Archive for May, 2010

This is one of my staple “throw it together” pasta sauces. Generally whipped up when I have a crisis moment peering into the fridge and pantry. The recipe was inspired by one from the River Cafe but I tend to ignore things like the added cream etc which aren’t necessary.

I made this last night in order to take a meal to my friend Sue who has recently given birth to twins and is still in hospital. I have been absolutely appalled by the hospital food which all seems to look like boiled brown airline stew with overcooked peas on the side. No matter what it says on their menu.

It freezes very well so I will also be freezing her a couple of portions to reheat when she gets home from hospital.

The anchovies add richness and saltiness – but don’t give this sauce a fishy taste.

Tomato pasta sauce with rosemary and anchovies

3-4T olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2T finely chopped fresh rosemary
6-8 anchovies, if you use the salted ones rinse them first
3-4 450g tins of Italian whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan, plus extra to serve
salt to taste – optional, depending on how salty the anchovies are you may not require this

Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Gentle saute the garlic on low heat till softened but not turning brown and crispy. Add the rosemary and stir for a minute to infuse the flavour. Add the anchovies and stir them around until they are melted into the garlic mixture.

Tip in the tomatoes and roughly chop with a wooden spoon. Leave to simmer on low until the sauce thickens. Maybe 25-30 minutes. Add the half cup of parmesan. Serve with papardelle and extra parmesan.


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I nearly used a most pretentious word the other day to describe my rhubarb crumble. On reflection I removed it from the description of my luscious, gloopy rhubarb because “unctuous” has always annoyed me in restaurant reviews. So I did some research.

What is it about “unctuous” and restaurant reviewers? It seems to be one of the words du jour for describing anything:

  • creamy
  • buttery
  • smooth
  • sticky
  • oily
  • gooey

And so on. This is what it really means, from dictionary.com:

  1. characterized by excessive piousness or moralistic fervor, esp. in an affected manner; excessively smooth, suave, or smug.
  2. of the nature of or characteristic of an unguent or ointment; oily; greasy.
  3. having an oily or soapy feel, as certain minerals.

Just what I feel like snacking on.

And here are some real-life examples of it being used by restaurant reviewers (and creative others):

  • “The Sauce Madère was as sticky and unctuous as it should be…” [review]
  • “Unctuous Beef and Leek Stew Topped with Cheesy Mash…” [review]
  • “… shepherded by the unctuous and principle-free David Cameron, ran a campaign based heavily on personality and a rejection of the ‘nasty party’ image …” [AOL Online]
  • “A few months later, Stark is fending off congressional hearings from a government (and unctuous rival arms developer Justin Hammer) eager to seize his suit, …” [review of Iron Man 2]
  • “… advising the White House or Congress on economics or national security and from unctuous, pompous bloviating on any legal subject on television.” [this is just great – I have to go look up bloviating.]
  • “… images of primroses and little lambs and fox cubs peering through the shrubbery, all accompanied by that unctuous, ecclesiastical chumminess, …” [review of Doctor Who. The new one.]
  • “Cut up, this liempo was fatty and unctuous, yet not ‘sumol’ or unpleasantly fat. It was a light tan color, clearly fully cooked, it had herbs spread evenly among the pieces and it was very tasty. It was a bit on the salty side, …” [this last was from an online restaurant review in Manila entitled ‘Battle of the bellies‘. Yes. Quite. I am not sure what the opponent was.]

So unctuous means oily and revolting. Sleazy and trustworthy. And is associated with politicians and arch villians. And strange Filippino food.

I am not sure I want to use it to describe my rhubarb crumble. Thank goodness I pulled myself back from the brink.

Apparently bloviating means “to speak pompously”.

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Lulu is the only person I know who can contemplate setting up a woman about to give birth to twins (due at any minute, she is near full term) at a dinner party date at someone else’s house. My house. “Does he know she is pregnant?” I asked Lulu. “He likes kids,” was the response. He’d better.

To be fair she and John cooked the main course themselves. Whole snapper baked in the oven Asian style. John took a photo of the fish prior to being baked in the oven which I will post here as soon as I extract it. It was tender and lightly pungent with lemongrass, coriander, and chilli as some of the core flavours.

I had been leaning towards producing a beef rib roast with Yorkshire pudding followed by rhubarb crumble. Thwarted by the fishy main I still did the rhubarb crumble even though something like a lime tart would follow the fish a little better.

Rhubarb crumble is a wonderful, rich, hearty sort of rustic winter dessert. It is the kind of dessert you serve after a family Sunday roast as opposed to formal dinner parties. In my experience though, people love this kind of back-to-childhood food and it is always a hit. Nigella’s recipe is pretty straightforward. I tend to be a bit random with both the quantities of rhubarb (bit more if the dish is larger) and I usually double the crumble recipe as I don’t have any dishes that are 21cm in diameter and 4cm deep. My dishes are either larger or too shallow so I increase the crumble quantity and chuck it on.

Rhubarb crumble

1kg pink rhubarb to give at least 750g when chopped up into 1cm pieces
50g caster sugar
1T butter
1T good quality vanilla extract
1T cornflour
For the crumble topping
150g plain flour
1t baking powder
110g unsalted butter, cold and diced
3T vanilla sugar or ordinary sugar
3T demerara sugar

Preheat the oven to 190C, and put in a baking sheet to sit the crumble pie dish on.

Toss the sliced rhubarb in a pan on the heat with the sugar, butter, vanilla and cornflour for about 5 minutes until the butter has melted and everything oozed together.

Tip into a pie dish approximately 21cm diameter and 4cm deep. Increase the quantity of rhubarb if you are using a larger pan. You can do this in advance; and also make the crumble crumbs in advance as well and then assemble at the last minute when you are ready to put into the oven.

Put the flour and baking powder into a food processor (or use self raising flour and leave out the baking powder). Drop in the cold, diced butter and blast a few times till crumbs form like rough oatmeal. Chuck in the sugar and blast once to mix through. You can freeze the mixture or leave it in the fridge in a bag until you are ready to use it.

Assemble the crumble. Pour the crumble mix over the rhubarb. Place in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes on the baking sheet.

Serve with cream, vanilla icecream, yoghurt or whatever you prefer.

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