Kedgeree

Kedgeree

One of my favourite meals and so easy to warm up the next day with just two minutes in the microwave

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 475g/1lb 1oz undyed smoked haddock fillet, cut in half
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200g/7oz basmati rice, rinsed in cold water and drained
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 100g/3.1/2oz frozen peas (optional)
  • 40g/1.1/2oz butter
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp medium curry powder
  • 3 tbsp double cream
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Place the haddock in a large frying pan, skin-side up. Pour over 500ml/17fl oz water, add the bay leaves and bring the water to a gentle simmer. Cook the fish for 8-10 minutes until it is just done and flakes easily. Drain in a colander set over a bowl, reserving the cooking liquor, and discard the bay leaves.
  2. Pour the cooking liquor into a medium saucepan and stir in the rice. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the rice very gently for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the rice covered for 3-5 minutes more. By this time it should have absorbed all the fish liquor.
  3. While the rice is cooking, bring some water to the boil in a medium pan. Add the eggs and cook for eight minutes. Drain them in a sieve under cold running water and when cool enough to handle, peel them carefully and set aside. Cook the peas, if using, in a small pan of boiling water and drain.
  4. Melt the butter with the oil in a large pan and cook the onion over a low hear for five minutes until well softened, stirring occasionally. Add the curry powder and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Place the cooked rice into the pan and stir in the onions. Add the peas, cream, parsley and a few twists of ground black pepper.
  5. Flake the fish into chunky pieces and add these to the pan. Gently stir the lemon juice and cook for 1-2 minutes. Cut the eggs into quarters and place them on the rice. Cover the pan with a lid and heat through for 2-3 minutes or until the eggs are warm, then serve.
  6. If not serving immediately, tip the kedgeree into a warm dish and dot with a few cubes of butter. Cover with foil and keep warm in a low oven for up to 20 minutes before serving.

John Keegan

Read all About It

I recently bought an ebook, on Amazon,  entitled “The Angina Monologues”. I bought it because it was written by my old next door neighbour in Cambridge, Samer Nashef (a Cardiothoracic surgeon at Papworth Hospital).  I was greatly surprised to find the following passage, recorded for posterity, in Chapter 17, entitled “The many Forms of Lazarus”, of the book:

“Cardiac arrest is truly appalling when it happens out of hospital, at home, on the road or in a public venue. Even if a bystander witnesses the arrest, has a reasonable idea of how to conduct resuscitation and cardiac massage, and begins to implement that immediately while waiting for the ambulance, only 1 in 10 such people will leave hospital alive, and this takes me to John Keegan.

I am not here talking about the eminent military historian, but about my next-door neighbour who ran a company which manufactured industrial catering machines. I used to tease him by referring to his work as ‘the sausage-making business’. A lovely and sociable man, with a well-developed sense of humour and an intact inner child at the age of 60, he used to play cricket, rollerblade round his drive and build model airplanes. My younger son Ramsay would often knock on his door at weekends to ask Maureen, John’s wife, if John was ‘allowed to come out to play’.

John also smoked about 80 cigarettes a day, frequently lighting one cigarette from the butt end of the previous one. One evening, after a long day’s operating, I settled with a beer in front of the television to watch the evening news. Suddenly, there appeared to be a commotion with a lot of noise coming from outside the house, with shouting and wailing, so I reluctantly got up to investigate. I opened the back door to find Maureen wandering around our shared driveway in a state of near hysteria. ‘It’s John,’ she said. ‘He doesn’t look right.’

I walked across the drive to their house and there he was, in the kitchen, slumped over the table with a stopped heart. I tried to find out from Maureen how long he had been in this state, but she was too distraught to say with any certainty. I had to make a quick decision between doing nothing and letting him die or starting resuscitation, and, if successful, possibly risk ending up with John alive, but with serious brain damage, because the brain will not survive a stopped heart for more than a few minutes. It was a difficult call with very little time available to make the decision. I decided to give him a chance. I shouted to Maureen, who was still wandering about in a state of agitated distress, to call for an ambulance, give her address and specifically to use the words ‘cardiac arrest’ when speaking to the operator. I then moved John off the table on to the floor and began the chest compressions for cardiac massage.

The kitchen television was still on and was blaring a particularly intrusive set of hard-sell commercials. I was pondering whether it would be considered ethical to stop the cardiac massage for a short while to switch off the TV, since the remote control was not within reach. Then an exceptionally irritating advertisement for a toilet cleaner came on and I abandoned the resuscitation briefly, got off the floor, went to the TV, silenced it and resumed cardiac massage.

Maureen came back into the room, slightly calmer now. She had made the call and the ambulance was on its way. I asked her to go outside and stand at the end of the driveway, and, as soon as the ambulance arrives, to ask the paramedics to bring the defibrillator with them and guide them to the kitchen. Some 15 minutes later, while still doing the chest compressions on the kitchen floor, I saw the reflection of the blue flashing lights through the door to the hall and two paramedics walked in carrying the defibrillator. ‘He’s in cardiac arrest,’ I said. ‘His only chance is if it is ventricular fibrillation, so let’s connect the defibrillator now and shock him if it is.’

