Cupboard Love

Week 35: Spaghetti and Tinned Plum Tomatoes

I know, it sounds like something from the menu at a motorway service station in 1987, but bear with me as it is possibly the tastiest meal I have cooked this year.

It’s the first recipe in the Cupboard Love book, and I’ve always swished straight past it to find something harder and more exotic; but this week I needed to cook something from what was in the cupboard (approximately nothing except for cornflour and a load of spices) after getting home late from work.

I was intrigued to try it after seeing a couple of programs on Food Network singing the praises of tinned tomatoes, so I thought this recipe would be the best one to see what the fuss was about.

To make this for two you will need: 200g spaghetti/linguine, a 400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes (posh ones if you like), 1 teaspoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons butter, 1 quarter teaspoon salt, 1 half teaspoon sugar, 2 garlic cloves, and some basil or sage leaves (but I didn’t have any)

First start the water boiling for the pasta, and while you wait get a colander / strainer (but not a sieve) and empty the tin of tomatoes into it.  Squash the tomatoes with your hands and mush them around until the juice has gone down the sink and you’re left with a tomato-ey pulp.

If you’re as clumsy as I am, you’ll also be left with a tomato splattered kitchen.  If you squeeze the tomatoes too hard they’ll squirt juice and pips everywhere, and your kitchen will look like the aftermath of the Red Wedding.  I’m still finding pips.

By the time you have wiped the worst of it off the kitchen window, the water should have come to a rolling boil, put the pasta in, and gently heat a heavy bottomed frying pan.  Add the oil and one teaspoon of butter, peel and break the garlic with the side of a knife/rolling pin.  When the butter has melted put the garlic in the frying pan and heat for 2 minutes, but not so the garlic goes brown.

Add the tomatoes, give it a good stir, then add the salt and sugar, and stir again.

spaghettitomato2

Leave the sauce on the gentle heat, fizzing but not bubbling (it’s hard to describe but pretty accurate) while the pasta finishes cooking.  When it’s done drain the pasta then return it to the pan and stir it round with a teaspoon of butter. Then tip the tomato sauce in, stir round, season and serve.  I had a bit of parmesan in the the fridge, so I grated it over the top and it was bloody lovely.

spaghettitomato3

If there was one meal I could eat day after day it would be this.  I’ll just paint my kitchen red.  Try it tonight!

 

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

cupboard love

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Week 27: Sapori Forti

So I slightly burned this the first time round, so I had another crack at it!

It’s been a couple of months since I tried something new from my trusty Cupboard Love book, and as my lover pointed out: a while since I’ve stirred something different into some pasta.  Sapori Forti translates as Strong Flavours, and I’d been glancing at the recipe in a quizzical fashion ever since Week 9 (http://wp.me/p42Dr4-T) and when this week’s New Recipe Night crept up on me I realised I had everything in the cupboard!

To make Sapori Forti for two you will need: 200g pasta (linguine or spiralli), 1 onion (thinly sliced), 2 garlic cloves, 4 or 5 anchovy fillets, 50g black olives, 1 tbs capers, 50g raisins, 1 tbs pine nuts, 1 tbs chopped mint/oregano and some extra virgin olive oil.

First up, pop the raisins in a bowl in some warm water; while these are plumping up finely chop the onion, chop the garlic, roughly chop the capers and the olives and measure out the tablespoon of pine nuts (because you’ll only forget them later, like I did)

Heat 2tbs of normal olive oil in a fairly wide pan and fry the onion and garlic for about 5 or 10 minutes until really softened (keep stirring, but a bit of browning is OK).   Set your pasta water boiling in a different pan.

When the onion is really soft turn the heat down and add the anchovies, cook until they disintegrate and melt into the onions.  While this is melting, put your pasta into the water and cook as recommended on the packet (if you’re the sort to make your own pasta or buy that posh fresh pasta that cooks really quickly, don’t do this for a few more minutes)

After the anchovies are cooked add the olives, capers, raisins, pine nuts and herbs and remove the pan from the heat.  Give it all a good stir and add the extra virgin olive oil, it sort of loosens up and the oil picks up the combined flavours.

