This morning was a lot of fun; playgroup was cancelled today because the church hall was being used as a polling station, so I invited a friend and her little boy over instead. After playing in the garden, dressing up (and just a teeny bit of gossiping), we all had lunch together. I'd prepared Chicken Strips and made some garlic mayo to go with, plus we had bread, olives and all sorts of salad bits. I brought out some Chocolate Muffins for pudding. Chris trotted off to school with a full tummy and a big grin on his face. I only hope he wasn't too exhausted.
We've had, for the most part, a truly gorgeous afternoon. I took the opportunity to do a bit of pootling about in the garden, putting a trellis on the side of the shed for my sweet peas, weeding the patio pots and cutting dandelions from the lawn to bring indoors. Why is that that so many people seem to think of dandelions as a weed? They're one of my favourite garden flowers and look just like their name; a 'dandy' lion. If a flower could be a diva, this one would...a flashy, brassy cabaret of a flower. They are now sitting in an old Shippams fish-paste jar that we dug up when we moved in and started clearing the garden.
Tonight's dinner had a vaguely Oriental feel to it, but as usual it was inauthentically so. The first course is inspired by those lovely steamed dumplings, stuffed with char siu, that you get with dim sum.
Hoisin Pork Rolls
250g pork mince
6 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp tomato pureé
Fry the mince until browned, then stir in the hoisin sauce and tomato pureé. Leave the filling to cool while you make the bread dough.
3/4 tsp active dry yeast
400g strong white (bread) flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
300ml warm water
Mix together and knead to make a soft dough. Leave to rise until doubled, then knock back and divide into 12. Flatten the pieces into discs and place a blob of filling in the centre, then pull the edges up to cover it completely. Place the rolls on an oiled baking sheet, dust with flour and leave to rise again for half an hour or so. Bake at 200°c for 15-20 minutes until puffy and tinged with brown.
The main course was these chicken pieces, doused in a marinade and left in the fridge earlier today, before being blasted in the oven tonight, accompanied by rice and a cucumber salad.
10-12 chicken thighs or drumsticks (or both!)
4 tbsp sunflower oil
4 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
2 tbsp garlic vinegar
1 tsp ground ginger
Whisk all the marinade ingredients together, then turn the chicken pieces in the mixture and leave them to soak up the flavours for a few hours. When dinner time is looming, lift the pieces out and place them on a rack over a baking tray, then cook at 200°c for 30-40 minutes, until cooked through, crisp and burnished.