Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More to Store?

Although I used to cook several varieties of beans, then store these in the freezer - they do take up a lot of space, so am thinking about buying cooked canned beans (these are cheap enough) which will sit in the larder, leaving me more room in the freezer to take advantage of meat, fish, poultry and vegetable 'offers'. These saving me far more money that home-cooking the beans - which although can still work out cheaper than the tinned, the savings are only a matter of pennies. I prefer to save the pounds.
When space is limited, whether in the garden or in the freezer, we should aim to grow and store the foods that save us the most money. Sometimes these may be 'luxuries' and very seasonal, like raspberries, but the savings are great and the berries freeze well.

Aiming to get a kitchen running both productively and profitably means tackling it with a more professional than domestic approach, but the more we 'manage' our culinaries, the more savings we can make or, depending upon the way we look at it - spend less. Hope that I've been able to prove over these past few years that - given the right approach - we can end up raising our standard of eating, but still spending less than before.

Really good fishcakes are made using equal quantities of flaked cooked fish and mashed potatoes. Perhaps some chopped parsley is added and a little seasoning, but like the best beefburgers (where only tender beef is minced with a little onion and nothing else) these can prove expensive to make.
So today am giving a recipe for fishcakes made with canned pink salmon (buy these when on offer), mashed potato and a good variety of other inexpensive 'storecupboard' ingredients. This is one of those recipes that states a price - and at under 55p a serving - well worth making. If you use canned tuna (again bought on offer), these may work out even cheaper.

More than just Fish Cakes: serves 4
2 teaspoons sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 oz (50g) frozen peas
2 oz (50g) frozen sweetcorn (or could use canned)
1 lb (500g) mashed potato
salt and pepper
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley (opt)
1 x 213g can pink salmon, drained and flaked
1 oz (25g) plain flour
5 oz (125g) slightly stale (but fresh) breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten with 2 tsp cold water
Gently fry the onions in the oil until soft, but not coloured. Stir in the peas and sweetcorn (pref thawed) cover, and cook for 2 minutes. Then set aside.
Put the mashed potato into a bowl and season to taste, add the parsley (if using), the salmon, and cooked vegetables, and mix together until well combined. Form the mixture into 20 small balls (or make less but larger), and lay them on a baking sheet, flattening each slightly.
Put the flour in a shallow dish, the eggs in another, and the breadcrumbs in a third. Dip each fishcake first into the flour, then into the egg, and finally into the breadcrumbs.
Fry a few fishcakes for 3 minutes each side in hot shallow oil over medium heat until golden, then drain on kitchen paper and keep warm. Repeat until all the fishcakes have been cooked.
These can be eaten alone with tartare sauce and a squeeze of lemon, or served with a crisp green salad.

As a bonus you get an extra recipe, mainly because it is similar to the above in that it uses mainly mashed potato, but this time with cheese instead of fish, and cabbage instead of peas. This should be easily be adapted to use a different leafy veg, and soft cheese.

Melting Cabbage Balls: serves 4 - 5
11oz (300g) Savoy cabbage, thinly shredded
1 shallot, finely diced
1 lb 12oz (800g) mashed potato
salt and pepper
1 pack mini-mozzarella balls, drained
2 eggs, beaten
4 oz (100g) fresh breadcrumbs
Cook the cabbage in salted boiling water for five minutes, then add the shallots. Simmer a further 2 minutes then drain well.
Put the mashed potato into a large bowl, add seasoning to taste, then add the cabbage and onions. Mix together thoroughly.
Divide mixture into 20, and the mozzarella balls into 20, and wrap the cabbage 'mash' around each piece of cheese, making sure it is completely covered. Repeat until all balls are made and then chill for 1 hour (or longer if wishing to make in advance).
To cook, dip each ball into the egg, then into the breadcrumbs, then preferably deep-fry a few at a time for about 5 - 6 minutes until golden brown - although they could be shallow fried in hot oil, if turned regularly, Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm while the rest are cooked, then serve immediately with salad (or chips) or salad AND chips.