Mushy Peas on Toast

mushy peas on toast

Before you say anything, try it.  I know it looks decidedly vibrant and slightly unctuous, but you have to trust me when I say that warmed, tinned mushy peas on toast with a sprinkling of black pepper and a drizzle of mint sauce is one of the most comforting foods you could possibly wish to eat.

Obviously this comes with the caveat that you must love all the various ingredients in order to even attempt to put them together.  ‘It’s ok,’ doesn’t cut the mustard in this particular case.

However, if you have ticked all the criteria, then try you must, as there is something absolutely outstanding about this combination which will make you wonder why it hasn’t been in your life earlier.  A perfect lunch, a wonderful afternoon snack, and suppertime just will not be the same again.

The other thing in it’s favour is the speed with which it delivers.  For me, at the moment, this is crucial.  I am, as some of you may be aware, not a fan of the bought sandwich, which flops, unenthusiastically out of it’s packet like a wet dog’s ear, although I understand completely why it is so popular amongst the busy.

That said, barring the odd occasion where needs must, I just cannot bring myself to dine on the mass produced, cold, and unfulfilling.  However, if you sashay to the left, just a little, in your thought process, the light bite medium that the sandwich has dominated for so long can be easily replaced by something much more enjoyable.

Invariably, but not exclusively, on toast.

Meanwhile this week’s shenanigans have flown by.  The highlight?  My wee boy became a knight.  Oh yes.  In the glorious place he attends, along with his two friends, they held a ceremony with a story created just for them, telling about their heroic actions in order to help others, culminating in them all being deigned worthy of being knighted with the wooden swords they had spent months making.  I cannot tell you just how much this makes my heart glow from the inside out.  Every nuance of translation touches my soul, but perhaps it is the mantra they were asked to learn which transcends into everyday life the most.

I have strength and courage

to do what is right,

To protect those in need,

For I am a knight

Quick Tomato Sauce

Quick Tomato Sauce #2

There are some days when it is almost impossible to really function properly.  I find these days usually follow a rather exciting evening where a couple of sweet sherries have been drunk and the long term committed relationship I have with my bed, has been tested.

We have had just one of those weekends thanks to one of our glorious nieces having her prom night and, as a consequence, my sister in law having a ‘bit of a do’.

These gatherings are always a huge amount of fun, and now that the boys are a little older, not so stressful in terms of getting everyone to bed at an appropriate time.  In fact, the wee one insisted that he curl up on the sofa without us even suggesting it, (with his beloved best friend blanket, obviously) and, as son #1 is 11, we allowed him, with guidance, to make his own decision about when he would retire.

It’s a funny old thing, staying up.  When you’re a child you think it will be so much fun, and, to an extent, it is.  But what is not fun is the next day when you experience your body clock battling with time itself.  However, I am a great believer in trying to understand the various effects lack of sleep can have on you before alcohol is added to the mix.  Therefore, it makes sense to me to equip the boys, whilst in our very protective arms, to get a feel for these things, in the hope that they learn, over time, not only what the lack of sleep does, but how best to look after yourself.

Being gentle with each other and catching up on sleep are two of the three main components to the morning after the night before.  The third one being food.

Ah yes, good old comfort food.

Now here’s the thing.  When you are the one that needs to make the food for the gang who need the food in order to feel comforted, you need something that is nourishing, fulfilling, and quick.

Pasta always fills this role for me, and in recent years I have begun to not just add grated cheese, tomato ketchup and a sprinkling of ground black pepper, but have actually started making my own tomato sauce.

Chop an onion and fry on a low heat in a little olive oil.  I used a red onion, but you can use whichever colour you fancy.

‘That’s not a red onion, it’s purple’, the wee boy said to me.  And he has a point.

Cracking on.  Add two cloves of finely chopped garlic and some salt.  Chop as many different types of fresh tomatoes as you have in the house.  I used cherry tomatoes and salad tomatoes.  Basically the riper they are, the better they will taste.

Add the tomatoes to the onion.  Then add a sprinkling of sugar and black pepper. Pop a lid on and leave on a very low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook some pasta, make some toast, boil some rice.  Whatever takes your fancy.

Add the two together.  Enjoy.

