Monday, 24 March 2014

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

angela boggiano's spinach and parmesan meatballs


Incidentally, here's Milo's secondary breakfast fruit salad, containing kiwi fruit, banana, apple, melon, pear and blueberries:

spinach and parmesan meatballs - Angela Boggiano, Delicious, December 2007, p46

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Luke Nguyen's pomelo and crab salad

Tonight we’re not so much experimenting as completely gambolling with this Vietnamese crab and pomelo salad. We like crab and we like Asian-style zingy salads, so in theory this should be fine. Also in its favour is the fact we’ve already tried and liked the other dish by the same chef, the ba-hac chicken soup.

However due to a variety of circumstances we’re going to have to take some shortcuts and get creative with alternatives as:

· we’ve only got lumpy tinned crab as there wasn’t any fresh
· we’ve thrown away the thai basil
· I couldn’t get pomelos so we’ve got to make do with ruby grapefruit
· I had to use Tom Yum paste because I can’t find the shrimp paste
· I forget to make the chilli sauce and buy the dried, crispy garlic and shallots

I also used too much replacement rocket (as we don’t have shiso, and I remember Jill Dupliex recommending the swap), so it ends up looking like some sort of slimy bag of leaves dumped on a plate, with some spit lovingly arranged around it.

As it turns out not only does it taste vastly nicer than it looks, it actually tastes amazingly delicious: zingy if a little too hot from my attempts at creating a chilli dressing, with sweetness from the crab and a tartness from the grapefruit.

Assuming I can actually hunter-gather the correct ingredients in SW14, I predict this will be a hit this summer and at less than 250Kcals, it neatly fits into the world of fasting meals currently overloaded by bleeding thai-style minced chicken in lettuce leaves.

pomelo and crab salad - Luke Nguyen, The Food of Vietnam c/o Delicious, January 2014, p72

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

fried rice with squash, chestnuts and chard

After last night’s efficiency tonight we slip to the opposite extreme. Partly this is because Ana has to pick Milo up from a playdate, which always takes longer than anticipated, and drags into a late bath and later reading stories and even later going to sleep than any small boy has a right to. Also, it’s Tuesday night running club, which means I’m not back exactly early, which adds another layer of delay to the evening.

With all this going, the trick to Tuesday night cooking (although I suppose this goes for any weeknight meals) is minimum prep, minimum cooking time, maximum flavour and/or heft. Although I hasten to add ‘diet-friendly heft’. Tonight this all comes the perfectly formed package of squash and chard thingy – this time with chard and a crusty base!

Cook rice, open prepacked and sliced squash, soften squash with garlic, add packed chestnuts and rice, add chopped chard, wilt, add cream cheese. Eat. Simple!

It does need a fair whack of seasoning mind, just to lift the flavours slightly, and I wouldn’t rule out chucking in a good wodge of soy sauce as that sort of works.

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

Monday, 10 March 2014

minced turkey with thai basil

Having spent yesterday afternoon in a beer-fuelled rage at the lack of a Welsh performance at Twickers, I fully expect today to be a nightmare of hangover, hunger and boredom as tasks are slowly petering out at work. Although as it turns out I’ve inadvertently discovered a surfeit of booze is the secret ingredient to surviving a fasting day.

Maybe it’s the sugar in it, or the fact it’s another beautiful spring day, but today flies by and not even a text from Ana revealing how she’s fallen off the calorie wagon can shake my will. It’s either that or I’m so massively hungover I’m too delirious to notice my stomach cramping.

Even better, I’m so adept at making this thai lettuce confection it literally takes 10 minutes, which means we’ve got Milo into bed and Harry Potter-ed up, Ana’s started marking and the mince is plopping into its leafy spoons long before University Challenge has even started:

However if this efficiency does has a downside, it’s the fact by eating earlier it means we’ve got a longer time than usual to be hungry in until bedtime. Damn you efficiency!

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

Sunday, 9 March 2014

kay's sausage and guinness casserole

A third beautiful day running after wettest winter on record - could this be spring springing? Actually, despite the wall-to-wall rain I don’t remember this winter being particularly not sunny.

It's so nice I disappear off for my first jaunt around Richmond Park of the year, but I’ve got to be back in time to take Ana to Kensington for lunch with Kendra, and then I’ve got to get back in time to take Milo to a birthday party in Brentford, and once I’ve dropped him off I’ve got to be back in time for the England v Wales game and may be a brewski or two whilst super Georgey North runs in a hattrick.

Things sort of run like clockwork, with a couple of hiccoughs: I don’t leave early enough for my run so I only just get back in time to take Ana, who is less-than pleased to be travelling in the smelliest cab in London. The traffic coming back isn’t kind, so Milo has to sacrifice his lunch to my need for a shower, but at least I smell fresh when we make it to the party venue by the skin of our teeth. Traffic across Kew Bridge is a nightmare so I miss the first 10 minutes of the match (fortunately including that insufferable c0ck Danny Care’s try), but then it’s all cold beers and crisps on the beanbag as Wales stride towards another championship. Apart from the fact they’re utterly gash.

Still it is sunny, I have run 19.1K in fairly good pace and I’ve a fridge full of beers to sooth the pain. So much so at one point it looks like nobody is having dinner, Milo having eaten party food, Ana having lived it up on roast chicken at the Kensington Roof Gardens and I'm full of crisps and beer, but in the end some sort of sense prevails. Doubly so as we were umming and ahhing over a healthy and summery Vietnamese crab salad, but in the end stodge and (more alcohol) wins out as we opt for Kay’s sausage and Guinness casserole.

