Monthly Archives: May 2020

CCC Mostly Italian

I made a concerted effort to finish off the dried tagliatelle last week, in part so I could free up the tall and pretty jar it was stored in to keep the fancy new noodles I got during the week. Early shifts meant that I needed to keep it simple and straight forward most days, so first we used up some broccoli florets I’d got on special in a dish that was essentially, pasta, broccoli and two kinds of cheese, simple and delicious. Later in the week I made two variations on tagliatelle with beans – the recipe called for broad beans, but I had edamame which don’t need peeled – crème fraîche and garlic, which got spruced up with various combinations of peppers, spring onions, hard Italian cheese and toasted pine-nuts.

The Tuscan Beef Ragu did indeed convert successfully into a Tuscan Bean Ragu, though given how much ragu I ended up with, I feel if I’d used beef instead of beans, I’d have been eating ragu all week! As it was, I had a lot of food rather than two much food. Between shifts and the weather, I actually ended up prepping the ragu to the point where it’s meant to go in the oven and then actually baked it the following day. It came out pretty decently, though it wasn’t special enough for me to consider it worthy of inclusion in my regular rotation of bulk cook recipes – the effort to tastiness ratio isn’t worthwhile.

Speaking of gnocchi – one of the better parts of the ragu was the gnocchi in it – a colleague who keeps chickens had an excess of eggs, so I’ve been eating cooked egg breakfasts more frequently lately, and it’s reminded me how much I enjoy paprika fried gnocchi as a side with a cooked breakfast. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, just a little spicy – lovely.

Additionally, I’ve been making a valiant attempt at cooking up the giant tapioca that has been lurking in the cupboard since my ill-fated experiments with making bubble tea a couple of years ago. I loved tapioca pudding as a child, but it’s not something I’ve ever made for myself as an adult, in fact, I’m not sure I’ve actually ever eaten it as an adult, as I don’t think my mum’s really made it since I went to uni. My dad has always preferred rice pudding and semolina – he tends to refer to it and its sibling sago as ‘frogspawn’ – so I guess it wasn’t worth the hassle? Whatever the reason, I had a hankering and got her to send me the recipe, and lo, after much patient stirring – and also an impatiently burned tongue – I had tapioca pudding. It was more glutinous than I remembered, seeming to take forever to thicken up, but that might be a product of it being giant tapioca, and the recipe omitted the essential ingredients, generous sprinklings of both nutmeg and cinnamon. However, once my tongue had recovered from it’s scalding, I had a big bowl of hot, filling, comfort food – and equally important, leftovers for the following day!

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CCC Week 7

This week has continued the theme of making old favourite recipes, between my favourite quick and dirty tomato pasta sauce – in fact the recipe that my header photo showcases, minus the cooked chicken – a batch of English muffins and a banana loaf, mildly tweaked for the current circumstances but otherwise from a recipe of my mum’s that I’ve been making all my life. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I’m using all wholemeal flour instead of half and half, it makes a drier cake and I need to compensate with more eggs/other liquid than the recipe would normally call for.

I went through a phase, before I moved up here, when I first got into making bread, of attempting to make all the weird and wonderful bread options in my Lorraine Pascale cook books. However, having fun aground on focaccia, and never being entirely satisfied with my rolls, I mostly stuck to making Soda Bread and English muffins, and while I do sporadically make soda bread when I’m at my parents, I haven’t made these kind of muffins in a good six years. You can make them in the oven or on the stove top, but I always prefer to make them on the stove top. I’ve made the successfully in a heavy bottomed frying pan, but these days I’ve got an actual girdle pan so it feels rude not to use that.

My girdle pan has actually been getting a fair amount of use lately, between the banana pancakes and the English muffins. I wasn’t sure if I’d use it enough to make it worth giving some of my limited cupboard space to when my mum offered it to me, just after I moved house. It’s really just been lurking on the shelf above the fridge since I moved in, but it’s proved a fun and handy tool over lockdown so I suspect it’s here to stay. Now I’m wondering if I could make flat breads on it.

Now that pasta has returned to the supermarket shelves properly and there’s enough on the shelf that I don’t feel guilty buying some, I’ve been revelling in a different kind of comfort food. Certainly there was my abovementioned quick and dirty pasta sauce, but I was moved to dig out my little Italian food cookbook and dry some more complicated and decadent recipes. I have barely touched that recipe book since becoming a vegetarian, because so many of my favourite recipes from it are heavy on the meat. However, it’s proved quite inspirational, and I’ve rediscovered some tasty recipes some straight forward – I made a cheesy mushroom pasta bake that was heavy on the garlic and included three different types of cheese – and plotted out a couple of rather more adventurous dishes to try to next week.

Vegetables stuffed with other things – rice, couscous, other vegetables – were a bit of a cliché of vegetarian cooking when I was a kid, and while I tend to agree that life is too short to stuff a mushroom, I do love a stuffed pepper so the rice stuffed peppers rather appeals. There’s also a few polenta based recipes, and I used to love cooking with polenta before I went veggie so clearly it’s high time I brought that back into circulation. I also mis-read a recipe Tuscan Beef Ragu as Tuscan Bean Ragu but on reading the recipe, I bet you could make a lovely dish with beans instead of beef that would fit the bill nicely. And that’s before I even look at the dessert section!

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