Super Simple Sunday Supper
served with Roast Rosemary Potatoes
Weekends are meant for rest. My weekends however, are usually chock-a-block with all the things I want to do but don’t have time for during the week. This weekend was a nicely packed one, with nary a minute to spare between attending lunchtime parties, giving my dog his weekly bath, changing a couple of light bulbs at home (they all uncannily blew out at the same time), catching a theatre production, doing the weekend grocery shopping and attending cooking class. My fingers however, were itching to do some real cooking again, since of late, my kitchen adventures have strictly been limited to baking.
Given the tight schedule, I turned to Jamie Oliver, he of the ‘just a lad in the kitchen’ persona, for his minimum fuss, simple recipes. From his book Happy Days with the Naked Chef, I elected to make Chicken Breast Baked in a Bag with Mushrooms, Butter, White Wine and Thyme. This could not have been easier. It basically involved mixing all of the above ingredients (the mushrooms were a mix of fresh button, shitake and dried porcini) plus garlic, then bunging it into a giant bag constructed with aluminum foil (double bagged for safety) and baking it in a very hot oven for 25 minutes. The result – delectably moist and tender chicken flavoured and complemented by the harmonious mixture of the mushrooms, wine, butter, garlic and thyme. I would have been a bit less liberal with the porcini mushrooms which were very strong (I was greedy and put in a really big handful since the recipe mentioned one handful but didn’t specify how large it should be!), used better white wine (I bought a really cheap bottle, and it showed), and perhaps thrown in a dash of sea salt to bring out the flavour, but Mr UnProfessional Chef loved it and I was reasonably pleased at the result of a mere hour of cooking (including chopping, baking and cleaning up).
Alongside this and prepared within that same hour, I served Roast Rosemary Potatoes, the first (of hopefully many!) recipe I decided to try from The Zuni Café Cookbook. Again, so straightforward, it is impossible to mess this up. Potatoes (peeled or not, depending on how lazy one feels – I was very lazy) cut into about 2-3 cm irregular chunks, parboiled in salted water for about 10 minutes, then tossed with copious amounts of extra virgin olive oil, a stalkful of bruised rosemary, spread over a baking tray and thrown into the oven alongside the chicken to roast for about 20 – 25 minutes till the outer edges are browned and crisp. I sprinkled a little fleur de sel (another treasure brought home from Borough Market) over the potatoes while they were roasting too, just for fun. They turned out gorgeous. Hot and crisp on the outside and meltingly fluffy on the inside and just infused enough with the salt and perfume of the rosemary leaves. Best of all, this is definitely the simplest and quickest method of roasting potatoes I have come across. The method is a keeper.
Spurred on by the effortlessness of preparing dinner, I decided to go one further and make dessert. Again, very appropriately titled Easy Peasy Sticky Date Toffee Pudding, a recipe I learnt recently from Shermay Lee at her cooking school. I didn’t bring out my mixer for this one, just a bowl and a good spatula were sufficient. Brown sugar, flour, one egg, milk, melted butter and vanilla essence were mixed together before adding in chopped dates (I just used a pair of kitchen scissors to snip the dates directly into the batter). This mixture was poured into a pudding dish, then topped with brown sugar, more butter and a significant amount of boiling water (yes, you read that right). This eventually cooked into a beautiful, simmering bowl of sweet, gooey pudding – perfect for a winter night. Well, it isn’t exactly winter here, but with the seasonal monsoon bringing a lovely cool breeze to our apartment this time of year, the warm pudding topped with a dab of crème fraiche was a perfect ending to our simple Sunday night supper.