Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Je suis de retour!

No windows smashed... unlock the door... nope no sign of forced entry, everything is exactly as I left it, phew. Alright so I'm a little bit neurotic.
Now heave in my suitcase and hurl it upstairs where it can wait for a couple of days thank you - I shall get to the laundry eventually! Now what to eat...ah, nothing in - well there wouldn't be would there; I've been away for a fortnight.

When I was little we'd have sardines or beans on toast when we got back from holiday, or if we were staying in Norfolk and being particularly organised we'd bring back some Ham and Cheese Patties from the Owl Tearoom in Holt.

There was more in the cupboard than I thought and I was feeling in a surprisingly imaginative and hungry mood when I put these things together. Defrosted some peas, shook up a vinaigrette, salvaged some orange cherry tomatoes from the garden, boiled an egg and opened a tin of pilchards; almost a balanced meal.

My sitting room is my office now so I got up early the next day eager to take the chill out of the Autumn air and baked a loaf of mixed nut bread before work.

I substituted the walnut pieces and ground walnuts from my previous bread recipe with whole Almonds, Pistachios and Peanuts. Still reluctant to go to the shops and determined to squeeze as many meals as possible out of my thinly stocked cupboards and empty fridge I ate chunks of the bread between emails with some cream cheese (which had miraculously survived in the fridge) along with some rogue pickled walnuts. The cream cheese wasn't very exciting so a splash of olive oil and black pepper gave it a well needed boost.

I like to think that Nigel Slater would be pleased that I always have a chunk of Parmesan lurking in the back of the fridge which refuses to go funny and I pull it out at appropriate intervals to liven things up.

My final store cupboard flourish before hitting the shops was the evening meal of mushroom risotto. I rehydrated some Porcini mushrooms in a little boiling water and added the resulting liquor and splashes of white wine at relevant stages to some arborio rice and a clove of garlic and stirred it violently on the hob. Chucked in a handy bay leaf and a couple of Juniper Berries, seasoned and stirred in the mushrooms, fresh garden sage and some of that forgotten Parmesan.

Cheryl looked on in amazement at how I managed to pull a risotto out of such an empty kitchen with my suitcase still at the top of the stairs.

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