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Welcome to Ron’s Piscatarian Kitchen…

Posted Sep 14 2009 8:17pm

Note: I thought it was “piscetarian” but it appears it’s “piscatarian”. I don’t agree, but I’ve gone with the “official” spelling. So, to those picky buggers, like me, who think it’s spelt wrong – I know.

.

I don’t cook much these days, but when I could I was pretty damn good. Not fancy – artistic talent have I none – but good food, nicely presented and well cooked. Or, rather, cooked well – for pedants there’s a difference. So I thought this might be a good time, as I now have a nice, new, kitchen, to introduce readers to my style of cooking with a disability and on a budget.

Sainsbury’s gets mentioned a lot for no other reason than that’s where I shop.

Note for DWP prodnoses – look, if I’m able to cook once a week I’m doing well, OK?

I’ve flirted with vegetarianism from time to time, once for about 15 years, during which time I was well enough to cook everything I ate from scratch. I was married during that time, too, and cooking for another person – or even several, when I got sucked into the dinner-party thing – is infinitely more satisfying than cooking for one. Indeed, when I was married, every Christmas I’d cook a Christmas lunch from scratch for maybe a dozen people (Er, did you stuff the turkey? No need, it was already full!), usually at my sister-in law’s house. Once she realised how well I could cook, it was my job. It started with me helping and, in short order, became just me. Not that I minded, as it’s no harder doing it for 12 than it is for 2, especially as my s-i-l did the veg prep (except the sprouts, as I couldn’t dissuade her that cutting the buggers in half was a bad idea).

These days, though, much though I’d love to cook, most of the time I’m just not able to.

Currently, I’ve slipped back into vegetarianism, which turns out to really be piscatarianism. Oh well… And I’ve been experimenting with salads, too.

I’ve never liked salads, though, and they’ve never liked me. More to the point, my stomach can’t cope with the raw vegetation without rebelling with vicious hyper-acidically. Recently, though, I’ve come up with a salad which is quick, easy and, more importantly, enjoyable. My stomach still gripes a little, but really it’s nothing compared to how it used to be, and this has become – with variations – my default salad:-

Sharp and crunchy salad (serves one).

1 Little Gem lettuce

1 medium-small carrot

Strong Cheddar cheese (McClelland’s Seriously Strong is good, though oddly the last pack I bought was Seriously Mild)

2 teaspoons (or to taste), pickled diced red onion

Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

A sprinkle of celery salt if liked, or toss in some celery if you like it (I don’t)

Prepare this just a few minutes before it’s needed – from start to finish it takes maybe 10 minutes. Take everything out of the fridge an hour or so before hand, so everything is at room temperature.

Remove any damaged leaves from the lettuce, lay on its side and, with a sharp knife cut into slices about as thick as a 2p coin (or thicker, your call). The last inch or so is mainly stalk, so discard. Put the slices into a bowl and separate into shreds – the only way to do this is to get your hands in there.

Peel and grate the carrot – fine or coarse, your call – and add to the lettuce.

Coarsely grate perhaps an ounce and a half of cheese, add that to the bowl, too. Then blot the onion on kitchen paper to remove excess vinegar, and toss those in as well (I have a jar of these – home made – in the fridge; they keep for ages, but after a week or so, they go soft, so I toss them out and make more). They’re actually very sharp, but that can be blunted by adding sugar to the vinegar.

Season with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and, with a fork, toss until the ingredients are combined. Drizzle with a mustardy vinaigrette, enough to ensure everything is coated – you don’t want it sitting in a puddle of the stuff, toss lightly, – plate and eat, served with cold, boiled new potatoes (Pink Fir Apple or Charlotte are also good), seasoned, to counter the sharpness of the salad. A blob of mayo for the spuds is optional. Or a hunk of crusty, home-made bread, instead of the spuds, goes down well.

Yes, I know it’s neither elegant nor sophisticated, but it’s a salad I can eat without it giving me grief for hours afterwards and, even with the vinaigrette and cheese, it’s still reasonably low in calories compared to, say, a pork chop with mash, peas, and gravy – the sort of cooking which is pretty much beyond me now, physically, as it’s way more work and takes far longer.

By the way, grated beetroot – cooked or raw – is an excellent addition, as long as you don’t mind the fact that it will colour everything red. I’d probably serve it separately, though, finely grated, seasoned with salt and pepper, and dressed with olive oil, just a touch of cider vinegar, and piled in a ruby cushion alongside the salad. This way the red juice doesn’t colour everything else, plus it gives an additional taste and texture

Anyway, there’s usually a little too much salad for one portion, as there was with the one I made last night, so I covered the bowl with cling-film and shoved it in the fridge. Tonight I had it alongside a couple of fried haddock fillets (tip: with frozen fish fillets, always defrost in a sieve, and blot well on kitchen paper before  frying, or whatever, to remove excess water, and fry in a 50-50 mix of olive oil and butter. Don’t drain on kitchen paper – haddock can be a tad dry and, anyway, the point of using butter and olive oil is the flavour; don’t blot it all away on kitchen paper.

By the way, leafy salads disagree with many people, not just me. I’ve read that, unless the leaves are chewed to mush (and you’ll find out why ruminants do it twice), they cling to the stomach wall, resisting digestion and causing bloating and, as in my case, hyper-acidity. Shredding the leaves gets round this problem.

