Thursday, 31 May 2012


Way back in April Z made pizza from scratch using a Jamie Oliver recipe.  The quantities of the recipe made more than enough dough for two fatties to gorge themselves on pizza and still have leftovers.  Jamie insisted that the dough could be frozen, so frozen it was, until today.

I'm always a bit wary with frozen cakes and bread.  I'm never convinced that they will defrost all the way through without being spoiled.  I had the same misgivings for the pizza dough, but I shouldn't have worried as it thawed perfectly.  Once defrosted, the dough rolled as thin as possible, covered in ham and three cheeses, it was baked in as hot an oven as was possible.  Home made pizzas are the future and so much better than anything you can buy in the shops.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

We eat a well balanced and varied diet at home.  In fact if you flick back through the last 170 posts on Tonight's Menu you will find very little repetition.  There are certain meals, risotto, meatballs etc. that we love and cook more frequently.  There are certain ingredients, especially chicken, that crop up so often that I'm starting to wonder if we eat too much of them.

Over the last week we have eaten three vegetarian meals, one each of chicken and pork and two varieties of beef mince in tomato sauces.  What I realised that I've missed is sinking my teeth into a properly cooked steak.  The last time we had some was two months ago and that was in a restaurant, so it doesn't count.

There was a packet of sirloin steak in this month's meat box from Swillington Farm.  I took that out of the freezer yesterday to ensure that we would be eating beef tonight.  I cooked the steak in a hot pan and finished it in the oven, but what to serve with it?  Well, one of the countries that I have drawn for The Olympic Food Challenge is Argentina.  I will be cooking steak on that night too.  Steak is to Argentina as chorizo is to Spain.  The clincher for me for cooking steak to represent Argentina is Chimichurri sauce, a garlic and parsley salsa that is ubiquitous with steak in that part of the world.

I did some research and discovered that everybody has their own version of chimichurri.  The base is garlic, parsley, oil and seasoning.  After that additions include; vinegar, oregano, chilli, coriander, tomatoes, the list is seemingly endless.  To give myself a fighting chance during the Olympic Food Challenge, I decided to make a simple version and make notes so that I could tweak the flavours in a month or so.

For tonight's chimichurri, I blended together; three cloves of garlic, half an onion, a big handful of parsley and two teaspoons of oregano.  I then added six tablespoons of olive oil, two tablespoons of red wine vinegar, the juice of half a lemon, a pinch of salt and half a teaspoon of smoked hot paprika.  To say that it was punchy is a bit of an understatement.  It was fantastic, but next time I'll use red onion instead of white, include much more parsley and use a mix of smoked and regular garlic, assuming I still have some smoked garlic in the house.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Vegetable Miso Broth with Udon Noodles

When faced with a fridge full of vegetables what do you do? Panic? Make soup? Cook a curry or a stir fry perhaps?  We have ended up with said fridge of vegetables by buying too much for any particular meal.  This isn't our fault for a change, when cooking for two it is frustrating when things like pak choi come wrapped in threes.  Half a pepper is plenty for a lunch time salad.  We didn't need all of the aubergine for the satay kebabs at the weekend.  I can't remember why we have such a small amount of broccoli left over, but you get the idea.

Tonight Z managed to combine two of the above options to make a light and delicious meal. Without a whiff of panic Z stir fried broccoli and ginger with a splash of water, then added the pak choi stems, green beans and peppers. Lastly the shredded pak choi leaves and aubergine were added to the pan with dark and light soy sauces and rice wine vinegar.  In a separate pan she rehydrated udon noodles in a miso broth then added this to the vegetables.  Garnished with spring onions and toasted peanuts this was a great meal.  Although it's tagged vegetarian this is a vegan meal and probably one of the healthiest things that we cook.  Perhaps we'll go back to meat tomorrow.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Pasta with Chard

Technically we are the proud tenders of an allotment and a vegetable garden.  We almost lost the allotment last year due to the weeds outnumbering the plants in a staggering fashion.  Previously we had managed to convince ourselves that we were keeping an area of the plot "wild" to encourage friendly insects, but it had got out of hand.

