welcome to Saucy Dressings!

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Wondering what to cook over the forthcoming week? Something different, something creative, something quick? The aim of this site is to provide a selection of gastronomic gems which can be produced in a trice, with a bit of visual fun on the side.

lettuce lady

enjoying the time spent cooking

Each month there will be a balanced selection of recipes:

  • lunch
  • three course dinner
  • chicken (or rabbit or something similar) supper
  • meat supper
  • fish supper
  • pasta, rice, noddles, mince types of supper

all packaged up to be quick, simple and with a bit of flair…. the aim is to make this chore be fun. And in addition, once a month:

  • we’ll look at a particular type of alcohol… how it can be used in cooking… and how to use up the rest of the bottle in a well-deserved cocktail!
  • there’ll be a ‘what the hell is’ slot,
  • a   ‘how do I do this, and a there must be an easier way’ slot,
  • a ‘who am I, where am i, and what’s in season now?’ slot,
  • a really useful gadget, which truly saves time and will NOT end up in the dark recesses of a cupboard, or at the fete,

and as everybody knows cooking to music makes it much less of a chore, so there will also be:

  • a monthly playlist – eclectic, unusual… hopefully enjoyable music

We’re launching off the site with a wonderful selection of food (and drink) for february… and of course the theme will be PINK and RED. Drink for this month is the in-your-face luminous orangy red Campari. There will be an appropriately pinkish musical playlist to get you going…

 

la salade 632 – mango and prawn salad

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mango, shrimp and avocado salad

worth travelling first class for

A year or so before my mother died a friend of hers very generously paid for her to fly to the States, first class. Afterwards, when discussing possible visits to other countries, she would declare, “it’s only worth going there if you can go first class”, and needless to say, the trip to the States was the last time she sallied forth to foreign climes. The starter for the magnificent banquet laid out before her by the attentive attendants on British Airways flight 632 to New York was this successful melange, recreated for my mother by the very generous friend.

for six

  • 450g/1 lb cooked king prawns
  • 6 baby lettuce hearts
  • 4 mangoes
  • 4 avocados
  • plenty of fresh coriander
  • 9 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of two oranges
  • juice of two limes
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes

NO SALT AND PEPPER

  1. separate and wash the lettuce leaves, shred
  2. clean the mango and cut into sections (LINK)
  3. clean the avocado
  4. combine with the herbs and the prawns
  5. mix the rest of the ingredients to make a dressing
  6. combine and serve

Sister Act extra-drizzly cointreau orange cake

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Last month I went to go and see Sister Act at Her Majesty’s Prison Bronzefield

This is the third joint prisoners. staff. and Pimlico Opera production I’ve been to, the other two being West Side Story at Winchester and Assassins at Coldingley. All of them have been excellent and very special productions. Of course, all the professional singers are outstanding, but there are always a couple of prisoners who astonish with their ability and you can’t help wondering what might have been if those individuals had been born with another set of luckier cards.

orange drizzle cake

elegant orange pudding

The selection of the work to be performed is key. The slightly less talented and experienced prisoners can carry anything along with just sheer enthusiasm and gusto. I remember in particular the power and humour with which the prisoners at Winchester sang:

“Dear kindly Sergeant Krupke,

You gotta understand,

It’s just our bringin’ up-ke

That gets us out of hand.

Our mothers all are junkies,

Our fathers all are drunks.

Golly Moses, natcherly we’re punks!”

and on looking through the biographies of the cast in the programme I could understand why so many of them were singing with such feeling.

Bronzefield is a women’s prison and so Sister Act is another excellent choice since it tells the story of a colourful, larger-then-life gangster’s moll who falls foul of her ex-lover and, with the help of an old schoolfriend/admirer, seeks asylum in a convent. Whoopi Goldberg plays the part in the film of the same name. Although the ‘low life’ is clearly played with relish by the cast, so are the nuns, and there were some really cracking cameo parts, in particular the very old and the very young nuns. It was very apparent just how much of a personal achievement the whole production was for everyone involved, and watching it was quite an emotional experience (others also felt the same). For a couple of magical hours the baggage, past and future, of everyone in the room is held to the side, and what is happening on stage is the focus of every individual. It gives a whole different meaning to  ‘audience participation’.

There are of course, strict procedures for entering the prison and there is no interval in the performance, but while waiting to be moved through to our seats, we were offered lemon and orange drizzle cake made by the inmates. Both were good, but the orange was the best, and below I give my attempt to replicate it. The cake can be kept in an airtight tin for about five days, and even frozen.

