Thursday, 31 January 2008

31.01.08: Seafood lasagne and a treat

Defrosted the leftover seafood lasagne and plunked some spinach and radish salad on the plate.

SHE SAYS: Really not nearly as good as when first we had it. A few bites were decidedly icky. If I made this again, I'd make a smaller batch so we could eat it all up in one go.

HE SAYS: Enjoyable, but better fresh than frozen, unlike regular lasagne, which freezes very well.

Plus a special tea treat: ho-made banana bread!

SHE SAYS: This smells divine and tastes even better. I added orange zest (His inspiration), which gives it a nice hint of citrus, but even without it would be gorgeous. And so easy - mixing it up took maybe 10 mins.

HE SAYS: Smelled very good even before it came out of the oven. A fantastic way to use up our overripe bananas (instead of chucking them).

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

30.01.08: Lemon chicken

It's lemon chicken nite! (Plus beetroot and avo salad evening). A 70/30 joint effort from Him and Her, respectively.

HE SAYS: A good version of a regular staple. The lemons were very jammy this time. I added some leftover lemon thyme, which was a nice touch.
I particularly like the anya potatoes. One tip that's not in the recipe: blanching the potatoes helps make them fluffy for roasting.

SHE SAYS: Digging the extra jammy lemons this time. Anya potats are some of the best roasters ever (tho' as mentioned before, mediocre fryers). Green bnz were almost crispy, just the way I like 'em in this dish. V. satisfying

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

29.01.08: Slow-roast pork with gravy and veg

Sunday dinner on a Tuesday: In an adaptation of a Return of the Naked Chef recipe, He slow-cooked shoulder of pork with sliced peaches, lemon thyme, and stuffing, and served it up with a red-wine, garlic and green onion gravy reduced in the roasting pan. Sideshow: roast carrots, another appearance by the famous red cabbage (4 more to go!), and a salad of spinach, celery and grapes.

SHE SAYS: Oh. mah. gah. The roast was comfort food at its finest. I was not too proud to lap more gravy out of the pan after dinner was officially over. Red cabbage splendid as ever and roast carrots held up their end of things nicely. Salad did its job as virtuous palate cleanser. Meal o' the week, already!

HE SAYS: Mmmm! Turned out rather nice, considering my timings were a little off. As She said, the gravy was magnifique. The pork was juicy and the carrots, after cooking for what seemed like days, turned out nicely as well.

Monday, 28 January 2008

28.01.08: Stir-fry with rice

A reliable side gets promoted to a main: the fancy veg paired with prawns, straw mushrooms and water chestnuts over rice.

SHE SAYS: Enh. Not particularly inspired, but not bad. Would have been improved with some hoisin sauce, but I opted for light over sweet.

HE SAYS: I think I enjoyed it more than She did. Healthy and tasty.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

27.01.08: Out to Giraffe

Early pit stop with B+G+C after trawling Spitalfields and Sunday Upmarket.

Shared halves of 'Mexican' chicken and chorizo burger, Deluxe falafel burger with halloumi cheese and harissa, and chips.

HE SAYS: Not a bad meal. Enjoyed the company. Halloumi in the falafel burger was a nice touch, and I enjoyed dipping my chips into the harissa. Overall, nothing spectacular but not dreadful, either.

SHE SAYS: The company was the best part. Chips were crisp and fluffy, nice treat. Chicken burger was overwhelmed with cloying corn relish and other sweet sauces. Decent option for a child-friendly restaurant. Thanks to B+G+C for a fine day out.

And a couple of hours later, a top up of miso soup (made from the paste, not a powder packet), with spinach.

HE SAYS: Mmmmm. Tasty umami flavour. I much prefer white miso to the darker, barley variety.

SHE SAYS: Soothing, just what I wanted to wind down on a Sunday. I prefer white miso to barley, too, but sometimes in deep winter the more robust barley flavour can tempt me...

Saturday, 26 January 2008

26.01.08: Posh crab curry

He decided to splash out on this Southern Indian Crab Curry recipe from Cook with Jamie, which includes both brown and white fresh crabmeat plus some divinely fragrant spices. Sideline: cucumber, radish and mixed greens salad.

