Tuesday, 29 April 2008

29.04.08: Lemon chicken

Such a tart: He ensured that the reliable lemon chicken graced our plates once more, and found a fitting partner in a leafy salad dotted with radish, little marinated olives, sundried tomatoes and Apetina.

SHE SAYS: Always yummy and kind to the tummy. Got to get the name of those li'l olives, they're mild but moreish.

HE SAYS: The further adventures of Lemony-Chicket. It's always a crowd pleaser around these parts and I was not disappointed by the continuation of this series of fortunate savoury sour-quenching dishes. The maris piper spuds replaced the charlotte variety used in recent versions and held up to their label of Britain's favourite all round 'tater plater. The salad was nice and tangy too, yippee!

Monday, 28 April 2008

28.04.08: Red prawn and mango curry

We don't care if you're tired of it - tuck in your napkin for a spot of Nigella's red prawn and mango curry, or go hungry. If you're very, very good, you can have some of the crispy-leaf salad with sundried tomatoes and Apetina cheese.

HE SAYS: Maybe we are being unimaginative but this dish has yet to become boring. We have been eatin' our fair share of Thai and Indian curries recently and I ain't complaining. This week's version was again top-notch, the consistency was not too soupy and the mango added a perfect note of sweetness. The sundried tomatoes and cheese made the salad nice and tangy, its sharp tastes infused with olive oil goodness.

SHE SAYS: Mmm - easy, yummy, sweet and savoury, with a coconutty rice mix - brown basmatii, wild, and red carmargue - to boot. (Top tip: I always use half the can of coconut milk as cooking liquid for the rice.) The sharp, tangy tomatoes and mild but intensely salty cheese catapulted the salad into the major flavour leagues.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

27.04.08: Out to Wagamama's

Feeling a little deja-vu? That's b/c we had another coupon, and today was the last day to use it. Truth is, we ordered exactly the same entrees as last time - ebi kare lomen for Her, chicken kare lomen for Him - in the interests of fair comparison between two Waga-locales: Soho and Richmond, respectively. Plus this time instead of sharing the delectable gyoza, we opted for the yasai natsubi salad with the signature Wagamama dressing.

SHE SAYS: We both noticed right away that our entrees seemed much more soupy than last time, and not quite the right colour - too red. It was still good 'n' spicy, but lacked that creamy-grainy sensation that made a simple noodle dish seem luxurious, and the flavour was not as intense. We figure they were skimping on both coconut milk and time for reduction of the sauce. The salad was delish, the dressing bursting with oohmami, but hey! where were the crispy shallot bits they promise? Again, the omission was not key, but it certainly subtracted that sense of something special.

HE SAYS: Agree with her that the entreés were not as good as last week. I presented the coupon as we ordered and maybe that led to their sloppy presentation...conspiracy theories anyone? Still, if we had not had the same but better last week I would still reckon this meal was proper nice nosh nonetheless.

26.04.08: Nando's takeaway

His 'n' Hers chicken dinners: He feasted on 1/2 a medium-spice chicken with grilled corn and chips, while she delved into a 1/4 medium-spice chicken with matching grilled corn. Aw!

HE SAYS: Chicken was tender, smoky and still hot when I got it to our plates. The corn was very sweet and makes me suspect they coat it with sugar. Ate too many chips that were just okay, not too greasy but overprocessed and a little tasteless. Overall not a bad solution for fast food.

SHE SAYS: Perfectly satisfying, with tender chicken spiced just right and full of that chargrilled flavour. The corn proved good, juicy filler, and overall I didn't have to feel as guilty or woozy as when I indulge in dat Popeye's famous fried chicken.

25.04.08: Lamb korma, naan, and salad

The Friday nite curry: He browned some leg o' lamb, mixed in some korma sauce from Bombay Authentics (we keep trying!), and served it over brown rice cooked with lemongrass and onion seeds and quick chopping of fresh coriander. Some oven-toasted readymade naan and a salad of watercress and dark, green-striped tiger tomatoes did right by us as the weekend approached.

SHE SAYS: Three cheers for the korma sauce; blended with the broth of the lamb it was deeply savoury, but not at overcomplicated. I found the lamb to be tough and fatty, even though I know He trimmed it...maybe there's a better cut to choose for this quick-cooker, and the leg stands up better to a nice long braise? The crispy naan made for good scooping, and the salad was a real firecracker - watercress in season delivers a v. spicy kick! Meanwhile, the tiger tomatoes put the insipid waterbags you find masquerading on supermarket shelves as proper lycopersicums well to shame.

