Happy end of March! It is finally beginning to feel like spring and it has improved my mood so much.
Since my last post I caught covid. For the first time! I am happy to report that I was fine. It felt like I had a bad cold, and even though my fever went on for quite a few days, I was never ill enough to have to stay in bed, and was able to work from home. When my fever was ending, my taste and smell went. I'm not sure if it was a proper covid loss of taste and smell because my sinuses felt very blocked and I could smell things faintly if I tried to breathe deliberately through my sinuses. Still, it made food taste pretty boring for a while. Thankfully I was lucky and my taste and smell have made a full recovery. I had to pause cooking recipes for a while, but now I'm back on track.
I don't remember too much about the recipes I made pre-covid. Either it was too long ago, or I have filed them away in a different corner of my brain, so bear with me.
Jamie's Mexican-inspired black bean bake
I was a bit uncertain before making these because I have been stung by Jamie recipes before. Things that sound promising end up being tasteless. However, I remember being pleasantly surprised by these. They were tasty! I couldn't find frozen peppers so I substituted in fresh, with no difficulty. To my mind, one tortilla doesn't make a meal, so I ate a plain tortilla on the side, to mop up all the sauce.
Crispy roast chicken thighs with beetroot and chickpea salad
It seems I had entirely blocked this meal from my memory, so seeing the picture of it was a journey. I think I had assumed it was some kind of fever dream? It wasn't bad it was just... a really unusual combination. The beetroot salad was nice enough, I think; I'm not the world's biggest fan of beetroot, but I don't remember any complaints. The chicken was just plain old chicken. I think the pitta crisps were the nicest part, because they were good and crunchy. The recipe seemed to assume that a few pitta pieces were enough carbs for me, but they weren't so I served it with rice.
Mackerel and red lentil fusilli with creamy pepper sauce
This was my first recipe post-covid and it was a triumph! I'm not sure if it was a very tasty recipe or if I was just really excited to taste food again. (To be honest, the excitement to taste food again hasn't left me yet, one month later.) Either way, the recipe was very enjoyable: an easy recipe that is surprisingly tasty for the few ingredients in it. I made this during the time when peppers and salad vegetables were hard to come by in the UK. I couldn't find a red pepper, but I felt very proud of myself for finding an orange pepper instead. My only complaint with this recipe is that this is yet another one from the Tesco website that refuses to feed me carbs. (To me, lentils are not carbs.) Please, I need carbs to live; why are you doing this to me? I had it with a pitta bread on the side and was still hungry afterwards. It was my first time trying lentil pasta and, if I ignored the lack of carbs, I was impressed. Lentil pasta is a bit harder than normal pasta and slightly lentilly in taste, but passes very well for normal pasta when it has a sauce on it. I can see how it could be a good option for people who can't eat gluten, but just, make sure you're getting enough carbs on the side.
Roast chicken Kyiv
This recipe is a bit mad. It is trying to turn a whole roast chicken into a chicken Kyiv. You cover the whole bird in garlic butter (and I am still inexperienced enough that spreading butter under the skin of a chicken feels weird and disgusting) and then roast it. Instead of gravy, you serve the chicken with the drippings, which are pretty much pure garlic butter, and top with breadcrumbs which have been toasted in more garlic butter. I am sure this is not going to be good for you if you eat that amount of butter all the time. But for a one-off it's delicious. I love a chicken Kyiv and this actually tasted like one! If you were to ask me if I wanted to eat chicken soaked in garlic butter, the answer will always be yes please.
Salmon, leek and dill tartlets
I am happy with the way these turned out! Making them was more of an experience than originally intended. I couldn't find pre-made tart cases like the recipe asked for, so I bought some pre-rolled pastry and some baking beans and decided to bake some myself. Alas, the pre-rolled pastry was thicker than that of pre-made tarts and I didn't think to roll it out further, so even though I had bought the right weight of pastry, I didn't have enough pastry to fill more than 5 holes in my muffin tin. I knew I would be making fewer tarts than the recipe says, because my muffin tin is probably bigger than pre-made tart cases would be. But 5 is so few! In the end, I decided to cut the pastry smaller than the holes on the muffin tin; this meant I got 12 tarts in total (score!) but they also ended up misshapen because they were so far down in the tin there was no easy way to trim the edges neatly. With 12 tarts I still had some salmon mixture leftover, so I baked that in a couple of ramekins. While baking the tarts and ramekins I had a very Bake Off moment, when I realised I had forgotten to add the dill to the mixture! I took the tarts out of the oven and tried to stir the dill into each one. Oddly enough, it actually worked. Special mention also goes to the tinned salmon. I knew that taking the bones out of the salmon would be long and tiring, and I wasn't wrong. But I had even more of a problem when my can opener broke while I tried to open the can. I did get the can open eventually by holding the can opener together and whispering please please please please please under my breath while salmon juice poured everywhere; it's not an experience I'd like to repeat. After that, I think forgetting the dill is excusable. As for the taste, these were nice but not spectacular. I don't know if it's possible to introduce lemon juice to an egg and cream mixture without curdling it, but that's what would have taken the taste of these to the next level.