Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Inspiration From Any Source Always Welcome

I spend money on cookbooks and time trawling through them; I fritter away hours online finding new food blogs and bookmarking recipes; I agonise over whether to buy cookery magazines and stand for torturous lengths of time in front of newsstands deliberating, when I know they'll end up coming home with me anyhow. And then I go and use a bread recipe that I find on the back of a packet of impulse-purchased flour. Yes, my idea of an impulse buy is a packet of flour, I know, I'm a bit wild like that. Listen smartarses, if all Celtic Tiger-era impulse purchases were along these lines the national debt levels would be significantly lower, so lets see me as an example and not an object of ridicule, ok?! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Things I Love

The things I love, that make me happy, are so very humdrum and mundane that it makes life quite simple, really. None of them require vast amounts of money or long-haul flights. Well - my yearning for some consistent sunshine could be remedied by both of those, but it doesn't do to dwell too much on the weather these days. Instead I like to distract myself with the more minor content-making things in life: food blogs; recipes that only require me to buy a couple of things in the shop (or even, though a rare treat, those that don't even require me to leave the house); curry; meals that are a total treat but still manage to stash a load of veggies in there too. So when I found a new blog to love and drool over - The Spice Spoon - featuring a curry that required only a few purchases that featured lovely fresh tomatoes (er, lets conveniently overlook the whole large quantity of oil thing, ok), well I was just about made up. Making curry from scratch always makes me marvel at how some spices and some veggies and sometimes a little meat come together in a seemingly simple way and then BOOM you have a totally exotic dish, a flavour that seems so very very far away from the simple few things you started out with. And you don't have to buy a jar with a load of numbers in the ingredients list or pick up the phone and call someone who is more than a walk away and sit there wondering when it'll eventually get to you and hoping that it will still be nice and hot. Just stock up well on spices and it's right there in your kitchen. And for Murghi ka Saalan - though maybe we should just stick to calling it chicken in the Pakistani manner - all you need in your eastern arsenal is turmeric, chilli powder and cardamom pods, so if you don't already have them you won't exactly have to get yourself in the red building up your spice collection.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fried Courgette Spaghetti - Need I Say More?

The words 'comfort food' are bandied about a lot. We all love it, we all crave it at certain points, and we all have our own particular version of it. Common traits include a high level of stodginess, created by substantial quantities of carbs and creamy dairy, and the absence of anything remotely healthy. Pasta, and, indeed, Italian food in general, is perfect comfort food, containing as it does all of these elements and still comprising an entirely legitimate meal (unlike, say, super noodles, tayto sandwiches or rice pudding), and though it can often be healthified by upping the veggie content and laying off the butter, it can similarly be dehealthified by lashing in the cream, parmesan and salt. This little beauty of a dish goes one step further and requires frying the only vegetable that goes into it. And, much as I love courgettes, they aren't exactly a powerhouse of hardcore vitamin action  - though, as someone pointed out to me, fried courgettes are considerably less unhealthy than, say, fried chorizo. For all of you who think that G Paltrow is a po-faced health freak, then in your faces mofos because this stodgefest is from her book Notes From My Kitchen Table. It's speedy, it's inexpensive, it's a good refueller if you've been out exercising, it's perfect for curling up with a big bowl of and getting lost in a book, it provides all kinds of warmth when the unseasonal August weather leaves you damp and cold to the core - it's one of those dishes that's like an old pal you can always rely on to make you feel better when you need a pick-me-up. Not a crazy-night-out sort of upliftingness, but more the heartwarmingly cheery by-the-fire variety.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Soup That Sates My Appetite

I feel like I'm very generously letting you all in on a secret and improving your lives immeasurably by posting this recipe. It astounded me a little, I must admit. I love a tasty soup as much as the next person, but it's never the whole deal for me; if it's not a precursor to something more substantial, or served up with something substantial (i.e. definitely not salad) then I become quite alarmed in anticipation of that sensation of really just not being full enough and having to source alternative means of sustenance. Yes, I am rather neurotic, and yes, it is exhausting being me sometimes. But on occasion there are some things that take me by surprise and distract me away from my indulgent, endless over-thinking of the various mundanities that make up my life. And, believe it or not, this soup was one of them. My quest to make the most of the courgettes in my garden while they are still small and sweet and full of flavour started out as something that I felt involved more effort than I am ever in the mood for on a daily basis. I have now grown to really love some of the recipes that I have tried out, as well as appreciating the nice speedy ones. This soup is bound to become such a staple in my home that I may even stretch to *gasp* actually  buying courgettes when the garden supply dries up. And, possibly an even more shocking whodathunk it turn of events: I ate this for dinner and finished feeling full and complete. There wasn't even any bread involved. I have always wondered what is wrong with those people who eat soup for dinner; it's even more suspicious behaviour than soup for lunch, in my book. Well I may have joined their ranks. This recipe comes from the same handy feature in Jamie magazine where I also got the recipe for courgette fritters.