‘And who the hell are you?’ said one of the paramedics. ‘Hang on,’ said the other, ‘I know you,’ and to his colleague: ‘That’s Mr Nashef. He did that aortic dissection I took to Papworth last week.’

We connected the defibrillator. The cardiac arrest was in fact ventricular fibrillation, the type that can be treated by an electric shock. We administered one shock and the heart restarted instantly. Within seconds, John had started to breathe again. They were short, gasping and irregular breaths, but where there’s breath, there’s life

We moved him on a stretcher to the ambulance, which sped towards the coronary care unit at the local hospital, only a mile or so away. An hour later I thought I had better go to find out how he was, and I was still very worried that he might have sustained brain damage.

I drove to the hospital and walked into the coronary care unit to be greeted with a loud shout: ‘You bugger! I think you’ve broken half my bloody ribs! But I knew that one day it would be useful to live next door to you!’ John was sitting up in bed and smiling. Later, he was investigated at Papworth and found to have just the one coronary artery narrowing in a branch of a branch of the left coronary artery. The branch in question was of very little significance and his heart had continued to work well despite the blockage, but the tiny heart attack he had sustained had caused a near-fatal but temporary disturbance of his heart rhythm.

Somehow the tens of thousands of cigarettes he had consumed had had only a very minor effect on John’s coronary arteries. Nevertheless, the consequences of that tiny blockage were a wake-up call. This was enough for John to stop smoking completely, sell the business and retire to the north of England. Before he did so, he tried to claim on his life insurance. He telephoned the insurance company and said to the hapless insurance claims handler: ‘I’m calling to claim on my life insurance, having died a few weeks ago.’ The claims handler did not know quite how to handle this particular claim and referred the matter to his manager, who was smart enough to demand a death certificate. Of course, John was not in a position to provide that document, and the claim was not successful.”

I never expected to appear in print, but there you have an authoritive record of the last time that I died.

John Keegan

Crêpes Suzette

Classic crêpes suzette

Ingredients For the crepes (6)

  • 110g/4oz plain flour, sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml/7fl oz milk mixed with 75ml/3fl oz water
  • 50g/2oz butter
  • 1 medium orange, grated zest only
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar

For the sauce

  • 150ml/5fl oz orange juice (from 3-4 medium oranges)
  • 1 medium orange, grated zest only
  • 1 small lemon, grated rind and juice
  • tbsp caster sugar
  • tbsp Grand Marnier, Cointreau or brandy
  • 50g/2oz unsalted butter
  • a little extra Grand Marnier, for flaming

Method

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl with a sieve held high above the bowl so the flour gets an airing. Now make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Then begin whisking the eggs – any sort of whisk or even a fork will do – incorporating any bits of flour from around the edge of the bowl as you do so.
  2. Next gradually add small quantities of the milk and water mixture, still whisking (don’t worry about any lumps as they will eventually disappear as you whisk). When all the liquid has been added, use a rubber spatula to scrape any elusive bits of flour from around the edge into the centre, then whisk once more until the batter is smooth, with the consistency of thin cream. Now melt the 50g/2oz of butter in a pan. Spoon 2 tbsp of it into the batter and whisk it in, then pour the rest into a bowl and use it to lubricate the pan, using a wodge of kitchen paper to smear it round before you make each pancake. Stir the orange zest and caster sugar into the batter.
  3. Now get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to medium and, to start with, do a test pancake to see if you’re using the correct amount of batter. These little crepes should be thinner than the basic pancakes, so when you’re making them, use ½ tbsp of batter at a time in a 18cm/7in pan. It’s also helpful if you spoon the batter into a ladle so it can be poured into the hot pan in one go. As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. It should take only half a minute or so to cook; you can lift the edge with a palette knife to see if it’s tinged gold as it should be. Flip the pancake over with a pan slice or palette knife – the other side will need a few seconds only – then simply slide it out of the pan onto a plate. If the pancakes look a little bit ragged in the pan, no matter because they are going to be folded anyway. You should end up with 15-16 crepes.
  4. Stack the pancakes as you make them between sheets of greaseproof paper on a plate fitted over simmering water, to keep them warm while you make the rest.
  5. For the sauce, mix all the ingredients – with the exception of the butter – in a bowl. At the same time warm the plates on which the crepes are going to be served. Now melt the butter in the frying pan, pour in the sauce and allow it to heat very gently. Then place the first crepes in the pan and give it time to warm through before folding it in half and then in half again to make a triangular shape. Slide this onto the very edge of the pan, tilt the pan slightly so the sauce runs back into the centre, then add the next crepe. Continue like this until they’re all re-heated, folded and well soaked with the sauce.

You can flame them at this point if you like. Heat a ladle by holding it over a gas flame or by resting it on the edge of a hotplate, then, away from the heat, pour a little liqueur or brandy into it, return it to the heat to warm the spirit, then set light to it. Carry the flaming ladle to the table over the pan and pour the flames over the crepes before serving on the warmed plates

John Keegan