HE SAYS: I used two jars of the sauce, learnt from last time we tried a sauce from this range that one doesn't afford much sopping up action. The flavour was nice and creamy and fragrant but still had a spicy kick without the heat. Rice was pepped up with some lemongrass, a pinch of garam masala, onion seeds, and a teaspoon of the chicken broth that She discovered recently. Salad was tasty with the inclusion of the almost-green tomatoes. A
pint of Cobra and a few naan helped recreate an authentic Friday curry nite out without leaving our kitchen.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

24.04.08: Pesto pasta with prawns and mushrooms

A random combination: She whizzed up some pesto from lots of basil and sundried tomatoes; sauteed fresh green garlic, portobello and chestnut mushrooms, rocket and two kinds of M&S prawns; and combined it all with some trofie pasta dug out of the cupboard. Boiled chantenay carrots modestly filled out the plate, while the salad He threw together from the remains of all the week's salad fixings looked on.

HE SAYS: Luv the pesto pasta, luv you long time. The trofie may have been a little south of aldenté but it didn't spoil the luxuriously fragrant and tasty ho-made pesto, and what with the sweet sundried tomatoes, what's not to like? Enjoyed the mushroom selectsheeun cooked with dark soy sauce - a hint from Helois, they taste better for it, any dish, any time. Carrots acted as a fresh and uncomplicated companion to the rest of the the plate, no thrills or bells and whistles, just good plain carrots goddamn it. Salad was a veritable mix of all things vegetable (no fruit action tonite)
but the fancy olive oil she picked up on sale put it in another league, uh-huh.

SHE SAYS: I rather overcooked the pasta - it's tricky to get right - but the sharp, fresh pesto flavours rescued it somewhat from being a complete bland state of mush. The mushroo-prawn mix was v. tasty, and who knew fresh garlic was so tender and almost milky? V. nice, indeed. The carrots made surprisingly easy eatin' and did not languish on the plate til the end as I feared they might. Salad did its job of refreshing and filling.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

23.04.08: Return of the magic lentils

Welcome home: She stirred up a batch of coconut dal with spinach, ladled it over some remaining brown basmati and wild rice, and tossed together a salad of avo, physalis, cherry toms, cucumber and mixed leaves with rocket.

SHE SAYS: Mild, creamy, and moreish. Sometimes a lack of spice is the right thing, esp when you have a nutty rice mix to up the yum factor. Still marvelling over the tingly, tangy contribution of the gorgeous physalis, too.

HE SAYS: I really missed this dish, glad it's back in rotation, I likey a lot. Would have had seconds but was trying to save some for lunch tomorrow, gorged on the star physalis salad instead, thumbs up all round. Trust in me, you should def. try it.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

22.04.08: Chicken tikka with spiced rice

Pretty healthy and filling: chicken breast pieces baked in a readymade tikka masala sauce combined with the infamous spiced rice from the pork vindaloo recipe share the plate with a salad of avo, crispy leaves, cucumber and physalis (which, interestingly, is a close cousin of the tomatillo - who knew?).

HE SAYS: I think I enjoyed this one more then She did, but I was also not too impressed by the sauce. Having baked in the oven smothering the chicken, it evaporated a little too much (will have to remember to save some next time to add after cooking) making the chicken a little drier then expected. The rice section was nice with some added coconut flakes in it to make it that bit more special. I thought the physalis were yum, nice and juicy and sweet, a nice addition to our ever-growing salad fixings repertoire.

SHE SAYS: Underwhelming, and I thought the chicken was a little whiffy again, but it seems it was ok. The tikka sauce was quite disappointing - it had a sharp raw-onion flavour. So far the vindaloo is the only good version in the 'Bombay Authentics' range of sauces. The onion and green pepper He rustled up in the grill pan had a nice, mildly charred taste, though, and the rice pulled the flavour level up to good, though it couldn't make it great. Fortunately, the tart physalis in the salad did much to lift my spirits, esp when combined with the swanky new olive oil (sale item!).

Monday, 21 April 2008

21.04.08: Chicken soup, part deux

Monday nite doesn't get much easier than this: Friday nite's plentiful chicken soup makes an encore appearance, supported by a basmati-wild rice mix and cucumber-beetroot-avo-crispy-leaf salad.

SHE SAYS: Mmm-mmm good! The rice had a particularly nutty flavour tonite, maybe b/c I didn't add any stock to the cooking water. The soup deepened its flavour and my appreciation for down-home cookin' once again. Salad did its usual freshening up number, though the plain vinegar beetroot was not nearly as poppin' as its glamourous cousin, the Sweetfire variety.

