Friday, 28 February 2014

rick stein's chicken chettinad

Having dragged my arse around Victoria in the lunchtime rain to get the necessary spices, we’re having curry tonight, even if it’s late and I have to make a subsequent dash to our new, world-beating corner shop for all our premium wine and beer needs.

Seriously though, it has the most amazing selection of wine and beer I’ve ever seen, and beats pretty much all local supermarkets/off licences into a cocked hat, so not only do we get brilliant booze (obviously all booze is brilliant), we also get the heart-warming satisfaction of supporting our local businesses. And booze, of course.

Anyway I feel we need to have another crack at the mighty chicken chettinand to expunge the curry of shame I drunkenly created last time, before storming off to bed in a huff claiming our marriage was at an end.

Clearly the only way to do this is to cook it again in an atmosphere of reconciliation and enjoyment of each others company. Strangely enough, this turns out to be a roaring success although looking at the amount of empty bottles in the recycling bin I could probably hazard a guess what aided this…

chicken chettinad - Rick Stein, Rick Stein's India, p216

Thursday, 27 February 2014

morrocan chicken stew

One of our planned meals this week was the ever-popular Thai chicken lettuce thing for today’s fasting jamboree, or whatever the opposite of jamboree is as not eating doesn’t feel particularly jamboriffic.

Unfortunately for our weight loss, East Sheen’s favourite middle-class haunt has sold out of both turkey and chicken mince AND thai basil, although as we’ve have discovered the latter is hardly essential. ‘No matter’ I thought, I can pick some up on the way home later in the week, apart from the fact there seems to be a poultry mince famine this week, so after idly staring at the empty shelves for a bit I ended up coming home with chicken thighs and chicken breasts. I don’t know why as neither was useful, and as there wasn’t even any beansprouts, I couldn’t make Tom Norrington-Davies’ chicken noodle soup either.

This woolly thinking continues as I struggle to find any inspiration to deal with the mountain of chicken in the fridge, a process further undermined by the lack of at least two crucial ingredients for every meal I want to cook. Eventually we hit paydirt as we do have all we need for the classic Morroccan chicken. Well, except herbs but they only provide an admittedly-tasty gremolata garnish:

I also finished the evening with a spice shopping list so I can deal with tomorrow’s night chicken-y chapter: Chicken Chettinand!
moroccan chicken stew - Delicious, February 2008, p28

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

luke nguyen's bac ha chicken in ginger

Isn’t it nice when a punt on a random experimental dish goes spectacularly right? I’m not sure what I was expecting, but looking at chopped up chicken thighs bubbling away in the wok, whilst skimming  gloopy fat off the top, I have to say I wasn’t amazingly confident.

It certainly looked nice in Delicious, as does the pomelo and crab salad next to it (maybe one for the summer), but they’d obviously opted not to feature a picture of boiled off chicken residue. Neither was I convinced once I realised the promised ‘flavour-packed’ dish was going to come from only 4 other ingredients: ginger, garlic, fish sauce and oyster sauce.

But clearly there are witches in Vietnamese kitchens because once ladled onto a bed of rice, with a good grind of black pepper and a sprinkling of fresh chilli on top, the finished dish is utterly, utterly gorgeous: the chicken is tender, and the sauce is salty and pungent, with fruity and fiery heat from the chilli and black pepper. It’s also very quick and super easy, if you don’t mind spending 5 minutes skimming and disposing of unpleasant-looking chicken scum. And who doesn’t?

bac ha chicken in ginger - Luke Nguyen, The Food of Vietnam c/o Delicious, January 2014

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

nigella lawson's curly-edged pasta with lamb

Sometimes there’s not much to say about cooking: You just sort of get in, check the weekly menu and get on with it.

Tuesday nights I tend to run home, so usually the options are either something that takes no more than 10 minutes to construct once I’ve had a shower – which is obviously easier in the summer – or something that can bubble away whilst I’m warming down doing nekked lunges in front of the telly.

As it's still nippy and wet, we're erring towards the heartier end of the scale, so whilst I’m applying beauty unguents and cucumbers to my eyes,  Nigella’s lamb ragu is simmering away on the hob.

Even better, it’s a good dish to use up not only the last of the oregano in the freezer, but I can sweep up three almost-empty packets of malfalda pasta that Ana insists on leaving at the back of the cupboard. WINNER!

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

Monday, 24 February 2014

seared steak and mediterranean vegetables

Another week dawns with the usual Monday struggle with starvation and culinary deprivation. Only this time black hole of low blood-sugar is deepened by the fact we’re not only battling gnawing stomachs (and grinding teeth, or am I the only one to do this?), but tummies that have rapidly got used to Norwegian excess and a heady weekend of Six Nations action. And by ‘action’, I mean beer.

