9 October 2011

Food Pairing ~ 3 Sudden Dinners

~  Menu  ~

Bread & Dripping

Recently, having cooked roast beef and made gravy, I found I had a little beefy juice left and nearly threw it away!  A moment of madness.  Luckily I caught myself just in time and put it in the fridge in a little pot.  I thought I might stir it into the next beef stew or soup or something but then I remembered bread and dripping.  So today, whilst preparing a simple lunch of bread and cheese I tried my beefy goo to see if it was as good as I remember from when I was little.  It's quite good actually, especially with a little sea salt.

I have had three spontaneous dinners in a row; often I plan and cook the manly meals of the day and then at the last minute I think, plaintively, “Hmm, what about me?”.  Usually, of course, I come up with something just fine.  So here are the last three evening meals I have eaten which demonstrate pretty well, I feel, how scraps and leftovers can be combined to make something really worth eating.

1.                  Lamb & Quinoa Pilaf of sorts

Whilst looking in the freezer for something sausagey with which to make Toad in the Hole I found a little frozen quinoa and a sandwich bag of frozen chickpeas which gave me An Idea.  Having cooked 4 lamb shanks the night before, when there are only 3 of us, I stripped the meat from the leftover shank and froze it together with most of its lush winey gravy.  For my dinner I heated up the quinoa and chickpeas in the leftover gravy but, sadly, it was a little blah.  I stirred in a spoonful of Spicy Red Onion Marmalade by The Cherry Tree (which you can read about here) and Geronimo-ish, I just needed to add crunchy sea salt and black pepper to achieve yum!   I don’t think I need give a recipe and I didn’t even take a picture!

2.                  Chilli con a bit of Carne

When making Mince & Dumplings for the men I had a little too much meat, even for them!   This I transferred to a clean pan I added …

~   Some cumin, black pepper, garlic paste and cooked together for a few minutes before adding …
~   A few kidney beans that I’d been wondering what to do with,
~   A good dollop of Tesco’s Finest Whole Cherry Tomato & Chilli Pasta Sauce which I always keep in the fridge.
~   A little squirt of Sweet Chilli Sauce.  I use this in lots of dishes to slightly sweeten in the way that I once used a gastrique (which is a caramelised sugar and vinegar reduction for flavouring soups and sauces).

I simmered it all together for 10 minutes or so and ate it with a little (leftover) basmati rice.  I haven’t had Chilli con Carne for years and it made a great change.

3.                  Haddock baked with Fridge Gleanings

Last night we were going to get fish ‘n’ chips but after a long day at Trago  couldn’t be bothered.  I scoured the freezer and came up with enough bits and pieces to do a rather fine mixed grill for my men involving fillet steak, black pudding, free range sausages (what a sight they must be roaming wild!) and smoky bacon and, for me, some frozen haddock.  So I did have fish and chips after all but my fish was lightly fried in seasoned flour and finished by baking for few minutes on a bed of fridge gleanings; cherry tomatoes, red onion, medium hot sliced fresh chilli and crumbled chorizo which I cooked together a little before I added the fish.   A good dollop of roasted garlic mayonnaise completed my meal and I am so glad I can cook!

I occurs to me, and I’m not surprised because I knew it anyway, that the reason I can whip up such yummy meals with no planning is that I know what goes with what; for instance lamb and chickpeas, chorizo and cod (and haddock!) etc.   The problem is that this comes from experience (like studying wine – sadly you have to keep tasting the stuff to learn) and I don’t think it can be taught.  In the meantime however, whilst learning, Niki Segnit’s excellent book “The FlavourThesaurus”  which I reviewed a while ago is a really useful (and pleasant) resource as is the FoodPairing website although this is limited in scope to non-members.  Their blog makes good reading too.  The best thing, however, is to keep eating and learning.

Changing the subject …

For those of you in the UK - you know the Plusnet ad when the guy is dancing and his dad is sucking on a straw and calls out “Hello Son!”?  Remember the face his son makes?  I keep doing that!

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1 comment:

debs said...

i was reared on bread and dripping!we were all poor upt north y know!