As the lockdown continues we find ourselves adjusting to some extent in a number of ways. I don’t mean it’s easy and we all want it to end, but being in a constant state of panic is neither sustainable nor healthy. Some light relief is needed at times! Whether it’s a lovely walk in nature, as I enjoyed yesterday, talking to or FaceTiming friends and family, immersing oneself in a good book or film … or, if you’re food obsessed like me … thinking about what to have for the next meal!
It’s amazing how shops, from supermarkets to little corner shops and farm shops, as well as restaurants and cafes, have adapted to offering delivery services and keeping us stocked in food. Getting a slot for a supermarket delivery is nigh on impossible now, but with my local Corto Italian Deli providing a lot of my food and having a delivery from my local fishmonger last week, plus a lovely neighbour picking up bits for me when she goes to the supermarket, one thing is certain – I’m not going to starve over the next few weeks!
My local fishmonger, Sandys, is hugely popular in the area, with people travelling miles to buy their goods. Fishmongers are quite rare these days. Supermarkets have fish counters but it never seems the same. Sandys sells not just fish but meat, cheese and many groceries. I rang in an order for delivery and got 1 sea bream (one of my favourite fish) filleted so I had 2 portions; 3 pieces of organic salmon fillet; 1kg beef mince and a packet of smoked salmon.
For Friday supper, I cooked one piece of the salmon and froze the other two. I roasted some potatoes, roasted the salmon with a generous dusting of a ‘fish herb’ mix; and fried some courgette cubes in a little olive oil.
The kilo of beef mince was turned into a Bolognese ragu. I had one portion with some tagliatelle that evening and put the rest into freezer bags in one-portion sizes. I now have lots of Bolognese to keep me going for quite a while!
Making the focaccia the previous week had worked well. It freezes briliantly. So I made more. I still had some of the flour and had frozen the extra fresh yeast I had into 15g portions. I cut the focaccia into portions and put them in a large freezer bag. In the morning I get one portion out and by lunchtime it’s thawed and I can just pop it in my toaster to warm and freshen up.
Sunday evening I took one of the sea bream fillets from my freezer. More little roast potatoes and the last bit of broccoli I had. A Sunday meal ought to be special, even if you’re in lockdown on your own! So I made some fresh pesto to go with my fish. I have a pot of basil on a sunny windowsill in my kitchen and with garlic, pine nuts, a little Parmigiano and some extra virgin olive oil, I soon had a small bowl of gorgeous fresh pesto.
On Saturday I’d had a delivery from Corto Italian Deli. This included some fresh vegetables – aubergine, peppers, tomatoes and courgette (not all the above – that’s one of the deli’s photos … they display what they have on their Facebook page each day). Well of course I just had to make ratatouille. How could you not with those ingredients! I considered making it traditional style on the top of the cooker, but then decided this was an adaption too far … I definitely prefer the more modern roasted method. To be honest, it’s just easier to chop all the veg up, drizzle over olive oil, season, add some herbes de Provence (or some such) and pop it into the oven and more or less forget about it for around an hour, apart from one or two stirs. I like the intensity of the flavours from this method and that the different vegetables retain their integrity and individual taste.
That evening I had some of the ratatouille with some rice. A simple but delicious meal.
I had a lot of leftover ratatouille so I put some into an ovenproof shallow dish, covered it in foil and warmed through in the oven. When it was hot, I made two indentations with the back of a spoon and broke eggs into each. Then this went back into the oven, uncovered, for about 10 minutes until the eggs were cooked. Because I had some leftover pesto too, I drizzled some over the top to serve. It reminded me of being in Genoa (where pesto originates) where pesto was put on lots of dishes.
The last of the ratatouille made a good lunch the next day, served cold with some of the focaccia. As for Wednesday … I’ve no photo and forget what I ate! Other than that it involved half the bag of spinach that Corto delivered on Saturday. So we’ll move on to …
I was missing my morning excursions to buy my paper and read it over a coffee and pastry in a cafe. So I came up with the idea of turning the focaccia into a sweet version. It worked very well! Read more here. When it was cool, I cut it through the middle, top to bottom, then cut into thick slices and put them in the freezer. I can take one each morning, pop it in the toaster to defrost and warm through while I make my coffee. It’s a delicious treat to start the day.
Thursday evening I made risotto. I used the second half of the bag of spinach, a fresh large tomato and shallot to make my risotto. At the end, I added the last of the pesto and gently stirred it in. Fabulous!
I really made the most of those deliveries – the meat and fish and the wonderful fresh vegetables from Corto. I’ve eaten well! And I’ve also experimented well for I think the sweet focaccia will be a regular bake in my kitchen!