Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Guilty Pleasures

I love to cook and I enjoy creating tasty, healthy meals with lots of nice, fresh ingredients. Generally, I eat pretty healthily. I don't make a particular effort to do so: the foods I like just tend to be healthy. I'm not a big meat-eater, although I'm not a vegetarian, so a lot of the food I make is packed full of veggies and I love feeling smug that I've managed to consume my entire five-a-day in one meal.

But I also have an undying love for some very unhealthy, very strange foods. We all need to treat ourselves from time to time... and here is how I do it:

Cauliflower cheese with baked beans: Actually, this is still two of your five a day. Score! But it doesn't taste 'healthy'. It's comfort food at its best: heavy and cheesy and tomatoey and warming. I discovered this the way I discover most new food combinations: empty cupboards and being either too skint or too lazy to go to the supermarket. I had a teensy tiny portion of leftover cauliflower cheese - enough for a side dish but not enough for a meal. I wanted a meal and I didn't want to put in any effort to acquiring said meal whatsoever. Checking the fridge, the only other things I could find were half a tin of baked beans that really needed to be eaten, some sad looking spring onions, and a single mouldy tomato which was half frozen due to being shoved to the back of the shelf. The tomato and the spring onions were consigned to the bin and I was left with the beans. I heated them up separately and put them on the same plate as the cauliflower, intending to eat them one after the other. But I have an impulsive need I have apparently inherited from my Seanair (gaelic for grandpa) to mix whatever food is on my plate into one big gloopy mess. I did so and IT. WAS. AMAZING. Try it! It's definitely one for when you're feeling a bit lazy, so best to do it when you have leftover cauliflower cheese (I now make extra whenever I make it purely so I can have this 'dish' the following day) so you don't have to faff about making a cheese sauce. You can just heat and eat.

Pickled onions: Buy. Sit in front of TV eating them straight out the jar. I realise this sounds absolutely disgusting but as long as you're not planning on kissing/breathing near anyone that night (or for the next couple of days...), it's fine. And delicious. Maybe this one's down to personal taste; but before you judge me, please note that my brother has a pickled EGG addiction, which I feel is much worse. Judge him instead.

Nutella:  another 'straight out the jar' treat. I have to avoid buying Nutella for my toast, because I will sit and eat the whole jar with a teaspoon in one evening. Ben & Jerry's? Haagen Dazs? Pfft! Who needs them?! But, have you seen the adverts? Apparently the inclusion of FOUR WHOLE HAZELNUTS means it is healthy...

Fish finger sandwiches: This is a recent addition to my favourite guilty pleasures. I like them best with lashings of mayonnaise and gherkins on a wholemeal pitta. Yum. I also recently tried it with pickled beetroot instead of gherkins, and the addition of a tiny amount of ketchup (I despise ketchup, unless it is with mayo like in prawn marie rose). It was definitely a revelation, and I think I'll be having that combination again. And, again discovered due to empty cupboards, another favourite combination is fish fingers with coleslaw, gherkins, and rocket (again on wholemeal pitta). Don't knock it 'til you've tried it!

Mashed potatoes with Reggae Reggae sauce: I love mash and I love adding whatever condiments I can find to it. Horseradish mash is excellent with roast beef, mustard mash is amazing with gammon, and applesauce mash works with pork. You get the idea! But Reggae Reggae mash is great if you're in one of those moods on a dreich winter's day where you just want a big bowl of comforting mash. The sauce adds a bit of warmth and spice to the creamy potatoes. Be warned though, if you add too much your mouth will be on fire!

Roasted potato cubes with Caeser salad dressing: I love having potato wedges with garlic mayo but discovered this when I had run out of mayo and was too hungry and impatient to wait for wedges to cook so cut the potatoes into little cubes instead. It's delicious. 'Nough said.

So now you have a bit of an insight into how completely ridiculous and strange my food tastes are. But next time you're fancying a bit of comfort food, give one of these a go. I won't be offended if you give the pickled onions a miss, though. It's an acquired taste...

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