Thursday, October 04, 2012
Another fun day, in the food department!
DH and I are heading off to his Mum's for a long weekend, taking one of our friends with us. DS younger, who's still at home with us for now, is heading off for a few days too, to spend time with some friends in Aberdeen. He heads off the day after us.
So shopping for this end of the week has been a bit difficult, especially for the fresh vegetables.
I had a gammon steak out the freezer for DH's dinner tonight, so he could use up the left-overs from the Warm Coleslaw from a couple of nights ago. He really enjoyed it, and said it went well with the gammon steak. Well, obviously! Is that not why I got the gammon steak out the freezer, instead of any other kind of meat?
He had a gammon steak, the warm coleslaw, a few bits of par-boiled fried potato again, heated seasoned tomato halves, a big mushroom (3 inches diameter after cooking), and a portion of sliced green beans (microwaved from frozen).
DS and I went vegetarian, tonight, with a creamy mixture of vegetables served over bulgur wheat.
The veg mix - again it's like a stir fry, only cooked till soft.
Tonight we had -
Carrot, cut into thickish matchsticks
Red onion, sliced not too thinly
Ordinary onion, likewise
Garlic, cloves crushed and chopped
Red bell pepper, sliced
Broccoli, 1 head cut down into florets, washed and par-cooked in the microwave
Mushrooms, peeled and in thick slices
Like preparing for a stir fry - get as much as possible of the vegetables prepared and into bowls, ready to use. For soft cooking, you don't have to have absolutely everything ready beforehand, though it is still better if most of the stuff is ready.
For soft cooking -
Put a big frying pan or skillet onto the heat, then add a wee drop of oil (I use olive oil).
Add in the carrot and onion, and toss around till well coated.
After a few minutes, add garlic, turn the heat right down, and allow to simmer for a few minutes.
Add any herbs and seasonings, and up to a cup of water if required. My seasonings were a veg stock cube, Worcester sauce, Maggi, good soy sauce, and a nice big splash of good, dark, balsamic vinegar.
While this is cooking, put the broccoli florets into the microwave for about 7 minutes. In my experience, this has never been enough to cook anything but a small quantity of very small florets. However, allow to cool slightly, then cut the florets lengthways into 2 or 4 or more if it's a really big floret.
Add the mushrooms to the big pan, together with the bell pepper.
If the broccoli still has quite a crunch, add it with the mushrooms & pepper. Otherwise, leave the mushroom and pepper to cook in for 2 or 3 minutes, then add the broccoli.
Cook for a minute or several more, depending how soft you like your veg.
Add some double cream - is that heavy cream? It's the stuff that's fairly easy to whisk by hand till thick enough to spread over meringues or similar. The beauty of my vegetable cooking is - I don't need to find the energy to whisk the cream. I just pour it in, stir it, and then let the pan come to the boil, and let it boil hard for a few minutes.
This is what my son calls my "boiled down sauce" - because all the moisture and liquids get a really good boiling to reduce. I don't use any thickening, just serve on rice or small grains to soak up the sauce.
And that was about it.
I cooked the bulgur wheat according to the instructions on the packet - I think my pan was too small tonight, and there wasn't enough room for the water to really get between the grains.
However, it still tasted OK, so that's the main thing.
DS younger's verdict was very positive!
This concoction is very obviously open to change, because you'd just use what you have available, or the vegetables that you like.
Just remember to have an idea of what needs to cook for the longest, working through your ingredients to what should be in the pan for the shortest time.
Play around with the seasonings. And never be afraid to add another ladle of water if it looks like it's going dry.
Most times I'd have a pan of potatoes cooking, or potatoes and carrots, or the water from microwaving any veg. I don't have salt in the cooking water, so I can feel free to use it. And that's what I would add, by the (small) ladleful to keep my frying pan contents moist - I'm not using it as a frying pan apart from at the very beginning of the cooking, and even then there is a minimal amount of oil. Thereafter, because I want soft vegetables, adding water and putting the lid on the pan allows for some steam cooking to happen.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions for a different way to cook those "same old" vegetables. I'm always looking for new ideas, which is why I've had to get a bit inventive for myself!