LOCKDOWN living (is that a hashtag?) encourages inventiveness in cooking with whatever we can find. It has also reminded me of ratio cooking, as in when you have X of this then you need Y of that.
If you poach some salmon in fish stock or court-bouillon and then have leftovers, for Fishcakes, fold the flaked salmon into an equal quantity of mashed potato (no butter or milk). As a guide, 650g (1 lb 6 oz) fish plus 650g potato makes four large cakes. Season to taste with a couple of tablespoons of tomato ketchup, 3 teaspoons of mustard, 1 tablespoon each of capers and chopped anchovies, and season. Once formed, refrigerate. To cook: dredge in flour, fry briefly to colour, then bake in the oven at 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 for about 20 minutes.
It is good news that markets are reopening to give us access to seasonal produce. And eggs have returned in steady supply. To make Hollandaise sauce, which goes so well with fish cakes, just take two egg yolks and, in a double boiler, or a bowl over simmering water, slowly whisk in 3 teaspoons of cider vinegar with a pinch of salt until fluffy. Then 180g (6 oz) unsalted butter, either melted or very soft. Keep whisking until everything has come together and is a lovely yellow hue. Grind in some black pepper, then lemon juice to taste (as much as 2 tablespoons). As it cools, it will thicken to a mayonnaise consistency.
The two egg whites can become these Demerara meringues. Whisk with an electric beater in a bowl with a pinch of cream of tartar until firm peaks form. Now add 60g (2 oz) caster sugar and beat to the glossy stage. Add a further 30g (1 oz) sugar and beat a little more so that the meringue is stiff and dense. Now fold in 45g (1½ oz) demerara sugar. Drop them into six nests or blobs on a baking tray lined with parchment, and place in the oven at 100°C/225°F/Gas ¼ and bake for up to three hours. They keep in an airtight container for a couple of weeks.
Serve the meringues with any fresh fruit, but especially Summer strawberries. As Wimbledon is cancelled this year, we must all do our bit to consume the spare 33 tonnes they usually get through. A 350g (12 oz) punnet is just enough for two. Wash and hull the berries and macerate in a bowl for at least an hour, either with the juice of half a lemon and a couple of sprigs of thyme, or try a few basil leaves with a couple of teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.
Grilling them is also an option; so macerate each punnet with a knob of preserved ginger and two tablespoons of Pimms (or orange juice). Place the strawberries stalk-side down in a baking dish, pour over any juice from the bowl, scatter with caster sugar, and flash under a grill for five minutes or so. The tips will start to blacken and the fruits begin to approach collapse. Cool slightly before serving with thick cream, meringues, shortbread biscuits, even rice pudding — whatever is to hand.