'For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.' - Job
'Fortunately I keep my feathers numbered for just such an emergency.' - Foghorn Leghorn
Towards the end of last week I began to hear, far off in the distance, the faint howl of the black dog. There were a few tell-tale signs of imminent disorder in the old brain-box, such as the return of fractured sleep, inchoate fears and unbidden memories.
Well fuck that, thought I. I decided that the strongest weapon in my much depleted armoury was keeping busy. And what better way to busy myself could there be than to clear out the freezer, prior to a much needed defrosting? None that involved so much cooking and eating, so a clear out it was. This mission soon extended to the fridge and thence to the cupboards as well.
Amongst the several items in the freezer were a stuffed lamb's heart and pizza dough - that took care of lunch and dinner on Friday. There were some plums in the fridge so I made a crumble. Also in the freezer was a pheasant - Sunday lunch.
There was some sobrasada leftover from the previous weekend's trip to Brockley Market, the last of a bunch of parsley, some crème fraîche and a punnet of blueberries. And in the cupboards there were the remnants of various packets of nuts and seeds. So, on Saturday, I made croquettes, on Sunday granola and on Monday rice pudding.
All that's left in the freezer now is a duck leg and packets of petit pois and artichoke hearts. I reckon there might be a casserole to be made out of those.
Anyway, for the present at least, the black dog can kiss my wrinkled, hairy nutsack. Here's some recipes:
sobrasada + potato croquettes
These were divine.
makes four golf ball sized croquettes
300g (peeled weight) potatoes, in chunks
a good pinch of salt
1 dsp plain flour
1 tbsp finely chopped spring onions
1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 dsp toasted pine nuts, crushed
fine breadcrumbs for coating
Boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked. Drain, return to the pan and dry thoroughly. Mash and mix in the salt and flour. Taste to see if it's seasoned enough. Allow to cool, form into four balls and chill in the fridge for half an hour or so.
Warm the sobrasada in a microwave for 10 seconds or so just to soften. Mix with the spring onion, parsley and crushed pine nuts. Chill in the fridge for half an hour or so.
Flatten the potato balls out into cakes and place a dollop of the sobrasada mixture in the centre of each. Bring the edges of the potato cakes up and around the sobrasada and form into round balls. Roll in the breadcrumbs and chill to firm up. Remove from the fridge and roll in breadcrumbs again. Deep fry in vegetable oil at 180C until golden (see picture).
rice pudding + blueberry purée
1 tbsp caster sugar
a squeeze of lemon juice, to taste
40g pudding rice
1 heaped tbsp caster sugar
1/2 vanilla pod
a pinch of cinnamon
3-5 tbsps crème fraîche, to taste
Bring the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice slowly to a boil and simmer for about 3-4 minutes until the berries are broken down. Blitz in a processor to a purée.
Place the rice, milk and sugar in a saucepan. Split the half of vanilla lengthways, scrape the seeds into the milk and throw in the pod as well. Add a pinch of cinnamon. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30-35 minutes until the rice is cooked, stirring regularly. Remove the vanilla pod. Add crème fraîche until you have the consistency you like. Pour into two bowls and swirl in as much of the purée as you fancy (you may have some left over).
I used to make my granola at a much lower temperature (150C), until I started to wonder why I was slow cooking something that I wanted to be crisp. Then I upped the temperature to 170C for a while. This time I tried 180C (actually, 160C fan as I've got a fan oven) and now think that this is probably the ideal temperature to achieve the golden crunchiness I'm after.
Because I had them in the cupboard, I used flaked almonds, pecans and walnuts (both broken up), linseeds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, raisins and cranberries for this batch, but it's pretty much up to you what you use.
Muscovado sugar, maple syrup and honey were what I had to use as sweeteners, but I'm really happy with the result and think I'll keep using this mixture.
makes probably about 6-8 servings (at least for me it does)
400g jumbo rolled oats
200g nuts and seeds of your choice
2 tsps ground cinnamon
90ml apple juice
4 tbsps muscovado sugar
4 tbsps maple syrup
4 tbsps honey
1 dsp vanilla extract
2 tbsps sunflower oil
150g dried fruits of your choice
Mix the oats, nuts, seeds and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Warm the apple juice, sugar, maple syrup, honey, vanilla and oil in a small pan and then pour over the oats and mix thoroughly. Spread the mixture into two roasting trays and place both in a 180C/160C fan oven for approximately 40 minutes. Stir and turn the mixture every 5-10 minutes, swapping the trays' positions each time. Keep a close eye on the granola after 30 minutes - you want it golden not burnt. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. When cool, mix in the dried fruits.
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