Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dinner lady carrots (and hake with pancetta..)

The story behind tonight's dish is worth telling, I think (the fish, not the dinner lady carrots - which will be further down this post...). I am working at home a bit at the moment, which can mean peace and quiet, and can mean being disturbed endlessly by door-to-door salespeople and these infuriating people who do a postcode lottery and then always seem to choose mine as the source for their Terribly Important Government Survey. I am very good at getting rid of unwanted phone callers, mainly because I can't see their faces, but I have more trouble sending off the unwanted visitors who turn up at the door and attempt to emotionally blackmail me by insisting on the importance of their survey to the planet at large. Anyway. All this by way of a preamble to say that sometimes I just don't answer the door. Today, though, the doorbell rang mid-morning - i.e. at possible postman time - so I can't risk ignoring it, because if we miss a parcel delivery, in our area there is an inexplicable 48 hour delay before you are allowed to drive to a depot and ask for your parcel. The depot is constantly teeming with other people claiming parcels, a situation largely aggravated by the fact that the over-worked boy behind the counter can never find the parcels and by the fact that there is never anywhere to park at the depot. So I answered the door at high speed (an interesting habit of our postman is to ring the doorbell and then run away with the parcel, so unless you catapault yourself down the stairs he has gone before you even get to the bottom, and this in a small terraced house...) and it wasn't the postman at all, but a man bringing deliveries of fish fresh from the fish quay to our neighbours and prepared to offer me a deal too. He came from a shop on the fish quay; the trawlers arrive during the night; the fish is gutted and filleted and packed into trays, and then delivered. Since I am trying not to eat Tesco fish, but can't easily shop anywhere else for fish on a regular basis, I bought tray upon tray of lovely fresh fish, now occupying much of our two freezers. And tonight, I cooked some hake fillets that came as part of that delivery.

The fish recipes in Jamie's book are quite varied, but none for hake, and only one for an equivalent fish (cod) which involved overnight marinading. I wasn't about to marinade my fresh fish for 24 hours. So. I seasoned the fish fillets and wrapped them cursorily in pancetta, and fried them in olive oil and a knob of butter.

Where Jamie came in was in the carrot preparation. I decided to make dinner lady carrots from his book. This involves slicing the carrots as finely as possible, and layering them with a mixture of orange zest, parsley and garlic, plus knobs of butter, in an ovenproof dish. I forgot to keep adding the butter, but I don't think it mattered. When you've finished layering, you pour over fresh orange juice, white wine, and chicken stock. Cover with damp greaseproof and oven-cook for 20-25 minutes. He didn't say how they would come out - they came out in lots of liquid, very tender and very orange-flavoured; they were quite different, and equally hard to describe. I liked them. They have quite a strong orange taste and would need to be paired carefully with food, but they definitely worked here...

With the dinner lady carrots, we had the above-mentioned hake in pancetta (a recipe I vaguely recall from some TV show or another, and which is so easy as to not be a recipe, really), spinach, and potatoes. The combination seemed to work... and the best thing is that the fish came from the quay, the veggies all from the farm shop, so only the pancetta (and the garlic...) came from Tesco. I can pretend to be an ethical shopper.

1 comment:

LisaEx said...

Looks very flavorful & healthy! I would love to see a clip of that stair dash.