Week 1, the first meal

The trial’s finally begun! 50 tailored meals and 25 weeks, so that’s 2 per week. How hard can that be? From the looks of it not much. But if I plan to prepare one meal within 30 minutes, I need to develop nerves of steel or start getting high on adrenalin!

I could barely finish half the task in thirty minutes. Incidentally we had guests over on the day and they spent an amusing hour looking at a headless chicken clucking around the tiny kitchen. The meal at the end was satisfactory if not great but that was owing to the varied dietary preference of those dining.

The Menu: Spaghetti alla puttanesca, crunchy radish and fennel salad, garlic bread and chocolate ganache.

The analysis:

First up is Spaghetti alla puttanesca or Whore’s style pasta. Yup you read it right. It enjoys this colourful nomenclature owing to its tangy & spicy taste. Going by the book’s instructions, I made this one with tinned tuna. But if you are a vegetarian or just don’t like tuna, just leave this ingredient out. Since I like the fishy taste of tuna, I enjoyed the puttanesca sauce. However, the husband, who doesn’t like anything pasta, wasn’t too happy.

The salad was an instant hit. All of us were having fennel (bulb) as a salad for the first time. It tasted like saunf but the flavour was less intense. The fresh zingy taste of went well with the slight pungency of the radish. The radish used here was not the Indian mooli, though it tasted similar.

To save time, I was supposed to slice the two main ingredients in the food processor but ended up mincing it. Why? Because I still haven’t figured the blades out :/. Anyhoo, despite this deviation, the salad went down with all parties present. Maybe also because the salad is super healthy without any fancy dressing. All I put (as the book instructed) was a bit of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Garlic bread: This would have been great except for the fact that it turned out dry and tough. I wonder if it was because I used a French baguette instead of a ciabatta as the book called for. Or maybe I left it in the oven for longer than it probably needed to be. However, the kind people around me looked beyond the dangers of potential tooth-chipping and “enjoyed” the taste. I had a couple of pieces left over which I consumed with some cream of chicken soup- that made for a very good combo.

The piece de resistance

Ganache: I won’t be consuming any store-bought chocolate puddings after this. This is one of the best chocolate desserts I have had. But given the amount of cream and butter It contains, I won’t be surprised it I gained a couple of pounds after one helping. One tip though. Serve in small quantities because it is very very heavy.

To give you an idea of what I am harping about, there’s the recipe (serves 6).

Ingredients:

  • Dark chocolate bars (approx 70% cocoa content): 200 gms
  • Butter: a large knob (I used about 20 gms)
  • Single cream: 300 ml
  • Clementines/Oranges: 3/2

Method:

  • Smash chocolate bars in their packets, place them in a glass/heatproof bowl, add butter, cream and a pinch of salt. Grate some Clementine/orange zest if you want.
  • Place this bowl on a sauce pan which has water boiling in it. Take care not to let the hot water touch the bowl.*
  • Keep it on the heat and mix till it all turns into a silky mixture.
  • Pour into serving containers (bowl, glasses, espresso cupe)
  • Cool in the fridge till it reaches the state you want to consume it in.
  • Devour!

Tip: Have it with the oranges/Clementine. It is a tasty combination (according to me) and takes away a smidgen from the guilt of eating this calorie bomb!

Dinner is served

Time taken: 1 hour

Cost of the meal for six: £10. While we were four for dinner, there was enough left over for the next day’s lunch for two.

* This is the Bain Marie technique of cooking stuff that can burn easily.

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