Toad in the hole

The River Foodie raids your cupboards

If you’re anything like me, you’ve repeatedly opened your cupboard and stared into its abyss, willing its odds and ends to turn into a meal. Things you’ve bought for one meal – flour, spices, tinned something-or-other end up haunting your cupboards until the end of term. Post-Christmas, when money’s a little bit tighter, is an ideal time to use them up. The River Foodie’s going to tell you how.

Tuna fishcakes

I understand. Another baked potato with tuna mayo can be a deathly boring prospect. Fishcakes are loads better, and beyond easy to make. If you want it even easier and quicker, nobody will notice if you use instant mashed potato.

• A couple of peeled potatoes, possibly of dubious vintage. Leave them for the bin if the tentacles are huge, but if there’s only a few sprouts coming off them, wash them off.
• A tin of tuna, drained
• Spring onions, or half a red onion, chopped finely
• Half a red chilli, seeds removed, chopped finely
• Coriander, chopped
• The zest of a lemon (optional)
• Black pepper

1) Make your mash. Peel, boil and mash your potatoes, or make the instant mash according to the instructions on the packet. Add a little butter too, if you like. Or a lot.
2) Drain the tuna and flake it into a bowl.
3) Add the spring onions, chilli, coriander and lemon zest, and stir everything together.
4) Add in the mash, and stir until everything’s evenly combined. Get your hands in there, if you need to… but maybe let the mash cool a bit first.
5) Season with black pepper, and a little bit of salt.
6) Shape into patties. The potato should hold everything together nicely.
7) Either fry in a little olive oil, or brush a baking tray with the oil and bake in a medium oven. Either way, cook them until they’re browned and cooked through.
8) Serve with chips, peas, salad, a baked potato… anything, really!

Egg fried rice

The longest part of making a basic egg fried rice is boiling the rice; everything else only takes a couple of minutes. It goes, of course, with any Chinese-style main, but you can add vegetables, prawns, or meat to make it a meal in itself.

• A handful of rice
• 1 egg
• Light soy sauce
• A clove of garlic, or garlic granules/garlic salt
• Salt and pepper
• Optional – prawns, frozen peas, spring onions
• Sesame oil or vegetable oil

1) Put your rice on to boil.
2) Whisk the egg.
3) Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a frying pan. Sesame oil is best for flavour, but vegetable oils are fine. Not extra virgin olive oil, though; that’s too strong flavoured. If you’re using fresh garlic, add that to the pan now – before it gets too hot, or it’ll burn very quickly – and fry it for a couple of minutes.
4) Once the rice is cooked, drain it well and add it to the frying pan. Fry it for a minute or two, until it’s well coated with the oil.
5) Add a tablespoon of soy sauce, and a good sprinkle of garlic granules, if you’re using those.
6) Pour the beaten egg over the rice, and stir really well, until the egg’s beginning to look cooked. Like an omelette with rice in it.
7) Add plenty of salt and pepper.
8) If you’re sticking to the basic rice, it’s done now. If you’d like it a bit more interesting, add the vegetables now. Fry until they’re cooked through. And if you’re using prawns, add them last, and fry until they’re completely hot and pink. Serve with a bit more soy sauce over the top.

Toad in the hole

Toad in the hole might look complicated, but it really isn’t. It’s just a Yorkshire pudding with sausages in it. Yorkshire puddings can be tricky to get great, but follow a few rules and they should turn out just fine.

• 2 sausages
• A couple of tablespoons of flour
• 1 egg
• A few tablespoons of milk
• Vegetable oil/lard/beef dripping
• Salt and pepper
• For serving – green vegetables of your choice, and gravy

1) Start to cook the sausages – either frying, grilling or baking.
2) Pre-heat the oven to a high heat – Gas Mark 7/8, and put your baking dish, preferably a deep one, in there, with the oil or fat in there to heat up.
3) Whisk together the flour, egg, milk, salt and pepper, into a runny, smooth batter. Leave it to rest for about 15 minutes.
4) Once your sausages are cooked, check the fat in the oven – carefully! It should be sizzling hot. Put the sausages in the dish first, then pour in the batter, until the dish is about half full. Put it back in the oven for about 25/30 minutes.
5) DON’T be tempted to open the oven and check on it, or the pudding could deflate, and there’s nothing worse than a deflated Yorkshire.
6) After about 20 minutes, have a look. It should be well-risen, puffed up and brown. Serve with two types of vegetables (it’ll keep your mum happy, honest), and drown in gravy to taste.

About Hannah Erskine

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