Our plot is now being tended by a couple of Z's colleagues.  Next year R will be big enough to cause all kinds of mischief on the plot and we'll pick up our trowels again.  To keep us in the habit of eating our own we converted the front garden into a veg patch.  It is little more than 2m by 3m but last year it kept us in salad leaves and runner beans for the summer. This year we have managed to plant nothing.  All that we now have growing is the rekindled rocket and Swiss Chard that we planted this time last year.

The rocket has turned up in a few meals already but the chard has just come into its own.  I really love chard, it may well be my favourite vegetable.  Two veggies for the price of one.  The tender leaves that cook like spinach and the thick stems, which have a slightly beetrooty, earthy sweetness to them.

For tonight's menu I simply fried the stems in olive oil with some garlic, anchovies and dried chilli.  Once cooked, but still with a bite, I added some cooked pasta, the shredded leaves and a handful of parmesan and after a brief stir the meal was cooked and served.  As quick evening meals go this is one of the tastiest.  Sadly, there isn't much chard in the garden, but we'll eke it out to make sure we can have some again this year.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Pork and Aubergine Satay Kebabs

We had decided yesterday what we were going to cook this evening.  I had something akin to a craving and as Z was going shopping anyway, I dispatched her to Leeds Kirkgate Market to raid the stalls of Fish Row.  Sadly I had completely forgotten that mussels are now out of season* so a rethink was in order.

I had planned to make a Thai style mussel dish and serve some satay vegetables on the side.  It didn't take much to elevate the satay from side dish to main event.  We had already bought the sauce from Taste on Vicar Lane.  We also had onions and a green aubergine in the fridge so all that was needed was some pork.  The kebabs were marinated with lime juice and light soy sauce before grilling.  This was a million miles away from the food I was craving, but it was great.  I'll just have to wait until September before I can have the mussels I wanted.

*Only eat mussels when there is an R in the month.

Saturday, 26 May 2012


The relaxation of the last few days continued today, all be it with a couple of hours at work thrown in for good measure.  There isn't much better than a sunny afternoon, spent in a beer garden, catching up with a mate who you haven't seen for ages.  While I was catching the rays and sinking a few suds Z went shopping for the ingredients for tonight's meal.

We had decided on Paella, mainly because we discovered that we had quite a lot of chorizo in the house*.  Back home, a little worse for wear, I tended to the paella while Z kept an eye on Eurovision.  I have a love hate relationship with Eurovision.  It takes itself far too seriously and the voting is always rigged but for a couple of hours a year it's a bit of a giggle, with this year's high/low-light being the Russian grannies.

The chorizo was cooked off to get some of the flavour into the pan before onion, garlic and a red pepper were added.  Once everything had begun to soften I added the rice and stock to the pan and left the paella to bubble away.  Right at the end of cooking I added a handful of frozen peas and the prawns that Z had bought earlier.  Washed down with a bottle of Cava, it was like we were back in Barcelona. We must go back soon.

*never a bad thing.

Friday, 25 May 2012


Today we had a family day out to Castle Howard.  We didn't bother looking around the house as it was far too nice to spend time mooching around inside, looking at old sofas.  Instead we wandered around the walled gardens, fed the ducks and bounced around the adventure play park.

By the time we got home it was already R's teatime.  Although we had given some thought to his meal, we'd had such a good time that we hadn't given a second thought to our own meal.  Luckily, in the fridge, there was a lasagne from The Secret Kitchen.  I'd bumped into Sarah, from The Secret Kitchen, at The Source in Kirkgate Market earlier in the week and, after a really nice chat about all things food related, she insisted that I took home one of her ready-meals.

