Sea Trout parcels (or salmon, or trout, or….)

Sea Trout Parcels:

You can use quite a number of different fish here.  It is easy, quite quick, safe, doesn’t stink out the kitchen/house/flat and won’t break the bank.

Prep:           15 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Lunch/Main/Supper/Dinner party

Serves:        As many as the number of fish pieces….

Rating:         2.  Easy.  Just have confidence and it’ll be great.

This method – en papillotte/en poche – is a favourite way to cook most types of fish.  See the ‘salmon in a dishwasher’ recipe for the ultimate fish parcel.

Find:

  • One portion of trout/salmon/sea trout/sea bream/sea bass/marckerel/whatever fish per person.  With or without skin but definitely without bones.
  • White wine – a splash, or perhaps a little vermouth instead, especially if you have the vermouth and don’t have fennel seeds…….
  • Lemon – or lemon juice from a bottle if pushed
  • A few fennel seeds….. perhaps up to 10 per parcel – be careful with them
  • Seasonings
  • A tiny splash of olive oil
  • Foil to make the parcels
  • Baking tray
  • Oven
  • Kitchen
  • Gas or electricity…..or wood….peat?

Method:

  • Set the oven to 200 dges C and switch it on (it helps….)
  • Rinse and pat dry the fish portions.
  • If cooking a whole fish on the bone, ensure that it has been gutted, washed and de-scaled fully and completely first.  Sea bream/sea trout especially.
  • Take a length of foil, longer than it is wide so that there is plenty of room for air inside the parcel, and lightly oil it in the middle.  Crimp up the corners to make a sort of tray – you don’t want the liquid contents to escape.
  • Place the fish portion into it, skin side down (whether it has skin or not).
  • Cut the lemon into slices and place a slice on each fish portion.  If it’s a whole fish, pop a bit into the cavity as well.  If you don’t have a lemon, you can use bottled lemon (or lime) juice instead.
  • Splash some white wine or vermouth over the fish.  Don’t drown it. (HA!  How can you drown a fish when it’s dead, eh…..don’t be silly, Colin!)
  • Sprinkle the fennel seeds evenly.
  • Season with a little salt (milled sea salt is best, but…..) and an amount  of freshly milled black pepper or 5 bais (See Tricks’n’Tips….)
  • Wish it a bonne voyage, and carefully fold in the ends and the top of the package.  It should be fairly securely sealed, but don’t get paranoid about it.  It’ll be in the oven, on a baking tray and won’t be jumping around a great deal, so it shouldn’t leak.
  • Put all packages onto the baking tray and pop into the middle of the oven and leave it for half an hour or so.  Not long enough to nip down t’pub, but long enough to crack a tinnie or pop a cork…….  But you have the rest of the meal to get ready, so have your tipple as you get a wiggle on…..
  • After 30 mins or so, take the baking tray out of the oven and put each parcel onto its own plate and let everyone oopen their own parcel.
  • This is lovely served with a nice, light Basmati/jasmine  rice, together with posh veg.  The sauce will be lovely, the fish gorgeous and the faces of the diners a picture….especially as their glasses will steam up when opening their parcels.
  • Oh yes, and have a bowl of cold water ready for them to plunge their scalded fingertips into as the resultant steam takes their skin off!

Almost free autumn meringue pile:

Almost free autumn meringue pile:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      10 mins.

Course:        Dessert

Serves:          As many as….

Rating:         2:  Easy

Find:-

  • Ready-made meringue nests
  • Apples – fallers from local trees will do nicely
  • Blackberries picked from local bramble bushes will do nicely (See Tricks’n’Tips for important gen on picking above the Diesel line….)
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • 50g caster sugar
  • Butter
  • Tub of crème Fraiche

Method:

  • You can use as much or as little apple and blackberry as you like in this recipe – there is no exact quantity.
  • Peel, core and slice the apples.
  • Put into the saucepan with the butter, sugar and cinnamon.
  • Heat gently, stirring as necessary. The apple will start to cook together with the cinnamon, butter and sugar to give a lovely soft, sweet aroma.
  • When the apples have softened but before they have disintegrated to mush, pour in a load of washed blackberries that have just been picked from the hedgerow, from above Diesel’s dog-leg-line (see Tricks’n’Tips for the meaning of that technical term – it is important to know about it). Make sure that they don’t have any stalks still attached.
  • Stir in the blackberries with the apple and cook for about three minutes.
  • Break up a meringue nest into the bottom of each pudding bowl, pop a big dollop of crème Fraiche on top and then pour the warm mixture on top of that.