When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pan – fold the sauce around the pasta and serve.

So the first time I tried it I somehow blackened it to a crisp – without actually burning it – but it tasted so good I had a second bash at it, with new less charred pictures.  I’m glad I did it’s one of the tastiest things I’ve made!  Open your copy of Cupboard Love to page 28 and have it tonight!

 

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

Week 15a: Thai Chickpea Curry

Those darn waxy potatoes taunting me again!

After the vegetable cutlets debacle (http://wp.me/p42Dr4-X) I went online to find out which potatoes were waxy and which weren’t – I was surprised to learn that there are so many!  Unfortunately, I was looking on the run up to Christmas, and the already limited choice of potatoes in Hammersmith was distinctly floury.

Then, I chanced upon a pack of Maris Peer potatoes in M&S Foodhall.  I pounced on them, and then bought them to avoid the angry stares of security.  Not wanting to try feeding my lover the cutlets again I remembered a different recipe in the Cupboard Love book:  Thai Chickpea Curry!

This curry uses garlic, fresh ginger, black pepper, vegetable oil, a medium sized waxy potato, madras curry powder, coconut milk, a tin of chickpeas, tomatoes, soy sauce, salt and sugar.  For once, I had most of the ingredients in, and the others weren’t hard to find.

Then I hit my only hurdle.  The recipe asked me to pound or blitz the ginger, pepper and ginger into a paste.  I didn’t have  pounder or a blitzer, but the waxy potatoes were mocking me, so I had to improvise:

My rolling pin and tin foil blitz-pounding-extravaganza!  It didn’t turn very paste-like, more like lumpy dust actually, but I had to improvise…

Like all wok-cooked curries, everything else gets lobbed in pretty quickly, and then it boils and simmers down, from this:

To this:

The tomatoes get put in for the last few minutes.  The recipe said to put in basil or coriander, but I didn’t have either (and it was the night before I escaped north for Christmas so I wasn’t going to get any in specially) so I left it out.

I have to say, it turned out delicious.

Thai Chickpea 5

I’ve made it three times now, and its turned out slightly differently every time.  The only problem I have with this curry is that what my body does to cheap eggs is nothing compared to what it can do to half a can of chickpeas.

I canvassed my friends and the various suggestions for making chickpeas less gassy included peeling the chickpeas (which I don’t fancy doing for a whole tin of them) adding parsley (which either stops the gas or makes it smell like parsley…?) or either cooking the chickpeas for longer or shorter (but my friend couldn’t remember which)

If anyone knows how to make chickpeas less ‘trumpy’ or knows a substitute that’s as tasty and comes in a handy 400g tin, please do not hesitate to post a comment below (No, seriously, please do – I can’t open my bedroom windows, I need a solution before I make it again)

But to end on a nicer note, I bought myself a little present before I cracked open the tinfoil to make it a third time:

My kitchen’s becoming high-tech!

(I meant to post this Christmas week, and I completely forgot – and now its the end of January… So Slack!)

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

Week 14: Crabby Noodles

Ladies and Gentlemen there is a dead crab in my kitchen.

It still has eyeballs.

crabbynoodles1

I called it Nigel.  I’ll admit I chickened out of getting one I’d need to wrestle into a pan of boiling water for a whistle-y death in my kitchen;  I got a dressed one instead.  One day, I’m sure I will commit crabicide – but not the first time I’ve cooked it!

I saw the Crabby Noodles in the Cupboard Love book on week 12 when I did the Thai Style Noodle Fry-Up – https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/week-12-a-thai-style-noodle-fry-up/ –  and thought it would be good to give it a go.

The recipe uses: rice stick noodles, chilli and garlic sauce, spring onions, courgette, Thai fish sauce, lime, and crab meat.

I got everything lined up ready like they do on the telly.  It was good to be organised, and I felt just like Nigella (however, I looked more like Mrs Craddock) – more importantly I could baff it all in the wok without having to panic.

It cooked so quickly I couldn’t really take any other pictures, until it was all bubbling at the end, as seen above!