HE SAYS: More chicken soup for the bowl. As she said, the soup intensified while chillin' with its homies (Mr
Cucumber and Mrs Celery) in the fridge. The rice was awfully nice, and the beetroot was the star of the salad, despite not being as bling as Sweetfire, it packed a punch. Can I get a witness?

Sunday, 20 April 2008

20.04.08: Chorizo, bnz, and greens

She threw this together surprisingly quickly: an improvised recipe of borlotti bnz, some diced chorizo, celery, onions, garlic, callaloo, a splash of red wine, chicken stock, bay leaves, and pinches of sage, thyme and oregano made for a heavenly Sunday evening waft of savoury goodness. Simple boiled peas and chantenay carrots loved up with some marge and dried mint, plus Friday nite's salad refreshed with more cucumber, radishes and spinach filled out the plate.

HE SAYS: These beans were full of flavour; the red wine redux probably didn't hurt; and the chorizo never fails to deliver in the taste department. The callaloo tastes a little like spinach but has a more complex flava-flav, a nice addition to this bean stew. Couldn't find butter beans at the store so chose the creamy beans borlotti instead and they worked a treat.The carrots and peas added a traditional Sunday dinner quality to the proceedings and were also delish, end of.

SHE SAYS: This was soothing and herby and filling - not bad for a last-minute sweep of M&S and the corner store. I would def. have it again; it's not unlike this dish, but the red wine add-on added some depth, I think. The callaloo is v. spinachy, but more earthy in flavour. The peas and carrots made for easy eatin' in their own right; must remember not to underestimate the virtues of plain-cooked veg.

19.04.08: Out to Wagamama

Capping off a Saturday outing to the centre of town, we popped into Wagamama to take advantage of - what else? - a timely two-fer coupon. She plumped for the ebi kare lomen; He chose the chicken kare lomen plus a side of miso soup; and we split an order of steamed-n-grilled gyoza with soy-vingear dipping sauce just because we could. (Check out the link for full description of the dishes, but beware, it will make you veddy hungry!)

SHE SAYS: For once, I wasn't envying his bowl at Wagamama b/c I ordered practically the same thing - the only difference is that mine came with prawns instead of chicken. The sauce was hot-hot-hot with spice, which was just what I wanted, and it seems Wagamama has upped its prawn quotient per bowl - I remember when you only got three, and this time I had six meaty grilled and butterflied black tiger prawns - yum! The sauce was a pleasing mix of creamy and grainy, with the plentiful ramen noodles acting as an excellent sauce conveyor. The gyoza were suitably tender and tasty, but likewise mainly act as sauce transport...we ended up pouring the remainder into our bowls!

HE SAYS: What she said, but with chicken.

Friday, 18 April 2008

18.04.08: Chicken soup

When you're feeling poorly, nothing else will do: She dug out the ol' chicken soup recipe and plopped a chicken in the pot. Brown basmati and wild rice lined the soup bowl while a kitchen-sink salad of spinach, rocket, radishes, tomatoes, cucumber, grapes and pear edged into the frame.

HE SAYS: Chicken soup for the cold. Even though I am not down with the lurgy I was able to appreciate the succulent chicken and umami qualities of this fragrant dish. My salad tried it's best to compete by over compensating in the taste dept. but I feel perhaps lost out to the no thrills, winter warmer.

SHE SAYS: Aahhh...just what I wanted. Always the best way to make the most of a chicken - nothing goes to waste. This soup is light and moreish, the chicken tender and flavourful but not at all complex. The rice mix added just enough character to make it more than a sickie picker-upper, and the salad made a fresh, cleansing change o' pace, though I'm not sure about mixing tomatoes with fruit...made the toms taste a little metallic.

PS: If you visit the recipe and like it, don't forget to click the little fork right below here, in the tags!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

17.04.08: Quorn parmesan and salad

She managed to roast some peppers and saute some onions and aubergine, smother it all in the sauce, and quickly fry up the quorn lemon pepper cutlets, then refresh last nite's salad with more rocket, pear and some cucumber. She also boiled up a little spelt penne pasta for the Hungry Man.

SHE SAYS: Not bad, perfectly decent filler, and didn't take too much out of me...still feeling poorly.

HE SAYS: The veggie version of veal Parmesan, I likey a lot. The sauce was a little sweeter then usual but still tangy and delish. The pasta added a little bit more bulk to the proceedings and gave the sauce another reason to exist - performing splendid mopping up duties, maybe a crusty French loaf could perform similar wonders next time. The salad from last night was improved upon by the inclusion of the cucumber (which has been quite a rare sight on our nightly salad plates of late), I think it got along famously with all its friends from the fruit bowl.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

16.04.08: Lemon chicken

Ladies and gentlemen, He brings you....lemon chicken nite! With special guest star, Zea's salad: sultanas subtracted, but radishes and grapes added.