Wonderful.  It’s easy, cheap and uses the locally available free fruit. 

What more could you want…. to shoot your own wild meringue nests?

(Shoot me a brace of nice haggis at the same time, please!)

Chocolate Mousse:

Chocolate Mousse:

This is a lovely, rich and dark chocolate mousse that will knock their cocks off.  Sorry – socks off.

Prep:       30 – 40 mins.

Cooking: Sets in the fridge in hours

Course:   Dessert

Serves:    6

Rating:    2:  Easy, if you are ok with separating egg whites & yolks.

Find:-

  • 180g dark chocolate
  • A knob of butter
  • 4 eggs, separated into yolks and whites (see Tricks’n’Tips)
  • A splash or two of Cointreau (go on – make it 3)
  • Whipped cream and a few chards of chocolate
  • Lots of bowls
  • Saucepan
  • Something in which to serve the mousse – cocktail glasses, ramekins (see Equipment), perhaps?

Method:

  • Break the chocolate into a glass bowl over a pan of just simmering water, to melt, but not cook the chocolate.
  • Add the knob of butter. Stir to aid the melting.
  • Whisk the egg whites (hand or electric whisk) until they reach the ‘soft peaks’ stage (see Tricks’n’Tips) and put them aside for a moment.
  • Beat the egg yolks in a different bowl, stir in the Cointreau and add to the melted chocolate.
  • Stir in well with a wooden spoon.
  • Pour the now gooey chocolate mixture into the beaten egg whites and ‘fold’ together – in other words, mix it all together, but try not to knock the air out of the mixture.
  • Spoon the resulting ‘stuff’ into four cocktail glasses or ramekins and pop ‘em into the fridge. They need to thoroughly chill through.
  • Whip a bit of cream and plop that on top, then put a few chards of broken chocolate on top, or grate some chocolate from a bar that you’ve had in the freezer, to keep it super-hard.

Cor,  That was REALLY a lot of work, eh?  Don’t it taste nice though.

Bobotie:

Bobotie: – a South African traditional dish.      

(A bit like a funny light curry with an omelette on top……)

No self-respecting South African household/family does not own (and treasure!) a favourite Bobotie recipe.

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins       

Course:        Main

Serves:        6

Rating:         2: Easy, but there’s a bit of messin’ about.

For 6 people, find:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 or 3 large red onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1kg good quality lean beef mince
  • 1 thickish slice of white bread
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon medium curry powder (or half a jar of tikka masala paste)
  • 2 thumb-sized lumps of peeled root ginger, shredded/grated/finely chopped or otherwise smashed-up
  • 2 large carrots, shredded/grated/finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, shredded/grated/finely chopped
  • 100g ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly milled black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon malt vinegar
  • 200g cup seedless raisins/sultanas
  • 2 tablespoons strong chutney
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 bay leaves

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan, when warm-ish, stir in the onions. Cook over medium heat until transparent.
  • Add the beef mince. When a liquid appears in the pan, pour it off into a cup, cool it, discard the fat and use the jelly/stock for something tasty.
  • Cook the mince until lightly browned and crumbly.
  • Soak the bread in half the milk, squeeze out excess milk and mash the bread  with a fork, pouring the squeezed-out milk straight back into remaining milk. Set the milk aside.
  • Add the squeezed & pulled-apart bread to the meat mixture.
  • Add curry, sugar, salt, pepper, turmeric, vinegar, raisins, chutney to the beef mixture. Mix it up’n’make it nice.
  • Spoon the resulting awful-looking mixture into a greased baking dish, and place bay leaves on top.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes in preheated 350°F oven.
  • Beat egg with remaining milk and pour over mixture approximately 25 – 30 minutes before end of baking time.
  • Serve with steamed rice (traditionally turmeric yellow) and extra chutney.
  • South African comfort food!
  • See also the veggie version.

