Vol.30 Meals

Hello one and all!

A day late again – even two days if you only open your emails on Friday. I’ll tell you all about it below but for those not invested in my emotional wellbeing (I know I overshare 🤷) let me get straight to the food.

We’ve hit Vol.30! (Officially an adult adult, right 😉:

I’ve been feeling a bit all over the place for the last 24hrs. I had a really busy start to the week – great time management on Monday (as orders left around 18.45) and I took on some office lunch orders too. I’m proud to say I smashed those office lunch orders. Never have I assembled lasagnas as quickly nor pleated chicken potstickers as systematically (even though I’m super out of practice regarding said pleating). Bam. Bam. Bam. Felt great! Then I sat down on Wednesday afternoon, realised how exhausted I was (a week of working until 1am was probably the reason for that) and ever since getting up from that chair I’ve been deflated. All those small business anxieties have come screeching to a halt right in front of me – am I making enough money? (no…), how do I make more? Do I know what I’m doing? What am I doing? So right now, I’m trying very hard to remember that anxieties pass… or rather maybe the lesson is to simply work work work so that the anxieties have no time to appear. Man. Emotions.

What are ya gonna do?

Enough about me, let’s get back to the food. Frozen first!

Curried lentil, tomato and coconut soup with sourdough – By now I’m sure you’re all well aware of my Ottolenghi food infatuation. As you may not know, my little sister is also an Ottolenghi enthusiast. Why am I telling you this? Well, I gave her Simple 🍋 (another Ottolenghi cookbook) a few years ago. I “borrowed” it for an extended period of time (ok, I pretended it was mine) back in 2019 and recently asked to borrow it again and I’m so very glad I did because it is of course PACKED with wonderful recipes. One of which is this week’s soup offering. On Monday I was convinced salad season was here. Then it was Tuesday and I realised my folly. So back to soup it is and I’m kind of glad it is (verrrrry conflicted feelings about the weather at the moment) because Simple has a couple of great recipes for soups. This being one of them. Mansoor dal (ie. Orange lentils) cooked in a mixture of curried onion, garlic, ginger and fresh coriander with tomato and that oh so silky coconut milk. Since you’re getting dinner rolls this week, I decided on some of those sourdough slices for this week. Great for toasting and dunking.

Beef Bourguignon with baguette dumplings – I also realised I should have this dish on the menu one more time before it’s summer (please let it be summer time again). You all know the drill with this one. Beef shin slowly stewed in red wine, with bacon lardons, mushrooms, button onions and some herbs. And by slowly, I mean three hours in the oven so that my entire flat smells of this super rich stew that gets a bit overwhelming when making it for the third time in as many days. The baguette dumplings are the cherry on top! They’re made with egg, milk and flour (and lots of seasoning and fresh parsley) – and when fried in butter they are just so perfect. Little bit of crunch and a lot of soaking ability. Rich stew with every bite!

Spanakopita – I’ve been thinking about which vegetable next deserved the oh so coveted “personality reveal”. As you may have guessed I decided on spinach. So, here’s my take. Spinach is the healthy and hearty Nonna of the vegetable family (think Italian Grandmother) and then baby spinach is her flighty great-grand-daughter. An Instagram influencer – sorry, she refers to herself as a “catalyst” – posting selfie after selfie using the hashtag #nofilter (all with filters of course), showing off her latest beach vacation or trip to Bali (yes, she managed to go even in a pandemic), with a new bikini in every picture too. Do I sound bitter? I sound bitter, don’t I? In any case, once she comes in contact with just a little heat she shrivels into a lump of green. All volume, no substance. Good gracious. I’ve come across as a complete baby spinach hater when I in fact love the stuff. It’s young and fresh and actually great in every dish I’ve used it in. Maybe I’m just jealous of the imagined beach holiday…WHAT HAS THIS PANDEMIC DONE TO ME!?

In any case, spinach is great. And the spinach used in this spanakopita is extra great because it’s the grown up version (Jess, why are you taking a dig at baby spinach again? She’s just living her #bestlife). Huge amounts of the stuff is washed, salted, mixed with spring onion and leek and then scrunched and scrunched and scrunched. It’s my favourite part of making spanakopita. This is followed by adding rocket and dill (for a sharp edge), feta and that creamy ricotta. Nutmeg, salt and white pepper complete the seasoning section. Final stage is to wrap it all in filo pastry, ready for you to pop in your oven until it goes golden and crispy, slice through (complete with satisfying crunch) and get your iron on! Oh yes, because spinach is great for iron. Like I said, hearty and healthy like that Italian Nonna.

I’ve once more taken inspiration from those office lunches in putting Mee Goreng back on the menu. I had leftover ingredients from making those lunches (I’m mentioning the lunches way too much, aren’t I?) and we had Mee Goreng for dinner last night and well. It’s just delicious.

Mee Goreng with red cabbage, carrots and tofu/sliced beef – This is one of the first recipes of Meera Sodha’s that I ever made. Waaay before the wonder that is East was gifted to me. As with most of here recipes it’s so simple and so delicious and so packed with flavour. Stir-fry spring onion, garlic and chilli, add carrots and red cabbage, in goes the sliced tofu (or sliced rib eye – which does not go chewy – guaranteed) and then the glorious sauce. Kecap Manis (Indonesian sweet sauce sauce), dark soy sauce (never confuse this with light soy sauce, it packed way more of a punch) and tomato paste. Continue stirring, and frying, and add the soba noodles, mix mix mix and it’s done! Top with crispy fried onions and a squeeze of lime and you’re having an umami party in your mouth. U-ma-mi-par-ty 🎶 There’s a song in there somewhere.

Burnt aubergine with feta and harissa oil

Yotam’s perfect picture – Mine will look a little different.

With a name like that you just know it’s another Ottolenghi creation. Featuring my favourite Mighty Aubergine! The aubergine is chargrilled whole for this one. This gives the flesh the most interesting smoky flavour. The rest is fairly simple (for Ottolenghi that is – he made the same joke on his Instagram when he re-posted this dish 😉), feta is mashed with some milk to turn it into a sort of cream, and then everything gets dressed in a mixture of harissa, olive oil and lemon juice. Topping it off with pine nuts and dill sprigs! I mean, wowza! I told you guys aubergine had a lot of lovers…count me among them. Your lovely aubergine will come with pita bread to mop up all that deliciousness. Oof, I’m getting a little hot under the collar just thinking about this dish 😳

And on to dessert! This was a request that came through my survey so it must be honoured of course. She’s back! The ultra sexy, ultra shiny, ultra elegant, ultra gorgeous Sachertorte. Maybe you’ll remember how proud I am of having added this to my repertoire of Austrian bakes. A wonderfully light chocolate cake is brushed all over with apricot jam and then covered in a chocolate glaze – a shiny glaze – a glaze that requires the use of a thermometer (! Exciting kitchen equipment yay!) and needs to be used right away. Pour it too soon and it runs and is still sort of see-through. Pour it too late and it very quickly turns into a solid clump of grainy chocolate. Sounds like a challenge, doesn’t it? Just. Like. I. Like. It! Also – I really need to get a good picture of this cake because of the ones I made last time I didn’t manage to get a single Instagram-worthy one.

Right, I feel better now. The anxieties seem to slip away when I do get stuck in. That’s a good thing because I’m squeezing four days’ worth of work into two over the weekend. Now that you’ve read all about the meals – why not place an order!