Nobody can really prepare you for the occassional problems that parenting throws your way. Sure you can have advice but sometimes you experience things for the first time that life cannot prepare you for. My eldest daughter, Ruby is 13 and going abroad with family friends for the first time. It is causing me much anxiety that I couldn't anticipate and I wish she was here now. She is very sensible and enjoying herself but all the 'what if's' have made me feel dreadful and I now know why parents of older children never tire of telling you to 'enjoy them when they are little'. The older they get the more bother they can potentially get into.
This weekend's food has been lovely. I had a nostalgic yearning for 'savoury rice' - remember that. I used to love it as a kid and thought I'd try and recreate a good version of it. My mum was a good cook but with 5 kids to feed we would often have food like Frey Bentos pies, crispy pancakes and goblin hamburgers in gravy. I used to love them and I have the occassional crispy pancake now and again for old time's sake!
My version of savoury rice had a spanish flavour with chorizo and red pepper. All I did was fry 50g diced chorizo with half a diced onion, half a diced red pepper and a crushed clove of garlic in a little oil. Add 1 cupful of rice and 2 cups of stock (made up with marigold powder) and simmer with a lid on until the liquid is absorbed and the rice cooked. Oh I also threw in a handful of peas 2 minutes before the end.
Today's lunch was more suited to autumn but it is cold, wet and windy out and it calls for comfort food. Chicken, mushrooms and cream are wonderful bedfellows and this is such a simple lunch to cook for Sunday. I rarely cook a traditional Sunday lunch anymore but feel it is important to have a good lunch with everyone around the table. It doesn't have to mean a roast 'with all the trimmings'. I think that concept is a bit of a tyranny for the poor cook. Slaving over 8 pots and pans with an afternoon's washing up to look forward to is not how I want to spend my Sunday. If you want a roast then great but why not have a pot roast style lunch or this lovely dish that I made today.
Chicken with porcini mushrooms and triple cooked chips
Proof that you can eat like a king on a paupers budget! It is essential you use dried mushrooms as the flavour is far more intense and the water you soak them in makes a lovely stock for the dish. I recently invested in a deep fat fryer which I only occassionally use but now wouldn't be without. You could make the chips by baking them or blanch them in boiling water and shallow fry if you don't want to deep fry them. I served peas with this.
1 chicken, cut into saute (8 pieces)
25g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked for 20 mins in hot water, water retained and the mushrooms chopped
4 - 5 button mushrooms, chopped
1/2 a diced onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp marigold veg stock powder
125ml double cream
thyme leaves, chopped
4 baking potatoes, cut into thick chips
oil for frying
1) In a large non stick frying pan colour the chicken pieces and remove. Fry the onion, garlic and field mushrooms for a few minutes. Add the porcini mushrooms and then you can add some wine, vermouth or brandy if you want and reduce that down but it is not essential and I didn't use any today. Add 200ml of the mushroom stock (stir the marigold powder in beforehand) and place the chicken pieces back in along with the thyme and simmer, with a lid on for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
2) When the chicken is cooked remove it from the pan and add the cream and let it reduce until the sauce is thick. Place the chicken back in the pan and coat with the sauce.
3) While the chicken is simmering you can make the chips. I now have a deep fat fryer and cooked them on a low heat (140) until almost cooked. I then gave them a second fry on a moderate heat (160) until they coloured slightly and finally finished them off on a high heat (190), drained them and sprinkled them with sea salt.