Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Inspired by a plaintive wail on Twitter from my fellow blogger La Beet about having to produce a supper from some utterly unthrilling ingredients dragged from the freezer, I am offering you my very own larder supper. Usually, my fridge is extravagantly stocked as I have a faintly worrying end of the world fear of running out of food (otherwise known as rampant greed), but occasionally work gets the better of me or I grow disorganised or lazy and when I trudge to the kitchen at the end of a long day there is nothing but some old tomatoes and rather papery garlic. Last week I had just such a night. I could not face the shop, so I opened up the store cupboard and got jiggy with it.
This is what I ended up with:
Fried cod's roe, with saffron chick pea mash, flatbreads, and roasted tomatoes with garlic and oregano. It is not a combination you would find in any cookery book, but it was absolutely delicious, took only half an hour, and was, mostly crucially in these credit crunchy times, fabulously cheap. And I got the added kick of having made a lovely supper only moments after thinking: I have nothing to eat. (One of the saddest sentences in the world.)
First, put the tomatoes in to roast. I like to cut them in half, anoint them with plenty of olive oil, a great deal of oregano, which I go and pick from the garden, slightly more sea salt than you think (tomatoes will take a really good pinch of salt) and a little chopped garlic. Roast at about 160 degrees for half an hour. If you are thinking ahead, you can put them in at a lower heat, and slow roast them for an hour. The garlic will burn a little, giving a slightly bitter nutty flavour, but I think the sweetness of the tomatoes can take it. If you hate that idea, just very gently fry the garlic and oregano in olive oil for about four minutes and add to the tomatoes when they come out of the oven. You need to smoosh them about a bit if you do it this way, so all the ingredients are well combined.
Then make the chickpea mash. Take a tin of chickpeas, drain and rinse, and cook for about five minutes in a small pot of boiling water to which you have added: large pinch of saffron, one crumbled dried chilli, and a tablespoon of Marigold Bouillon powder. Drain, retaining the cooking liquid. Blitz in the Magimix with a dollop of olive oil. You will certainly need to add a little of the cooking liquid at this stage. You are after a firm but not stiff texture. Take care not to overprocess; you are looking for a lovely rustico effect. Check for seasoning. Put in a bowl and keep warm.
Then: make the flatbread dough. These are my special little not-really-flatbreads-at all things, which I invented by mistake, and now love so much I cook them every week. I have given this recipe before, but for new readers I shall give it again, just in case. The vital ingredient is Dove's Farm gluten free flour, because it gives such an outrageous texture. One tablespoon of flour equals one little bread, so the amount depends on how many you are cooking for. Once you have measured out the flour, add a pinch of sea salt, a generous gloop of olive oil, and enough water to combine into a fairly stiff dough. I do it by increments until the texture is right. The dough will be very short, so you have to pat the little cakes into shape with your hands, pressing with the palms until the things are as thin as you can get them. Cook them in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for about three minutes each side.
Finally: the cod's roe. These come in little green tins which you can find in any supermarket, and are a brilliant store cupboard staple. Drain off the brine. I do this by putting the roes carefully in a sieve; you need to be delicate or they will break up. Then, still handling with care, dredge them in flour. You can use any flour you wish, although polenta flour is particularly good as it gives extra crunch. You may have a favoured dredging technique; I put some flour on a plate, place the roes carefully on top, then sift more flour on top, and sort of pat it in with my fingers, then put the whole thing back in the sieve and shake to remove any excess. The roes will break up a bit, which is fine, but if they fall into too many tiny pieces the crucial texture of the dish is lost, which is crisp outside and melty inside. Cook over a medium heat in a little olive oil for about five minutes each side. Once on your plate, they will need a good pinch of salt and black pepper and a generous squeeze of lemon.
Then get the tomatoes out and assemble your supper. It looks glorious on a big white plate. If you are feeling particularly swish, and have more in the fridge than I did that sad night, you might add a little scatter of watercress or rocket leaves.
I regret that I have no photograph of this feast to show you, but I was too hungry to think of anything else. Next time I shall make photographic proof.
I wish you good eating.