Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Scratch mid week meal

I really, really couldn't be bothered to go to the supermarket in the snow this evening. That and the fact that I had loads of root vegetables left from Sunday's feast and thanks to some decent advice in cookery books, a reasonable store cupboard, means that a really good midweek supper is possible in about half an hour. However you do have to be either a) organised enough to make and freeze your own meatballs (I mean, really) or b) a bit of an Ikea addict and have the habit of picking up a packet of their lovely frozen swedish ones whenever you need some new glassware. The latter is me. Especially given my frequent glass smashing habit.

So I started the meatballs first. 1 chopped onion, 3 cloves of garlic chopped fine *thank you God for food processors*, cooked til soft in 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add your meatballs dependent on appetite of hungry man. Then I added half a glass of rose that happened to be hanging around in the fridge, a carton of chopped Italian tomatoes,a slug of tasbasco and a small glug of balsamic vinegar. Seasoned well and cooked over a medium to low heat for 25 minutes cooks the meatballs through and reduces off some of the sauce.

In the meantime, I chopped two large carrots, a palm sized piece of celeriac and the same size of swede to 1 cm dice and boiled til slightly soft - about ten minutes. This then goes in the food processor with some butter and quite a bit of goat's cheese, diced quite finely but not quite to a puree and again seasoned well. All the veg is organic and British (for about 5p more a kilo than imported and non-organic - well worth it).

It's now sat on top of the stove awaiting a last reheat when J comes home, smelling lovely and having had a sneaky mouthful, tasting pretty good too.

Update: That was amazing. The root veg mash was creamy with the goat's cheese (I have a feeling it was better reheated, giving a chance for the cheese to melt in and cook slightly) and a little bit sweet, making it the perfect companion with the sweetish tomato sauce, just slightly acidic with the balsamic. I'm definitely making this again.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Sunday lunch

So the cooking task for this weekend was a three course vegetarian lunch for five, with no lentils (that could be detected), blue cheese or mushrooms, to celebrate new year with Jonno, Anne, Ollie and Frances. I had a lovely hungover Saturday afternoon reading recipe books (my favourite way to spend an afternoon, bar virtually none...), before going with sweetcorn chowder to start with, chocolate brownies with hot chocolate sauce to end with and vegetarian shepherd's pie with goat's cheese mash in the middle. All three gave me a chance to try out my much anticipated and deeply exciting food processor, a thing of joy which will make my kitchen life much easier.

The sweetcorn chowder was lovely, especially in fairly small portions as a starter. It said it would serve six - more like 12 as a starter, so when doing this again, I'd halve the quantities. The soup was lovely as is without the tortilla topping if you're watching your diet - but I'd check the seasoning depending on what sort of stock you're using as this needed salt and pepper in quite large quantities with Marigold bouillon. It'd be loads healthier and just as nice with a little bit of chopped chili as a garnish rather than the crisps, and I added in a bit of extra garlic and a chili into the soup itself at the processing stage.

You can see the recipe for the shepherd's pie here . It worked fine as a main course for five and would probably serve six if pushed (as it's really filling, and if you're having a starter and pudding you can serve less of it with a green salad). It was incredible fiddly to do though, took up three pans, a mixing bowl and loads of implements and then into another dish to bake and serve. Definitely not one for a school night. I'll keep this as my veggie special meal for guests - but my pumpkin and mushroom four cheese lasagne is slightly less faffy to make. Good to have another option though, and if you have pulse-haters, they'll hardly notice anything in the filling other than the black-eye beans which are pretty and retain their looks during cooking.

These were lovely, especially served with some Mackie's vanilla icecream and a few strawberries. Don't make the mistake of trying to make people eat two, though, or only the men will make it to an empty plate.

It was nice to have the opportunity to think through a bit more about feeding people, and I realise I am quite lazy about relying on a decent cut of meat or fish to make an interesting meal. Now I've got loads of different pulses in I've got another reason for preparing a little bit more before getting to the stove - but it does undeniably take longer to put together. A small feeling of dread hits me when any recipe calls for overnight soaking...