SHE SAYS: Creamy and thick and packed with luxurious crab. Lots of spice, yet somehow subtle. I can see why Pixie says it's fine to make with tinned crab, as the crab contributes much more to texture than flavour. Taste tests of picked crab from the fishmongers and prepared crab from Tesco were telling: the first was noticeably sweet and the second was bland (though quite fresh).

HE SAYS: I used three chilies, but I think two is enough; the heat tended to overpower the subtle crab flavour. Texture was very nice, but I had to reduce the liquid for a lot longer than Jamie's recipe stated to get it down to 'double cream' consistency. Not bad for a first go.

Decided to revisit some of the margarita ice cream a little while later.

SHE SAYS: Mmmm! It's kept well. Nice boozy treat.

HE SAYS: A fine indulgence - smooth and tangy.

25.01.08: Friday Nite Frijoles

Hot out from under the grill: a multilayered treat of huevos rancheros to wind down a Friday nite.

HE SAYS: Great comfort food; the eggs were nice and runny. Never fails.

SHE SAYS: Hit the spot!

24.01.08: Home and away

SHE SAYS: The M&S crayfish sandwich is always decent filler on the train when I have to jet to a nighttime activity. I prefer their poached salmon sandwich, but this one was tasty and soothing, with just enough rocket to give it some kick.

HE SAYS: A quick, improvised dish of trofie pasta with king prawns, butterbeans, spinach and canned crushed tomatoes. Turned out nice, but the pasta could have been cooked longer, it was more al dente than I would have liked. Next time, I would add a little olive oil to the pasta...

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

23.01.08: Chickpeas with rocket and sherry

Another one from Nigella Express: these chickpeas are laughably easy and quick to make. Salad was spinach, mozzarella, and freshly scooped pomegranate seeds.

HE SAYS: A nice light dinner. Pomegranate seeds were a great addition to the salad.

SHE SAYS: Mellow and filling. Nice accidental discovery: pomegranate seeds and chickpeas complement each other perfectly!

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

22.01.08: Red prawn and mango curry

The hot, sweet and pungent red prawn and mango curry He made with butternut squash, sweet potato and mango from Nigella Express. Here it makes an encore appearance with a little help from beetroot and avo salad.

HE SAYS: It was a very tasty dish, even if I do say so myself. It will be interesting to see how many times we have it this year!

SHE SAYS: So satisfying and tastebud-tingling. I thought the use of seafood stock was good, but I think I prefer chicken stock...after a while I can't tell much difference b/c I'm too happy spooning it up to notice anymore.

Monday, 21 January 2008

21.01.08: Grilled chops and veg

Grilled trimmed lambchops, baked carrots, and red cabbage, with ALT salad on the side (avocado, lettuce, tomato). Super easy and quick, since She marinated the chops and baked the carrots with olive oil, thyme, red wine vinegar and garlic the day before (and yes, we're still digging into the stash of red cabbage He made weeks ago).

SHE SAYS: Filling and tasty; like the way we have almost every primary colour in this dinner! I have three truly fab carrot recipes now: this one from Cook with Jamie, one from Eating Well, and the carrot salad from Medina Kitchen. Mmmmm...carrots...

HE SAYS: Lambchops were nice and tender, red cabbage again very good; the carrots were another welcome new addition.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

20.01.08: Seafood lasagne

A worthwhile Sunday effort layered with prawns, cod, salmon, and a creamy white veg sauce. This one's from Cook with Jamie. Plain crunchy salad with radishes and cucumber do a cool balancing act on the side.

SHE SAYS: Outstanding. Fine dining in me own home.

HE SAYS: The sauce was delicious; it was like a shrimp bisque. The corn pasta sheets are just as good as regular - you can't taste the difference, in my opinion. It was like a very fancy fish pie, without the bloaty potato consequences.

19.01.08: Out to Carnevale

Out with friends to Carnevale, a cosy, hidden vegetarian gem in the City (recommended by lechatlunatique). Service in the small dining area was friendly and attentive without being intrusive - they let us sit on the table for 3.5 hours. It was a good dinner to linger over...

Shared starter of butternut squash ravioli with lentils.

HE SAYS: Yummy!

SHE SAYS: Nice! Creamy squash, and the lentils were tender and tasty.

Potato cakes with fennel, basil and lemon, accompanied by ratatouille and rocket salad (same choice of main for both).

