Monday, 5 March 2007

Friends to Stay

So, our eldest son's godfather and his partner visited us this weekend and as usual I spent ages thinking about the food. I cooked a big chilli with all the trimmings (rice, tortilla chips, cheese, guacamole, soured cream) for when they arrived on Friday evening. We drank some San Miguel beer, which I love, with it.

On Saturday, poor hubby had to work, but the rest of us relaxed and played with the boys in the morning. For lunch I had decided to make a big couscous salad, based on the one that I concocted from the leftovers in my Mum & Dad's fridge a week or so ago.

Couscous Salad

200g couscous
400ml chicken stock
handful cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red pepper, deseeded and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
150g Lancashire cheese, broken into smallish pieces
chopped parsley
olive oil and ground black pepper

Put the couscous into a large bowl and pour over the hot stock. Leave to soak while you get everything else ready. Break up the couscous with a fork, then stir in the vegetables, cheese and parsley. Dress the salad with a little olive oil and season with pepper.

This served 3 adults and a two-year-old, with enough left over for my lunch today.

After lunch we went to Aberystwyth, the sunshine was glorious, even if it was cold. We went to the brilliant Ultracomida delicatessen and bought some cheese for that evening; a nice slice of Morbier and a gorgeous little round of Pico.

That evening, we four 'grown-ups' (ha!) sat down to 'Green Beans with Anchovy & Soft Egg' (from a BBC Good Food magazine cutting), followed by Lamb in Puff Pastry with Port & Redcurrant Sauce with some little boiled potatoes and a salad. We finished with Nigella Lawson's Gin & Tonic Jelly (from 'How To Be A Domestic Goddess'). Fabulous. We drank a good quantity of Hardy's Crest Shiraz between us, and had some cheese, and a little port, to round off the evening.

Because hubby had decided to roast a chicken on Sunday evening, I made tomato soup for lunch, which is something I serve regularly when visitors have to leave; most people travel a long way to see us and don't like to drive on an overly full stomach.

This recipe makes enough for four adults (and the same two-year-old!), with some bread and cheese to accompany it. You can freeze any soup you don’t want to eat straight away, or it will keep in the fridge for 3 days. I get the herbs from the garden, but put a pinch of dried mixed herbs in with the onion instead if you like.

Simple Tomato Soup

drizzle olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (or just use garlic olive oil)

1 400g can chopped tomatoes
½ pint chicken or vegetable stock

¼ pint milk (full-fat is best)
1 tbsp tomato purée

1 bay leaf & a few sprigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Gently cook the onion until soft, but not coloured, then add the garlic, herbs, tomatoes and tomato purée. Stir well, then pour in the stock and milk. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and cook for 15 minutes. Liquidise the soup (I use my hand-held electric blender), then taste the soup and season it to your liking.

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