Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Super Speedy Summer Suppers

It seems I am carrying on the theme of things beginning with 'S', with some recipes this time which are super quick and summery- mainly because no one wants to be spending much time cooking in the evenings, now the weather is (slowly) improving.

Although I did put my slow cooker into service today ( to stew up a batch of soft onions for me to use in various dishes), generally speaking, summer isn't a time for stews and casseroles. It's a time for fresh stuff and salads, which are quick to prepare.

Fresh stuff brings with it the greater possibility of waste though- and making the most of the leftovers can be a challenge.

To help with this, each of the dishes I've prepared has a sister dish (or two) which use the leftovers up quickly.

I'm starting with a summer stir fry: mange-tout, mushrooms, peppers, spring onions and radishes (yes, radishes). Very much in season and much more versatile than you think.

Summer Stir-Fry

Begin by cutting all your veg into equal-ish chunks.

Ready for stir frying
Heat some oil in a wok until it is smoking hot and then toss in the mushrooms, mange touts, peppers, onions and radishes in that order, a minute or two between each addition.
I added some cooked chicken and fried it all quickly for 5 minutes or so more.
Meanwhile cook some noodles in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain them (reserving a ladleful of the water) and add them to the vegetables.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1-2 tbsp of sweet chili sauce and the reserved noodle water.
Toss everything together, bring up to the boil and give a final few stirs then serve.

The radishes give a water-chestnut like crunch to the stir fry and keep their pretty pink colour too.

Summer Stir Fry

To use up your leftover radishes, slice them finely (or use a food processor) and toss them in some mustard mayonnaise along with finely sliced celeriac to make a Radish Remoulade:

Radish Remoulade
You can use shredded white cabbage or carrot if you prefer this to the celeriac.

Salads are needed as an accompaniment to the next dish- a cheat's Pissaladiere (an onion tart/pizza from Nice).
Some say it should have a dough base like a pizza, others insist on a pastry base.(You will never get two Provencal mamies to agree on any recipe!)

So, you can  either make this tart using frozen puff pastry rolled out to a rectangle, or use pizza dough rolled thinly or cheat even further by using a pre- cooked pizza base, as I have done here.

Pissaladiere Pronto

1 pizza base ( or puff pastry or pizza base mix as described above)
2 large onions
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
black olives
1 small tin anchovies (optional)

1. Slice the onions finely and cook them slowly and gently in olive oil and butter in a pan with a lid or in the slow cooker until they are cooked to a golden brown pulp. Season with salt, pepper, crushed garlic and a pinch of sugar.
2. Lay out your base (pizza or pastry) and spread the onion pulp over it.
3. Criss-cross with anchovies (if you are using them) and dot with black olives
4. Bake in a hot oven (200 degrees) until either your pastry is golden ( 20 mins) or your pizza base is crisp ( 10-15 mins).

Pissaladiere Pronto
Sorry! we had eaten half of it before I remembered to take a photo!

Serve with the radish salad and some dressed green leaves. (I am using watercress, spinach and rocket).

Bagged salad can be as much of a scourge as a boon. Yes, it's convenient but you may end up throwing half of it away as it doesn't keep long once opened.

Just as cooking with radishes might have taken you by surprise- cooking with salad leaves is also a good way to use them up. Try this:

Salad Bag Soup

Salad Bag Soup

1 onion, chopped finely
1 litre of vegetable stock
3-4 fat garlic cloves, peeled
3-4 sage leaves
2 bay leaves
200g watercress, washed and roughly chopped
200g baby spinach leaves or a bag of salad leaves
2 tbsp finely chopped herbs (parsley, chives, dill)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
croutons of thinly cut baguette
1. Soften the onion in a little olive oil
2. Tie the sage and bay leaves together with some string and place them in a pan of simmering vegetable stock, in which you also have put the whole garlic cloves
3. Simmer for 10 minutes until the garlic cloves are soft.
4. Remove the herb leaves and discard. Keep the soft garlic cloves to one side.
5. Add the onion, watercress, spinach and chopped herbs and simmer for a further 10 minutes
6. Blitz in a liquidiser until smooth, taste and adjust seasoning
7. Mash the garlic cloves with a little olive oil and spread the paste onto the croutons
8. Serve the soup and croutons together.
This soup keeps its flavour and colour for up to 2 days in the fridge and freezes well.
I often serve it with a dash of milk or cream in it too.
Finally, I'm using up the rest of the onions that I cooked in the slow cooker to top a Flammekueche or Tarte Flambee.
Traditionally, this tart is made with a dough base which is wafer-thin and crispy. I have made the quickest possible version here, using sandwich thins ( those square toasting breads). You could use pitta bread too.
Tartines Flambees
1 sandwich thin or pitta bread per person
1 tub of creme fraiche
2 onions ( cooked slowly with garlic as in the recipe above)
140 g bacon lardons or diced cooked ham
1. Split the breads, spread the creme fraiche and onion paste generously over them
2. Sprinkle on the lardons or ham and bake on a baking tray in a very hot oven until the creme fraiche starts to turn golden brown and the bacon is looking caramelized.
Delicious with a glass of Alsace white wine.

Tartines Flambees
So, there we are: five fast foods to help you out quickly at supper time. 

(Alas, a little too much alliteration though!)

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