HE SAYS: Light for a potato cake, which was good. Delicate flavour.

SHE SAYS: Fresh, filling, and just about perfect. Went down a treat with the organic house white.

Shared dessert of warm apple and pear crumble with elderflower custard.

HE SAYS: Not your grandma's apple crumble, dawlin'! A modern and tasty twist on an old fave. I ate my portion quickly so I could slyly cadge some of Hers.

SHE SAYS: The 'custard' was more like a thin cream, but other than that it was a swell ending to a truly delishy meal and a lovely nite out. Thanks, C+M!

18.01.08: Out to The Prince Albert Pub

This had 'mistake' written all over it, in four different typefaces on the menu cover alone. I can only assume we were weak with hunger and tired of plodding about in the drizzle to cave in to pub Thai food.

SHE SAYS: Chicken Pad Thai is normally the thing that can't go wrong in even the grimmest Thai establishment, but this tasted like gym socks. And what was that bizarre lattice on top?? We're guessing egg or batter, but tentative tastes proved inconclusive. Gave up after eating 1/3 (hungry).

HE SAYS: I was starving, which led me to think my Prawn Pad Siew was not so bad. Very heavy on the salt and light on authentic (any?) Thai flavour. Should've gone for the fish 'n' chips, another contender that nite. Oh well...

A toasty bagel with avo and salad made up for the Pad Thai quite nicely. Is it any wonder we eat at home most of the time?

Thursday, 17 January 2008

17.01.08: Huevos Rancheros

Recreating one of our favourite dishes from The Bluebird Cafe (original location on Prytania St. in New Orleans): the usual black beans arranged on a toasted corn tortilla, then topped with fajita sauce, ho-made salsa, and cheese, and popped under a hot grill for a few minutes to bring it all together. The organic Epicure beans used this time are definitely smaller, lighter in colour, and have a more velvety inner texture.

SHE SAYS: Mmm-mmm good! Meal o' the week, says I.

HE SAYS: This was a Hungry-Man meal! Really hit the spot. Made me think of many a weekend brekky at the Bluebird.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

16.01.08: Magic lentils and carrot salad

The coconut dal is back this week, with a tangy new partner served over radishes and salad leaves: Torchi chfenaria, or carrot and caraway salad, a fabulously easy recipe from Medina Kitchen (love!).

HE SAYS: Very nice tonite. More dal than rice this time. The carrot salad was tasty!

SHE SAYS: All usual praise to the dal. I'm so very pleased with the carrot salad: the caraway seeds gave such a nice variation of unusual flavour to the meal, and it was a great way to use up extra carrots. Also got to use my ho-made harissa paste (Medina again).

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

15.01.08: Reggae Reggae chicken

Chicken marinated and baked in the Reggae Reggae sauce, with coconutty rice 'n' peas, plus a simple salad with avocado and Sweetfire beetroot.

SHE SAYS: Pretty good. Always like the spicy-sweet sauce. Rice 'n' peas were very tender, but kind of underflavoured. I'll still be happy to take the rest for lunch. Could not stop eating the salad, I love the beetroot.

HE SAYS: Chicken was tasty. The rice 'n' peas had a lot of coconut in them which always makes me happy. The beetroot in the salad was a winner, as always.

Monday, 14 January 2008

14.01.08: Fishcakes

Thought we'd try the Two Fishwives smoked haddock fishcakes again, after a long hiatus. The steamin'-hot red cabbage is from the same giant frozen batch as last week, and the steamed mangetout poses as a virtuous side veg.

HE SAYS: Fishcakes were blander than I recall from previous experience, had me reaching for the Crystal. Red cabbage continues to tingle the tastebuds. As for the snowpeas, they were nice and crunchy, but failed to deliver on taste. Mangetout = mangepoo (this time).

SHE SAYS: Now I know why we stopped getting these: sopping with potato mash and not enough fish, these never fry up crispy and firm like they should - they just fall apart in wet chunks. I remember them being smokier, at least, and these had little flavour. Mangetout was bo-ring, but would have been soothing next to a tastier main. Red cabbage saved the plate.

13.01.08: Out to Gaby's

Plans to see a gig in town called for a quick meal at Gaby's, a reliable fave recommended a couple of years ago by chat lunatique, before the evening got underway. And if we're at Gaby's, it must be the falafel with hummus and pitta!