Bobotie – An alternative recipe

  • 25g Butter
  • 1 Large onion, chopped
  • 500g Minced beef
  • 2 Garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2cm Fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tsp Garam masala
  • ½ tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Ground coriander
  • 2 Cloves
  • 3 Allspice berries
  • 1 tsp Dried mixed herbs
  • 50g Dried apricots, chopped
  • 25g Flaked almonds
  • 3 tbsp Chutney
  • 4 tbsp Chopped parsley
  • 4 Bay leaves, plus extra to garnish
  • 250ml Whole milk
  • 3 Large eggs
  • 50g Sultanas

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Heat the butter in a saucepan and cook the onions until soft. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat and fry the beef, without oil, until golden brown. Remove from the heat and add the onions together with all the other ingredients except the milk and eggs. Mix well and put into 4 x 300ml ovenproof bowls or a large ovenproof dish. Press the mixture down with the back of a spoon.
  3. Beat the milk and eggs together lightly and pour over the mince mixture. Bake for 20–25 minutes for small boboties (and 30–40 minutes for a large one) or until the topping has set and is golden

Spanish ‘Croquettas’ Starter:

Spanish ‘Croquettas’ Starter:

A good way to use up bits of allsorts left in your fridge – and foisting them onto your guests….. (and they’ll never know they’re eating your leftovers until you decide to tell ‘em………… IF you decide….!)

Prep:           20 mins.

Cooking:       20 mins.

Course:        Starter, lunch or snack

Serves:        4

Rating:         2:  Easy

 

This Spanish starter can be very useful to use up what you have left over in the fridge as it uses a simple flour mixture as a base and then you perk it up by adding flavourings.  I used tomato because one of my diners is a veggie and I wanted to make a starter that everyone could have.

Find:

  • 1 desert spoon olive oil
  • 2 desert spoons flour (plain – unless you only have SR!)
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Nutmeg…… (though you may not, as a Rookie-Cookie, realistically be expected to have nutmeg in your larder. Y’know what I’m gonna suggest…… just leave it out!)
  • Additional ingredients (in other words, LEFTOVERS!…. ham, tomato, bacon, chicken, roast meats, fish, shellfish, cheese……)
  • Seasoning
  • As an option, some cold mashed potatoes (see further down…).

Method:

  • Put the oil in the frying pan and warm it up a bit – it must not get hot. Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour to the oil, stirring with a wooden spoon until it becomes a paste (a roux).
  • Put the pan back onto a medium heat and add the milk little by little so that the milk is absorbed as the paste cooks and expands. Continue until it is all cooked evenly. Add the nutmeg, a pinch of salt and whatever meat/flavouring/leftovers that you have decided upon, and keep stirring all the time.  The cooked mixture will be quite stiff.    (As an option, you may wish to bulk it out with cold mashed spuds.  This can make the finished Croquetas lighter to eat and less ‘bouncy’.)
  • As soon as the mixture is stiff enough to hold together, empty the pan into a bowl and let the mixture cool. When cool, take small portions and mould them into whatever shape you wish, dipping them in the beaten egg and then the breadcrumbs, coating them evenly.  They might even benefit from a second egg and breadcrumb coating.  Place them separately onto a plate covered with greaseproof paper.  At this point they freeze well.
  • Briefly shallow fry them and then oven cook for 20 minutes at 180 degrees C.
  • Serve immediately on something like Spanish spinach with toasted pine nuts.

Basil’s Exceptionally Easy Square Balls:

Basil’s Exceptionally Easy Square Balls:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins       

Course:        Main

Serves:        4

Rating:         1: Easy-peasy

This recipe is a super-simple one, just using the mince as it arrives in its plastic tray.  You don’t mix it with anything at all, you simply cut it into squares!  Try it, with an open mind and an open mouth.  See how it compares with the most carefully constructed Spanish meatball recipe of the highest celebrity chef.  It won’t be that much lacking, I’ll bet!

And it’s cheaper.

And it’s quicker.

And it’s easier.

And it’s less complex!

To feed four, find:

  • Large pack (500g) lean mince (Beef, lamb, pork, turkey, chicken, traffic warden) as you get in supermarkets. (You can get mince from a butcher’s, and it’s probably better mince, but this is the super-easy version….. you’ll see…… read on…….
  • Tin chopped tomatoes
  • A little oil (not ‘engine’, ‘massage’, ‘baby’ or ‘body’)
  • 1 large onion – I like big red onions, but use what’s to hand.
  • Garlic….. I like garlic, so I use 3 or 4 cloves.  Use as many as you think.
  • A stock cube of whatever variety.

You can use part white or red wine for the stock, especially if you have a bottle that has been opened a fair while.  Recycle it into here….. 

