Monday, 30 March 2009

My dissertation's done! The weather's getting tantalisingly spring-like! And if I keep ending sentences with exclamation marks it will camouflage the fact that Mike and I were unable to go on our holiday yesterday because I lost my passport! Ahem.

30. Sweet Chilli Tofu (Tofu x 4) was the last B.D. (Before Deadline) meal I made - I picked it because it looked like it would take all of about ten minutes to make, and I wasn't far off. Really the recipe's just for a sauce, which you make by heating together fish sauce, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, tomato purée, a chopped tomato, garlic, star anise, sugar and water. I didn't have a tomato to hand so I just upped the purée a bit, handily making this a storecupboard meal. Anyway, once that's taken care of you just fry tofu 'steaks' until golden on both sides, and pour over the sauce to serve. I'd cooked some rice, too, because my appetite's not quite as minimalst as Jill's sometimes seems to be.

Full points for speed and ease, and pretty damned good marks for taste, too. I might use a liittle bit less tomato purée less time, but then again I did boost the quantities of that to make up for my lack of fresh tomato; keeping to the specified amount would probably have been better. Oh, and I made a full batch of the sauce even though I only used about 2/3 of the tofu specified - as you can see the amount of sauce still wasn't over generous, so I'd stick with full quantities in the future.

Mike says: "As some of you more regular readers may remember, I actually used to be a bit of tofu. So I have a certain fondness for it. This is definitely a superb way to get a bit of a tofu fix, even if you are a die hard 'I don't eat anything but meat' bastard."

31. Tuscan Bean Soup (Soupy Food) was the first A.D.L. meal (Anno Dissertation Liberatus - In the Year of Dissertation Freedom. Admittedly this is a form of Latin which exists only in my head). You chop, slice or shred a lot (and I really do mean a lot - even using the food processor, chopping stupor began to set in) of vegetables, add some stock, bay leaves and tomato purée, and finally stir through some white beans, some of which you've mashed to a paste. I had a hazy idea that 'white beans' were a specific variety, but - the selection at Sainsbury's having disagreed with me - I decided it must just mean any old beans that were white, and went for cannellini.

Meh. (With such articulateness at my fingertips how can my dissertation possibly fail to impress?) I was hoping for something along the lines of the flavoursome Winter Greens with Chicken and Beans as many of the ingredients were similar, but this was quite nothing-y. At the time I couldn't think what would elevate it, but now I'm leaning towards slithers of bacon or cured meat to add intensity of flavour and a salty savouriness. Also, I misjudged quantities - having become a bit wary of portion sizes in Lighten Up, and thinking "hey, it's only soup after all, how filling can it be?", I stuck with the original four-person amounts, and even after Mike and I had had two generous servings each there was still plenty left.

Still, hopefully tastier things are just around the corner! I think my subconscious must have been feeling culinarily deprived over the last couple of weeks - the other night I dreamt that I was at Nigella Lawson's for tea, and she was serving us Fox's packet biscuits and a cake from the Co-op. My subconscious is apparently much more tolerant than my waking self, because instead of thinking "what a swiz!" I decided she was being amusingly ironic.

Mike says: "This one could have done with some more colour in it, perhaps cherries? Na, that would be disgusting. Thought it was a bit bland actually, but it had Tuscan beans in which sound cool."

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