Okay so the title isn’t really selling it much but I’m too brain-weary to come up with a kicky pun.
Sorry to be a complete bore and talk about the weather and the rising price of dairy again, but good grief! Tim had to get up at 5am this morning to go to work at Coffee Bucks, and the sky was be-flashed with lightening and rain was bucketing down. By the time I went to work at noon, it was intensely humid. I mean, I was sweating like a mule carrying a barrel of tequila. So I figured it was safe to wear a dress. After work (where I embarrassingly stuffed up every single invoice I was supposed to enter – there’s a Neil Young song that described my mood perfectly but as I like to keep things clean I won’t tell you which one it is) there were gale force winds abound and everyone was looking at me disapprovingly for wearing so little clothing. I know, “four seasons in one day,” etc, but really! What’s a girl to wear? Get it together, Wellington!
I’ve been experimenting, by the way. With lentils. And rhubarb. Now, I know there are a lot more potentially exciting things I could be experimenting with, but I am totally smitten with making up recipes.
Above: I didn’t make this up. I wish I did though, it’s so head-smackingly simple but also seriously delicious. It is basically pasta, baked with onion, garlic, tomato passata and cheese, and the recipe came from this great Medditeranian Vegetarian cookbook I got for Christmas. My mother is determined to keep me in pink peppercorns, so I thought I’d use some to mildly pungent effect sprinkled over the top, along with what’s left of our dismal parsely plant. We had this for dinner the other night and I can see it becoming a regular fixture.
Above: Now this, I actually did invent and I am rather proud of it. It is a very simple salad and goes as follows:
Raw Zucchini and Carrot Salad (sorry, that’s not a very enticing title)
-2 good sized carrots
-2 zucchinis of the same size
Wash, but do not peel the vegetables, and grate them. Yes, this is a pain, so you might want to employ the nearest child/friend/other half to do it for you.
Mix your orange and green shreds together in a large bowl. Pour over 1 teaspoon of basil oil, then stir thoroughly, and repeat. I only have basil oil because my parents gave me some, so if you don’t have any I’m sure good olive oil and chopped basil will do. Finally, sprinkle over some good salt, stir, sprinkle over a little more and stir again. This is important, it sort of brings the flavours together (or gives it flavour in the first place, if you will.)
Not to talk myself up or anything but I personally find it very edible. I could just sit there and eat a whole bowl full.
Above: Despite Tim being all “when I was a kid we ate what we were given” he is kinda picky about mushrooms (and eggplant!) but Nigella’s mushroom risotto was hoovered down without complaints when I made it for dinner the other night. (Okay, I’ve just made him sound like a whining vacuum cleaner when he’s really so much more appealing than that…)
Above: This festive burghal wheat salad is from Nigella’s Feast and is part of a menu for a Mezze party (oh, how I long to throw a Mezze party now). Since I pretty much had all the ingredients I thought I’d give it a shot for last night’s dinner. However Tim really wanted to go to this all-you-can-eat restaurant (I said I didn’t want to because my head cold was being unpredictable and I didn’t want to pay for a meal I couldn’t taste) but it was with a sinking heart that I cooked this because I knew nothing could really live up to the imagined wonder of an all-you-can-eat. Which reminded me of that Simpsons episode – Lawyer: “Tell them what happened next, Marge.” Marge: “We drove around looking for another all-you-can-eat restaurant.” Lawyer: “Then what?” Marge: “We went fishing” (sobs) Lawyer: “Does this sound like the actions of a man who’d had all he could eat?”
Ahem, anyway, I used some dried cherries that I got from Santa, and substituted juicy pomegranite seeds for the pomegranite molasses, and walnuts/pinenuts for the pistachios but it was basically the same burghal wheat salad Nigella had in mind. It was also seriously good- fresh and not at all heavy but also somehow deeply flavoured too, and Tim was won over by the meatballs I made to go with.
Above: Well, this is definitely something I’ll be making again. It is from Jill Dew-plee-icks’ New Food (okay, her surname is Dupleix but NCEA Level 2 French isn’t getting me any closer to figuring out how to pronounce it)
Cooked brown lentils (ooh, lentils!) are simmered with onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, and canned tomatoes till they form a richly textured earthy sauce, and natural yoghurt is stirred in before you pile the lot onto cooked pasta. It is SO good and I am disproportionately happy to find another good lentil recipe. Again, why didn’t I think of this? By the way, the yoghurt was homemade- my aunty gave me her yoghurt maker and it is my New. Favourite. Toy.
Above: Rhubarb and Apple Crumble Tartlettes. Does that sound like something you’d want to make? I got the idea for these the other day and since I had all the necessary ingredients I had a go at trying to produce, in food form, the vision that was in my head (I know, I know, they aren’t the bloody Sistine chapel, but this is pretty exciting for me.) And my idea actually worked! They are a triumph! Seriously, I finished making them this morning at 11.00am and by the time I got back to the flat from work at 5.30pm there were only two left. Once I figure out the minor details I can post the recipe here if you like. They are pretty easy to make, even easier if you don’t make your own pastry like I did (I acknowledge the two schools of thought, one being “Life’s more rewarding if you make your own pastry” the other being “Life’s too short…”) And crucially, they taste pretty fantastic. I think I’m drunk on my own power.
Yesterday was seriously humid as well, not the most pleasant weather to be at the Vege market but Tim and I trekked in all the same (eh, he does all the heavy lifting.) Tim went to work and Ange came over, and we watched Chicago. Do you know why? Because I realised that oh-so-smooth Taye Diggs (ie, Benny from Rent – and Mr Black from The Wild Party, if you want to go even further) is the anouncer/piano player guy. Yeah, we are boffins. He certainly makes a fine MC but it’s a shame he didn’t get to sing. Also it’s scary how healthy and alive CZJ looks next to Renee Zellweger, who, all the same, does a stirling job – I can’t even imagine Ashlee Simpson taking the role of Roxie in the West End – ugh! I’d forgotten what a good movie Chicago is, I think its strength lies in the fact that it is so darn SLICK. And John C. Reilly is pretty heartbreaking.
PS – I know I said I’d been experimenting with lentils, and it’s true – I tried cooking up red lentils and using them in a muffin recipe. I decided to call them Lentil-Bran Patties (even though they were actually muffins, this title was mostly to annoy Tim- “But they AREN’T patties!”) but they were remarkably good. A little stodgy, but…yeah, good, and of course, very, very healthy. Another thing to catch a cab back to the lab for…’cause I KNOW you’re all gagging for the secret recipe to my Lentil-Bran Patties.