Salmon fish fingersĀ 

Daddy’s away with work for nearly four weeks. Today’s only day two but I’ve already been told Bert’s cross with him four times. When we walked the dog on the heath by the hospital this afternoon, Bert pointed at a man aged, I don’t know, 90, and said ‘is that my dad?’ I thought the man didn’t hear but he gave us a bleary wink and said ‘I wish I was!’ 

As we approached someone sitting outside the hospital, Bert said, ‘that my dad? Oh no,’ dismissively and loudly, ‘just old man.’ ‘Not old!’ I said brightly, ‘and not a man!’ 

Then Bert repeated, with great pleasure and not for the first time, his version of the birth story I told him last time we were here, since this was the hospital he was born in. ‘Didda in Bert’s punny [tummy]. Very big bottom. Huge! Mum take Bert hospital and Didda come out Bert’s punny. We put nappy on Didda and blanket and take him home.’ 

I guess sometimes missing people comes out in funny ways. And, sometimes, a story can put an image into your brain that can never be undone.

Makes 6

2 salmon fillets

1 tablespoon cornflour

50ml milk

2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Olive oil

Cut the salmon into strips about a centimetre deep and a couple of centimetres wide. There’s often a thin end of a fillet so cut that off and slice the remaining piece horizontally in a parallel line to the surface of the fillet. Arrange the flour, milk and mixed crumbs and cheese in three bowls and production-line dip the fish in flour then milk then crumbs & cheese. Fry in olive oil on a medium heat for six minutes, turning after three.


Mini schnitzel


If you’re in that precise frame of mind that combines a delight in violence with the enjoyment of repetitive tasks, I highly recommend you cook this. Luckily I’m in that frame of mind most of the time.

I had some diced pork in and thought I’d make tiny pork schnitzels, the size of chicken nuggets. Insane? Maybe.

I experimented with an oatcake crumb coating too, since we seem to eat so much white flour.

Serves 2

About 150g of diced pork – I’m on a 5/2 day (too much toddler group cake) so I didn’t make much for myself

4 oatcakes, blitzed to a fine crumb

Zest of half a lemon, finely grated

Teaspoon of dried sage

Whole milk

Bash each piece of pork with a rolling pin till it’s thin, then tip the lot into a bowl and cover with whole milk. Leave to further tenderize for an hour or two. Combine the crumbs, lemon zest and sage.

Take the pork out of the milk and coat in the crumb mixture. Lay on a baking tray and bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes, turning over halfway through.

We had ours with home made oven chips and green veg. Serve with redcurrent jelly for Austrian authenticity.


Chicken, chorizo and white bean cassoulet


Finally, he says ‘mummy’. I rewarded him with cassoulet.

Serves 4

6 chicken thighs, boned, skin on

1 whole chorizo

1 dessert spoon goose fat

1 small bunch rosemary, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 dessert spoons tomato puree

1 can white beans – cannellini or butter beans

1 small glass water

A couple of slices of bread worth of breadcrumbs (when I’m feeling Nigella-y, I crumb and freeze portions of going-stale bread)

Fry the chicken breasts, skin down, in the goose fat till the skin’s crisp and golden. Add two thirds of the chorizo, chopped into chunks, at the end then tip all of the meat into a casserole dish.

Combine the crushed garlic, beans, tomato puree and two thirds of the rosemary. Thin with a little of the melted goose fat from the pan. Add to the meat with the glass of water.

Chuck the breadcrumbs and the rest of the rosemary into the pan you fried the chicken in and fry gently till crisp. The chorizo fat will flavour them too.

Top the cassoulet with the crumbs then the rest of chorizo, finely sliced, bring to a fast simmer on the hob and cook on a low heat with the lid on for a couple of hours (say 140 degrees or in the Aga simmering oven). Serve with green salad and maybe a little bread for mopping up the juices.