Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Day 19

I absolutely couldn’t wait to write today’s post as I had super-exciting news as…wait for it…the lady herself i.e. Rachel Allen contacted me yesterday to say that she thought it was great what I was doing with the blog and that if I had any questions, to contact her! Woo-hoo! As it turns out, some of you readers were in contact with her to tell her about it (yes, you know who you are!) so thank you very much for your thoughtfulness – it absolutely made my day yesterday (and today!) and super-exciting things like that don’t normally happen me. Can’t believe it! Being as excited as I was, I tried to excel myself this evening making a last-minute dash to the supermarket en route from work.

So, tonight, I made no less than THREE recipes from the cookbook. Well, after two days of mediocre results on Saturday and Sunday, I needed to make up for it. Plus, with the heat again today (not complaining really!), I wanted to make something that wouldn’t require too much cooking and some salad-type dish with a twist. Therefore, tonight’s menu consisted for the following – Spicy prawns with feta and watermelon actually that was spicy prawns with cheddar and watermelon, Spanish mussels and Oranges with honey, pistachios and mint.

For the Spicy prawns and feta with watermelon, I replaced the feta with mild cheddar as I’d prefer it to feta. I tried to get fresh tiger prawns today but no luck so I used frozen jumbo prawns from M&S as I always have a stock of them in the freezer. The prawns had to marinate in a mixture of garlic, chopped ginger, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground fennel, sesame oil, Tabasco sauce and soft light brown sugar for 15 minutes. I couldn’t get ground fennel in the supermarket (if there is such a thing!) so I ground up fennel seeds using my pestle and mortar.

Meanwhile, I made the salad part which consisted of watermelon, lime, chopped basil, mint and, as I said, I replaced the feta with mild cheddar. Also, I didn’t include the olives as neither me nor Dear Husband like them and I don’t like to be wasteful so there was no point in including them. All the ingredients were mixed together and then I set the dish in the fridge while I prepared the next dish which was…
Oranges with pistachios and mint which were super-easy to prepare. Freshly sliced oranges dressed with honey, fresh mint, a pinch of cinnamon and chopped pistachios. Then, it was onto the Spanish mussels. I must add that it was at this point that Dear Husband’s friend (same one from last night) phoned and enquired as to what was on the menu and when Dear Husband told him that it was mussels et al., he said mussels were his favourite food and was going to call by on his way home from work which was great because there was no way Dear Husband would be able to eat a full kilo of mussels!

It took quite a bit of time to clean, scrub and ‘de-beard’ the mussels but the ones I had were smaller than the ones in the picture of the cookbook. There I was out with the latex gloves (again!) as this would not be my favourite thing to do! Once I got that part over me, the rest of the recipe was plain sailing. I sliced a chorizo sausage and then fried it in rapeseed oil for about 4 minutes. I then added 120ml of wine – yes, I actually went out and bought a bottle of red and white for my recipes. I flung in the mussels, covered them with a lid and let them steam for about 5 minutes. Once done, I tossed them into a large bowl and garnished them with fresh parsley.

I threaded 4 prawns onto a skewer stick and ended up with around 10 skewers but Dear Husband kept coming into the kitchen and lifting them while I was finishing the second batch on the griddle pan. Well, after all that, this is what the grand finale looked like…

The verdict…

It is with great pleasure that I announce that I have finally reached the holy grail of this challenge thus far by achieving a perfect 10 out 10 for at least one dish! First of all from Dear Husband’s friend for the mussels as he said they were the nicest mussels he’d ever had. Dear Husband gave them 9 out of 10 but then revised (upon reflection) and gave them 10 marks too! Yay!!! Overall, Dear Husband said the whole meal was 9 out of 10. Individual scores were: mussels (10 out of 10); prawns (8 out of 10); salad (8 out of 10); and oranges (7 out of 10). Thank God for that. I am still obsessing about the meringues to the point that today I went out and bought one of those wee individual oven thermometers as I am now convinced that there is a disparity between the oven dial and what the actual temperature is in the oven and that was the reason for the disaster meringues.

Getting back to tonight’s dishes, I really, really liked the salad part which was the perfect anecdote to this fine summery weather we’re having. The oranges were divine for something that was so simple to make.

So, will I make these dishes again? Definitely!!! I was so surprised at how well everything turned out and I am glad that I had an independent taster tonight to verify the magical 10! All in all, the past two days have more than made up for my weekend performances and, I think that the following quote by Mark Twain is befitting of my achievements tonight which says “When one has tasted it he knows what the angels eat”. I’d like to think I cooked a wee bit of Heaven tonight…

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