For once it was a sunny weekend in London and after spending the previous day having pimms and duck confit at a friend’s fancy flat in Fulham Broadway, we decided to have a lazy Sunday at home. Also, James was on-call so it’s not like we could have done anything out and about.
We did go to Tesco’s to do our weekly shop, we got round the supermarket to the till point in 9 minutes due to a combination of meal planning at home and adding ingredients to keep notes in the order in which we would go round the supermarket. This was essential as James needs to respond to any alarn within 15 minutes.
We had some very ripe bananas from when I went home the previous week and my mum insisted I take them back so we decided to make banana bread. Well we decided and I made it.
Ingredients (makes 8 thick slices)
250g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
115g butter (room temperature)
115g dark brown soft sugar
2 eggs, beaten
500g mashed over-ripe bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
100g chocolate chips
optional spicing: cinnamon, nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4.
Line a 23x13cm loaf tin with baking parchment.
Mash the bananas.
In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.
Then stir in eggs and mashed bananas to until well blended.
In a large bowl, combine flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
Stir banana mixture and chocolate chips into flour mixture (add optional spicing); stir just to moisten. Pour mixture into prepared loaf tin.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, until a nice crust forms and knife inserted into centre of the loaf comes out clean.
Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack.
It was not a typical Monday, I had taken a random day off and headed off to Pollen Street Social for their set lunch menu (2 courses for £32), it was definitely worth it considering there were so many extra mini courses – in particular their Bakewell tart cake. I rounded the day off by visiting the London Tower Bridge which has a glass walkway, it’s surprising how being able to see the floor is so unnerving. At the same time, James headed into work all keen for the week ahead.
The night before we had prepare the bulgogi to marinade, this is ideal to maximise flavour.
450g beef, sliced thinly
½ cup of asian pear (puree)
¼ cup onion purée
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 chopped spring onion
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs brown sugar
a pinch of ground black pepper
1 tbs sesame oil
1 carrot (grated)
peppers (sliced and uncooked)
Put beef into the freezer for half an hour so that it is easier to cut finely.
Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl (some will require blitzing in a food processor)
Add the sliced beef and mix well.
Keep in the fridge overnight.
Put rice into rice cooker
Prepare lettuce and peppers
Fry up, ideally we would bbq for the best flavour but this isn’t an option for us.
It was the eve of Halloween and James’ final day on call (meaning he can’t be more than 15 minutes away from a computer with internet access) so we decided to carve pumpkins and being one not to waste, use the flesh to make pumpkin soup.
The pumpkin carving was quite straight forward, James put a lot more effort into his into making it scary whilst I tried to make mine look friendly.
I sent James on an adventure to the Bake-haus and he purchased some of their delicious yoghurt bread although he only went and forgot to get a bloody stamp on the loyalty card. It made me a little sad but the tastiness of the bread quickly cheered me up.
Ingredients (serves 4)
Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
Onion – 1
Pumpkin flesh – 750g chopped
Vegetable stock – 550ml
Double creme – 100ml (although you can probably use creme fraiche instead)
Bacon lardons – 180g packet
Cumin and chilli powder to taste, potentially try nutmeg as well
Put olive oil into pot and add onions, cook for 5-10 mins on low heat until soft
Add half the bacon lardons to pot
Add pumpkin and cook for 5 mins
Add vegetable stock, cook with lid on for 10 mins
Add double creme
Add cumin and chill powder
Use a hand blender and puree the mixture
Pass through a sieve
Pour into bowls
Heat remaining half of lardons and top the soup with these
Day two into our bank holiday weekend, after a fun day full of adventures (Borough market and Europe’s oldest operating theatre) we knuckled down to do what weekends are all about. Food prep. Today we decided to prepare a massive batch of Tomato sauce, freeze most of it and use the rest for pizza (tonight) and pasta tomorrow.
This recipe makes 8-10 portions, we plan to double it next time.
4 cans of whole peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1-2 medium carrot, cut into large chunks
1 medium onion, split in half
1 large stem fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 plum tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
Move oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 150°C.
Place tomatoes in a large bowl and remove the ends, gently squish tomatoes until pieces no larger than 1/2-inch remain.
Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a Le Creuset (we used 3.5 quartz pot) until butter is melted.
Add garlic and stir, for about 2 minutes i.e. before it gets brown.
Add chilli flakes and oregano and stir for about 1 minute.
Add tomatoes, carrot, onion, and basil stem, and stir to combine. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over high heat.
Cover Le Creuset with lid slightly ajar and transfer to oven.
Stir every hour, until reduced by about half and darkened to a deep red.
This takes 4-5 hours (reduce oven temperature if the sauce is bubbling too rapidly or the browned bits begin to turn too dark).
Remove pot from oven and use tongs to discard onion halves, carrots, and basil stems. I would transfer these bits to a sieve so that all possible juices can be put back into the pot.
