Yep, thanks to the nightmare that will henceforth be mysteriously known as ‘the spinach pie incident’, I have a large quantity of spinach & ricotta filling lying around. The thing is, what do you do with it? It’s not like you can turn it into soup.
It’s official. I’ve eaten so much that the scales are refusing to weigh me. They didn’t even wait for me to get on them; took one terrified look at me and displayed Lo on the screen*. Too many fried cheese sandwiches and Heinz soup, methinks.
So, taking advantage of Himself’s sudden silaging frenzy (and therefore, erstwhile absence), this week’s evenings have stirred little of the usual soul hunger**. Until tonight.
One stick blender, two packs of basil leaves, 1 clove of garlic, half a jar of sundried tomatoes, one marinated grilled pepper, way too much expensive Grana Padano cheese, a large handful of cashew nuts, 100ml milk, 100g mature cheddar, 5 aging mushrooms, a pudding spoon of cream cheese and a few glugs of EVOO. This makes Pesto, Sundried Tomato Paste, 70s style Cheese Spread*** and Roast Mushroom Pate.
Strong flavours to fool the belly into thinking it is fuller than it is and only good things in there.
These go onto wholemeal bread wafers, out of the same 1982 cookbook as the cheese spread: the ubiqitious Better Breakfasts by Rachael Holme.
Very straightforward set of spreads.
1. Heat oven to 170deg C.
2. Swirl the mushrooms round a baking dish which has been lavishly coated with EVOO and a touch of salt. Condem to the oven.
3. Mix 140ml boiling water and 1 oz melted butter with 4 oz wholemeal flour and a pinch of salt. Knead for a minute, roll on a bed of flour to a thickness of brown paper (good luck with that) and cut out circles with a glass. Make holes in them with a fork – this is essential. They need about 10-15mins in the oven.
4. Grate 100g cheddar, tip into a jug, bring the milk to almost boiling (not quite – hard to achieve on a halogen hob) and pour on top of the cheese. Pulse gently with the stick blender, hardly at all, and see if you can do it without it separating. Pour into a nice wide-lipped bowl and stick it in the fridge when it has cooled. It sets really well.
5. Drop 50g basil leaves and a quarter garlic clove into the same, rinsed out jug, again, pulse gently with the stick blender. (Naturally I blitzed mine, but it is the first pesto I’ve made). Add cashew nuts (gave in, bought cashew nuts instead of pine nuts. A sad, sad day involving compromise) and
blitz pulse some more. STIR IN (no processing) 2 tblsps of grated Grana Padana later and a few glugs of oil and we’ve got some pesto. Export into pretty cutglass crystal jug.
6. Whizz up the sundried tomatoes and grilled pepper (we’re talking large peps, not pepperdew) and stir in another quarter of grated garlic. Another nice dish to dish it out.
7. Finally, whip the wizened mushies out of the oven, tip into the jug with the rest of the grated garlic and pulse. (I’d definitely got the hang of ‘pulse’ by then). It wants to be choppy, not sludge. Fold in a heaped pudding spoon of cream cheese and grate in plenty of nutmeg. Roast Mushroom Pate.
The result is below, but the image was so desperately blurred, I opted for the “tights across the lens” look, an old trick used to make aging filmstars appear younger, which is why the picture is fuzzy. Or one of the reasons it’s fuzzy.
*The plan: to tempt the scales with a Brand New Battery and see if its mood improves.
**Lunch is not a petite affair. Believe me.
***Strong, mature cheddar flavour with half the fat. Well, kind of.