SHE SAYS: As satisfying as ever, with extra-creamy hummus. I thought it came with salad, though. Been away too long.

HE SAYS: Thought the hummus was a little too thick, like peanut butter, and didn't have enough tahini in it. The falafel was kicking it, with a crunchy outer shell and a hot, muffin-like centre.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

12.01.08: Out to Fanoos

Interesting culinary adventure just a few miles away: the small but well-formed Fanoos. We sat right by the bread man and his tiled barrel of a clay oven...
He rolled out the dough with sesame seeds, draping each thin disc over a little mound wrapped in a tea-towel. Then he slapped the discs against the inside walls of the oven. They take mere seconds to bake before he pulls them out again with the tongs...
We had two. They're like a cross between a naan and a chaptati. And they go especially well with the Kashk o Bademjan starter, a puree of aubergines, onion and yoghurt (it's much yummier than it sounds).

HE SAYS: Fanoos was faboos! The Khoresh Gheimeh, a sort of lamb stew in a tomato broth with yellow split peas and, oddly, shoestring fried potatoes floating in it, didn't look very promising, but was very tasty and quite light. With the saffron rice and some of the bread, it made for a fulfilling, cheap nite out. The atmosphere was nicely buzzy, and intimate too.

SHE SAYS: My Koresh Ghormeh Sabzi, another thin lamb stew, was nearly too sour from all the lime juice, but the whole dried lime accompanying it was intensely delishy and almost sweet. Hot mint tea poured from a small pot into delicate glasses lifted the flavour of everything. I think the Kashk was the best bit, but the portion was rather small. I'd come back and try a joojeh kebab plate.

Friday, 11 January 2008

11.01.08: Salmon and veg

Quick one for a Friday nite: grilled lightly smoked salmon and a spritz of lime, with prepacked fancy veg sauteed in wok oil and chili flakes.

SHE SAYS: I always like the red spring onions in the fancy veg pack. Salmon was tasty and had a good texture: bit cunchy on top and firm but not tough inside. Just enough.

HE SAYS: I do prefer the lightly smoked salmon over regular. You can cook it very simply, no need for marinade, and it's still yummy. The vegetables were al dente, just the way I like 'em.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

10.01.08 Breakfast for Dinner

Fresh spinach omelet with a few shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano, Caesar salad and special guest - Quorn surprisingly juicy, sizzling bangers with a few drizzles of Maple Syrup for effect.

HE SAYS: Pretty good for a quick dinner for one :( Spinach in the omelet was plentiful. It's hard not to eat any sausages without Maple Syrup now, mmmm, delish.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

09.01.08: Black Bnz

Black beans according to Her own, ever-evolving recipe, including but not limited to: sauteed onion and green bell pepper, chili powder, lots of cumin, and Epicure black beans - canned, true, but the best you can get in the UK. Some quick home-made salsa, avocado slices, and green salad with radishes top it all off.

HE SAYS: One of my favourite dishes. They were nice and spicy this time, aided by a little chipotle Tabasco. Who needs greasy cheese when you have a nice, fresh ripe avo?

SHE SAYS: What he said.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

08.01.08: Lemon chicken

He put together this great set-it-and-forget-it-style* standby from Real Simple magazine: skin-on chicken breasts with garlicky green beans, lemon slices, and roast anya potatoes (still have some of those left). Slight variation tonite: some leftover butternut squash and sweet potato cubes. On the side: simple salad with avocado.

SHE SAYS: Oo, I'm so full. Anya potatoes much better roasted than fried. Nice juicy chicken, and good crispiness outside. Green beans had good crunch. Interesting discovery: butternut squash tastes good with avo. Who knew?

HE SAYS: A little too much olive oil, I thought. The lemons were okay, but not as jammy as usual. Enjoyed the squash add-on.

*We don't own a s.i.a.f.i. rotisserie. It's just an unbeatable expression for convenience cooking!

Monday, 7 January 2008

07.01.08: Quorn with pasta sauce

Quorn lemon-pepper escalopes smothered in sauteed aubergine, red and yellow peppers, onions, and a bottled tomato-chili sauce.

All of the ingredients in the salad are remnants from last nite's dinner except the radishes: raddichio salad mix, mango cubes, mozzarella, mint and a lemon dressing.