HE SAYS: Since this is such a regular item on our menu it give me the opportunity to experiment slightly with liquid/juice ratio compared to the written-in-stone recipe. It asks for two lemons, one for juicing and one for chopping and laying. I have found that you need two for laying under the chicken and 2 for creating the marinade. Tonite's version was pretty spot on, not too dry and not swimming in juice. The chicken had a crunchy skin and the potatoes were on the verge of being burnt (but not) just the way I like 'em. The green beans were the same, delishimo. I likey the almost fruit salad too, on the same plate as the chix, thus stealing some o' the lemon sauciness.

SHE SAYS: The lemons were jammy, the chicken was tender, the green beans were virtuous veg al dente...even with my nose all stuffed up I could tell this was a good one. The salad was sweet and spicy with plenty of crunch from the remaining pecans and radishes. Mm-mm good.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

15.04.08: Black bnz and salad

Wholesome filler: She gave her refomulated black bnz a second outing, and used some leftover sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives to liven up a salad of rocket and crunchy chicory and tatsoi leaves.

SHE SAYS: Pretty good, but without the depth of my last batch, and I know why; I forgot to add two tsp of chipotle paste. Will have to adjust the recipe. Salad was nice and sharp in flavour to complement the mellowness of the beans, adding crunch from the chicory and bite from the rocket.

HE SAYS: Nice healthy comfort food, definitely hit the spot. Agree it wasn't as good as last time but still heads above anything found on this continent. Salad again was a winner, with the surprisingly tasty sun-dried tomatoes from the unreliable Tesco's deli counter.

14.04.08: Salmon, asparagus and the last red cabbage

She made a pretty plate: salmon poached and then broiled with rosemary, thyme and dill; boiled asparagus; and the very last of the big batch of red cabbage from the freezer. Pear, grape and blue cheese salad bore witness to the scene.

HE SAYS: Firstly, a minute's silence for the last of the red cabbage...it seems like only yesterday I was chopping like a madman, 3 cabbages and a load of granny smith apples, boiling and reducing for what seemed like days, stinking up the place in the process. Well worth it I believe, I think it yielded 12 portions which have intensified in flavour over time in the freezer and given us a quick and easy side dish to a variety of meals in a pinch. The salmon from our local fishmongers was nicely poached with herby flavours, didn't mind making room for the extra piece from Her plate either. The asparagus was nice and al denté, not grey and boiled to death like my childhood experiences of same veg. Salad, oh salad, how we like the way you keep suprising us with your persistant tastiness, oh yeah.

SHE SAYS: It was one of those very rare nites when I was off my food (turned out I was on the verge of my usual change-of-weather lurgy). Though the salmon was perfectly fine, fairly flaky and fresh-flavoured, I gave most of it to Him, picked at my blameless asparagus, and dutifully spooned up my portion of tangy red cabbage. I made better progress on the salad, as the pungent blue cheese proved irresistible in partnership with the sweet, fresh fruits.

Monday, 14 April 2008

13.04.08: Spinach omelet, curry, salad and harissa

A bit of this, a bit of that...a Sunday out and about called for an easy supper, so She cooked up the ever-reliable spinach omelet, slipping in the last slice of jarlsberg; heated up the remains of Friday nite's curry feast; roasted up some balsamic tomatoes in a pan; tossed together some salad leaves, cucumber and sweetfire beetroot; then spooned on a dollop of new ho-made harissa.

SHE SAYS: The new pan makes such a difference; my omelet stayed a spinach-hugging envelope rather than falling to bits, and it toasted up ever so evenly. The new batch of harissa is a bit too salty, but still adds a high yum factor. The curry only improves with a day or two in the fridge, and the salad...ah, the salad: it delivered its cucumber cool and sweetfire spice with a deft one-two punch.

HE SAYS: Although the pic is a little wobbly this meal was solid. A little jarlsberg never fails to add a little class, and the curry's spices developed nicely overnight. The sharp, sweet balsamic tomatoes were a nice pairing with the savoury omelet, my only gripe was that they lacked a little texture from cooking down a bit too long. Harissa we missed ya, oh and the the salad was tasty too.

Whole baked herb-stuffed sea bass with fennel and potatoes

It's a Saturday nite special courtesy of The (Return of the) Naked Chef: He packed the fish with fresh dill, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves, then lay the sea bass on a bed of sliced fennel and red onion. A few glugs of olive oil, a sprinkling of salt, 40 mins in a hot oven, and we had us a fine feast o' fish.

