A simple pasta supper (or why I wish I was more like Nigel Slater)

April 4, 2014 at 8:09 pm | Posted in savoury | 3 Comments
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I love Nigella, rely on Delia, occasionally seek out Jamie but I admire (and perhaps aspire to be more like) Nigel Slater. I love reading his books, watching his programmes but they present a world of food that is different to mine. His world always seems to have time to linger over food, to search out the obscure, grow ones own ingredients and experiment. My reality is more mundane – a quick trip to a supermarket and making the same thing time after time because it’s quick and reliable.  I don’t have time to think midweek  so I am more likely to incrementally tweak an existing recipe than try a bold experiment in the middle of a week.

So Nigel Slater’s recipes provide a rich vein of inspiration for the midweek supper. He has a great column in the Guardian to give options for something more interesting midweek.  His suggestion for pasta with baked aubergine and tomatoes caught my eye – it’s totally simple and reliant on ordinary ingredients. So I thought I would try it for supper with Sarah: she regularly comes for supper and has been the recipient many times of all ‘the usual options’.

Making it: As simple as it appears. Chop and roast. I was slightly disconcerted by the large quantity of olive oil I had to tip over it before the veg went in the oven. Plenty of time to start on a glass of wine and catching up on the news while the oven did the work!pasta for two

Eating it: Simple, subtle. Perhaps a bit too much olive oil and perhaps not quite robust enough for a not very warm April evening.

Next time: I think it would be better on a warm summer evening, perhaps with some olives in there as well to add more robustness and texture.

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Dining out Mandritsara-style

July 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Posted in madagascar, savoury | Leave a comment

One of my favourite meals to have out is steak-frites (sounds slightly more sophisticated in French!) and while I was in Mandritsara I had the opportunity to dine out at the restaurant in town. There were a few significant differences between dining out in London and Mandritsara…

The first one being that we had to go to the restaurant in the morning not just to reserve the table, but also to pre-order the food so that it could be bought! This somewhat simplified the process of making the decisions as to what to eat – it was steak-frites all round!

When we arrived at the restaurant to eat in the evening, it was clear that such a large gathering of “white” people was the amusement for the local children. Although we were in the “private dining room” the door to the outside world was curtain, so a number of local children kept running in and out of the doorway and laughing at us!

The delivery of food was delayed because of a power-cut. Short interruptions in the electricity supply are quite normal (and the power is off during the night) but it was quite strange to be sitting waiting in the dark for food! Fortunately we had a few torches with us, so it wasn’t total darkness!

But when the food came, it was served on big platters. It was a little greasy, but tasted good!

Normally I would have a glass of red wine along side my steak, but to complete the Madagascar experience, I instead washed it down with pineapple Fanta, which tasted a little like Lilt.

But, despite those differences, it was lovely to eat out relaxing in good company, and enjoy the food knowing that there was no washing up to do later!

Recipe 71: Jamie’s steak and ale stew

October 29, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Posted in Casseroles, savoury | Leave a comment
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After occasional moments of sunshine and warmth (I think we did have Summer – but it was about 4 weeks of sunshine spread over 4 months!) Autumn has set in… and one of the great upsides of Autumn is that slow-cooked stews and jacket potatoes become increasingly enticing. I had some Guinness in the cupboard from making Nigella’s Guinness gingerbread (which i failed to blog about  – but was fantastic), so thought I would try a beef and ale stew. After a little bit of internet browsing I came across a deeply straightforward steak and ale stew on Jamie Oliver’s website.  So on Saturday afternoon, ahead of a cosy evening on the sofa watching a film with Dimity I made the stew…

Making it: Very straightforward – the onion and vegetables were sweated off in the pan for 10 minutes and then all the other ingredients added. Jamie said not to bother browning the meat – vindicating my usual lazy decision not to bother – I really can’t tell the difference in a stew and not having to brown the meat makes it much quicker and less smelly to prepare! Then it was shoved in a low oven for 3 hours and then cooked uncovered for the final 30 minutes to thicken up. I also put some potatoes in the oven for the final 90 minutes to eat with it.

Eating it: We were tormented by the amazing cooking smells for 2 hours, so by the time we got to eat it – we were most anxious to try it… and the taste was as good as the smell! A deeply satisfying, filling and flavoursome stew – perfect for a chilly evening.

Next time: I’ll probably make double the recipe and stash lots in the freezer. Also I might try to not be in the house while it is cooking – the smell was just too good!

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