Thursday, 26 May 2016

Quick Meals for One

I've been abandoned.

Luckily it is only temporary.
But nevertheless I faced the prospect of two weeks of cooking just for me.

'Heaven'- you might think- you can cook what you want to cook and eat and never mind about anyone else.

Tempting though the prospect of all my favourite foods might seem, the usual joie de vivre which has me skipping into the kitchen each evening to prepare something delicious has also abandoned me.

I don't feel motivated.

For the first week, I didn't starve of course. My freezer is full of leftover single portions (lasagne, pasta bake, Chow Phan, risotto) which I put aside for evenings when one or other of us is home alone.
But by Week 2 I needed to start cooking some proper food from fresh.

I wanted to eat something tasty- but I wanted it to be quick.
So here are some of the quick and tasty meals that I drummed up this week.

When in doubt (as my Mum used to say)- reach for a box of eggs.

A poached egg is a thing of beauty - and I used one to top three of my favourite dishes.Eggs Florentine,Corned Beef Hash and Salade des 3 Vallees.

But first, how to make the perfect poached egg.
If you really want to create a nicely shaped egg- especially if you are using it for a dinner party dish for example, follow these simple steps.

1. Line a ramekin dish with cling film and lightly oil the film with a flavourless vegetable oil

2. Break the egg into the film and tie it up with a twist like a little money bag

3. Bring a pan of water to the boil and turn down to a simmer

4. Place the little money bag in the water for 1 1/2 minutes

5. Take it out and place it in a cold bowl to stop the cooking process (You can keep them in this state of suspended animation for an hour or more if you want).

6. When you are ready to eat, pop it back into the water for 30 seconds and then fish out, unwrap and serve.
Hey presto! A perfectly round poached egg, with a soft runny yolk.

Eggs Florentine

To make Eggs Florentine, you need first to make a Hollandaise Sauce. There are three ways to do this
1. Buy it readymade- M and S do a good one
2. Make the Mayo Hollandaise from the blog here, using spoonfuls of mayonnaise, melted butter and lemon juice
3. Make this simple sauce in the food processor:

 Melt 60g of unsalted butter in a pan or microwaveable dish.Take one egg yolk, the juice of half a squeezed lemon, a pinch of cayenne pepper if you have it and half a teaspoon of salt and put them in the goblet of the food processor or blender. Start the motor running and quickly but steadily trickle in the melted butter. Just watch the sauce emulsify. If it gets too thick, add a squeeze more lemon or a teaspoon of warm water.

Don't throw away your egg white- freeze it to use in meringues or cakes later.

To make Eggs Florentine- steam or microwave some spinach leaves, squeeze them quickly in a J cloth, then lay them on top of a toasted English muffin. Top with a softly poached egg and a good slather of the sauce  

Image for Salade des 3 Vallees
Salade des 3 Vallees

Now, how about a simple salad? This one originates from an auberge we often frequent in the Auvergne. Strictly speaking, it is best made with the lovely green Puy lentils from the region- but for speed I am using tinned here.

Drain the lentils, mix with a good mustardy vinaigrette, some chopped spring onions and whatever you have to hand- cooked veg, tomatoes etc
Serve in a bowl with salad leaves, crispy bacon and of course a poached egg.

And to finish off the trio- Corned Beef Hash with Bacon and Eggs.

Image for Corned Beef Hash with Maple Caramel Bacon and Poached Egg
Corned Beef Hash with Bacon and Eggs

Brown a chopped onion in a frying pan and add some crushed garlic. Mix in some cooked boiled potatoes or leftover mash and 2-3 slices of corned beef, crumbled up.
Mash around in the pan and fry until golden underneath, mix it up some more so that the crunchy bits get mixed in and repeat the process.
Serve- you guessed it- topped with some crunchy bacon and a poached egg.

By the way, if you would like some more ideas,there are some good ones on this website- including one from Yours truly

I haven't made the Quesadillas recipe on the above website- but I intend to. Indeed, Quesadillas (or my own version made with pitta bread on the sandwich toaster) is my next favourite way to quickly rustle up a meal for one.

Pitta Cheese and Bean Quesadillas

And whilst we've got the sandwich toaster out- how about these quick hot puds-

Firstly I unveil the Banoffanini- like a sweet panini but with a Banoffee filling.

Lightly butter the outside of a fruit teacake or slices from a fruit loaf. Fill the bun or sandwich with sliced banana and caramel sauce.

Press down in the sandwich machine and toast until crispy on the outside (but molten on the inside). Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.


And now the Chock Berry- the same but with fruits of the forest and chocolate sauce. Mmm!

Chock Berry Toastie

And so my blog and my fortnight of solitude comes to an end. I hope you enjoy the recipes- with or without company!

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