Friday, 14 October 2011

Recipe - Sea bass with red pepper and potato salad

Hello, (my three) readers. Have you missed me? I have been busy moving rooms twice, fighting 'fresher's flu' and complaining about the kitchen facilities. And the flies. I'll do a bit of the last two in this post so you know what you've been missing out on.

I was enjoying a beautiful, high ceiling 18th century room. Its only flaw was the flies which gathered by the window slowly throughout the day. Turns out I'm not OK with this. I always thought that flies didn't bother me. And they don't when there's just one of them buzzing in and out of your room in a friendly manner. But THIS many made me feel sick/think of death/feel like I was living with a corpse/question my own existence. Thankfully, the lovely folks at the bursary managed to rehouse me in an equally big though less high ceilinged room. Furniture stealing accusations aside, it was perfect. Except for the kitchen.

The kitchen is half way down the corridor. This doesn't sound far unless you know how long the corridor is. Add in a few fire doors and it is a real pain to get to. It's shared with 16+ people. Now, the problem with sharing a kitchen with people you don't know so well is not that they're always in there taking up room and using your stuff but the WASHING UP. There are MOUNTAINS of it. Leading me to the conclusion that if I don't want to have my things used and then not cleaned, I must leave the things in my room. Despite the 4 doors between me and the kitchen. Cooking is quite the logistical operation now: it involves much planning so I'm not constantly walking back and forth. I've taken to chopping things in my room and getting the butcher to do whatever's required to the meat. It's all very much centred around working out how to do it in the fewest stages whilst at the same time leaving enough trips so that I can carry everything. Yes, this is a white whine, but I attempted to make a roast last night. It was underdone (well, just quite rare) which thankfully wasn't a problem for my guests but definitely was a problem for me. I had no masher to mash the roasted root vegetables with because a friend with a quite good but very far away kitchen had borrowed it. Worst of all, the 'gravy' was a strange pallid colour. This was partly because I was trying to cook for someone who can't eat gluten without any gluten free ingredients.

ANYWAY - I have managed to cook something vaguely successful. This is down to the fact that it was very simple to cook. I'll write the recipe exactly as I did it to convey an understanding of how arduous the whole process was.

Sea bass with red pepper and potato salad
This recipe serves 4.
Cube 3 large potatoes and cut 3 large peppers into small-ish chunks in your room which will now constantly smell faintly of food.
Place the cubed potatoes on a baking tray covered in foil to ensure minimal washing up. Drizzle with salt, olive oil and pepper (if you can find someone to borrow some from since yours went mysteriously missing)
Place in the oven at 220. Go and ask someone if the oven is working - it appears to be eerily silent. Leave to roast for 15 minutes.
In the meanwhile, make the dressing for the salad- finely chop 4 cloves of garlic, 6 anchovies, 1 tbsp of capers, a liberal handful of basil, juice of half a lemon and olive oil. Place in the dish that the salad will eventually be served it.
Take the roasted red peppers to the kitchen and place in the oven with the potatoes. Leave for another 15 minutes. Curse yourself for failing to bring the chopping board and knife to the kitchen to wash up.
Slash the skin of the sea bass (4 fillets). Rub with salt, pepper and oil. After the potatoes and peppers have been in the oven for 15 minutes, place the sea bass fillets on top. Bake for 12 minutes.
After it's done, place the sea bass fillets on a serving dish. Or, in my case, a melamine plate. Transfer the potatoes and red peppers into the serving dish with the dressing in it. Realise that it's far too small to adequately mix things in then return to the baking tray and try and dress it in there.
Make excuses to everyone about how it might taste awful because of the crappy kitchen facilities. Live with the smell of garlic on your soft furnishings for the next week.

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