This week, I will mostly be eating air.
This is because I have my final dress fitting on Friday; I must stop baking cakes, making up new recipes and cooking trials of ideas which turn out sometimes to be scrumptious, other times to be revolting.
Step One: I have to stop cooking, because this will enable me to achieve Step Two. I’m not so dense as to think cooking itself makes you cuddly; look at Michel Roux. But, ergo, Step One leads automatically onto:
Step Two: I have to stop eating so much. It’s all too easy to have a nibble of this or a taste of that, and before I know it I’m serving up an eleventy course lunch all to myself in the name of research.
But before I restricted myself to gruel and water* I decided to have one last, glorious meal of deliciousness. And given the wintery nature of the weekend, I opted for a roast chicken, dusted with cracked pepper and Greek oregano, and stuffed with half a lemon. So far, so not so difficult.
But then the vegetables stumped me, and I figured out that making enough bread sauce to live on for a week would be a Bad Plan and Asking For Trouble.
So I made dinky miniature Bread Sauce Pots and Vegetable Croquettes.
It was a good last meal.
*not really, I’m not that much of a glutton for punishment. Pun intended.
My grandmother taught me to make this. I remember studding the onion with cloves. I’m not such a perfectionist these days, simply popping them in the milk will do exactly the same job! It is curiously moreish and, if you’ve never tried it, brilliant cold the next day with the rest of your roast left overs. If you have any, that is. If you feel particularly adventurous, borrow one of our family traditions and have a cold meat and bread sauce sandwich. Lovely.
- Enough breadcrumbs of whatever bread you happen to have to hand to come 2/3 of the way up your chosen dish
- Enough milk to cover said breadcrumbs
- 3-6 cloves, depending on how clovey you feel
- ¼ – ½ an onion, depending on how much milk you are using
- 1 bay leaf
- Dab of butter
- Salt & Pepper
When you start to think about turning the oven on to roast your meat, it’s time to allow your milk to infuse. Using a non-stick pan, heat your onion, milk, cloves, bay leaf and seasoning to a gentle simmer and allow to bubble mildly for 5-10 minutes whilst you sort your joint out. Then turn the heat off and just let it sit until you need it.
Crumb your bread and place into your ovenproof dish. This will rise, so don’t go too shallow – but it is extremely adaptable, lending itself to almost any type of container. You may want to butter the edges but it depends on what dish you’re using; it won’t need lining or anything.
Fish out your onion from the milk and place it in the middle of the dish, or if making more than one, add a ring of onion to each dish.
Strain the milk through a sieve into the dish, covering the breadcrumbs. Add a twist of black pepper and a couple of dabs of butter to the top, then put in the oven on a tray at the same temperature as your joint for about 35-45 minutes, until brown and bubbly.
Somewhat inexact compared to my normal recipes I admit! Ideal for leftovers. Just make sure there is enough potato to allow the croquettes to hold their shape, if you find they are falling to bits a little, add a spoonful of the egg to the potato / vegetable mix.
- Two spoonfuls of mashed potato to every spoonful of vegetables
- 1 egg
- Approximately one spoonful of breadcrumbs per spoonful of vegetables
- Salt & pepper
If using fresh vegetables, cook as you normally would, and then chop into bitesized pieces. You’ll need to make your mash and leave it to cool before using. For this version I had mini corn on the cob, cauliflower, peas and mashed potato left over, but you could use almost any vegetable you fancied.
Crumb your bread, and place on a plate.
Break the egg onto another plate, and whisk with a fork until white and yolk are amalgamated.
Roughly mix all the vegetables together, cutting up any larger pieces. I did this by simply cutting through all the leftovers like I would if I was making pastry. Hmm, I promise, this turns out better than my pastry does. Season, and mix.
Using either your hands or two spoons to get the approximate shape, form your croquette. It’s easiest to make all of them first, before heading onto the next stage, otherwise your hands get even messier and it goes a bit gloppy.
Then simply roll each croquette in the egg, making sure the ends get coated, before rolling it in the breadcrumbs and returning it to the baking tray.
Bake for about 40-45 minutes until crispy and crunchy.