Not Heinz spaghetti

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Me to Bert in the bath last night: Was I being grumpy today or were you being naughty?

Bert (with an air of diplomacy): A bit of both.

Me: I wonder why?

Bert (accusingly): You were being bossy.

Me: That’s my job as your mum.

Bert: [doubtful look]

Me: And you?

Bert (carelessly): I was just doing my own thing.

As part of my ongoing, inadvertant project to pointlessly recreate processed food classics, tonight I accidentally threw together home-made tinned Heinz spaghetti – in a good way. We had ours with meatballs (my intention was to veg-up a tomato sauce for meatballs) and grated parmesan. This makes enough for a big bowl spare in the fridge – as a veg-heavy pizza base topping or to start your own canned spaghetti business.

Or just do your own thing.

Makes absolutely loads

Glug of olive oil

2 sticks celery, finely chopped

1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

A dozen or so fresh cherry tomatoes

1/2 tin sweetcorn

2 tins chopped tomatoes

Pinch of salt

Spahetti, to appetite

Add the olive oil to a saucepan on a medium heat, cook the celery and pepper till softened, add the garlic and cook for a minute, then add the sweetcorn, fresh tomatoes, tinned tomatoes and seasoning. Bring to a simmer.

Put the spaghetti on to cook.

Stir the sauce now and then. When the spaghetti’s almost done, puree the sauce and add a dash of cooking water from the pasta. Drain the spaghetti and stir it into enough sauce to coat it, stowing the rest away for another occasion.

Slurp.

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Thai crab cakes

Gratuitously cute picture of a sleepy Bert watching The Fox and the Child with his fox, because taking photos at the dinner table at the moment is like dangling a bag of chocolate buttons in front of him, snatching it away then expecting not to get a tantrum out of it.

crab cake

Makes about 12 little crab cakes

2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes, crushed in a pestle and mortar

100g white crabmeat

1/2 small bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped

1 small can (165g or so) sweetcorn, drained

2 eggs (saving 1 for crumb coating)

8 tablespoons breadcrumbs (saving 2 for crumb coating)

plain flour, for dusting

Good glug of olive oil

Combine the ginger, chilli, crabmeat, coriander, sweetcorn, one egg and six tablespoons of breadcrumbs. Chill for at least 20 minutes then mould into ball shapes (less likely to fall apart than patties). For some reason the chilling makes them more biddable than if you do it straight away, so you’re less likely to end up swearing at sweetcorn. The longer the chill, the more biddable the mixture – a couple of hours is even better. If I don’t finely chop the coriander I’ll spend all of dinner removing strands of it before Bert gets bored and decides that eating in general is a bad idea.

Beat the remaining egg and dip your patties first into flour, then egg, the breadcrumbs. Fry in a hot pan for two or three minutes on each side, till crisp and golden, then transfer to the oven at 200 degrees (or the middle of the Aga roasting oven) for five to ten minutes.

Crab cakes

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Makes 10 crab cakes

1 cup plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

1 x 170g crab meat, drained

About 200g drained sweetcorn

A pinch of chilli flakes

Chopped parsley

A pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients together and then fry spoonfuls in a hot, oiled pan for about 2 minutes on each side – till they’re golden and firm.

A green salad would be nice with this, if you weren’t aged one. We had ours with roast garlic tomatoes (okay, and ketchup). Bert kept clawing his hands like a crab for seconds and thirds. A little insensitive to the crab who died in the making of this, but they were delicious.

 

Gran’s sweetcorn pudding

sweetcorn

My mum used to make something like this when we were small. It came to me in a flash today and I thought it would be nice with the pulled pork I put in the oven at lunchtime.

Serves 4-6 (just me and Bert here though, ahem)

2 thick slices white bread – about 170g

2 eggs

400ml milk

1/2 teaspoon paprika

250g can sweetcorn, drained

salt to taste

100g grated pecorino

Break the bread into chunks and put in a pan with the milk. Warm till the bread’s absorbed the milk and is soft. Break it up into smaller pieces with the back of a fork or spoon until it looks like mash. Then stir in the paprika, salt, sweetcorn and beaten eggs. Put in an ovenproof dish, top with the grated cheese and bake at 180-200 degrees (or near the bottom of the Aga roasting oven) for about 25 minutes till it’s puffed up and golden.

While it was cooking, I desperately tried to add ‘mummy’ to Bert’s repetoire, which now includes car, hiya, RaRa (for the dog), Didda (for daddy) and bye bye. Priorities, Bert!

Cheddar and sweetcorn fritters

cheeseandsweetcorn

A cheese and sweetcorn version of the pea and parmesan pancakes.

Serves 2.5 (Daddy’s home!)

100g self raising flour

150 ml whole milk

1 egg

A couple of handfuls of grated strong cheddar

1 small tin sweetcorn, most of the liquid drained out

Strangely, this makes a lot more than the eight that the pea and parmesan mixture makes – I think the extra liquid from the sweetcorn and extra cheese explains it.

Combine all the ingredients and pop dessert spoons of the mixture in a hot pan that’s been greased with a smigeon of butter. They need a couple of minutes on each side till they’re golden and feel firm under a spatula – you don’t want uncooked batter in the middle, so wait till they feel a little springy under pressure.

Also lovely with a thinly sliced leek that’s been sauted in butter in place of the sweetcorn.