June: How to get the husband to eat fish

So, the husband hates fish. Hates it. Unless he’s stabbed it himself whilst diving – in which case it’s just about fresh enough to be tolerable. Unfortunately I don’t dive and am more likely to stab myself than whatever I’m aiming at if given a sharp implement. So I paid some men to stab a fish for me and cooked it on the same day. The hubby said he’d at least try whatever I cooked up…

Ingredients
1 extremely large cod fillet, cut down to 2 nice sized steaks.
1 chili
3 spring onions
2 stalks of lemongrass
2 tblsp creme fraiche
1 lime

1. Preheat oven to 170C

2. Chop the chili and spring onions and put in a bowl. Add the juice and zest of the lime and mix thoroughly.

3. Make a small foil parcel for each fish steak. Add a lemongrass stalk to each and then place the steaks on top.

4. Add the creme fraiche to the chili mixture, stir well, then divide between the parcels.

5. Cook in oven for about 20 minutes.

6. Serve with vegetables and stuff.

And, in the end, hubby not only ate it, but said it was lovely ūüôā

May, no really it is: Beef and Brocolli Pasta Thing

This is a great one for when quick and easy but nommy food is needed. It only takes about 15 minutes total.

Ingredients
Pasta (100-150g per person)
rump steak
brocolli
Boursin (the peppery one works particularly well)

1. Put the water on to heat for the pasta.

2. Slice steak in to thin strips. Chop brocolli in to small pieces.

3. When the water is boiling, put the pasta on to cook.

4. Put some oil in another pan. Once hot, add the beef and stir fry until just starting to brown. Add the brocolli. Stir fry for a couple of minutes then add the boursin. Stir until boursin is melted.

5. Drain pasta and then add to beef and brocolli.

6. Mix thoroughly and serve.

7. Nom!

Italian Style Pork Stew

The ingredients appearing in this dish are:

5 Pork steaks – diced quite large
1 Courgette – diced
1/3 Marrow Рdiced
2 Sticks of Celery Рdiced
4 Baby Sweet Orange Peppers Рdiced
1 Red Pepper Рdiced
3 Cloves of Garlic – crushed
1 Large Jar of Pasta Sauce – I used a tomato and chargrilled vegetable one
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

      

Having prepared our guest stars, I poured some olive oil in a large casserole dish, chucked in the squished cloves and added some salt and pepper.  Then I introduced the pork to the dish and made sure all the chunks were coated in the oil and because that was so much fun, I did the same with the vegetables.  It smelled wonderful and looked very pretty.

Unfortunately, the prettiness did not last long as the jar of sauce was added and everything was giving a stir, trying very hard not to slop things out the dish. I went a bit mad with the water, thinking that there wasn’t enough sauce.

A rather horrible problem occurred at this stage.  Apparently, the lid we had was not the lid for this dish so we cracked on using tin foil.

And into the preheated oven, the dish went.  Approximately 170 degrees which caused another panic until I found what gas mark that was!  It stayed in for almost two hours with me occasionally panicking and having a poke and a stir.

This, like the ugly duckling in the story, turned into a swan.  A particularly tasty swan.

It was served with crusty bread, mashed potato with cheddar and mashed swede, carrot and sweet potato.

Lessons learned:

Buy more sauce!
Don’t panic and use lots of water.
Make sure you can find the right lid.

Great things about this dish:

It seems like you could get away with whatever vegetables you wanted.
Really easy to do – chop, mix and leave.
Really tasty!

Would serve four hungry people easily.

Spinach, Bacon and Cheese Frittata

(Oops.. this should have been my June post. Um.)

In keeping with my no-junk week, I wanted something proteiny I could have in the fridge, cut chunks of, and eat hot or cold. I’m also obsessed with spinach at the moment for some reason. So this fit the bill. I made up the recipe to fit what I had on hand, but it’s not greatly different from many out there, I think. I don’t really measure when I’m making things up, unfortunately, so the amounts are estimates.

One other thing – it’s not truly a frittata, as I don’t have a pan that will go from hob to oven. So I cooked the things that needed cooking first, then put the whole lot in a baking tin.

Ingredients
6 eggs
1 cup grated cheddar
1/3 cup milk
2 cups spinach, cooked and drained
1 small onion (I used a fat shallot I had lurking in the fridge)
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence
Good grind of black pepper

Method
1. Chop the bacon and onion small and fry together until onion is translucent and bacon is cooked through.
2. Add the garlic and spinach and stir well together. Set aside.
3. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the milk.
4. Beat in the herbs and pepper, then stir the cheese in thoroughly.
5. Tip the spinach mixture into a baking receptacle (I used a tall round 8″ cake tin, but anything will do, really. Not too big, this should be quite thick).
6. Carefully pour the egg mixture over it and stir gently to distribute the spinach and cheese
7. Bake at 160C (fan – adjust as required) for about 40 minutes. It should be golden brown on top and set, cooked all the way through.
8. Remove from oven and let it settle. Slice and serve!

This thing is an Atkins delight, and very concentrated. Start with a small slice! When cool, it will hold together beautifully and should keep for two or three days in the fridge. I plan to have a chunk of it for breakfast tomorrow!

Green Lentils with Bacon

For some inexplicable reason, my system has decided it wants aggressively healthy food this week. Possibly in self defence, shoring up its stocks of vitamins in preparation for what is likely to be a weekend of cake, but who knows. In any case – I have avoided carbs of all sorts, and ventured into unfamiliar territory.

