she gets too hungry, for dinner at eight

I am a tired person these days. It’s because I think about this blog a lot. I think about what I can do on it. I think about whether other people are thinking about it, loving it as much as I do. I stay up late writing stuff. I write stuff early in the morning. I’m not sure if it’s the sort of thing you’re supposed to admit, but it’s true. When I finally go to bed at night, instead of relaxing into a powerful sleep, my silly brain is all “meeean now’s my chance to brainstorm! Get it? I’m a brain! Time to plan a squillion smurfillion things…to stay awake and think. Hard.” My kingdom for a more cooperative brain! (Or as some dry fellow once said, “if I only had a brain!“) (Also I had a late night last night at a party for cool lady Kim’s birthday. Double tiredness! But this was the good kind at least.)
Conversely, I’ll often arrive at needing to make dinner, one of my favourite times of the day, and my brain’ll be all “umm…there’s cookbooks everywhere, and yet…I can’t even?” However this week, despite not sleeping all that much and having a brain whittled down to a nub, I somehow managed to get some spontaneous inspiration happening. So I made sure I remembered what I did. I don’t have the monopoly on tiredness, needing to eat and wanting something delicious all at the same time, and these two hasty dinners I made recently might work for you too.
Spicy Tomatoes and Chickpeas with Coconut Milk.
Fun because: three cans of stuff = dinner. And it takes all of seven minutes and costs hardly anything.
Pasta with Bacon, Pears, Pecans, Rocket
Fun because: you can change heaps of the ingredients for other things you have. 

Spicy Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Coconut Milk

1 can tomatoes
1 can chickpeas
1 can coconut milk 
1 teaspoon each of the following: cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon, nigella seeds…oh, whatever you like, really, but that’s a good mix)
1 tablespoon chilli sauce
1 onion
Optional – to garnish – plain yoghurt, coriander, more coriander seeds.

Disclosure: my canned tomatoes were the cherry kind, and my chickpeas were “brun” because I go in for fancy stuff like that, but the plainest of plain stuff will be great too.

Slice up the onion, and fry it in a little oil over a good fierce heat till browned. Tip in the drained chickpeas, the tomatoes (with their juice), the spices, and the chilli sauce and let it come to the boil. Simmer away, stirring, for a couple of minutes, then pour in as much coconut milk as you like, stir, and remove from the heat. Divide between two bowls, and top with whatever garnish you fancy. 

We got delicious, quilt-sized garlic naans from Aaina (at 255 Cuba Street) and they were perfect for absorbing up this soupy spicy mess and making it feel like a feast. The mild coconut milk seeps into the spiced up tomatoes, the sturdy chickpeas give it some body – add a little chilli sauce and it’s gonna rock your pants. It’s vegan till you add the yoghurt – which isn’t even necessary, you could just drizzle over whatever’s clung to the coconut milk can – completely gluten free too.

Pasta with Bacon, Pears, Pecans and Rocket

This was inspired by a recipe of Al Brown’s in the latest Cuisine magazine. I admit, I tried getting in touch with my deeply Germanic roots by making Spaetzle, a kind of pasta dish that I love but have only ever had made for me. The recipe didn’t quite work for me…like the pasta ended up delicious but the dough was like the strongest adhesive and wouldn’t go through the colander like it should and was a big complicated messy mess. I recommend you just use regular pasta.

200g pasta
100g streaky bacon, cut into small squares.
1 pear, cored and sliced.
Handful of rocket
Handful of pecans
Thyme leaves

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and cook your pasta till…it’s cooked. Meanwhile, heat up a little butter in a saucepan and fry your bacon till nearly crisp, then add the pear slices. Let them get a good amount of heat on each side so they colour up a bit, then tip it all onto a plate and cover with tinfoil to keep warm. Hot trick: tip it onto your plate so you get extra bacony-flavour goodness when it’s all served up. In that same pan, quickly toast the pecans. Drain the pasta thoroughly, add it to the pan along with the bacon and the pears, stir it all together, and divide between two plates. Cover with rocket and thyme leaves and serve. 

It’s one of those dinners that might not look like much – almost like a bunch of different garnishes all piled on top of each other, masquerading as a proper meal. But hear me out. You’ve got the salty, butter-fried crisp bacon, the caramelised and juicily sweet pears, and toasty, softly crunchy pecans all twirled into your pasta. Cover it in a peppery tangle of rocket, both virtuous and visually sprucing and a few sprigs of thyme just because, and it’s honestly tastebud magic right there. 
Apart from how spectacularly excellent it tastes, it’s also versatile as: use whatever pasta you like, for a start, or even something like leftover boiled potatoes that have been fried in butter. The bacon’s optional, the pecans – they aren’t always cheap – could be walnuts or almonds or even sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Rocket could be swapped for spinach or any other green stuff you fancy, the pear could be a green apple…see? 
Despite my brain being like a crumbly old Ryvita, it has been a fantastic weekend – lurking with friends old and new, drinking tea and cider and vodka, making up ice cream, practicing cornrowing Tim’s hair so he can look like Ron Swanson for Halloween (I’m going to be Elphabaaaa!) reading in the sun, admiring Snacks the goldfish, that kind of thing. The kind of weekend you wish it could be every weekend…
…it’s also now time to get started on fulfilling the tasks on my List which I haven’t really properly finalised yet (maybe I should add “finish list” to my list?)
Title via: there are literally zillions of awesome versions of The Lady Is A Tramp, but the most recent to take my fancy is a duet by Lady Gaga and Tony Bennet – am not a fan of her music or anything but she’s incredible in this. 
Music lately:
Wooden Shjips, Lazy Bones. Rather like it.
Not Fade Away – it owes more than a little to Bo Diddly with that rhythm, which is possibly why it’s one of my favourites by the sadly shortlived (of both career and life) Buddy Holly.
Next time: I still have that idea for the pear sorbet sitting there, but as I ended up using one of the pear’s in that pasta, it’s looking less likely it’ll be happening right away. However, I have made my first hummingbird cake – I haven’t tasted it yet but all the ingredients sound amahzing on paper at least. 

