Tuesday, 28 January 2014

chorizo, pea and lemon cous cous

Generally planning our dinners a week in advance works very well for us: our shopping bill is (relatively) managed, our evening fannying about is reduced, and there is some degree of positive knock-on with my lunches the next day. Occasionally though, things don’t work out and tonight is a case in point.

Not that any of the above points were failures in any way, in fact if anything all boxes were firmly ticked and I’ve even got enough left-over to make two wraps for lunch tomorrow. No, the planning only really falls down when you don’t fancy the scheduled meal.

Admittedly having just delivered the worst run (mainly walk) of 2014 might have something to do with it, or the fact it’s cold and wet, but tonight I’m just not feeling ‘it’.

It’s a shame because usually this is such a winner, but tonight I’m not loving its flavours. In fact I’m not entirely convinced it’s got much flavour at all, which is a bit worrying as I’ve got it for lunch tomorrow. Maybe I’m coming down with something, or maybe it’s better suited to warm summer evenings than damp and woolly January ones? Who knows…

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

Monday, 27 January 2014

tom norrington-davis' falafels

Slowly but surely our fasting choices are widening. We’ve already got proven winners like steak and grilled veg up our sleeves, along with Nigella’s sour prawn soup and the thai chicken in lettuce leaves (larb – is it called larb?), and now we’ve got a new humdinger: Tom Norrington-Davies' falafals!

As far as I can tell, all of these dishes combine the following key factors: they’re mostly quick to prepare, they leave you feeling a bit fuller than other fasting candidates, and they’re delicious in their own right. And my, are the falafals quick, easy and delish, and at (allegedly) 230 kcals for 5, there’s some of scope for flatbread, salad and houmous.

I’ve tried cooking them once before, a spectacularly unsuccessful gluten-free version using squash, which pretty much put me off attempting them since, but they’re so easy, and it turns out, an ideal way to get rid of all the gluten free flour I bought for their last incarnation. I’m also future-inspired by Strutton Ground’s fab falafel vendors, by adding roasted aubergine and some pickled chilli into the mixer, on a non-fasting day of course.

Incidentally, what does anybody think of the restyled Delicious? Having teetered on the edge of unsubscribing, I quite like the new direction. In fact without it we wouldn’t have had this very recipe, which they culled from their archives. I can’t work out whose it is though, which is less useful for tagging this post, I think it's Tom N-D's, but who knows? It is now.

falafel - Tom Norrington-Davies, Delicious, January 2014, p97

Sunday, 26 January 2014

rick stein's sour berry chicken pulao

Yet another absolute corker from Rick Stein. In fact it's so delicious, I forgot to take a picture so you'll have to make do with one of my breakfast instead: left-over haggis and poached egg:

sour berry chicken pulao - Rick Stein, Rick Stein's India, p202

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Haggis! Burns Night!

For the first time ever I’m in the mood to celebrate Burns Night. Not that I’m in any way Scots of course –although according to my parents, both sides of the family are of Highland stock who moved to England during the Highland clearances after Culloden, and on my mum’s side we’re Gordons. Hence my terrible middle name.

Actually, (slight aside here), I’m not entirely sure why my parents got divorced, I mean they do and like exactly the same things: Family trees, Round the Horne, The Goons, rationing, The Daily Mail-fuelled fear of the swarthy foreigner taking over, moaning about each other. They just pursue these hobbies separately these days…

Anyhoo, Ana’s out (on yet another Birthday-based night) with Kendra, and Milo’s got a sleepover so not only am I guaranteed a whole haggis to myself, I can also drink whisky, talk in a fake accent and play youtube clips of the pipes as loudly as I like without anybody complaining about the noise/accent/smell/sheep’s stomach.