Fish Finger Sandwich

fish finger packer

I know what you’re thinking, and you would be right.  But, in my humble opinion everybody needs to indulge in a little fast food every now and then, and this is one of my favourites.

However.

The choice of ingredients are crucial, the cooking method, vital.

Firstly, the bread.

I am partial to white sliced, wholemeal or granary, although now that the particular seeds get a mention in the title of the bread, granary no longer seems the third alternative (I don’t count brown).  Today’s choice of bread is pumpkin and sunflower seed. Delicious.  What you must never do though, is have a fish finger sandwich in a roll, bap, bread cake, bun, stottie, scuffler or any other round bread type affair.  Oh no, no, no, that will never do.

Your bread must ALWAYS be sliced.  And just as a little N.B. don’t buy brown bread. It’s pointless.  If you want brown coloured bread go for wholemeal, much better for you and tastes so much nicer.

Next, the fish finger.

It’s a funny old thing eating something covered in bright orange bread crumbs, as I’ve never seen a loaf of bread that’s bright orange or indeed toasted crumbs that come out bright orange.  To be honest I have absolutely no idea what they put in the crumbs to make them so orange, and quite frankly, I have no intention of ever finding out.  Some things are best left in the ‘don’t want to know’ cupboard.  After all, this is about fast food indulgence which, by it’s very nature, has very little intrinsic health value.

That said, I prefer my fish fingers to have a declaration on the front, some thing along the lines of ‘made with 100%…’ or ‘made entirely from…’.  Probably because it makes me feel better about what I’m eating.  What was that, advertiser’s dream?

*Pops rose tinted glasses back on*

Onto the cooking process.

Place four fish fingers under a medium heat grill, and turn regularly until the fish innards begin to bubble through the breadcrumb topping, and everything goes slightly crispy on the outside.  Meanwhile butter one slice of bread and spread tomato ketchup on another.  With a little black pepper if you fancy a tastebud kick.

When done, place three fish fingers side by side going vertically from left to right on the slice of buttered bread, and one horizontally on top.  Gently crush.

Put the tomato ketchup slice of bread on top of the fish fingers, press ever so slightly, and cut in two.

Take that first bite and sigh deeply at the complete and utter indulgent pleasure of it all.

Corned Beef Hash

corned beef tin

Today I am venturing into a food territory of almost mythical proportions.  The corned beef hash.

You see, corned beef hash reminds me of 1970’s camping trips.  Not that I went on any camping trips in the 1970’s, but other people did and spoke about it, wrote about it, eulogised about it and generally made corned beef hash the ‘go to whilst camping’, foodstuff.  I always thought it sounded very romantic, and was, if I’m honest, slightly envious of children I knew whose families ate corned beef hash at home, as it was just not something we ever had.

And then corned beef seemed to disappear off the planet, only to reemerge as a much more expensive version of itself.  With one exception.  The method of opening the tin has not changed one iota.  Which was always one of the reasons I loved it when, as children, we had corned beef for tea.  The tin.

There is something innately satisfying about a tin that opens with a key.  To the extent that if you haven’t opened a tin of corned beef, you really are missing out on one of the ‘Ooo, satisfying’ moments of life.  Of course, conversely, if the key breaks there is a feeling of complete failure, totally disproportionate to other events in life, but still, not to be underestimated.

So today I am living the dream and making a corned beef hash.  Yes, I realise that is slightly over egging the pudding, but nevertheless, I’m giving it a go.

Having read quite a lot of different recipes I decided I would slow bake the hash in the oven, (I can hear gasps of horror reverberating around Lancashire already) and use the following ingredients:

Fresh thyme leaves, one large onion sauteed in a big knob of butter, a glug of red wine, a beef stock cube, one tin of corned beef chopped, a few splashes of Worcestershire Sauce, a few potatoes, diced, ground black pepper and just boiled water.

I put all the above ingredients into a dish, and popped it in the oven, gas mark 3, for a couple of hours.

Half an hour before we ate, I poured the lot into a pan, sprinkled a handful or so of frozen peas into the mix and let it simmer for ten minutes.

It was nothing like I thought it should be, although if you’d asked me to describe what I thought it should look or taste like, I would be hard pressed to give you an answer.  However, the gang enjoyed it immensely, which is all the ratification I need.