poltering around

we had a polterabend the weekend before last. very exciting... lots of plate smashing... too much sekt and the like. i had an army of helpers to bake beautiful cakes and hang garlands and erect pavilions, but i still indulged in a little baking of my own:

you've seen this one before. it's the pistachio zucchini yummarama. oh i do love a good cream cheese frosting.
eh fatteh!

the lovely miss cliodhna quigley came to visit us not so long ago (well, ok, long ago, i'm slow) and amid all the fun and games (scrabble truck! scrabble! in the shape of a truck!) we managed to work up quite the appetite. we meandered home a little late in the evening and as such i was very glad to still have a little dinner party lamb tucked away in the freezer.

with my trusty sous chef ac manning the hob, i whizzed up a little fatteh for the troops. we based it loosely on this recipe, replacing the chicken with shredded slow-cooked lamb. it was, from all reports, something of a success.

today marks the start of the grill season. we have a kilo of prawns, some whole trout, an armful of fresh herbs, a bottle of rosado, and a handful of hungry friends. i will try to take some photos in between mouthfuls.

food safari mark two
we had the follow-up progressive dinner party last night, devouring more than we could feasibly fit in our collective bellies and washing it down with oh! so! much! wine!

this time it was our turn to kick things off with appetisers. we threw a little sherry at our fellow travellers and plied them with bite-sized treats, including:

1. an impaled beetroot, orange and olive party (i love this combination; i cannot get enough)

2. porcini on bay with little thyme-y parmesan hats, looking somewhat like demure parisian ladies on surfboards

3. grilled scallops on chorizo and roasted sweet potato

4. roasted jerusalem artichokes with labne and cherry tomatoes
5. rare beef fillet with horseradish cream and baked new potatoes

the rest of the evening was an outstanding display of culinary excess with a spectacular pear and celery soup, a slow- and low-cooked beef fillet with truffled mash and an insane g√Ęteau of epic berry proportions. the whole night is documented on fb for your viewing pleather.

the best thing about progressive dinner parties is being able to go totally overboard because there's only one thing to think about! the worst thing is navigating the whole reheating concept.
nom nom nam jim

how good is nam jim even? here is a hint: really freaking good. i secretly think this might be the true green goddess. it certainly ticks all my boxes. here it is doused all over a poached chicken and macadamia salad. oh. so. good.

nam jim (supposedly enough for 4 but i make this much for 2)

1. rip the leaves off a fistful of coriander (use them in the salad)
2. bash the naked stems with 2 garlic cloves and a pinch of sea salt
3. chuck in a deseeded and chopped green chilli and bash some more
4. stir in 2 tablespoons each of raw sugar and fish sauce
5. squeeze in a couple limes (you want about a quarter cup of juice)
6. mix in 2 finely chopped shallots
7. drink it up
store cupboard dinner

a post-yoga concoction of bits and pieces flying around our kitchen: roasted cherry tomatoes tossed through lemony chickpeas and rocket, topped with grilled scallops and drizzled with a cumin-laced mess of mossy green sludge.

salsa verde (makes half a cup)

1 anchovy
1 tbsp capers, rinsed
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
handful rocket leaves
handful flat-leaf parsley, picked
handful basil leaves
olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
juice of half a lemon

throw everything up to (and including) the basil in a jug and pour over enough olive oil to just cover the mess then zing together until it looks sludgy and beautiful. toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan until they smell great then grind them in a mortar and pestle. stir the cumin through the green sludge together with the lemon juice. taste for seasoning and add salt if you think it needs it.
back to edy

it's hard to believe that it's nearly a year ago that paul and i headed off to rome for that little thing they call a honeymoon (and the thing we called 'paul's stop-off between his whirlwind six-week conference world tour in which i became a temporary academic widow'). but it's true. and ever since we got back he just hasn't been able to stop talking about the artichoke pasta he gleefully tucked into at edy.

i, of course, have been happily keeping him at bay by pointing to the fact that artichokes have not been in season, and gee wouldn't you know it i just can't seem to find any.

but lo and behold, he managed to track some down this past weekend, and i dutifully complied, whipping together a batch of tagliatelle with artichokes and parsley.

the verdict? wish as we might, it's still not spring in this part of canada, and artichokes aren't in season yet. but i'm sure in a month, we'll be trying it again.

souped up

ever since i made an appointment to get my wisdom teeth ripped out of my skull i have been thinking about soup. my favourite kind is a despicably cheesy garlicky mess of chickpeas, tomatoes and rosemary with this insane velvet texture and just the right amount of chilli. i love it.

chickpea must be the only word the the history of words for which the german translation is cuter than the english. gigglepea totally beats chickpea in a cute race. it kicks chickpea's ASS. which is fine, of course, because german has a lot to make up for, given that the literal translation of nipple is breast wart.

on that appetising note, i give you chickpea, tomato, chard and bread soup. try it, it's amazing.

pois (the australian kind, not the french kind)

the first in a series of campaigns to make use of large quantities of leftover dinner party lamb = lamb pies, pronounced p-o-i-s. this is an extremely important addition to your vocabulary hannah, particularly as you make your way to the world's nether regions.

these ones were lamb, fennel and chickpea with tomato chutney and spinachy spinach salad. i love spinach.

oh and i used my new ramekins! i love ramekins.

it kinda feels wrong to take a meal, dress it up with a fancy puff pastry hat and pretty mauve stoneware and call it something else... but also entirely irresistible. you know it.