We don't normally have ready-meals in the house, cooking everything from scratch is how we roll.  However, as the lasagne was made by Sarah's fair hand it was as close to cooking yourself as you can get.  We knocked up a quick salad and some garlic bread and let the evening unwind without having to wash up half a dozen pans.  A great way to end a great day.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Chicken Fajitas

There has been a distinctly Chistmassy feel in the air this week.  It's not the lack of snow.  I've not had a huge pile of presents to open.  I've not started drinking at breakfast time.  I've not even eaten my own bodyweight in chocolate.  The Christmassy feel has been provided by the leftovers from Sunday's roast chicken.  As with the Christmas turkey, we have been eating the chicken for days.  Not only did it appear in a risotto, but it has also been in salads and sandwiches for our lunches.

Tonight's meal was a triumph of leftovers.  Not only did it contain the end of the roast chicken, but it also used the leftover sauce from last night's meatballs.  Z reheated the chicken in the tomato sauce before adding a third leftover, the end of a jar of The Chilli Jam Man's Chocolate Orange Chilli Jam.  Z also managed to find that rarest of things, a ripe avocado.  This was turned into a creamy guacamole which was perfect alongside a fresh tomato salsa.  The composite parts of the meal were then stuffed into corn tortillas and devoured.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Spaghetti and Meatballs

This morning, after dropping R off at nursery, I decided to cook our evening meal.  I miss cooking and the late nights at work are depriving me of the opportunity, so I grabbed this one with both hands.  I needed something that I could cook to completion but that wouldn't be harmed by being left and warmed up again later.  For some reason we had two packets of mince in the freezer so I pulled one of those out and got thinking.

I fancied pasta and spaghetti bolognese was the obvious choice, but that wouldn't slake my thirst for cooking.  Using the same ingredients I decided to make meatballs.  I started with the sauce, frying onions, garlic and celery until soft in olive oil.  I then added a glass of red wine, tomato purée, dried basil and oregano, a pinch of chilli flakes and finally a couple of tins of tomatoes.  I let this cook away for about an hour and a half before taking it off the heat.  I then blended it into a smooth sauce and set it to one side.

With the sauce made I turned my attention to the mince.  I like my meatballs to be relatively un-messed about with.  All I added to the mince was some fried onion, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.  Because I had the time I even fried off a bit of the meat so that I could test the seasoning.  Happy with the flavour I rolled golf ball sized lumps of meat and dropped them straight into the sauce.  I then cooked the whole lot together on the lowest flame possible for a couple of hours, turned off the heat and went to work.

When I got back home, Z had reheated the meatballs, saving some for R's tea tomorrow, and cooked some spaghetti.  All that was left was to serve the spaghetti and meatballs and grate some parmesan cheese over the top.  I now only have a couple of days of non-cooking before the weekend.  It is meant to be a weekend of food in Leeds but I don't think I'll see much of the Food Festival. We'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Baked Potato with Ratatouille and Goats Cheese

While making last night's risotto, Z also managed to make a ratatouille from the vegetables that were knocking about in the fridge for tonight's meal.  We always have tomatoes, onions and peppers in the house.  They turn up in so many dishes, including salads for lunch, that they have a permanent place on the shopping list.  For some reason, we also had a pair of aubergines in the crisper.  I am not a fan of the aubergine.  I have only actually found one way of cooking it that I love.  But when it is mixed in with all of the other vegetables you hardly know it's there.

With the rat in the bag, all Z had to do before I got home was bake a couple of giant spuds that I bought on Kirkgate Market.  By the time I got home from work, everything was ready, including a couple of slices of goats cheese topping off the filled potatoes.  It turns out that it is national vegetarian week this week.  If I had known in advance I may well have changed the menu for our evening meals.  I think this would still have made the cut.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Chicken Risotto

Another week of late finishes is stretching out in front of me.  It's not too bad, apart from listening to the Zumba class two times a week.  Z is taking the real impact.  Her evenings include; rushing our of the office, picking R up from nursery, getting him home, fed, washed and in bed.  All before starting to sort out our evening meals.  Tonight she excelled herself.  Not only did she cook Tonight's Menu but she also made a huge in-road into tomorrow's.

