I think everyone in the UK has noticed that it has been blowy. Storms Ciara and her mate Dennis have wreaked havoc in people’s lives – it's heart-breaking to see those flooded out of their homes or farms. Nature is brutal – whether we have made her to become thus, Greta, or not. Floods and lifted roof tiles, travel disruptions due to trees blown down across the road and the trains lines blocked. The boats have not been going out so you might have been told, like I was, at a fish restaurant that half the menu was not available. I trust you wouldn't dream of complaining about missing on your half lobster but thought of the fishermen missing their livelihood. I was happy to have my plaice or sea bass, probably farmed or fished by shore anglers because you know what: you eat what you can get. Lobster isn't your prerogative.
And if you can get plaice, cook it whole exactly like the lemon sole and it will be a real treat. Have some crispy caramelised cabbage with it and it will turn into a feast. If scallops are available – and Scottish scallops are actually sustainable – make scallops thermidor for even a bigger feast. Choose small cold water prawns if that’s your seafood of choice – buy frozen, nothing wrong with that – and make hot spicy prawns.
Other than fish, I suggest chicken burgers this week – let’s face it: half of us are still on the low-carb or low-everything diets, desperately trying to shed the Christmas pounds and however you look at it, chicken is the winner. You can skip the bun if you’re so inclined but by no means skip the gherkin. Gherkin is the key to a good burger.
If you’d like a stir fry one day this week, go for (sustainable) cod or haddock in the velvet fish stir fry. That’s epic – and it only needs a mound of plainest rice to go with it. And if you’ve got a bit of time on your hands, try the veal pojarski – now that’s a truly remarkable pre-revolution culinary feat. It would be lovely with a pile of parsnip fries.
Another dish that feels like it’s a special meal but it’s not, is scaloppine al vino bianco. Isn’t everything that has an Italian name taste so, so good? Veal escalope, and even supermarkets do that cut, flattened out while you release all your frustrations, then just doused in a bit of wine, you drink the rest of the bottle – how much better can it get? I recommend it for a Friday.
And so we get to cake: I am making the lime, rosewater and pistachio number, but I’ll tell you the walnut flourless cake is your and God’s playground: fill it with jam, cream, custard, nothing – if you have a festive occasion coming up, it’s your thing. If you haven’t and just need a cake for the weekend (how many of you actually bake a cake a week? I’d like to know), a black forest gateau might hit the high spot, and the marshmallow brownie the everyman’s favourite. Happy cooking, and hope you all keep dry.