Thursday, February 28, 2013

A pretty cool meal

We were discussing our gardens at work the other day, when Renai mentioned she had a whole heap of beetroot growing, and no idea what to do with it. On hearing that I still had to make beetroot salad (p175) she offered me some, which I accepted very readily.

I came home today with a bag of Renai's lovely fresh beetroot, gave them a quick scrub before putting them on to boil - roots and base of stalks attached. These were going to take a while to cook, which fit in quite nicely with cooking the soused fish (p118) I intended to serve with it.

If I were following the soused fish recipe correctly, I should have got a whole fish and cut it into steaks. I didn't see the point in that (how long would it take me to eat that many fish steaks?) so I figured I'd just buy a single fish steak and cook it in the same way. Salmon was one of the suggested fish, and salmon steaks aren't hard to come by, are they?

Well, I couldn't find any at the local supermarkets. Not this week, anyway. I wasn't in the mood to go traipsing all over town for a particular ingredient, so I just got a salmon fillet instead.

A quick Google search has given me a rough definition of 'sousing': it means 'to pickle or drench in liquid'. That's pretty much what I did here - placing the fish in a casserole dish, then covering with water and adding vinegar, herbs, salt and peppercorns, before putting it in a low oven for an hour or so (the recipe is for 1 1/2 hours, but it's also for a whole fish worth of steaks. I figured one hour would be plenty for a single fillet).

Oops: I just noticed that the fish was supposed to be covered while cooking. Oh well, too late now.

When the fish came out of the oven, I let it cool a little, the removed it from the cooking liquid (it doesn't say whether to do this or not; I just figured it would chill quicker) and placed it in the fridge. That's right: this fish is to be served cold.

Around the same time as I took out my fish, I took the beetroot off the heat. They looked like they were cooked - the skins seemed loose and wrinkly, which was a good sign.

I drained the beetroot, and as soon as they were cool enough, I began to slip off the skins. They came off without difficulty - a definite improvement on previous attempts. When the skins, roots and stalks were removed, I had a bowl of tidy-looking little bits of beetroot - and hardly any purple splatters around my kitchen!

I cut the beetroot into wedges, then added the other ingredients: chopped spring onion, parsley, sugar dissolved in boiling water, salt and pepper, and a generous slosh of malt vinegar. I quickly tossed these together, and put the salad in the fridge to cool.

A little while later, I served myself up some of the salad, and about half of the salmon fillet, adhering strictly to the recipe with a garnish of lemon and parsley.

The salad didn't look quite as colourful, now that the beetroot had bled a reddish tinge into the spring onion, but that didn't matter: it was really pleasant to eat. The The beetroot was soft and tender, and the dressing was tangy, but not overpowering. Come to think of it, I might put some beetroot in my garden next year!

And the salmon? You'd think it would be weird, eating cold fish, but it's not. It's actually quite tasty - moist and juicy with a slight hint of vinegar. One part of my fish was slightly dry; this was the thickest part from the centre that wasn't quite covered with water during the cooking. Next time (yes, I might make this again) I'll make sure all the fish is totally immersed - and let's not forget the casserole dish is supposed to be covered durng the cooking, too! I also think it'd be better to chill the fish in the cooking liquid, instead of taking it out.

On the whole, I was pretty pleased with my chilled plateful. An ideal summer meal, really. On the face of it, it looks like both the beetroot and the soused fish take a long time to cook, but that doesn't mean there's really much effort involved. Both of these are definitely worth trying.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Could be better

My original plan for yesterday's dinner was to make soused fish, but when I got to the Pak N Save fish counter, they didn't have what I was looking for. Momentarily flummoxed, I stood near the frozen section trying to remember what other recipes I still had to do. After a few  minutes of distracted consideration (there really isn't anywhere in a supermarket where you can stand and think for a minute without getting in anyone's way) I decided to make seafood sauce (marinara) for pasta (p101).