Tonight, using some of the leftovers from yesterdays roast chicken, she knocked up a great risotto.  Bacon, onions, celery and white wine at its base.  The rice was then slowly cooked as stock was added, ladle at a time, before the risotto was finished with butter and parmesan cheese.  With all of that cooking* and the start of tomorrows meal** Z really had her chef's head on.  She even fried some sage leaves to garnish the plates.

*you never really leave the pan when cooking risotto.
**no spoilers

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Sunday - Roast chicken with all the trimmings

This afternoon we had the Fosters around for a bit of a play and a slap-up Sunday lunch with all the trimmings.  The Fosters have a little girl who is a bit older than R but they are of a similar enough age to get on and not scream when they both want a go on the scooter.

While Z and Mrs Foster played with the kiddies in the living room, Mr Foster and I busied ourselves in the kitchen (beer may have been involved).  The chicken was from our Swillington Farm meat box that was delivered on Thursday.  I would normally joint the chicken and freeze the portions until we needed them, but with guests coming we decided to keep it whole.  I covered it in bacon, put an onion and a lemon in the cavity and let it cook.

One of the good things about getting the chicken from Swillington is that the giblets are always with the bird.  I used these to make a stock that eventually turned into gravy.  Parboiled potatoes were roasted in goose fat alongside a tray of stuffing balls.  Carrots and broccoli were steamed and all that was left was to carve the bird.

Because we hadn't roasted one of Swillington's free range chickens before I was in for a treat.  I have never carved such a succulent, moist chicken.  It was also very tasty and we have a little left over for the rest of the week.  To round off the meal Z had cooked a rice pudding but that was eaten so fast that no photos were taken, which is a shame because it was great too.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Chicken Kiev

A couple of weeks ago, Z challenged me to make her a Chicken Kiev for tea.  We used to eat shop bought Kievs regularly but, since we've stopped buying ready meals, they have fallen off the menu.  I love a challenge but this one had me worried.  What if all of the garlic butter came out of the chicken?  What if I burned the breadcrumbs making sure the chicken was cooked through?  I was running scared.  Then last weekend we stumbled on a field of wild garlic and the challenge was on.

Z had already made a block of wild garlic butter so I didn't have to mess around with that.  All I had to do was gently butcher a couple of chicken breasts to create a pocket for the butter, preferably a pocket that would close and keep the butter inside.  I made my incision behind the mini fillet, hoping to use it as a seal for the hole.

With the chicken stuffed with the butter I coated them in seasoned flour, egg and breadcrumbs and fried them in a couple of tablespoons of oil.  I then transferred them to the oven for about half an hour in an attempt to make sure that nothing was burnt or raw.  When the cooking time was up I presented Z with the results of the challenge and it was declared a success.  A bit more care with the original butchery and they would have been perfect but for a first attempt, I'm happy.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Pasta with Rocket and Wild Garlic Pesto

After a week of late nights it was nice to be home with the sun still in the sky.  It was also nice to be able to relax with the family.  I know I like to relax and wind down by cooking, but I also love quality time with Z and R.  This means that I have relegated the planned meal to tomorrow night in favour of a fast and tasty supper.

We made our own pesto yesterday with pine nuts, rocket from the front garden, wild garlic from Wilton Park, parmesan and plenty of olive oil.  This was simply added to cooked pasta and served with a rocket and parmesan salad.  And relax.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Pork and Nettle Sausages with Wild Rocket Lentils

Last year, on Father's Day, Z and R clubbed together and bought me the River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook.  This was meant to not only inspire us but to also guide us through the potential trauma of weaning.  It started off well, we thumbed through the pages, realised that what we were doing wasn't that bad and moved on.  The book, as with most of our cookbooks, hit the shelves after a couple of weeks.

To give it its due, it is a well written book.  It's full of useful tips and moves through the seasons.  It also moves through the stages of a child's development into cooking for the family.  I suppose it was only a matter of time, as with all of the cookery books that we own, that we would open its pages again and this is precisely what Z did earlier this week.

