Wednesday, 11 June 2008
Cooking for One, Take Two
Another week on my own. The bloke's epic journey continues - he got stuck in Birdsville, by a flood. Yes, he's crossing the desert, and it rained. He's due back Saturday, but may be late. So anyway, I have another week of eating stuff he doesn't like. Last week I ate a lot of pasta and eggplant. This week I've based it around a big tray of roast vegetables - looks like a stupid amount for one, doesn't it?
I've made liver and onions for two dinners. Yummy. And how else do you get organic lamb for $6.99 a kilo? I ate it with onions and bacon, with roast parsnips and carrots one night, and with mashed sweet potato the other night - that was just the baked sweet potato, squished and nuked. I had some broccolini and frozen peas for greens.
There are a couple of tricks with liver - first, it is really, really disgusting if overcooked. Either it turns to shoe-leather, or it goes weirdly granular. Possibly even both, if it's an uneven thickness. Trim it well, slice thinly (about 1cm), and flash fry in a dash of olive oil - a minute a side is enough; even less is OK. That's it. You can get foofy with seasoned flour and such if you want; there's plenty of recipes out there. The second trick with liver is that you can soak it in milk. Liver tastes pretty strong, and lots of people don't like its metallic notes, even though all that iron is very good for you. If you're a bit marginal on the idea, but you still like pate, try milder choices like calves' liver and chicken livers. Soaking it in milk for a few hours, up to a whole day, can make it a lot milder, and tenderises it slightly, too.
Another think the bloke doesn't like is leeks, unless they are well-concealed. Leeks have a mild onion flavour, and they're pretty easy to handle. You just need to be aware that they will contain quite a lot of dirt in the upper part, and make sure you wash them well. If you're chopping them up, this is dead easy. Remove the dark green parts, chop the rest, and just leave them to soak in a bowl for a while. Swish them around a bit to loosen the dirt, and lift them out of the water with a slotted spoon. Leeks float, dirt sinks. If you're wanting to keep them whole, a bit more rigmarole is needed - slice partway down, fan out the leaves as much as you can, and soak, rubbing the dirt off with your hands as much as you can. If you google for "preparing leeks" you'll find videos. The internet, what did we do before we had it?
I baked them in a Welsh style, chopped in short lengths, mixed with bacon shreds. Sprinkle over some nutmeg, salt and pepper, pour over some milk (or cream) to cover, and bake uncovered until soft. Most of the milk will evaporate. Cover with grated cheese and bake another ten minutes. Ideally you'd use Caerphilly cheese, but you don't normally get that around here. I used a white Cheshire, which is similar: white and crumbly, but not as buttermilk-sour. Really, any old cheddar would do - you can't go wrong with bacon and cheese and leeks. A couple of small baked potatoes and roast carrots, and there's another lovely meal or two.
After all that, the last thing left in my tray of roast veg is the pumpkin. I'm thinking I'll probably turn that into soup.