2 December 2010

A week of two halves.

Our Back Garden - 7.30am 2 Dec 10
That's what this week is proving to be, for varying reasons that I won't bother going into here.  Between one thing and another, we have only shopped for the first three days of the week and are planning on doing the shopping for the rest of the week on Friday.  Snow permitting!

So, after last week's menu culminating in the singularly disgusting effort which was supposed to be Lemon & Chilli Chicken Noodles, but which turned out to be Yuk-in-a-bowl (see illustration), I'm not holding out much hope.  Some Twitter pals have asked what the problem was with the Chicken Noodles and all I can put it down to is that the stir-fried vegetables, in retrospect, should have been removed from the pan prior to cooking down the sauce.

Unappetising, innit?
What happened was that the sauce took a lot longer than I was expecting to thicken, and over-cooked the vegetables.  Also, the balance of sour/sweet between the lemon and honey weren't balanced.  The lemon was too lemony and the honey too sweet.  All in all, it was pretty disgusting and we won't be attempting it again.

Tuesday should have been Bacon & Leek Pasta.  However, I had a sudden attack of "meh!" and could hardly be bothered to pick up the telephone and ring for a curry.  So hubby did.  LOL  I consulted the Twitterverse first and asked for recommendations in our area.  Quite categorically, the vote was 7:1 for the Himachol on the Ashley Road, Poole.  We couldn't ignore such a vote of confidence, and ordered our favourites on the reckoning that if a Restaurant can turn out your favourite dish well, then getting adventurous next time around would be a potentially rewarding experience.  They had a lot to live up to, as every takeaway we've had since being in Poole (and it's not many!) has always been measured against our nirvana of Takeaways, the Golden Curry in Chatham.

Curry c/o The Himachol : recommended!
I ordered a Lamb Tikka Masala, son had a chicken version and hubby had a Chicken Dansak.  We ordered a mushroom rice, a plain pilau rice, a saag bhajee (fried spinach & onion) and a Peshwari naan (flat bread, filled with almonds & fruit).   The lamb used in the Tikka Masala was tough and quite a workout for the jaws, but tasty in that it had been marinated - which is always a good sign.  The sauce wasn't quite up to the standard of the Golden Curry, in that it lacked a smidgen of the depth of flavour together with the creaminess, but it was by far and away the best we've had in this area and a very good effort.  The chicken version was slightly sweeter and the chicken was again marinated and soft to the bite.  I was pleased to find that the two Tikka Masala dishes had a definite difference in flavour.  It would have been so easy for the Chef to have just given the different marinated meat the same sauce.  Hubby's Chicken Dansak was quite excitingly spiced, with the type of heat that made your nose run!  I think I'd have had problems eating it all, if I'd have had the Dansak.  The rices were absolutely fine, with the mushroom rice tasting delicately of cloves.  The naan was big and fluffy - just the job.  However, the true star (for me) of the entire show was the Saag Bhajee.  I'd have happily had two of those and forgotten about any ideas of having curry.  There was just something attractively salty involved with it, together with the fried onion and subtle spicing within the spinach itself.  My one complaint was that there just wasn't enough for all three of us in the one dish!

We were all agreed that we'd be going back to the Himachol, the next time we're looking for a takeaway - or the next time I have an attack of "meh!".  *chuckle*

What a whopper!
It was back to the Menu list for Wednesday, when - just in time for the start of the snow - we had home-made Chicken & Vegetable Soup with home-made bread.  Hubby excelled himself with the bread, making an enormous wholemeal Cob Loaf that wouldn't have been out of place on any Artisan Baker's produce table.

Rather than having to buy some chicken breasts for the soup, I made it using drumsticks and thighs.  I browned the pieces before sweating off the onion and garlic, adding the glorious stock I'd made at the weekend and all the vegetables.  We had leek, celery, a turnip, potato, red lentils and parsnip, all of which combined in a wonderfully chickeny soup.  I think because I poached the chicken  bone in, removing the bones prior to serving and breaking up the chicken, it all added to the chicken flavour.  I do think that a chicken soup should taste of chicken!  Hubby and son were a bit challenged by the leg meat of the chicken, which if I do the same thing again, I'll chop a lot more finely.  I can also confirm that the soup tasted just as good the next day, when I ate the leftovers for lunch.

