Maureen: It’s pilaff from Leon tonight. I’ve added leftover chicken from the other night and frozen peas, as per their advice. What do you think?
Nicholas (7): I have my Night Hike tonight with the Boy Scouts! We have to leave soon!
Maureen (looking at the clock): You’re right! We have to leave in three minutes. Eat up!
Thus was the scene the first time we had the pilaff, which was delicious. So we tried again last night, in the hopes that we could more descriptive dialogue about it. Here’s what happened.
Maureen: Here it is, pilaff again. Remember how much you liked it the last time? (A knock at the door is heard. The boys run to answer it.)
Andrew: Gus is here! (The boys rejoin the table. The conversation then consists of Quasar strategy, the desirability of the new Nintendo 3DS, whether a portable gaming device is better than the Wii or XBox, and finally, if it would be possible to accidentally wash an iPad. Marketers take note: these are the hot topics of the day in the 7-11 set.)
Thus another dinner comes and goes with a London family. Hey, at least we’re eating together, even if I failed to get them to say anything scintillating about the food.
Cook’s notes: This is a nearly perfect midweek dinner because it involves ingredients that are nearly always to hand, and the recipe can be adapted to fit whatever you’ve got. It’s good to have another use for leftover chicken. The recipe says you should roast the vegetables. But given how Leon vegetable roasting didn’t really work out before, and that it would take another 20 minutes, I decided to fry them in olive oil instead, which was much faster. I can see this becoming a regular fixture in our meals. It’s incredibly easy, healthy and everyone liked it. Win-Win-Win.
The other thing I made last night, and for which I have no dialogue, is the Jerusalem Artichoke Soup. Jerusalem artichokes are in season at the moment, so they were easy to find. I had a choice between French ones (very knobbly and hard to peel) and the British ones (bigger and easy to peel), so I went British.
The soup is unusual because rather than using stock, you cook it in whole milk and add a stock cube. It’s pretty clever because then it becomes creamy, but not overly so. Like all soups, it’s very easy: all the work is in the front end, when you have to peel vegetables. I loved it and will be making it again.
I will enjoy Jerusalem artichoke season while I can, which I mentally file under “Fab, Slightly Odd, But Delicious, Root Vegetables.”