My day job has gotten the better of me again - and as much as I hate to admit it, I am once more trying to cram 40 work hours into a 3-day week... some people think I'm lucky to be working part-time, but the harsh reality is that I am starting early, leaving late and end up having conference calls on my days off, phone wedged in between cheek and shoulder while I run after my dear son. There's clearly not enough time for blogging when I am even struggling to find time to cook!!
The combination of leaving work real late and having a one-hour commute ahead does not really lend itself for culinary extravaganzas, especially when the shops are either closed or the shelves look like they've been raided... but I am so disorganised lately (or have too much on my plate, whichever excuse you like best) that planning ahead for the week and doing a mega-shop on the weekend are out of the question - especially since I am doing more and more catering jobs on the side.
On my days off, I do make a point of visiting my local shops, though - as my son is train-obsessed and feels the urge to saddle his trike and talk (or rather babble) his mummy into going to the train station at least twice a day, dropping into the fishmonger's and the Sicilian delicatessen on the way there or back is one way of getting my share of fun. I especially like the days where I stand in front of the fish shop and see huge clouds of smoke inside - sign that Mr. Jarvis has just finished smoking the salmon... and if I wait a little, I'll get the first slices, freshly cut and succulent. I'll be smelling like a chimney sweep when I get out, but hey, this salmon is definitely worth it!
While I wait, I might just pick up something for dinner the next day, so I don't have to resort to spaghetti al pesto or, worse even, a ready-meal after a long day at the agency... last week, I tried their shrimps. I normally don't buy pre-cooked prawns when I can get fresh ones, but given that they were for the next day and I probably wouldn't feel in the mood for peeling prawn shells at ten o'clock at night anyway, I decided to give them a try. I was very pleasantly surprised - they were juicy and tender, slightly salty from the water in the pot, the sort of thing you can happily eat on its own or on a nice salad.
The next evening, all I had to do was slice some spring onions, make the fillo parcels and bake them in the oven of a few minutes while I prepared a salad. Now that's food that is convenient, but fresh and healthy at the same time... what more could I ask for?
Shrimp & coriander fillo parcels
(serves 2 for a light dinner)
12 fillo (phyllo) pastry sheets (15 x 15 cm)
20 g butter (melted)
300 g shrimps (in brine)
3 spring onions (chopped)
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tsp Nam Pla (fish sauce)
juice of ½ a lime
1 pinch smoked paprika
1 egg (beaten), to brush
Pre-heat oven to 200 C.
Brush the fillo sheets with butter and stick two each together.
Prepare the filling by chopping the shrimps and combining them with the spring onions, coriander, lime juice and seasoning.
Divide the filling between the sheets equally, placing a good tbsp of the mixture in the middle of each sheet. Form a parcel by bringing the corners into the middle, sticking them together with a brush of egg. Place the parcels on a non-stick baking mat, closure down. Brush the top with the remainder of the beaten egg.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then another 2 minutes under the grill. (If you don't have a grill, bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve with a wedge of lime and a rocket salad.