Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Emergency Food for Mother Hubbard Moments - Garlic, Chilli and Parsley Spaghetti

BOSH! Hangover/hunger gone!
Strangely, I sometimes find myself cooking this when completely overwhelmed by too many recipe books bursting with exciting ideas. Sometimes it's all a bit much and you need things to straightforward, quick and easy, when you can count the ingredients on one hand, you know you can cope. It's also good for when the cupboards are pretty much bare. This makes an excellent lunch and has become a rather favourite hangover cure; the carb load combined with the heat of the chillis, a good slick of peppery olive oil and salty garlic tend to do the trick. It will also keep vampires away, but never mind.

Feeds two: Get a good hand-full of spaghetti (or half spag, half linguine as I used, in a proper Mother Hubbard moment) on the go in a pan of boiling water. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan or another saucepan (big enough to hold the pasta) gently heat about four tbsp of olive oil, if you have some tasty extra virgin then all the better. Yes, it's a lot of oil, but it's just this once and you'll want to drink it once it's all garlicky). GENTLY fry two or three finely chopped cloves of garlic and a big pinch of either dried chilli flakes or a finely chopped fresh red one. Do not burn them, if it gets a bit carried away, simply take the pan off the heat until things calm down, the idea is to take the raw edge off the garlic and infuse the oil. Just before the pasta is ready add a big handful of chopped flat leaf parsley and season liberally. Take off the heat. Drain the pasta and tip into the pan full of oily goodness and mix well. Top with a bit of grated Parmesan and enjoy an incredibly simple but delicious bowl of spaghetti.

Whoever said that parsley counteracts the effects of garlic on ones breath, I think, was incorrect, but you be the judge.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Spiced Yoghurty Lamb Chops

Get your chops round these chops
I made this for myself, an indulgent solo supper, after thinking about  lamb chops all day. Although the weather was freezing, and a nice steaming casserole might have been more appropriate to warm my cockles, the thought of pink, juicy chops, with  deliciously sinful crispy fatty bits clinging to the bones, was too much to bear, so I legged it home and made this, in a 'lets use up whatever is in the fridge' kind of supper. This is also amazing on the BBQ in warmer times.

Feeds one. Combine two big tbsp of natural yoghurt with a couple of chopped cloves of garlic, a tsp grated ginger, a tsp tomato puree, a tsp curry powder, salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Slop this all over two fat lamb chops and let it marinade for an hour or so (or as long as it takes for your grill to get really hot, in my case, as I was too hungry to wait). Pop under the grill and cook for about 6 minutes on each side, depending on how thick the chops are and how pink you like your lamb. Serve with some buttery cous-cous mixed with chopped coriander and mint, and a squeeze of lime. 

Draw the curtains for privacy, and gnaw away on those bad boys to your hearts content, or at least until you have chewed off every last bit of meat. Just don't let anyone see, apparently the crazed starving carnivore look isn't hot.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Chunky Chilli (if this doesn't warm you up, nothing will)

Mince-free zone
As tasty as a bog standard chilli con carne made out of mince is, this monster of a meal will pulverise what you previously thought of as chilli into oblivion. Just like a proper ragu made from great hunks of meat, slow cooked until self-shredding is better than the quick mincey bol, this version of an old favourite is so blimmin wonderful that you'll wonder why you ever bought mince in the first place. Well, I hope you like it anyway. It's pretty cold right now, and I am existing on what can only be described as 'man food'. The Boyfriend is ecstatic and my belly is full and warm every evening. Salad: be gone, you have no purpose here.

Feeds 3/4 depending on gluttonous tendencies. Take a casserole dish/high sided pan and gently brown about 500g diced braising steak/skirt/ox cheek or any part of cow that likes to be slow cooked in a splash of olive oil. Sprinkle in a tbsp of chilli powder, tsp cumin, tsp paprika and a generous dousing of oregano, dried or fresh and extra chopped chilli if you want it. Mix it all up and add two tins of chopped tomatoes, season and bring to the boil. It should be quite soupy at this point so add some water if needed. Cover and simmer for 1.5 hours (if pushed for time just cut the beef into smaller pieces), take the lid off for the last 20 minutes to let it reduce, if it hasn't already. At this point add a drained tin of kidney beans. The meat is ready when Grandma can eat it without her dentures. If you have any of that wonderful 100% cacao chocolate, grate a bit over the top and stir in. Serve with either toasted tortillas or rice, sliced avocado, a generous squeeze of lime and chopped coriander.

Accompany with some red wine and a hot water bottle.