Wednesday, 5 March 2008

The Fake Ice-Cream Way to 5 a Day!

Tonight the boys and I were on our own for supper, so I steamed some pieces of rainbow trout, cut from a lovely fillet which Christopher chose off the fishmonger's counter yesterday. 'Steamed fish' sounds so full of self-denial, redolent of all those miserable 'diet' features in magazines but it is actually the best ways to cook a nice piece of oily fish like this; it tastes wonderfully, vigorously, of itself.

To go with, in the streamer basket above that containing the pieces of trout, I steamed some ribbons of carrot and courgette. This is an easy way to make vegetables seem extra special to the children and all you need is the potato peeler - just pare off as many long strips as you can or want to. A tangled heap of vegetable ribbons with a piece of fish perched atop, would be delicious enough, but I added a little dressing for James and myself (Christopher is going through a 'suspicious' phase when it comes to sauces and dressings; his loss!)

Soy & Garlic Dressing

The garlic vinegar is easily made - just poke some unpeeled, fat cloves of garlic through the neck of a preserving bottle and top up with cider vinegar. Leave it to steep, topping up the vinegar as necessary over time. For this precious ambrosia, I am much indebted to the memory of the late Laurie Colwin, from whose book More Home Cooking it comes.

50ml olive oil
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp garlic vinegar (and see above)
pinch ground ginger
good grinding of fresh black pepper

Whisk everything together, then pour or drizzle over your fish and vegetables, or whatever else takes your fancy.

For a little bit of something sweet tonight, I grabbed a box of frozen melon cubes from the freezer and made this impromptu ice. We all love melons, especially for breakfast on warm days (I wish), but there always seems to be a bit hanging around that's gone a bit squidgy when we've had our fill. To save wasting it, I chop it up and freeze it for cocktails, fruit salads or just for little James to munch when he has a tooth coming. By whizzing it in the blender with a teeny splash of water, you get a sweetly perfumed dessert with a kind of 'Slush Puppy' texture, only far less virulently coloured and terrifying. For colour and another taste, I heated a handful of frozen blackberries (any berries, fresh OR frozen, would do) with 100ml water, a tablespoon of golden caster sugar and a teaspoon of ground arrowroot to make a sauce which I left to cool before pouromh over bowls of the melon ice. It went down very well, almost as a party-type treat and - ssshh! - apart from that spoonful of sugar in the sauce, it's all fruit!

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