How to cook for your housemates

Apologies dear reader for the delay in this week’s post, I know that you have been eagerly awaiting the next instalment and I do not like to disappoint so… here it is.  For this entry I thought that I would talk you through how to cook for your housemates, seeing as I have relatively recently acquired some, just in case you also have some and you need to cook for them.

I thought that it would be nice to cook for my new housemates as a very small gesture of my gratitude to them for allowing me to join them in their castle.  The date set for this extravaganza was Sunday.  I really was struggling for inspiration, sometimes I do feel like I have a few too many ideas floating around in my head.  Once again I had to take into account the limited kitchen equipment which did rather play havoc with my idea of serving something with a puree; this really isn’t the right way to go about things by the way, it’s like buying the wrapping for a gift before having purchased the gift.  Obviously this is something that I would never do…

I thought that I had decided to cook pork of some description but apparently not.  I considered taking a foray into the world of Indian cuisine after the delicious samples that were delivered to our offices from Friday from Imli on Wardour Street but my spice box is currently in storage and I was also concerned that I would be disappointed because my attempt to recreate the samples we had from Imli would be nowhere near as delightful.  I think that I really must take a trip there at some point, I’m sure that my boyfriend will not object.  My particular favourites, and coincidently my recommendations, are the Aloo Tikki Ragda, spiced potato cakes topped with chickpeas, red onion and tamarind chutney and the Amritsari fish.

But I digress.  I decided to go simple in the end: roast chicken with potatoes cooked in white wine with parsley and garlic, and spinach all rounded off with a white chocolate and passion fruit cheesecake.  Unfortunately slightly dull on paper but fortunately rather yummy on the plate.  I was once again thwarted by the local supermarche which no kidding, looked as though it had been hit by a swarm of locust – practically nothing on the shelves and more upsettingly, no thyme which was already my second choice herb as my herb of choice would have been lemon thyme but I knew that there was no chance of finding this in the shop so I had resigned myself to thyme.  Or as it happens, no thyme.  I nearly always roast my chicken in exactly the same way with a splash of olive oil in the roasting tin and then stuffed with a white onion, several lemons (quartered) and if I have procured it, a fistful of thyme.  To follow, I like a healthy slug of white wine, salt, pepper and a little streaky bacon jacket to keep it moist.  I like to remove the bacon about 20 minutes from the end of cooking to allow the skin to get properly crispy.  I find that the wine and all of the additions inside the chicken not only help to keep it moist but they also form a great base for your gravy.  This is also incredibly easy and it then mostly looks after itself leaving you to get on with other things.

I would like to, but I regrettably cannot, take credit for the potatoes but the credit is all Valentine Warner’s as it is his recipe.  I will not go into great details about these I have cooked them before and the details can be found in my previous post A Bit of a Citrus Problem.  They were cooked whilst the chicken was resting and the spinach was cooked moments before serving.

While the chicken was looking after itself, I made the cheesecake.  The first challenge was to try to locate some suitable vessels – I ended up making somewhat large, individual cheesecakes in a variety of tumblers and coffee cups.  The second challenge was to find a mixing bowl, only a small one was found, and the third was to find a way of crushing the biscuits for the base, I settled for the pestle and mortar.  The recipe was the same one that I always use although I no longer needed to measure anything as I have made it so many times that I just go on how it looks.  I went for HobNobs instead of digestives on this occasion but everything else was the same.  I use a soft cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, a little double cream and 200g of white chocolate for the cheesecake topping and swirled through the pulp of three passion fruit.  I was very pleased with the resulting cheesecake and I think it is safe to say that everyone in the house agreed and one of them has eaten a lot of cheesecakes so he ought to know if it was of a satisfactory standard or not.  I don’t always use passion fruit, I often opt for raspberries instead but there seemed to have been a run on raspberries, probably because of it being Valentine’s Day the following day.

If I’m honest, it was a triumph.  I think that anyone who finds that they need to ingratiate themselves with their housemates should adopt a similar strategy.  Unless of course you are a disaster in the kitchen but this menu is incredibly simple so I am sure that even the most uncertain chef could achieve something great.

Granted it was no Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals, it took about 2 hours, but it was a Sunday and you simply cannot rush Sunday cooking.


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