Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cost of Cooking

These are GOOD!
If only salted butter is available, then reduce the salt by half:
Easy Nachos: makes 48 - 60
9 oz (250g) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tblsp unsalted butter
4 fl oz (100ml) semi-skimmed milk, warmed
oil for frying
paprika pepper
Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, add the butter and rub with the fingers to make coarse 'breadcrumbs'. Stir in the milk using a knife, then form into a ball, cover and leave to stand for 15 minutes.
Removed dough and cut into 12 even pieces. Taking each, roll out on a floured board to a circle (about tea plate size) then cut into triangles (four or five from each circle). Shallow fry in hot oil for 3 minutes on each side, then drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle a little paprika over. Best served soon after making. Not sure if they will keep in an airtight container.

This reminds me of poppadums I used to fry - using the bought 'discs'. Discovered that once cooked (they take only a few seconds to expand and become crisp), after draining on kitchen paper, these would stay crisp for several days when stored in layers (each between a sheet of kitchen paper)in a large lidded tin (I used one of those huge tins of sweets (Quality Street) etc, that we used to buy to last the whole family (all 16) over Christmas. Always do save 'tins'. Sweet tins, biscuit tins etc., as have found - when lined correctly - they can double up as cake tins. Also (naturally) can be used as storage tins, and the large round tins work really well to keep a delicate gateaux. Just stand the cake on the lid and put the base over it, just making sure you stick a note to the base (now facing upwards) that "this tin should not be turned the right way up"!

These fish fingers can be made with a mixture of fish if you wish (salmon, white fish, smoked fish). Crusty Fish Fingers: serves 4
2 lbs (1kg) ling (or similar) fillets
2 tblsp chopped fresh chives or parsley
1 tsp curry powder
3 oz (75g) plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 tblsp milk
3 oz (75g) fresh breadcrumbs
2 oz (50g) desiccated coconut
oil for frying
Remove skin from fish, also any bones that might be there, and coarsely chop the flesh, put into the bowl of a food processor with the herbs and curry powder, and 'pulse' until ground down to almost a paste.
Line a tray with baking parchment and spoon out the fish mix onto this, spreading evenly to the thickness of a finger, then chill for an hour to firm up before cutting into 16 even-sized slices.
Get three dishes ready, one holding the flour, the next with the egg and milk mixed together, the third with the crumbs and coconut mixed together.
Carefully remove each 'fish finger' using a fish slice, dust each overall with flour, then dip into the egg mix, followed by a dip into the crumb/coconut mix. If you wish double dip by dipping again into egg then the crumbs to give a crispier coating.
Shallow fry the fingers in hot oil (do this in batches to avoid cooling the fat down too much)until golden and cooked through, turning once. Drain on kitchen paper.
These are good served with a crisp green salad, and oven chips. Or what you will.

Next time you wish to have a go at making fish cakes, try this next for size. Unlike our traditional version that uses half and half fish to mashed potato, these oriental 'cakes' contain no spuds. The advantage of these is that they can be made a day ahead, covered and chilled before cooking, or frozen for up to month.
Thai Curried Fish Cakes: makes 24
2 lbs (1kg)white fish fillets
1 egg
2 tsp finely choppped fresh coriander
3 tsp sugar
4 oz (100g) red curry paste
4 oz (100g) green string beans, sliced thinly
oil for frying
As with the above recipe, prepare the fish then blend with the egg, coriander and curry paste until smooth. Put into a bowl with the beans and mix well.
Taking a rounded tablespoon of the mixture roll into a ball, flatten slightly, then repeat with the remaining mixture.
Normally these would be deep fried, but can be shallow fried if turned once the base has crisped up, and then possibly turned again to make sure the balls have cooked through. Drain on kitchen paper. Good served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce.

The mention of sweet chilli sauce reminds me that this would another way to use the liquid from the jar of Peppadew. It tastes much like a clear chilli sauce anywat but without any colour, and with only a hint of 'capsicum/pepper' so a dash of tomato ketchup and a few drops of Tabasco might make it more like the 'real thing'. Much cheaper anyway, and - from my viewpoint - as long as something home-made tastes as good as the bought, then why spend more?

Here is yet another recipe for fishcakes that use 'wot we've got'. At least storecupboard ingredients, and (hopefully) a courgette grown in the garden. Most of us have a carrot and can of fish (salmon or tuna), and the other ingredients are also 'storecupboard'. If you haven't carrot, use grated parsnip, if no courgette use grated butternut squash.
Normally the bones are removed from the canned salmon before using, but myself prefer to mash them up and combine them in the dish as they contain a good amount of calcium and are perfectly edible. But if you don't wish for the bit of 'crunch' they give, leave them out
Fish Croquettes: serves 2
1 medium potato, cooked and mashed
1 x 105g can salmon or other canned fish, drained
1 egg, beaten
2 tblsp finely grated carrot
2 tblsp finely grated courgette
2 tblsp finely grated Cheddar cheese
black pepper
2 tblsp plain flour
2 tblsp olive oil
lemon wedges to serve
Mix the potato, salmon, carrot, courgette and cheese together with a grinding of pepper to taste, then taking a tablespoon at a time, form into thick 'sausages' (aka croquettes). Toss in flour, shaking away the excess, then heat the oil in a small frying pan, cook the croquettes in batches, turning occasionally, until browned all over. Serve with lemon wedges, and a crisp salad. Or again - with what you will.