Friday, 13 May 2011

Squashed Toad

My lovely vegetarian friend came all the way from the depths of Mordor for dinner last night. Sensing that the remnants of cow and lightly cured pig I had in the fridge would not be received with a happy face, I set about examining what else I had.

At first the prospects weren't promising: some new potatoes, the rest of the spring greens, not a lot else that would go together as a meal. Then I remembered the lonely old butternut squash sitting on the side. Seriously, those things last forever. 

Butternut squash + not much else in the fridge = toad in the hole. Obviously. 
New potatoes can be cubed and roasted with rosemary and garlic, Italian style. Greens can be steamed to provide a simple side. Perfect, and no need to go shopping for extras... well, except for the wine anyway.

The hole is easy, regardless of what toad you put in it. I found a recipe ages ago which gave me proportions using cups that I've never forgotten. I find using an old teacup easier than weighing everything out and it's also easier to commit to memory. 

The general rule for toad batter is a cup of flour to a cup of milk and 1 or 2 eggs, depending on how rich you like it; this amount serves two people, so multiply as needed. I looked it up and a cup of liquid is about 240mls, a cup of flour is around 125g.

For this meal I doubled the amounts to make sure that there was enough for three hungry diners, with enough left over for a packed lunch the following day.

Pop the flour in a bowl with a pinch of salt, crack in the eggs and a little bit of milk, then gently combine them until you have a paste. Add in the rest of the milk by degrees, stirring lots so you don't get lumps. Then put to one side and leave alone for about half an hour, or at least while you get on with preparing the rest of it.

Cut the butternut squash into reasonably large peices and do your best to trim the skin off without loosing a finger. Slice up the greens ready for steaming, cut up the new potatoes, season them and squish a few cloves of garlic with the side of your knife.

Heat up the oven to about 220°C. Put your toad and potato baking trays in at the same time, with lots of oil (think roast potatoes at xmas).

When ready, take the toad tray out and lay your squash slices on the bottom and pour the batter over the top. Get it back in the oven sharpish, along with the potatoes and garlic in their tray. Let everything be for 20 minutes, then mix a few sprigs of rosemary in with the potatoes for the last 10 minutes or so of cooking and put the greens on to steam.

This dinner loves a drop of gravy but I forgot to make any! 

All the coolest toads wear sunglasses

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