Monday, September 30, 2013

Welding Burns



The king is dead,long live the king. Jamie has gone, to be replaced by Tom. I saw Tom Kerridge on the telly last week in a new lifestyle porn  cookery series. He always comes across a hearty and genial sort of guy, but you don't get the acclaim  that he has won by being simple, and I doubted if any of his recipes would suit my simple skills or lack of patience. True enough, he made a veg pickle that no sane person would attempt in their own kitchen, but then he did a lamb shoulder and spuds that was simplicity itself. I made it. It was shit. Probably my fault.

Looking at this blog, you would think we were carnivores of the most rapacious kind, forever having a bloody piece of flesh within our grasp, but, as a rule, we eat hardly any meat at all. A chicken dinner every Sunday, the odd bacon sarnie, the occasional meaty stew,  a bit of chorizo or pancetta added to pasta or rice dishes and that is about it. The kids have an aversion to red meat of all kinds unless it comes out a box, bearing no resemblance to actual flesh .

After the meat feast of Jamie's recipes, and Tom's shit shoulder, without even thinking about it, I started cooking some of my old standbys, and bugger me, no meat was involved, and bugger me sideways, they cost next to nothing. And nobody died.

First off, I made a huge pot of minestrone. No one needs to be told how to make a minestrone, you just bung whatever veg you have to hand into a pot, sweat it for 15 minutes, cover it with stock and boil the bugger up for 15 minutes. On this occasion the stuff that went into the pot was onion, garlic, celery, sage, rosemary, thyme, carrot, spud, spinach, kale, tomatoes, butter beans, broken up bits of spaghetti, and a couple of pints of veg stock. Total cost: no idea, probably about 3 quid. It was delicious with a sprinkling of parmesan and a bit of walnut bread and there is loads left, enough for at least two dinners at work, or, if you strain a bit of the stock off, or add another tin of beans, it would be just the job with a pile of chillied up polenta. I have a recipe for polenta that is unbelievable. I might share it one day.

Despite my aversion to faffing about, the second thing I did was a helluva of a faff; took a couple of hours at least to prepare, even before it went in the oven, and it generated a shitload of washing up to boot, but it is one of those rare dishes that is worth the faff. It is Marcella Hazan's  vegetable lasagne. I noticed in a tweet yesterday that Marcella has departed this life, RIP Marcella.

There are 3 main ingredients, courgettes, carrots and broccoli. You have to slice the carrots and courgettes thinly and par boil the broccoli, before breaking into tiny florets. You brown 2 garlic cloves in a big pan with butter and oil, then you chuck the garlic away, wilt all the carrots down in the pan, then repeat the whole damn process with the courgettes, then the broccoli. You are supposed to keep them separate and layer them up individually, but, as a very wise man once said: "fuck that for a game of tin soldiers". Then you have to make a cheesy bechamel and layer it all up as you would any lasagne.  It seems simple, and it is, and it is delicious and it makes loads for probably not much more than about 4 quid for the lot.

Next up, a veggie shepherd pie. Nothing to it, all you do is make it as if you were making a meaty one, but use green lentils instead of mince. I like to add some very finely chopped mushrooms too; dunno why, it just seems like a reasonable thing to do. I make the topping nice by mixing up sweet and ordinary spuds with loads of very well caramelised onions, a bit of chopped and wilted spinach and shitloads of cheese and butter.

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