  • 100g (just under half a cup) melted butter

    orange drizzle cake

    make holes with a skewer and drizzle in the drizzle

  • 160 ml (just under ¾ cup) double cream
  • 250g/1¼ cups) caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g (1½ cups)self raising flour (or 250g plain and 2 teasp bicarbonate of soda)
  • finely grated zest of one orange (keep a little back for garnishing)

filling

  • 10 tbsp orange curd

internal drizzle

  • juice of one orange (100ml/just under half a cup)
  • 25g/1 oz/2tbsp caster sugar

external sauces

  • 150ml/just over ½ cup blood orange juice
  • 75ml/just over ¼ cup Cointreau
  • 200ml tub/just over ¾ cup crème fraiche
  1. preheat the oven to 180ºC
  2. beat the butter, cream and sugar together
  3. add the eggs, one at a time, beat
  4. sift in flour
  5. add zest
  6. spoon into a greased loaf tin
  7. bake for 50 minutes, then cover with foil and bake a further 25 minutes
  8. turn out and leave to cool
  9. make holes with a skewer and pour in the internal drizzle
  10. serve with the crème fraiche, and the sauce in a jug for people to help themselves.

One of the greatest problems for prisoners is boredom. Theatrical projects such as the Pimlico Opera productions help, as do the needlework produced by Fine Cell Work (go here  for a fantastic fish cushion or here for The Big Ronnie – the largest of a range of chopping boards made by Rough Stuff)

fish cushion made by cell works

wonderful fish cushion

chopping board

the big ronnie – fantastic chopping board

 

 

Édouard de Pomiane’s tomatoes a la polonaise

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tomatoes with cream

cooking in ten minutes – not always feasible

I am a big admirer of Édouard de Pomiane – he wrote a book called cooking in ten minutesou l’adaptation au rythme modern which says it all and is still as current as ever – it was first published in 1930. But I am also a fan because he explains the rationale (the science in many cases – he was a doctor) behind the need to ‘go to the trouble’, I don’t mind resisting the temptation to cut corners if I know why I really must take the trouble to do something. And another reason I am a fan is that he illustrated the whole with delightful, humorous Toulouse-Lautrec style drawings.

I’m also intrigued by the dedication for his famous, classic, cook book:

“I dedicate this book to Mme X asking for ten minutes of her kind attention”

– there must be a good story behind that.

Anyway, this is, more or less, his recipe for ‘tomatoes a la polonaise’. ‘polonaise’ means Polish, which in culinary terms usually means sprinkled with breadcrumbs, parsley and chopped hard-boiled eggs, so in fact I think a more accurate name would be tomatoes a la creme.

for two as an accompaniment. You cannot make these tomatoes for too many people because you are limited by the size of the frying pan. However, it is possible to bake them – mix all the ingredients together except the tomatoes. Put the tomatoes, cut side up, in a pretty ceramic baking dish, pour over the cream mixture and bake for about 25 minutes until the cream has reduced a little, and the tomatoes are slightly blistered.

If you make it with six tomatoes and five generous tbsp of cream and serve it with six slices of ham and a baguette. or some ciabatta it makes a great lunch.

  • 4 tomatoes from a place which has sunshine (if this is impossible add a little brown sugar)
  • a walnut of butter
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 generous tbsp. of double cream (or crème fraiche would be fine)
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh basil or mint  if you have any to hand
  1. melt the butter in a frying pan
  2. add the onion to the pan and begin to fry
  3. cut the tomatoes in half (use a tomato knife) and cut out the v-shaped core
  4. turn the heat up a little (don’t let the burn) and put the tomatoes cut side down in the frying pan for about five minutes – cut through the skin here and there with your tomato knife
  5. turn them over for another five minutes
  6. add salt and pepper
  7. pour the cream in between the tomatoes and let it come to the boil
  8. serve straight away

turkish lamb pilaf or what to do with leftover lamb

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This is what I do when I have leftover lamb, not a lot of time, and haven’t been shopping. It goes well with tomatoes a la polonaise (see next blog)

turkish lamb pilaf recipe

satisfying enough for a soldier

for three/four ish

  • mug of basmati rice
  • handful sultanas or raisins, or dried cranberries
  • a couple of clove of garlic
  • an onion
  • pine kernels or flaked almonds
  • 2 mugs, more or less, of cooked lamb, diced
  • some sliced garlic sausage or chorizo
  • 1 tin of tomatoes, roughly chopped and juice reserved
  • big tub (500g/1 lb of Total yoghurt)
  • cinnamon stick
  • teaspoon of tumeric (or some saffron)
  • chicken stock cube
  • marsala or calvados
  • knob butter
  • glug olive oil

    turkish-lamb-pilaf

    turkish lamb pilaf

1. soak sultanas/raisins in either hot water or marsala/calvados for half an hour
2. put generous knob of butter in casserole and pour in rice, fry approx three minutes do not allow to burn
3. boil water, pour into now empty mug, add stock cube and tumeric
4. add this plus an additional mug of boiling water and the cinnamon stick to the rice
5. cover and put in bottom right aga oven (baking) about 20 minutes
6. meanwhile, in a frying pan, put olive oil
7. add onion and garlic and get to transparent
8. empty in chopped lamb, drained tomatoes, sausage, nuts, dried fruit
9. if it looks a little dry add some of the reserved tomato juice
10. add all this to the cooked rice
11. serve with the yogurt

NB: some people also add cardamom pods but I don’t think they are very nice to eat

did you know that mangoes are the most popular fruit in the world?

