Saturday, July 01, 2006

Gastropod 4

I’ve been cooking a bit over the last three days. This is quite a change from the preceding few weeks, when I somehow managed to slip into a lazy routine of eating tinned soup—albeit a very nice new pasta and pumpkin variety—olives, and ciabatta bread for dinner, and buying food at various eateries at the University for breakfast and lunch. There may have been a tomato consumed in there somewhere.

Now my careless attitude towards keeping track of my everyday spending has caught up with me. I managed to miscalculate the timing of my payday by a week and therefore the payment of my rent as well. For a while there I thought, ‘Where did all this extra money come from?’, only to become aware it wasn’t extra at all. Unfortunately that discovery didn’t occur before I went slightly crazy buying winter knitwear and a stovetop kettle in the end-of-financial-year sales. When I realised my error I quickly pulled in the reins and turned my thoughts towards ensuring I had enough food in the house to take for lunches and have wholesome dinners until next payday.

It doesn’t escape my notice that I actually eat better, in a nutritional sense, when I’m forced to ration my income and food purchases and actually do some cooking. I probably eat better in a taste sense as well—what self-respecting foodie eats tinned-soup, I ask you? Why I bother being lazy, I don’t know. There is no benefit to me, whatsoever; I’m really not time poor at all at the moment. If I bothered to get my act together I could probably have saved enough money to buy a new laptop or travelled overseas or..., or something by now. Instead I spent my money on lazy girl breakfasts and lunches. Sometimes I need a good kick up the pants.

Anyway, enough of my self-flagellation, you came here for the gastropodry, right?

For this first creation I used some organic mushroom orriechette pasta that was going half-price in one of the aforementioned sales. You can use any short pasta you so desire.

Since broccoli seems to be in season at the moment—I’ve been buying it in 750g packs—it’s the perfect opportunity to create one of my favourite pasta sauces; that, and I’m always convinced I don’t eat enough cruciferous vegetables.

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe. If you have his second book, you’ll be learning nothing here, so you might want to skip ahead to the zucchini soup.

Pasta with Broccoli, Anchovies and Chilli

Chop two heads of broccoli (stalks and all). Add some olive oil, to a pan and add a clove of crushed garlic, 2-3 crumbled, dried red chillies, and fifteen anchovies. Throw in the broccoli and put the lid on the pan. Cook for 15 minutes, adding some water, if necessary (I have always needed to do this). Mash up some of the broccoli as it cooks so you get a chunky puree. Season to taste.

Cook your pasta and reserve some of the cooking water. Mix the sauce and the pasta, adding the reserved water to get just the right sauce consistency. Add a handful of lightly toasted pine nuts to serve (or, if you want to be really faithful to the Jamie Oliver style, you can throw them in from a hundred yards away).

The second recipe I have for you, which I just made last night, comes from New Covent Garden Soup Company’s Book of Soups: New, Old & Odd Recipes. I’ve been borrowing this book from my sister for at least three years now. The recipe is in the ‘Plain’ section of the book, which undersells it a bit, because it’s really very tasty. It belongs in the ‘Wonderful’ part. And can you believe it was invented by a twelve year-old? It was!

Jason Stead’s Courgette and Brie Soup

Into a saucepan, place 450g sliced zucchini, 350g peeled and chopped potatoes, 1 finely chopped onion and 1.2 litres of vegetable stock. Season, then cover and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked. Add 225g of chopped brie, with its rind removed, to the saucepan, stirring until it melts. Blend the soup until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.

You didn’t expect the brie did you? It transforms the soup, and I’m sure that’s why Jason got an A for his home-economics assessment over 10 years ago now. What a prodigy. I wonder if he went on to make a living inventing recipes?

Bon Appétit, mes petits escargots!


Shado said...

This food looks very tasty. I think it would be totally safe from the ravenous cat under my care - although it leapt up on the kitchen bench again last night and sniffed my celery with great enthusiasm before I booted it off.

Anonymous said...

This is a great recipe - you know you're first in Google when you look for it too!
btw. Does brocolli come in packets? I've never seen this (in Australia, although I note you're in Brisbane)...maybe it's a warmer climate thing.