I’m pleased to say I’ve been doing more cooking again recently. Maybe it’s the bank holidays, maybe it’s the lengthening evenings.
First up, hake and salsa verde from Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain. It’s supposed to be with asparagus, but it hadn’t quite made its appearance in my grocers by this point, so I did it with peas and the water the peas in which the peas had been cooked. By moving the hake slowly around in the pan, the hake releases gelatin, which further thickens and binds the salsa verde. Will be doing this with asparagus this week I think. It’s very simple and fresh tasting.
I post this quite innocuous picture of spaghetti and a tuna and tomato sauce, because it was just gah excellent. It’s a very basic meal I’ve been making for years – a weekday stop gap when I cbf’d. But all the ingredients were excellent here, the parsley fresh, san marzano tomatoes, good tuna, and cooked to perfection, the spaghetti with quite a lot of bite to it, the sauce clinging but not too dense. it couldn’t have been bettered and was, in the midweek, one of those moments of stepping outside of time, and relishing in minute detail the taste and bite of good food.
Had some scallops from the Sunday market. It’s a Sunday, so they’re already Not Fresh, and I ate them on the Monday, which means they were even more Not Fresh and possibly heading towards Bad. They were fine though, the persillade doing its usual magic. Now I’ve found a v good fishmongers near me, I’ll do this again but on the day. Sometimes with some good bread it’s all you need for a late supper.
Another pasta dish, obv, which punches well above its weight. Parpadelle with a sauce of sweet italian salsicce (in this case flavoured with fennel) and red and yellow peppers. Made my own parpadelle as well – those thick ribbons of pasta make this quite a luxurious dish, and the bitterness of the yellow peppers sets well against the sweetness of the red and the italian sausages.
Been meaning to have red mullet for ages, after hearing it was treasured by the Romans, and generally one of the prince of fishes. New fishmonger was there for me. Though these were rather small, they were really lovely, and just about managed to retain the liver (v insubstantial due to the size of the fish), which typically you place back in the gut and cook with the fish. None of the usual bitterness because no gall apparently, and is just a pungent essence of the overall fish flavour. Stuffed with fennel stalks, and a very basic fennel gratin of onion, garlic, fennel heads and parmesan to accompany.
Bank holiday break and a pint of Harveys in the sun.
To start: ASPARAGUS SEASON. I love them so much in their basic state that i’m always loathe to do anything more to them. However, see the hake and salsa verde above, and also an interesting looking potato and asparagus salad I saw the other day.
Main – roast rack of lamb with spring garlic and new potatoes, with a dressing composed of the rendered fat of the roasted lamb, brixton honey, dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper and basil leaves. Accompanied by a really excellent gamay, which i thought might be too heavy, but the fruits and general structure meant it was perfect, though (and I’m almost surprised to hear myself say it) a really good natural wine might have gone even better. 40 Maltby Street has clearly brainwashed me.
Note to self, obviously I rested the lamb, but I probably ate this too hot – the potato and garlic and dressing almost form a salad and, as i found out when i picked at it a little later, the flavours had relaxed into each other much better for being left. What I felt was a slightly overriding sweetness of honey had mellowed. There are many things that must be served hot, but in general there is no more pernicious phrase than ‘piping hot’ when applied to well cooked, good food – especially of this sort.