Friday, January 19, 2007

Needing Encouragement?

Yesterday's intended fish pie didn't materialise, probably because I didn't really feel like making it. This often happens. Instead we had liver, bacon, cabbage and a can of new potatoes (because I didn't have any small ones )..

This means that fish (but can't promise) should be on the menu tonight. After all, it is a Friday (anyone as old as me will remember that it was obligatory for Friday to be a fish day). But which fish dish? Whether it is the howling gales, which always puts me in a bad mood, or the Challenge, for some reason I am feeling a bit mardy today and not wanting to do what I should. It makes sense to serve Fish Pie as I have potatoes starting to sprout that need to be used up. But I much prefer to make either a Kedgeree or a Paella. On the other hand - if I made a Chowder, potatoes could go in that.
Another reason I have the hump is that I asked Beloved to bring me in a packet of crisps to cheer me up and he said he wouldn't because they were not included as part of my Challenge. Hoist with my own Petard, as the saying goes.

In truth it is much easier to save money if meals for the week are planned ahead, this giving the chance to 'sort of' share ingredients between dishes. And I did do this at the start of the Challenge. But I am a happiest being a 'spur of the moment' girl, content with not knowing what Beloved would like for supper until the day itself.

Roman Risi E Bisi:
1 pint frozen peas, thawed
1 pint chicken stock
half pint measure of long grain rice
2 - 3 rashers of bacon*, diced
Bring the stock to the boil and add the rice. Simmer for 10 minutes, adding a little more stock or boiling water if necessary. Stir in the peas and cook for a further five minutes or until the rice is just tender. When at this stage, turn off the heat and cover.
Meanwhile, in a small pan fry the bacon adding a little olive oil. Fry until lightly crisped then stir, including any oil, into the peas and rice.
* this makes good use of those scraps of bacon you find in an economy pack.
Tip: Make this go further and taste even better by stirring in or topping with finely sliced and crisply fried onions.

Another good recipe to use up those chunky bits of bacon from the economy pack is:
Bacon Hashed Potatoes:
Allow a potato per person and a rasher of thick bacon. Peel and boil the potatoes until tender, and fry the bacon until browned, remove bacon from pan but keep the fat. Mash the potatoes with the bacon fat and a little milk until fluffy. Stir in the bacon bits and season with pepper.
Form into flat cakes and fry until golden on each side.

Transformation Sauce:
Use this to disguise any cooked and shredded poultry - perfect for using those scraps from the carcase after making stock.
2 tblsp Dijon mustard
1 tblsp toasted flaked almonds
half a pint of halved seedless grapes
6 oz mayonnaise (or 3oz each mayo and Greek yoghurt)
This amount will make enough for 1lb cooked chicken.
Serve with rice or green salad.
Tip: Instead of mustard, use 2 tsp Korma Curry paste, some sultanas instead of grapes, and blend a little mango chutney into the mayo/yoghurt. Serve with cold rice.

Crunchy Toppings:
To make the boring more interesting.
Top rice pudding with a layer of dark brown sugar and brown under the grill until bubbling. Take care - it will be very hot. Leave to cool and it will set to a caramel.
Cover a cream or yoghurt dish with a good layer of demerara sugar and leave in the fridge overnight. It will dissolve into the cream and set to make a crunchy top.
Crumble meringues and sprinkle over (or mix into) fruit and cream or ice-cream.