Our weekend evenings had been somewhat ordinary. The Hongkongboy is studying for his finance paper and I’ve got really busy with the day job. Our weekend dinners resonates on convenience and ease; thriving on really low maintenance-ish forgettable dinners.
I left the restaurant later than usual. Before leaving, I rang up the Hongkongboy hoping he had made dinner and kept some for me. He told me to grab something home to share.
As inevitable as gravity to cook. The hungry aimless drive home took me to the supermarket (so glad it’s 24 hours) to find something quick and easy to put together for supper. Once in the vicinity of colourful vegetables, I thought about grand meals, I ditch the frozen meal section and piled up my basket with carrots, celery, tomatoes and hauled some fat lamb shanks as well. And of course the
Hongkongboy s favourite ice-cream.
The Hongkongboy sprung up from the sofa to help me with the loot as I walked in. He asked if I’ve bought any food home? Steeping into the anger zone, I consoled myself thinking that maybe he needed a break from the books. But at the back of my head, I felt disappointment brewing up - why didn’t he made dinner. He was home early and I am sure he fed himself. Spitefully, I told him "I did bring food home. But it’s for tomorrow.”. I fish out the tub of ice-cream from the shopping bags hastily handed over to him expecting him to noticed my blackened face. He gleely retreated back into the sofa with a big spoon. I retreated back into the kitchen just to keep my mouth shut.
Making stew at such hour cleared my mind somehow. You feel a little bit better knowing there’s a lovely meal the next day. It’s not hard job that calls for precise measurements or cutting. The carrots and celery comprises of a few rough stress relieving hacks plus the few minutes of browning the shanks. Onions are left whole and garlic in bulbs. Topple everything into a slow cooker, pour in the stout and after many hours, the meal comes together by itself. A happy return in the morning.
Just before bed, I told him about our little fête for Sunday night. His face beamed into a wide smile and I knew that’s all it requires. I could have fight him and still live happily with frozen dinners or convenience takeaways the next day. Those meals will be easily forgotten. He wouldn’t eagerly ask me for recipes to share with his family and friends. And most importantly we wouldn’t have these precious few hours sipping wine over a good meal connecting with each other. Many times in a relationship, we forget to compromise along the way. It’s the return to norm that matters most. A ritual that is delicious–both complex and comforting.
Guinness lamb shanks
Serves 4 hunger person
4 Lamb shank because we are greedy. The other 2 are left for ragout sauce for pasta.
4 fat carrots, hacked into 3
4 blades of celery, hacked into 3
1 onion, whole with skin removed
1 bulb garlic, don’t bother removing skin
3 thumb size ginger knobs
1 can tinned tomatoes
1 tablespoon Brovil or Vegemite
1/2 teaspoonful of black peppercorns
2 stalks of rosemary (optional)
2 heap tablespoon sugar to balance the taste
700mL Guinness Stout
Water or stock to cover
Salt to taste
Plain flour and salt for dusting the shanks
Brown the shanks with a good dusting of flour and salt mixture on a large frying pan. Transfer the browned shanks to the slow cooker pot. Topple in all the vegetables (Carrots, celery, onion) and cook briefly under it’s slightly brown and fragrant. Move over the vegetable in the slow cooker pot. Add the Brovil, tin of tomatoes, garlic bulb, stout, peppercorns, sugar and rosemary. Cover with water or stock.Set the slow cooker on a low setting and go to bed. I left mine for 8 hours overnight.
The next morning, transfer the shanks to a pot. Sieve the sauce and discard the vegetables. Simmer the sauce and lamb shanks uncovered until sauce reduces by 1/3 and thickens. When serving, chop some parsley and scatter over.
Serves 4 hunger person as sides
4 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 garlic clove, minced
200 mL cream
Salt and white pepper to taste
Add cold water to the pan until the potatoes are covered by at least an inch. Add a teaspoon of salt to the water. Turn the heat on to high, and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low to maintain a simmer, and cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until you can easily poke through them with a fork.
When the potatoes are done, drain the water and place the steaming hot potatoes into a large bowl. Pour the cream and butter over the potatoes. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or a fork. Then use a strong wooden spoon (a metal spoon might bend) to beat further until the mashed potatoes are smooth. Don't over-beat the potatoes or the mashed potatoes will end up gluey.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Good old French Beans
Serves 4 person as sides
About 400g french beans, ends chopped off
2 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
Heat a sauce pan or skillet on medium heat with olive oil and butter. Add garlic and cook for 60 seconds. Add green beans and sauté for 5-8 minutes with a splash of water or white wine if you have. Season with salt & pepper. Dish out and grate lemon zest over.
Bring out your best plates and polish silvers. Pour some good red wine into glasses. Enjoy dinner like an Englishmen.
- till next post. ss.
Labels: dinner, dinner party, English, Guinness, lamb shanks, slow cook, Sunday dinner