As gastronome Andre L Simon stated: ‘Canned foods at times are essential — although there are probably many people who believe anchovies have been born and bred in a can.’
The French wax lyrical about their favourite restaurants, the first asparagus or strawberries of the season or the best ‘boulangerie’. It is therefore perhaps curious that a Frenchman was the first to preserve food in cans, thus introducing convenience to cooking.
Nicholas Appert, a confectioner, was the father of modern commercial canning. During the 1790s he experimented with preserving meats, vegetables and fruits under controlled, hygienic conditions. In 1803, he sent samples to the French navy for trialling. The French government awarded him 12,000 francs to publish a full account of his work. As a result, factories were established all over Europe — in competition with Appert!
According to food manufacturers, there is often more goodness in canned food than fresh varieties which may have been badly cooked. Canned foods are cooked under controlled conditions inside an airtight container — the nutrients and flavours are trapped and cannot escape. No preservatives are needed as it is the canning process which preserves the food.
It is generally recommended that canned foods be kept no longer than two years. This is not because of the spoilage factor or loss of nutrients but because of chemical changes which may make the product unpalatable.
CHEESE & SALMON LOAF
Serve warm or cold.
415g can pink salmon, drained
1 1/4 cups grated tasty cheddar cheese
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup cream
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill or
1 tablespoon dill paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 21cm x 10cm loaf pan.
Place the salmon in a bowl and flake. Mash any bones. Combine with the cheese, eggs, cream, breadcrumbs, dill, lemon juice and seasonings.
Place evenly in the loaf pan. Bake for about 40 minutes until set and lightly golden.
Great served with a pineapple salsa. Combine 1 cup of diced fresh or canned pineapple with 2 tablespoons of finely chopped dill or mint and a dash or two of Tabasco. Serves 4.
CORN & CHILLI BAKE
Great served at brunch, lunch or dinner.
1-2 large chillies, seeded
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
410g can creamed corn
1 cup grated tasty cheese
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Pour boiling water over the chillies. Stand for 30 seconds then drain well and chop.
Sauté the onion in the oil, until softened.
Beat the eggs and sour cream together, until smooth. Fold in the corn, chillies and cheese. Pour into a 20cm baking dish.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until set and puffed and golden.
Great served with corn chips and a crisp salad. Serves 4-6.
BAKED ASPARAGUS & CHEESE ROLLS
A variation on the Southland cheese roll.
1 can asparagus, about 24 spears
1 loaf fresh white sandwich bread
2 1/2 cups grated tasty cheese
1/4-1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
75g butter, melted
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Drain the asparagus well.
Slice the crusts from the bread. Roll each slice thinly.
Combine the cheese with enough sour cream to make a smooth but not runny mixture. Season.
Spread each bread slice with the mixture, place an asparagus spear on each, and roll up firmly.
Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Brush the rolls all over with the melted butter and roll in the grated parmesan. Place on the baking paper, seam-side down. Bake for about 10 minutes, turn over and continue baking for 5-10 minutes, until golden. Makes 24.