I picked up some mussels, shrimps and a small fillet of gurnard, and headed for home. Once there, I started on the mussels, giving them a good scrub and pulling off as much beard as I could. I'm really quite glad I won't have any more recipes requiring me to cook mussels: they're not difficult to cook, but preparing them is a nuisance, and frankly, I just don't like them that much!

I placed the mussels in a pan with some chopped onion and a little white wine,  put a lid on it and let it cook till all the mussels opened. Then I took out the mussels and placed my little piece of fish in the cooking liquid instead. It only took a few minutes for the gurnard to cook, during which time I removed the mussels from their shells, got some water boiling for the pasta, and readied the remaining sauce ingredients.

When the gurnard was cooked, I removed it from the pan, and allowed the remaining cooking liquid to sit and simmer. In a separate plan, I combined garlic, canned tomatoes and quite a bit of parsley. This mixture (and the cooking liquid bubbling away in the other pan) was to reduce down a bit before I combined everything to make the sauce, but there didn't seem to be much liquid in the tomatoes, and the watery remnants from the mussels and fish were rapidly evaporating.

Shrugging, I combined the contents of both pans, and stirred in the mussels, fish and shrimps. The sauce looked pretty good in the pan, if a little thick. After allowing a minute or two for the seafood to heat through, I removed the pan from the heat and spooned the sauce over some pasta.

It looked better in the pan than it did on the plate. It also looked better than it tasted. That, of course, is the opinion of a person who's not a huge seafood fan, but I found the sauce was too dry to coat the pasta nicely. There was too much seafood and not enough actual sauce! To be fair, I'd made a rough half-recipe, without paying too close attention to the proper quantities, so a full recipe made with careful attention to detail may well be much nicer.

Adding to the negative aspects of the sauce was the fact that I'd cooked the pasta badly. It was all stuck together and gluey under the sauce, so that didn't help either. So not my best effort this time. By all means give this one a go and see if you can do any better!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Take the hint

After completing my oat bran date loaf on Saturday night, I found myself still reasonably motivated, and decided to have a go at a crème caramel (p201). It was going to need to chill overnight anyway, so I figured I'd better get it underway.

The first thing to do is the syrup. It's made by stirring water and sugar together over a low heat until the sugar dissolves, then letting it boil until it turns golden. It seemed to take a while to turn colour, and I turned the heat up in my impatience. I probably shouldn't have done that: though I pulled the pan off the heat the moment the syrup began to turn colour, it darkened instantly and there was more than a hint of scorch in the air.

I should have taken that hint and re-done the syrup. Instead I thought to myself "maybe it's supposed to be a little bitter" and kept going. I divided the syrup evenly among three ramekins (the full recipe is for six) and moved on to the custard.

I rinsed out my saucepan and returned it to the stove, this time with some milk in it. I had to heat the milk to 'almost boiling' but not let it boil. With one eye on the milk, I beat eggs and sugar together in a bowl, and when the milk was ready, I quickly combined the milk with the egg mixture.

The custard mixture looked quite smooth already, but I followed the recipe anyway and strained it before pouring it on top of the syrup in the ramekins. These were sitting ready in a roasting dish, which I filled with water halfway up the sides of the ramekins. I carefully transferred the dish to the oven, and baked the custards for 35 minutes.

When the crème caramels came out of the oven, I allowed them to cool, then put them in the fridge overnight. When I came hoe from work yesterday, I had a go at getting one out.

I wasn't confident that I could get that syrup to unstick from the ramekin, so I sat it in some boiling water for a few minutes. I could see the syrup starting to ooze up around the sides, so I turned the ramekin onto a plate. This wasn't enough to get the crème caramel out - some persuasion in the from of fingers and knives was required, but on the whole, it wasn't too difficult.

