Tag Archives: asparagus

election night supper

mini burgers and oregano tomatoes

 

What to make when you are having old friends over to watch the election (and catch up on all the goss)? Tiny little burgers of course! So, so, so easy and very relaxed. I just used two 450g packs of organic ground beef mixed with a couple of whisked eggs then used my hands to shape them into tiny little patties. I experimented with embedding cubes of cheddar inside some of them,  which went down really well with  my four year old son, then fried each side for about three minutes each. For the adults, a bit later, I just put slices of cheese on top as soon as I’d flipped, and it melted perfectly. Carb-eaters can have buns (of course! never deprive the carb eaters if you don’t have to, is my rule of thumb.) I just ate ’em neat.

The asparagus is roasted for about 12 minutes, with olive oil salt and pepper. No par-boiling, even.

I just want to tell you about the roasted tomatoes that are centre stage of this picture. I started making them a few years ago when I was hankering after pizza and realised that a lot of that unique pizza deliciousness comes down to the oregano and tomatoes. These tomatoes are just cut in half, salted and peppered then sprinkled – quite generously – with dried oregano and a few slices of garlic, then olive oiled and cooked for about half an hour at 180 degrees. So simple and yet more delicious than seems viable for such a tiny amount of interference. Try it! They go amazingly well with white fish and on the side of halloumi and keep in the fridge for a few days at least. We all enjoyed them so much we almost forgot about the election. Almost.

simple lemon basil and garlic chicken supper

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The main appeal about this meal, when it was in the planning stages, was how super simple it is, because after a long weekend of doing not very much at all I was in a ‘can’t-really-be-fagged-to-cook’ mood. So I just put chopped chicken beasts into a roasting tray and applied a hastily conceived (based on what was in the fridge) marinade then left it in the fridge for a couple of hours while I went to Pilates. The plan was to griddle the chicken on the stove top, which would have been delicious, but as an experiment – borne mainly from laziness – I just shoved the whole tin of chicken, marinade and all, into the oven. And happily, despite the lazy roots, the results were really delicious and the chicken was noticeably tender (left to their own devices, chicken beasts can suffer from being dry, tough and boring but marinading really, really helps).

While it was in the oven and we were drinking Prosecco to say farewell to another Bank Holiday weekend nearly ended (sob!), I fried up some mushrooms in butter, then added spinach and also roasted some asparagus in oil salt and pepper for about 12 minutes on 180 degrees. Roasted asparagus, by the way, are this week’s big discovery: no par-boiling needed; uncommonly delicious. We ate it all with a dollop of my trusty home made mayo, and suddenly it didn’t seem like the end of the world any more that Bank Holiday was nearly over and real life, it was returnin’.

Lemon, basil and garlic chicken beasts

4 chicken beasts

olive oil

4-6 garlic cloves, peeled and gently smashed

fresh basil, loosely chopped

juice of 1 large lemon (sieved)

Chop the beasts into chunks. Place the garlic, some liberal splashes of olive oil and the lemon juice  into the tin then arrange the chicken on top of it and stir. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for as long as you can but at least three hours. Take it out of the fridge half an hour before you cook it, to bring it up to room temperature. Then cook at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes, depending on the size of your chunks (I’m sure there’s no need to suggest this, but if in doubt, cut one in half before you eat to make sure there is no pinkness to be seen).

Suffolk seabass and Norfolk asparagus

Suffolk seabass Norfolk asparagus

I didn’t actually cook this meal but I ate it, and it was so glorious I just felt the need to share the glory. And the reason for the glory – although it was of course masterfully cooked (by Lady Nick, in Southwold, which is where we were) – is the simplicity of the ingredients, plus that they were all local: wild sea bass, caught on Saturday morning, eaten that night with a lemon, butter and caper sauce and Norfolk asparagus, first crop; plus delicious purple sprouting broccoli and a giant mushroom baked with garlic.

I have always been a bit spooked by the idea of cooking whole fish, partly because I’m wimpily freaked out by the head and tail, but Lady Nick de-mystified the process mainly by leading by example, but also informing me that it’s good to keep the head on because when the eyes go white it means it’s cooked (bit gross, but helpful). Also, I think it does taste better cooked whole than in fillets.

Now that asparagus is in season I strongly feel that we are all morally obliged to eat it every single night for the next six weeks, ideally with dollops of freshly made mustardy mayonnaise. But that is another story and another blog post. So, stand by for that. (I know: hold on to your hats!).

Oh yes and the other thing to mention is I just wrote  this guest mumsnet post  about the worry that people think you are making it all up when you have to declare that you are on a restricted diet. (I used to the the person doing the eye-rolling, which is how I know that this sometimes occurs). Does that resonate with you?

Whole roasted seabass

One whole sea bass, gutted cleaned and de-scaled

3 lemons

2 tablespoons capers

50-100 g of butter (depending on how many are eating)

Preheat oven to 180 fan/200 non-fan. Wash the sea bass inside and out, and pat dry with kitchen paper. Score across the fish and through the skin 4-5 times on each side, then put it on a large piece of oiled foil, big enough to wrap it up loosely. Season inside and out then stuff the inside with slices of 1 lemon, a tablespoon of capers and some chunks of butter. Rub the skin with a bit of olive oil and loosely wrap the parcel. Then bake for about 25 minutes depending on size (remembering the eyes-going-white rule). Let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes before opening the parcel.

While it is resting, make the sauce by putting the butter in a pan with the zest of one lemon and the juice of 2, a table spoon of capers and salt and pepper. Melt and drizzle onto the fish, which you have cut off the bone into squares then serve with your veg of choice (as long as that includes asparagus).