Judging by the number of delicious looking dishes posted on Instagram, cooking has become a creative outlet for both young and old in these unusual and stressful times. Our enforced lockdown is obviously a great time to develop new skills.
Canned foods have come into their own. Where would we be without canned tomatoes as a base for soups, casseroles and pasta sauces? But it is a time for adapting recipes as not every ingredient will currently be on everyone’s pantry shelves
Recipes will still work if similar ingredients are substituted. So instead of using black beans in burgers, try kidney or butter beans in their place. Or swap out different spices in curries, or canned salmon for tuna.
According to food manufacturers, there is often more goodness in canned food than fresh varieties which have been badly cooked. Canned foods are cooked under controlled conditions inside an airtight container so the nutrients and flavours are trapped and cannot escape. No preservatives are needed as it is the canning process which preserves the food.
Incidentally, although I prefer fresh fruit for breakfast, I’m relishing the taste of canned sliced peaches. Another is old-fashioned onion dip. (It’s also great on baked potatoes!) Both have taken me right back to my childhood.
A very simple and delicious Indian potato and pea curry with added sweetcorn — all in one-pot. Coriander seeds could be a substitute for Fenugreek.
1 large onion, diced
400g potatoes, cut into 2cm cubes
1 teaspoon each: fennel seeds, fenugreek, salt
1-2 tablespoons medium curry powder
1 tablespoon each: lemon juice, tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup each: canned or frozen peas, whole kernel corn
1/2 cup cream
Place the onion in a medium saucepan. Add the potatoes, spices, salt, curry powder, lemon juice, tomato paste and water. Cover and simmer until the potato is almost tender, about 20 minutes.
Add the peas and corn and heat through. Stir in the cream and gently warm through.
Great topped with fresh herbs such as Vietnamese mint, coriander or parsley. Serves 2 as a main or 4 as part of shared plates.
BLACK BEAN BURGERS
The black beans can be swapped for kidney or white butter beans.
Burgers: 1 small kumara (145g)
1/4 cup crushed corn chips or rolled oats (chopped)
390g can black beans, drained
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pickling-sized onion, diced
salt and black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons smoked or regular paprika
1 tablespoon each: soy sauce, lemon juice, olive oil
olive or rice bran oil for frying
To serve: 4 English muffins or similar
3/4 cup mayo
1/2-1 teaspoon chilli sauce
1 cup thinly sliced cabbage or spinach
1/4 cup parsley, coriander or basil leaves.
Microwave the kumara until cooked through, about 3 minutes, turning halfway through. Slice open and cool a little. Remove the flesh and mash.
Combine the corn chips or oats, beans, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, paprika, soy sauce, lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl. Mix well, lightly mashing the beans. Add the kumara flesh (1/2 cup) and combine well. Form into 4 patties.
Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium. Pan-fry the patties for about 4 minutes each side or until hot.
Meanwhile, lightly toast the split muffins Spread the cut sides with combined mayo and chilli sauce. Top the bases with the cabbage. Add the patties and herbs and cover with the muffin tops. Serves 4.
THAI-STYLE FISH & POTATO CAKES
Great served with a salad.
415g can pink salmon
2 spring onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon chilli paste
2 tablespoons chopped coriander or basil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
2-3 tablespoons rice bran oil
Peel the potatoes and cut into quarters. Boil until tender. Drain well. The potatoes should be quite dry. Mash and cool a little.
Meanwhile, drain the salmon. Combine with the spring onions, garlic, chilli paste, coriander and egg. Fold into the mashed potatoes.
Take 1/2 cup portions of the mixture and form into 3cm-thick cakes. Dust in breadcrumbs. Chill until ready to cook.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Pan-fry the cakes on medium heat until golden on both sides and hot. Serves 4-6.