Archive for August, 2007

Currently in my fridge …

August 31, 2007

I’ve made a list of the lunch type things in my fridge that need to be used in the next few weeks.

I seem to get stuck in a rut with lunches. I find something new I like, then have it again and again and forget what other things I might have.  I’m going to put together a page with a list of lunches on it sometime soon (when I’ve got my next writing assignment out of the way, probably).

Meanwhile, I have the following things to use up in the next few weeks:

  • goats cheese – 25g portions (they will probably keep till October)
  • chicken sesame bits (actually in the freezer but should be used within a month)
  • falafel from M&S (also in the freezer but needs to be used)
  • crab pate – I shall try this on savours. I’ve only had it on bread or toast before
  • feta – past its ‘die by’ date but probably fine. There is a lunch recipe I want to use it for
  • Applewood smoked cheddar
  • cheese with apricots
  • I’ve also got salad stuff (as always) and some sugar snaps and other perishables.

    Speedy supper: pancetta & mushroom pasta

    August 8, 2007

    I wanted something quick tonight as I was supposed to go to the water aerobic class which started at 8pm. I didn’t go, but that doesn’t matter here.

    I don’t usually use bottled sauces, preferring to make my own but there were some on special offer in the cash & carry so I thought I’d give them a go. They are ‘Sacla’, a brand I’ve seen advertised. Other purchases at the cash & carry were some pancetta – 4 x 125g portions in one pack and loads of mushrooms. I love mushrooms.

    I usually throw in everything I can find when making a stir-fry or a ‘bitsa’ but decided to go with the ‘less is more’ philosophy tonight. With fewer ingredients you can taste each of them more clearly.

    So, I tipped the pancetta (bacon bits) into a dry frying pan and let it cook for a few minutes – till all the tasty oil started to sizzle in the pan. I carefully took the bacon out of the pan, leaving behind as much of the oil as I could and putting the bacon on a sheet of kitchen paper on a plate so as much of the oil as possible would be absorbed by the paper, leaving a less fattening, tastier pile of bacon.

    making pancetta & mushroom pasta

    I tipped the mushrooms (which had been sliced – if they are tiny you could keep them whole) into the bacon fat in the pan and let them cook. I added some crushed garlic on top of the mushrooms. I find if I put garlic straight into the fat it burns.

    Meanwhile, I started the spaghetti cooking in a large pan of boiling, salted water. When the mushrooms were almost done and the spaghetti had been drained, I put the bacon back into the pan with the mushrooms and spooned half a jar of the puttanesca sauce on top. Then discovered it contained olives and picked them out. (Okay so you all knew that this sauce contains olives – I didn’t).

    pancetta & mushroom pasta

    After a couple of minutes of letting the sauce warm through I put the spaghetti in the frying pan with everything else, gave it a stir and dished up. A sprinkling of Parmesan on top completed it.

    I had made enough for three smallish portions, intending to have the third portion as my lunch tomorrow. However, I decided that it probably wasn’t very good lunchbox fare and let my SO, who wolfed his down and appeared to be looking for ‘the rest of his dinner’ have the extra portion.

    posh cheese & tomato lunch

    August 8, 2007

    The most delicious lunch I ever had was simple tomatoes on toast eaten in the shade of a sun umbrella at a table in Split, in Croatia. It looked, tasted and smelled so fresh and delicious.

    Looking around the kitchen at the weekend for ideas for lunch I found I some goats cheese, a variety of tomatoes and some tiger bread (crusty white bread made with sesame). I also discovered a forgotten bottle of basil oil that I’d bought for putting on lettuce leaves to make them less uninteresting.

    goat's cheese, tomatoes and basil oil on bread

    The bread was too fresh to spoil by putting it into the toaster. I was going to spray it with olive oil but, having found the basil-infused oil, decided to use that instead. It isn’t in a spray but the top does have a plastic device which looked as tough it should stop me from pouring too much at once.

    Or so I thought. After I spread the oil over the bread and mopped up as much of the excess as I could I put an assortment of sliced cherry tomatoes over the bread and then sprinkled them with Maldon sea salt flakes. The goats cheese was thickish slices so I cut those in half to make slices of the same diameter but half the thickness.

    I popped them under a hot grill (it was heating while I was slicing the cheese & tomatoes) and ate the result in the garden in the sunshine.

    I’ll definitely do it again – but with less oil!

    Enjoying the fruits of summer

    August 8, 2007

    We’ve been having summer puddings now that the berries are plentiful. I’ve got lots of recipes for this, but they are all basically the same. My SO has been making the puddings this year and has proved to be very good at it.

    summer pudding & Elmlea light

    Line a pudding basin with slices of day-old white bread.
    Gently cook a mixture of berries – (blueberries, blackberries, redcurrants, what-ever-you-have) lightly cooked with a little sugar or sweetener (if you use sugar it will help ‘keep’ the fruit for a little longer) and possibly some wine or spices if wanted. Strawberries are great in this but don’t cook them, add them after the cooking.
    Pour enough of the juice onto the bread so that the bread soaks up the juice. Then put the fruit into the bread-lined bowl.
    Then put a ‘lid’ of bread on top, cover the bowl and put some kind of weight on top to push it all down (a can of something from the larder would do).
    Refrigerate overnight.
    Next day you can slice and serve it with ice cream, or cream or – as here – lower-cal cream substitute.
    Because the fruit has been cooked and preserved it will keep for quite a number of days in the fridge.
    You can also make an autumn version with plums, blackberries, etc.
    I recently discovered that years ago it was called ‘spa pudding’ because people visiting health spas to lose weight were given it instead of pie.