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Aglio ed Olio

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Not sure I really qualify, but I have Stinking Man Flu like only a Real Man can get, and it’s interfering with Life. The solution, of course, is aglio ed olio, which looks quite daft on paper, but does the job nicely.

The procedure is slightly vague, as it depends upon the strength of your cold, and how much of a devil-may-care attitude it inspires. Start by peeling and finely slicing as much garlic as you dare. For me that’s somewhere in between four very fat cloves, or half a head. Fry a teaspoon of peperoncino (that’s a posh way of saying chilli flakes) in a couple of tablespoons of cheap vegetable oil, and then add the garlic. You’re aiming to get it slightly golden about the edges, but not burnt. Once almost there, turn off the gas, and let it finish in the residual heat.

Cook around 150g of dried pasta the usual way. I use linguini. Finely chop a handful of fresh parsley and grate loads of Parmesan.

When the pasta is done, add it and the parsely to the pan with the garlic, turn on the heat, and combine well. Add a couple of tablespoons of fancy olive oil and maybe a few tablespoons of hot water to loosen up.

Don’t book a hot date that evening.


Simple Stew

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Sorry about the slightly murky photo, but it’s that kind of a dish: essentially one pound beef, one pound veg, and a pint of porter.

In this case the beef was just some generic stewing steak, and the veg were some baby charlottes, a large carrot, and a leek. The beer was Guinness’ West Indies Porter, which is a strong, fruity brew, with undercurrents of bitter chocolate. The meat was tossed in seasoned flour before browning in oil and butter, the beer added, followed by some vigorous scraping and stirring to dislodge the fond and then the veg added after that. I had a small bunch of thyme handy, so that and a bay leaf were popped in for good measure. (You could use dried thyme and maybe also add a few peeled cloves of garlic.)

Brought to the boil, and then reduced to a firm simmer. It can’t just gloop gently, or the collagen in the meat won’t break down; it needs to be bubbling gently. Around two hours, but it’s one of those things that’s done when it’s done.

Serves two; obviously with more of the porter to wash it down.

Ooops

I’ve been busy and life has gotten in the way of blogging. Oh dear.

A quick note from today: another kind of ooops. That recipe for butternut squash and chorizo soup? Yeah. The one where the guests lick their bowls clean? Yup. That’s the one.

I was wondering what would happen if you used, well, y’know, a whole chorizo.

Gosh.

Pollo Sospetto

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Vaguely inspired by Felicity Cloake’s cacciatore recipe, I’ve dug out this perennial favourite, which has arrived by way of a stained and crumpled scrap of paper, tucked into my copy of The Encyclopaedia of Italian Cooking.

It’s neither one thing nor the other, but quite tasty and quite easy. To serve four you’ll need a larg frying pan, and into it chuck:

  • 75g pancetta, cubed, frying gently until the fat has rendered and the bacon has gone crunchy
  • 500g boned skinned chicken thighs, halved down the middle – do these on a high heat, until they’re lightly coloured on the outside, rescue with a slotted spoon and set aside (the middles of the chicken pieces will be raw but don’t worry, we’ll fix that shortly)
  • 500g total diced celery, carrot and onion (or whatever aromatics you have to hand) plus four smashed cloves garlic, reduce heat, fry until soft and colouring, you might need a splodge of vegetable oil if there wasn’t enough in the bacon and chicken
  • add 125mL white wine, and stir like mad, to incorporate any of the built up yumminess on the bottom of the pan, and then return everything else
  • add enough boiled water to cover, plus one 450g tin chopped toms, drained of their juice
  • on top of that, four sprigs of rosemary, around two dozen kalamata olives (stones in), and a generous grind of pepper
  • bring to the boil, lower heat and simmer for 30 mins (45 if you’re using whole thighs with bones in)
  • remove the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon
  • turn up the heat and reduce by half (you could stir in a tablespoon of crème fraîche at this point)
  • serve with polenta or rice
  • this will be improved by an overnight stay in the fridge

Seville Marmalade Cake

Added to my list of things to try out with the batch of marmalade that didn’t quite set.

FrugalFeeding

This week, Katherine and I took a long overdue holiday. We have spent the last five days amongst some of the most incredible scenery North Wales has to offer. If you like walking over snowy mountains, this place is for you. Not only is the landscape incredibly dramatic, but it is peppered with historic monuments, burial grounds, wells and even a bunker which I presume dates back to the Second World War. The sparsely populated county of Gwynedd, North Wales, is truly inspiring – we shall be returning, car under foot, to visit the fabled ‘Roman Steps’.

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