Recent improvements in my cooking

It’s ages since I did some cooking-blogging. I really regret not taking pictures of some recent dishes, especially the Seafood pizza I made. I’ll take a pic next time, I promise.

  • obtain premium marinara mix from the local fishmonger (never frozen, lots of yummy bits including large prawns and mussels and chunks of salmon and tuna from mine).
  • spread on pizza base on top of garlicky Napolitano sauce, along with feta cheese, Kalamata olives and a few anchovies for extra saltiness.
  • cover with shredded mozarella/parmesan mix, and place in very hot oven until the cheese is fully melted and just starting to crisp in spots.
  • serve with Pinot Grigio or a soft Sangiovese or Lambrusco.

I’ve also picked up a few little tricks that I’d seen for years on the telly without appreciating just how much difference they make:

  • milk for cappucinos froths so much better if you put the metal milk jug into the freezer when you switch the coffee machine one, so that when the frothing milk hits the cold sides of the jug it gets extra agitated
  • smooth as silk carbonara sauce: whisk like mad! Not just the egg before adding it, but also while slowly dripping the beaten egg into the sauce.
  • perfect parsley sauce for fish: add extra flavour to the roux to avoid blandness- I sweat garlic in a mixture of truffle oil and olive oil before I add the flour, then once the roux is smooth I add salt and then a teaspoon of strong Dijon mustard and a tablespoon of good sherry, before adding the rest of the fluid to make up the volume required (I add the parsley itself just as I turn off the heat). Yummo!

I’m thinking that next time I make the seafood pizza I’ll brush the pizza base with just a little truffle oil before I smear on the tomato pizza sauce. It may be too much – I’ll report back.

Anyone else want to share their star recipes?

Categories: Miscellaneous


8 replies

  1. I am a Lazy Crockpot Cook ™. Yay crockpot! Great for CFSers: the prep can be done the day before or at peak energy time, no standing around and stirring, no burning, and dinner’s ready when you are rather than the other way around. We’re also trying to save money to pay this dastardly mortgage. Pretty much all of these recipes (apart from the chicken drumsticks, though I suppose you could use a meat substitute), if not veg already, can be vegetarian-adjusted or even veganified.
    There’s nothing my family likes more than a simple chilli (low fat beef mince, a huge can of four bean mix, Mexican Chilli Powder, a bit of shredded veg, a couple squares of dark chocolate, and a jar or tow of La Gina non-flavoured tomato pasta sauce. A salsa type salad on the side (tomato/red grapefruit/mango is yum!)
    Particularly popular with the lad this month is Orange Soup: butternut, sweet potato, carrot and potato chunked and just barely covered with homemade chicken stock to cook, then whizzed with cream or coconut cream. Serving with grated cheese or a little shredded ham or prosciutto is optional.
    The other popular soup is pea and ham. For me, the trick is to substitute half the yellow split peas for pearl barley. A smoked ham hock, and plenty of diced root vegetables. I often crock the ham hock in water overnight, then chill and skim, to avoid it being too greasy, returning the flesh and bones to the mix.
    Soups are served with NYT no-knead bread, another boon recipe for CFSers.
    Savoury/Curry mince is another belly-filler and money-saver: low fat mince, fried onions (you can batch-caramelise a crockpot-full and freeze), curry spices (either a blend, or I add something like cumin/coriander seed/turmeric/chilli/garam masala/cinnamon), diced dried fruit medley, red lentils, chickpeas, whatever veg is around, a tin of tomatoes, and a little coconut milk. I like stirring some roughly chopped spinach into mine at the end.
    Another big crowd pleaser here: chicken drumsticks or Marylands crocked with honey-soy marinade, served over colcannon a la our house (mashed potato (Desiree or Royal Blue), mixed with shredded spinach and a little homemade yoghurt). Tomato and avocado on the side (avocado is the only green veg the lad will eat reliably on its own right now), maybe some steamed sugar snap peas or corn on the cob.
    My partner tends to do the fancy stuff on the weekend. He’ll smoke a couple of slabs of salmon when they’re on special, barbecue something interesting, or make one of my favourites: grilled tortilla stacks filled with charred fresh paprikas, mushroom, cheese, chilli, and coriander leaf.
    Oh, and quiche: when there’s scads of leftover mashed potato, I smush it into a pan and bake it for a crust, then make the quiche with spinach, fetta, tomato, mushroom, bacon, whatever’s in the fridge.
    Dessert? Rice pudding! Arborio rice, 1 cup to around 4 cups of milk, add a scant quarter cup of caster sugar and a half teaspoon of vanilla paste, and cook down to risotto texture. (Double this to make and freeze mini rice pudding cups for school). Pile into Pyrex, smother with frozen berries (or whatever else: rhubarb poached in lime syrup is delicious), pour a little cream over, and bake till delicious-looking. Most recipes add more sugar, but the berries have plenty of natural sweetness, and you just don’t need that much. Sultanas or what-have-you optional, add them at the end so they don’t swell too much.
    Or fruit crumbles. No sugar added to the fruit (it really doesn’t need it). I often use apple/pear, or apple/pineapple blends, sometimes adding blueberries. Topping is quick oats, brown sugar, a little flour, and butter hand-rubbed and sprinkled over, not too thick.