Having had the Thai-spiced chicken in lettuce leaves for the past two or three weeks, we ring the changes and fall back on an old – if extremely pfaffy – favourite: seared steak and griddled vegetables. We will of course be having the thai chicken on Thursday.

Further changes are also made to the usual order of cooking the veg as mentally I needed to break out of the  ‘onions – peppers – courgettes’ routine. Tonight I reversed the order and felt in a much happier place, not that it made any difference to the flavour, and despite thinking it lessened the amount of smoke generated, it turned out to create just as much as normal.

Still, steak eh?

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

Friday, 21 February 2014

mushroom risotto

Do you know, I’m not sure I agree with Friday night Six Nations kick offs. They ruin the pace of the weekend, the anticipation of getting up on Saturday morning and wallowing in the paper’s speculation, getting the beers and snacks in for the game and/or, if you’re lucky, planning the wander to the pub to bellow at Alain Rolland in public.

Friday night kick offs mean you miss the build-up because you’re at work, all the excitement is replaced by panic as you try and get home in time to go to the offie, and you’ve got to juggle the needs of cooking dinner with national anthems and trying to pour as much beer down your throat as possible, which makes any sort of knife work a lottery. I wouldn’t mind if everybody had a go, but it’s seems only Cardiff council are happy to sign-off on these games, so it’s always Welsh games that engender this low-level panic and paranoia. Well, slightly more low-level panic and paranoia than usual anyway.

With one eye on the clock and the other on our budget, and if possible a third on the fact Al ‘is that coat my jacket’ is coming to watch and eat, tonight we go for a fairly quick mushroom risotto on the basis we’ve got all the ingredients in the fridge. Although as it turns out we don’t, and Ana has to pick up rice and pancetta on her way home, and I pick up more mushrooms and brewskis on my way back. Plus a stomach-settling scotch egg care of our guest who I also find lurking in Waitrose.

Due to the fact I spent more time watching the first 10 minutes of the game, and less time stirring, it’s not quite as creamy as usual but the addition of shitake mushrooms to the usual mix of dried porcini and chestnut certainly turns the flavour up. Perfect half-time stodge…

It's my own recipe you know...

Thursday, 13 February 2014

fried rice with squash, chestnuts and chard

There’s an element of luck to tonight’s dinner. We’ve never had the chicken and chorizo pie before, but in the same suggested Bonfire night meal planner is this rice and squash dish. Not that we’re planning to have it, but the ingredients are made up of the usual odds and ends we have going spare: half a squash, half a tub of cream cheese, rice, spinach or chard (okay, spinach) and parsley. All I need to do is get some chestnuts in the cupboard and we’re sorted for any future occasion when the pantry is bare. Even better, and completely coincidentally, Ana come across the same recipe whilst tidying up earlier in the week and said it looked tasty.

This is very lucky as not three days later I’ve inexplicable under-planned the week’s meals by a day, and we’ve got the following in the fridge:

· Half a squash left-over from the vegetable biryani

· Half a tub of cream cheese

· A bag of spinach and chard salad

In fact the only thing we’re missing is the parsley, and I’m not convinced at the very first attempt making it whether I can simply swop in the tarragon lurking in the salad crisper.

As it turns out, tarragon might not have been a bad addition. It’s a pretty easy thing to knock together and is quite nice, but it lacks a certain punchiness to make it really delicious. Ana’s suggestion of adding soy sauce is pretty inspired and certainly lifts it up, and I think melting some cheddar cheese on top would also add some more flavour, and maybe some chilli and/or ginger. Even better, I’m fairly sure you could use a variety of handy, left-over ingredients to make this – aubergine, courgette and mushrooms would all definitely work.

 fried rice with squash, chestnuts and chard - Delicious, November 2011, p76

Wednesday, 12 February 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

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

melissa's morrocan chicken

I’m not sure but it must be the combination of Dave’s trainers and my new luminous hi-viz running vest, but for the second week running I shatter my personal bests on the trek home. That or the massive bowl of pasta I scarfed at lunchtime.

Any delay getting home, and particularly when I run, severely eats into the time available to relax in the evening. Obviously I’ve got to shower and sort out all the random bumpf into the correct washing piles, give Milo a hug once I’m clean, sometimes there’s some washing up to deal with and only then can you get around to cooking.

In these circumstances there is slim chance of even thinking about sitting down to eat before half nine, add in tidying up once you’ve cooked and you’ve pretty much nixed the entire evening!

However having suffered last night, the benefits of cooking 3 meals on a fasting day fully kick in this evening as tonight’s meal is the work of the moment.

