“Griddled Mackerel with Pickled Cucumber and Beetroot and Potato Salad” from “Virgin to Veteran”

Anna: We’re have a Scandiwegian feast tonight. Scandi food is very in right now, so you’ll be pleased to hear our meal is bang up to date.

Peter: I’m thinking herring. I’m thinking roll-mops. Should we be eating this in permanent darkness? Or perhaps cut in two on a bridge somewhere?

Anna: It’s mackerel actually.

Peter: Well I know that. We haven’t had it for a while. I can feel those fishy oils opening my arteries.

Anna: Do you like it? What about the potato salad?

Peter: It was nice. You would be hard-pressed to pick out the potato amongst the beetroot. I’m sorry, I didn’t pick up on the horseradish at all.  Was this 15 of our 5 a day?

Anna: It was a lot of veg. I like this recipe but there were too many bits to cobble together at once which just makes me cross. We are going to have it again next week but I’m going to skip the cucumber pickle, nice though it was, and not bother flouring the mackerel.

Peter: Why don’t you ask Maggie what she thought of it? She polished off the skin!

“Griddled Mackerel with Pickled Cucumber and Beetroot and Potato Salad” from “Virgin to Veteran”

Spicy Sausage Penne from “Virgin to Veteran”

Kirstin: Blimey. This is the best version of sausage sauce ever. We have made sausage sauce every Friday since… when did we get married? For at least 16 years. We’ve always used the River Cafe recipe — the “slow-cooked” version. But this recipe is better. The addition of harissa has made it even more epic.

Georgia: It was different than usual. In a good way. It was a lot spicier! It was nice.

Kirstin: Ah, yes. I also put more chilli in than it said.

Continue reading “Spicy Sausage Penne from “Virgin to Veteran””

Spicy Sausage Penne from “Virgin to Veteran”

“Beef Fajitas Harissa-style” from “Virgin to Veteran”

Anna: He’s done a nice little trick with these, marinating the beef in paprika and harissa before grilling gives it a lovely smokey flavour. Close your eyes and it could be coming off of one of those sizzling grills in a Mexican restaurant. Pass me a margarita.

Peter: Could you use any cut of beef for this dish?

Anna: He suggests rump but I suppose any sort of steak would be fine. Did you like the guacamole?

Peter: Yes.

Anna: It was different from my usual, unadulterated version. This had garlic and shallots and chilli in it.

Peter: The problem with this country is getting good avocados.

Anna: Tell me about it. I enjoyed this, but it’s a bit of work getting all the different bits together and I don’t know if I loved it enough to do it again.

Peter: I liked it. But I didn’t have to cook it.

“Beef Fajitas Harissa-style” from “Virgin to Veteran”

“Butterflied griddled herb chicken with zingy tomato green beans” and “Blueberry, blackberry and strawberry crumble” from “Virgin to Veteran”.

Tom: This is great. What was in the marinade?

Kirstin: Herbs from our garden, darling. Freshly picked oregano, rosemary, thyme, and coriander from a packet.

Tom: Well, this is my kind of cooking, because it involves a hammer.

Continue reading ““Butterflied griddled herb chicken with zingy tomato green beans” and “Blueberry, blackberry and strawberry crumble” from “Virgin to Veteran”.”

“Butterflied griddled herb chicken with zingy tomato green beans” and “Blueberry, blackberry and strawberry crumble” from “Virgin to Veteran”.

“Fast shallow -fry fish with dressed peas and herb and garlic potatoes” from “Virgin to Veteran”

Ella: I would have this again.

Kirstin: Really? Next week?

Ella: Well, maybe not next week but definitely soon.

Kirstin: RESULT! Finally a fish dish that Ella enjoys. This is a cause for major celebration!

“Fast shallow -fry fish with dressed peas and herb and garlic potatoes” from “Virgin to Veteran”

“Ultimate Steak and the Works” from “Virgin to Veteran”

Nicholas (9): These potatoes are great! They’re really fantastic.

Andrew (12): I think they’re awesome.

Maureen: Would you like me to make them again?

Both: Yes, please!

Tim: No.

Maureen: Why not?

Nicholas: Why would you say that? You ate the most of anyone.

Tim: They were good, but potatoes are potatoes. They don’t count as a vegetable. I’d rather have a salad.

