The way to a man’s heart is through a deep-fat fryer

I’ve wanted to get a deep-fat fryer for ages. Vegetable tempura. Onion rings. PROPER chips. I finally treated myself to one today – for the princely sum of £15 in Tesco.

There are about 23,000 different best ways of cooking chips on t’internet, but I especially enjoyed the article on the Observer Food Monthly blog, which is a wonderful paean to the deep-fat fryer, and the discussions at PistonHeads.

Today I cooked a 3 course Valentine’s supper for @gwithiansunset. This was the menu:

On arrival
Filthy large Plymouth Gin & Tonic
ice, lime, Angostura bitters

Spicy prawn cocktail

Taittinger Champagne

Main course
Grilled sardines and real chips

Chocolate mousse with brandy, grated white chocolate & whipped cream

Here’s the thinking. First up, the prawn cocktail. I really had a hankering for a prawn cocktail the other day, so I decided to satisfy the yearning. I shredded iceberg lettuce in a large glass, soused in lime juice. I then tossed the prawns in the dressing Nigella uses on crab in the Valentine’s Day chapter of Feast – fresh ginger, lime juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, wasabi, a few drops of sesame oil. I didn’t use enough ginger or wasabi – will put that right next time. I then dusted the prawns with cayenne pepper. I used tail-on prawns – so she had to get her fingers all sticky. More sensuous, see?

The main course of sardines & chips doesn’t sound that romantic, but it’s one of her favourite meals, a throwback to summers in Portugal before the kids were born. I par-boiled the chips for about 5 minutes, and deep-fried them at 180c for about another 5. They were certainly cooked but could have been crisper. I think I should have fried them for longer at a higher temperature. The kids, however, loved them and said they tasted like “real chips” – unlike the home-made oven chips we usually do.

The chocolate mousse pudding was from the BBC web site – it was lovely. I used brandy – not enough as it turned out, and I grated Green & Blacks white organic chocolate over the mousse and under the whipped cream. Couldn’t taste the brandy. Something else to put right next time. More wasabi, crispier chips – and more brandy. They did taste like proper chips, though.
You Don't Bring Me Flowers

bouquet from You Don’t Bring Me Flowers

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