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mango - most popular fruit in the world

the paisley pattern is a stylised depiction of a mango

Particularly in India. They originated there over 5,000 years ago and today almost half world production is sourced from India. Nevertheless, indian mangoes only account for about 1% of world trade – most are eaten in India.

Mangos crop up in indian history at all kinds of junctures The shade of the mango tree provided a cool retreat for Buddha (as well as others – hear the famous song in the first Bond film of all, Dr No). On another occasion Buddha announced he would perform a miracle under a mango tree. Disbelievers wanting to discredit him destroyed all the surrounding trees in a kind of early form of ‘own-goal’. The wily Buddha then simply ate a mango, the stone was planted, and instantly a tree grew beside him, to full height – an impressive miracle as they can grow to 100 feet and go on producing fruit for 300 years.

In the sixteenth century, the Mughal emperor Akbar planted an orchard of 100,000 mango trees in eastern India, and the benign symbolism of the mango remains strongly to this day. The paisley pattern is a stylised depiction of the mango, and if you give a basket of mangoes in India it’s considered an act of friendship.More recently, the mass popularity of the Katrina Kaif advertisement (see below) shows that the popularity of the mango, at least in the Indian sub-continent continues unabated. At least I think that’s what it shows….

At any rate, they are now popular worldwide and the juicy, messy, slurpiness of them is a major part of the attraction:

…now that you are here, what of all things in the world would you like to eat?

Kay thought and thought; at last he said, ‘I think mangoes, please.’ Instantly out of the wal three plates appeared laden with mangoes. The plates had neat little legs which walked. They walked up to the table and bowed down before him, so that he could eat the mangoes; afterwards a sponge walked up and mopped off the stickiness”

John Masefield, The Box of Delights

unlike kumquats and physalis, mangoes have myriad uses

  • marinades – they have natural tenderising properties
  • salads – chicken, seafood, beef, couscous, prawn….and lots of recipes to come
  • salsas – especially with fish
  • chutneys – with, of course, curries
  • cocktails – in a mojito instead of lime, and in a daiquiri.

 

useful things to know about mangoes

  • to speed up the ripening process put the mango in a paper bag and keep it at room temperature
  • to slow down the ripening process put it in the fridge

 

when are they in season?

In India the harvest is between March and May, but mangoes are generally available from one source or another all year round.

 

how to prepare a mango

 

Katrina Kaif advertisement – I don’t speak Hindi, but I get the drift….

garlic stalk pesto (aka garlic scape pesto)

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garlic stalks

garlic stalks make very serious pesto

This is a very serious pesto made from wild garlic stalks – not for the faint-hearted.

Either serve it with pasta, an extra glug of olive oil, and some additional parmesan flakes

OR..

mix with a little extra olive oil and add a tablespoon to cauliflower soup

OR…

serve it on black olive crackers with some cold dry sherry….to people who aren’t off to important meetings or job interviews.

  • 150g/6oz nice big bunch wild garlic stalks

    black olive crackers

    not for people going to important meetings

  • 75g/3 oz/¾ cup parmesan, grated
  • 150g/6 oz/1½ cups roasted or dry-fried hazelnuts, chopped
  • juice and zest of 1½ lemons
  • 360ml/1½ cups olive oil
  • smoked salt and Indonesian long pepper
  1. blitz wild garlic leaves either in a deep small-circumferenced bowl or saucepan and use your stick blender, or in a magimix, till really quite small
  2. then add hazelnuts… and then parmesan
  3. with blade still running slowly add oil – it shouldn’t be too runny
  4. add lemon juice and the salt and pepper
  5. put in fridge for as long as possible to allow the flavours to intensify

what is the difference between bruschetta and crostini?

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short answer: about ¼inch/1cm thickness and maybe some garlic

longer answer: both are heated slices of sliced thinish bread – ciabatta for example or a baguette (to mix nationalities), drizzled with a little olive oil. Crostini is the Italian for ‘little toasts’; bruschetta is a noun derived from the verb bruscare (also Italian) meaning ‘to roast over coals’ – they are usually rubbed with garlic first. Bruschetta can be made from bread with a bigger diameter than a baguette.

difference between crostini and bruschetta

…it’s a matter of size…