Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tuna à la King for a Cold & Rainy Night

We didn't do the big grocery shopping trip this weekend -- too busy watching DVDs of a British series that never hit our public TV station -- so it was scrounge around to find something quick but warm and tasty. A couple of frozen patty shells, an envelope of tuna, and a can of fat-free evaporated milk became a warm and tasty treat.

INGREDIENTS for two large servings:
  • 2 frozen patty shells (These are little crowns of puff pastry, the most well-known made by Pepperidge Farm and available in the supermarket. Toast will do in a pinch.)
  • 2-3 cups diced fresh vegetables (For example, tonight's combo was 1/2 vidalia onion, 1/2 large red bell pepper, 1 stalk celery, and 1 carrot.)
  • 1 can fat free evaporated milk.
  • Olive oil for sautéing the vegetables
  • 2 Tbl. butter
  • 2 Tbl. flour
  • Salt, pepper, and nutmeg
  • 1 envelope of tuna (5-7 oz.) (If you use canned tuna, make sure it is well drained.)
  • 2 Tbl. curly parsley or other fresh herb, finely chopped

  1. Cook the patty shells as indicated on the package. Try to time these so they are done when the sauce is ready.
  2. Sauté the finely chopped vegetables in the olive oil until they are slightly softened and a bit translucent.
  3. Meanwhile, make the cream sauce. Melt the butter in a sauce pan big enough to hold all the ingredients. Add the flour a little at a time while whisking to avoid lumps. Cook for about 1 minute to cook the flour.
  4. Gradually add the evaporated milk, whisking while you do so.
  5. Add salt, pepper & nutmeg to taste. You now have a cream sauce.
  6. Stir the tuna, sautéed vegetables, and parsley into the cream sauce and let cook for about one minute, stirring to prevent it from scorching on the bottom. If it does scorch a little, just leave the scorched part on the bottom of the pan when you serve.
  7. Serve the tuna à la king over the patty shells.

Voila. Altogether, including preheating the oven and chopping the veggies, this took about 25 minutes.

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Imprecise & Inexpensive

Two themes predominate in my approach to cooking. 1. Daily cooking of flavorful food need not be a precise art. 2. You can be an adventurous cook on a budget. Cooking and eating should be fun for both cookers and eaters.