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Note: I thought it was “piscetarian” but it appears it’s “piscatarian”. I don’t agree, but I’ve gone with the “official” spelling. So, to those picky buggers, like me, who think it’s spelt wrong – I know.

.

I don’t cook much these days, but when I could I was pretty damn good. Not fancy – artistic talent have I none – but good food, nicely presented and well cooked. Or, rather, cooked well – for pedants there’s a difference. So I thought this might be a good time, as I now have a nice, new, kitchen, to introduce readers to my style of cooking with a disability and on a budget.

Sainsbury’s gets mentioned a lot for no other reason than that’s where I shop.

Note for DWP prodnoses – look, if I’m able to cook once a week I’m doing well, OK?

I’ve flirted with vegetarianism from time to time, once for about 15 years, during which time I was well enough to cook everything I ate from scratch. I was married during that time, too, and cooking for another person – or even several, when I got sucked into the dinner-party thing – is infinitely more satisfying than cooking for one. Indeed, when I was married, every Christmas I’d cook a Christmas lunch from scratch for maybe a dozen people (Er, did you stuff the turkey? No need, it was already full!), usually at my sister-in law’s house. Once she realised how well I could cook, it was my job. It started with me helping and, in short order, became just me. Not that I minded, as it’s no harder doing it for 12 than it is for 2, especially as my s-i-l did the veg prep (except the sprouts, as I couldn’t dissuade her that cutting the buggers in half was a bad idea).

These days, though, much though I’d love to cook, most of the time I’m just not able to.

Currently, I’ve slipped back into vegetarianism, which turns out to really be piscatarianism. Oh well… And I’ve been experimenting with salads, too.

I’ve never liked salads, though, and they’ve never liked me. More to the point, my stomach can’t cope with the raw vegetation without rebelling with vicious hyper-acidically. Recently, though, I’ve come up with a salad which is quick, easy and, more importantly, enjoyable. My stomach still gripes a little, but really it’s nothing compared to how it used to be, and this has become – with variations – my default salad:-

Sharp and crunchy salad (serves one).

1 Little Gem lettuce

1 medium-small carrot

Strong Cheddar cheese (McClelland’s Seriously Strong is good, though oddly the last pack I bought was Seriously Mild)

2 teaspoons (or to taste), pickled diced red onion

Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

A sprinkle of celery salt if liked, or toss in some celery if you like it (I don’t)

Prepare this just a few minutes before it’s needed – from start to finish it takes maybe 10 minutes. Take everything out of the fridge an hour or so before hand, so everything is at room temperature.

Remove any damaged leaves from the lettuce, lay on its side and, with a sharp knife cut into slices about as thick as a 2p coin (or thicker, your call). The last inch or so is mainly stalk, so discard. Put the slices into a bowl and separate into shreds – the only way to do this is to get your hands in there.

Peel and grate the carrot – fine or coarse, your call – and add to the lettuce.

Coarsely grate perhaps an ounce and a half of cheese, add that to the bowl, too. Then blot the onion on kitchen paper to remove excess vinegar, and toss those in as well (I have a jar of these – home made – in the fridge; they keep for ages, but after a week or so, they go soft, so I toss them out and make more). They’re actually very sharp, but that can be blunted by adding sugar to the vinegar.

Season with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and, with a fork, toss until the ingredients are combined. Drizzle with a mustardy vinaigrette, enough to ensure everything is coated – you don’t want it sitting in a puddle of the stuff, toss lightly, – plate and eat, served with cold, boiled new potatoes (Pink Fir Apple or Charlotte are also good), seasoned, to counter the sharpness of the salad. A blob of mayo for the spuds is optional. Or a hunk of crusty, home-made bread, instead of the spuds, goes down well.

Yes, I know it’s neither elegant nor sophisticated, but it’s a salad I can eat without it giving me grief for hours afterwards and, even with the vinaigrette and cheese, it’s still reasonably low in calories compared to, say, a pork chop with mash, peas, and gravy – the sort of cooking which is pretty much beyond me now, physically, as it’s way more work and takes far longer.

By the way, grated beetroot – cooked or raw – is an excellent addition, as long as you don’t mind the fact that it will colour everything red. I’d probably serve it separately, though, finely grated, seasoned with salt and pepper, and dressed with olive oil, just a touch of cider vinegar, and piled in a ruby cushion alongside the salad. This way the red juice doesn’t colour everything else, plus it gives an additional taste and texture

Anyway, there’s usually a little too much salad for one portion, as there was with the one I made last night, so I covered the bowl with cling-film and shoved it in the fridge. Tonight I had it alongside a couple of fried haddock fillets (tip: with frozen fish fillets, always defrost in a sieve, and blot well on kitchen paper before  frying, or whatever, to remove excess water, and fry in a 50-50 mix of olive oil and butter. Don’t drain on kitchen paper – haddock can be a tad dry and, anyway, the point of using butter and olive oil is the flavour; don’t blot it all away on kitchen paper.

By the way, leafy salads disagree with many people, not just me. I’ve read that, unless the leaves are chewed to mush (and you’ll find out why ruminants do it twice), they cling to the stomach wall, resisting digestion and causing bloating and, as in my case, hyper-acidity. Shredding the leaves gets round this problem.

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