Saturday, 26 February 2011

Claypot chicken rice casserole!

The cat is still here. He likes 'ocean fish pate'. It's one of those cans with those tab-tops that break off. I had to use a can opener. The pate made him really excited.

We ended up not going out today and I cooked the claypot chicken rice casserole instead. It's amazing! You have to make it.

As always, I substituted with what I had: I used dark soy sauce with a splash of oyster sauce and cornflour (instead of cornstarch) in the marinade, and didn't use Chinese sausage.

Hob-cooking, just before baking in the oven.

Round cast-iron casserole from Procook. It's a pretty deep casserole for just the two of us and a little dish like this, but it'll be especially useful for cooking a large batch for lots of people.

What's left!

A Very Special Episode

I didn't make my claypot chicken casserole yesterday and we had takeaway instead, but for a very good reason: a little friend followed me in yesterday, and wouldn't leave.

People can't do this type of thing. You wouldn't let a strange person follow you into the house, very quietly, go up to your flat, and wander around looking at things, completely ignoring you. Then sleep on your couch.

We tried to get him to go home, but it was kinda cold outside and we keep a warm flat, and he wouldn't leave. We tried guiding him, showing him the way out, etc. and also tried ignoring him. He'd follow us to the door, but not out. So I went and got him some kitty litter and catfood.

I've seen him around a couple of times, Visitor Cat, mostly in the early morning while I'm waiting for the bus, trying to get to work. I see him walking across the road, in what I've always assumed is the 'Home' direction. Sometimes the local fox is walking the opposite way, towards the park, where I suspect he lives. The fox roams around at night. I think he goes through your rubbish when you're asleep, looking for food to recycle.

The best thing about this cat is, he doesn't meow. He purrs, and makes a sound like: 'ack'. He responds to 'ack'. He says it back.

I wish I had a cat. I love him so, but he must go home, I'm sure his people are worried about him. If he won't leave again today, we'll probably have to put his picture up around the neighbourhood.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Nigella's Lone Linguine (but with spaghetti)

I had today off and went to a workshop about creating and giving museum tours instead, then had coffee with my friend Serena to commiserate about the pain of jobs.

James went to Oxford to see Mogwai, so I made Nigella's Lone Linguine with White Truffle. It's principally pasta with egg, butter, cream, pepper and truffle oil. Possibly not the healthiest of food, but it takes a few minutes - unless you're faffing about looking for ingredients and watching the iplayer like me - and the creaminess lessens mid-week despair a bit.

I used spaghetti instead of linguine since that's what I have, and I also believe they're the same except spaghetti is more tubular.

I find some pasta different, like I find fusili takes longer to cook than spaghetti, and I know the shells are better for sauce-type things that can settle in the little holes in the shells, and you can stuff the bigger shells. I think that pasta is mostly interchangeable and I use whatever I have.

This is what I believe.

I don't have enough kitchen space to justify having many different pasta types for different sauce types - I only keep two kinds: a long, thin pasta (I currently have spaghetti) and a representative from the chunky pasta family (currently: shells/conchiglie).

Truffle oil sounds fancy but can easily be got. Obviously there are artisan truffle oils just as there is artisan everything else (including spoons) but I used the fresh from the supermarket variety myself.

Urbani truffle oil, from Waitrose (review of bottle: bottle needs better screwcap).

I'm aware of the truffle oil controversy, but this is how I figure it: I'm not harvesting a truffle anytime soon, but I can get a 4.99 bottle of truffle oil to experiment with. With a 4.99 bottle I won't fear disappointment. Somehow I have a little bubbling feeling that truffles are massively over-rated. Possibly because they're rare and French.

My pasta was lovely.

I made a few adjustments: used spaghetti instead of linguine, colourful ground peppercorns instead of white pepper, didn't add Parmesan, but added a little bit of mushroom pate instead, with a bit on the side.

Pate-moi pate.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

My Oilcloth Journey

I've been on the hunt for a new tablecloth for a while, first to replace the one that came with the house (a stained, yellowish oilcloth), and then to replace its replacement, something on sale from Argos. It was too big, cotton and hence not wipeable, and not bright blue enough.

My oilcloth journey brought me to many wonderful sites selling wipeable cloth: Just Wipe has a wide oilcloth selection, including the classic leaf-collage-with-writing, printed food-and-drink names, and small Cath-Kidston like prints; Cath Kidston is surprisingly not that expensive in the oilcloth world; and Greengate has a 'lifestyle'. Oilcloth is unexpectedly expensive and seems to cost at least £16 for a 1.2mx1.2m square. I was going to go with a vintage/rustic pattern, like a spotty print in dusty moss green, or a faded gingham check, but then I discovered something so much more exciting than regular oilcloth: Mexican Oilcloth (except the lace designs, which look kind of boring).

Then I ordered this:

It will be a bright pop of colour in the corner of the kitchen. A kitchen with all the colours of Mexico (which, I imagine, are principally brick red, yellow, and bright blue).

Also, a bright rose pink.

Monday night cajun chicken pasta

Cajun Chicken Pasta: result!

I did make the cajun chicken pasta from the Pioneer Woman website yesterday with slight modifications. I left out the white wine and used a cup of chicken stock (from cube). I also used a cup of single cream instead of 'thick cream' as we had some left over from a fruit salad, and simmered the sauce for longer.
I'm not sure what thick cream is, but I believe single cream is equivalent to the American half and half.
I replaced the cube roma tomatoes with cherry tomatoes and cooked them until their skins began to break and they got a bit squishy. Squished. Also used two different pasta - the last of the fussili and some spaghetti. I also used lots of cajun spice. Lots. You want to watch out for that cajun spice from hell.
Didn't do much after that, we watched Blossom on the YouTube. There's not really any other way to get hold of Blossom episodes beyond season one due to music licensing issues - unless you can get hold of old videotapes.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Weekly Menu - Feb 21 2011

I'm planning our weekly dinner menu on this blog, my blog about homely things. Hopefully this will get me more organised about buying groceries, cooking, and bringing a packed lunch to work.

Two of my planned meals are from Nigella's Kitchen book which I have and love. It's full of quick, easy recipes ideal for a weeknight or busy weekend. I like browsing through cookbooks when I'm chilling out, but you can find the most of the recipes in the book online.

Cajun chicken pasta: this pasta is amazing and easy to do. I use a mix of generic cajun seasoning and the Habanero Cajun Seasoning From Hell.

Takeaway night

Nigella's Lone Linguine with white truffle oil: James will be in Oxford on Wednesday for a Mogwai gig, so I'll be cooking a lonesome mushroom-based dinner for me. I'm making Nigella'a truffle oil pasta, but I plan on mixing it with some mushroom pate as well, as I'll be going to a one-day course instead on museum tours near King's Cross and can pick up the pate on my way home. The Pate Moi pate is brilliant but hard to get. You can get it from Selfridges, a deli in King's Cross/St. Pancras station, and Borough Market on Saturdays. Be warned that it sells out really quickly from their Borough Market stall.

Quick tom-yam prawn stir-fry noodles.

Chinese 'Claypot' chicken rice casserole: Amazing casserole! So so easy, and one of our favourites. I make a few adjustments: I cook it without the chinese sausage, and with oyster sauce instead. I also use chopped ginger instead of grated ginger (because it's easier, and bits of ginger get stuck to my grater and make it more difficult to clean). I serve it with cut bird's eye chilli (or any other hot chilli).
Crunchy shallots

Going out.

Lamb with redcurrant and clementines
Sweet potato mash
Green beans
Apple crumble