What she found was a recipe for lentils with watercress and onions.  We currently have an over abundance of wild rocket so a substitution was instantly on the cards.  The lentils were cooked in pork stock, with a crushed clove of garlic mixed through it, until the stock had been absorbed into the lentils.  They were then finished off with fried onions and fresh chopped rocket from the garden.

R had a portion of the lentils for his tea* and we had the rest of them for our evening meal.  We had bought some pork and nettle sausages from Swillington Farm at the last Kirkstall Deli market out of curiosity.  We simply grilled these and served them alongside the lentils.  I don't know what I was expecting from sausages with nettles in.  Perhaps a little more bite but you could tell they were made from fantastic pork.  The one thing we will be taking from tonight's meal is, we will be cooking lentils much more often.

*well it is a baby and toddler cookbook recipe.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


Whilst cooking last night's Moroccan Chicken, Z* also found time to knock up a Lasagne for tonight's meal.  She used the leftover bolognese sauce from Sunday, bulked out with some grated courgette.  Made a fresh bechamel sauce and got the whole lot layered in a dish ready for cooking this evening.

All that was left to do when I got in from work was to slam the lasagne into the oven and wait.  Normally, we would have salad and garlic bread with lasagne and save some for another day, but due to the time of the meal we just scoffed the lot and ignored the side dishes.

*the wonder woman that she is.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Moroccan Chicken

The last time we cooked Moroccan Chicken was on the 6th March and a lot has happened during the passing two months.  So much in fact, that I have had to go back and re-read the post to see what we had done that day.  What we had done, was to deviate off a tried and tested recipe.  I even stated that I would be annotating the recipe so that we cooked it that way again.

Needless to say, I didn't annotate the recipe.  I knew that we had cooked it previously for Tonight's Menu but I couldn't have told you that we had substituted black eye peas for the traditional chick peas, or that we had cooked carrots instead of courgettes.  If I had done my research, I would have realised that tonight was the first time that we had cooked this meal for the blog.

To give credit where it is due, Z did the cooking, following the same recipe as before, only this time with the correct ingredients.  All I did was joint a chicken and buy some pitta bread to mop the juices up with.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Szechuan Beef

I'm back working on the late shift but that is no excuse to stop posting our evening meals.  Z has wonderfully stepped up to the hot-plate and is taking the toddler-wrangling and husband cooking duties in her stride.  I'm not neglecting my duties.  Between us we've planned the evening meals for the week so that, where possible I will have prepared part of the meal before I set off for work.

Tonight that meant defrosting some steak from Swillington Farm and making sure the kitchen was clean for Z to work her magic unimpeded.  A stir fry is such a quick meal to cook that making sure that you have everything prepped in advance is vital.

By the time I got home Z had marinated the beef in crushed szechuan and black pepper corns, with a little oil and some rice wine vinegar.  She had also sliced an onion and some pak choi and was ready to fry.  Within minutes we sat down to eat and finally spend some time together.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Spaghetti Bolognese

It's Sunday and traditionally that would mean a nice Sunday Roast, or at least an opportunity for the three of us to sit down together for our evening meal.  If you had asked me on Friday what we were eating this evening I would have told you Roast Shoulder of Pork and all of the trimmings.  Had you asked me yesterday morning you would have had the same response.  However, by yesterday afternoon I had changed my mind.

Yesterday, to give Z some time in the house alone, I took R for a walk* around Wilton Park in Batley.  I had been once before, many years ago and I remembered the duck pond, the play park and the woods that led up to Bagshaw Museum.  It had been high summer on my last visit so I had absolutely no idea that the woods would be carpeted with ramsons (wild garlic).  I was stunned to see so much of it but with R in my arms I was in no position to pick any.  So today the three of us went back to Batley to fill our pockets.

What, if anything does this have to do with having Spaghetti Bolognese for our meal instead of a roast?  Well, the timings for the roast would have eaten into the day and we were determined to go out for a forage.  If we had held off cooking until we returned home after our long walk, R would have ended up eating on his own.  So last night I made a big vat of bolognese sauce so that on our return, our tea was only a pan of pasta away.

