What to cook this week?
Sun, 16 July, 2017
Jay Rayner doesn’t like sharing plates, convincingly quoting the quandary of the seventh asparagus and the threesomes of dumplings at dim-sum, when dining in twos. I like sharing plates. In fact, I particularly like other people’s plates, what they’d ordered usually a better choice and looking more appetising. If the ‘try mine!’ at a restaurant table isn’t forthcoming, there’s a serious threat to the good relations between me and the selfish bugger.
So for me there’s nothing better than tapas, dim-sum (three dumplings or not; I’ll always snatch the last one anyway) or meze. What can you do at home, on an ordinary weeknight? Let’s share this week. Let’s cook a dish that can be placed in the middle of the table for all, or just the two, to share.
Fish isn’t usually the thing that you think can be shareable but it so is if you cook it whole and don’t worry about decorum. I know, those Mediterranean waiters can bring you a whole salt-baked bream to the table and 45 seconds and a dizzying flurry of forks later you have the cleanest fillet on the plate in front of you. But we are only human so fork-and-grab from the platter in the middle of the table will do fine. Roast a whole sea bass on the bed of lemons; and if you fancy your hand at said salt crusted bream, it’s actually doable.
My favourite sharing dish (with a holiday flavour) is paella. It comes in surf, turf or veggie varieties but this recipe is for mixed paella, with shrimp, chicken and chorizo. Another sharing rice dish is kedgeree with smoked mackerel. Unfairly forgotten, it is also much easier to cook than paella.
Meat-eaters’ fork-and-grab dish of choice could be slow-roasted shoulder of lamb. It’s an inexpensive cut of meat. It’s a dump-in-the-oven-and-go dish. Throw some diced potatoes to roast with it halfway through the cooking time; mix lots of green salad and you can please a crowd.
Can pasta, wait: READY MADE PASTA! be a sharing dish? It sure can – try the potsticker style tortellini, cheese or spinach filled for a vegetarian version.
And now for a shared breakfast, and it can be done on a weekday if you prepare your oats the night before: baked buttermilk oatmeal recipe is easy to scale up for a large family or a hope of leftovers cut into oat bars. More effort but the ultimate breakfast tear ’n’ share will be buchteln, the Austrian jam buns, very much like baked doughnuts and as delicious. Happy sharing!