End of February 2013
What Karl Cooked Next
Beetroot Salad

This week I will be mostly eating stuff from the back of the fridge.

...Where I found some Halloumi lurking. It had been lurking for quite a while (it's not my favourite cheese) so I invented an aubergine dish to use it up. It was so good I'd consider buying more Halloumi just to make it again!

Next to the Halloumi was the remains of a jar of home-made pesto that I'd once used to coat a slab of salmon so I decided to work on another taste sensation that I've got a hard-on for: peanuts and pesto. Having once been surprised at how well crushed peanuts worked on a salad dressed with pesto, I've been searching for other ways to combine the two. I had a go at grinding peanuts into that pesto crusted salmon nope!, then I thought I might just try pasta with peanuts and pesto.
I figured the nuts would need to be considerably less crunchy if they were going to be at all palatable on linguine, so I boiled up a small bag of roasted salted peanuts in stock (well, water with a spoonful of Marmite in it) for half an hour or so to soften them, then threw them on top of the pesto pasta.
Don't bother - the textures are just wrong - the slippery nuts fall through the pasta and all end up at the bottom of the bowl, plus they sit oddly with the soft pasta in the mouth.
I chucked the leftover softened peanuts into my Imam Kustu, so all was not wasted.

Meanwhile my temporary flatmate Doctor Jenny has been on holiday from her Edinburgh holiday, but returned briefly to collect her washing.
So I deep-fried the fatted calf for her dinner.

Well, of course, we didn't really have a fatted calf - my freezer isn't big enough for one, so we had deep-fried buffalo wings with ranch dressing instead and I baked some of the leftover barbecued spare ribs (sadly pre-barbecued and pre-packaged from Costco) that have been hogging space in the freezer since my Birthday Barbecue. Maybe I'll be able to get a calf into the new freezer, when I've finally emptied and replaced the one I've got?
As a break from all that fat, I bought a pack of four organic beetroots
These seem to be the only kind of uncooked beets you can buy these days - Tesco stock packets of something they call Traditional Fresh Cooked Beetroot which makes no sense to me. Surely Fresh and Cooked are diametric opposites? The only way that statement is even logical is if they are freshly cooked, and since they're lying in a vacuum sealed plastic packet in the vegetable aisle it blatantly ain't so. But I digress...
and mixed up a wasabi-flavoured version of Joyce's beetroot and horseradish salad which also went very nicely with the Imam Kustu as it happens.
To cook the beetroots I boiled them unpeeled in diluted white wine vinegar with some caraway seeds, rosemary and dill - since that's what I had lying around.
What beetroot I didn't use in Joyce's salad I grated over bowls of mixed salad greens dressed with a vinaigrette flavoured with bruised caraway seeds for a nice and simple salad that was also pretty tasty.

As if Doctor Jenny hadn't been pampered enough already, I also treated her to some experimental mashed potatoes with whisky-poached prawns which were enthusiastically received. Maybe that's what she's looking so excited about?

Later my ex-partner Rachel announced a short-notice visit by our mutual friend Mary Poweroff, or at least it was short-notice for me - I'm sure Rachel knew all about it in plenty of time. Anyway, it gave me the perfect excuse to use up the other Reblochon cheese I brought back from my recent French skiing trip. This time I decided to make a smoked salmon Tartiflette replacing the original bacon (though without the frying). I added a few tablespoons of sour cream which you could also serve as a topping - I think most of the extra liquidity actually comes from the fish rather than the cream (and some chopped dill) too - so it was a bit sloppier than the bacon version, but still delicious.
Rich, but delicious.
To go with I made Elizabeth David's courgette and tomato bake; there's a meatless theme here - can you tell? Rachel's eldest Sophie ate (and ate and ate) with us, and she's now joined the legions of the vegetarian - the horror! Between the four of us there wasn't a spot left either, so I must have done something right :)

Speaking of creeping vegetarianism; what with the astonishing indoctrination of the younger generation by today's militant and unashamedly political teaching profession, it's really only a question of time until meat is banned. You already see the steady terrorising of meat as horror stories about the dangers of bacon, sausages or cow flatulence persistently infiltrate our news media.

So, my question is: What will the world look like when the skills and abilities and (*shudder*) opinions of these brainwashed youngsters are valued above those of their elders?
Don't think that's gonna happen? Don't think that's already happening?
Ask yourself what capitalism most desires: then look around you.
All that's thwarting this consumerist nirvana is youth's lack of disposable income. And that's where you old geezers come in (apologies to any 'yoof' reading). Too set in your ways to continuously re-organise your lives around the latest fads, too reluctant to endlessly shell out for products that last no longer than the time it takes to unwrap them, you need to be divested of your assets so they can be redistributed to the young.
Expect a two-pronged attack: So Sophie - in answer to your question do I think that the voting age should be reduced to 16?: Fuck You!

Fortunately, despite consumerism's best efforts to render obsolete any need for knowledge or experience, I know that ain't happening with cooking anytime soon (young Masterchefs of the year not withstanding) so my continuing utility is sinecured.
But the rest of you better watch out - you have been warned!

A work in progress
Mashed Potato with Whisky-Poached Prawns
side staple fish
I'm working towards two dishes here - I loved Andrew Fairlie's whisky-smoked lobster, but smoking seems a rather time-consuming business that I might get around to one day, so in the meantime I thought I'd see how just cooking in whisky turned out.
Obviously boiling a lobster in whisky is going to take a lot of whisky, so I started with something a bit smaller.
Not sure how much the whisky flavour actually penetrates the prawns, but fortunately it's all going to get smushed together shortly...

The other dish is lobster mash - which I've heard of being commonly served with steak, particularly in the States. It's more usually served with a herbed cheese, like Boursin, but I wanted to see how the whisky worked.

Serves 2

Put enough whisky to not dry out into a pan with a tight fitting lid. Rinse the prawns and put them in the pan. Heat the whisky, seal tightly, and steam the prawns until they are cooked through (about 3 minutes).
Remove the prawns, keeping the stock left in the pan, peel, de-vein and chop the prawn flesh. Set aside with the reserved cooking stock and an extra splash of whisky.

Make your mashed potatoes as normal - I baked my potatoes, but on reflection possibly they were a little dry for this dish.
Rice or mash them with plenty of butter until creamy. Season.
Stir in the whisky prawns.
Quite nice - if a little on the stodgy side.
I did wonder if I should have loosened it a little with milk - I think that cream or sour cream would be too cloying.
Some herbs or roast garlic might work in there too - tarragon or parsley, chives or spring onions?
Not sure about a hint of lime - would that work with the whisky?

Comments (5)

Newest first Oldest first

  1. My my, this seems nippy-quick!

    #5 – 7 May, 2014 at 6:50 pm

  2. Yes indeed - chez Karl you get dinner and a rant :)

    #4 – 8 April, 2013 at 10:06 pm

  3. B***dy hell I only popped back to see what you were cooking these days and stumbled upon this!

    #3 – 6 April, 2013 at 9:56 pm

  4. See - brainwashed ;)

    #2 – 11 March, 2013 at 4:10 pm

  5. Sophie's avatar Sophie

    Not appreciating the negative attitude towards vegetarians! I don't like meat at the best of times, never mind meat with undeclared substances in it. You could argue that more expensive meat from the butchers section of the supermarket would be more reliable, but we both know my Mum only buys own brands or things on offer. So that is the reasoning behind my new found vegetarianism. :)

    #1 – 11 March, 2013 at 3:49 pm

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