Thursday, July 17, 2008

empty plates

At a weak moment, I agreed to house sit for my manager. To water her plants and cat-sit her handsome but not too bright cat. This could backfire on me, considering the work relationship my manager and I have. The thought has brought on the munchies, or perhaps its the nasty weather we have here at the moment. I am in a chocolate pudding, oily pasta with meaty aubergines mood. Mr T (my German boyfriend) is coming over for dinner tonight. Good timing is all I can say. Empty plates was the result. Now I have to clean up and feed the cat.

I have only just been living in her little cute cottage for a week. It feels like forever and reminders of my manager are everywhere. At the same time, I am enjoying playing house a little and having my own space for a while, even if it comes with a spoilt, tuxedo-ed cat (who is rather cute but I am not a feline fan really).

Mr T loves it when I cook for him. I love to cook for him as well, it gives me a chance to try out something, to just relax and unwind over yummy smells and simmering pots. Tonight its a simple meal: chicken fillets grilled with potato chickpea salad.

The chicken fillets were marinated in tomato paste, salt and pepper and lemon juice and grilled. The new potatoes were scrubbed, some peeled (for the benefit of Mr T who doesn't understand the fibre benefits of potato skins) and boiled until tender. These were then added to a salad of peppers, cherry tomatoes, raw sugar snap peas (something I adore and use all the time) and chickpeas. The dressing was simply wholegrain mustard, lemon juice, oregano, olive oil and white wine vinegar. Voila! (no photos as yet, need to get my act together with this)

Yesterday: 29th July
Mr T came over again (this post has been expanding since the 22nd when I was in the cottage for a week). This time, I felt in the mood for something spicy and wintry. I remember Mom used to make a meaty, gravy-laden sausage stew with tender veg on a bed of rice for us when we were small. Dad still moans that we never get it anymore in the winter. Mom's excuse that she can't find sausages robust enough to withstand being in a stew and keeping their shape. I decided to give it a try and that mine would be more to my Mediterranean taste: LOTS of tomatoes, some heat from spicy sausages, earthiness from paprika. The result was my take on sausage stew and my first attempt at writing down a recipe (no accurate measures though I'm afraid, I wing it when I cook).

1 large clove of garlic
1 small-medium onion (I'm not a big fan of onions, they tend to be sour in Ireland)
1 packet (of 8) sausages.  
1 sweet pepper (whatever colour you like, I'm partial to orange or red ones)
0.5/1 aubergine/brinjal/eggplant (depending on tastes and how many you are feeding)
A good handful of button mushrooms (again depending on tastes)
1 tin of Roma plum tomatoes (does this constitute a cheat?)
A generous handful of sun-blushed tomatoes (not as bitter as fully sun-dried)
Pepper and salt to taste
2 tsps (or again to taste) Paprika
1/2 vegetable stock cube ( I cheat using this, I know)

Heat a little oil in a deep pot, add garlic and roughly chopped onion and allow to brown and wilt

Add the bitesize pieces of sausages and brown (stirring occasionally). I chose a meaty, spicy sausage from my supermarket which I thought could be cut into bitesizes and wouldn't fall apart. A butcher is better, but living in the cottage, I have limited knowledge as yet of my local village

Remove from the pan
Add to the pan the aubergine, mushrooms and pepper cut as roughly or thinly as prefered. Make sure that they are roughly the same size though for even-cooking, though it never seems to be a problem I have had.
Once browned a little, add about half an inch of water into which you had dissolved the stock cube
Simmer a little, add the sausages and onion mix, a generous amount of paprika and pepper. I found the salt wasn't needed, the stock cube usually is salty enough. 
Add the tin of tomatoes chopped and the roughly chopped sun-blush tomatoes and a pinch of sugar to counter the tomato-acidity. (I like that acidity sometimes, so I didn't bother).
Let it bubble away for about 10-15 minutes and then leave it to simmer very gently for a further 15 minutes.
I then jazzed it up with roughly cut sugar snaps towards the end, and a 1 1/2 tsps of tomato paste.
I served it with basmati rice.

There was enough for lunch today. This time I added in kidney beans instead of having it with rice. Photos will be up tomorrow. (I really need to learn to carry my camera everywhere with me!)

No comments: