~ pertelote ~

June 2003

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The Making of a Marchioness, Francis Hodgson Burnett
No more birthday cake ever again
Blue Moon

Friday 27th June

I do want to apologise for being useless... the truth is that this new job is absorbing some of the spare time and energy that used to go into this - not just writing things up but actually planning, shopping, preparing food. I'll sort myself out soon. The other part of my excuse is the summer... I haven't had the motivation to cook anything interesting. Example: last night, we ate melon (canteloupe); ham (San Daniele); peppers (roasted). Plus some fresh basil and a lot of lovely olive oil. Very delicious, but more about shopping extravagantly than cooking imaginatively.

Thursday 19th June

A small moment of calm in the middle of May Week, if only to prove to myself that watching this hasn't made me too paranoid to ever host a dinner party again. So the asparagus tartlets were aesthetically pleasing, at least (I went for the rectangular/sardines arrangement rather than deal with circles) - though the poached quail's eggs weren't, really. I still like the idea, though... I just need practice. The involtini - vegetarian main course - were fab: slices of aubergine rolled around an Italian stuffing (pine nuts, capers, basil, mozarella) into fat little bundles, and baked in tomato sauce. Dessert was fresh goat's cheese with nectarines, which also needs refinement - the cheese was lovely but perhaps not as softly fresh as it might have been - sometimes they are almost as light as yoghurt.

Wednesday 18th June

Things to stack on bruschetta - yes, thank you, when it is this hot it is perfectly acceptable to make dinner out of a loaf of ciabatta and a bag of salad - onions fried with balsamic vinegar and a tiny bit of brown sugar; thin slices of a nice fat tomato that has been sitting in the sun all day; crumbled-up goat's cheese; and a good scattering of basil. A bit of a classic, that.

Thursday 12th June

Oh, I'm sorry! There's been a lot of work and a lot of summer, and not much cooking: but here is a (yet another?) nice light, summery pasta dish of rocket and ricotta. It starts with spring onions instead of the usual brown - not sure it makes that much difference, but they are nice and green. Fry them off with some garlic and a little chilli. Cook the pasta and when it is nearly done, add some vegetables: fresh peas if you are blessed with a garden; failing that, frozen ones; maybe some asparagus tips. Those should be ready at the same time as the pasta, so that you can drain them together and toss them with the onion. Stir in the grated zest of a lemon, two good dollops of ricotta and a good handful of rocket leaves, plus a squeeze of the lemon juice. A bit of parmesan would be no bad thing but some shaved pecorino would be even better. Worth waiting eight days for? Depends how hungry you were.

Wednesday 4th June

Just another variation on a theme, really - I've decided that avocados go with anything pink. Last week smoked trout, this week avocado and prawn salad, with a gorgeously gloopy dill dressing (I think it was just the high proportion of mustard and lemon juice to oil - about 2tsp:1 lemon:2tbsp - which made it so thick). I suppose you do probably need more than two examples before making such a generalisation: so Exhibit C is bacon - but I'm sure it doesn't end there. Watch this space...

Monday 2nd June

Braving the grill, I rolled lamb fillets in ground-up ras el hanout and grilled for ten minutes or so - some were more successfully pink than others. Then the couscous was a little confused, with harissa, apple and coriander. But the fruit went quite nicely, I think, with the rose petals - which are in the harissa as well as the ras el hanout spice mix.