tv dinners

watercooler chat about what’s on TV and what you had for dinner last night

Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

As camp as Christmas

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Ah Nigella. After the luke warm reception to Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen last year I was suprised to hear she was back with a Christmas book and more shows – but why was I worried? The trio of Nigella Christmas shows (~ to accompany the very nice book of course) are perfectly camp, cheery and properly jolly but not sentimental, and whilst Nigella gives tips it’s not in a military campaign vibe – for that see Delia or Fanny Craddock’s xmas shows. Funnily Nigella mentions Fanny’s tip for lighting with pudding with vodka, which flames for longer. If you’ve never seen Fanny’s set of Christmas recipe and green dyed piped mashed potatoes serving platter you need to immediately, here, or on UKFood on cable TV, which is currently repeating every Christmas cooking special on earth.

So Nigella has well and truly found a niche – where to from Christmas? In her blog Nigella recommends Outnumbered, I concurr.

In other TV? Desperate Housewives is still ridiculous and low maintenance enough to enjoy. Survivors is wooden and I can’t see how it’s going to end satisfactorily in two more episodes. Heroes I’m liking again – but now that Elle’s dead, I dunno.

Damages seems to be returning to our screens. Let me give you a run down of shows you should be watching this Christmas, on DVD. Californication, Damages, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, 30Rock (also being repeated on five late at night but best watched chronologically with a little patience for the Pilot and ep. 2) and the latest series of Lost.

Written by Victoria

December 21, 2008 at 1:05 am


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If you’re managing to BBQ this week, the weather seems determined to wimp out by 5pm, don’t you think? then try this salad.

Now that the Olympics are here, TV is really going to be patchy.

At least the opening ceremony had something new, even if you don’t think China should be hosting the Olympics you’ve got to admit a middle-ages gymnast running around the stadium in the middle of the sky, torch still flaming, was pretty cool, even if he did get ahead of the unfurling screen graphics at one point, the ultimate cigarette lighting of the huge torch (which I’m sure will help ease the smog), was more than expected, even Huw Edwards got carried away calling it the best opening ever.

When else are you going to see thousands of people mimicking doves flying too? Beats a mexican wave anytime.

Written by Victoria

August 8, 2008 at 11:53 pm

Posted in Recipes, TV

Pavement, how fitting.

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Tonight we popped into Liverpool to see the tall ships whilst dinner was cooking (free range chicken portions and chunks of potato and kumara roasted with olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper for 70 minutes at 200 degrees C).

So the TV for the dinner tonight was Top Gear, and the show was same old, same old: funny, annoying, funny, offensive, then out of nowhere, the incidental music for Jeremy and James’ 25K luxury car segment was Pavement, Jackals, False Grails: The Lonesome Era. I suppose it’s fitting, but so random, as it’s over 16 years old and was never a hit to start with, despite retrospective admiration.

Anyway, after that bombshell, here’s another – I think I may actually like one of the Dragon’s Den ‘judges’, Mr Peter Jones. No, not because he’s tall, you see Top Gear is the second media exposure I’ve had to Mr Jones this month, and he comes across so much better than he does on the show, where he seems to be fixated by suits and workwear (does he have an investment in formal attire I have to wonder…). So, Mr Jones is planning to give his children their fortune (i.e. his hard earned cash) by annually match funding whatever they can earn, and even tripling it if they decide to go into a worthy, but modestly paid profession. Intriguing.

All the same, will I be watching the new series of Dragon’s Den? Don’t know, as I can’t stand the poor sods being torn down plus the new promo is awful. As someone trying to launch a business though, I suppose I better.

Written by Victoria

July 20, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Posted in Recipes, TV

The Goodies

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Lab rats

Ok, so it’s a little wincy, but Lab Rats is good, solid, British comedy. The female characters are interesting for once and Chris Addison is charming as ever. It reminds me of the Goodies, and I like it, so there.

 The Colbert Report 

If you don’t have FX, you can watch the Colbert Report online. And you should. It’s brilliant satire, and the UK has nothing to touch it at the moment.

Fraid there’s little else on at the moment, plus I’ve got Sky Movies for the next three months. Any suggestions for shows to watch/look out for?

In other news, I’ve been baking.

Written by Victoria

July 18, 2008 at 2:07 am

Posted in Recipes, TV

Almost-summer Pasta Salad

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1 jar sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced or chopped

1-2 tBsp red wine vinegar

salt, pepper

Basil or other fresh herbs like parsley, oregano

Grated parmesan.

Pasta of your choice, at the moment I love Sainsbury’s fresh Fusilli which cooks in 4 minutes.

To make it

Chop 6-8 sun dried tomatoes roughly and then put into a mini chopper/food processor with the garlic, red wine vinegar, seasoning and some of the olive oil from your jar of tomatoes (you could just use extra virgin olive oil if you prefer).

Whizz this up into a dressing to toss over the freshly drained pasta (it’s important you don’t leave the pasta to dry out).

Leave to cool slightly then add some more roughly chopped sun dried tomatoes and if you like, olives, capers, toasted pine nuts etc for texture.

Before you serve, stir in roughly chopped basil and grated parmesan.

Almost-summer Pasta Salad

This is so nice warm and even better cold, days later from the fridge!

Written by Victoria

April 30, 2008 at 1:10 am

Posted in Recipes

Afternoon delight

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Why is BBC2 showing double bills of Arrested Development at 10 to midnight? Great if you can tape it, but otherwise what a waste. Why do all the decent American shows the BBC buy get shelved after 11pm? There really must be an unwritten agreement that British programming needs to be prime time, to simply increase the ratings, which isn’t fair play, or a good use of the licensing fee. Catch them if you can though, last night had Michael (Jason Bateman) embarking on a kareoke session with his young niece Maebe which goes awry when the lyrics of “Afternoon Delight” turn out to be dirtier than you’d think.

