Welcome to the Magic Fridge

The editor
08 August, 2017

Alex Mackay’s mantra in his new book is Preserve food. Create time. Enjoy cooking more. Eat better. Magic.

** Scroll down to enter our competition to WIN 1 of 5 copies of the book **

No matter how many times you’re told this, it’s not easy to just ‘throw a meal together’ unless you’re a chef or have ready access to expensive ingredients – but never fear, Alex Mackay, with his new book is here to come to the rescue. Packed with clever ideas to make base recipes that can then be used to create a number of meals is his secret to success. Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect to find and remember the whole book is published in the library, if you want to learn more.

Before you start

Alex’s top tips for how to get the most from your fridge and your cooking.

Organisation leads to enjoyment. Have a place for everything: this is the single most important thing I can tell you. Not being able to find what you need, when you need it, is a massive cause of frustration and the catalyst for most things that go wrong while you cook.

These base recipes are, in essence, convenience food. They are a way of making fast food personal, so instead of buying a jar of sauce or a pizza base, I’ll show you how to make a lovely version of it yourself.

It’s amazing how much longer a preparation will keep if you don’t open it, so lots of small containers are better than one large one. Equally, labelling your preparations with the recipe title and date it was made keeps it safer and means you can find things easily in the fridge.

If you make anything with the intention to freeze it, then freeze it when it is as freshly prepared or cooked (and cooled if it is hot) as possible for best results.

And one last chef’s trick… Season from a height so that you distribute the seasoning evenly. Season on both sides and all over the ingredient.

A base recipe for summer

Basil pistou 

Pistou is the Provençal pesto. As parts of Provence have been parts of Italy at times, one is no more authentic than the other, and the ingredients are the same. I’ve adapted almost everything about the traditional technique anyway, so this pistou is truly authentic to me. My most recent innovation is to use the basil stalks: they have heaps of flavour and give you more yield per bunch than if you just use the leaves.

5 easy ways to use Basil pistou

Baked mushrooms with pistou, asparagus & fried eggs 

Serve the tops of asparagus to the kids as soldiers to dip into the yolks.

Pistou pasta

Stir 5 tbsp pistou into each 100g (weight before boiling) of pasta when it is cooked. Fusilli is my favourite because the pistou gets caught in the pasta’s grooves rather than slipping through as it does with spaghetti. Add 2–4 tbsp of the pasta’s cooking water to make the pasta and pistou creamier.

Grain and pistou salad

Pistou is an excellent salad dressing for cold grains. Stir pistou into cooked grains to taste and you have a salad to eat as is or a base for cooked and raw vegetables. Camargue red rice with pistou, halved baby plum tomatoes and chopped sundried tomatoes is a particular favourite.

Pistou eggs

Whisk pistou into eggs before you scramble them or make them into omelettes. 1 tbsp of pistou per egg works well for me.

Mussel tagliatelle with pistou, cream & chilli

Mussels are nature’s fast food. The sweet and salty juice stored in their shells make them self-seasoning, self-saucing and able to provide the stock for a soup.

Win 1 of 5 copies of The Magic Fridge


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