Not to give the accompaniments short shrift. Pan-fried charlotte potates and last nite's spinach salad refreshed with more leaves filled in the corners most fine, thank you.

HE SAYS: Nice meal that I haven't attempted for a while. The sea bass was cooked perfectly - more luck then skill, as it's always a little bit of a crapshoot as far as timings for the fish go because it's wrapped in loads of foil that you don't want to unwrap until the end to keep in all the flavour-flavs...plus it's super-fiddly. I'm not usually a fan of anything aniseed-tasting, but the fennel seeds and fresh fennel slices give this dish nice subtle aromatic overtones
, while the red onions lend a slighly sweet touch.

The potatoes turned out crunchy and light; cooked 'em forever, it seemed. I always think before I attempt this dish that it has masses of prep work but it's actually a very quick one and easy on the washing up, which always puts a smile on my face after the last bite.

SHE SAYS: I was swooning over the silky texture and clean, oceanic flavours of the sea bass; this is quite possibly my favourite fish dish. The fennel and red onion made for the perfect sharp and sweet contrasts - my only quibble would be that the veg could have been a tad more tender. Potatoes were classically delicious and filling, and the salad just couldn't go wrong.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

11.04.08: Red prawn and mango curry with special guest

He whipped up the old family fav with a twist - lemongrass in the rice - and also tried his hand at replicating Zea's pepper-jelly spinach salad which includes blue cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, raisins, pecans, sesame seeds and kalamata olives. While he was cooking She was busy baking up some banana bread for dessert. Meanwhile, special guest Samski regaled us with tales both fascinating and true while sipping her Pinot Grigio and taking in the aromas most appreciatively.

SHE SAYS: He outdid himself on this batch: the additional lift from the lemongrass and the creamy texture renewed my delight in this N+D staple, not that I ever exactly took it for granted. The Zea's spinach salad replication was near-perfect. Smoky pecans, crisp spinach, and roasty sesame seeds engaged in a pitched battle of the flavours with the tangy olives, sharp blue cheese, and piquant sun-dried tomatoes.

Now, the banana bread let me down a little: though it still had a toffee scent and good flavour, several snafus made it dry and cake-y: the bananas were not as overripe as they should be; the batter seemed oddly dry, so I added more milk to loosen it, and only after I put the pan in the oven did I realise I'd forgotten the melted butter! I mixed most of it in, but I don't think it distributed well. Still not bad dipped into a cuppa...

HE SAYS: This batch of curry was a winner. I let the sweet potato and butternut squash simmer and soften a while longer this time round, creating a thicker, gravy-like consistency. I also doubled the prawn quantity to make it a little bit more spesh for our guest. The salad in my humble opinion was spot-on as far as authenticity goes, I blended the pepper jelly with a little rice vinegar in the bowl, making good coverage and binding all the flavours togethor. Now will have to move on to simulating their corn grits, which are probably the most delicious vittles known to man.

SAMSKI SAYS: My, oh, my what a treat awaited this work-weary soul last Friday night. His signature red prawn and mango curry was a triumph; the extra cooking time he afforded the sweet potato and butternut squash resulted in a scrumptious sweet/sour creaminess gently perked by new house speciality, lemongrass infused rice. And those extra prawns, plump and juicy every one, did not go unnoticed. In a word: yum - comfort food with gourmet cred.

The accompanying salad - inspired by Zea's original - tantalised and refreshed our taste-buds with diverse ingredients joyously unified by His deft touch. The exquisitely savoury combo of chewy sun-dried tomatoes and zingy blue cheese were tempered by the spinach, Kalamata olives, juicy raisins and satisfying nuttiness of the pecans and sesame seeds, each enlivened but never overwhelmed by the dressing. A cavalcade of texture, colour and flavour - Mardi Gras on a plate.

And so to dessert. Contrary to Her comments, I found the banana bread extremely good and moreish. Served warm, it wasn't too sweet or bubblegummy, and not in the least bit greasy (a common pitfall with most banana breads I've tried in the past). Her creation was springy, moist and - best of all - was just as delicious two days later when this gal dipped enthusiastically into her doggie bag.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

10.04.08: Nigella's chickpeas with extras

It's the nite of the Nigels: Nigella's reliable chickpeas with sherry and rocket (pepped up with ho-made harissa, some avo and the remainder of that Apetina cheese) squared off with Nigel Slater's pear, fennel and watercress salad.

HE SAYS: The chickpeas had a nice nutty flavour to them - maybe it's because they were organic this time. Enjoyed the avo and chees topping, but agree with Her that boiled egg is better. A simple and tasty favourite that fills you up without the bloat. The salad was a great pairing, the lime juice did its job of teasing the tastebuds at the finish line.