  2. Lauredhel, every one of those recipes is making me drool. It’s autumn from today – soon it will be time for pea and ham soup!
    My “Not Quite Laksa” soup is famous up at mr tog’s church (they have soup feasts after their winter concerts and we all send up a pot of the good stuff) – I use less coconut milk than a true laksa and break the noodles up so that the soup can be eaten easily with a spoon, and I add extra tamarind and lime juice to make it a very spicy/sour taste experience (the rector’s wife even credits it with bringing on her last labour, much to her relief).
    Has anyone cooked with the new evaporated milk with a touch of coconut flavour? How did it go?
    Another favourite of ours which I haven’t done for a while is this terrific relish: get the stick-blender out and use it to finely chop/not-quite-puree the following: parsley, spring onion, anchovies, green pitted olives. Perhaps add a little garlic, lemon, pepper to taste (doesn’t really need it though). Serve with toasted thick-sliced sourdough bread.
    Mm. I’m planning on remaking the seafood pizza tomorrow night. Might make up some relish to go on the side.

  3. Ew ew ew ew furry fish. Just say no.
    My partner does a rather delicious sweet/spicy tomato chutney when we have a tomato glut (either green or red). Served on crackers with a sliver of sharp cheddar, it’s just delish.
    Lauredhel’s last blog post..Popularity of long-debunked rape myths: talk about disheartening

  4. I can understand people who don’t want furry fish fillets presented to them, but I have to put in a word for anchovies as a blended ingredient in all sorts of dishes. Once you whiz them with a blender, furriness is no longer a problem.
    They are the major flavouring in proper Caesar salad dressing and in Worcestershire sauce, just for starters. If you like fish sauce in Asian dishes, think about using blended anchovies in other cooking. They’re wonderful.

  5. *eyes tigtog warily*
    I use fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce very sparingly, very sparingly indeed, in much less quantity than the recipes usually recommend. I think it’s both texture and taste that don’t appeal. And they way they hide between cheese and crust is just loathsome. Worst surprise ever.

  6. Ah well – I prefer to put anchovies on pizza on top of the cheese so that they get slightly crispy on the outside and melty on the inside – easy to avoid for those who don’t like them and at their smooshy best for those who do.
    In general cooking, I think you might be surprised how many classic sauces have anchovies smooshed up in them so that they don’t dominate the flavour but simply enhance it. Caesar salad dressing is a very well-known one, and quite a few pasta sauces work from a base of sauteed garlic and a few anchovy fillets, where the anchovies are gently heated until they melt to form a creamy texture before adding the tomatoes etc.

  7. Anchovies rock. Little salty, oily parcels of yumminess. Bread, anchovies, cheese, grill. Eat.
    Mindy’s last blog post..World’s Saddest Thing or Just Saddest Thing Ever?

  8. Happened across this blog looking for lower fat variations to my (if I may say so myself) very yummy Pea and Ham Soup. Boy, did I get more than I bargained for! There are quite a few new recipes I’m going to have to try now. The P&H tips variations I’ve found here and elsewhere will be duly considered and put to the test. I have the sneaking suspicion that the fat from the ham hock absorbed into the cooked split peas before I take out the bone, break off the meaty bits, skim the soup and drop the meat back in, contributes largely to the flavour I know and love, however!

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