The wild garlic will make itself known over the next week or so as I have been challenged by Z to make her a Chicken Kiev using some of the leaves.  We'll see how that works out later in the week.

*I did all of the walking, R was content to be carried so that he was free to point at dogs, trees, cars and ducks.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Harissa Chicken

Last month we ventured out of our LS11 enclave and took a trip to Kirkstall Abbey.  The reason for the adventure was Kirkstall Deli Market.  Wandering around food stalls laid out in the cloisters of an Abbey is my idea of a fun way to spend an afternoon.  That day we took home venison for the evening meal but we also picked up a few additional items.

One gem was a jar of fresh harissa paste from Asharun Spices.  I've only ever found Asharun at Kirkstall Deli Market but I'm glad they are usually there.  There is always something new to try from their range and the fact that they wrap their wares in recipe cards takes the pain away from trying new things.

In the time that has elapsed from our trip to Kirkstall to tonight I've mislaid the recipe card but no matter.  I decided to rub some of the paste, with a little oil, into two chicken legs and let them marinate for a couple of hours before roasting them until the meat fell off the bone.  I served this with a couscous and roasted vegetable salad a little later than planned, but it was worth the wait.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Pepper topped Coley

There are positives and negatives to living as far away from our parent as we do.  My Mum is in Edinburgh while Z's Mum is in Windsor and her Dad is in deepest Shropshire.  At around four hours in the car to see any of them we don't meet up that often but when we do we always have a good time. 

One of the real bonuses of visiting family members that live miles away, is that you get to dip into a new local food scene.  Visiting Z's Dad gave us a day out in the foodie Mecca of Ludlow.  A recent trip to Edinbugh let us eat at The Dogs* and no visit to Windsor is complete without a farmers market or a trip to the Windsor Farm Shop which sells produce from the Royal farms.

Tonight's menu was inspired by the discovery, at the back of the fridge, of spoils from one of our visits to the Windsor Farm Shop.  A jar of caramelised peppers.  Z wanted the peppers smeared onto the top of a piece of white fish and baked and who am I to argue.  The peppers are sweet and sticky with a nice background kick but they are not so strong that they over powered the coley. 

We chose coley in the end because there is no reason not to.  It's a well flavoured white fish and usually costs half the price of cod or haddock.  If looks are that important to you, fine, but preserving the fish stocks and saving pennies are higher on my list of priorities.  The more pennies we have the more chance we have of going on family visits and picking up more fun food.

*a must if you get the chance

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Italian Cheese

It's that time of the month again.  The second Thursday and that can only mean one thing. Cheese Club!  Hundreds of people coming together to share in an evening of tasting cheese and learning a little in the process.  OK, so I perhaps exaggerated the total number of people, but since it launched 8 months ago, Homage 2 Fromage has gone from strength to strength and had to change venue three times to accommodate the hoards of Leeds denizens wanting to try new cheeses.

Tonight, at The Adelphi, we were treated to an evening of Italian cheese.  We had seven cheeses to chew over and for once I struggled to find a favourite.  They were all good cheeses, nice in there own way.  But not one of them blew my socks off.  Controversially, I'm not a fan of Gorgonzola.  I like blue cheese generally and always have room on my plate for some strong veiny cheese, but I just don't think it's as good as its own press.

Smoked Mozzarella di Buffala, seemed to divide opinion around the room.  I thought it worked quite well but the smoking process toughened the skin so that it was chewy on the outside and squidgy in the middle.  Provolone, Fontina and Asiago were all, again, nice but I won't be going on a mad cheese hunt to track them down.  I did rediscover my love of Parmigiano Reggiano*.  It's always in the house and added to so many dishes I lose count.  But eating it on its own in hefty chunks really lets the flavour shine.