SHE SAYS: A far more pleasant experience than last nite, fo' sho'. I tried out some new cream sherry, which is what Nigella calls for - we'd been using a dry one since it's what we had - and it came out exactly the same. Avo and cheese added creamy saltiness to the cuminy globes, but as toppings go it doesn't quite compete with pomegranate or a nice soft-boiled egg. Welcomed back Nigel's best salad with all its tarty, lime-infused crunch.

09.04.08: Madras Curry with fragrant rice

It seemed like a good idea at the time: She poached some skinless chicken breasts, stirred up the spiced rice from the pork vindaloo recipe and added coconut milk, then mixed in some madras luxury curry sauce. Leftover salad from last nite freshened up with more leaves, a pear and a sprinkling of Apetina.

SHE SAYS: Oy, such a pain that rice recipe is! I forgot that the liquid quantity is a laugh, and that when He last made this recipe He cooked the rice nice and tender in the rice cooker before adding it to the pan of onions and spices. About a quarter of my rice burned black in the pan and had to be scraped away, then it all took for-ev-ah to tenderise. As He noted, the coconut milk just blanded out the madras sauce and didn't get that rice cooked any faster, let me tell ya. It tasted okay and was perfectly wholesome, but all in all was quite the letdown.

HE SAYS: I enjoyed the velvety quality of the curry but it was a little bland due to the inclusion of coconut milk. It's so tempting to add at any chance and you would think that it would work, wouldn't cha? But no, not this time charlie. The fragrant rice was top notch and the chicken equally tasty and juicy. Salad was great with the red grapes and cheese, mmmm.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

08.04.08: Mustard chops, spinach and mash

She's keeping it simple: lamb chops marinated in mustard, olive oil, garlic and lemon a la Nigel Slater's Food Diaries; charlotte potatoes mashed with milk and marge, finished with slices of dark soy-basted portobello mushrooms (grilled a couple of nites ago 'just because'), and spinach shallow-boiled with a touch of nutmeg. The salad is the decadent bit tonite, with grapes, avo, and feta peeking thru the mixed rocket leaves.

HE SAYS: Definitely a Hungry-Man meal. Enjoyed the mustardy chops immensely, and the nutmeg in the spinach was a dee-licious surprise. Salad was elevated to greater tasty heights with the inclusion of the not-so-goaty feta and sweet, sweet grapes. Thumbs up all 'round!

SHE SAYS: 'Proper food' was the phrase that came to mind when I surveyed my plate this evening. Chops had just enough tangy singedness to the edges and were nice and pink inside - suppose the larger chops could have done with another couple minutes on each side, but it's better than being too tough. Spinach was light and suprisingly filling, needing nothing more than its nutmeg wink to satisfy. The hearty mash found a very decent partner in the mushroom slices, which had a nice gravy effect.

Monday, 7 April 2008

07.04.08: Caribbean jerk-style chicken stew

He threw together this hot little number while She was out: sauteed onion, callaloo, chicken, and the new M&S jerk spice, baked with chicken stock and coconut milk, and served over brown rice.

SHE SAYS: So glad I got home in time for a hot plate of this spicy stew. The strong allspice and black pepper flavours were mellowed just enough by the spinachy callaloo and coconut milk to make me go mmmmm. The heat lingered pleasantly, never too intense. I liked this type of jerk seasoning better than the sweet Reggae Reggae sauce we normally pour over for baked chicken, and this entire combination is something I could quite happily put away a few more times before stew season ends.

HE SAYS: Was in the mood for some stew - was tempted by some other, Indian sauces, but realised we're having Indian nite rather soon (stay tuned). Was an easy recipe to put together; the callaloo was a new and tasty discovery, and the sauce, when blended with the onions, was very moreish. A surprising success, given that I improvised it all when I went to the store.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

06.04.08: Spring prawn, tomato, and green bean stir-up

Something a little lighter for spring, even if it is snowing: She turned her hand to a slight adaptation of the 'pan-cooked giant prawns with mangetout, peas and butterbeans' from Jamie's Dinners, subbing fine green beans for the mangtout (snowpeas) and less-than-giant prawns, plus sneaking in a couple of slugs of white wine near the beginning The salad nudging in on the scene brought pear, grapes, Apetina feta cheese and mixed leaves to the party.

HE SAYS: A nice, lighter meal compared to recent dinners. Thought the inclusion of white wine was a genius stroke, as it proved the vital base note for the other flavours after simmering. The organic butterbeans had a very interesting and complex taste to them. Will have to try and include them in more recipes. The salad was greatly improved by the inclusion of my favourite feta (I'm very particular about my feta, anything remotely goaty makes me gag) - its saltiness and sharp flavour do it for me, baby.