Even better, having stopped off at our neighbours opposite after dropping Milo off, I channel my inner Scottish heritage by cooking whilst completely hammered, and only eating at 23.00:

Not only is it delicious – I do love the Haggis – but I imagine my slurring attempts at Rabbie’s address, and chopping it up with one of Milo’s pirate swords is exactly in keeping with the spirit of the event. It’s a shame I couldn’t find Milo’s kilt towel, otherwise I’d have worn that, but I think the Gruffalo in Gaelic more than made up for it.

D'ye ken?

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

baked pasta with mushrooms, white wine and cream

Having already handcrafted a pot noodle for lunch this week, today I lurch to the other extreme picking up a sandwich in Pret. This is particularly bad/lazy as Strutton Ground’s fine street food is only a 5 minute stroll away, and is not only vastly cheaper, it’s also amazingly tasty. However, having spotted a cheese and tuna toastie in the window – God’s own sandwich – there was no turning back.

I should’ve known it would’ve been a disappointment. How can something full of bold flavours like capers, strong cheese and tuna taste so bland and insipid? I’m going to have to buy a Breville now, it’s the only way.

Further disgruntlement lurks when I get home when Ana discovers an unexpected downside to last night’s efficient using up of random ingredients whilst making an experimental baked mushroom pasta: It turns out those mushrooms were actually quite key. As was the apple juice I glugged to quench my post-run thirst.

It’s not a total disaster mind, it’s just not quite as mushroomy as recommended, and it’s also lacking the rich, creamy sauce. I imagine both elements would make this even more delicious than Ana had already made it.

I’m wary of saying ‘next time I won’t use up as many random-looking ingredients as I can find in the fridge’ because I worry I’ll just be binning loads of rotting food again, so let’s say I’ll commit to reading the ingredients before I go left-over crazed.

baked pasta with mushrooms, white wine and cream - rebecca smith, delicious, January 2014, p86

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

jamie oliver's chicken & leek pie

Maybe it’s the fact I did not end up face down on Milo’s beanbag, only to later purge my afternoon’s pie/beer/wine/sloe gin/curry like an enthusiastic bulimic, but tonight’s run home is legendary.

Fuelled by the first homemade ‘pot’ noodle (using a Kilner jar darlings), and tellingly not dragged down by a torrent of gin and beer, I fly home like Mercury. Or at least Mercury’s fatter brother, which not only gets me back in record time but it means I can get tonight’s time-heavy-but-delicious chicken and leek pie on the go early enough to eat it on our laps watching TV by 2100, rather than usual battle to get it cooked and eaten by 2300, ready for three uncomfortable hours digesting it in bed.

Oddly enough both lunch and dinner benefit from my current zeal for using up stuff in the fridge rather than having to lob a bag of food to make room for this week’s shopping: following Hugh’s lead, the ‘pot’ is topped up with red pepper, celery, carrot sticks, mushrooms, sweetcorn, and the pie is similarly bulked up with the remaining left-over mushrooms and sweetcorn, to great success even though I say so myself:

Even better, my unwarranted vim and vigour gives me further time to experiment with affixing pie casings to dishes (tonight: a beaten egg and back of a fork combo) and to get creative with some puff pastry boobs:

Is there anything better than a hot pie on a cold, drizzly night, accompanied by ridiculous costume drama? I do not think so… If only we were drinking during the week….

chicken & leek pie - Jamie Oliver Christmas Special 2006

Monday, 20 January 2014

nigella's hot and sour soup

hot and sour soup - Nigella Lawson, Nigella Bites c/o Delicious, February 2009, p83

Sunday, 19 January 2014

roast chicken

The usual combination of Simon Hopkinson's chicken prep, and the rest via long and bitter Sunday lunch experience. It all looks oddly orange this week...

Thursday, 16 January 2014

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

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

Monday, 13 January 2014

seared steak on mediterranean vegetables

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

Sunday, 12 January 2014

lamb and orzo bake with cherry tomatoes

Individually ‘beers’, ‘curry’, ‘rugby club lunches’, ‘Greg’ and ‘JP’ are all fine concepts. It’s when I combine them, and maybe throw ‘hip flasks of sloe gin’, ‘wine’ and ‘pies’ into the mixer, that it goes horribly wrong.