The real treat of the night came in the form of Mario, a Barnsley lad with no trace of an accent at all**.  Mario is an Italian with a passion for the food of his homeland.  His passion is such that he still makes fresh cheese at home, the way that he was taught to when he still lived in Italy.  During the tasting, Mario dutifully kept a watching eye on his large pan of ewes milk.  By the time we had all gathered around, he had separated the curds from the whey and his first cheese of the night was born.  Mario turned his attention back to the whey and cracked on with making ricotta (re-cooked). this was a faster, hotter process and brought about the freshest cheese I have ever eaten.  It was so fresh that it was almost too hot to handle but it was so light and creamy that it was almost a dessert.  The perfect way to end the evening.

*parmesan to its friends

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Beef Rendang

While I like writing about food, I prefer to write about the inspirations behind what we cook.  Inspiration has been thin on the ground of late and Tonight's Menu has taken the full force of the blow.  The last two weeks' musings are littered with posts no longer than a demi baguette.  Over the next week I'm aiming to rediscover my muse, become inspired by food again and get back to cooking.

Inspiration comes from the strangest places.  You can't really force it.  You'll be sitting there, minding your own business and it will hit you.  That's what happened to me last night.  Every day, we get a sheet from R's nursery, telling us what he's been up to and what he's eaten.  Yesterday he'd had beef curry and naan bread.  I wanted beef curry and naan bread!  I didn't get beef curry and naan bread.  We were all out of naan bread and to add insult to injury, we had no beef.

So this morning I set about rectifying the situation.  I already had to go food shopping but I amended the shopping list and set off.  Having slept on my need for beef curry, I dropped the naan idea and changed country.  I skipped across the Bay of Bengal from India to Malaysia and started making a fragrant and punchy curry paste.  I've not cooked beef rendang before and I don't know why.  It's so easy, the flavours are superb and the meat is so succulent after a couple of hours cooking that it knocks spots off a lot of the curries we get in the UK.

The paste consisted of lemon grass, ginger, garlic and chillies.  This was fried off in a little oil until the fragrances started to fill the kitchen.  Then braising steak, red onions and turmeric were added.  Once the beef had taken a little colour a tin of coconut milk and a pint of beef stock are poured over the meat and allowed to simmer for one and a half to two hours.  I think it's fair to say that we have a new family favourite on our hands.  Thanks nursery!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Cowboy Stew - Revisited

Having been away for the weekend and then straight back into work we're left with raiding the freezer for tonight's menu.  It's a good job that I have very little portion control when it comes to cooking for two people. 

Our meal consisted of the remains of the cowboy stew that I made on the night of the Spaghetti Western Orchestra in February.  The mood wasn't the same, the giddy expectation of that night had been replaced with exhaustion.  The stew still tasted as good as I had remembered, although we had already eaten all of the sausages.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Weekend Away feat: Tapas and Pulled Pork

As I alluded to on Thursday, we have just returned home from a long weekend away.  Our journey south first took us to Windsor on Friday, to spend the night with Z's Mum and Step-Phil.  We set off after breakfast and broke the journey up with a service station lunch.  Z and R had a brace of sandwiches between them and I, in a fit of gay abandon, had what can only be described as a Double Whopper*.  We made Windsor in good time and Z's mum was able to get a decent grandson fix before we put him to bed.

Once R was safely tucked up in bed, Phil and I cracked on with the the evening meal; Tapas.  Z's Mum had looked out recipes and bought all of the ingredients, all that was left for us to do was follow them to the letter and all would be fine. We cooked; garlic prawns, patatas bravas, garlic chicken, tortillia, albondigas, and of course, chorizo cooked in white wine (only because there was no sherry) and butter beans in tomato sauce.  The meal was finished with a gorgeous and light crema catalana that Z's Mum had cooked in advance.

On Saturday we left Windsor behind and hot-footed it to Poole for my niece's 3rd birthday party.  I used to work in a children's centre and love kids but I will never have the energy, or bottle, to be a children's entertainer.  The woman at the party managed to keep dozens of 3 year olds happy for ages and left them with just enough energy to sit down for a party meal of sandwiches, savouries and cake. 