SHE SAYS: Tasting as I went along, I wasn't sure this was going to be anything but a bland, soupy mess, but the lemon juice and parsely stirred in at the last minute really pulled it all together. Also, I thought this combination of stuff surely cried out for a few cloves of garlic, but I'm so glad I stayed my hand: the result was tangy and shrimpy, with a hint of bisque to it, and garlic would have disrupted the lightness of flavour with a taste too pungent. Felt rather virtuous to chomp down all those green veg as well, esp after last nite's brunchy extravaganza. Like Him, I enjoyed the intensely salty feta, but as you may already know I have a soft spot for goaty cheeses, too - bring on the feta in any form, sez I!

05.04.08: Brunch for dinner

She rolled up her sleeves, tied on the pinny, and set to work assembling this cheerful plate o' brunchish vittles: new and improved black beans adorned with avo, pan-fried polenta, balsamic cherry tomatoes, fried eggs (sunny-side for him, over hard for her), and your basic pear-n-mixed-leaves salad.

SHE SAYS: The polenta took rather a long time to brown, but it was such a treat. When you put a bit of fried egg, a touch of tangy tomato, a scoop of herby beans and a nice chunk of polenta all on one fork, you are on the verge of tastebud heaven! (If I do say so myself.) The beans were a revelation: no tomatoes, no store-bought sauces, just lots of herbs and the ever-present primo chicken broth. I'm not sure what possessed me to rethink the whole thing, but I do I think I've finally arrived at the best-ever black bnz recipe, so it's worth sharing. See below, and if you like it, please click the little Bite This fork and vote for it!

HE SAYS: The new black bean variation was supremo, m-m-mmm, just like ya mamma's, could've-eaten-them-by-themselves good. Polenta was very nice with a little hint of parmesan cheese in the mix and grilled to a golden brown. Oh, and it also aided the mopping up duty for my eggs, which is always a plus. The tomatoes in balsamic were sweetly, tartly bliss and since the new beans forgo any hint of that veg, it delightfully offset the herby saltiness of the rest of the plate. Salad was raised to another level by probably the best pear I've EVER tasted EVER! Praise the Lord.

Herby Black Bnz

  • I bunch green onions
  • Tbl olive oil
  • 2.5 Tbl cumin (yes, that much!)
  • 1 Tbl chipotle paste (edit)
  • 3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 pint (400 ml) chicken stock
  • 1 heaped tsp dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano (edit)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme (edit)
  • good handful fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped, stems incl
  • few pinches kosher salt
  • avocado
  1. Chop the green onions, white and green bits.
  2. Heat oil over med heat in a heavy-based saucepan or pot and saute the onions for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the cumin and stir in to toast the spice, then add the chipotle paste (edit).
  4. Stir in the beans, then add the broth and all of the herbs.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer until most of the liquid is gone.
  6. Add salt to taste, then puree about half of the beans with a hand blender (easiest!) or food processor. This is essential to release the flavours, so don't give in to the temptation to skip this step. ;o)
  7. Serve with slice sof avocado on top.
  8. I paired this with pan-fried polenta, fried eggs, and balsamic tomatoes, and it was positively dreamy. I've been tweaking my black bean recipe for at least four years and this is the best combination yet!

Saturday, 5 April 2008

04.04.08: Out to GBK

A Friday night jaunt to our local burger joint rewarded us with a regular classic sans cheese for him, a Greek lamb one for her, and fries and simple house salad to share.

HE SAYS: A very busy, packed restaurant with a long wait for our food, and my continuously growling tummy didn't bode well for a pleasant eating experience. But apart from my burger being a little too well done, the food hit the spot: burger not too dry or bready and the fries were hot, crispy and fluffy in the centre. The "Gourmet" in their name may be a slight exaggeration;
perhaps a more accurate label would be "cheapish, fresh and not too greasy"? I think our last visit was a little more satisfing (plus then we had the free wine coupons, who doesn't like a coupon, eh?).

SHE SAYS: Think I enjoyed the GB outing more then Him. My Greek lamb burger once again proved satisfying and delish, although there was a bit too much hummus and I had to eat the ensemble with knife and fork. Salad was extremely fresh as before with only the necessary amount of creamy-lemony dressing, which restraint I greatly appreciate. Agree with Him that the service was ridiculously slow, as the house was bzzy but not overflowing. All in all, a relaxing evening to offset another stressful work week.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

0.04.08: Quorn, polenta, and veggie tomato sauce

She's got lots of textures goin' on: crispy lemon-pepper quorn escalopes and creamy polenta with some parmesan stirred in, plus smooth basil-and-roasted-garlic tomato sauce (courtesy of Lloyd Grossman) thickened with onion, aubergine and peppers. Tonite's salad saw mixed leaves livened up with some leftover celery, the rest of the mozzarella pearls, and, of course, a conference pear.

