Friday, March 2, 2012

A delicious impromptu menu

I love trying out new things out of cookbooks and recipes and shamelessly also plunder great ideas I've heard or read about or eaten in restaurants or at friends' and family tables. Those are the days I plan something at least a few hours ahead, and know in advance what my menu's going to be. But often it gets to that time of the day, and it's my turn for cooking, and totally absorbed in the book I'm writing, I haven't given a second's thought to what we're going to eat tonight. And so I just fling things together depending on what's around in the fridge, the cupboard, the garden. I think of it as a bit like telling an instant story without thinking about it, going from just one thing and building from it. (It's an exercise I love to do--I used to pretend as a kid that I was like Scheherazade and my life depended on my telling a story at the drop of a hat, without thinking about it!)
Anyway--The other day was one of those days. I had one basic thing to go from--a fresh local trout we'd bought but apart from that had no idea until I actually started cooking what I was going to do. The garden's full of overgrown squash and immature pumpkins at the moment(as well as ginormous pumpkins already), and there's also plenty of herbs, onions, sorrel, garlic, and some beetroot. No lettuce at the moment, but at last, quite a flush of tomatoes(they've come a lot later this year because of the unseasonally cool weather we've been having this summer, with so many grey days.)
This is what ended up on our table: a freshly-made borscht soup(not pictured, as we'd already eaten it when I took the photo!) as an entree, followed by trout baked in a little olive oil and a splash of tokay, served with a splash of tokay, with a sorrel sauce; a tomato and Spanish onion salad; and two inbetween size squash/soft pumpkins of the Golden Nugget variety(we tend to eat them, when small, as squash; when big and hard as pumpkins--but these were in between)with the flesh scooped out, sauteed in olive oil with garlic, onions and herbs, then put back into the shells, which were then baked. Dessert was a just-picked nashi pear each(there they are in the wooden bowl) as our nashi trees have been producing really well again this year.
All completely impromptu, without a single glance at a recipe book--and it all turned out really well!

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