Sunday, 28 March 2010

Brunching through blah weather

Woke up this morning having finally had what feels like a really good sleep, to the sound of rain, then lovely sun (obviously I was seeing and feeling the sun bit), then more rain. Then ominous grey skies. London in spring, so not all that much of a surprise. Having caught up with various bodies back home in Sydney, done a bit of reading and generally procrastinated myself into a stupor, I decided it was time to make a move on the food front and trundle down to see what sort of damage I could do in Sainsbury's.

It being past midday and various bodies in need of a bit of a kickstart, I've gone with some smoked salmon, creme fraiche, chives and my secret ingredient - horseradish cream. Oh, and the all important onion bagels. Fairly standard really, except for the horseradish, which just seems to give everything else a bit of a lift and generally wakes up the bleary headed.


100g smoked salmon off cuts (the 88p one from Sainsbury's works a treat)
300g tub reduced fat creme fraiche
handful of chives, finely chopped
1 tsp horseradish cream
salt to taste
cracked pepper to taste
onion bagels (or plain, or whatever you like, really)

Combine all bar the bagels in a bowl.  Mix well, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for about half an hour (or the time it takes to snuggle back in bed with a good book, a cuppa, a loved [or lusty or both] one, etc).

Decide it's time to make a move to get something out of the day.

Slice bagels (or bread of your choice) and toast. Schmear with the smoked salmon concoction. Enjoy!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

I feel like chicken tonight

That's right folks, it's Thursday night, the night when all good little Pimlicans come home to roost.

The day started out in interesting fashion. I'm a new convert to the House of iphone and have taken it upon myself to get a few apps in the last week.

Top of the list is Sleep Cycle, which with its premise of monitoring your sleep cycle and waking you when you're already coming into a waking state has been working a treat since I started using it. One small problem encountered today - if the feline part of the kitty sitting duo decides to sleep next to your head and therefore on the phone, the alarm doesn't go off. Fast forward to me waking up ten minutes before I should have been getting on the tube. I'm not sure that an impression of a chicken with its head cut off quite does justice to the frantic scrabble that was me getting myself out the door.

So, keeping with the chicken theme (and not the few choice words I threw the way of the cat), tonight's dinner:


1 - 2 skinless chicken breast portions per person
bunch of fresh thyme
2 lemons, sliced into 1cm thick slices
2 - 3 cloves of garlic per person - keep the skin on
sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
1 tbs approx of good olive oil
1/4 cup water

Chicken, your thyme has come...

Turn the oven to 180 degrees celsius (mine's fan forced - if not, around 200 degrees).

Place the slices of lemon, garlic cloves and around 2/3 of the thyme into an oven proof dish. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto the chicken. Place the chicken on top of the lemon slices, garlic and thyme so that the side that would have had the skin on is facing up. Rub in some olive oil - you want the chicken to be pampered, not swimming in the stuff! Put the rest of the thyme on top of the chicken. Pour the water in around the meat. Roast for around 35 minutes, until the juice runs clear when you prick the meat at a thicker point. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes, loosely covered with foil.

I served this with roasted tomatoes that I put in the oven for the last 15 minutes of cooking time for the chicken and then left in the switched off over while the meat was resting, some boiled baby potatoes with good mayonnaise and some steamed broccolini, with the roasted garlic squeezed over the top.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Simple, not necessarily plain

Another Thursday comes around, which means Flatmate Fantastico is back from climes Dutch and looking forward (I hope) to a home cooked meal. Nothing quite like a week of restaurants to really prepare a person for some comfort food.

As luck would have it, the weather - surprise, surprise for London - has got a bit cold and windy, so it's definitely a night for soup. I've decided to break with tradition and although there are tomatoes involved, the usual butter beans, green beans and basil are being given a break.

Tonight, it's tomato, puy lentil and pancetta soup, to the rowdy accompaniment of the Tiger Lillies. Certainly makes for some interesting solo kitchen salsa!


200g cubed pancetta (about 1/2cm cubes)
1 tbs good olive oil
2 shallots finely diced
1 cup uncooked puy lentils, well rinsed
3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus a few extra for garnish
1 litre vegetable stock (I don't have space to keep home made stock - I like the Knorrs jelly stock: 1 tub to 1 litre water)
1 inch piece parmesan rind (idea pulled from Molly's chicken stew with a weapon - thanks!)
700g jar passata
optional - sufficient slow roasted baby tomatoes for serving (around 20 mins at 160C in an oven dish)

In a stock pot on a low heat, start cooking off the pancetta. Bring the heat up once the fat starts to render off and when the pancetta starts to brown, add the olive oil and shallots. Turn the heat down a little and saute until the shallots are transparent. Stir in the lentils until everything's got well acquainted. Throw in the thyme and add the vegetable stock and then the parmesan rind, bring up to a simmer and leave, without stirring, for about 15 minutes - you want the lentils to still have a good bite to them.

Add the pasata - half fill the bottle with water, shake to get all the rest of the tomatoey goodness, then add that to the soup as well. Allow to come back up to a simmer and cook for about another 10 minutes until the lentils are sufficiently cooked. They should still be firm, but no broken teeth, please!

Adjust the seasoning, remove the spent thyme and serve. If you've gone with the roasted tomatoes, place a few in the bottom of a soup bowl and ladle the soup over them. Plonk a sprig of thyme on top and send out with crusty bread.

I think I can hear the front door now, so hopefully this recipe will survive its roadtest.