One of the small criticisms I get writing all this is that it does not reflect well on what actually goes on in the house. The bad temper and general shouting that is inevitable in any place where there are parents and kids spending time together.
I should say that all that goes on. Some of it with bells on. But amidst all that I still do some cooking and pull up the dead weeds in the garden. In fact the cooking is probably a reaction against all the other stuff that goes on. A small way of retaining control and a semblance that I know what I am doing.
So today I made a stew of beef in red wine wine which we ate with slowly cooked red cabbage all of which came from Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking. A desert island book if ever there was one.
Whilst the stew and red cabbage was cooking I made some beer. The first time that I have done it for about twelve years. There is a lot of beer for it to match up to.
Saturday night in and I persuaded the daughter that we should have pasta with seafood.
I am not sure she realised when she said ‘Yes okay’ that I was going to be cooking her fideas out of the Morito cookbook.
It had been a few weeks since I had been down to Wards and I felt the need to invest in some seafood. So I bought two good handfuls of clams, a similar amount of mussels and six prawns. I also bought some salt cod for later in the week.
I used the prawn shells and heads to make stock. Frying them in olive oil and then adding onion and carrots, white wine, bay leaves and water.
It was then just a question of cooking down down some finely chopped onions and leeks, with a few cherry tomatoes, lemon zest, bay leaves, red chilli and fennel seeds until caramalised. That was removed from the pan and the fidea (small pieces of angel hair pasta) were fried in more oil until just starting to brown when the vegetable mix was stirred back in and and the stock added. Clams, mussels and prawns were dotted artfully and it went into the oven for twenty minutes.
We ate it with Turkish bread from the grocers listening to some of the most sublime music recorded by a man wearing an enviable pair of yellow trousers.
One of the kids announced today that her favourite saturday lunch is pitta bread stuffed with chicken tikka so that is what she had.
The rest of us went more refined and had either lamb steaks that had been fried in a hot pan with plenty of cumin or falafel.
I cheated with the falafel using a mixture that comes from The International Store. They are ridiculously easy to make. Just had water to the mix, stir and then leave for an hour.
You do of course need a aleb falafel (or falafel mould) to shape the small patties before frying them in not too hot oil.
I had my lamb on warmed Turkish flatbread on a bed a salad, tomato, onion and red pepper and slathered with Greek yogurt and hot chilli sauce.
I will make proper falafel next time.
It was just the son and me at home this evening so we ate spiced chicken in wraps with rice and salad.
For the chicken I took a couple of skinned breasts and four skinned and boned thighs, chopped them into chunks and started to fry them in hot olive oil.
As they sizzled I sliced a red onion and a red pepper and stirred them into the chicken. Spices were added; a good shake of cayenne pepper, smoked paprika and ground cumin, plenty of salt and pepper and a couple of spoonfuls of white balsamic vinegar. It was all stirred again, the heat turned down and left to cook.
As it did that I cooked the rice. Sainsbury’s do a packet of basmati and wild rice which go great with this sort of thing. Some of the kids don’t like it, complaining about the black bits, but the son doesn’t mind.
Once the rice was done it was just a question of extracting the son from his room to eat and assemblage; warming a wrap and then layers of salad, chicken and rice, and for those who wanted it cooling Greek yogurt and hot chilli sauce, and folding it up right so nothing leaks out.
They went down okay. Whilst eating we listened to an album I must have bought 14 years ago by some people called Broadway Project. It sounded very good – all broken up sounds and disembodied voices and flutes.