This week has been a little hectic not least because it kicked off with a Monday morning visit to the vet. Our cat’s been an utter nightmare for a couple of weeks, for lots of reasons but mostly because she’s been bullied by a naughty neighbourhood tom who managed to sneak in through the cat flap and help himself to her food. Naturally, this has made her incredibly stressed so she’s been leaving hugely unpleasant cat reminders all over our home to make sure we know about it. We’ve now filled our home with Feliways to make her feel calmer and it seems to be working – she’s still a little insane but there’s no poop in the dining room so fingers crossed she’s feeling calmer. I mean, she doesn’t exactly look stressed anymore, huh?
With all that and everything else happening this week, I’ve not really had a chance to go to the supermarket so have been relying on the darkest corners of the fridge, freezer and pantry to make supper. And because it finally feels like Spring is here, I’ve been trying to watch what I eat a little more. So this week has mostly been about soups and simple stews. And I can’t stop buying daffodils to spring up the house. They’re so pretty.
After the supperclub, I froze a leftover pork loin. It had been marinaded in coriander, garlic and cumin, then roasted for about 12 minutes, till the internal temperature reached 68C. I defrosted it, sliced it thinly and decided to make a pork, mushroom and cabbage soup. I fried some ginger, chilli and garlic till all soft, then added a couple of pints of water, with a little fish sauce, soy sauce, a tsp of sugar and salt, and let that simmer for about 6-7 minutes so all the flavours infused the stock. I then threw in half a finely shredded savoy cabbage and a handful of sliced mushrooms, before adding the pork (remember it was already cooked so didn’t need long) and cooking the whole lot for about 10 minutes.Finished it with a handful of fresh coriander. I was going to add noodles to the mix but I forgot. Don’t think we needed it though – was lovely, light and the whole thing took less than 20 minutes to make. I forgot to take a photo but trust me, it was good shit.
Then on Wednesday night, my wino had been away for a couple of nights so I made a meal that he’d like and that I was a bit meh about. That’s love, that is.
I decided to make a fake ratatouille as we had a lot of leftover tomatoes and a couple of courgettes that were a couple of days from being thrown away. I don’t really like courgettes (or tomatoes) but I do hate waste. I served it with fennel and thyme pan fried cod. Ratatouille recipe below.
Courgettes, peppers, chickpeas in a tomato and herb sauce
- 15 ripe cherry tomatoes (or 5 normal sized ones)
- 2 courgettes
- 1 red pepper
- 5 mushrooms
- 1 tin of chickpeas
- A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 red onion
- 1 red chilli (I used the big fat ones as I didn’t want it to be hot)
- Usually I wouldn’t do this but I had time to kill so if you don’t want tomato skins in your final dish, cut a cross in the bottom of each tomato and place cross side up in a high sided dish or baking tin. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes, leave for 20 seconds, then drain away the hot water and plunge into a bowl of cold water then peel them. If you don’t have the time or inclination, just slice them in half (or quarters if they’re normal sized) and leave them to one side
- Slice the courgettes thickly (about 1.5-2cm), put in a colander and sprinkle salt over them – this takes away some of the moisture and helps them retain their shape in a stew-y dish. Leave aside for at least 45 mins then rinse the salt off
- Roughly chop the rest of your veg
- Using a deep casserole dish (I used a Le Crueset) fry the onions, chilli and garlic in olive oil over a medium heat till they soften then remove from the pan
- Add a little more olive oil and lightly fry the courgette slices until they’re browned
- Return the onions, garlic, chilli to the pan, then add the peppers and mushrooms, tomatoes and season. Give the whole thing a stir – if it feels a little dry, add a small amount of water – remember, there’s a lot of water in the tomatoes so don’t put too much in unless you want a really watery stew.
- Bring to the boil, then turn down to a low simmer, add the sprigs of thyme and cover. Leave like this for at least 20 mins, giving it a stir every few minutes
- After 20 mins, take off the lid and throw in the chickpeas. Leave this, with the lid off (so it reduces a little) for another 8-12 minutes
- During this final stage prepare your fish – sprinkle salt, pepper and a tsp of fennel seeds (I put some thyme on too as I had a lot of thyme in the fridge!)
- Heat a frying pan and once the oil is hot, add the fish, leaving it too cook on one side for a couple of minutes, till you can see the colour start to change then flip over
- Throw a knob of butter into the pan at this stage and use it to baste the fish
- Should only take about 4 minutes to cook the fish
To serve, spoon the ratatouille into bowls, sprinkle over some thyme leaves, place the fish on top and serve with crusty bread