Saturday, November 01, 2008

Dishes to Suit the Occasion

Club sandwiches are made up of a double layer of filling (having a slice of bread in the middle) and sometimes called a 'double-decker'. Almost any substantial sandwich can be made up in this way, maybe keeping meat and onions in the bottom half, the salads in the top half, or in any which way you like.
The filling for this 'club' is based on the 'prawn cocktail', so would make a good snack, and probably an interesting packed lunch for adults. If, like me, you don't like chunky bits falling out of a deep sandwich, the filling could go into pitta 'pockets', or even be blitzed up to make a 'sandwich spread'.
Prawn Cocktail Clubbies: serves 4
1 tblsp Marie Rose sauce (see below for recipe)
4 oz (100g) cooked and peeled frozen prawns (thawed)
3 spring onions, chopped
8 slices brown bread (preferably Granary)
4 slices white bread
butter or marg for spreading
2 oz (50g) iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
2 carrots, grated
4 oz (100g) bean sprouts
salt and pepper
Place the tbslp of sauce into a bowl and mix in the well-drained prawns and spring onions. Toast all the bread lightly on both sides. Lay out eight brown or Granary slices and spread top-side only with the butter. Take four slices, butter-side up and spoon over the prawns, placing a layer of lettuce on top on top of each, covering with the white toast (lightly buttered on both sides). Mix together the carrots, beansprouts and seasoning to taste, and spread these over the white toast, covering with the final brow or Granary bread, butter side down. Cut each sandwich diagonally in half and serve. Sometimes it helps to hold the contents together by spearing each wedge of sandwich with a cocktail stick. But take care when eating that it doesn't stick in your face.
Marie-Rose prawn cocktail sauce:
4 tblsp mayonnaise
1 tblsp tomato ketchup
dash of lemon juice
dash of Worcestershire sauce
Mix well together. Keep in a clean screw-top bottle in the fridge and use as required. Will keep for at least a week in the fridge. This eats very well with chips instead of the bog-standard ketchup. Good also spooned over poached or grilled white fish instead of a white sauce.

This next recipe is oven-baked and as cooked at the same temperature as the dessert below, worth cooking both at the same time, as the advantage of this dish is that it can be eaten hot or cold (for a packed lunch perhaps?) so eat the pudding the day of making, and the pasta bake the next.
Easy-peasy Vegetarian Pasta Bake: serves 4
3 oz(75g) pasta penne or macaroni
1 onion, diced
3 oz (75g) frozen or canned sweetcorn
3 oz (75g) frozen peas
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and diced
2 large eggs
5 fl oz (150ml) milk
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or chopped mint or parsley)
2 oz (50g) mature Cheddar cheese, grated
2 tblps grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 8 minutes, then add the prepared vegetables and cook for a further 2 - 3 minutes or until the pasta is al dente and the vegetables softened. Drain well then tip into an oiled or buttered baking dish.
Beat the eggs with the milk and stir in the chosen herbs. Mix the cheeses together and add half to the egg mixture. Season to taste. Pour this over the pasta/vegetables, stirring gently so the egg will hold it all together when cooked, and then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 35-40 minutes until set and golden. If wishing to eat hot, cool slightly before cutting into four and serving with a green salad, or cool completely before cutting to eat cold

Final recipe today is the dessert. Depending upon whether you wish to impress or not, make it either the semi-professional way (as given today) or when you have managed to save a couple of egg whites, bring down the tin of custard powder and use to make the custard (hot) using the whites for the meringue.
Bananas and Custard Meringue: serves 4
3 bananas
1 pint (575ml) milk
3 tblsp cornflour
2 large (or 3 medium) eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 oz (75g) caster sugar
Blend the cornflour with a little milk, then pour the rest of the milk into a saucepan, adding the egg yolks, vanilla and the slaked (blended) cornflour. Whisk gently to break up the yolks, then over low heat, cook - stirring all the time with a wooden spoon, or a small whisk) until the mixture thickens and begins to boil. Simmer for one minute - still stirring, then remove from heat and stir in half the sugar. Peel and slice the bananas and stir into the custard. Spoon into ramekin dishes or heat-proof teacups. Keep warm whilst making the meringue.
Whisk the egg whites until they hold their shape, then whisk in the remaining sugar and keep beating until the meringue is glossy. Pile onto the custards and bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for five minutes unil golden.
Tip: for fuel saving, plan to make this dessert when the oven is on for something else. Alternatively, place under a low grill to brown the meringue, or use a chef's blowtorch.