Maureen: So what did you think of the steak?

Nicholas: What steak? We’re eating hot dogs.

Maureen: Indeed you are. As your palates aren’t nearly as sophisticated as you would think they are, and you probably think hot dogs are just as good as, if not better than, steak, that’s what you’re having. Dad and I are having steak. Yum.

Tim: I can taste the unicorn tears.

Maureen: I’m pretty sure that Dring’s doesn’t include unicorn tears in their steaks. I think this is good, though not anything extraordinary. Though maybe it’s not as special as Sam would like it to be, since I didn’t make the mustard butter. Maybe next time. What did you think of the spinach?

Tim: It didn’t seem all that special to me.

Maureen: Well, I suppose it wasn’t. But the great idea that Sam came up with is to cook it in a wok. Everybody knows that there’s loads of spinach at the beginning and nearly nothing at the end. It’s a great way to cook it down. I will do that again. Yum. Steak dinner. My favourite.

“Ultimate Steak and the Works” from “Virgin to Veteran”

“Crunchy Thai-style Beef Salad” from “Virgin to Veteran”

Peter: Thai? This reminds me more of Vietnam. The fishy, cold dressing and cucumber.

Anna: Fishy doesn’t make it sound very appetising. I think the word ‘salty’ is better. But I know exactly what you mean. It’s the dressing. The proportions of fish sauce to lime and sugar just feel wrong. 90ml of fish sauce for two people? I don’t think so. I added more sugar but didn’t have anymore limes. It was fine, but I agree. More Vietnam than Thailand.

Peter: I did like it anyway. But as I’ve got a mouth ulcer it wasn’t the best meal to have.

Anna: That will be the limes.

Peter: I’m not sure beef is the best thing to go with this salad.  But it was nice.

Anna: I think it’s supposed to be like ‘Tiger Cry’, which I enjoy very much when we have it at Thai restaurants. What do  you think would have been better?

Peter: Maybe a firm fish. Like seabass or monkfish.

Anna: You are getting sidetracked by the overpowering fish sauce I think. If the dressing had been better balanced you would have found the beef very good with this salad. So, we probably won’t be doing this again. Unless I steal one of Bill’s Thai dressing recipes to go with it!

“Crunchy Thai-style Beef Salad” from “Virgin to Veteran”

“Spaghetti Bolognaise” from “Virgin to Veteran”

Kirstin: I cooked this all afternoon. First on the hob and then in the oven for a few hours. I was even able to play some football with Miles while it roasted away.

Tom: I always say the longer you cook bolognaise the better it tastes.

Miles: I love this!

Continue reading ““Spaghetti Bolognaise” from “Virgin to Veteran””

“Spaghetti Bolognaise” from “Virgin to Veteran”

“Fast Tandoori-Style Roast with Onions” from “Virgin to Veteran”

Kirstin: I loved the way the spices looked as I prepared them for the marinade.

Tom: And I love all the crunchy bits. Look, even the children are eating it!

Continue reading ““Fast Tandoori-Style Roast with Onions” from “Virgin to Veteran””

“Fast Tandoori-Style Roast with Onions” from “Virgin to Veteran”

“Smoking Chilli Con Carne” from “Virgin to Veteran”

Peter: What are we having tonight then?

Anna: Smoking chilli con carne.

Peter: Smoking? What makes it ‘smoking’?

Anna: Glad you ask. I had to griddle the chillis first before making the sauce. To give them a smokiness.

Peter: Can’t you just use smokey chillis instead?

Anna: Good question. I do use chipotles in my usual ‘posh’ chilli. That is, the chilli I do on weekends or special occasions, rather than my fail-safe, quick and dirty weeknight chilli.

Peter: This is drier than your usual weeknight chilli.

Anna: You mean less sauce? Is that a good thing?

Peter: Yes. This tastes professional.

Anna: That might be because I had to strain the sauce through a sieve. Not something I would normally do, and I have to admit to being rather suspicious of this step in the recipe. But I think it worked.

Peter: I think I prefer this chilli to our usual one, but maybe that’s becuase I wasn’t cooking it. It didn’t seem so bean-heavy either and I liked the addition of the fresh coriander.

Anna: I think this is a keeper then.

“Smoking Chilli Con Carne” from “Virgin to Veteran”