Dinner For Two: Onion Pandade + Curried Carrot Pear Salad

This isn’t a food blog, but I’ve decided to try making a note here of our nicer dinners. While I can store my own ratings of the individual recipes in Springpad (which I also use to store recipes, make shopping lists and generally do all our kitchen-related planning), I like the idea of also keeping track of which dishes worked especially well together.

I had the following conversation with Alec a while back, which entertained people on Facebook at the time but didn’t get recorded here:

Me: How should we use up this shitload of onions?
Alec: Hmm, maybe an onion soup.
Me: Isn’t that quite labour intensive though?
Alec: No, it’ll be fine with the food processor.
Me: Food processor?!
Alec: Ah right, we haven’t got one. Back to the drawing board then.
Me: ……

After unfreezing my face from the pained WTF grimace I reserve only for the person I love most in the world, I went looking for an easier way to use up that shitload of onions, and found this onion pandade. Paired with this shaved carrot and pear salad with curry vinaigrette, it made for a meatless meal which was hearty, savoury and refreshing all at once.

Because this was an afterthought, inspired simply by being halfway through this meal and never wanting it to end, I don’t have any photos, but it wasn’t the most photogenic meal anyway, for reasons I will now explain.

Although the onion pandade recipe is intended to yield what its author described as a “savoury bread pudding”, we discovered that by screwing up, you can actually make it into a really delicious onion soup. Alec decided to disregard my suggestion of a suitable oven dish and instead use one which was simultaneously too deep and too small, which meant that a fair amount of the stock didn’t get absorbed into the bread, and we got the golden, crunchy topping the recipe promised…but on the floor of the oven. No matter. Our onion pandade “stew” was still bloody tasty, and the oven floor got the clean it probably needed – not by me, of course.

Saturday Lunch

I rarely post much here about the cooking we do at home because I tend to think food blogging is all about the photos, and most of our cooking is done on week nights when I don’t have nice outdoor light to photograph the food in. But Saturday was a nice lazy day with nothing on the agenda except the Tiger Lillies gig later that night, and I was in one of the happy hazes I still get into about how much I love cooking with my husband, so I put that happiness on a plate and took pictures of it.


We have cooked this puttanesca many times by now. It’s delicious, and can be thrown together from stuff in our pantry without needing to go out and buy anything fresh.

Minted Fennel, Orange and Red Onion Salad

When I trawl the Internet for recipes I usually ignore anything that looks too fiddly, and would definitely have ignored this minted orange, fennel and red onion salad recipe too. So it’s good that it was Alec who found the recipe, decided he had the necessary knife skills to take it on without using a special slicing device, and didn’t consult me at all.

So we made this simple yet sophisticated, flavourful, healthy, elegant lunch. And then we put our plates on the coffee table, sat on the floor, and ate it while watching The Hangover.

Ghetto Rocket (Or, I’m Out For Cress-idents To Represent Me)

Sorry about the food-heaviness of some of these recent posts – work and learning WordPress have been kicking my ass, so it feels easier to slap on a picture of a salad here than write thoughtfully about my initial impressions of Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop Won’t Stop – though when looking up the Amazon link to include in this post, I conveniently found that this review captures them quite well.

We made this Tamasin Day-Lewis recipe for pear and blue cheese salad because we happened to have most of the ingredients for it.

We’ve adopted watercress as our poor-man’s-rocket, since it’s a fraction of the price of rocket but still has the peppery kick. Cheese is very pricy here so we try not to go mad with it, but Alec saw the Cashel blue cheese in Jones the Grocer a few weeks back when we made our first visit to Dempsey Road in about two years, and couldn’t resist. YUPPIE. If you try this, you should note that the sesame seeds make the whole dish, so count them as essential. It’s not the best food photo, but I liked the texture of the seeds and watercress against the pear glistening with olive oil, dribbles of balsamic vinegar and its own juice.

Last night, I made Martha Stewart curried apple and potato soup, which was delicious though not particularly photogenic. It went really well with a simple avocado and watercress salad, and 2 slices of kneadyguy bread.

And now, just to keep things here slightly more street than ending a post with Martha Stewart, here’s an excerpt from Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. It’s not perfect but I found it quite evocative, and more successful than some of Chang’s other ambitious attempts to set context and mood:

It was 1977.

Bob Marley was in a foreign studio, recovering from an assassin’s ambush and singing: “Many more will have to suffer. Many more will have to die. Don’t ask me why.” Bantu Stephen Biko was shackled, naked and comatose in the back of a South African police Land Rover. The Baader-Meinhof gang lay in suicide pools in a German prison. The Khmer Rouge filled their killing fields. The Weather Underground and the Young Lords Party crawled toward the final stages of violent implosion. In London, as in New York City, capitalism’s crisis left entire blocks and buildings abandoned, and the sudden appearance of pierced, mohawked, leather-jacketed punks on Kings Road set off paroxysms of hysteria. History behaved as if reset to year zero.

In the Bronx, Herc’s time was passing. But the new culture that had arisen around him had captured the imagination of a new breed of youths in the Bronx. Herc had stripped down and let go of everything, save the most powerful basic elements – the rhythm, the motion, the voice, the name. In doing so, he summoned up a spirit that had been there at Congo Square and in Harlem and on Wareika Hill. The new culture seemed to whirl backward and forward – a loop of history, history as loop – calling and responding, leaping, spinning, renewing.