Yesterday evening, hungry but, as is happening increasingly of late, with no desire to eat, I decided to do what I most love to do – of the things I can still do – and that’s create a new recipe on the fly, from what I can find more or less within arm’s reach.
This came about because I’d planned to have a couple of Young’s cod fillets, fried in butter and a little olive oil, with a small can of baked beans – quick, easy, and tasty, all desirable attributes right now, as I’m in way too much pain to stand for more than a couple of minutes at a time. But then I found that the fillets were small and scrappy – severely undersized if I’m any judge, and three would barely have made a decent snack.
So, thinking cap on, I wanted something hot and tasty, and needing the absolute minimum of cooking, and including the fish as it had already been defrosted – and this is what I came up with.
3 small, scrappy, skinless and boneless cod fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 generous but not heaped tablespoon onion powder
1 heaped tablespoon ground coriander
2 rounded teaspoons sweet paprika
Large can of Heinz baked beans
1 can of Napolina cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 good tablespoons of ketchup
1 heaped teaspoon Marigold stock powder
A splash of olive oil
A little boiling water
Finished by melting 100g of good Cheddar into it, plus salt and pepper to taste.
And to any of those ingredients, feel free to add “or to taste” as it was, literally, just thrown together on the fly, and this tidying-up of the recipe is just an approximation of actual quantities – close, but obviously not micro-accurate.
Onion Powder link. I have the Hampshire Foods version. I’ve also tried tomato powder, too, but I find it rather too acidic and prefer either Napolina Passata (for me, canned pulses, and passata, have to be Napolina brand for the quality; passata is down to the individual’s palate, but the beans are excellent), or, as here, ketchup (Heinz, of course). Sainsbury’s jars of tomato purée are as good as any, and freezable in dessert-spoon-sized blobs on a small baking sheet.
Melt the oil and butter over a high heat until it’s crackling loudly (OK, I forgot I had the heat on max but it worked, so let’s go with it – if it worries you, just melt it normally), then remove from the heat and, while still bubbling, stir in the coriander, paprika and onion powder (a useful ingredient – link follows), cook off for a couple of minutes then pour in enough boiling water to create a loose slurry, and add the ketchup, stir well, gently fold in the fish, and return to a low heat – take care not to overcook the fish.
Add the beans – both – plus a scant teaspoon of Maldon sea salt flakes (or to taste), and the Marigold, and leave to come up just to simmering point. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick, and try not to break up the fish too much (some breakage is impossible to avoid).
While it’s heating slice or grate the cheese – I find it melts more smoothly if it’s thinly sliced and crumbled in. No idea why. Add to pan when it starts to bubble and give it a few minutes to melt.
Give it a final stir to blend in the cheese, check and adjust the seasoning if needed, especially pepper, and serve.
Enough for two good meals, It’s amazingly good, and very tasty, for something that, from conception (ha!), to plate, took somewhat less time than typing this, and I didn’t have to move more than a couple of feet from the stove – everything was, as they say, to hand, one of the virtues of a tiny kitchen.
And I have to say that it was great, getting back to conception and cooking as one seamless operation. I’m a very good cook when I’m able to (sorry, I don’t do false modesty), but this is where I excel, and have since I was about 10 years old. It was almost a curry, by the way, but I wanted something more subtle but still spicy. A very good call, if I say so myself. The coriander–sweet paprika combo is extremely versatile, and equally good with meat, fish or veggies. Cumin is worth a try, too, for a somewhat lighter touch.
Later, I’ll be making a chunky split red lentil and vegetable soup, ability to stand permitting. Again, based entirely on what I can fish out of fridge and – possibly – freezer. Nothing bought specially for it. The perceptive among you will spot this as a variant of my bottom of the fridge soups, but this time made while the veggies are still fresh!
NB: – I seem to be developing the same aversion to food that almost killed me earlier this year (and which has left me seriously ill, with failed adrenal glands requiring daily hydrocortisone ad infinitum (and, definitely, ad nauseam, always on the edge of a gastric bleed!), and with a Thiamine deficiency which also has to be supplemented daily), but this time I’m aware of what’s happening and trying hard not to let it get away from me. If it does, this time I might not survive.