The crème caramel certainly looked good on the plate, but what did it taste like? Well, the custard was beautifully smooth, creamy and not at all eggy, something of a surprise after the hash I made of my only previous attempt at baked custard. It doesn't have much flavour in itself though - the flavour comes from the caramel, which as you know, was sub-standard. I can see how this could be a delicious dessert - you just need to judge that syrup a little better than I did!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sunday afternoon loafing

 It's true I did spend most of Sunday afternoon loafing around on the couch, but you know that's not what I'm talking about. You'll have to forgive me, but I only have a limited time left in which to amuse myself with terrible puns in my blog titles. I am, of course, talking about the moment in which I dragged myself off the couch and into the kitchen to make an oat bran date loaf (p31).

I don't know why it took such an effort to motivate myself: it't really quite easy to make. You start by chopping up some dates, (which, after many years of doing this the hard way, I've recently realised is much quicker and easier with a pair of kitchen scissors) then add some golden syrup and cover both with boiling water.

That has to sit for 15 minutes before you combine it with the dry ingredients - flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, and of course, the oat bran. You're actually supposed to add the dry ingredients to the date mixture, but since I had not had the forethought to use a big enough bowl when soaking my dates, I poured the dates into the flour instead.

It wasn't long before I had my loaf in the oven and I could go back to my couch and my book. The cooking time is 45-50 minutes, but I checked mine after 40 and it was fine - perhaps even a bit overdone.

All the loaves I make seem to come out with a hard crust on top. This one was no exception, though the crust wasn't nearly as thick as on some I've made previously. Beneath that, the loaf was soft and moist, with that lovely datey-caramely flavour you get from combining dates with brown sugar and golden syrup.

I may be biased, since I'm just such a fan of dates, but I reckon this one's pretty good.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Better with salmon

One recipe I hadn't really hurried to do was salmon curried eggs (p95). This is a variation on the bland and gloopily unappealing plain curried eggs recipe. Still, I hadn't done a great job of following the recipe last time, so maybe I could manage a better result with this version.

I hard-boiled some eggs and drained a can of salmon, then turned to the sauce. It's that basic white sauce again, with a few additions. I chopped some onion and cooked it until clear. Then I stirred through some curry powder and flour, and let that cook for about a minute before beginning to add the milk.

When all the milk was stirred in, I had a reasonable-looking sauce. I'd made sure there was enough liquid for a decent consistency (not thick and lumpy like the last lot) but there were still lumps from the onion, and the curry powder gave it an odd yellow colour.

One of the silliest mistakes I made with the previous curried eggs was forgetting to season the sauce, (a dire mistake with any white sauce) and I kept reminding myself not to do it again. I decided I'd better leave the seasoning until after I'd added the salmon, because it might not need as much.

As I flaked the salmon into the pan, I glanced at the recipe and found that the addition of salmon was not - as I'd thought - the only amendment in the salmon variation. It also said to 'spoon buttered crumbs on top'.

Buttered crumbs? What? Shrugging, I melted some butter (or canola spread, but whatever) in the microwave, and stirred it through some dry breadcrumbs from the cupboard. It actually looked pretty good. Turning back to the sauce, I poured it over the eggs... then realised that yes, I'd forgotten the seasoning. Again.

I shook a bit of salt over the top before spooning on my breadcrumbs. It wasn't really enough though, so I added more salt and pepper on top of the crumbs.

This was not a pretty-looking plate of food. It did look better than my previous efforts, but only because of the crumbs. Oddly enough, it tasted quite good. The salmon is definitely an improvement, and though the seasoning was a late addition, it didn't seem to matter. Would I make it again? Probably not. Still, at least it was edible this time!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Home-stretch chutney glut avoided

Early on in this challenge, I began to get concerned I would come to the last few recipes and be facing a list of chutneys and sauces. These were the recipes I hadn't been regularly tackling, so I had to push myself to do them more often. It worked: I finally finished the sauces last week, and today I'm ticking off the last of the chutneys.