I go to bed very early.

sausage and Guinness casserole - Mrs Kay McCarthy, now in the Black Book

Saturday, 8 March 2014

chicken, chorizo and cider pie

Why is it when you need to get kids out of bed to go to school, they cling to their duvets shrieking and wailing, but come the weekend they decide to get up absurdly early? I mean wtf?

Obviously this is a terrible thing but Milo’s absurdly early rising (for him/us) does have benefits as this weekend we’re on a tight schedule. As I see it we need to achieve the following:

· Rugby (Milo)
· Haircut (Ana)
· Go for a run (me)
· Get lovely booze
· Tidy house
· Entertain the Sheffords’ to dinner: Cook pie, and pudding
· Lunch with Kendra
· Sana’s 6th birthday party
· Watch Wales v England
· Do homework
· Mark books
· Tidy house (again)

Phew - lucky we only had a couple of glasses of wine last night, so we can swing into immediate action on points 1 to 6.

As is the way of things, we do our best to balls up the smooth running of operations but despite forgotten house keys and a fruitless street search for a wife with too many shopping bags, we do end up with a hearty chicken and chorizo pie and veg (including blue mash) followed by rhubarb crumble, only an hour later than scheduled:

I'd also like to point out that the mash is entirely due to being made with heritage blue potatoes rather than any food colouring - and the kids wolfed it down! Top tip there middle class types with access to heritage veg... and as I type that, I realise how much I hate myself.

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

Friday, 7 March 2014

peter gordon's fried halloumi topped with chilli, spinach, water chestnut, hazelnut, orange and sun-blushed tomato salad

Things have gone slightly awry on the recipe front this week, because rather than the traditional Friday night curry, or chilli, curry or maybe even a curry, tonight we’re having Peter Gordon’s halloumi salad thingy. Not that this isn’t normally this is a great dish of course, but it doesn’t shout ‘welcome to the weekend’, and particularly not if you’ve been down the pub for a couple of hours.

Any chance of this minor disgruntlement turning into Camden Brewery-fuelled rage is handily diverted to flailing confusion because once again, I completely forget how to construct this recipe. I’ll have to take a picture when we’re next chez the Taylors. Anyway, using previous images as a guide I broadly manage to knock-it together pretty accurately, and although I forgot to soak the chestnuts in salted lemon juice, I did remember to infuse the oil with chilli and garlic.

To reiterate, this is in no way a Friday night dinner, but it is rather jolly and I think I’ve finally found a brand of halloumi that I like.

fried halloumi topped with chilli, spinach, water chestnut, hazelnut, orange and sun-blushed tomato salad - Peter Gordon, Salads: The New Main Course, p65 

Thursday, 6 March 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

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

bill granger's rigatoni with chicken bolognese

I can only predict this week ending in chaos.

Having spent last night telling me her version of Bill Granger’s chicken rigatoni is better than mine, and she’ll cook it on Friday as the forecast halloumi salad isn’t very ‘weekend-y’, how come I find myself cooking chicken rigatoni tonight?

Admittedly Ana does have some homework to mark, and as Felix is coming for a playdate tomorrow night it’ll be a handy dish to have ready to feed the ravening hordes, but *somebody* is definitely going to pull a face when she realises after tonight we’ve only got two lots of salad left in the fridge. Still, it’ll sort-of aid with ongoing battle with boombattyness.

Do I need to say anything about this dish now? We’ve been eating it since New Zealand (not the same batch), and it remains a classic standby, even if it’s virtually impossible to get hold of minced turkey or chicken in SW14.

rigatoni with chicken bolognese - Bill Granger, Simply Bill, p87

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

valli little's char siu beef and tenderstem broccoli

Bloody hell the early mornings are beginning to bite. I’m sure it’ll all be worthwhile when I’m collecting my third Booker Prize, and taking restraining orders out on Rachel Weisz and/or Hayley Atwell.

Having spent all day yawning at work, I at least managed to blow the cobwebs away with a fairly brisk gallop home, buoyed by bananas, biscuits and the fact the evenings are definitely getting lighter. Once back I manage to stave off both sleep and starvation with a super-quick Vietnamese char siu beef and noodle bowl care of lovely Valli Little:

I have to say it’s not what I remembered. This is not to say it’s not nice, it is with a nice balance of sweetness from the char siu and shaxong wine, and the garlic/ginger/chilli holy trinity of heat, but somehow it missed the head of the nail as well as the plank. In my head I was expecting this fresh and zingy Vietnamese soup, which we’ll be having next week now it’s stuck there.

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

Sunday, 2 March 2014

heston's pea and pancetta spaghetti

I don’t know why I’ve not thought of this before, but living in a pub is brilliant!

I say 'living' but what I actually mean is 'temporarily staying' at the rather fab Hampshire Hog in the rural countryside, for an equally fab 40th birthday party.

Having finally lived the dream, I can’t believe we’ve spent so long kipping on people’s floors, or struggling back to inaccessible B&Bs in the dead of night when we could've been staying in actual, real live pub. Who else would have a foaming nutbrown ale and maybe a scotch egg and a burger ready for when you’ve checked in? Who else would have a full English on a hotplate (‘help yourself!’) prepped once you’ve dragged yourself (and hungover wife) out of bed? And where else could you then sit for three hours, having more foaming pints of nutbrown ale bought to your table along with – oh go on then – a chicken and mushroom pie for lunch? Pubs are genius!

The only downside is, that there isn't one. And it only gets better if you forget your glasses and lenses so you can't drive home! I do have to cook dinner when we get home as 'punishment' mind, which does turn into a unique sort of torture as once again we've got almost nothing in the cupboards meaning we have to make do with a version of Heston's pea and pancetta spaghetti:

Obviously what we lack in peas and pancetta, we make up with sweetcorn and bacon.

heston's pea & pancetta spaghetti - Waitrose Weekend, 16th September, p10