I’m sure you know the story of King Alfred the Great – the guy who allegedly let the cakes burn because he was preoccupied with thoughts about his beleaguered kingdom? Well, I bet you’ve never heard the story of Barn, the guy who let the pies burn because he was preoccupied with thoughts about his kingdom?
Alfred had fair justification for his absent minded approach to baked goods; the fellow’s very life was in danger and he was on the run – sleeping in ditches and begging for food – whilst also trying to save his lands from actual marauding Vikings. There was every reason for culinary timing to be low on his list of priorities. For Barn? Not so much.
He was sitting comfortably, on a sofa in his living room, tasked with nothing more than listening out for the oven timer then informing me of said occurrence. The only kingdom he had any concerns about was the virtual one in Kingdom of Camelot (oh yeh, I’ll name it and shame ya! 😘 ), and the only ‘life’ in danger was that of a pixelated soldier. Apparently he didn’t hear or smell a thing as the oven alarm shrieked for its fully allowed time slot, and our dinner gave itself to the funeral pyre, clutching its last vestiges of flavour, mourning its uncelebrated heyday.
Naturally he was referred to as Burning Barn for the rest of the evening. No opportunity, no matter how small or tenuous, was passed over when it came to teasing and tormenting him. Petit Man is a great ‘bouncing’ partner for this particular form of verbal entertainment (Mum and Medieval are also superb co-jousters, but sadly they weren’t around for this one); we amused ourselves mightily,
stumbling upon forcing references to Barn the Great Pie Torturer from every TV advert, programme and innocuous conversation :twisted:.
The chicken was poached in cider, then the cider stock reduced and used with cream to make a sauce for the chicken, fried chorizo and leeks. A happy little layer survived the torrid oven affair and was sufficiently good to put the recipe on the ‘definitely try it again’ list.
Tuesday: Fridge bottom soup. Sounds vile doesn’t it? I know I should call it ‘leek and courgette’, or ‘cream of veg’ or somesuch, but it was what it says…soup made with stuff that needed using up from the drawer at the bottom of the fridge.
Sautéed soffrito (finely diced onion, carrot and celery in the ratio 2:1:1 – an excellent starting point for many sauces, stews etc. – make huge batches with a food processor and keep portions in the freezer); chopped leeks and courgettes added & browned. Two crushed garlic cloves, fresh thyme and parsley, dried oregano chucked in and swished around for a while. Chicken stock added (enough to cover veg plus a bit more) and simmered for about 15 minutes. Blitzed in the food processor, added soured cream, a little double cream, and chives. Reheated, adjusted seasoning, added an extra swirl of cream and more fresh herbs to finish. Served with warm g/f cheesy puffs made with extra mature cheddar and English mustard. It tasted insanely good.
Wednesday dinner: Warm salad of grilled chicken breast and sweet ripe pears, with creamy blue Stilton and crunchy caramelised walnuts; served with baked tomatoes on a bed of crisp, fresh watercress and baby spinach leaves, dressed with wholegrain mustard and balsamic vinaigrette.
Barn made the leftovers into a sandwich for his lunch at work the next day. I believe he was hoping for a reaction something akin to one of these:
What he got was this:
K: What’ve you got there?
Barn: Olive ciabatta, with watercress, pears and…
Barn: Yeh, and blue cheese…
K: Mouldy cheese?!
Barn: …and chicken.
Pause, while each chews their chosen lunch and K contemplates Barn’s sandwich
K, dubiously: Well, I suppose the chicken would be ok.