And back again…
I fell down a hole in the internet watching Indian cooking programmes – a classic 90s series from the BBC and a more recent series on Netflix that was in Hindi with subtitles – and got side-tracked from my efforts to cook my way through my little Italian and Pasta recipe book. It was a very tasty detour, I made Matar Paneer again, along with a lovely dal – it’s been ages since I last cooked with urid dal and it’s such a good and different flavour even before you add the spices, nutty and fragrant – and a quick and dirty quorn korma, the leftovers of which ended up as lunch one day, wrapped up in a flour tortilla.
This week it’s been back on the wagon for Italian cooking and I’m back to working my way through the recipe book. First up I tackled a pasta frittata, I’ve never actually made frittata before so that was it’s own adventure. I cut the recipe down by half – largely because it called for six eggs and I only had three – and didn’t sufficiently cut back the pasta, so it was a bit, bumpy, on top rather than the even surface I’d hoped for. It was also supposed to be made with mackerel, which wasn’t happening, so I substituted quorn and also swapped out frozen peas and used frozen edamame beans instead. I ended up using my in-between sized frying pan – which I’d been debating whether to keep or not as I’d never previously used it – which proved the perfect size for the purpose. Though if I ever make a full sized frittata for guests, I’m definitely using my big frying pan, as it’s oven safe and I was a bit nervous of my wee frying pan’s handle when I realised it would need to go under the grill. (I left the handle sticking out and it was fine.) While I feel the recipe may need some further refining for my preferences, it makes a nice lunch or light summer dinner, particularly with some oven chips.
Having both mushrooms and leeks needing used up, I did a bulk cook of baked macaroni – unusually for me, I bought actual macaroni, as I needed more pasta anyway so saw no need to substitute – I must confess, I turned it into a more traditional pasta bake sauce, rather than a creamy mushroom and leek topping for the pasta, and used panko breadcrumbs I found in the cupboard instead of faffing around grating bread crusts and frying them, I did mix them with not!parmesan for a more authentic flavour. I do think I prefer crème fraîche as part of that kind of sauce – where you make a roux – rather than as the sole base of a sauce, it was creamy and indulgent here, whereas on it’s own in a sauce I tend to find it a little sour/tart tasting. I used about half the pasta, mushrooms and leeks the recipe called for and still ended up with enough food for four portions so I dread to think how much the full recipe would have made.
One of the unexpected side pleasures of my meal planning adventures, is that I often have lots of left-over odds and ends in the fridge, that are ideal for throwing together more adventurous weekend brunches. On Sunday I had some ‘ripen-at-home’ apricots left and grilled them with a dollop of mascarpone I’d bought for another recipe, and drizzled with honey and it was revelatory. I’ve always considered mascarpone a rather bland ingredient – nice in a sauce but not really worth the extra cost – and rather cloying if you try and serve the leftovers with fruit or cake. However, whether it was the grilling itself, or some alchemy with the honey, but the combination of it and the grilled apricots was like an explosion of joy in my mouth – just divine.