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    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    Confessions of Cooking For One

    I have just been reading an excellent book of essays edited by Jenni Ferrari-Alder
    “Alone in the Kitchen With An Eggplant.” The title taken from the essay by Laurie Colwin. What took my fancy was this quote from Laurie on the cover.

    “Dinner alone is one of life’s little pleasures. Certainly cooking for oneself reveals man at his weirdest. People lie when you ask them what they eat when they are alone. A salad they will tell you. But when you persist, they confess to peanut butter and bacon sandwiches deep fried and eaten with hot sauced, or spaghetti with butter and grape jam.”

    I have just Googled her and discovered she died in 1992. An untimely death unfortunately. I must confess that I haven’t heard of her before.
    I have just done a search at the library and they only have a copy of “Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object” I have ordered it. If it is delightful as the essay I am in for a treat.

    So as I was lying awake I thought what did I like to eat when alone?

    When Dale goes away the first thing I do is buy a bottle of Pinot Noir,
    a baguette, a big fat piece of terrine, preferably garlicky and plenty of herbs.
    Accompanied with a nice relish and a slab of the best butter.

    Poached organic free range eggs on Vogels Bread. Cook two then greedily have the third…then feel sick.
    But my real easy comfort food either Steak peas and mashed potato or fish peas and mashed potato.

    I am going to email my friends and see what response I get. Could be fun.
    Love to hear other ideas.

    By the way Dale’s favourite
    Avocado and tomato on toast with smoked salmon, Freshly ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon. He doesn’t cook at all and would live on this if necessary.

    Now onto two lovely antipasto ideas from Lidia Bastianich the doyenne of American Italian Cooking. She was setting up a platter of Antipasto and here were two salads I picked up on and made for dinner on Saturday

    Seafood Salad and Sea Bass or Hapuka Salad

    She used mussels but I thought the cockles looked superb so I chose them.

    And by the way they were excellent.

    First you need to make a Court Bouillon
    In a large pot, place
    1 carrot chopped
    2-3 sticks celery chopped
    1 shallot halved
    White wine vinegar good dash
    12 black peppercorns
    Sea salt

    Bring to boil and simmer about 10 minutes

    1 squid cut into rings
    12 prawns
    24 cockles
    1 cup chopped celery use the tender inside leaves
    1 clove garlic minced
    Chili flakes or pepperoncino if you can get it
    Sea salt
    4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    Parsley roughly chopped about a handful

    Prepare your squid
    Poach about 2 minutes in simmering court bouillon
    Remove and set aside
    Place some of the liquid in another hot pot with a lid.
    Throw in some white wine
    Throw in cockles put lid on and let steam till opened
    Should take just a few minutes.
    Throw out any that won’t open

    In the large pot of stock gently cook prawns.

    Add seafood, garlic and celery to a nice bowl
    Season and add oil and vinegar
    Taste adjust if necessary
    Add parsley toss gently
    Cool and serve at room temperature

    Sea Bass/Hapuka Salad
    2 filets hapuka
    1 cup cucumber deseeded and sliced into half moon
    1 red onion
    Extra virgin olive oil
    White wine vinegar
    Chili flakes or pepperoncino if you can get it

    Poach fish in court bouillon till just cooked don’t overdo it
    Remove and flake
    Place fish cucumber and onion into a nice bowl
    Season with salt & chili flakes Toss gently with oil and vinegar
    Add parsley
    Serve at room temperature

    We were hungry so I cooked up some curly penne

    And served the salad mixed with the penne.

    There was left over hapuka and we had it for lunch today.
    Sitting around for a couple of days didn’t hurt it at all.
    Bring it to room temperature though.

    Bread Pudding

    There was left over Chocolate and Mandarin Bread amazingly enough.
    I had kept it wrapped in a linen napkin and I just couldn’t throw it away so I turned it into Bread Pudding. In the fridge was the juice from the mandarins. Here we go I can’t throw anything away.

    So once again pulling on the New Orleans School of Cooking recipes.
    which I used as a base.
    I had 6oz of stale bread
    Mandarin juice
    White Chocolate chips

    So these are the proportions I used and it worked.

    6 oz stale bread broken into pieces
    2 cups liquid (the mandarin juice then topped up with cream)
    1 cup sugar
    4 tablespoons butter melted
    2 eggs
    1 cup white chocolate chips

    Combine all ingredients, mixture should be moist but not soggy

    Pour into buttered dish
    Place into pre heated oven 170C
    Bake approx 1 hour until top is golden brown

    This will feed 4

    Just to make it slightly healthy I dobbed plain yoghurt on top

    We loved it

    I left my Wilton’s spatula at Katies and raced down to Millys the kitchen shop
    to buy new ones. I couldn’t help myself and have bought a revolving cake stand.

    I have to tart up my cake after all it has been sitting around for a fortnight... for the final lesson on Tuesday
    I have decided to go Chocolate this time.
    You pile the icing on the top and spatula it down and all over

    I made little dots around the bottom edge of the cake

    I plonked some of my little flowers around the bottom and will complete the decoration at the class.

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