At least I have some degree of consistency because if memory serves me right, the last time I went out with both of them I ended up puking, and the time before that when I went to St James’ Palace with JP, I also ended up with my head in the toilet.

The upshot is I’m feeling distinctly wonky today, which is more disastrous than usual as I can’t simply malinger in bed as I’ve got an interview pitch to create.

When in doubt – and by doubt I strictly mean ‘massively hungover’ – the best course of cooking action is to get a stew going. This is particularly true if it’s cold and wet outside, and you’ve got limited time on your hands because you’ve got beat your brains into some sort of order to come up with sensible ideas.

So whilst Ana and Milo are visiting the Bolgers of Kensington, and I’m cudgelling the grey matter for all I’m worth (whilst shivering due to cold/booze), we all have the satisfaction of knowing something warming and comforting is slowly bubbling away in the oven:

I remember this being a staple of the Wellington and cabana-boy-for-the-McPartlin years, and a very fine thing it is too!

lamb and orzo bake, with cherry tomatoes - the black book

Friday, 10 January 2014

rick stein's chicken chettinad

At the end of a week which for a variety of reasons seemed to last forever, we’re into celebratory curry mode tonight, accompanied by the first alcohol of the week and a repeat of Take Me Out.

Can life get any better? Admittedly before we can unleash the unholy, soul-soothing trinity of chicken chettinad, wine and/or beer first there’s the small matter of two job applications to get through, and the shopping to arrive from Mr Ocado between 20.30 and 21.30.

Or 21.45 as it turns out, which means whilst having more time to successfully make my CV seem in anyway convincing, it does mean dinner is not served until eleven-ish, and we’re a little drunk and starving. Actually, is that not the perfect state to be in for curry?

chicken chettinad - Rick Stein's India, p216

Thursday, 9 January 2014

minestrone di orazio

minestrone di orazio - Sainsburys circa 2004, now the black book. Although to be honest, I pretty much make my own minestrone up these days, and fill it with as much left-over veg as I can find in the fridge...

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Saturday, 4 January 2014

rick stein's coconut prawn curry

With an unseasonal inset day looming, we take (further) advantage of the McCarthy clan and drop Milo off in a rain lashed car park in Portsmouth for a last minute weekend on the diamond isle, leaving us free to, well, do what we want.

This variously takes in singing loudly to Kate Bush on the A3, lesson planning, blowing the cobwebs out with a wet and woolly run around Richmond Park, minor alcohol shopping, watching telly undisturbed, actually being able to read the paper and a trip to the Tapestry for a couple of pints and a stint of life-planning.

Booze’s other magical power kicks in on the way home and, rather than constructing a healthy prawn and avocado concoction whilst watching the new series of The Bridge, we both immediately crave something curried whilst watching Take Me Out. Maybe something prawny

Luckily enough my Christmas copy of Rick Stein’s India swings to the rescue with not only a really quick debut prawn curry, but – and I find this hard to believe – but Rick’s favourite curry:

To be fair it is pretty tasty with a lip-smacking combination of heat from the chilli, garlic and massive spoonful of ginger, balanced with sour tamarind and creamy coconut. But favourite curry ever? I’m not sure about that. As Ana pointed out, if anything it was a bit korma-esque, and I don’t think it’s too dissimilar to Nigella’s admittedly excellent Keralan fish curry, which whilst being a bit of a standard chez Barnes, wouldn’t necessarily get into the top ten.

coconut prawn curry - Rick Stein's India, p126

Friday, 3 January 2014

warm maple parsnip salad with crispy chorizo, roasted spring onions and watercress

Or, as it turns out, roasted veg stuck to maple syrup toffee at the bottom of the pan. Never again...

warm maple parsnip salad with crispy chorizo, roasted spring onions and watercress - Delicious, January 2014, p24