HE SAYS: Digging the breadcrumbs on the quorn. The sauce was nice and tangy. Inclusion of radishes in the salad made it for me, they're my fave.

SHE SAYS: Just what I felt like eating. The salad was zingy, and I like that it used up ingredients from last nite.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

06.01.07: Dinner Party

Dinner for four tonite, starting with the refreshing Christmas Salad from Cook with Jamie, where creamy fresh mozzarella takes on prosciutto, sliced clementines, lightly dressed watercress and radicchio, etc topped with shavings of parmesan.

On to a hearty favourite He makes, the Red Prawn and Mango Curry from Nigella Express, with sweet potato and butternut squash rounding out the flavours (and filling in the corners), served over jasmine brown rice.

Finally, the main event: sweet-tart Margarita Ice Cream (Nigella again), finished with lime zest and salted rims.

SHE SAYS: Delicious mix of crunch and creamy, salt and citrus in the salad; excellent balance of sweet with spicy and all-round soothing goodness in the curry; and the ice cream was so rich and tangy, far more luxurious than a store-bought treat.

HE SAYS: Thought curry was going to be too salty, but the mango offset that effect nicely. Salad was well-balanced, and the ice cream was indulgently delicious.

THEY SAY: Wow, thanks for that! Really enjoyed everything, liked the generous amount of mozzarella in the salad, curry was very tasty, and the cream's texture was like flaked chocolate, not what you'd expect, very good.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

05.01.07: Out to Won Kei's

Probably trip number 20 or so to Won Kei, our Chinese restaurant of choice in Central London. People say the waiters are rude, but we find it cosy and inviting upstairs.

HE SAYS: Always like the free jasmine tea; greens had lots of ginger in them, which is a good thing; shredded duck and pork over braised noodles was pretty tasty, but Singapore fried noodles is still my fave.

SHE SAYS: My chicken with mushrooms (plus spoonfuls of chili in oil) was tender and plentiful as ever, and the stir-fried Chinese greens tricked me into thinking it was all very healthy, with heaps of ginger slices tucked in.

Friday, 4 January 2008

04.01.07: Out to Angelo's

Angelo's is our only neighborhood Italian restaurant worth the walk. The food is only so-so, but they specialise in atmosphere, and when Mr Angelo himself is working the front of the house, you might even get free tiramisu. We were going to indulge in a pepperoni pizza, but it was 'finished'.

SHE SAYS: My chicken risotto Milanese was good and creamy, but I always think they put in too much saffron. Higher on quantity than quality, but I was just happy to be at Angelo's on a Friday nite.

HE SAYS: Had spaghetti vongole, which was tasty enough, but I really had my taste buds set for pizza, which is unusual - we rarely opt for pizza anymore (usually the crust is too thick and doughy everywhere you go around here).

Thursday, 3 January 2008

03.01.07: Magic lentils

So easy and so good: Coconut dal mixed with spinach and fresh coriander, served with a brown, wild, and red carmargue rice mix and watercress/cocktail beetroot salad. Thanks many times over to lechatlunatique for passing on the coconut dal recipe; it's a weekly guest star at the moment.

HE SAYS: Dal was heavy on the ginger this time, which is a good thing.
SHE SAYS: Always deeply satisfying.

02.01.08: Quorn and veg

Pan-fried lemon-pepper quorn escalopes, pan-fried anya potatoes, leftover greens from last night, and some of the red cabbage He made 10 tubs of about a month ago and froze.

SHE SAYS: I heart quorn. The red cabbage is scrumptious. Anya potatoes not so good for frying (waxy).

HE SAYS: Red cabbage just gets better after freezing. Enjoyed the posh chips.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

01.01.08: Black-eyed peas and greens

Black-eyed peas for good luck and greens for money: we didn't dare forgo the superstitious New Year's meal. The peas were pepped up with bourbon and maple syrup, adapted from Joshua Ploeg's vegan adventure Something Delicious This Way Comes. The greens got a few quick shakes of liquid smoke before being boiled to pieces with a chopped onion. On the side: fennel, watercress and pear salad from Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries.

HE SAYS: Tasty!
SHE SAYS: Greens yummy, avoided smoke overkill. Salad was a nice palate cleanser. Beans were sweeeet.