Lentils, of course, the small red variety, are a staple in my kitchen but generally turn up in soup. Split peas likewise. I have really never had much to do with green lentils; never knowingly encountered them, and certainly never cooked anything involving them. So my sudden desire for chicken, spinach, and green lentils with bacon came completely out of nowhere. It hit so fast that I didn’t even think to take pictures until it was all done – and to be fair, it doesn’t take a lot of doing. No fancy stages, no lengthy prep or cooking – at least not the way I did it – just a delicious side dinner.

Ingredients
1 can green lentils (or prepare them yourself, I guess – about a cup?)
4 rashers streaky smoked bacon
1 stick celery
1 clove garlic
a dash of oil
1 tsp bouillon powder (I used Maggi)
sprinkle of Herbes de Provence

Method
1. Dice the onion, celery and bacon small. Fry up the bacon until fat starts to come out of it; if very dry, add a dash of oil and then add the onions and celery.
2. Fry together until the onion goes translucent
3. Drain and add the lentils and give it a good stir around
4. Add the bouillon powder, herbs and a healthy dash of water to moisten
5. Cook for about another 5 mins til all heated through and flavours melded

Not pretty*, but so tasty! I had this as a dual protein with a pounded, lemon/garlic chicken breast, and a pile of spinach. Fantastic – enough to make me think adding spinach to the lentil/bacon mix would be a winner in itself. It’s even better reheated the next day.

(*I do have a picture. I’m debating adding it! Maybe later….)

Not pretty. But oh so tasty.

No Pastry Pear Tartlets

What can I say – these sounded delicious, and I haven’t made tartlets of any sort before. Simple, quick, and best of all – no pastry to worry over. They also use icing sugar in place of regular, which I haven’t seen before. I had all the ingredients on hand, so I thought I’d try them.

I only have 4 tartlet pans, so I adjusted the amounts.

Ingredients:
120g butter
45g plain flour
120g icing sugar
65g ground almonds
2 large eggs, beaten
2 small pears, thinly sliced

Method:
Preheat oven to 200C, and butter the tartlet tins.
Melt the butter.
Sift flour and sugar together, then stir in the ground almonds. (I actually didn’t sift anything – it all turned out fine).
Mix in the butter and eggs.
Divide between the tins and place pear slices on top. (I only used one pear, and put a sliced quarter on each tin.)
Bake 10 mins.
Turn the oven down to 170C and back a further 5 mins, or until evenly golden brown.

Yummy.

These were indeed delicious; I was a little surprised that there was no spice, no vanilla, just that very short ingredient list, but they’re perfect. Buttery, crisp at the edges, dense and cakey, they would work equally well with other fruit I think – maybe plums or raspberries, anything sweet and juicy like that. Sadly the pear I used wasn’t nearly as ripe as I thought, so that aspect was a bit disappointing. I shall try again with a much riper one!

Also point to note – even cut down, this made more mixture than would fit comfortably in the tins. I took the precaution of setting the little tins in a bigger roasting pan and it’s just as well; the one in the photo was the only one that didn’t overflow, volcano-like.

Turkey Meatloaf

Meatloaf really hasn’t been a feature in my life. My vague impressions of it have been less than favourable and there’s no family tradition for a “good one”. So I have a sort of distant curiosity about why it’s so massively popular, and of course I’m interested in the million variations that turn up again and again on the web.

Then I saw a recipe for turkey meatloaf that rang a few of my bells. Lots of fresh veggies. Turkey, not a heavy mass of beef, or the abominable pork/beef mixture. Mozzarella on the top! Garlic and courgette and onions and oregano.. okay, time for an experiment.

Of course, I am incapable of following a recipe perfectly. I nearly sprain something when I try – which I will do, if it’s cakes or some other incomprehensible wizardry – but savoury? Meat? Hah! I rolled up my sleeves and made it up as I went along, using this recipe as a general inspiration more than an exact guide.

Most of the ingredients!

Ingredients:
The meatloaf:
500g ground turkey
Half a midsize courgette, grated
Half a midsize red pepper, diced small
1 celery stalk, diced small
Half a medium onion, diced small
1 slice bread, torn into crumbs
Large handful of flat parsley (leaves only), chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large egg
2 tbl milk
1 tbl oil
Generous shake of oregano
Generous grind of black pepper

The topping:
1 tub pasta sauce, I used a Mediterranean Vegetable one.
a generous handful of grated mozzarella

Pre topping. I put the whole tub on.

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Beat together the egg, milk and oil.
Mix all the meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl, not too hard. I used a fork and a fairly light touch. You don’t want to make a great heavy mass, just get everything combined.
Tip into a loaf pan (I did give mine a spray with oil) and spread it out evenly. I used a 2lb pan so it only came up about half way. Don’t press it down too hard.
Top with the pasta sauce.
Pop into the oven and bake for 40 mins.
Take it out, sprinkle the mozzarella over the top and return to oven for 10 mins.

Not sure how you take appetising pictures of meatloaf…. maybe I should have slathered extra sauce over it!

Verdict: tasty but a slightly odd grainy texture – from the courgette, I think. Falls apart fairly easily, which is a good thing (not too dense) as well as a less good one (not sure how well it will slice cold). The sauce makes it; next time I’ll definitely reserve some extra for serving. I understand meatloaf is traditionally served with mashed potatoes, and that would be awesome. ūüôā

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