Sunday, 29 April 2012
This is my cookery book collection (note that there are three Nigellas in there, thus proving that I do not hate her). My cookery book collection AFTER a clear out, I might add, which has relegated about 30 poor souls to the attic on the grounds of being dull, useless or just plain gaudy (I've had to start operating a one-in-one-out system to stop things getting out of control).
I worked out once that the contents of these shelves are probably worth around £1000 or more, recommended retail price, which explains why I haven't had a holiday for two years (woe is me). Add to this about 4 years of archived food magazines and newspaper cuttings and the entire blogesphere on the internet and you'd think that'd be ample inspiration. Yet despite this wealth of culinary literature - which I probably couldn't get through if I lived to 100 and cooked an entry a day (and look how bonkers that Julie et Julia woman went, and she was only trying to get through Mastering the Art of French Cookery) - there are some days when I can't think of a single god damned thing to cook.
I have to say, this foodie's block usually occurs when I am trying to plan what staples I need for the weekly shop. I try desperately to plan all my meals for the week, to minimise wastage and overspending, but sometimes the chore of choosing seven days worth of food with the correct balance of health, ease and mild food poncery, is a challenge akin to achieving world peace on a bank holiday weekend.
And it doesn't help that when I'm walking the aisles of Sainsburys I take with me a mini Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall in my conscience, who tuts loudly in my ear if I so much as glance at the wrong tin of tuna or a courgette that's travelled more than 6 miles. I love Hugh, but he's a right bore when you're trying to do the weekly shop in a hurry.
So as a result, usually on a grey and miserable Sunday such as this, I say to myself 'fuck that, I'm going to stay in and watch something featuring Robin Williams'. The below is an example from one of the many days that I've given up and decided I would rather scrape the mould off a rotting corpse of cheese or have muesli and frozen peas for dinner, rather than go to the supermarket. This recipe is not exclusive to these ingredients - on the contrary- stick in any old guff which is languishing at the bottom of your fridge.
200g of whatever pasta you have
Handful of stale breadcrumbs (toasted briefly in a dry pan)
3 cloves garlic
Splosh of white wine if you have it
Handful of chopped herbs (I used some withered parsley, stalks and all)
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
Shaved parmesan to serve
Cook your pasta, as per instructions. Whilst boiling, fry your garlic in a little oil until starting to brown, then slosh in a bit of wine, your chilli flakes and the rind of the lemon and reduce till most of the liquid is gone. Once your pasta is done, drain and mix with the contents of the garlic pan, the chopped herbs and juice of half the lemon and at the last minute add the breadcrumbs. Serve with remaining lemon and parmesan.