It's not so much the lack of pots and pans and cooking equipment that has been the hardest hurdle to making a meal, but the shortage of prep space. This has seriously curtailed my culinary ambitions and enthusiasm to cook. As the weather has turned colder and we are exposed to the elements to a certain degree, I have given in to the odd ready made pie. One simple dish I have found that requires minimal prep for maximum reward is Skye Gyngell's baked onion squash. The basic ingredients are double cream, dijon mustard, gruyere cheese and the onion squash and it is quite simply delicious needing no more accompaniment than a few salad leaves or some green vegetables.
Recipe from Independent.co.uk
1 onion squash
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 bunch of thyme, leaves only
200ml/7fl oz crème fraîche or double cream
Salt and pepper
2 slices of stale white bread
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Slice the lid off the squash a quarter of the way down its flesh. Set the top aside and scoop out the seeds. Place the mustard, thyme and crème fraîche or cream into a bowl, season with salt and pepper and stir well to combine. Spoon half into the base of the squash, followed by a layer of Gruyère.
Trim the crusts off the bread and tear into one-inch pieces. Layer the bread on top and then pour over the remaining cream. Return the lid to the squash, place on a baking tray and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for one hour. Remove and allow to cool slightly, then serve as it is or spoon on to plates, scraping all the squash out as you do so. Serve with salad.
Chaos reigns. The old dining room window has been opened up, the kitchen ceiling removed and the old concrete slabs are being dug up and removed. There is dust everywhere, but the new space is going to be beautiful.
The bad news this week is that the steel window wall and doors will not be ready until January. Needless to say this was not what I wanted to hear, but it is what it is, and will be something to look forward to in the most miserable of months.
This is the week the dust has started in earnest. Foundations went down before more heavy rain, and the team have dismantled a chunk of the back wall to make the new opening. The bricklayers worked with diligence and dodgy tunes and the new flank wall was up by the end of the week. The new space is now tangible, and I'm very excited.
Finally, after years of talking about it, the building work has started on my new kitchen.
Week 1 - having cleared as much as possible into storage, the old kitchen suddenly looks spacious and I wonder what I have done. The builders arrive, as does the rain, and by mid week the progress seems disappointing slow. Reader, I am impatient. By the end of the week there are a set of lovely neat trenches ready for the new footings and I'm happy again.