19 thoughts on “she gets too hungry, for dinner at eight

  1. georgi says:

    thank you for the spicy chickpeas recipe. THANK YOU! as i've recently turned vegan, i welcome more ideas, cheap recipes, ahh so good. your blog is one of the first i turn to for ideas.. a recent dinner party i had at home i made 'sexy pasta' but then it kinda morphed into bread with caramelised onions and sexy roast vegetables. and it was delicious. i don't know if i love it as much as you do but i do love it. your blog, i mean, not roast vegetables. as good as they are. they both are. yeahhhh.


  2. Emma says:

    Last night I tried my hand at hummus for the first time. Not having tahini I tried to whip up some of my BLACK sesame seeds with oil. Meaning my hummus was gray – yay!

    Wanting to make it more appetizing, I wanted to throw together a curry sauce. I had some curry paste laying around, but alas, no coconut milk. Hello, delicious janky curry dish comprised of curry paste, milk, coconut flakes, and gray hummus!


  3. Anonymous says:

    I love The Lady Is A Tramp too. Lady Gaga does a splendid job and I think hearing her voice in this style makes it easy to compare her talent to songs we have heard before.

    “I am tired food” is usually also comfort food for me. Of course, making it lighter helps. If you're already feeling lethargic, a big helping of mac and cheese isn't going to give you an energy boost!

    3 cans of stuff is a great go to meal. I think I need to learn a thing or two about lazy cooking from you 🙂


  4. Hannah says:

    Lady, I definitely think about your blog and revel in its amazingness all the time too 😉 I, too, have the dinner dilemma very often, but I think that's because I almost exclusively focus my energy on brainstorming sweets for my blog 😀


  5. Kate @ says:

    I feel you on the tired, oh boy. There's not enough time in a day.
    The chickpea dish is similar to a recipe I found on, which is a can of chickpeas, can of crushed tomatoes, chilli flakes, garam masala and a bit of cream. So easy and tasty, and I'd been meaning to try it with sour cream or yoghurt for a healthier version but coconut milk would be great.
    The pasta looks delicious too!


  6. Oxford Kate says:

    Ha, I used to make something very similar with roast pumpkin, spices, cans of tomato, chickpeas and conconut milk and then throw in some spinach at the end. Back when we were in NZ and delicious pumpkins were plentiful and there to be eaten, not carved. Had to stop calling it “dinner from a can!” with a game-show hand flourish because Husband would go all unenthusisatic. “Pumpkin and Spinach curry” was way more appetizing-sounding but not nearly so flourishful.

    On a side note, I find myself lusting after TWO vegetarian (or at least vegetable) cookbooks – River Cottage Everyday Veg and Rose Elliot's New Complete Vegetarian. You are at least partially to blame, you and your damn reasonable, filling, meat-less recipes that contain neither cheezly or savoury yeast flakes. Huh.


  7. Anonymous says:

    You're not alone, blogs do take a lot of thought space, being a trained chef its easy for me to whip up dishes without thought but now I have to think if it will look pretty on my blog…arrrg. Main thing is you enjoy doing it so let the brain storm away!


  8. Emma Galloway says:

    I hear ya on the ol' brain going into overdrive right when you need sleep thing. This blogging is a blessing and a curse. Who would have thought writing about food would take over ya life like it inevitably does?! But we love it aye. We must all be mad 😉


  9. Anonymous says:

    Woot Woot. Loving the spicy chickpea dish. I am in blog obsess mode at the moment and sleep has become an expendable commodity. I may well eat this dish for lunch tomorrow 🙂
    P.S. quilt size naan – awesome.


  10. Tunde says:

    Being too tired to do any blogging and just going through the motions of cooking dinner has been the past couple of months. That soup looks delish. I would've thought pasta pears and bacon would have have been a weird combo 😛 !!


  11. AnneE says:

    I make a pear/bacon or cheese/rocket salad often but hadn't thought of frying up the pears and adding it to pasta! Clever! Hope you saw the mensh for your bacon jam on my blog lately.


  12. Couscous & Consciousness says:

    Funny how blogging seems to pretty much take over your life at times 🙂 Love both these dishes, especially the pasta dish – bacon, pears and rocket is one of my favourite combinations of ingredients. Add some pasta to the mix and I am totally hooked. I could be tempted to add a bit of blue cheese to that!
    Sue xo


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