Category Archives: Food

Tuna and Pasta Bake

Serves 6, allegedly

This was so good that I made the recipe for 6 and three of us ate three quarters of it i.e. 50% more than we should have done.

I cooked it in a large, straight-sided frying pan of about 14″ diameter that could also be put in the oven. If you don’t have one then a roasting tin or lasagne dish will do. I’m lazy about washing up so happy to skip a pan if possible.

The remains of tuna and pasta bake
Probably should have taken the picture before we devoured it.

Ingredients

Base

2 Tins of tuna in brine, drained

250g pasta, boiled for 10 – 12 minutes until al dente

Corn or rape seed oil for frying

1 large tin chopped toms

1 stick celery, chopped

1 onion chopped

1 pepper, any colour, chopped

4 large mushrooms chopped

Half a chilli including seeds

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 Tbsp fish sauce

Black pepper

Cheese sauce

2oz (50g) butter

2.5oz (60g) plain flour

2 (1 litre) pints milk

Salt and white pepper

6oz (150g) grated mature cheddar

Half a teaspoon English made mustard

Topping

2 Slices of wholemeal bread whizzed into crumbs mixed with 2 – 4 oz (50 – 100g) grated mature cheddar

Method

Pre-heat oven to gas 5 / 375f /190c

Base

Fry all the veg, apart from the tomatoes, in the frying pan until the onion is soft.

Add the tin of tomatoes, the garlic and the fish sauce and pepper, then stir in the cooked pasta and the tuna. Leave to cool while you make the sauce.

Cheese sauce

Melt the butter gently until liquid and stir in the flour to form a smooth paste (take it off the heat at first to blend) cook slowly for a minute, stirring all the time.

Increase the heat under the pan and pour in a a dosh of the milk, whisking constantly until blended, then start using a wooden spoon to make sure to bring in the thickening sauce from the corners of the pan. As soon as the sauce starts to thicken, reduce the heat a little to prevent burning. If lumps start to form, remove from heat and get rid of them with the whisk.

When the sauce is thickened, stir in the cheese and mustard, taste and season if necessary.

The sauce needs to be quite thick. It should move, but slowly in the tilted pan. Use the remaining milk to adjust the consistency.

Putting it together.

Pour the sauce to cover the base, then top with the breadcrumbs/cheese.

You can leave it now until you need it. Chill it if necessary.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, possible a little longer from chilled.

Serve with salad.

 

Recipe. Spicy, creamy prawns with rice

Hopefully you’ve read my previous post about rice.

This recipe served one person. I was all alone with a bottle of this. A remarkably good bottle of rose from Aldi. It cost £5.99.

food and drinkIt needed something fishy and luxurious and this is what I cooked.

Ingredients

A knob of butter or a tbsp of oil – not olive as it’s a bit strong in flavour

Prawns, (Aldi prawns are particularly tast and cheap. I used about a quarter of a defrosted bag)

Half a red chilli about 2 inches long, diced small

A quarter of a small onion diced

4 quartered cherry tomatoes

3 mushrooms sliced

4 tablespoons of half fat creme fraiche (you could use cream if you felt decadent)

1 desert spoon of fish sauce

200g cooked rice

Directions

Fry the onion and chilli gently in the butter/oil until the onion is soft, then add the mushrooms and continue cooking for a couple of minutes.

Throw in the tomatoes and cook until soft, then add the prawns, cream and fish sauce and cook until warmed through.

Throw in the rice and turn it through the mixture then turn the whole thing into a pasta bowl or onto a plate.

Good with rocket or peas.

Rice – a working woman’s staple

rice and how to save timeApparently rice can be dangerous if cooked and frozen, then re-heated. There’s a bacterium that can be found in rice. I’ve never met it but here’s a quote from www.nhs.uk:

Uncooked rice can contain spores of Bacillus cereus, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning. When the rice is cooked, the spores can survive. If the rice is left standing at room temperature, the spores can grow into bacteria.

The website doesn’t tell us what the chances are of buying rice containing this bacterium and speaking from experience I have been cooking and freezing rice in portions for years with no ill effects. I’m not saying there is no risk, I’m saying calculate it and make a decision based on evidence.

The main thing is to chill the rice quickly after cooking it. Freeze it in portions – 200g of cooked rice is the size of portion my family looks for. I usually cook it by the bucket load and shovel 600g into each freezer bag for three of us. You may have slightly smaller appetites than us. In our family we are pretty enthusiastic consumers of food.

Having ready cooked rice in the freezer saves a lot of time on a busy evening when kids need to be taken to activities and husbands have to go to meetings – or the pub. Defrost it in the microwave. Bung the bag straight onto the turn table and cook for 2 minutes on full power. You may worry about the chemicals coming from the bag. I don’t, and look, I’m here to tell the tale.

There are a number of quick recipes using pre-cooked rice. Watch this space and they will appear.

Once more the brain lets me down

Alternative ways to serve a burger

Are you getting bored with my brain? I certainly am.

Last weekend we went to visit Horace in Chorley – blooming miles away. We had to wait for Mavis to get home from school, at about 4.30pm, before we could set off, and we were all a bit behind with things as there was a plethora of jobs demanding attention during the day so we finally left home at 5,30pm. Almost immediately the sat-nav began warning of traffic and recalculating our route. The eta became later and later; it was just as well we had agreed to eat en route.

After an hour or two we pulled into a service area on the M1. McDonald’s only – not my favourite. I ordered a 1955 burger (my DOB so it seemed appropriate) and Whizz queued while Mavis and I collected napkins, straws, salt, pepper, ketchup and powdered sweetener from the condiment point.

We found a reasonably clear table and when Whizz arrived I was feeling fairly enthusiastic about my meal due to the lateness of the hour.

‘Pass the salt, please.’ Whizz sprinkled it liberally onto his potato wedges.

I grabbed another packet and shared it between potato wedges and burger before taking a bite.

‘Have these wedges got barbecue flavouring on them?’

‘No, I don’t thinks so.’ Whizz tried another, ‘No, mine are plain.’

Mavis ‘chipped’ in ‘Perhaps you’ve put sugar on them. Ha ha!’

She was joking but unsurprisingly, she was right!

Reminiscing about food (could there be an emerging trend here)

Black forest gateau, a memory of the 70s
Thanks to the Telegraph for this picture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those of you who regularly read my blog will know that I am a bit obsessed with food. In fact I have made a pact not to write any more about my latest diet or the iniquities of supermarkets (Do you know I have lost 7 lb in 15 days and now shop at Aldi? No. Stop!)

There are three things that I think about nearly all the time, unless I am at work of course. They are Food: I’m hungry, what do we need, hope we can try that restaurant some time, those flavours would go well together, what shall I cook for friends/dinner/pudding; Relationships: I’m such an idiot, he’s such an idiot, I wish I hadn’t said that, I wish I was as nice as so and so, that person baffles me; and writing: I could write about that, and that, and that, bugger, I’ve burnt the dinner! Full circle.

Dinner parties were what we did for fun in the ’70s. After eating at Bernie Inns and Bistros we would attempt to emulate their atmosphere at home: Mantovani in the background, low lights, best frocks, white table cloth, wine glasses for different wines, a dinner service, cutlery for each course – starting from the outside and going in towards the plate.

The food would be copied too. Prawn cocktail or egg mayonnaise, Steak Diane or au poivre, Black Forest Gateau or Sherry trifle. You know what? It was great; I love those foods. I have a sudden desire to re-introduce the 1970s to my younger friends.