I’m all in favour of a bit o’recycling.

  • Seasonings & fresh herbs if you have them.  Basil is the one that you really want.
  • A little coarse sea salt, if you have it.  If not…..
  • Frying pan
  • Saucepan
  • Ceramic oven dish.

Method:

  • Cut the slab of mince into 8 squares. (If you wish, you can roll the squares into balls, but this is the ‘square balls’ version…… of course, if you get a bag o’mince from t’butcher’s shop, you’ll have to roll it into balls.  Doesn’t matter; both shapes taste similar, I believe..…)
  • Put a little oil in the frying pan and set the balls to cook over a medium heat. Don’t disturb them too much as they might start to fall apart, but they must not burn.
  • Chop your onion and garlic finely and fry the onion off a little with the squares/balls; retain the garlic until the liquid goes in, so that it does not burn and turn bitter. Turn the squares/balls when they have taken on a little colour (browned a bit underneath…… don’t expect the top to turn blue or anything!)
  • Open the chopped toms and chuck ‘em in….and the garlic. That’s it, just chuck ‘em all in – this is only cookin’, not a friggin’ religious festival!
  • Make the stock by crumbling the cube into a cup and adding half a cup of boiling water to it. When it is dissolved, pour that in. (If you are using wine instead of water, put that in cold and crumble the cube on top before……
  • Mixing! Move it all around a bit.  If the frying pan has a lid, pop it on now.  I used a pan with a steel handle, so I just popped it into the oven.  Don’t do that with a plastic handled pan!
  • After about 20 mins, taste and season as you wish.
  • Tear up fresh basil leaves and stir those in just before serving.

Serve two or three squares/balls per person, and with anything else that you like!

I like roasted potato wedges or a jacket.

For weight-aware people, use this Frylite/one-cal spray stuff for all frying and roasting.

Pork’n’Peppers:

Pork’n’Peppers:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:        As many as…..

Rating:         2:  Easy

Inexpensive – and it looks impressive too.

Find:

  • Pork – one chunk (see Tesco Value pork) per person, as cheap as you like.
  • Peppers – as many whatever colour old wrinkly ones as you have.
  • Mushrooms – ditto.
  • Rice – see start of this section or Tricks’n’Tips.
  • Variations – see Variations (unsurprisingly).
  • Oven (roasting) tin
  • Frying pan (preferably with a lid)
  • Ceramic oven/serving dishes

Method:

  • If you have a glut of soft, wrinkly red, yellow or orange peppers (even including green, at a push) – or can get hold of a few at a very cheap price (final hours of the local market can be most productive) and some cheap pork in the freezer from the local supermarket’s reduced cabinet, you have the basics. One piece of pork per person will be required (You know the size of pork that is normally regarded as one serving…….. a chunk, a pork chop-sized bit…….. no, I do not mean one great big joint per person!). 
  • Put the pork in the tin, pour just a little olive oil on top and a good splash of water in the tin, then put the pork into the oven at about 190°C for around 45 minutes to roast in its open tin.
  • Chop a couple of medium or one good sized onion (or you could use an old & wrinkled leek instead….I have) & sauté (slowly fry without browning, keeping it moving in the pan) on a low heat in a largish, oiled open frying pan (one with a lid is good, but you can’t stir it whilst the lid is on….).
  • Randomly chop up your old, wrinkled peppers to throw in after about ten minutes, when the onions have just started to colour (you can, if you wish, remove the skin, but certainly remember to discard the seeds).
  • Slice as many mushrooms as you have (again, wrinkled ones are fine for this) and throw them in as well.
  • Put half a cup of water, or so, into the pan & pop on the lid, bring to the boil then turn the heat to the lowest setting possible and leave it for 20 minutes.
  • Check occasionally to make sure that they are just steaming and not burning.
  • Do not use your smoke alarm as a timer.
  • Prepare your rice – see Delia’s perfect rice. Saint Delia has the best rice recipe in the world.  Time your rice to finish just as the pork finishes.
  • When the pork is done, put the pepper mixture and the remaining liquid into a warmed dish and place the pork pieces on top. Serve the rice in another warmed dish with a chunk of parsley on top or sprinkle with dried parsley (it’ll hydrate with the water vapour coming off).

Hey presto  Pork’n’Peppers.