Blow torch plum tomatoes and remove skin. Then remove the insides so only the flesh remains. Cut these up and add to the pot.
Also add the chopped up basil leaves and fish sauce.
Another weekend, another cooking opportunity. We decided to have a lazy morning after spending our Friday evening having tasty Thai food at Kin. I’m not convinced the wonton soup was Thai but it was tasty and the portion sizes were generous. We strayed from our usual granola, fruit and yoghurt breakfast and branched out into rye bread with honey because my cousin provided us with some British honey from her bee keeping duties (I love a freebie) and the rye bread was half price in Tesco’s. Anyway, we decided to make some fajitas as these are so easy and freeze really well. We rounded the day off by watching the men’s 10m Olympic diving final, so all in all a very lazy day.
Ingredients (makes 8 fajitas)
6 pork steaks
tomatoes (4-5 salad ones, we ended up using 6 which was slightly too much)
rice (1 cup) + cumin seeds, (optional to make it into burritos)
1 can refried beans (small, however we can only find large ones in the shops)
1 can red kidney beans (large)
wraps (pack of 8)
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 chilli or some chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Make spice mix in a big pyrex bowl
Cut pork into strips and mix with spice mix, store in fridge for a few hours (preferably overnight)
Slice up all vegetables and put into separate bowls
Mash up avocado with a fork
Put beans into bowls but only do enough for the meal you are about to eat
Using a pan, cook up onions and then peppers.
At the same time, using a skillet, cook up peppers then pork (tip: cook everything in 2 batches)
When first batch of pork about to finish, heat beans in microwave for 4 minutes on medium
Put wraps on plate and then fill them up
Put into a George Foreman to crisp up the wrap (alternatively you can heat in oven, if so then you need to put it in when putting in the second batch of pork)
To freeze fajitas we use foil and cling film for ultimate freshness
Today was a nice lazy day. The sun was shining for once and we decided to make some granola to top up our supplies. We find that a handful of fruit (raspberries for tomorrow but we will switch back to strawberries which are cheaper), a couple of dollops of yoghurt (we should use natural yoghurt but find it smells too sour so use Onken flavoured fruit stuff which I’m sure has too much sugar) and a scoop of the granola fills us both up until lunchtime with no snacking in between required.
Granola recipe (makes enough for over a weeks breakfast for two people)
3 cups – rolled oats
1 cup – puffed oats
1/4 cup – flax seeds
1/4 cup – sunflower seeds
1/4 cup – pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup – almonds
1/2 cup – walnuts
1/2 cup – brazil nuts
1/3 cup – olive oil
1/3 cup – honey
Heat oven to 150 °C
Add all dry ingredients into a large bowl
Then add the olive oil and honey, mix
Line 2 trays with parchment paper
Pour the mixture onto the trays
Bake for 35 minutes
It can be poured into a large tupperware container straight away to cool (it means it won’t stick to the parchment paper as it cools)
After the excitement of making granola, we decided to also take advantage of it being the weekend and therefore us having more time by making delicious char siu pork with pak choi. We even made enough for leftovers, James has already got a reputation for being a foodie and he has only been in his job for 2 weeks, I suspect when his colleagues see the char siu pork it will reconfirm their suspicions of his food snobbery.
Today was typically British in that it rained, the sun shone, it rained, more sunshine, you get the idea. It didn’t stop us from playing tennis outside though. We lost one of our tennis balls to a dog however we still all went home with the same number of balls that we started with.
James’ siblings are coming down tomorrow and we are cooking a roast to show off our kitchen skills. As this is an intense meal with multiple items being cooked at once and timing being key, we have decided to start doing as much prep the night before.
Ingredients (for 5 greedy people)
1 tsp plain flour
2 tsp mustard powder
olive oil (splash)
salt and pepper
250g-300g King Edward potatoes per person (can also use maris piper)
Salt and pepper
1 tsp plain flour
1 parsnip per person
1 carrot per person
Frozen peas (as many as required)
Devils on horseback
12 rashers streaky bacon
1 large tin prunes (410g in juice)
large knob of butter
3 tbsp plain flour
Yorkshire pudding batter (makes 12)
140g plain flour
sunflower oil for cooking
The night before
Draw up a gaant chart (likely to need to start at least 2.5 hours before serving on the day for 1kg beef)
Invite people 45 mins before serving food (an hour is too awkward)
Defrost meat (if frozen).
Prepare roast potatoes
Peel then quarter (cut in half and for the second half cut diagonally to increase surface area)
Put into large pot of cold water (we use one for pasta that has an in built collinder), wait until boiling water, then par boil for 5 minutes
Add salt, pepper and some plain flour (1 tsp)
Leave to dry in same pot overnight (we leave on the surface and don’t bother fridging)
Make yorkshire pudding batter.
Put flour into a bowl
Beat in eggs until smooth.
Gradually add milk and carry on beating until the mix is completely lump-free
Season with salt and pepper
Pour the batter into a jug and store in fridge overnight