Food For… People Without Fridges

I like those riddles where you have to try and think your way out of an impossible situation, in a ‘how do you escape a room with no windows and doors?’ kind of way. I like them because they twist your brain in knots, and because you can talk about them for hours. But I mostly like them because they’re not real. So, when I was asked ‘So how are you going to do a dinner party when you have no fridge or freezer?’ my brain started hyperventilating and scrabbling to escape through my ears.

Yes, my fridge and freezer have gone to the great big pearly kitchen in the sky, conveniently kicking the bucket the day before I’d promised my friend a slap-up meal. Small salvation was brought in the form of my housemate, who found a mini-fridge which was just about big enough to hold one can of beans. Still, it would do for holding one or two vital ingredients.

The only problem I had was I didn’t have time to buy the ingredients until twenty minutes before my guest arrived. And we were both really hungry after a hard day at work. So, not only did I need something that didn’t need a fridge, I needed some fast, easy enough to prepare with my guest watching, and yet still really tasty.

Here’s what I came up with:

Angel-hair chilli prawns
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

150-200g angel-hair pasta
One packet of king prawns (cooked with tails removed)
1 large chilli, finely chopped
Zest of one lemon
Juice of half a lemon
1 handful of chopped parsley
6 tbsp creme fraiche
Three large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 an avocado, roughly chopped

Method:

1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions, then drain the water.
2. Return to the pan, and add the rest of the ingredients except the tomatoes and avocado. Make sure they’re all warmed through, but be careful not to overdo the pasta or it becomes less angel-hair and more angel-snot.
3.  Just before serving, stir through the tomatoes and avocado.
4. Serve, preferably with a glass of opulent pinot gris, or four.

Raspberry, elderflower and gin coulis (served on – yes, horribly un-impressive meringue nests.)

LOOK, FORGET ABOUT THE MERINGUE NEST BIT, OKAY? It’s actually embarrassing. But it’s all I could do whilst half-cut and without any way of storing good ingredients.

My original plan was to do elderflower pannacotta or something, which actually would have been worth blogging about, but the coulis I concocted out of thin air after a bottle of wine did seem too yummy not to share. Just stir together the following:

  • A dozen or so raspberries, pressed through a sieve
  • Juice of around 1/4 lemon
  • A couple of tablespoons of elderflower cordial
  • A healthy splash of your favourite gin
  • Sugar to get the coulis to the required sweetness (I think I used about two tablespoons. Icing sugar might make it a little thicker too, depending on how gooey you want it.)

It’s truly delicious, and a nice cocktail ingredient too.

Next week… something that didn’t come out of a packet. Ooh.

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Salmon and Sweet Potato Phat Phishcakes

I have a cunning plan. When – as it has done this week –  the summery weather we’ve been promised totally stands us up after only the briefest flirtation, and we are left disappointed (but grumpily mumbling something about not liking it that much anyway), I am going to cook my favourite summery food and just pretend it’s not cloudy. So there.

Yesterday I wanted stodge, but I also wanted flavour and sizzle (and I got a bit more than I bargained for, as you’ll see). I’d been thinking about making fishcakes for a while, and it just seemed too good an opportunity to miss. Mine are ‘phat phishcakes’ because a. They’re pretty hefty size-wise. You can make them smaller if you prefer. b. They’re AWESOME.

Here’s what you’ll need: (serves two)

For the fishcakes –

3 large sweet potatoes
2 salmon fillets
1 -2 chillies
Garlic (I used flakes because I’m cheeky, but one or two cloves should cover it)
3 tsp Brown sugar
Zest of half a lemon
Salt and pepper
A knob of butter
A splash of milk
One egg, whisked with a fork
Four to five slices of bread
A few tbsp of grated Parmesan

For the salad –

A bag of spinach
Blue cheese, cut into cubes (as much as you like!)
Dressing:
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt

To serve –
Creme fraiche
Lemon

Here’s how you do it:

1. I’m one part lazy to two parts hungry, so I microwaved the sweet potatoes. Put them peeled, pricked and clingfilm-wrapped in the microwave for 8-12 minutes, or until totally soft.

2. While they cook, bring a pan of water to a gentle simmer (the water should be only just deep enough to cover the salmon) and lay the salmon in it for six minutes, turning them both over after three.

3. Mash the sweet potatoes, adding milk, butter, seasoning, brown sugar, garlic flakes, lemon zest and chopped chillies, before flaking in the now poached salmon.

4. Blitz the bread (crusts off) in a blender and stir in the parmesan so you have nice cheesey breadcrumbs.

5. Squish the fishcake mixture into little discs (mine were pretty massive, because I’m greedy like that), dip them in egg and coat them in the breadcrumbs. (DO NOT make the mistake I made in thinking you can get away without using egg – all you get is a very big mess! Egg is a definite must.)

6. Shallow fry for three minutes each side, or until they are warmed through and crispy and brown on the outside.

7. While they shallow fry, pop the spinach in the microwave. Depending how much you use, it’ll only need a few seconds (mine was done in 30). I had to do mine twice, as I forgot about it the first time and it… well, sort of set on fire. Ahem. It’s okay, next time I’ll use the supermarket bags that come with instructions…

8. Mix the dressing ingredients up and stir it into the spinach, along with the creamy blue cheese.

9. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and creme fraiche.

Wine match: I ate these little beauties with a glass of crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It’s like squeezing a lemon over the fish, and really works well with the chilli.