This Blog Ain't Big Enough For The Two Of Us

I know that once I've written this post, it will probably be used by Tim as ammunition against me whining about always doing all the cooking. (This isn't really real whining, because I think we all know that I actually really enjoy doing the cooking and am also a bit of a control freak in the kitchen, so it's hard for people to help even if they want to). In fact, me whining is exactly how this recipe became Tim's "specialty". And he's rather proud of the fact that he 'improved' on the original Nigella method. But who am I to stop my boyfriend basking in the warm glow of his own cooking, especially when it means he does do the cooking.

Chicken and Chorizo Traybake 
Kind of from Nigella Lawson's Kitchen

Preheat your oven to 200°c.
Get 2-3 chicken thighs for each person eating, 1 or 2 big U-shaped Chorizo sausages, and some baby new potatoes (I guess allow 7-8 per person, depending how big your potatoes and portions are). 

Chop up a red onion or two, and grab 5 garlic cloves. Cut the chorizo into chunky pieces. 

Put the chicken, chopped onion, unpeeled garlic cloves and potatoes (cut the bigger ones in half) on a big baking tray in a single layer, and drizzle some olive oil over. Grate the zest of one orange in, and then squeeze some of the juice over. Using your hands, mix everything up.

Put the tray into the preheated oven. It takes an hour to cook, but after half an hour, take the tray out and tuck in the chorizo pieces between the chicken thighs. Sprinkle with chopped coriander when done.

We had the chicken with some green salad and also an amaaaazing beetroot salad. Even if I don't finish my growing pile of university work early, which is what I am meant to be doing right now, this trip will have been worth it just for me to find out that I love beetroot. Before this, I have only knowingly bought and eaten that vile pre-packaged Tesco beetroot cooked in vinegar, which I can honestly say tastes like pickled mud. So if you think you don't like beetroot, do yourself a favour and find some raw, unpeeled beetroot. Peel it yourself, slice it thinly and dress it in a honey, mustard and lemon dressing, and try it.

The cooking was Tim's sort-of mother's day present to his mum (although she made the beetroot salad), because we're staying at his family's house over the Easter break. Feeling left out from cooking is not something I really like, so I volunteered dessert. I attempted some vague continuity of the Spanish-y theme with flan, or as it's better known, creme caramel.

Not the prettiest of puddings, or even of creme caramels, but it was pretty good. I used a Delia recipe (classic), so I suppose it was basically foolproof.

Creme Caramel
from Delia Smith's How to Cook (book 2)

For the caramel:
175g white caster sugar

For the custard:
150ml whole milk
275ml single cream
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

You'll need a pretty deep soufflé dish, or something similar which is around 13 cm wide and 8 cm deep. You'll also need a deep roasting tray which the soufflé dish will fit into.

Preheat your oven to 150°c. Put the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Slowly melt the sugar, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until it is the colour and consistency of dark runny honey.

At this point, take it off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of hot water, carefully, as it can sputter right at you! If the caramel has re-crystallised, just return to the heat and stir until re-melted.

Quickly pour two-thirds of the caramel into the bottom of the soufflé dish and swirl around so that the bottom is fully covered.

Add the milk and cream to the saucepan with the remaining caramel still in it, and put it over a gentle heat. The caramel will have solidified at this point, so you need to patiently re-melt it and whisk it into the milk and cream. This can take up to 10-15 minutes, so seriously, don't rush it - you don't want to boil your cream.

When the caramel is incorporated into the milk and cream, take it off the heat. Whisk up the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the eggs while whisking constantly so they don't scramble. When the eggs and milk have all amalgamated together, pour this mixture into the soufflé dish.

Place the soufflé dish into the roasting tray, then fill the tray with warm water coming up to two-thirds of the height of the dish. Put this in the preheated oven for 1 hour 15 minutes. It should be set but still have a slight wobble in the centre.

Once it has cooled, chill it in the fridge, preferably overnight, but at least for 4 hours. Carefully loosen the edges with a knife, place a plate on top and swiftly but determinedly turn over onto the plate.

That seems like long recipe, but it honestly is really easy. And actually, the only real cooking I've done in a while. I will try and do some more, but these essays! Work really is just such an obstruction to life. I know my parents would say that work is what my life should be about as a student, but there isn't enough time in a day.

But I have had time to read a book, just one. And if you have any time at all and are even remotely interested in food and/or the world, you should make this your one book to read. It is a very short book, and also written so well that it just flies by you. In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan is what I'm talking about, and it is amazing. I have become slightly scarily evangelical about it and will tell anyone who will listen to read it, so please do.