Fruit chutney (p30) is not much different from the peach chutney I made a few weeks back. Most of the ingredients are fairly similar; you just get to choose between apples, plums or tamarillos instead of the peaches. I chose apples: cheaper and easier than either of the other fruits.

I didn't want to make a full mix, and in the end, the amount of malt vinegar I had on hand restricted me to a one-quarter mix. This was still enough for a fairly full saucepan, though: by the time I'd put in the apples, onions, raisins, brown sugar, garlic, cayenne pepper, ground cloves and vinegar, I was a bit concerned that the pot might boil over.

Luckily, fruit tends to cook down quite quickly, and it turned out to be a good amount for the pan. The recipe says to boil the chutney for two hours, or 'until thick and jamlike'. My smaller amount took much less time, and was already looking usable before even one hour was up. I rushed through sterilising some jars and lids, but in the end, I only needed one of them.

So that was the last chutney done. It hadn't taken as long as I'd expected, and the oven was still on from doing the jars. Why not throw together a batch of cheese muffins (p27)?

I ought to clarify that these are not your standard cheese muffins. They're actually a variation of the cornmeal muffin recipe, only with cheese instead of sugar.

The first step in cornmeal muffins is to melt butter in a saucepan with milk and cornmeal. When the butter has melted, you let the mixture cool before combining it with sifted dry ingredients and beaten egg. This makes what I consider a very stiff dough for muffins - so stiff that I was filling the muffin tins by grabbing handfuls of the mixture and shaping it roughly into balls.

It took only 15 minutes for the muffins to cook. They came out golden and cooked through, but seemed slightly hard - on the outside at least. When they'd cooled slightly (but were still warm) I split one and spread it with some of the scrapings from the chutney pan.

I usually leave a chutney for a few weeks at least before trying it, but this was just the scraps. It wasn't bad, for fresh-made: nice and fruity with a little spice through it. I think it turned out ok.

The muffins tasted pretty good, and were softer than they appeared. This is the sort of muffin that needs to be buttered, not eaten as is. They have a slightly grainy texture from the cornmeal, which is odd but not unpleasant, and a nice savoury flavour. I definitely like these cheese muffins better than the plain ones.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Well, that's a bit ridiculous..

I came home from work this afternoon and got out a chicken breast to make chicken chow mein (p147). Once it was defrosted, I sliced it thinly and bunged it in a bowl with soy sauce, sherry, cornflour and ginger. This had to marinate for half an hour, so I sorted out the veges in the meantime.

I'd decided I could get away with a couple of substitutions when it came to the vegetables. I wasn't going to go out and buy broccoli and red capsicum,  when my garden is loaded with courgettes and green capsicums I could use instead.

I cut up the capsicum and courgette, along with some celery, onion and garlic. I figured since the courgette was replacing broccoli, I should keep the pieces fairly chunky. I later realised that they were unnecessarily large and I found myself pulling them out of the pan and halving them during the cooking.

When the veges were chopped and ready, I got out some vermicelli for some crispy fried noodles (p148) to serve with the chow mein. The instructions seem pretty simple: cook vermicelli according to packet directions, drain and cool, then deep-fry in hot oil until golden and crispy.

The first step was easy: just soak the vermicelli in hot water for three minutes. After that, I drained them thoroughly and spread them as thinly as possible on on the bench to cool.

I'd given some thought to what I should cook first. I figured that deep-frying is usually very quick, so I  decided to cook the chow mein first, then quickly do the noodles.

I cooked the onion and garlic first, then added the chicken and quickly browned it, before chucking in the rest of the veges. After a couple of minutes of stir frying, I poured in a mixture of chicken stock and cornflour, and let that boil and thicken while I turned to the noodles.

The oil had been heating and was ready to go. I scooped the noodles from the bench into a bowl and dropped a generous tongful into the oil. Interestingly, though the oil bubbled up a lot, it didn't spit at all, which I had been expecting. I thought it would only take a minute or two, so I kept fussing with it, pulling out bits of noodle and moving them around in the pan.

