Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Home cooking and a hot salad

It's Easter holidays at Oxford, but I'm very much up and down between Oxford and my parent's house in London. I have an exam in a few weeks, and even though Oxford is boring, as there's hardly anyone here, it does mean I can get on with work.

I went home for the weekend, getting back early enough to go to Yo Sushi with a friend for dinner on Thursday night. Yo isn't the world's best sushi, in my opinion, but you can eat slowly, and it's fun. The best thing we had were the hand rolls. One was soft shell crab, one was salmon skin. Yum.

Friday night is the Sabbath in the Jewish religion, and we always have an extra special meal. To make this Friday really special, it was the first time that all five of us (my parents, sisters and I) had had a meal just the five of us for a really long time. Mum and I cooked between us: we made chicken & sweet corn soup, that used leftover chicken soup from the freezer, and added creamed corn and egg. Then we did roast duck (which I started, and mum helped with when she got back) with pancakes, hoi sin and plum sauce, cucumber and spring onion, and a noodle and veg stir fry. Dessert was pineapple and mango.

Saturday night I offered to cook dinner for a few friends. We compromised well: three of my friends, who live together, bought wine & provided crisps, crudites and dips as a starter, I made main course at their house, and my friend who is a fab baker made dessert - an amazing chocolate brownie cake. I made a thai red curry, using bought curry paste (cheating slightly), chicken breast, aubergine, baby corn and green beans. It went down very well, which is always good.

Back here on Tuesday, I decided to make an aubergine and halloumi salad:
I grilled some slices of aubergine, topped them with a spicy tomato dressing: tomato puree, spices, garlic and olive oil. Simple but tasty. I add some grilled halloumi to the aubergine and and then put it all on top of some salad.

I also made some garlic butter and put it inside a seeded bread roll, to go with it:

I love garlic bread!

Dinner tonight was mainly composed of leftovers from a dinner at home that I missed last week, mum's spanish fish. It's basically white fish fillets in tomato sauce with beans, topped with sliced potato.I served it with steam corn, mange tout and green beans, with garlic spinach.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Store Cupboard Pasta

I wanted to make something nice for dinner on Monday night for two reasons. Firstly, because I had an exam the next day. And secondly, because all I'd managed to ear during the day was two bananas, a yoghurt and a bag of crisps. Highly nutritious!

So I made an amazing store cupboard pasta. Be warned, this relies on you having a good store cupboard!

First I fried a chopped red onion and garlic:
Then I added some chopped fresh tomaotes (about 3 large ones) about 3 anchovies, and some parmesan:

Meanwhile I cooked some pasta:

I then added lots of nice things to my onion and tomatoes: sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, grilled marinated courgettes, more anchoves, parmesan, pecorino and some basil.

I then added all the pasta to the pan too:
I think you'll agree that it's very colourful. Tasty too! I'm submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, which this week is being hosted by Pam at Sidewalk Shoes.

To add to my lovely dinner, I also made a crumble, as I had some rhubarb that was calling out to me! I put (roughly) equal amounts of butter, flour and sugar in my food processor (I have no scales, so it was roughly measured), and then poured that on top of chopped rhubarb and baked in the oven until lovely and gooey:

Sunday, 15 March 2009


I've been eating out a lot in the evening, but I've had some good lunches this week.

Actually, the first was eaten out, in the form of a take-away sandwhich from my favourite deli in Oxford. It's called Olives, and it has really lovely Italian ingredients. My baguette this week is their vegetarian special: pesto, with buffalo mozarella, fresh and sun dried tomatoes, and rocket. It was really, really good. I want another one!

My lunch yesterday, at home, was a really good tuna salad, that involved sun dried tomatoes, marinated aubergine, and grilled, marinated courgettes, which I bought because they were on special offer in Tesco. All served with a nice sundried tomato roll. Lovely.

Am hoping to have time to cook today, after a day of revision.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Quick cooking

A couple of quick, photo-less recipes.

Last night, pre-cocktails (perfect way to avoid revision), I needed to use up half a leftover butternut squash, that I had roasted to mash earlier in the week. I also had half a little goat's cheese round which I wanted to use.

