Wednesday, June 01, 2005

And it begins... Wednesday Dinner

I was going to kick off the How-To-Eat-Nigella-A-Thon with Squid with Chilli and Clams followed by Ricotta with Honey and Toasted Pine Nuts for dessert, from the Fast Food chapter. I had been going on about it for ages to anyone and everyone who would (or wouldn't) listen. And today, loads my friends were saying to me, “Ooh…looking forward to the clams? How’s the squid?”. I even got an email from England, "was thinking about your squid with clams all the way on the other side of the world, mmm!!". And so on. The plan for today was to go to the library at 9am, study all day, take the 3:30pm train to Box Hill to meet my mum, casually pick up all the ingredients for the weekend, and be home by 5, with plenty of time to spare before the 30 minutes (according to Nigella) required to make the dinner.


Well, the study bit went according to plan (no, really!), mainly because none of my friends rocked up until 11 o’clock. And after an extended lunch and an unproductive, gossipy and giggly post-lunch study-session, I got the train, and arrived at Box Hill in a timely fashion. The only problem - NO FRIKKIN CLAMS. AT ALL. We went everywhere - Coles, Safeway, Fish Pier, the two Asian fishmongers - but couldn't find any! We managed to get the more obscure stuff on my list - like figs in a jar and duck breasts - but no clams. The figs we found at Athens Greek Deli, (I seem to have been developing a taste for Greek recently...), and we got duck breasts at a poultry shop. They normally don't sell breasts separately, but the butcher cut them out of two whole ducks, sold them to us at a bargainous $20/kilo and generously chucked in the carcasses for free. I'm already salivating, dreaming of the stock they'll make...

So two whole hours after arriving at Box Hill, finally our shopping was done, and we could come home. Of course, without the clams, I went to Plan B, which meant cooking what I'd planned for Thursday night's dinner instead...

1. Duck with Orange Salsa
2. Noodles with Spring Onions, Shitake Mushrooms and Mangetouts
3. Icecream with stem ginger or figs

Like the squid & clams, tonight's menu also comes from the Fast Food chapter, which means it's (allegedly) doable in 30 minutes. No such luck, I'm afraid. I wasn't really measuring - but I listened to Daft Punk's Discovery one and a half times whilst cooking - so just over an hour in total. The lengthiness of the whole procedure is mainly due to lots of fiddly chopping. It's not difficult, but it is time consuming. 5 chillies, 6 spring onions, 1/2 a red onion, 100g mangetouts (aka snowpeas), 240g shitake mushrooms, 2 oranges, fresh coriander and mint. PHEW! Nigella says it's "serenely manageable", but after a huge day of study and stressful shopping, I wasn't feeling very serene.

Thought to self whilst chopping: "Dammit, I'm starving, Dad's back from work, the duck's already done... and I get PAID to do this crap at work!"

Anyway, the chopping paid off in the end. Dinner was delicious. It seemed like a really strange combination on paper, but on the plate, and in the mouth, it all made perfect sense. Smoky mushrooms, crisp snowpeas, dense duck meat, the sharp and refreshing salsa... Mmmm... I was also concerned about 250g of noodles for 4 people - but it ended up being the perfect amount. Duck breasts are so rich and filling that less starch is required.



All-together - check out the colour combination! It brightened up my (cold and overcast) day!


Sara Lee French Vanilla Icecream with random-Greek-brand green figs. Upon opening the jar, I was really hesitant about the figs, their incredible leathery blackness, sitting in thick sugary syrup, and was rehearsing apologies for my family in my mind... "It wasn't my idea, it was all Nigella... maybe figs in England are different from the ones we have here..." But those excuses were all uneccessary. The ice-cream was really good, and the figs were surprisingly edible. Well, more than edible - desirable, tasty, chewy, sweet, yum. Dad was really impressed. He said they tasted like some Malaysian candied fruit from his childhood.

Icecream with figs (By the way, they are green figs... if you hold them up to the light...)

As Nigella says, the figs and ice-cream are "just, delightfully, right after the zingily salsa'd duck".

I'm heading down to Victoria Market tomorrow. I need to get my hands on those damn clams!


domesticgoddess said...

way to go! sounds absolutely delicious.

still thinking about those so gonna have to go buy some myself now. hope you find them!

oh and i HAD to pick up on this comment:
..."(I seem to have been developing a taste for Greek recently...)..."


Ilana said...

Hey Sarah!!
so glad you made those noodles as i am making them later this month. your pic really inspired me. a pity about those clams... i totally know how frustrating it is to not be able to find just one blippin' ingredient you need most of all... hope you find it next ;)

looking forward to hearing more...

Spot said...

hi sarah, have been waiting for this day with salivary glands a-salivating!

the colour combo is fantastic!

this blog is gonna make kc turn me into a bigger pig than i already am. *drools*

snowdrop said...

hi sarah, this is kc from the nigella forum (but blogger knows me as snowdrop.. oh dear, you don't like pigs/pork, do you)

yes, spot (that's the O/H) and i have been awaiting this day (particularly since we cant seem to get our hands on HTE)

fantastic job, the food looks delish... glad you had such a success after the initial frustrations.. and good luck with getting the clams today!