The joy of the ‘no cook’ meal: Stock up your fridge and take a bit of time off

Tapenade, martinate cheese and dressings can last weeks

Marinated goats’ cheese and tapenade.

Marinated goats’ cheese and tapenade.

 

Obviously, I love to cook but there are times when I just couldn’t be bothered.  I still want to eat well, instantly and without doing very much.

Some of my most relaxing meals are when I open the fridge, pull out some jars that I have filled awhile back, add a good loaf of bread and a bowl of leaves.

This weeks recipes could be looked at as basics but when done properly can transform a meal. They are quick, easy to prepare and very versatile. These dishes work well together for a quick and simple lunch or dinner. Or they can be used to accompany other dishes during the weeks ahead.

For example, combine the first two recipes, the marinaded cheese and the tapenade, add some toast, heat the grill and one has an instant meal. Simply spread the tapenade on four large slices of toast, slice the cheese and arrange over the tapenade covering completely. Grind over some black pepper and grill until lightly browned. Add a bowl of salad, a candle, linen napkins and a glass of wine and you have a meal fit for a king.

Also taking the perfectly cooked egg recipe, pair it with the pickled onions and serve with some salad leaves dressed with the herb vinaigrette.

The herb cream cheese just needs some crisp chopped up vegetables. Check the bottom drawer of your fridge and you will be surprised what vegetables are waiting to be tidied up and served.

These days I am learning to take it easier and with that have discovered the joy of the “no cook” meal!

Stock up your fridge and take a bit of time off.

Tapenade

Tapenade: The addition of brandy is interesting but not vital.
Tapenade: The addition of brandy is interesting but not vital.

This makes a gutsy and interesting tapenade. The addition of brandy is interesting but not vital. This sauce will also work well with pasta, lightly spread on toast or as a sauce for grilled fish.

Ingredients

24 black olives, stoned
8 anchovy fillets
50g can tuna fish
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Lemon juice, to taste
1 tablespoon brandy
olive oil

Method

1: Place all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor and whiz to a paste.
2: Drizzle in enough oil to make a thick paste.
3: Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. I sometimes find another squeeze of lemon make a big difference here as it cuts the richness of the olives and the saltiness of the fish.

Marinated goats cheese

Marinated goats’ cheese.
Marinated goats’ cheese.

Over the last few years I have become rather partial to a raw milk goats cheese called “Sunview” made outside Macroom in Co Cork.

I am very content with one of these cheeses for a late supper along with a ripe pear, a handful of walnuts and a glass of wine.

I often buy a few at a time and preserve them in olive oil and herbs for a few weeks giving me a scented cheese that is ideal for grilling and especially handy for picnics.

Ingredients

0.75 litre preserving jar
3 or 4 soft goats cheese about 120g each
2 small sprigs of rosemary
2 small sprigs of thyme
2 dried bay leaves
Olive oil to cover

Method

1: If the cheeses are very moist allow them to drain over night on a tea towel.
2: Place the cheeses in the jar and tuck the herbs in and around the them. Cover completely with olive oil.
3: Cover, and leave them for at least two weeks before using. Can be kept for up to three months in a cool place.

Herb vinaigrette

The herb vinaigrette keeps well for a couple of weeks.
The herb vinaigrette keeps well for a couple of weeks.

A simple herb dressing that keeps well for a couple of weeks. Ideal on salad leaves, tomatoes potatoes and eggs.

Ingredients

65ml cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
300ml olive oil
1 big handful of mixed herbs, such as tarragon, basil and parsley

Method

1: Put the vinegar, salt and pepper to tastier a bowl and whisk in the oils in a steady stream, until the mixture is well blended.
2: Chop the herbs fine (but not too fine as you will loose the flavour) and add the dressing and mix well.
3: Allow to stand for 10 minutes, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed Alternatively, Blend all the ingredients in a liquidiser.

Quick onion pickle

Quick onion pickle.
Quick onion pickle.

This quick pickle is easy, satisfying and turns pink as it sits. Make a perfect side for a sandwich, part of a salad plate and the ideal accompaniment to smoked fish or cold meats.

Ingredients

2 medium red onions
1 litre of boiling water
150ml cider vinegar
150ml cold water
10 grinds of black pepper
2 bay leaves

Method

1: Peel the onions and slice as thin as you can manage with a very sharp knife.
2: Separate the onion rings and place in a colander and pour over the boiling water.
3: Rinse under running cold water. Then put them in a bowl with the vinegar, water, pepper and bay leaves. Mix well
4: Allow to stand for at least an hour and serve at room temperature

Hard boiled eggs

Easy hard boiled eggs.
Easy hard boiled eggs.

Often, it’s the simple things that are hard to get right. I have lost count of the times I have over cooked eggs.  When I don’t follow this recipe precisely I am in trouble every time. I can now tell you that your eggs have to be large, can only sit in the boiled water for six minutes and you must run cold water on them at the end.

This recipe works a treat. Grey lines are banished, the yolk slightly moist and melt in the mouth.

Ingredients

6 large eggs, or the quantity you require

Method

1: Take a saucepan that fits the eggs comfortably in one layer and cover them with cold water.
2: Bring the water to the boil and immediately turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid.
3: Let the eggs sit for exactly six minutes, then pour off the hot water and cover completely with cold water, allowing the tap to run for a minute until the saucepan has fully cooled down. Or you could add some ice cubes.
4: Peel the eggs and cut in half just before serving.

 Herb cream cheese

Herb cream cheese.
Herb cream cheese.

Try and seek out some natural cream cheese or ricotta for this recipe. We now have some lovely Irish ones available. With very little effort, you will end up with a special dip or spread to have for a quick snack.

Ingredients

250g cream cheese or ricotta
4 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 clove garlic
A small mixture of mixed herbs such as parsley, cloves, tarragon and basil
Salt and pepper

Method

1: Allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature. Place in a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon and work in the yoghurt a little at a time until the mixture is soft and easy to spread.
2: Crush the garlic into the mixture along with the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Allow to sit for 30 minutes or so for the flavours to develop before serving

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