So I decided to go for an favourite combination, squash, goat's cheese, spinach, walnuts and red onion. The spinach was from the market, and the proper leaves, not the stuff you get in supermarket bags. Red onions I already had, so I just bought some walnuts, and some sage.

I saute'd the red onion in olive oil with some cumin, and added the cubed squash when the onion was soft. I threw in some torn, washed spinach leaves, then the sage, walnuts and goats cheeese, and stirred until the spinach wilted and the cheese melted. It was lovely!

I rarely make desserts, but, in my post-theatre exhaustion on Sunday, I was craving something sweet. There was no chocolate in the house, but I did have some maple-flavoured golden syrup, which I'd bought to make fake blood with (!). I poured some of that over a banana and put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes. It was sooo good!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Presto Pesto

Ok, back to real cooking, finally!

Monday night's dinner was roasted veg with pesto and pasta.

I started by roasting vegetables: brocolli, courgettes and red onion. I chose those because I love brocolli with pesto, and the courgettes and red onion because I had them.

Then I made the pesto, using my mum's recipe. I'm not sure entirely where she got it from, but it has been refined over the years. I also had to reduce the quantities, as I was just making it for me.

The ingredients are:
Pine Nuts
Salt & Pepper
Splash olive oil
Splash hot water

Everything gets thrown into the food processor, and quantities adjusted to taste. I used two cloves of garlic, and a pakcet of basil. I prefer to buy little plants, but they die almost immediately in my kitchen here, as it's like a sauana! I probably used about 50g of each cheese, but I have no scales, so I do it all by eye.

Ingredients in the food processor

Blended ingredients

Mix with pasta and vegetables.

This meal goes really well with a glass of red wine. Unless, of course, you are in the midst of an essay crisis, which I was. It was a very good dinner and I'm going to send it to Presto Pasta Nights, which this week is being hosted by Ben at What's Cooking.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

After the theatre

I hate the day after a show. For one thing, the night before is always a late one, so I'm always tired the next day. Last night I didn't get home until after 4am, and I did sleep in, but only until about 11, so I had less than 7 hours sleep. Plus, although they are hard work, show weeks are always great, and each one is a special experience, with a special group of people, and I'm always sad that that is over. Although I know there's always another show to come, they are never quite the same. And this one was really good. And yet, as the technical person, even post-show there are always things to do. And always the boring bits, usually financial.

And I always, always have lots of work to do. I have an essay due Tuesday morning, which I only started yesterday. It's going to be a struggle to get it done.

Because I rarely have time to eat proper evening meals in theatre weeks, I always like to have something a little special for that first post-theatre dinner. Usually something from the freezer that mum or I have made at home. Today I had mum's date and sherry chicken. It was leftovers from somethimg but I'd never had it before, and it was really, really good. It had whole cloves of garlic in, and lots of flaked almonds, but I'm not sure what. I'll find out!

To go with the chicken, I had mashed butternut squash, and what we call creamed leeks, which are saute'd leeks mixed with some mayo. I love them.

Tomorrow, proper cooking!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Aubergine Parmigiana

Sorry for the disappearing act in the last week. I'm the Production Manager of a play and it's really taking over a lot of my time.

Last week, when I still had some time, I made a lovely aubergine parmigiana, using my mum's recipe. It's really very simple, but it tastes amazing!

I started by grilling slices of aubergine on my George Foreman grill. Mum just puts the slices in the oven for a few minutes instead, which works just as well. I happen to like my George Foreman!

I then made a simple tomato sauce, and layered up the parmigiana. A layer of aubergine, a layer of sauce, and so on, so that you end up with a top layer of aubergine. Then, on the very top, add grated mozarella. Mum tends to buy pre-grated, but I couldn't find any, so I just grated it myself. The whole thing is just baked.

I ate it with a salad, and some homemade garlic bread. I'd popped into the big Sainsbury's earleir, and found a lovely walnut bread. So I turned some of that into garlic bread with some garlic butter. It was really good bread!