Pearl Barley with some stuff in it

A tendency to over-indulge at the weekends has led to an attempt to be nice and healthy during the week. I’m also trying to be good and make sure I have tupperwares of food at the ready when eating at home isn’t a possibility. On Tuesday evening I had to go Birmingham for work and wouldn’t be home until way past suppertime, so a box of the following was made for the train there…

Cooked and cooled pearl barley (simmer in water for about an hour)

Cooked, chopped beetroot

A handful of babyleaf spinach

Cooked and cooled broccoli, green beans and sugar snaps

Lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil

Some chunks of goats’ cheese

Advertisements

Beef stew for two

A lazy Sunday in Stratford called for a few things: eggs for breakfast, a nice walk along the river and some comfort food for a snuggly evening in watching the unbelievably brilliant Homeland. Sunday happened to be day two of the Stratford food festival, which meant that right outside my door were a host of stalls selling all sorts of yummy things. Having had a peruse, Chris and I opted for some olives, French cheese and a nice saucisson for a snacky lunch and we also grabbed some casserole beef…

 

Season some flour with thyme, oregano, salt and pepper and cover the beef with a dusting of it before browning in a pan. 

 

In a separate pan soften a red onion, two cloves of garlic, a stick of celery (finely chopped) and some big chunks of carrots. Then add the meat and a big glass of red (we used pinot noir). Let this simmer for a moment before adding a tin of chopped tomatoes, a tablespoon of tomato puree, two bay leaves then some beef stock (make sure there’s enough liquid to cover the stew). Simmer for as many hours as you possibly can. 

We served it with new potatoes and buttered green beans and the rest of the red. Yum.

An Alternative Sunday Lunch

‘Alternative’ not really in any cool sense of the word, but just a non-roast dinner sort of way. Although the following were made for a Sunday lunch, they’d work very well any other day of the week too.

Being back in London for a week called for catching up with friends and also making the most of having a free house (parents in Paris for a few days, sister in Seville visiting her boyfriend). As my friends have somewhat unpredictable schedules, a ‘drop in when you can’ lunch/dinner was decided upon. This could not be a meal that relied on precise timings. This could also not be something too meaty. We had one veggie and one non meat and non spicy and not too wheaty person as well. To cater for all tastes, the following was produced…

 

STICKY COCKTAIL SAUSAGES

These were based on the really yummy ones I’d eaten at a couple of RSC press nights. They didn’t taste quite the same, but were almost there. As usual, quantities are not precise…

Mix a couple of tablespoons each of honey, wholegrain mustard and orange juice. Pour over cocktail sausages. Cook for 20mins at about 200 degrees C.

 

SWEET CHILLI CHICKEN LEGS

I used this recipe…

 

TOMATO SALAD

Loads of tomatoes of varying colours and sizes with good lugs of olive oil, masses of salt and pepper and some basil leaves

 

LEON SUPERFOOD SALAD

Essentially it’s a tablespoon of quinoa per person, boil the quinoa for 15-20mins. Let it cool and then add some cooked broccoli and peas plus chopped cucumber, feta & avocado. I also stirred in some random seeds found in a jar. Dressed with lemon juice and oil.

 

POTATO SALAD

Cooled boiled new potatoes mixed with mayo, cruched garlic, lemon juice and chives.

 

BEETROOT SALAD

Eight cooked beetroots chopped into chunks; a cubed, roasted butternut squash; a small pack of walnut halves; a goat’s cheese chopped in chunks; some big handfuls of spinach; a dressing of red wine vinegar, mustard and olive oil.

 

This was all followed by some exceptional puddings including Greer’s tasty apple crumble and Lucy’s chocolate courgette cake.

 

Although we never got round to playing Articulate, Abby, Andy, Gre, Lucy, Paddy, Matt, Tadhgh, Anna and I had a blast mainly taking the piss out of our ridiculous lives, debating quinoa/keenwa, talking about tutoring, theatre and all sorts of other things. To me, food, friends and a fair bit of wine = perfect Sunday. Lovely. 

 

 

What I make when I can’t think of anything else to cook…

When I want something yummy and quick and easy/when I can’t think of anything to make/when I have to cook for someone else (usually for the first time), this is what I make…

Prawn & Noodle Curry

Start by making the paste by whizzing the following up in a food processor

A whole red or green chilli with the hat chopped off, but seeds still in there

A shallot or half a red onion

A thumb size piece of ginger

Some coriander

A stick of lemongrass

A glove of garlic

Some lime zest

A bit of oil (ideally sesame, otherwise vegetable will do)

 

Fry the paste for a few moments in a big wok. Then add some green veg of your choice (I like sticks of courgette, mange tout, pepper, green beans) and fry for a few minutes. Next add a tin of coconut milk and allow to simmer for about five minutes. Next add noodles and some prawns. Once the latter two are heated through stir in a tablespoon of fish sauce and the juice of a lime. Garnish with fresh coriander.

Salad for Lucy

Everyone attending Lucy’s August Bank Holiday BBQ had to bring a side dish. Lucy had requested something a bit like the Ottolenghi salads we often make. This is what was created without an Ottolenghi book and from ingredients from the pitifully poorly stocked Sainsbury’s local in Stratford.

Cooked pearl barley mixed with:

Rocket

Chopped red chilli

Steamed green beans, broccoli and mini asparagus

Roasted butternut squash, courgette, peppers and tomatoes

All the herbs left in my fridge

Loads of lemon juice

Giant Cous Cous Salad

After a very yummy but rather filling lunch at Tim Norton’s I wasn’t desperately hungry, but still in need of something to sate a bit of an appetite and soak up all the booze drunk at Tim’s. (For the record lunch at Tim’s: mackerel with beetroot, butternut squash and horseradish dressing followed by Ottolenghi chicken cooked with dates, olives & capers). Bella and I made this big tasty salad, which we munched with Mum, Dad and Chris before devouring a couple of episodes of Homeland to finish things off.

Giant cous cous boiled in chicken stock for 12 minutes mixed with:

-Roasted vegetables (onions, butternut squash, courgette, aubergine, tomatoes, red peppers) roasted with some sumac, zatar, thyme and chilli flakes and drenched in olive oil.

-A tin of chickpeas

-1/2 a chopped red chilli

-Tablespoon of tomato puree mixed with a crushed garlic clove

-A few big handfuls of babyleaf spinach

-1/2 a tablespoon of rose harissa paste

-A handful of pine nuts and some other seeds found in the back of the cupboard

-A cubed pack of feta

-A big handful of coriander

 

Served with a green salad. Would be a fab lunch/picnic dish and go well with chicken.