A Sort of Mediterranean Dish

The freezer and I were in a stalemate situation. There we stood, eye to eye, me with a wealth of recipes that I was dying to cook and there he stood, packed solid with food, not willing to relinquish any of it without a struggle.
“Look” I said, “Either you give me the food or I’ll turn on the heaters and I mean it this time.”
He looked at me stoically. The freezer has heard my threats before. He knows I need him just as much as he needs me. I feed him food and he feeds me food.
Last night I was faced with the reverse predicament I was in two weeks ago. I had an over-abundance of food. My freezer could barely shut his aching-at-the seams drawers. What on earth was I going to cook for dinner?
Sometimes when you are working with the bare minimum of scraps (or leftovers), it is so much easier for you to be inventive. Give me a freezer packed with food, a fridge crammed with vegetables and cupboards stuffed with pasta, rice and seasonings, and my mind starts to boggle.

Last night, Paul and I shared a piece of Quiche that a family member had made and sat down trying to decide what to cook for dinner. “I’ve taken the Herrings out of the freezer, so fish is definitely on the menu but I’m thinking I want something to remind me of the summer with them. Perhaps a Salsa Verde? Oh and we have an Aubergine and two bulbs of Fennel that need using up” (actual conversation).
So, I dragged Paul away from the reruns of Battlestar Galactica because I needed his ‘make it up as you go along’ ethic in the kitchen. I have experienced his skill at 'making things up as you go along' and it is frighteningly effective.
“OK, you gut the fish” I handed Paul three semi frozen Herring that I hadn’t realised were not gutted until I groped around for the opening that wasn’t there.
I felt a twinge of sadness as I stared at the silver darlings, their large scales slipping off onto my fingers like contact lenses. I wondered what they had seen beneath the grey, murky depths of North Sea, swimming along like bolts of lightening.
Pretty soon though we were left with a sinkful of fish guts and three headless fish waiting for their heat treatment. I got to work butterflying them whilst Paul made one of his famous salsas. I had requested no chilli because whilst I wanted a Mediterranean feel, I didn’t want heat.
As usual, he didn’t let me down. Using a blood orange, one of those long red sweet peppers, some red onion and sea salt, he made a stunning red salsa that perfectly realised my eating requirements.
Meanwhile, I braised the Fennel in some butter and olive oil and threw some Ciabatta in the oven. Paul then set to work on the Aubergine, cutting into thin slithers which were fried, then combined with some Mozzarella, Vine Tomatoes, some preserved Artichoke Hearts for good measure and some seasoning.
What you see before you is last night’s supper, completely ad libbed, not entirely successful but a lot of fun to prepare. The fish was pan fried in a little oil until it curled up around the edges. The tasty, tiny brown fillets were then served on top of the braised Fennel (which was deliciously and delicately medicinal – all thoughts of Absinthe have nearly been obliterated from my memory) with the Ciabatta, some of the Red Salsa and the Aubergine Salad (which I didn’t like because it was too oily, but that particular affectation will plague the poor Aubergine until its dying day).
It tasted a little like the Mediterranean at our dining table last night, which was just right for the sub-zero temperatures outside. And Paul got to see the end of Battlestar Galactica after all.
As for the freezer? Well, he has a Ham Hock and Minced Beef extraction coming to him soon...very soon.

7 comments:

Meeta said...

Freya, This does sound sooo good, so I wonder why you say it was not successful. But still the fact remains that the two of you had a great time. that is special.

Jessica said...

That sounds quite yummy!!You did a great job!! Cheers!!Keep blogging!!Jessica

wheresmymind said...

mmm...sinkful of fish gutz! :P

Freya said...

Hi Meeta, it was just mostly the aubergine salad that was a little too oily for my liking but everything else was good! It was a fun time spent in the kitchen too!

Hi Jessica, thanks for stopping by! I intend to keep blogging!

Jeff, at least they weren't zombie gut(z)s!!

Brilynn said...

It's a constant struggle between me and the freezer. I swear he eats my blueberries because I don't know where they all go!

Ros said...

I think the whole meal sounds delicious - especially the fried fish.

My freezer plays tricks on me. One day he hid a whole pack of pigeon breasts behind one of his compartments!

Kathryn said...

Mmm, your dinner looks good. I am glad you're overcoming your fennel-phobia.

Would you like to come over and work through my freezer? I seem to add to it and never take from it..

Kathryn x