Hurdy Gurdy (HG), aka the captain of the cruise ship, is missing me dreadfully-sorry, i am missing him dreadfully. (note to self-swap the Zinfandel for lemonade..) Why HG? Anyone old enough to remember the Muppets will remember the Swedish chef who was always fruitlessly chasing de chekans with a meat cleaver. Well, HG's accent was a zillion times stronger. After his initial address every morning in wonderfully mangled but perfect English, he then repeated it in Norwegian, and to be honest, i couldn't understand him then either. Did i care? With those grey eyes and that tattoo?-like hell i did. I even smuggled a photo into my handbag from the photo gallery that he had had taken with some nondescript 5 year old and was intending to ruthlessly take the scissors to it when my sister Louise, who unfortunately knows me better than myself, made me put it back, much to my chagrin. Thank God my siblings have some morals, god knows mine are sadly lacking. When it comes to fantasising about cruise ship captains, my heinousness knows no bounds...Fine for her, she came home to a gorgeous man and 2 equally gorgeous children-i came home to exploding nectarines, and some furry Gubbeen cheese and salami, which, having been left by the front door for a hot week (don't ask), had developed a somewhat confrontational attitude.
The good news is that, having put on a pound for every day i was away, i am now losing a pound. God but my body works in mysterious ways and perhaps at the ripe old age of 39(ahem) i should just accept it.
2 of my favourite people are leaving the hospital and there is a big bash for them tomorrow nite.The Rubber Band is comprised solely of Cork hospital consultants who, when they're not out there earning gazillions of Euros every month, play the most amazingly brilliant gigs. Criostoir, the lead with an ego the size of the Rockies naturally, comes straight from the operating theatre. Funnily this man looks completely eatable in a suit and is far less noticeable in civvies. Is that the same with all men in uniform? Oh i feel a Carrie moment coming on....
Anyway this is all to say that i am having a proper dinner tonight cos tomorrow's dinner is going to consist mainly of Carlsberg. I adapted this recipe from the the Allen babe who makes my teeth grind involuntarily every time i see her on the telly (what, me, jealous?)
Get a large piece of squash (I use butternut) and peel and chop it into 1" pieces. Chop a few cloves of garlic and an onion. Fry all of these gently in a large saucepan. Grate a thumb sized piece of ginger and chop a small red or green chilli, seeds and all. Bash about 2 stalks of lemongrass (don't used the stuff in the jar-it's so bad it's not worth it and lemongrass stalks keep for ages in the fridge) and set aside. Open a can of coconut milk. I use the lite version-works the same believe me. Chop a bunch of coriander (cilantro). The most important ingredient is cardomon seeds. I procured somewhere the seeds themselves a while back and can't for the life of me remember where-which is a pity cos i'm going to run out soon and will have to resort to using the pods. If you have to, throw in about 10-and count them!! (Don't use black cardomon seeds, different baby entirely). They will float to the top and you can ladle them out and remove the seeds easily and crush them in a pestle and mortar (or under a rolling pin) and then throw them back in.
Anyway, your onion and garlic mix is frying away merrily so now add in all the other stuff except the milk and half the coriander. Stir around for about 5 minutes. this is all on a gentle to moderate heat. At this point you can also add whatever you're having yourself: a finely chopped carrot, courgettes (zucchini), peppers etc. Add the milk and some chicken stock.Ok i hear you say, what am I? a domestic goddess that i'd have this to hand? Chicken stock is easy-if you cook a roast of any kind (tho chicken is best cos it's the blandest) at the weekend, throw whatever bones and gravy is left into a saucepan and add a fair bit of water. Cook up, strain and then put into the fridge. Guaranteed you will find a use for it during the week if you're even halfway into cooking.
Ok so don't cook this soupy thing too long-anything with these kinds of ingredients doesn't need the French casserole treatment. Take out the lemon grass and zap with a purieestab (sorry, only know the German-a hand held blender thingy-that any good?). Don't zap too much. At this stage i throw in fresh spinach just for the sheer hell of it and let the left over heat just about cook it. It freezes brilliantly-which is why i'm eating it this evening-natch!