Variations:  

You could really push the boat out and put a Campbell’s/Bachelors cream of mushroom soup into the pepper mixture; alternatively throw in a cheap can of chopped tomatoes and a little tomato purée just to ring the changes.

Got any soft cheese or Stilton that might be a little past its best (and probably quite smelly) left over?  If you have, just pare off the rind and discard it, retaining as much of the body of the cheese as possible and chop it up.  Stir that into the meat mixture so that it melts and disperses and it will just flavour of the meat that little bit for it to become a touch more robust.  It doesn’t matter which base you use (canned tomatoes or Campbell’s condensed soup) as it blends in beautifully with both.

Meatloaf:

Meatloaf: 

(That’s Meatloaf the dish, not the performer – I can’t bring myself to call him a singer – ‘no, I won’t do that!’)

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      40 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:        4

Rating:         2:  Moderately easy

This is a good way to use up left-over meats.

Find:

  • 400g mince (beef/lamb/pork/turkey/donkey/postman/lawyer/estate agent/parking attendant….NOT politician, it would be too bitter)
  • 2 slices bread for fresh breadcrumbs (See Tricks’n’Tips)
  • Mick’s Terbs (See Tricks’n’Tips)
  • 1 egg
  • Dollop whole grain mustard
  • Onion
  • Oil
  • Seasoning
  • Food processor
  • Loaf tin

Method:

  • Make the breadcrumbs. Put the mince in the food processor, or cut the steak up to allow it to process easier, trimming off any fat or other unwanted bits at the same time.
  • Roughly slice the onion. Put both into the processor and blitz for a time.
  • Add the breadcrumbs, herbs, mustard, egg and seasoning, then blitz again for a while. You are trying to aim for a mixture that will force nicely into a heavily oiled (or, better still, a greaseproof-paper-lined) loaf tin.
  • Put the loaf tin onto a baking tray and cook at gas mk 5 for 40 minutes.
  • Turn out the loaf and allow to cool a little before cutting, otherwise it will crumble.

Serve with mash and veg – and a good gravy

Pitta Pockets:

Pitta Pockets:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      10 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch

Serves:        See text

Rating:         2:  Easy

Don’t forget the humble pitta bread.   They pull apart down the centre and can be filled with all manner of goodies.

Find:

  • ‘Value’ supermarket pitta bread
  • Leftover sausages or other meat
  • Leftover beans – red kidney, baked, Bernoulli, …..
  • Anything else that might suit a pitta bread – not soup . . . .

Method:

This method is a little bit vague due to the number of possible variation for fillings. 

  • Chuck your leftovers in a pan, whatever they are – probably with half a roughly chopped onion – heat ‘em up and pop them into split pitta breads that have been lightly toasted.
  • Grab hold and eat.

Told you it would be a little bit vague, but you get my meaning.       Pitta bread is very versatile so use your imagination.  Bacon, ham, cheese, beans, tomatoes….. it’ll all go in.

Corned beef hash:

Corned beef hash:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      20 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch

Serves:       As many as…..

Rating:         2:  Easy

Find:

  • Potatoes and other veg leftover from a previous meal
  • Onion
  • Can of corned beef
  • Can of baked beans
  • Oil
  • Table sauces in bottles – as desired
  • Dried herbs – I like thyme with this
  • Frying pan with a lid – or something to cover it with.

Method:

  • Chop the onions and start to slowly soften them in a medium pan with a little oil.
  • Cut up the potatoes and throw them in too. Give this mixture a couple of minutes to cook through whilst stirring to keep it all from sticking.
  • Turn the pan down to the lowest setting available, put in a splash of water and cover the frying pan.
  • Leave to just simmer’n’steam gently for a while; 5-10 mins-ish.
  • Cut the corned beef into half-inch cubes. Remove the lid, turn up the heat and throw in the corned beef, baked beans and the herbs.  The aim now is to combine all ingredients into an amorphous mass – almost like a big burger, except this one would fall apart as soon as you try to lift it out.  There should be sort of a skin form as the food cooks on the hot pan.  You might like to put in some table sauce(s).  Tomato ketchup?  Brown sauce?  Lea & Perrins?  Horseradish?  Add what you like (but not tartar sauce). 
  • Give it a good stir. Try to form burger shapes if you want to.  Personally, I don’t bother.
  • This can be served with other veg, sweetcorn, bread and a salad, a burger bun….