Friday, July 18, 2014

Craving for a Casserole.

A fairly cool night last night, waking to an even cooler day.  Very overcast but not depressingly so. A sudden flash of lightening and 5 seconds later the rumble of thunder (storm then 5 miles away) - and that was all we had.  Don't think it even rained.  Very shortly after the clouds rolled away and we had some sun for a while, but far too windy to sit outside for our Friday coffee.   Clouds returned and the forecast is rain and storms but not necessarily where we live. 

There have been severe storms and rain in several parts of the country, and Alison has had temperatures of 32C with heavy rain, causing high humidity.  Think however much we love to have sunny days, we all feel we could do with a change.   I'm fed up of eating salads, and B doesn't want to eat proper meals when he is warm (he has been working outside a lot this week laying slabs in the garden, and also at the 'shed' at the sailing club).

Am envious of Kate who is now experiencing the Australian winter.  I really am looking forward to much cooler days and can cook warming stews and casseroles (similar but stews cooked on the hob, casseroles in the oven).
Her suggestion that my tiredness may be due to the activities during the early part of this month is probably right.  Not just winding down, more like switching off.   I did feel better this morning, but after doing the laundry, then chatting to my neighbour for nearly 3 hours, all I wanted to do was sit down and put my feet up - and continue my crochet.   I am getting addicted to this new craft.  However, this evening I came to the end of the ball of wool that Gill left for me, so now I'll either have to pull it all back and start again, or go and buy more wool (think the latter, so I can now start on crocheting a throw).

Although I've not been to many countries, certainly noticed that in Denmark nearly everyone spoke English, the same in the Netherlands.  The German language is fairly similar to English, and although I wouldn't be able to understand it when spoken, I can sometimes translate bits of it.  They also could speak some English.
In France no-one seemed to want to speak English, though they did appreciate us trying to speak French, and when we did they did ease up a bit to help communicating.
In Tunisia they spoke Arabic, although the waiters in the hotel spoke English.  Many Tunisians could speak French (the road signs were in both Arabic and French) as the country was once occupied by the French, and did find in a few shops my school-girl French got the message across. 

Not sure what the weather is like outside at the moment, but indoors it seems very humid, so am hoping that it will cool down a bit before I go to bed (in about a couple of hours).  B is still out at the social club, so no doubt I'll be kept awake by his constant puffing, singing, talking, and groaning that he always does in his sleep (for hours) when he's had a night out.   If I can get to bed first and get to sleep then I can probably sleep through it.

Adding cheese to a white sauce turns it into 'sauce mornay', so here is a recipe to use this.  As it uses mainly storecupboard ingredients a useful dish to make..  We could of course make the cheese sauce from a packet, but if so add more grated cheese for that extra flavour. With the recipe given, milk could be used instead of cream, cream gives extra richness and a good way to use up cream we may have left in the fridge.
This dish can be made up ready to bake a day ahead as long as it is kept covered, in the fridge. Allow to come to room temperature before baking, then as it is being baked from cold instead of when using the warm filling, add extra cooking time to make sure it is heated through.

The recipe is enough for 2 servings (or even 3), and certainly when baked in ramekin dishes would serve 4 - 6 as a starter at a dinner party.

Tuna Mornay: serves 2
1 oz (25g) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 rib celery, trimmed and finely chopped
1 tblsp plain flour
6 fl oz (175ml) milk
5 fl oz (150ml) xream
3 oz (50g) grated Cheddar cheese
1 x 130g can sweetcorn kernels, drained
1 x 185g can tuna, drained
1 oz (25g) stale breadcrumbs
Melt the butter in a saucepan and gently fry the onion and celery, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes or until softened, then stir in the flour, cook for a further minute, then gradually blend in the milk and cream. Raise the heat, continuing to stir until the mixture boils and thickens.  Remove heat and stir in two-thirds of the cheese, then when this is beginning to melt, fold in the the sweetcorn and flaked tuna.
Spoon into two x 1 pint ovenproof dishes.  Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining cheese and sprinkle this on top.  Bake at 180C, gas 4 for about 15 minutes or until heated through.

It might be that we choose not to make the above recipe as we don't have the smaller sized cans of main ingredients.   So here is a recipe to serve four that uses larger sized cans, but when cooking for two, and halving the ingredients, then we would be left with enough sweetcorn and tuna to make the above recipe

Tuna and Sweetcorn Burgers: serves 4
3 oz (75g) white bread, crumbed
1 x 198g can sweetcorn, drained
2 x 185g cans tuna, drained
1 oz (25g) grated Cheddar cheese
3 spring onions, or 1 shallot, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
2 tblsp sunflower oil
wholemeal buns/baps, and salad/salsa
Put the breadcrumbs into a bowl.  Put half the sweetcorn into a food processor and whizz until finely chopped, than add this to the bread with the remaining whole corn kernels, the flaked tuna, cheese, onion and seasoning.  Mix well together, adding the egg, bit by bit (you may not need it all) until the mixture is sticky enough to hold together and can be shaped into four even-sized burgers.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, the fry the burgers until golden on each side, and heated through. Tuck into the split buns/baps with lettuce and a dollop of salsa.

Although Goulash might be considered a warming winter meal, this meatless version eats well during cooler summer days.  Meatless because I've used canned chickpeas in place of the much more expensive beef steak.  Why?  Simple answer is because this works out much cheaper.  However, for those who would still like the flavour of beef, am using  beef stock (either home-made or using a cube).

Speedy Goulash: serves 4
1 tblsp sunflower oil
8 oz (225g) chestnut mushrooms, quartered
2 tsp paprika pepper
1 lb (450g) potatoes, peeled/cut into small chunks
1 pint (600ml) hot beef stock (see above)
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained/rinsed
1 x 500g jar/carton passata
handful chopped parsley
natural yogurt for serving
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the mushrooms for a couple of minutes, then sprinkle over the paprika and fry for a further minute.  Add the potatoes, stock and passata.  Stir, bring to the boil, then cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender, then add the chickpeas.  When heated through, stir in the parsley and serve in individual dishes with a swirl of yogurt on top.

It's bang on midnight as I type these words, B still not returned, so am taking the opportunity to get to bed and hope to be asleep by the time he has decided to retire (he usually sits and reads a it before he comes to bed). As usual I won't be blogging tomorrow (always busy baking on a Saturday) but return sometime on Sunday for another chat (maybe during the day then I can return to day-time blogging mext week rather than back to late at night). 

Hope you all have a good weekend and manage to enjoy the good and hot weather between the showers and storms.  We need sunlight on our skin to build up our vitamin D to see us through the winter. Think I've gained enough to see me through 2 winters.   Keep those comments coming....TTFN.