30 March 2011

So! What's on the menu list for this week, then?

Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park
This week, we shall mostly be thinking about fresh flavours, lighter flavours and trying a few new things.  Well, it IS spring - and if ever there was a time to cast off those heavy (but cosy) old overcoats of casseroles, dumplings, heavy sauces and old favourites such as Chilli con Carne, it's now.

Now is a time to lighten the load (not only around our waistlines) and wake up our tastebuds with tastes and textures that we haven't experienced for the last few cold and damp months.

So, out goes our reliance upon root vegetables, heavy stocks and sauces - and in comes citrus flavours, braising and salads.

I'm certainly ready for a change - and this week's menu reflects that.

As ever, my week kicks off on a Tuesday when I went to Spring Fields Catering Butchers to buy some chicken breasts and pork steaks.  The five chicken breasts were still priced at an incredibly reasonable £5 for the lot, but the pork steaks just amazed me.  £2.99 for six - and as he was cutting them from the huge piece of loin of pork, I couldn't quite believe my eyes.  In fact, I had to check what I'd got when I arrived home, such was my amazement.  If you were to buy the equivalent from your local Supermarket, I'm sure you wouldn't see much change out of £6.  Just superb value.

So Tuesday's dinner was Citrus Paprika Chicken with a watercress, rocket & spinach salad together with cherry tomatoes and avocado.  The carbohydrate aspect came in the form of some diced potatoes which were roasted in their jackets alongside the chicken, having been doused in the chicken's marinade.

Apart from the oven suddenly deciding to roast everything super-hot (and subsequently burning the edges of the spuds) this all came together really easily.  However, its reception wasn't quite universal.  I really liked it, hubby wasn't so keen and son just seemed ambivalent towards the whole meal.  However, I do think that it was more of a "girl's food" dinner, than a real "man's dish" - even though it contained an entire chicken breast each!

Wednesday should bring about a change from "girl food" to real "man food", with the pork steaks braised in cider & mustard, with mashed potatoes, carrots and broccoli.  Goodness, but I'm looking forward to this one, having seen the loveliness of the pork.  I'm also going to be using a bottle of the gorgeous Sheppy's Dabinett single variety cider which I've used before with very good results.  Fingers crossed!

Thursday requires a simple, quick to cook dish as I'll have been at work during the day.  Hence, I've booked in a Creamy Linguine with prosciutto, lemon and basil, which I expect we'll have with garlic bread.  Now, don't tell everyone, but this will be the very first time I've ever cooked with prosciutto.  *blush*  I'm really quite excited to be adding another first to my repertoire.

Picture c/o BBC Good Food website
You might remember that I booked in Bobotie on last week's menu list, but it got bumped off when I ran out of steam and plumped for fish & chips.  Well, I've gone off the idea of Bobotie now, but I've still got the minced lamb in the freezer.  So, on Friday we'll be making use of it in a lamb meatball traybake.

This is where the mince is made into some tasty meatballs with onion and mint, which are then roasted off in the oven alongside some onions, courgettes, butternut squash pieces, sweet potato wedges, cherry tomatoes - and some feta is crumbled over at the last minute.  It just appealed to the desire for some fresher, less complicated flavours - and I'm hoping it will suit that just fine.  Son and heir won't like the courgettes or cherry tomatoes, of course, but then he'll have the butternut and sweet potato to console himself with.  I may also throw in a couple of mushrooms - it's the kind of meal where anything that will roast can be added as an afterthought.

Saturday is hubby's day for cooking - and he's promised us a risotto.  Yum!  I'm not sure what type of risotto - and neither is he - but he's leaving it to providence and seeing what is in the supermarket on the day.  If nothing else, the produce will be fresh when it goes into the pot!

Photo c/o BBC Good Food website
Speaking of pots, on Sunday I've booked in another pot roasted chicken - except this time, instead of the usual roasted accompaniments, we're going to be having gnocchi and tenderstem broccoli.  Now there's a brave break from tradition for you!

Which brings us to the last day of this week's menu list, which is Monday - or "cold chicken day" as I expect it is becoming known.  I think it is always such a terrible waste of some really quite glorious cold cooked chicken (which is one of my favourite flavours in the universe) to put it into some curry, or pasta, or make it into a pie.  So, this Monday is going to be all about the chicken - right up until we reach the carrot fritters.  To give them their proper title, "carrot, cumin & feta fritters" which will be served with coriander yoghurt and a side salad.  I thought it would be an intriguing accompaniment to that delicious cold chicken - and far more interesting than a boring old potato salad!

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