I know, I said on Friday that I’d post again on Saturday, and then I didn’t end up doing that. Sorry, I’m a bad person.
But this past weekend was VALENTINE’S DAY so
I kind of had an excuse, especially because I had a Galentine’s Day with my best friend on top of all the other normal festivities. So let me fill you in:
Galentine’s Day (Friday) was spent in London with Vicky, and I have to tell you, I did not have as much of a public transportation nightmare as I had originally predicted, especially given it was Friday the 13th. Granted, my train into London was hideously overcrowded and the only free seat in the carriage was being used as a bag holder for a particularly stupid-looking blonde girl. I did consider asking her to move said bags, but decided it would be more fun to give her evils for the duration of the train journey. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I hate when people sit next to me on trains, but when a train is packed like that and there are 20 people around you who have to awkwardly stand in the aisle, it’s just common fucking decency to move your damn bags. Plus I was wearing heels. Heels! I mean really, have some respect for your fellow woman!
But I digress.
Vicky and I had pretty typical “us” day: shopping and eating, followed by more shopping and then a bit more eating. At this stage I feel like I have to give a particular shout-out to Shoryu Ramen (www.shoryuramen.com) in Kingly Court for not only providing us with kick-ass noodles, but also for some super delicious mochi truffles, of which I honestly could have eating at least twenty. But they only gave us three. Sad times.
As for actual Valentine’s Day… well, it was nearly a bust, seeing as my boyfriend got ill just as I started to get better, but I think we managed to pull it out of the bag thanks to a great deal of over-the-counter cold medication.
Now, I’ll say this about V-Day: Boyfriend and I are not ones for candle-lit dinners at expensive restaurants. After all this time of being together, we have only had a truly successful amazing dinner at a restaurant for a special occasion maybe one time. My theory is that restaurants don’t respond well to pressure, so big occasions like birthdays, Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, etc, always overwhelm them and the food ends up being “meh”. I also think we as humans tend to put too much weight on these days, so if our experience is messed up in any way, it lets down the whole occasion far too easily.
Boyfriend and I also tend to strongly dislike other humans. In fact, this was one of the things that we initially bonded over. We don’t do well in over-crowded places, we hate it when people sit next to us on public transport (see above), and we have to take turns going to pay for drinks in pubs because we both equally dislike the embarrassing ordeal of ordering something.
So Boyfriend and I have a new approach to things that we only started trying this past New Year’s: Not Going Out.
We get dressed up like we’re going on a big date night, and then we go absolutely nowhere. Instead, we cook whatever foods we feel like, get a few bottles of wine, and watch a film. And go figure, it works out fucking brilliantly.
Day time on Saturday was spent grocery shopping and watching “Breaking Bad” on Netflix – which, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to spend a day – and the evening was spent cooking, (menu and recipes at the bottom of this post!!) eating and watching “Bridesmaids”. I honestly could not have asked for a more perfect day.
So next time you and your Significant Other are gearing up for a special occasion, consider Not Going Out. Cook your favourite food (even if that’s just a packet of Super Noodles each), pop on a funny film and enjoy a whole evening of not having to deal with other people. It’s bloody amazing.
For those of you who enjoy getting a bit more creative with your Not Going Out nights, though, here are the recipes we used on V-Day…
Beetroot, Goat’s Cheese and Walnut Salad (adapted from Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things)
You will need:
500g beetroot (we got ours pre-cooked from Tesco)
200g goat’s cheese
75g chopped walnuts
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp honey (plus extra for drizzling)
1 spring fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to season
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Place the beetroot in a roasting tin and drizzle with one tbsp of the olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and add the thyme. Heat in the oven for 10 minutes – just long enough to heat the beetroot through. (If using raw beetroot, instructions can be found online for how to roast from scratch.)
When the beetroot is out of the oven, pour the leftover juices and oil from the roasting tin into a bowl (you’ll use this later for the dressing) and chop the beetroot up into small bite-size pieces. Tear up the goat’s cheese and sprinkle on top of the beetroot.
Crush the walnuts (not very finely, leaving some larger chunks) and add them to the bowl with the oil from the roasting tin. Whisk in the other 2 tbsp of olive oil, the red wine vinegar and the honey (you may like to add more honey or more vinegar depending on your own taste). Finish with a little salt and pepper and pour over the beetroot and goat’s cheese.
Finish by drizzling over with the last bit of honey.
Wild Mushroom Risotto
You will need:
75g unsalted butter
250g arborio risotto rice
750ml chicken stock
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
125g mixed wild mushrooms
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp fresh marjoram, chopped
75ml dry white wine
75g grated parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Put the stock in a saucepan and keep at a gentle simmer. Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan and add the finely chopped onion and garlic. Cook gently for 5-10 minutes (timings vary depending on the type of saucepan you have) until the onions are soft and translucent, but not browned. Stir in the mushrooms and herbs and cook for about 3 minutes, just to heat through, then pour in the dry white wine and turn the heat up to high. Boil hard until the wine has almost evaporated (this will stop your risotto from tasting boozy!) and stir in the uncooked rice. Fry until the rice is dry and slightly opaque.
Begin adding the stock, one ladle at a time. Be careful here!! This bit is why so many people think cooking risotto is hard. It isn’t at all, but you’ll mess it up if you don’t carefully watch it during this stage. Stir in each ladle-full of stock just as the last one has been completely absorbed by the rice. This will stop the rice from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Continue this process until you’ve used all the stock. This should take about 10 minutes. By the end, the rice should be cooked, but still quite al dente.
Turn the heat off, add the parmesan, salt and pepper, and you’ve done it! Enjoy the yummy glory!
Tin Foil Baked Sea Bass with Ginger, Spring Onion and Soy Sauce (adapted from the Itsu cook book)
You will need:
2 fillets of sea bass, weighing in at around 130g each
10 cm (a thumb-sized piece) of fresh ginger, finely sliced
1 bunch of spring onions, sliced
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
Place each sea bass fillet in the centre of a square piece of tin foil. Sprinkle the chopped ginger, spring onions and chilli over each fillet, making sure that the slices of ginger are lying across the middle of each fillet. This will make sure the flavour infuses well in the oven. Bring the edges of the pieces of tin foil together so that the sea bass fillets are each essentially wrapped in their own foil tacos (eloquent, right?) and allow a small opening at the tops. Pour in half a tablespoon of soy sauce through each opening, then press the foil together.
Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes each. Cook time will depend on the size of fillets you use – we used heavier fillets from our local fishmonger on Saturday and they ended up taking about 18 minutes – but standard fillets bought from the supermarket should only take about 10.
Unwrap each foil parcel, take off the ginger and chilli (unless you’re into eating that sort of thing) and serve your sea bass with the spring onions and some steamed veggies.
Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food Ice Cream
You will need:
About £4.50 depending on prices at your local shop.
Go to the shop, buy some Phish Food, go home and shove that glorious chocolatey-marshmallow frozen concoction in your face whilst watching a really cheesy film.