I’ve been remiss with recounting the rest of our London escapades, what with distractions like Eataly and Coney Island diverting me too much–but no more! Our first day in London culminated with a visit to Asda, otherwise known as Walmart in the U.K., to pick up some provisions for our hosts and ourselves for dinner. I was pretty insistent on making a visit to at least one grocery store while we were in England (yes, I’m a nerd–carry on!) and so why not a visit to the Big Bad Blue Behemoth’s English cousin?
This isn’t C’s primary grocery store–as we walked through the car park she mentioned that the store isn’t that great and wasn’t very big, and subsequently was floored when she saw it for the first time post-renovation. The addition of a loft-like second floor seems to have opened up the place a bit, and the produce section resembled more of Target’s PFresh rather than what you’d normally see at a Walmart here in the States (though, in all honesty, my experience with Walmart Supercenters is limited and only based off of a few visits to random ones over the years). We didn’t spend a crazy amount of money, though, and bought some pretty sweet produce–easily on par with what we’d find at Fairway with regards to selection. The only complaint I had was that my desire to replace our heavy Tesco reusable shopping back with one from Asda was all for naught because the bags were very flimsy indeed.
Enough with the shop talk and onto the food already! Michael spatchcocked the two chickens we purchased (in part to show off, I think, while also to show C how it’s done) while C fixed a pitcher of Pimm’s; I looked at the variety of green onions (both spring and scallion) that I had at my disposal and figured out which would go into my onion pistou that I would bring together using a food processor. You see, the food processor is the one basic appliance we don’t own, mainly for space considerations. The immersion and regular blenders do well in making sauces and dips (most of the time), and Michael received a simple blade coffee grinder so he could process whole spices. The one time a FP would be useful, however, is making pestos and pistous and chimichurris: while certainly far from impossible, it can take a little extra olive oil to get the sauce to the right consistency because the leaves all stick to the walls of the blender. It’s not enough of a reason to break down and get one for our kitchen, but I will take advantage of the use of one if I’m cooking in another kitchen.
The chickens would end up on the barbecue outside, so Michael kept it pretty simple–one was a curry-inspired flavor using spices from C&S’s kitchen, while the other was his favorite Fra Diavalo using Dijon and stone ground mustard and some hot pepper flakes. The one thing that we didn’t have that would have been useful was a meat thermometer, but Michael’s vigilance (and the flat surface area of the birds) ensured that they were cooked through but still juicy. But it stands as a reminder: if you think you’re going to be cooking anywhere and meat will be involved, bring your meat thermometer.
I used just a little too much olive oil for the pistou (it was slightly runnier than I like it) but for creating a recipe on the fly, it was pretty darn good. This was my first introduction to Grana Padano and I’ve been a fan of it ever since–it’s similar in flavor to Parmigiano-Reggiano but it tends to be a little less expensive. It was a cinch to whip up since we used fresh pasta and despite the large amount of food, the leftovers weren’t massive–when C kept saying in Asda that S can put away the food, she wasn’t kidding! Even though we were all stuffed–too much to do anything save for watching delightfully trashy British television–S did sneak out now and again to pick at the chicken carcasses, something that completely made Michael’s day.
Spring Onion and Tomato Pistou
makes enough for a pound and a half of pasta
- 2 bunches scallions, sliced (don’t worry about thickness)
- 1 bunch spring onions, bulbs removed and stalks sliced
- 2 tomatoes, seeded, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 cup Grana Padano (similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
In a food processor, add scallions, onion stalks and tomatoes into a food processor and pulse until combined. Add cheese salt and pepper (be gentle with salt–add as you need it) and pulse again to combine, then set it to run so you can drizzle the olive oil into the processor, taking breaks to check seasoning and consistency, and process until smooth. Add to freshly cooked pasta (fresh pasta is best) and toss to coat. Serve immediately with more cheese if desired.