The Apprentice ep. 2 Frankly the girls team is too depressing to say much about. Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe did a brilliant take on how these reality shows manipulate the contestants but I honestly think the girls team leader, Jenny, was ruthless enough to join the Damages cast and the boys, despite their class-jesting, seem to have pulled together, their good spirits noticed by Adrian Chiles, revealing too much maybe of his version of homo-erotic behaviour – a pat on the back, some gurning and bad dancing.

Jools later and live or whatever

I wish he wouldn’t. It’s great that the show is live now I thought, that means less pointless interviews and circus ringmaster/Oprah style bellowing of band names but no, even on the shorter Tuesday night version Jools manages to sneak in Lenny Henry doing nothing at a table in the crowd. This inbreeding isn’t cool on Harry Hill and it’s really awkard here. Speaking of relationships though, Jools must love Adele as she’s back, singing the same song, again! At least there were the Only Ones. You’ve got to wonder when the next generation of BBC TV presenters are going to break through.

Tonight’s TV Dinner – Pesto Chicken Pasta

This takes 10 minutes to get on the table..

350gm skinned chicken breast – cut into strips like you would for stir fry

Garlic olive oil

Dried oregano (or basil)

Fresh parsley and grated parmesan

1 pack fresh tagliatelle pasta

Single cream – small pottle

Pesto if you have it, or pine nuts blitzed with fresh basil leaves torn off a supermarket plant. (Or forego entirely if you don’t have anything like it in the house)

1 pack green beans (french/dwarf) Topped, not tailed.

In a non-stick pan, stir fry the strips of chicken in a drizzle of garlic olive oil.

Put water on to boil.

When the chicken is browned, sprinkle over a heaped teaspoon of dried oregano and season. Lower the heat.

Boil the green beans for 1 minute then put in your tagliatelle and cook per instructions – usually 3 mins then drain (try to keep a couple of spoonfuls of the cooking liquid in the pan)

Once the pasta is on, pour in your cream, as much parmesan as you like and pesto if you have it. Season with black pepper and stir over a low heat to warm the cream through. Alternatively you could just use the pesto.

Toss the sauce through the drained pasta and add a big handful of chopped parsley.

Serve with extra parmesan on top and stir through cherry tomatoes and baby spinach too for freshness.

Written by Victoria

April 4, 2008 at 1:37 am

Posted in Recipes, TV

Delia, your biggest problem is not the ‘frigging cling film’

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I’ve mellowed in the last week or two towards Delia, but not her new series.

A lot of criticism has been heaped on the ‘reality’ segments of the show, as Delia goes to friends houses, book signings, the Norwich Football Club grounds (admittedly it is toe-curling when she tries to relate, cockney accent and all, with the players in the dressing room) and I think some of it’s justified. Following Delia around to support Norwich isn’t the same as Nigella shopping for food or Jamie opening a restaurant. That said, it has been an insight into her character; how she dislikes people tasting tv food with a ‘ mmm delicious, to her nerves on doing live demonstrations, to her plucky mum who raised her alone during WW2 and her faith, too. I actually like Delia a lot more from watching the shows, even her banter with husband of 37 years, Michael, which makes the dissappointement in her new recipes even worse!

Frozen fish, vegies etc are undoubtably an asset to busy cooks. Tinned meat though? Despite Delia getting the food standards people to agree it probably has the same nutritional content, providing it’s prepared in the same way you would at home.. I’m sorry but tinned meat is awful – just think what preservatives it must contain to keep it edible. If Delia is truly concerned about people not cooking she should have produced just simple cheap meals – not fancy convenient ones that use ingredients people distrust.

Nigel Slater says she’s naughty for ‘breaking the rules’.. I’m sorry but she’s not doing anything revolutionary. Nigella has been evangelical on having a good storecupboard for years so that meals after work are easy but still tasty. Unfortunately for every good recipe, sea bass with pesto, you get a weird peruvian potato wedges with hard boiled eggs, peppers, cottage cheese sauce and olives…when everyone knows you just need sour cream and salsa with wedges. All the segments where food scientists give her the OK on her cooking methods and ingredients indicate Delia knew she was going to get flac for this new angle on cookery. I bet she’s kicking herself for not filming her Kitchen Garden book she did with Gay Search ( Jamie did it instead, much more rustic though!) – it would have been less controversial – but from the reality segments, including Delia at AGM meetings and her own admission she can’t be ‘gentle’, I don’t think she’ll be bothered. Sales are going well for the book at least and the McDonald ads on her website can’t hurt the income either.

Here’s my Easter cheat, we had a half leg of lamb (NZ of course), and it weighed just under 1kg. I slashed the skin to make two big gashes and filled them with a paste made from chopped fresh rosemary, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper. Then we remembered we had a jar of Waitrose Puttanesca in the fridge, which has anchovies, capers and olives.. so we added that too. I placed the lamb with peeled butternut squash, parnsip and just quartered potatoes in the same roasting tin and cooked it all for 1 hour in a fan oven at 200 celcius.

Easter lamb

I made a gravy by adding flour, then water to the juices in the pan, plus seasoning. ‘Mmm delicious’ Sorry Delia.

Written by Victoria

March 26, 2008 at 9:56 pm

Posted in Recipes, TV