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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Idiot-Proof Victoria Sponge with Sour Cherry Jam

I’m back! For the first time in a month I have energy to spare and time on my hands. Plus, a fabulous recipe to share for anyone who – like me – dreams of bringing out a cake-plate full of a glorious, moist, classic Vicky Sponge and wowing her friends, but is a bit clueless and terrified, (and so far only has the cake plate. Ahem.)

Well, this was me last week. And this week, I’m feeling all smug. Except for the disaster I’ll confess to at the end of this blog. Here goes:

Shopping List:

For the sponge:
2 large eggs. Weigh them, and then measure out the same weight in:
Caster sugar
Self-raising flour
Soft-tub margarine
Plus:
1tsp Vanilla essence
1 and a half tsp baking powder

It’s alright, it looks like this:

For the filling:
Sour cherry jam
AND for the buttercream:
2 oz butter
4 oz icing sugar
1tsp vanilla essence

How to Make it:

1. Shove everything for the sponge in a big bowl and give it a whizz with your favourite electric mixer. Don’t stop ’til you get enough it’s all light and fluffy.
2. Grab the nearest pair of lined and greased tins, and dollop half the mixture right in the middle of each one.
3. Using the back of a big spoon, gentle press the mixture towards the edges of the tin. Try not to make a mess of the sides, as then it’ll look all pretty. Like so:

4. Chuck it in a pre-heated oven (160 degrees for a fan-assisted, 180 for the rest) for 25 minutes, or until it’s all golden.
TOP TIP: Check it’s done by plunging a skewer into the middle. If it comes out clean, you’re onto a winner. If not, shove it back in the oven.
5. While you make your nommy filling, leave the beauties to cool. Doesn’t it looks awesome:

6.  Plonk the butter, sugar and vanilla essence in a bowl and beat with a spoon until your arm aches. Or until the mixture’s nice and firm and looking tasty.


7. Geeeently flip one of the sponges over and spread the buttercream all over it. Lightly splurge the jam on top, making sure to lick all the spoons when you’re finished.

8. Go all arty and sprinkle the top with caster sugar. Feel free to take a photo at a jaunty angle.

And there you have it. it’s all pretty and eatable, but do try and save it for a tea party.
I had a dinner ‘do the very next day. It started out with me being all foodielicious and shopping for all the freshest fare to make my show-off Quinoa Tabbouleh. Pepper, mozzarella, herbs, lemon juice, all sorts of yum. It looked a treat:

The downside is, it tasted mostly of lemony mint and disappointment. FAIL, recipe. My guests and I gallantly attempted at least four forkfuls before we caved and admitted it was making us feel a bit queasy. What to do?! It’s 9pm and  we’ve all been patiently awaiting our quinoa for an hour. There was nothing for it. I rustled up a quick mélange of crumbly breaded chicken portions and a frites tower, with a ‘shore’ of tomato jus:

Or… chicken dippers and chips. But it was bloody lovely.

Then came my face-saver in the form of old Vick. She matched the teaset pretty good I reckon.

We all came back for seconds.

NOMNOMNOM: Recipe – Exotic Fruit Shortbread

Remember that recipe I promised you two blogs back? Well, here it is.

Yes, I KNOW I said it would only be a couple of days. And I KNOW that was a week ago. But SHUT UP whinging and DROOL.

It is courtesy of my Mama, and resulted from her forgetfulness: she only added the exotic juice because she’d neglected to buy the orange juice when she got the rest of the ingredients. The coconut was more of an afterthought. Still, it’s one of the tastiest afterthoughts I’ve tried in a while, so here you are:

Exotic Fruit Shortbread

4 tbsp Pineapple and Coconut juice
4 oz raisins
6 oz plain flour
2 oz caster sugar
4 oz butter
Some dessicated coconut (however much you fancy, basically.)

For those of you living in the 21st century, the first step of this recipe may be to find out what the hell an oz is. Metric shmetric.

1. Fling juice and raisins into a saucepan, and slowly bring to the boil. Pour it into a glass dish and leave it to cool. Stir occasionally, if you can be bothered to remember. You probably better preheat the oven as well or something.

2. Shove flour into processor and whiz for a few seconds. Add sugar and butter and whiz until like breadcrumbs. Add coconut, and whiz some more. To pass the time, marvel at how fun it is to say the word ‘whiz’.

3. Pour it onto the side and bring it all together with your hands to form a dough (ooh, messy. We like.) Cut it in half.

4. Roll the dough out to fit a flan ring and lift it onto a baking tray. Roll out the second half to fit the flan ring as well.

5. Plonk the raisin mixture into the centre of the pastry a quarter of an inch from the sides, and carefully put the lid on.

6. Pinch the sides to seal all the way around. Prick all over with a fork. Refrain from making screechy noises like in the film Psycho.

7. Bake on 150 degrees for about half an hour until light and golden. Keep an eye on it – basically, if it goes more of a marmitey colour then you’ve gone too far, stupid.

8. Remove from oven, sprinkle with caster sugar (Yay! Snowing!!), and leave until cold. No really, try.

If it hasn’t all been scoffed before you’ve even had time to wonder why shortbread is called shortbread, then Top Cat simply isn’t the indisputable leader of the gang. And he is. So… you get my point. Nomnomnom.

Image pilfered from Sparkly Kate‘s photostream, after I managed to stop marvelling at the awesomeness of the name Sparkly Kate.