After ten minutes of this, I had a single clump of rubbery, still not 'golden' noodles. I scrapped those and bunged the remaining vermicelli in, vowing to leave it alone as much as possible, and let it cook until it actually got crispy and golden.

I don't know how long I waited. The chow mein was off the heat and congealing by the time I gave up and attempted to pull the noodles out. I had to laugh when I poked my tongs in and grabbed a single disc of clumped-together noodles, nowhere near 'golden' but at least it was 'crispy'!

While my crazy noodle disc was draining on paper towels, I moved the wok off the heat. The oil had done nothing but bubble and froth when the noodles were in there, or even after I took them out. Startlingly, as soon as I moved the pan off the heat, it began to pop and splatter violently, which went on for quite some time. I was glad I'd placed a lid over the top, or I'd have had oil all over the kitchen.

I served up the chow mein on top of my crunchy disc of noodles. The chow mein itself was not bad - though pretty much just a standard stir-fry in my book. I did eat the noodles, which had mostly gone beyond 'crispy' and into 'crunchy'. In places, the sauce from the chow mein had softened the noodles slightly, and these bits were far tastier than the crunchy ones.

I'm not sure what I did wrong with the crispy fried noodles. I'm sure that my result was not the desired one, but what it's supposed to be like, and how to get it that way, remains a mystery.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Smoked fish with surprise scales

I'd had a fillet of smoked fish in the freezer for a couple of weeks, waiting for a day when I felt like making smoked fish with parsley sauce (p114). Once I'd thawed it out, I opened the package, bunged it in a frying pan, and poured some milk over the top.

I brought the milk to the boil, then put a lid on and set it to simmer while I pottered around getting some veges ready. About halfway through the cooking time, I decided I ought to turn the fish over, since the top was not covered by the milk. I wasn't sure it would heat through.

I was dismayed to discover, when I turned the fish over, that it still had scales attached. Well, mostly attached: some had come loose and were floating around in the milk. I hadn't had any reason to look at the bottom of the fish when I opened the packet. After all, when does supermarket fish ever have scales on it? They were hidden underneath, like when you get a pack of steak with a good one on top and a gristly one on the bottom. Though if I'm really honest, I hadn't looked at what I'd bought at all. It wasn't even a fillet - it still had bones and skin and everything.

I let the fish simmer away in its milk for the rest of the 15-minute cooking time. When this was up, I returned to the kitchen to find the fish sitting in a watery grey liquid ringed with scum; one of the least appealing sights I've seen in a long while.

I took the fish out and inexpertly removed the scales and any bones I could find. I poured what little liquid remained into a jug, and topped it up with fresh milk. I wasn't feeling particularly optimistic at this stage, but I soldiered on with the sauce.

Having scraped the disturbing scummy remnants from the pan, I melted some butter and stirred through flour.  after a minute or two, I started gradually adding the milk, whisking to remove limps. The resulting sauce was a definite step up from what had been in the pan a few minutes previously: it actually looked edible, for a start.

I added parsley and a bit of seasoning, then served up the fish and vege, and poured the parsley sauce over. To my surprise, it was quite edible, even tasty, though really quite salty. as I made my way through the portion, I found the salt was quite overpowering. A pity that this wasn't one of the many times I forgot to season my sauce - there was more than enough saltiness in the fish itself.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The boring baking

I've taken quite a bit of care not to leave the boring, difficult or unappealing recipes until last. Any meals, desserts, sweets, chutneys, jams etc. that I wasn't looking forward to doing (for whatever reason) have now been done. I was not, on the other hand, quite as careful with the baking recipes. I tended to pick whatever appealed to me at the time, and as long as I was covering the different baking chapters reasonably evenly, I didn't worry too much.

So now I find myself with only a handful of baking recipes left, and among them were two fairly drab-sounding items: bran biscuits (p36) and wholemeal loaf (p33) I decided to get both of these done in one go, and find out whether either of them tasted better than they sounded.

