First off, a big thank you to everyone who was kind enough to read the first blog and give me lots of feedback, all valuable.
Based on some of the requests, I am going to post separately, the more involved projects under the banner – ‘Pursuit of Perfection’. Look out for the first one this weekend, on an everyday hearty multigrain loaf.
I do realise that my photo taking abilities are somewhat limited, and it doesn’t help that most of my meals are dinners, when I don’t have the benefit of natural daylight. Rightly or wrongly, my priority is to ensure that the food is served and eaten piping hot, so I don’t have more than a minute or two to take photos of the finished dishes. My apologies for the lack of “instagram worthy” photos, which I hope won’t deter you from trying the recipes (which I promise you taste very good!).
The cooking this week was inspired by my vegetable stash, including some freshly dug lovely golden and red beets and swedes from Eden Farms at our farmers market. I had at the back of my mind to try out a beet salad that I ate at Hawksmoor in London (best known for its steak). The inspiration to use horseradish came from Hawksmoor’s dressing, and conveniently allowed me to use the leftover horseradish cream from our Christmas dinner.
The beets and swede both needed roasting, which is really more about planning and less about time in the kitchen. I often roast vegetables by grouping them on oven trays and roasting them simultaneously on 2-3 trays in the oven (always on the fan setting as that’s the only setting where you can use multiple oven trays, and it takes less time). Once roasted and cooled, the vegetables can be used for a variety of applications. Eaten as a side, pureed with some stock for a quick soup or converted into a main course salad with the addition of greens, cheese and something crunchy. The possibilities are endless. The main thing is to get the veggies into the oven when you are around the house. I tend to do that in the evening when everyone is home and it’s easy to keep an eye on them. Leave them on the counter overnight to cool, and into the fridge in the morning, and your dinner is already half done.
Everyone needs a pantry dinner in their repertoire, and this week I needed to rustle up dinner at short notice with pantry ingredients. Pasta is always the easiest to turn to, and by using tinned tuna, it allows me to tick off the “oily fish” box. All it needs is a fresh salad to accompany, and you have a complete meal in less than 15 minutes.
To round up the rest of the week, as we have had a cold snap in London, it seemed perfect to have a hearty Mexican soup, which is a family favourite now. Finally, as we can’t go a week without something Asian, we ate some Singapore noodles (which aren’t really Singaporean, as you will see from the recipe notes!) accompanied by a stir-fried green cabbage.
Is there anyone who doesn’t like Nutella? I have a chocoholic brat (no. 2) who absolutely loved the stuff. I say “loved” in the past tense, because once we figured out a way to make our own version, with dark chocolate and less sugar, he was a convert. The reason I am posting this recipe now is that he has threatened to go on “strike” unless I posted this recipe. As he’s helped me tremendously in putting this blog together, I guess I owe him one! Coincidentally, the Guardian carried an article this week deconstructing Nutella. If I needed a final push to make our own, this was it. So here goes!
This week’s recipes
Until this week I had no idea that eating roast potatoes or other “browned food” was downright dangerous for you. This week local papers carried articles about the risks. Experts weighed in, and the dreaded “C’ word was thrown in. Intrigued I tried to get more detail, but the Food Standards Agency doesn’t provide much more, which makes me somewhat wary of the writings….watch the space, am sure there will be more in the forthcoming weeks. Whilst on the subject I came across this article in the FT, God bless A Ahuja, the writer, truly a woman after my heart. Here are some excerpts from the article. (For the full article, click here)
“A home-cooked roast symbolises a meal enjoyed as a family. It is a takeaway shunned in favour of a bonding ritual of eating, socialising and sharing. …. A study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that people who ate mostly homemade meals tended to eat more healthily than those who eat out often, and consume fewer calories. Evidence also points to the wider benefits of communal meals: one study found that children and adolescents, who shared meals at home three or more times a week, were less likely than other youngsters to be obese or to develop eating disorders. In 2014, the American College of Paediatricians even issued a position statement entitled “The Benefits of the Family Table”, suggesting that family dinners seemed to act as a “vaccine” against harmful outcomes for children….”
So there you go…. If you didn’t already have a reason to cook a nice meal for your family, with or without roast potatoes, you do now….!
Love your family and cook for them!