Thursday - or tonight, as I write this post - is a "boys night", when they are having Spicy Chicken portions with potato waffles and peas.  I'm having a Southern Fried Chicken rather than the spicy version, which always leaves me feeling a teensy bit nauseous.  It's an easy dinner to prepare, which will be nice considering we've been having a relaxing "nothing" kind of day, spent watching it snow!

Presuming the snow will either have gone, or the roads will be clear, tomorrow we'll head off for some more shopping with Alfie the Skoda singing Skoda War Songs as he forges his way through the snow.  It doesn't matter if we don't get to shop until Saturday, as we can just have the Bacon & Leek Pasta that we were due to have on Tuesday!

Orzo - rice shaped pasta
Friday is due to be Greek Lamb & Orzo Bake, served with green beans.  The recipe came from a book which I borrowed from the Library a while ago, so I've regrettably forgotten it's name.  However, the photograph looked like it would provide everything we enjoy in a meal, with the added bonus of being able to play with Orzo for the first time.  For those of you who are left scratching their heads and wondering what, or who, Orzo is - it's a pasta which is finely shaped into small rice-like pieces and which can be used in either rice or pasta dishes.  I spotted some in our local Asda the other day, having been keeping my eye open for it for some months now.

Now Saturday is going to be a terribly exciting day, as we're off to Tansy Austin's Pop-Up Restaurant in her living room.  For further details, see her blog here.  I'm really looking forward to this, as I love the idea of pop-up restaurants and it will be such fun to be at Tansy's inaugural one.  I have also never tried Enchiladas, or Mole, or Tamales - so it will be such a voyage of experience.  You all know how much we enjoy spicy food, so we've no worries about the degree of chilli that's being employed!  We'll hopefully be meeting up with Sam from the Bournemouth Echo there, too - which for me, just puts the icing on the cake.

[Shoot! I've just visited Tansy's blog to discover she's cancelling owing to the weather.  Darn!  Maybe that Bacon & Leek Pasta will get trotted out after all.]

Sunday and I'm planning a Bacon Pot Roast, with roast potatoes & parsnips together with carrot & swede mash and a green vegetable yet to be decided.  This week, I must try not to let the roast parsnips dehydrate to the state of small pointy biscuits!

I'm also going to have a go at a Honeycomb Mould for dessert.  Now this is something that harks back to my childhood, as I can remember my Mum making Honeycomb Mould quite regularly.  I discovered the recipe in a book and am curious to see whether I can turn out something that rings those bells from so long ago.

Finally, Monday brings hubby back to the kitchen when he's planning a Prawn & Wilted Little Gem Lettuce risotto.  This is a recipe all of his own, which sounds absolutely delicious.  Let's hope he doesn't lose faith in his recipe and we wind up having the Bacon & Leek!  I'm sure it would be very nice - but nothing like as nice as the Prawn recipe he's got in mind!

So there we have it - a busy, flexible-of-necessity week!


  1. Yet again, what a wonderful read......
    As l've said before....ALL round to Jenny's for tea.....!
    Curry, well, l've said this before, if you want a good curry, make it yourself. Though if you find a good take-away, stick to it.Lot of bad ones out their. I know, l've worked in a couple.A lot of them just take your order, shove it in front of your face, take it away as soon as you put your fork down,with the bill in the other hand. No! not for me thanks.
    If l'm going to spend money on food, l want the service. But generally, l steer clear of them.
    And,make my own. And, l could supply references about my curry nights. mmmmmmM! Lovely.
    Well, must get on, got a couple of ducks to do. The local shoot have gone out to-day, so there will be 'birds' about tomorrow, still keeps me busy. :0) Ciao......!

  2. Jenny...How do you do all of this...
    Wonder Woman Jenny!!
    You had my mouth watering while reading this today..
    that Honeycomb Mold / Mould ? looks like it would be DELICIOUS !!
    hugs ~ Maria

  3. Maria, I'm honestly not a wonder woman. I'd say that hubby is the wonder man, as he's busy doing all the housework, taking care of son and running the house while I'm sitting tap tapping at the computer. The most I ever do in a day is cook the evening meal - and he often helps out with the chopping and the serving. So without him, I'd be unable to do what I do. :)


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