I started with the biscuits, creaming butter and sugar, beating in an egg, then mixing bran flakes, wholemeal and plain flours, baking powder and salt. This made for a very dry mixture. I had to use my hands to get it combined, and even then, it was very crumbly.

The recipe says to roll out small amounts at a time, so I rolled the dough on a board, a handful at a time, before cutting out rough rectangles. The rolling was a frustrating task; the dough was so crumbly it just fell apart. By the time I had one tray filled with biscuits, and part of another, I found the remaining dough was just too crumbly to work with. I threw it out.

After 20 minutes in the oven, one tray was overdone, but the other looked about right. I took the bran biscuits from the baking tray and laid them on a wire rack to cool. It was my intention to start on the wholemeal loaf immediately, but I found I was missing an ingredient. My loaf had to wait until I'd been down to the supermarket for some wheatgerm.

Once I had the missing item, I was able to whip up the loaf fairly quickly. I combined milk, golden syrup, butter and eggs in a bowl, then added the dry ingredients: wholemeal and plain flour, wheat germ, oat bran, baking powder and soda, and a bit of salt. All of this combined into a fairly wet mixture, which I spooned into a lined loaf tin and popped in the oven for half an hour.

After half an hour in the oven, the loaf was crusty on top and still gooey in the centre: the same old problem I've been having with loaves since I started this challenge. It took another 10 minutes' cooking, plus 10 minutes' cooling in the tin, before the loaf was cooked through.

The wholemeal loaf was, as expected, fairly bland. It's clearly not intended for eating as is, but would probably work ok with a bit of cheese and/or chutney. Hang on, I'll just go try that.

* * *

Hmm.. it's ok, I guess, but the dense, dry texture and the branny flavour manage to dominate even with the addition of cheese and chutney (by the way, that peach chutney I thought would be good? It is). I won't be rushing to make this loaf again.

As for the biscuits, they're actually not bad. Not much flavour, of course, but they have a nice crisp texture and are pleasantly filling. I wouldn't object to eating them again, but the sheer frustration of rolling out that crumbly dough means I'm unlikely to bother making any more.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

What's that pink stuff called?

I got a text from Lauren last week, inviting me to a 'spag bol and pilsner' party for Tom's birthday. On hearing that spag bol and pilsner was his preferred way of celebrating, she'd decided to plan a surprise party on that theme. Of course, Tom got wind of the 'surprise' before long, and cheerfully took on the task of cooking spag bol for twenty-odd people himself.

Immediately upon receiving Lauren's text, I began turning over the remaining recipes in my mind. It didn't take long to hit upon flummery (p201) as a suitable dessert to take. So what's flummery? Even if you don't recognise the name, you'll almost certainly recognise the dessert itself.

Flummery is a very easy dessert to make, but it needs a little time to set. Just to make sure it would have enough setting time, I popped home at lunchtime yesterday to get it ready.

I'd had a can of evaporated milk sitting in the fridge overnight, and I put it in the freezer for the last few minutes while I got everything else ready. It's important to have the evaporated milk quite cold. Meanwhile, I dissolved jelly crystals in boiling water then put it in the fridge to cool while I made myself some lunch.

After eating, I opened up the evaporated milk and got the electric beater into it. I was glad I'd used my biggest bowl (which I did only because the second-biggest one was in use for something else) when I saw how much the evaporated milk increased in volume. When it was very thick and fluffy, I poured in the cooled jelly mixture and beat it some more.

Is the two mixtures combined, the flummery turned a disturbingly artificial pink. I'd chosen boysenberry-flavoured jelly, in the hope that it would be less sickly-sweet than strawberry or raspberry. Well, it certainly didn't look any less sickly than strawberry!

