I was mentally pushed to the max last week. I don’t do mess, chaos yes, but not mess ! I working hard towards having a new kitchen, it’s been in the planning stages for years. I do love my Spanish traditional, quirky, shabby chic kitchen, but now I have outgrown it’s capabilities. So over the last year as I have cooked, I have squirreled away some centimos towards my dream kitchen.
Stage 1 in the process, started last week, turning an old outside store cupboard, you know one of those cupboards that stores EVERYTHING, into a new bright pantry. How I’ve always wanted a pantry, since the days I would sit tucked away in my grannies, spending hours, sorting tins, and weighing things on her brass scales. But before bright comes dust, and before order comes mess.
Sweeping, mopping, and tidying relentlessly, and relentlessly being told there is no point in doing that, drove me crazy. To add to my chaos, I thought it was a while since I’d cooked for friends, so invited a gaggle for supper, as you do ! Fortunately when I’m creating in the kitchen, albeit while pandemonium is all around me I can focus on the food- So when the going gets tough I get cooking.
I decided on a 50’s Italian theme for my dinner, and went about the preparation for a whole host of wonderful dishes, all made with locally sourced and fresh ingredients. Peas and Broad beans freshly picked, Mangos juicy and ripe & figs dried from summer, Brocolli and the truly beautiful Romanesco cauliflower . I called on the help of my food hero ‘Jamie’ for this weeks #cookfromthebooks and heading back to one of his oldies ‘Jamie’s Italy’ , a book full of flavour and drama, and photography that transports your mind, to the aromas and tastes of all the dishes. Our main course was from ‘Jamie at Home’ a book that celebrates home-grown and seasonal produce, tips for growing and unusual dishes you may not think of, especially good for when you have a ‘glut’ at anytime.
We started the evening, with roasted violet potatoes with caraway and roasted garlic and herb mayo for dipping, whilst sipping drinks around the fir-pit.
Jamie’s Pea & Broad Bean Bruchetta was a delight, fresh and light with a hint of mint and grating of Parmesan all pulled together with rich Olive oil, served on a warm rustic bread.
Followed by Fennel & chili risotto this is comfort food to sigh for ;), also a great way to introduce people to fennel if they have never tried, by sauteing the fennel slowly first, allows the sweetness to come through and adds a richness and depth to the risotto.
Next I made a refreshing dish of Mango & Basil sorbet, and served it on glass canape spoons.
Here is my simple recipe :
2 ripe mangos, peeled and chopped, then blended.
1 cup of caster sugar and 1 cup of water, heated gently to dissolve.
add a handful of fresh basil leaves to the sugar water ,a nd take off heat and let diffuse for 15 mins.
Discard the basil, and add cooled sugar water to pureed mango.
Add 1 tbsp of dark rum and mix.
Put in a freezer container and leave to freeze for a few hours, then stir, then freeze again until ready to serve.
Serve with some fresh basil and a sprinkle of chopped hazelnuts.
Our main course was a hand rolled Cannelloni stuffed with cauliflower and broccoli, the vegetables flavours are intensified as they are cooked with chilli and anchovies, before being pureed for the cannelloni stuffing, then topped with mozzarella and Parmesan for that comforting topping, simple served with some dressed rockets leaves.
Pud was to die for, Bustrengo a Bolognese polenta and apple cake, with sultanas and dried figs. An Italian take on an old bread pudding recipe, heavy and moist with such depth of flavour, eaten warm with a scoop of creme fraiche and enjoyed with a sweet PX sherry, sorry not Vin Santo, but I had ot go back to my sherry roots 😉 – The cake stays moist and develops character too, so was delicious the next day with a hot strong cup of espresso ( medicinal purposes, the morning after and all that 😉 )
Sipping my coffee and nursing my head, the dusty pantry was there in all it’s glory, now to turn it into my little den of shelves, drawers and twinkling lights…
If you would like to join in this years challenge of #cookfromthebooks I would be delighted Just add the hashtag #cookfromthebooks and add the logo below & link to this site.