It's been rather strange to realise I'm at a point in my life (at the ripe old age of 28) where I'd rather stay home, listen to music and chat to Patrick while cooking, than go out to a restaurant, or some sort of party. I suppose it happens to most people, but every now and then I pause and wonder when this shift happened. I mean, I actually get excited about the prospect of peeling artichokes all evening... (Perhaps I should speak to my therapist about this!)
First up – the quiche. I came up with this in order to enter Cooksister's competition (in ass. with Susan's Legume Love Affair), and it turned out well. It tastes better than it looks. We had it with a papaya and cos lettuce salad.
Chickpea and proscuitto quiche
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
1/4 cup ice water (I use refrigerated water)
1 red onion, chopped
5 slices proscuitto, cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, sliced
3 eggs, beaten
Handful parsley, chopped
1 can chickpeas
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tomatoes, sliced
For the crust: Mix flour and salt with fork. Beat oil and water together with a whisk or fork, and stir into the flour. Combine until the mixture comes together. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, then press into a large quiche/tart tin.
For the filling: Gently fry the onions on a medium heat, until glassy (not browned). Then add the proscuitto and garlic, fry for a further 10 minutes or so, still on a low heat. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, combine the eggs, parsley, chickpeas, Parmesan and onion mixture. Spoon mixture into the pastry case, top with tomato slices and extra Parmesan, and bake at 180C for about 30 minutes, or until cooked in the centre.
Monday night was special – Patrick and I polished off 2.5 bottles of wine while peeling artichokes and listening to Nina Simone (I think the dancing may have impaired our peeling skills...). I used a recipe from Beaneaters & Bread Soup, my new favourite book. You fry up the sliced artichoke hearts with some olive oil (duh), garlic and white wine, then add a big handful chopped parsley. I threw a big handful of grated Parmesan into to drained just-cooked tagliatelle, and then stirred in the artichokes. A memorable meal.
Tuesday I invented this amazing sauce for fish – though I'm sure it's not terribly original. Baked hake with creamy roasted tomato sauce, buttery lentils and (even more buttery) asparagus. I took a few heaped tablespoons of crème fraiche and blended it with some slow-roasted tomatoes (done over the weekend – Skye Gyngel’s recipe) and a small handful of basil.
It was. Delicious.
I ladled the sauce over a 400g piece of hake and baked it at 180C for about half an hour, and it turned out well, though I was unprepared for how watery hake gets if you cover it (as in, with the sauce) while it cooks. So the fish was pretty, um, damp, but it still tasted good – the goopiness of the sauce compensated a charm. For future ref, though, I’ll use a firmer fish, perhaps kingklip or salmon. The lentils were simple – boiled in water with a big cube of (good quality) chicken stock thrown in, and then dressed with olive oil and a generous few nobs of butter. (Ok, it was more like a generous few fistfuls.) Mmm, mm, mmm. The asparagus – simply steamed, drenched in butter and served on the side. You know, I think I could give Delia a run for her money if I published a book titled "How to Cheat at Cooking: Just Add More Butter". Anyway, the picture looks crap (when I grow up, I’ll have a proper camera than can take pictures of food at night, when my most inspired dishes are born), but believe me, this one’s a keeper.
Wednesday I made my famous (well, it will be one day) avocado sauce. I'll come up with a catchy name for it soon. It kicks ass on a thick juicy grilled steak, and I suspect it would be mind-blowing on a seered tuna steak. Basically mash up one avocado, mix in the juice of half a lemon, then add 4 good quality anchovy fillets, a small handful each parsley and basil, and a clove of garlic, all very finely chopped. You could use a food processor, but I prefer chopping. I'm a bit weird that way. Mash it all up and spoon over the steaks. You could also add some olive oil, finely chopped red onion, chilli or lemon zest if you like. It's a bit like salsa verde with avo.