Friday, 31 October 2014

Beautiful soothing ratatouille

Another regrettably photo-free post (for now) - I'll add one with photos, but want to get it up so very dear friends following the lovingly hand-crafted cooking-for-one menu plan have the recipes! I find it hard to believe that in all the ratatouilles I've made, admired, rejoiced over, I haven't actually photographed them, but maybe that's also the space they occupy. Slow, private, healthful, retreating, high-sensitivity retreat space. From an exhaustion of high-octane over-stimulation, ladle out a bowlful of warm red-green ratatouille, all the flavours perfectly and gently combined, and soothe...

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Collating chilli con carne

This is one of the uses for the magnificent bolognese cascade and also one of the steps on the cooking-for-one meal plan. Once you've got your bolognese, the rest of it is really just heating and collating.

Perfect rice

I hated rice as a child. We had this revolting stuff in South Africa called Tastic rice (taking the fan out of fantastic - took me years to work out what they'd done there) and as far as I was concerned, it was like chewing wool.  Unless it was brown Tastic rice, which was like chewing wool with added wood shavings. I knew that in some countries people had rice as a staple food, and by God I pitied them.

Quick 'n dirty frittata

Rapid-fire summary: This is not authentic and Spanish.  It is great, and quick.  Fry onions or not, cooked potatoes if they’re around, fresh chilli or garlic if you will, any available vegetables, and pour over whisked egg.  When it’s almost cooked through, grate cheese on top and stick it under the grill to finish off.  Summer veg – peppers, courgettes, baby spinach – work beautifully.  Served on a bed of baby spinach, it’s gorgeous.  It’s also tasty cold.

How to chop a bell pepper

Maybe this is super-obvious, but I spent several years when I first learnt to cook using a lot of peppers and being baffled at how best to disassemble them. So for anyone else that's puzzled, here you go!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Sausage & mash

Another bare-bones post in great haste, to be replaced with a langourous photo-rich post when possible, for people who need the cooking for one menu plan recipes.

Total cooking time: 30-40 minutes
Feeds: 2-3, if you're 1 person you're going to freeze some of it

Big Greek Salad

This is a post in great haste, as actual Real Live People are doing the cooking-for-one menu week plan and need their recipe instructions! I'll replace it with a more photogenic post next time I make a Greek salad.

A big salad can last three days - four if you push it - if you treat it right. That's brilliant because for two or three days lunch is just whipping out Here's One I Made Earlier! This is how to treat it right:

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Menu plan ~ Cooking for one, Week 1

A week's cooking plan, with shopping list, so you eat healthy homemade food all week and only cook once a day, and have half of next week's food cooked.

Green masala paste

This is another one from The Balti Bible and is amazingly intense, fresh, & flavoursome. It's one of the key ingredients in jalfrezi; you can also stir a tablespoon or two into cooked lentils to make a dahl, add a teaspoon to any curry at the end instead of / as well as fresh coriander, mix a quarter teaspoon into 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise for egg mayonnaise... it would probably do well being stirred into cooked veg, too. A little goes a long way. If you accidentally lick the spoon (as I invariably do), your head blows off with herb intensity.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Who wants to make garam and Balti masala?

I learnt to make both these spice mixes from The Balti Bible, which my dad gave me in 1999. I'll be posting a few of the recipes, but if you like curry, and you like cooking, I seriously recommend it. Most of the main-meal recipes use both garam masala and Balti masala, and the side dishes generally get a sprinkling of garam at the end. Nothing compares to the smell (and flavour) of freshly made curry mix; the exorbitant supermarket jars fade to dust in comparison. Little jars of spice mix also make super presents. (Masala means mix.) This is project-cooking, weekend daytimes, holidays: the mix you make will last you plenty of time so you don't mind spending a sunny or rainy Saturday afternoon filling the house with spice smells.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

How to make a white sauce (bechamel)

"MOMMEEEEEE! MY WHITE SAUCE IS GETTING LUMPY!" Wail of my teenagehood echoing out the kitchen into the soft air next to the gigantic hibiscus hedge (two storeys high and more, you can lie in the extra-deep bath upstairs and stare out at blooming hibiscus) and Mom runs in from the studio and commits witchcraft with extra flour and rapid stirring, and the untenable white sauce is tenable once more.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Meal cascade: a VAT of bolognese!

The idea of a meal cascade is that you cook in massive bulk (cheaper & then you don't have to cook if you don't feel like it) and you don't eat the same thing again and again for months to come. This is the magnificent bolognese's meal cascade:

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The magnificent bolognese

This is the opposite of Spontaneous Pasta, my quickety-quick don't-even-cook-the-tomato-just-warm-it ten-minute-from-start-to-finish dish. You are going to sloooooow cook this baby.
You're going to pick a day when you're home anyway and feel mellow and relaxed and quietly interested in the world. Hey, put it on at lunchtime if you fancy.

How to make a bouquet garni - Megan trick

I spent years of my life painstakingly stripping tiny thyme leaves off tiny fragile thyme stalks, flimsy wee oregano leaves off flimsy tearable oregano stalks, stripping and chopping rosemary... No. A real bouquet garni is a muslin bag in which you pop all your herbs. I believe there is a world in which people have muslin and sew little muslin bags, but I don't live in that world. I HAVE STRING!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Anyone want to make tapenade?

Last-minute decision to join the Wolvercote big lunch, nothing prepared, but tapenade is crazy-quick (especially if you don't stop to take photographs at every stage) and all I was missing was lemons, and the corner shop could stump those up, at least.

How to chop onion - chef's trick

Nothing will stop onions making you cry. That is just part of the human condition. But they can be easier to chop and not go slithering all over the place. (That said, a really sharp knife can help lessen the amount of onion spray heading for your eyes, so there is that.)

Chop the onion in half with all its skin and bits on....

How to peel garlic - chef's trick

This is actually two tricks - depending how dry your garlic's skin is: the rub-it-off technique, or the knife-side-slam. Credit for teaching me the knife-side-slam goes to my uncle & godfather.