Almost free

There’s all this discussion about the Fast Food Generation and how they never learned to cook, because no time, easier to grab a snack, blablabla

So just how difficult is it to cook a decent meal? And how cheaply can you do it?

This for example:

Panfried salmon steak on coriander udon noodles
Chicken breast wrapped in sage and pancetta
Couscous with broad beans and preserved lemon
Cucumber and sour cream salad
Blueberry and almond tart

Starter
Defrost 2 salmon filets (€4) and marinate them in 1/4 cup each of soya sauce and mirin (cooking sake – if you don’t have it, don’t worry.) for 3 hours.
Pour off the marinade and fry until just done.
Get a bunch of coriander (€0.60) and whizz a packed cup of the leaves with 1/4 cup of sunflower oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 2cm of ginger and salt and pepper.
Boil the udon noodles (€1.30) according to the recipe, drain them, mix in the puréed coriander.

Place udon noodles on a plate, 1/2 a salmon filet on top, serve with a quarter of a lemon.

Main
Trim the chicken breasts (€6 for 6), put 3 or 4 sage leaves (€0.00) on each side and wrap the pancetta (€2 for 200g) around to keep them in place.
Barbeque.

Salad 1
Boil the broad beans and remove the tough outer skins  (€2).
Chop an onion finely, fry in oil, pour in a cup of water, bring to the boil, put in 2 cups of couscous (€0.50?), take off the heat, leave covered for 5 minutes, fluff up with a fork, mix in the broad beans and a finely chopped 1/4 of preserved lemon (make it yourself – about €2 for a big jar with 6 lemons).

Salad 2
Chop the cucumber, mix it with sour cream and chopped spring onions, sprinkle on some chopped dill

Dessert
Pastry
2 oz butter
4 oz (115 g) plain flour
1 tbsp icing sugar

Filling
1.25 Ibs (550 g) blueberries (€2)
3 oz (85 g) ground almonds
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 oz (55 g) butter plus a little extra butter
1 large egg
1 tsp baking powder

Pre-heat oven to 190ºC (375’F) Gas 5.
Use a 9 in (23cm) flat tin with a removable base.
Line with a ring of baking parchment and butter the edges of the tin.
To make the pastry, mix melted butter with the flour and icing sugar. Press the fine crumbs around the bottom and sides of the tin and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
Whisk the rest of the filling ingredients together and spread around the flan base. Spread fruit on top.
Bake for 25 minutes, cool and sprinkle with icing sugar.

All for €25 for 4 people.

Of course the wine stuffed the budget

Neudorf Pinot Noir 1999
Lifted cherry aromas with the slightest hint of savoury, earth, tar, spice and citrus. In the palate it is very dry and tight at first with cherry fruit and a little smoke but a myriad of sweet pinot flavours emerge with time. Cherry fruits, cherry stone, faint citrus and a suggestion of peach fill the fruit spectrum. There’s a lovely vinosity, sweetness and texture and a little nuttiness too.

So it was all pretty much appreciated.
Especially the wine.
Mind you, the last time I gave a bottle of Neudorf wine to someone (birthday present, actually), I didn’t even get so much as a “Thank You”.

Just proves you have to be selective.

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