I have quickly concluded that the only way we’re going to survive this global crisis is by making the best dinners I can for my family. I may not be able to make sense of this global pandemic, but by god, I can cook. And cook I will.
Using that rationale, I decided that it would be Steak Night at our house. Regular readers of this blog know that we love a good steak here, and that hasn’t changed amid all of this either. So I turned to Gordon, who had a most excellent recipe for rib-eye steaks with peppercorn sauce.
Reader, it was delicious.
(This photo does not do this dinner justice. It looks a bit like a picture you’d see on a laminated menu of a dodgy restaurant. I can assure you that it was utterly delicious. Maybe it’s the green plate…)
Our family dinners have become the highlight of everyone’s day here, and this was no exception. May the good dinners continue for as long as we can continue to get good food supplies in.
You can be sure that I will happily test any recipe that requires me to eat half a block of halloumi cheese. This, friends, was that recipe.
I will readily admit that I am a stress eater, so you can imagine what it’s been like for the last 10 days. But this– aside from the aforementioned half block of cheese– is pretty good for me. Look at all those vegetables! It’s a plate full of goodness, I tell you.
But a plate full of goodness, even with all that cheese, is exactly what we all need right now. So please proceed with eating whatever is going to make you feel better.
Once again, Gordon hits it out of the park. (Given that we’ve got no sports to watch for the forseeable future, I feel like I should sprinkle my writing with sports references so we can all pretend that things are normal when they definitely are not.)
Tuna may be an expensive ingredient, but it’s worth it. Also, whenever I start to overthink the price, I think about how much we’re saving by eating at home and not going to a restaurant, so I get over it quickly.
In the introduction, Gordon says tuna, “wins the speed prize because it’s served rare in the middle and is literally in and out of the pan in four minutes.” That’s absolutely true. Talk about 30 minute dinner, more like 10 minute dinners and that includes taking all the ingredients out and making the side salad. What could be better?
I should also add that I had some leftover couscous salad, which was absolutely perfect the next day when a work meeting ran over and I needed something to feed both of us. (This was before the voluntary self-isolation period, which we’re now in.)
“May you live in interesting times,” is a Chinese curse, but for years I never understood why interesting would be a bad thing. Now I fully understand why it’s a curse, because we are truly living in interesting times.
But the one thing I can do for my family– and yes, everyone is now under one roof given that universities have sent students home– is cook good food. And that’s exactly why I intend to do for the forseeable future. It’s the one thing I know I can do well and one of the few things I can control at the moment. I will cook up a storm and enjoy every moment of it.
Much like Kirstin’s Double Lemon Chicken, this recipe has a very Diana Henry feel about it. Not only because it features chicken– one of her favourite ingredients– but also because it’s very much a “Bang it in the oven and reap the benefits” recipe. I made it on a Friday night after I had met friends for a medicinal gin and tonic (this, obviously, was pre-optional-lockdown) and I wasn’t much in the mood for cooking something complicated. We had all the ingredients to hand, it took no time to prepare and it was delicious. Win/Win/Win.
One small thing: When I said we had all the ingredients to hand, we didn’t actually. I thought we had Cavolo Nero when I first started cooking, but when I checked the vegetable drawer half-way through and clocked its absence, I quickly sought an available substitute. We had bok choy, which is not really like cavolo nero, but it worked anyway. Needs must when you’re in the middle of a global pandemic and all that.
For those of you not paying attention in the back, last Tuesday was Pancake Day here in the U.K. I know this post is about chicken, but please be patient. For months, my husband Tim has been saying that he really wanted some fried chicken with waffles. He insisted that it was an American delicacy and we really needed to honour our American roots by having some chicken and waffles. We’ve lived in the U.K. for 21 years now, so maybe my American food recollections are getting a bit fuzzy, but I maintained that chicken and waffles was not an American thing, as far as I was concerned.
Pancake Day 2020 rolls around. Because we are American (see above), we’ve always celebrated Pancake Day with American pancakes, not the crepes that most people make here. Since pancakes are essentially waffles in another form, I told Tim that I would make his dreams come true by making him pancakes and fried chicken on Pancake Day.
Needless to say, I was still skeptical. However I thought even if I didn’t eat the pancakes and chicken together, they’re both still delicious individually. So I followed this Gordon Ramsay recipe for buffalo chicken. It’s essentially fried chicken tenders with a blue cheese dip. I already knew that fried chicken tenders would be a winner, and they were.
But I’m sure you’re all wondering, how were they with the pancakes? Reader, I am here to tell you it was a taste sensation that was out of this world. This is not mere hyperbole. It was amazing. It was so good, in fact, that I messaged Andrew at university on the family WhatsApp group to tell him what a fantastic Pancake Day meal he had missed. (He sent us a crying face emoji in response.)
Would I make this again? HELL YES. Would I have pancakes (and/or waffles) again? I’m thinking it might be tonight’s dinner.
Fish Friday! (Well, technically, not “fish” as previous reported here because it’s scallops, but it’s the right idea.)
I need to honestly report that this dish divided opinion at our house. I loved it. So did Nicholas. We thought it was utterly delicious. I would definitely eat this again and again.
Unfortunately, Tim did not agree. He thought all of the cream, and leeks and chorizo drowned out the taste of the scallops. I understand what he’s saying, but I have to say there’s no time when double cream is a bad idea. We had to agree to disagree.
I also need to mention that this recipe— and others in the book– include this genius hack when using leeks in a dish that you roast. Rather than having to fry them first, just soak them in boiling water for one minute, and they’re cooked enough that they can go in the bottom of the roasting pan and be finished off in the oven. Absolutely genius.
If you haven’t already figured it out, this book has been a massive hit. Of *course* will will wait until 31 January to make our final determination, but we’ve eaten very well for the last few weeks.
I believe I have written here, on many occasions, how much my husband loves chicken pot pie. He loves it so much he ordered it on the day of the hottest record temperatures in Chicago’s history. Maybe that’s been broken since, as this was in 1995, but the anecdote still holds: it was very, very, very hot that day and yet, he still ordered pie. It’s a telling detail, isn’t it?
I was quite happy to see this very simple pie that I could throw together pretty quickly, and on a weeknight. Look above! I even had time to cut out decorative stars in the puff pastry! If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.
The method for this is solid and results in something tasty, though perhaps not *quite* as good as a traditional chicken pot pie with a few more steps. However, I need to pass along one important caveat: be sure to use full-fat creme fraiche. This is very important. I used the only type that was available at our local shop– low fat– but that made the sauce very, very watery and a little bit grainy, which probably was the result of the creme fraiche roasting. So learn something from me: don’t do that.
Otherwise, this is another highly recommended recipe.