Saturday, 17 May 2014

More Ottolenghi

The recent themes (relevant to this blog) in my life have been Ottolenghi and guilt. I mentioned the guilt briefly before when I talked about eating out but that hasn't been the only place it's cropped up. I don't know what's prompted the Ottolenghi flurry. I remember that I had chicken sofrito on the mind for a while but that I ended up making jambalaya in a post that I never published instead. I was then convinced by his take on chicken marbella but then felt like I ought to diversify in terms of meat and ended up making the lamb dish in the chicken sofrito entry for Sunday night supper instead. 

Then another week passed in a haze and all of a sudden it was time for date night and I wanted the Explorer to cook for me these meatballs. He didn't start cooking on time and then I got very hungry and very cross and took over to expedite things and then got into my big tiz about always taking over because I want something done and done quickly but really I hate being in charge and would love nothing more than to feel so at ease that I don't feel compelled to interrupt. It was delicious though and then I felt guilty because I could have handled the whole situation by turning it into a couples' cooking activity instead of getting annoyed. Next time!

Then Ottolenghi became relevant again a few days later when I was feeling guilty and tense about my massively increased outgoings of late. I thought the best way to handle it would be to really commit to the 'veggie in the week' diet and use up my lentils. And that I did in the most delicious dahl I've ever made that was inspired by this recipe. My amendments involved using a little harissa I'd made for something else previously as a base and also adding some punchpooran (which I am SO EXCITED at having found by the way) and spinach. I had loads of cucumber and mint from before that I made into a raita-esque yoghut thing. Yes - yoghurt - I'm into that as well at the moment. Especially with jam - the legacy of me exercising REALLY poor judgement when I was 19 and drunk.

Another week passed and we decided to entertain as a house and I thought this chicken dish looked most appealing. Maybe I should have said that chicken, Ottoleghi and guilt have been the themes running through my life at the moment. There's been a lot of chicken. That reminds me - me and my boss keep talking about how many chickens we go through a week. It's become an in-joke. Which demonstrates a) that we're at the point of in jokes and b) how weird conversations become when you're shackled by the 'NSFW' acronym. Anyway,  that conversation and the general prevalence of chicken in my life made me feel guilty about not eating a wider variety of food. Yes, I am mental. But I just like to make sure it's all evenly spaced out! I couldn't find any Jerusalem artichokes so ended up getting a variety of 'tubers'. I think these included yams (from different countries of different varieties) and tava root. I threw in some regular potato and sweet potato just to be safe though. (Entertaining is stressful.) The whole shopping trip led me to feel very close to my otherwise forgotten heritage because I was cooking things that I've previously seen my parents cook but never bothered myself. It probably helped that to expedite my identification of the vegetables, I spoke to the guy in Bengali. I don't usually let that cat out of the bag. But then I didn't have any cash to pay for them and the cash machine was out and the guy was all 'forget about it' and I wanted/needed my tubers but felt so terrible for keeping this £2 from a lovely local business that I appreciate and want to support where the employees 100% appreciate that £2 more than me. Sigh. (I have now resettled this.)

I was then craving a pie but my guilt finally came to some use when I decided not to make pie and book into Zumba. Seeing a photo of myself from only a year and a half ago on a day when I was throwing out the dress that I was wearing in said photo because it doesn't fit anymore has that effect. However, some of the efficacy of that was nullified by the effect of having a slice of Contrary's delicious cheesecake with some mango. Mmm. 

Similarly, the 'hey let's save money by eating vegetables' is somewhat lost when you eat all the vegetables at once in a colourful array of 'salads'. Including this Ottolenghi dish that I was inspired to cook by my boss asking me to pick up some kohlrabi. (I am such a suck up.) There was also lentils with roasted cauliflower, egg dopiaza, roasted squash with red onion and sesame seed. I think there was possibly another slaw too but I can't remember. Anyway, it made me feel fresh and accomplished (as well as making me appreciate getting home in time to not get straight into pyjama).
Sadly, this was followed by a relapse into pie territory. I was just really craving pie, OK. And yes, I know the phrase relating to having no self control with food evokes pies and that this is unfortunate given that recently I've stepped out of the 'ah I'm too stressed and filled with adrenaline to eat' into 'chomp chomp chomp' phase. But it makes me happy. And perhaps soon I will feel miserable enough about my body image to exercise/walk to work (maybe). It was a really good pie, used up some more of my tarragon and I made up for it by eating salmon with loads of herbs (I needed to use them up before they rotted further) and beetroot the next day. (I was so hungry by dinner time). Now, that's a comprehensive round up of what Ari's eaten recently. Hopefully, you weren't too bored. 

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