SHE SAYS: Eminently satisfying. Quorn and L. Grossman never steer me wrong, and the new M&S polenta stirred up thick but not gluey, just like it should. The celery added hearty cunch and delicate anise flavour to the salad, and proved an excellent partner for pear - who knew?

HE SAYS: Enjoyed the polenta (or yellow cheese grits, take your pick). The quorn delivered its usual peppery crunch, and the salad was nice, too; with a hint of balsamic, it balanced the sweetness of the pear ever so well.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

02.04.08: Creamy borlotti beans with purple sprouting broccoli

Inspired by the Jamie at Home show, He put together this adaptation of JO's intriguing borlotti bean, potato, whole-head garlic, celery and herb-bundle recipe, topping the creamy melange with a decadent sprinkle of pancetta. Stalks of purple sprouting broccoli got the hot wok treatment, and a palate-cleansing spinach, pear, and beetroot salad completed the table.

HE SAYS: Thought the borlotti beans were a good discovery - haven't had them for a while, and canned seemed to work well in a pinch. An fairly easy meal, and tasty, too. The pancetta nicely set off the herby beans with its salty crunch. The broccoli was pretty good, though the thicker stalks were a little undercooked, and the pear in the salad was perfectly ripe and sweet, complementing the vinegary beetroot just so.

SHE SAYS: I liked the creamy consistency of the beans very much, and who doesn't like a little pancetta? Thought the red wine vinegar overwhelmed some of the other flavours a bit, even though only a small amount was added. The brocca had a smokey grilled flavour, but as He said, needed a little lid-on steaming for the stalks. Now, why are English pears so good? Along with carrots, cucumbers, and potatoes, the Brits grow a mighty nice conference pear, and it was the star of the salad, although the malt-vinegar beetroot did its tarty best to compete.

1.04.08: Red prawn and mango curry

She delivered the weekly red prawn and mango curry favourite and current Tuesday nite staple to our bowls with a tomato and spinach salad pepped up with a special guest: mini mozzarella balls (applause).

SHE SAYS: You gotta love this deep bowl of rib-stickin' curry - it's just so reliably yummy, easy, fragrant, and wholesome. As He says below, there are virtually no improvements to make to the recipe, but before I
added the broth made from the new, jellyish M&S bullion, I took a sip of it and said, 'Wow, it tastes like chicken!' (Ahem.) Seriously, it's worth the extra dosh for this stuff. Like Him, I was also rather perked up by the addition of mozzarella 'pearls' to the salad, though I agree they were less than flavoursome (a fault of that Healthy Eating range, methinks).

HE SAYS: We like consistency, can you tell? Even though this dish is almost perfect, tonight's version seemed to be intensified by the inclusion of the new M&S chix broth and letting it simmer for a little longer in our new pot. The shrimp were added last, thus keeping 'em from overcooking and the mango was added earlier then usual, making it softer then previous go-rounds. I liked the mozzarella balls for their convenience factor but the actual flavour was a little underwhelming. Still a welcome addition to the salad, esp. when drizzled with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, baby!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

31.03.08: Grilled salmon with pan fried potatoes and okra balti

She cooked up a handsome plate of grilled salmon loin with Khoisan seaweed salt seasoning paired with her version of an Indian okra balti and pan fried Charlotte potatoes. The leftover spinach and beetroot salad from yesterday rounded things off.

HE SAYS: Salmon was grilled perfectly, not too dry. The okra
tasted delish, fresh and citrusy with a little gooey consistency which is how it should be instead of like glue which is how it is if you overcook it. Enjoyed the 'tators very much, nice to have a short break from our love of all things, rice.

SHE SAYS: The perfect Indian okra dish continues to elude me - despite fresh ginger and heaping spoons of garam masala, it still didn't tingle my tastebuds to quite the degree I imagined it could, though lemon spritzes did help. And at least I was able to buy a large quantity of okra cheaply enough (from veg stall down the road) to make it the main veggie feature instead of giving it a mere supporting role. Salmon was fresh enough to be quite tasty with just the sprinkle of Khosian seasoning and a touch of olive oil, and potatoes were not bad atall, though they were a tad soggy because I piled too many in our lovely new pan.