Spring Kitchen – Midweek Meals
There’s often the midweek temptation to reach for the pizzas or ready meals in the supermarket. A quick fix in the busy life of commuting, kids clubs, and Netflix series, I’m as guilty of a school night pizza as a most people. However, a short time spent in the kitchen can be a rewarding way to unwind at the end of the day, or even better if you have an outdoor space to use as a secondary kitchen while enjoying the late evening sunshine. For me midweek cooking is about minimum ingredients, and maximum speed, I don’t want to be spending hours cooking after work, and eating too late. Each of these dishes should generally take no more than thirty minutes, largely using everyday ingredients, although some may take a little more effort to find. Some can be made to last more than one night quite easily, while meatballs, and chicken goujons lend themselves well to being made in larger batches and frozen for future meals.
One thing that I love in summer especially, is to cook with the flavours of holidays. Aroma and taste are such evocative senses, so chorizo, ras el hanout, and porcini feature heavily. Meatballs are a great way to feed a lot of people, whether with Moroccan spice and rice as here, or more herb based alongside linguine, they are ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta or rice. When it comes to meat for midweek meals, pork fillet and lamb racks also provide the ideal opportunity for quick and simple cooking. Pork is perfectly paired alongside the richness of mushrooms and Madeira wine. If you can get seasonal chanterelles all the better, if not then dried porcini gives a deeper flavor if not the buttery freshness. Lamb rack is always a real treat and generally I’d season very simply and then serve the cutlets medium.
If you’d prefer fish, then mackerel is a great and inexpensive choice, packed full of flavour, and traditionally lends itself to acidity, which I’ve included here with the pickled fennel. Similarly hake is an often underrated fish in Scotland, with cod and haddock especially generally favoured. However, in Spain it is revered, and therefore I’ve pan fried simply with chorizo and a little rosemary to give that Mediterranean feel, the sweet smoky paprika matches beautifully with the firm meaty fish. A crispy skin makes this dish perfection. If you’re looking for a slightly more robust fish dish, then smoked haddock and queen scallop chowder is ideal. Especially if you can get Ayrshire potatoes to make it with, the dish of New England, with the flavours of Scotland.
Second Article in Scottish Daily Mail ‘Spring Kitchen’ series