Dinner with Ed and the three possible chancellors. Roast chicken with lemon & thyme (Hopkinson, of course), braised fennel and carrots, the latter with garlic and Marsala. Great.
(Fyi: Ed, Vince and Alistair were delightful, intelligent company; Osborne, the smarmy sod, was way out of his depth.)
Roast chicken with braised fennel & carrots
There’s only one way to do roast chicken, and this is it. You will need:
One free range chicken, 1.8kg
110g butter at room temp
Some sprigs of thyme
A garlic clove
Heat the oven to 230 degrees. Smear the butter over the chicken (there’s so much it’ll be like a little golden jacket). Season – a lot. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the bird, then stuff the husks inside it, alongside the thyme sprigs and the garlic clove, crushed. Blast at 230 for 15 mins, then baste and turn down to 190. Cook for a further 45 mins, basting occasionally. Turn the oven off, and rest with the door ajar for 15 mins before serving.
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Anchor & Hope
36 The Cut, Waterloo, SE1 8LP
In my smug and worthless opinion, worse than going to a bad restaurant is going to a good restaurant with someone who won’t have any wine tonight – because goodness! they’ve drunk so much lately, and it’s a work night! – and who, gosh! couldn’t possibly manage a dessert.
Tonight though, I am tipsy and stuffed and delighted to say I had dinner with someone as greedy and profligate as I am. Andrew, bless you. We went to the Anchor & Hope in Waterloo, a gastropub institution my aspirations would have me as a regular at, but in actual life this was my first visit.
We’ve gathered that I like wine (and particularly wine served in tumblers, as here), but I also like meat. If there’s weird animal or weird bits of animal or weird bits of weird animal on the menu, all the better, and the A&H is excellently uninterested in the fact some people don’t eat animal at all. Sadly, after the 45-minute wait for a table – though in a bar so life-affirmingly jolly it prompted merry exchanges with three total strangers – the deep fried pig’s head was sold out and I had to make do with new season garlic soup with snails and almonds. Silky and mellow though this was, it is a good thing Andrew and I are just friends.
Went all out tonight for me and posh housemate P – and with a combo of my own, natch. Fillet of pork (browned all over in my new frying pan, oven for eight mins, a bit of a rest) with salsa verde, Puy lentils, and baby fennel – adorable, spotted in Waitrose on my lunch break – which I goldenised in a pan before roasting. I think he’d agree it was a rather good effort. Well done me.
In a blender: a fat garlic clove, crushed; a large man’s handful each of mint, basil and flat leaf parsley leaves; one tbsp Dijon; two tbsp capers; 100ml olive oil; six anchovy fillets. Blitz to a slush.
Peel a carrot and a stick of celery, and chop those, plus an onion, into little, even chunks. Sweat in 15g of butter for 7ish mins until the onion is translucent. Stir in 150g Puy lentils, and pour on enough water to cover + 2.5cm above the surface. Add salt. Cook till lentils are tender – half an hour or so.
The giveaway of the fancy tableware aside, it is obvious I had nothing whatsoever to do with the making of the brilliant seafood stew above. My only claim over it is that I ate it. And then wiped the dish spotless with amazing, chewy, sour bread. Having started things off with gloriously light pasta stuffed with spinach, ricotta, porcini, sage and parmesan, washed it all down with a couple of glasses of the third white down on a frighteningly unfamiliar list, and rounded everything off with a shared slice of perfect pear and almond tart. (That’s sharing partner Sam’s sea bream in the background btw.) My paltry salary would no way usually cover a trip to the River Cafe, but they have a winter set lunch deal that’s running only for another week or so: two courses for £18, three for £24. That’s how much one main course alone usually costs! So go book! (Right here!)
Made these as a Friday copy deadline day treat for the office…
… but then after I took this picture I tried one and it nearly dislocated my jaw, so I left them at home.
I feel similarly about the canteen at Murdoch Towers to how the big man does about the BBC: life would be just so much nicer if I could get rid of that subsidised shit and run things myself. But somehow that’s not enough to make me get up earlier and make my own lunch in the mornings. However, come 1pm tomorrow, instead of wandering round and round the salad bar hoping for something nice to magically appear between the cheese rubber and flaccid lettuce, I shall be enjoying a leftover slice of this bundle of joy:
Allegra McEvedy’s Moroccan filo pie
(courtesy of the Guardian)
1 packet filo pastry
2 medium sized courgettes
1 white onion
1 small butternut squash
Big handful of coriander
Half a pat of butter
Squeeze of lemon
Handful of ground almonds
Handful of pinenuts
Handful of sultanas / raisins / dried chopped dates
Little bit of honey
Few cumin seeds
Few coriander seeds
Salt and pepper
Peel and roughly dice the squash – around inch-ish chunks. Preheat the oven to 190. Whilst your oven is preheating put the handful of pinenuts onto a baking tray into the oven to gently toast as it comes up to temperature.
Take a quarter of the butter and put in a wide pan. When the butter has melted put in the squash chunks and gently fry them. Once they have had a good roll in the butter put some salt on, give it a good stir, add about a cupful of water (200ml), keep it on top heat and put a lid on.
Wash and grate the courgettes on the big holes. Spread them out onto a wide plate and sprinkle on 3/4 of a tablespoon of salt.
Dry fry the coriander seeds and cumin seeds for a minute until they start to pop. Add them to the squash, which by now should be soft. Mash, roughly. Season.
Home after a few large glasses of red at the pub to a leftover portion of yesterday’s chickpea and chorizo stew. Even better today. Or maybe that’s the wine.
Chickpea & chorizo stew
Oh sod the typing out. Find it here.