Admittedly I massively ballsed up the cous cous to such an extent I had to sieve it like Celia Imrie in Bridget Jones, but even with that mild faux pas we’ve still eaten by half eight are ready to watch another episode of newfavouritescandidrama Beck by nine-ish. Until Ana decides to go to bed early half way through of course…

melissa's moroccan chicken - the black book

Monday, 10 February 2014

minced turkey with thai basil

I'm fairly sure this Thai chicken in lettuce leaves thing, (although we're using turkey) Mrs White once told me is really called something like ‘larb’. Whatever, it is rapidly becoming our go-to fasting Monday meal: It’s absolutely stuffed with rich flavours, taking the edge off the stomach discontent, it’s easy-peasy and it’s super quick.

It’s also fairly forgiving with ingredients, in fact I’m not sure I’ve ever cooked it with the full complement, but it seems to make little difference. Tonight is a case in point: I’ve finally got my hands on Kepack Manis, but I used up all the thai basil last week, and I also forgot to add the nuts. This doesn’t stop us ravenously trying to mop up the sticky-salty sauce left in the pan with the remaining lettuce leaves, which are clearly the king of absorbing liquids:

There is also an unexpected knock-on benefit to this dinner’s super-speedy qualities: It means I’ve got time to not only turn the pile of carrots lurking in the salad tray into lovely and warming carrot soup for lunch this week, I can even chop up and marinade tomorrow night’s Moroccan chicken – and all before 20.30! Having said that, knocking out three meals in one night on a fasting day is a unique form of torture that I won’t be trying again.

minced turkey with thai basil - Delicious, October 2009, p126

Sunday, 9 February 2014

chicken, chorizo and cider pie

Getting people over for a hearty lunch after a leisurely walk to the pub and back seems as good a reason to spend a Sunday as any other, with the added benefits of everybody having to chip into tidying the house so it’s sparkling, and the excuse of buying a random selection of wines and beers for lunch.

Spokes start coming off the bike fairly early. Actually, literally fairly early, as the only delivery slot I could book from the Ocado man was 07.30. Ooof! And then our guests cancel due to having a child go down with the lurgy. Although disappointing, this works out quite nicely in the end as a) Milo turns out to be vastly over-tired and b) the experimental chicken and chorizo pie I hoiked out of a back issue of Delicious is a lot more fiddly than planned.

However, it’s bloody delicious and well worth the effort, and a particularly useful way of also using up a random punnet of mushrooms lurking in the fridge. The upshot is we’re left with a classic #firstworldissue: how do you eat a pie large enough to serve 6-8 when there’s only two of you?

With great gusto is the answer. I think it’s vastly better than our standard chicken and leek pie c/o Jamie, it’s richer with a greater depth of flavour from the tarragon and chorizo (and mushrooms of course), and actually I think shortcrust pastry makes a far superior crust than puff. Not that I ‘made’ it you understand.

Definitely having it again, and hopefully this time with the purple mash I’d bought to entertain the kids.

chicken, chorizo and cider pie - Delicious, November 2011, p76

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Monday, 3 February 2014

Sunday, 2 February 2014

hugh fearnley-whittingstall's vedgeree

It turns out we’re still married after all. And what better way to consign last night’s chicken chettinad of hate to the bin (damn you Rick Stein!) than with a sunny walk along the river, via the pub, followed by a vegetable biryani of love, care of the floppy-haired lord of love, St Hugh?

Originally we were scheduled to have another installment of Jamie’s venison stroganoff tonight as Milo has been asking for it all week, but given the veg in the crisper I was intending to use up later in the week for this was looking a mite peaky, we switched things around. As it turned out though, Milo’s disgruntlement was a small price to pay for an happier fridge and even better, a really delicious curry.

Okay, so it’s not as good as the Anjum green biryani, or Rick’s one, but it’s still full of delicate flavours and with the added benefits of using up as much random veg as you’ve got (in this case carrots, parsnips, celery, courgette and a random bit of squash) and having enough left over for lunch tomorrow. Not that we’ll be having lunch on fasting day of course.

Having waxed lyrical, I reckon there’s still scope for improvement. You could probably add some chutney to it I think, just to add a little more depth to the flavours.

vedgeree - hugh fearnley-whittingstall, River Cottage Veg Everyday!, p276 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

rick stein's chicken chettinad

What do you get if you mix too much too much alcohol, rugby, over-tiredness, background stress, low-level guilt about not doing any school marking, high-horsing about having to man-manage your (shared) son all day, and the fact your neighbours didn’t have any food in so your aforementioned son didn’t eat until 21.00-ish?

The obvious and correct answer is the mother or all arguments – although this manifested itself in muttered imprecations and oaths against each other, and me going to bed early. Which was probably for the best as we’d split up twice by that point.

It also resulted in chicken chettinad of HATRED: It looks the same, it smells the same, but it turns to ashes in your mouth and leaves you feeling slightly ashamed and guilty afterwards. I suspect we won’t be having it again for a while. Looks good though:

chicken chettinad - Rick Stein, Rick Stein's India, p216