Today I’m eschewing the politics and general nuttiness of the outside world, and have retreated into my sanctum sanctorum, otherwise known as the kitchen. The reason for this being is that it’s one of my off duty days, it’s sunny (I’m having to wear polarised sunglasses) and we’re about to play host to a houseful of my Youngests friends for two days. People have to be fed, and I will be working on the days that they are here. Whilst Mrs S can cook, the level of catering we’ll need will take her away from her day job, so we’ve agreed if I do a ‘cook up’ today, when our guests arrive we can stuff them full of decent pre-prepared nourishment and leave them to their own devices without too much disruption to working routines.
The menu I’m setting up is simple; my patented (Well not really) Pasta / Hot Bolognese sauce; Parmesan Fish & Veg bake, and Red Thai Chicken Curry. These will be cooled, stuck in the freezer, and decanted at leisure for serving at whomsoevers convenience with rice or pasta. Youngest likes my Hot Bolognese so much that she doesn’t bother with the pasta.
The recipe itself is fairly bulletproof, and can be modified to suit individual palates, but the proportions should be roughly observed. The result is a rich, meaty sauce that will warm the mouth without taking the back of your head off.
For the hot bolognese sauce, you will need;
2lbs mince (Cheap stuff is fine)
I 500ml jar cheap Bolognese Sauce (Or a kilo of tomatoes, finely chopped and cooked down to half their original weight and volume)
2 Medium size onions
3 Cloves Garlic or one quarter teaspoon of garlic powder
One half teaspoon Ground Cayenne pepper
One half teaspoon Ground Paprika
One Quarter teaspoon salt
A double twist of black pepper
Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
Dash of Soy Sauce
Dash of Balsamic vinegar.
Finely chop onions and ‘sweat’ over a low heat in a tablespoon of cooking oil until soft and onions begin to turn light golden brown. Add mince and stir sporadically over the same low heat until thoroughly brown. This is important; do not add any sauce or seasoning until the mince is thoroughly muddy brown. There should be no pink bits at all. Add Garlic and stew for around five minutes. Add a double twist of freshly ground black pepper.
Throw in a dash (A dash you idiot! Not a bleeding dollop!) of Worcestershire sauce, then a similar amount of Soy sauce and half as much Balsamic vinegar. Stir well until the fat in the mince breaks up.
Now add 500ml jar of bolognese sauce (Or if you’re especially adventurous, a half kilo of pre-cooked finely chopped tomatoes run once through the blender. But be warned, this means a longer cooking time ir required). Add Cayenne Pepper followed by Paprika. Stir. Now let it simmer gently for half an hour before serving with pasta or rice (Or even chips if you fancy). Failing that, let it cools and decant into freezer packs for serving at a later date.
It’s worth noting that this recipe keeps well in the freezer or fridge, and the flavour ‘develops’ during storage and reheating. A good basic for all the family and friends. At least the friends who are worth keeping.
The fish ‘n veg bake is just fillets of any old fish baked with whatever vegetables you like in a simple Parmesan sauce.
Make the sauce with these ingredients;
Butter, about a dessert spoon full (You can use Margarine, but not low fat anything as the sauce will curdle and go manky)
Plain Flour, about a dessert spoon full
About half an ounce of Parmesan, or however strong you want the sauce to be.
Water, perhaps half a pint or a quarter litre, the trick is to get the right consistency, not to follow rigid amounts.
A pound of any old frozen Fish
Frozen veg (Broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, that sort of thing)
Put the fish, veg and water in a shallow frying pan and slowly heat until the liquid gets cloudy and the fish goes white. Take pan off heat.
In a small saucepan melt the butter over a low heat. Stir in flour to make a paste and gradually stir in water from shallow pan (Gradually, bozo! Not all at once!) Keep stirring at all times, or you will be left with a slurry that vaguely resembles premix concrete. When the sauce is smooth and uniform, start adding the Parmesan, tasting until the sauce tastes a little on the strong side, not much, just a little. Here you have a choice, you can simply pour the sauce over the fish and veg still in the shallow pan and slow cook for another twenty minutes or so, or if you want to get fancy, shovel it into a casserole dish, pour your Parmesan sauce over the top, and sling in the oven at 350 degrees for around thirty to forty minutes. Either will do. Serve with rice, pasta or mashed potatoes.
The Thai red curry is a bit of a cheat as it involves frying inch long bits of chicken in a big pan with a little oil and soy sauce until cooked, then adding a packet or Red Thai curry mix from the local supermarket, along with a bell red pepper and maybe a green bell pepper as well, adding water as per instructions.
As I’m not working (much, apart from writing this and the next phase of a full length novel, watching the Bald Eagles a couple of hundred metres away, babysitting Mother-in-law, listening to Mrs S complain about deadlines etc) today, this is what occupies my time.
Heavy sigh. Life is so hard.