Peter: Well this has a bit of tickle.
Anna: Pretty spicy for sure. This is great.
Peter: You can make this again.
Anna: Why thank you. I definitely plan to. It would have been quick too, had I not had that purge of the spice cupboard at Christmas. Thank you for the emergency dash to the Coop for tumeric, by the way.
Peter: So are we thinking this is Thai?
Anna: I would say so. Coconut milk, lemongrass, chilli, lime, fish sauce… seems pretty Thai to me. It would be good with leftover roast chicken too.
Peter: So when are we having this again?
Anna: Well this was perfect for a freezing cold Sunday night in January. Proper comfort food. Pretty easy, though I was a bit suspicious of the additional step required of mixing the cooked potato with the lamb and then popping back in the oven for half an hour or so. But it was really worth it. The potato lid goes crunchy. Parts of the lamb and potato go sticky and caramelised. Which elevates the whole thing. I didn’t entirely follow the recipe to the letter however. Nigel left out a key ingredient. What goes better with lamb and the sweetness of sweet potato then salty feta? You think Nigel would have worked that one out himself! So I recommend you try this recipe. With my secret ingredient.
Anna: This was as advertised: fast, easy and tasted, well, kind of like a chilli. I say that because it was hot (“It has some tickle”, said Peter) though the spice combination isn’t what I’d usually choose for a chilli. Interestingly the recipe calls for curry powder. I was doubtful. Frankly it reads like something out of the 70s. Like a chilli recipe written by someone who has just discovered the concept and decides to sexy up their usual mince recipe. But I went with it. That’s what I’m here for. And do you know what? The spicing wasn’t the issue in the end. It was the sauce, or lack of it. I was so convinced there was a typo in the recipe that I searched online but could find no correction. How you can be expected to ‘simmer’ something that is made up of fried-off mince and drained beans I don’t know. So I added chicken stock. Which is what I would recommend you do too. Served with a baked sweet potato it was a decent mid-week meal. Just don’t forget the chicken stock.
Anna: I committed the schoolboy error of not reading the recipe properly before embarking on it. Well, truth be told I read it just in time. Frustratingly I had been working for over an hour, during which time the salmon could have been cooling (apparently this takes an hour after poaching and cooks the salmon through, according to Nigella). But having taken the recipe at face value I thought it was just an assembly of a few, easy to prepare, ingredients. Which is essentially what it is, apart from the salmon-cooling curve ball. So at 8.30pm I had to make a swift change of plan and postpone making this for a day. It was worth the wait. This is a proper bowlful of food. And by that I mean: it tastes good and healthy but is filling and delicious at the same time. We have had it twice in two weeks, and now I have read the recipe intro properly the cooling hour has been abandoned. Hurray!
Anna: There is really only one thing I need to say about this recipe. That is: Isabella ate four plates of it. Four plates in one sitting. That is two plates for each year of her life. “Yum!”, “Yummy!”, “Mmm, chicken!”…. “More please”. In the interest of balance I need to disclose that Louis reluctantly ate only one plate. Peter and I ate what little was left after Isabella had finished her chicken-and-riceathon (“Chicken and rice in my tummy!”) and it really was rather moreish. Not four plates worth, but perfect for a night in watching scary Scandi subtitled drama on the sofa.
Anna: We are Bircher muesli converts. On a weekly basis, on a day of his choosing, Peter constructs his Bircher and the next morning, like a little surprise, there’s a bowl of oaty, chia-seedy goodness waiting for me to take to work. So I had to try Nigella’s take for comparison, it would have been remiss of me not to. Cobbling together the ingredients was painless. Pomegranate seeds in a tub, and scissor-snipped dried apricots helped. You can always rely on Nigella for shortcuts. The verdict? A bit milky, but good. It filled me up. I’ll take that. Peter’s verdict? Incredulous despair at the seemingly small portion. He required a marmalade and toast chaser. Next time I’ll double the recipe.
Anna: I’m sorry, but I couldn’t publish a picture with this post. This chilli, while very delicious, just doesn’t look appetising in a photograph. I tried. It looked terrible. Luckily it tasted miles better than it looked. In fact it was a hit. Easy to make and perfect to tuck into after getting back from the fireworks. The bourbon really comes through, surprisingly. My mother – a woman who has consumed many a chilli in her time – declared it a triumph. My daughter – eating her first proper chilli (rather than nursery’s version which doesn’t count) – declared it ‘Yummy!’ and ‘Brown’. Which sums it up pretty perfectly really!
Peter: Where’s the rice?
Anna: There is no rice. Just stir-fried greens.
Peter: But there’s rice in the photo.
Anna: I think I’m going to give up making Asian food. The last few times just haven’t worked. This isn’t a disaster, but it’s really not very exciting. Which I suspect is due to my cooking, more than the recipe.
Peter: It could do with a bit more kick. Maybe the chillies aren’t that hot?
Anna: Maybe. But I’m not getting lemon grass either. And I had to start this last night so it marinated overnight. That’s two days of effort. Not much effort, but more than my usual repertoire of meals requires. This is why I don’t cook new things any more.
Anna: We’ve been having lots of things cooked in milk recently. It was lamb on Easter Sunday. Today it’s chicken!
Peter: It’s nice and moist, but I’m not entirely sure it’s that different from any other roast chicken I’ve had.
Anna: The leg came away from the body really beautifully. But I do agree with you. Louis, what do you think?
Louis: It’s great!
Isabella: More. Peeeees!
Anna: My first recipe from this book and I have already swayed from its central tenet: I have used turkey mince, not chicken.
Peter: Drings do chicken mince, don’t they?
Anna: Only if you order it in advance. And I’m not that organised anymore. I mean, I’ve cooked us something new and different! That’s an achievement these days.
Peter: They are very nice. I’m getting citrus…
Anna: That’s the lemon zest.
Peter: How do they differ to Gwyneth’s meatballs?
Anna: Would you be surprised if I told you they are a lot less healthy? Lots more cheese, breadcrumbs, and that sort of thing. But I like these a lot.
Louis: Yum! I LOVE them! I am going to eat them ALL up!