After the party, my brother and I went to the local to watch the FA Cup final and to have a good catch up.  A few light ales later it was time to go to our hotel and try to settle R in his new surroundings.  Luckily he was so exhausted from the party he went out like a light.  He slept so soundly that Z and I got room service and ate in the room.  We shared a meat platter, a portion of garlic bread and a bottle of red wine.  For the record, I'm definitely not reviewing the hotel or the restaurant.

The 3rd birthday party aside the main event, and the reason behind the mad mileage this weekend, was the Christening of my nephew.  Hatches, matches and dispatches are the events that pull families together regardless of distance.  After the ceremony, at which all of the children were well behaved, we went back to my brother's house for champers and pulled pork baps.  Two pork leg joints had been roasted in a low oven overnight.  The meat fell apart as soon as you looked at it so there was no need for carving.  Crackling, stuffing and apple sauce made for a brilliant celebration lunch.

Today, bank holiday Monday, we have had to brave the traffic.  I normally try to avoid driving whenever a mass-commute is in effect but working on Tuesday meant we had to get home today.  After a bottom numbing 6 hour drive**, we finally made it back to Leeds.  What I really wanted was a huge salad to try and redress the balance of excess that the weekend had delivered. 

Alas, we arrived home after the shops had closed so we were faced with the contents of the store cupboards.  Z worked her magic and soon a tuna and tomato pasta sauce was born.  A glass of wine and some garlic bread accompanied this meal too.

*this is because it was a Double Whopper. I'm not really a fan of BK or McD's but no matter how much work Heston and his cronies put into saving the service station's beleaguered reputation, the food on offer really isn't that great.  We need to start taking packed lunches and having A1 layby picnics.
**including a couple of comfort stops for Z and R.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Italian Pork Loin Steaks with Roasted Peppers

It's been a long day / week at work and one that I don't relish repeating any time soon.  I can hack the hours.  I can field sales calls and pretend that I'm not me or that I am not at my desk.  I can even put up with listening to the strained tunes of the Zumba classes.  But the emotional side of dealing face to face with colleges and customers has really taken its toll.  I could do with a little R'n'R.  Which is lucky because this weekend, tomorrow in fact, we are heading down south to see family.

Our first stop will be Windsor to see Z's parents.  Then we're going deeper south to Poole for a 3rd birthday party on Saturday, followed by a christening on Sunday.  Monday we'll be driving all the way back to Leeds so that I can be back at work on Tuesday.  A nice relaxing weekend indeed.

Tonight we have found time to cook and eat a nice meal of pork loin steaks, from Swillington Farm, baked on a bed of peppers and onions and served with potato wedges.  We have also packed our bags and piled them all in the hall so that we can set off first thing in the morning.  I know Tonight's Menu has been a bit sub-standard* of late, but I will endeavour to remedy this just as soon as I can.

*who knew I had standards?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Aloo Gobi

Another late night at work means another night of Z in charge of the pots and pans.  We're going away this weekend, so she has also been tasked with emptying the fridge and using any fresh vegetables that are in the house.

After rooting around the fridge Z came up with the wherewithal to cook a great Aloo Gobi.  I last cooked a cauliflower curry back in March and to be honest I overcooked the veg.  Z was clearly paying more attention, as tonight's curry was full of properly cooked vegetables and a lovely thick sauce.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Prawn Miso Broth

The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that there was no post yesterday.  There are often delays in getting this daily food blog updated but on Monday there wasn't an evening meal to talk about, hence no post.  Instead of going home after work, I went to a debate about the pros and cons of Leeds having an elected mayor.  This is neither the time nor the place to discuss my feelings on the matter so I'll swiftly gloss over it.

Back to Tonight's Menu.  This week I am working late, so Z is once again in charge of what we eat.  Tonight she cooked a delicious prawn and vegetable miso broth with noodles.  Sadly we didn't have any udon noodles but you can't have everything.