage stew I pile onto our plates, her words are rather undercut by her actions as I certainly didn't force her to have seconds. And I note she left a couple of bits of green pepper and a pipkin of salt on her plate.

jamie's southern sausage stew - Jamie Oliver, Delicious, October p41