The recipe made so much that I couldn't fit all the flummery in one serving dish. I split it across two, and contemplated taking only one to Lauren and Tom's. What would I do with the remainder, though? So I decided to take both. After all, there would be quite a few people to feed. I placed the two dishes in the fridge, got changed, (because I hadn't bothered with an apron, and consequently found myself covered in flummery splatters) and returned to work.

After work, I quickly threw together a berry garnish for the flummeries, mixing strawberries and blueberries, then briefly marinating them in orange juice and icing sugar before piling them atop the bowls of flummery. Berries are really past their best at this time of year, but they still looked better than plain bowls of pink flummery.

Tom's dinner went beautifully - everyone loves a good feed of spag bol, after all. It was fairly late before we got to the desserts, and a number of people had headed away already. There were till plenty of takers for the flummery and other assembled goodies, though. Everyone seemed to recognise the flummery, but while some  knew it as 'jelly fluff' or similar, others never had a name for it.

Whatever you call it, it's an easy, tasty dessert, readily adaptable with the use of different flavours of jelly, added fruit or yoghurt. The real bonus is that it's so light and fluffy, you don't find yourself groaning at the thought of a dessert after a big meal. I think we all remember this one from when we were kids, but that doesn't mean it's not good for grown-ups too!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Succulent squid

When I was out on my mission for beef bones the other day, I also popped into a fish shop and got myself some squid rings (p119). I'd been looking for these at the supermarket, but they seem to only be available frozen and crumbed - hardly useful if you're intent on making a recipe that involves crumbing them yourself. I did have to buy them frozen, but at least I found some uncrumbed ones.

I was going to need a dipping sauce for my squid rings, and as chance (or careful planning) would have it, the only remaining sauce recipe was spicy barbecue sauce (p187). That's right: I've got through all 33 of those 'sauces and marinades' that have been making my life difficult these past three years!

When I got home from work yesterday, I immediately began mixing up the sauce. I'd intended to have my squid rings and dipping sauce last night, and I knew the sauce had to sit for a while. On re-reading the recipe, I found the standing time was 5-6 hours, far too long to wait before eating. In the end, my sauce ended up standing for nearly 24 hours.

The sauce is easy to make: you just mix the ingredients together and let it stand. Of course, by the time you've put in tomato sauce, water, golden syrup, salt, Worcestershire sauce, curry powder, pepper, garlic and red wine, you've got two whole cups of sauce. That was far too much for my needs, so I made a half recipe.

I ran into a few difficulties with the ingredients, finding that I'd bought 'homestyle' tomato sauce instead of the normal stuff, and that my golden syrup bottle was almost empty. I went ahead with it anyway, and added a little brown sugar as a substitute for the rest of the golden syrup.

This evening, I actually got down to  cooking the squid rings. I defrosted some of the squid rings and stirred crushed garlic through. I used garlic from a jar, since it has a more runny consistency than fresh-crushed garlic, and I thought it would coat the squid rings better. When the squid was satisfactorily coated, I covered the bowl and left it for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, I was heating oil and preparing the other ingredients. I beat together egg, cornflour and milk, and got out some breadcrumbs. When the oil was hot enough, I dipped each squid ring in the egg mixture, then coated it in the breadcrumbs. I fried the squid rings a handful at a time, quite briefly. It's hard to judge cooking time when you're not sure exactly how hot the oil is, so I just let them brown then took them out to drain.

It wasn't long before I had a tasty-looking plate of golden squid with a rich red dipping sauce. The squid definitely lived up to its delicious appearance - crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. I was pleased that I'd got the timing right and not overcooked it.

Unfortunately, the sauce wasn't as good as expected. I don't think I really got the flavours right. It tasted like what it was: tomato sauce with a few extras stirred through it. It wasn't bad, but it didn't have the lovely barbecue flavour I was hoping for, and certainly doesn't deserve the description 'spicy'.

In short, the squid is awesome, if you're prepared to bother with deep-frying, (there are oil spatters all over my kitchen, but not everyone is as messy as I am) but I would recommend using a different dipping sauce.

Popular posts this week