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Ready, Steady, Cook Night

Recently, me and three pals found ourselves hankering for a night of gossip and white wine but sadly the state of our bank accounts meant that this would only afford us a night at Zebrano's whereby we'd have to order three (ok, four) bottles of the happy hour sauvignon blanc before 7pm and drink them swiftly whilst hating ourselves. For once, we decided against this course of action and instead pooled our respective tenners to purchase a round of ingredients each (one person got the wine course) to present another of our group with and demand they make an edible, if not delicious, meal from said ingredients. Ready, Steady, Cook minus Ainsley Harriot and some cringy interviews over noisy blenders, if you will. Here's the results:

Julia (of guest post fame) purchased the following for me to create a starter from. She wisely diverted £6 of her available £10 to purchase a bottle of cava, leaving me with an easy selection of Mediterranean veg and mozzarella. Virtually a meal in itself.

For my part, I was torn between the classic reality TV Mediterranean vegetable 'stack' or some kind of melanzane parmigiana thing. Lacking those funny metal rings usually required to make a veg stack, I opted for the latter despite the lack of parmesan and hastily cooked down the tomatoes with some garlic, olive oil, sugar and a squeeze of tomato puree to make a classic pomodoro sauce. Equally hastily I sliced the aubergines and dry fried them off (you never add olive oil to a pan for aubergine or courgette until they are cooked) before assembling both parts in layers in a dish and interspersing with torn mozzarella and basil. I also whizzed up the remaining basil with another clove of garlic, lemon, olive oil and a dash of water to make a kind of basil geremolata to pour over at the table. Here it is:

Next up, Felicity purchased ingredients for Julia to magic a main course out of. Felicity won't mind me saying that she is not the world's most gifted cook, and confessed to being completely foxed by this task (even though she proposed the whole notion). Apparently she was up until very late the night before googling 'random ingredients that might go together'. She also managed to spend £19, with a good chunk of this budget on very basic store cupboard foods, so I sent her back home with these. Here's what she found on her shopping dash:

You can see that she has tried to be kind to Julia, and there is a good few meals in there really but I must admit that the combination of potato, ginger and soy did startle me. After a few minutes of conferring and a small amount of cupboard raiding, Julia decided on a Thai / Malay curry mash up and set about things by boiling the potatoes and setting aside before whacking the duck, corn, grated ginger, chillis and sugar snaps in a big pan and frying off. She then added stock, puree, honey and soy (plus a very sneaky tsp of red thai curry paste) and finishing with the cooked potatoes. Upon tasting it blew her head off, so she was forced to add some cooling coconut milk, but this made it very delicious. It went down excellently.

Finally, I had to buy the ingredients for pudding. I feel like I made my money go pretty far as I bagged a lot of different ingredients and still had change for a (cheap) sauvvy b; thanks Asda. This was my haul...

Flic and Alex put their heads together for the pudding finale and came up with a kind of Eton mess type affair, but with peach daiquiri flavoured marscapone in the place of whipped cream. Here's their creation:

You can see that my already shoddy photography skills are fading along with the light throughout the course of this meal. Alternatively there could be a direct correlation with the amount of fizzy wine consumed. Evidently the fizzy wine had also gone to the girls' heads as well, as they had failed to include the classy Asda smartprice raspberry ripple frozen mousse in their creation. They returned with it plonked on top in an artistic fashion:

All in all, good use of £10 for an entertaining evening. And you know if we'd have gone to Zebrano's we'd have ended up in Lucky Voice again at 1am with a bill for £176 worth of sherbert shots, so its a double win really.

#readysteadycook #melanzaneparmigiana #thai #etonmess

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