Crème Fraiche takes centre stage
It gets to a point when you have been cooking for your parents through your teenage years that you realise when you leave for university; it’s not you who might be unable to survive but your parents. Occasionally I wonder if I should have weaned them off my cooking gently so as to prevent occasions such as the time my dad had to send his secretary out for a croissant because inexplicably the cereal wasn’t on the table for breakfast and he had no idea where we kept it. My mother is semi-domesticated, she has a talent for washing and ironing (at which I am abysmal), unloading and loading the dishwasher, boiling eggs and making coffee, but I am not sure she knows how to grocery shop after years of my sister and I taking control. You would think that shopping online would be simple, but having learnt the basics of technology (we taught her how to make animated PowerPoint’s a while ago), Internet shopping may be one technological step too far. I have taken to picking up food on the way home from university just to make sure I have something for breakfast the next day having come home too many times to an empty fridge save a little mouldy cheese and a bottle of salad dressing we can’t seem to shift. It’s no wonder the fridge has started leaking, I expect it’s feeling unloved. To be fair to my parents they both have jobs where lunch is provided and dinner is quite often offered too. There will come a time where they will need to cook for themselves (well unless I really fail in life and am living at home at the age of 30), which is hopefully where this blog will come in handy.
Once again I am staring into the fridge hoping for a little inspiration when my mum enters the kitchen. ‘I was so pleased to see you bought crème fraiche I really like crème fraiche. When you weren’t here we had some with jacket potatoes’ she states proudly, before promptly walking out of the kitchen. ‘I’m off to finish writing the book’. (I would just like to say that she did indeed finish the book that evening, so this dish was celebratory). There I have it, my inspiration, Crème Fraiche. Not usually the central component of a dish so I routed around in the freezer for something a little more focused. I find prawns and peas and decide that this was all coming together nicely. Add the remainder of those damn endless preserved lemons and you have a prawn, pea, lemon, crème fraiche risotto.
So I fried garlic in a large chunk of butter, throw in a bay leaf, salt, lemon juice, vanilla extract and lots of pepper. (It is worth mentioning at this point that you could add an onion here. My dishes tend to not include onions. My Dad refuses to eat them and he can spot them a mile off. In fact he removed all of the preserved lemon pieces methodically from this dish before being told that they were in fact not onions, at which point he ate them up without a word. Why he claims he likes onions I have no idea……) I added the risotto rice to the pan and stirred it for a bit before gradually adding fish stock, stirring till I got a thick risotto. I added a few frozen prawns, the peas, and a couple of mange tout pieces before stirring in more black pepper and the crowning glory – the crème fraiche-. It wasn’t half bad, although there is still a half full pack of crème fraiche left to eat….
The Big Breakfast Dinner
So the man who lives upstairs is coming to dinner…. (this isn’t as creepy as it sounds, there is actually a flat that is adjacent to ours). The young man who lives upstairs frequently pops over clutching a bottle of red wine, for good food and conversation. The state of the fridge is as sorry as ever and the torrents of rain are encouraging me not to leave the house. On top of that I really need to tackle the bombsite that I have called my room for the past 3 years in an attempt to pack for my final year. There is little in the fridge aside from the chocolate making ingredients for birthday presents, at least there is some peanut butter ganache (150g Bourneville chocolate, 2 dollops of peanut butter, a pinch of cayenne melted together) that I can pass as sauce for ice cream for dessert. There is even a little pine nut brittle left over from the Dean’s dinner that would compliment this perfectly and I might even throw in a few frozen raspberries for colour, so dessert is under control.
There is always the salmon. I feel bad that I seem to never give my parents any meat. I constantly construct my meals around fish and leftovers, and this is no exception. I spotted some mashed potato in the back and had the idea that to make things a little different I would make breakfast for dinner. I’ve never made potato pancakes before but I thought I would have a go. Potato pancakes, confit salmon, horseradish crème fraiche and green beans with almonds. So I begun by putting a good 3 inches of oil into a deep frying pan with a dash of truffle oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, peppercorns, a bay leaf and some salt. Then I whisked 2 eggs, 125ml milk, salt, pepper, lemon juice, vanilla extract and the mash together before adding a dash of baking powder and 75g flour to create my pancake batter. Then I mixed a large spoonful of horseradish into two spoonful’s of crème fraiche with black pepper and then I dry toasted some flaked almonds. Then I went to the gym, as you do.
Feeling incredibly, virtuous, sweaty and fired up to the soundtrack of Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’, I set about finishing off the supper. It was quite a simple assembly job at this point. I set the oil to a low simmer and put the salmon in and covered it.
Meanwhile I heated a large frying pan with a knob of butter in it till melted then placed a few dollops of pancake mix in and cooked each for about 2-3mins on the bottom and 1min after flipping them. For the salmon I turned the salmon about 4mins in and cooked for a further 4mins before turning off the heat and leaving them to sit in the oil for a little. Then I steamed the green beans, drained and mixed them with the almonds and a grating of parmesan. It was quite tasty, but the pancakes could possibly have done with a drizzle of the salmon oil. Not quite breakfast but I think it’s time pancakes branched out to other meals. Is it awful to say I’m seeing the flip side of pancakes…..