I don’t know about you but The Husband and me, we don’t get out much. Very very occasionally we’ll have a date night at the cinema or a meal out. But it doesn’t happen very often. We don’t have a car so any late nights involve unreliable buses or mega expensive taxis, on top of the cost of wherever we’re going. Then we have to arrange a babysitter (my mum), which is fine but involves effort. Then once the kids are in bed you feel you should make some sort of attempt to dress up a bit, put on some make up and jewellery (me, not him). IT’S ALL JUST SO MUCH EFFORT WHEN I REALLY JUST FEEL LIKE COLLAPSING ON THE SOFA IN FRONT OF THE TV!!!
But sometimes you just need to feel like a proper couple again, instead of parents. When every conversation you’ve had for weeks has been about money, housekeeping or the kids, you know it’s time to re-connect and communicate without all that domesticity interrupting. A chance to talk about the things that brought you together in the first place – music, film, topical stuff, ideas you’ve had and things you’d meant to tell each other before that nappy needed changing or the kids’ tea needed cooking. FUN. Remember? No, not building a Lego tower. Real grown-up fun!
So anyway, sometimes we have a night indoors instead. Now I love an evening with a takeaway and catching up with all our TV recordings or a DVD but it doesn’t feel particularly special. So I like to cook something myself that’s a bit fancier than my usual fare; undoubtedly cheaper and healthier than a meal in a restaurant or a fatty takeaway too. It needs to be fairly quick and not too complicated. I don’t want to be sweating for hours in the kitchen; it defeats the point.
I cooked this for us recently. Our eldest was staying with Granny. We packed the youngest off to bed, laid the table and lit some candles. The telly went off and some music went on while he cracked open a bottle of something cold. Perfect.
Pack of smoked bacon lardons (or snip up some streaky bacon with scissors)
For the potatoes:
300g baby new potatoes, diced to 1cm cubed
½ tsp garlic granules
1 tsp dried rosemary
For the peas:
250g frozen peas
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
½ bunch of spring onions, finely sliced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 heaped tsp jarred garden mint (or freshly chopped)
50ml white or blush wine (you can drink the rest of the bottle)
1. The potatoes take longest so pre-heat the oven to 220˚C and heat plenty of oil in a large frying pan. You want them diced quite small so they cook faster. 1cm cubes are a nice size.
Give the spuds a good 10 mins in the pan until they’re nicely softened. Transfer them to a baking tray (keep the pan for your scallops – less washing up!), season, toss them in the dried garlic and rosemary. Stick them in the oven & set the timer for 15 mins. Give them a jiggle halfway through.
2. While the spuds are cooking, gently soften the celery and spring onions in a little oil. Add the minced garlic and stir, then add the peas. Let the peas thaw and cook through then add the mint and wine.
3. Let the alcohol simmer out of the wine and reduce down until the peas are still a bit juicy and oozy but not too thin or runny.
While this is happening, re-heat the pan you used for the potatoes and get your bacon on a high heat.
4. When the bacon is really crispy so that all the fat has rendered down, quickly add the scallops to the pan. Depending on their size, they’ll only need 2 or 3 mins each side. Turn them all v quickly halfway through.
5. Check your spuds and peas. They should be ready so turn everything off ready to serve.
Try to arrange it all tastefully on the plate. Or just chuck it all on in a heap. Either way, it’s going to be ruddy gorgeous.
Leave the dishes til the morning. Sit. Eat. Enjoy. Share a tub of ice cream for afters. Snuggle on the sofa. Chat. Giggle. Have some … ahem … special time, you crazy young things.