I had a slight crab panic, because I didn’t know if I should save the spare meat for lunch the next day; or if it would kill me after being in the fridge so long.  So rather than die, I lobbed it all in and it was a little too crabby.  My lover said I should have put more courgette in, but if I’d got one any bigger it would have been a marrow.  I think next time I’ll just use the quantity the recipe asks for, and pop the rest in the freezer.

crabbynoodles2

When I have a bigger freezer, I’ll buy a few crabs at once and portion them off so I can make this quickly; but I’ll definitely make this again!

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

Available here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cupboard-Love-Most-Your-Kitchen/dp/0340835265

Week 12: A Thai Style Noodle Fry-Up

After the meatballs and cutlets didn’t turn out so well, I decided to do something very simple and quick.  So quick in fact, I spent longer chopping than cooking.  It’s been a few years since I last got my wok out, and I have never cooked rice noodles before.

Everything chopped and ready to wok – it felt a bit like cooking on TV but stir-frying is very fast and I’ve had them go wrong in the past when I’ve had to stop and chop something halfway through.  Above: chopped chillies, spring onions and garlic, beaten eggs and prepared sauce.

After doing the preparation you heat the wok and then put the eggs in.  The book said to start the egg as if you’re making an omelette – which made me laugh, because I’ve never made one before…

The omelette with the chillies, spring onions and garlic.

100g beansprouts – this was the only thing I wasn’t sure about, because I’ve only ever eaten shop prepared stir-fry before and I’m not a big fan of the beansprouts in them; however this recipe gives them time to wilt and soak up the sauce.  After this the noodles get added to the sauce and it’s on the table as quick as you like.

noodles4

It’s really tasty.  The only thing I don’t like about it  (which has more to do with what I don’t like about my local Sainsbury’s than the recipe) is that we have to eat it twice in a row if I’m only making it for two. The recipe needs 100g of beansprouts and the smallest pack I can get is 200g.

If you’re at a loss for something to spend your amazon vouchers on, I can’t recommend this book enough: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cupboard-Love-Most-Your-Kitchen/dp/0340835265 or if you have good old-fashioned cash your local Smiths/Bookshop will probably still have a copy on the shelf.  Mine came from the charity shop for £2.95!

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas (/Holidays) and a Happy New Year!

Cheers

Simon

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

Week 10: Vegetable Cutlets

I love burger night.  I actually love it.

However, I am aware that some of my friends would rather remain vegetarian than sample the delights of the usual beef burger I make… Not to worry: Cupboard Love to the rescue!

In all my years I have never eaten a veggie burger, so I was interested to see how it would taste.

I think the main problem was that my carrot was too big:

It sounds like a silly problem, but I’m pretty sure it made the mixture too wet.

It made them a bit too floppy, which made smothering them in polenta pretty difficult.  And they were still pretty floppy after they were cooked…

veg cutlets

I tried my best with them, but ultimately they weren’t very nice so won’t be something I make again.

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

Week 9: Linguine with Sardines, Anchovies and Parsley

Don’t laugh:  My Lover is scared of fish.  No, really.

As a result, I have never cooked a piece of fish that wasn’t either: covered in batter or breadcrumbs, and shaped like a finger.

He’ll eat fish, but it can’t look like fish – i.e. it shouldn’t really have bones, can’t have skin and mustn’t have a head… which sort of narrows it down.

I found this recipe in the Cupboard Love book, I think the bit that attracted me was that the fish gets cut up really small, and then mashed… No way that bad boy’s going to look like a fish.

To feed two people you will need: 200g Linguine or Spaghetti, 1 garlic clove, 3 anchovy fillets, half a teaspoon of crushed chilli (I use chilli flakes – it might be the same), the juice of half a lemon, 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, 1 tin of sardines in olive oil, salt and pepper, parsley to finish (I did this once, then never again – its messy)

Step one, finely chop the garlic clove and the anchovy fillets – you don’t have to de-bone the fillets because they’ll dissolve in the lemon juice, but I get the ones that poke out.  Once chopped put them in a bowl with the chilli, lemon juice and olive oil, and leave it for about half an hour.

After about twenty minutes boil your pasta water and drain the sardines.  Cook the pasta as directed on the packet, as soon as the pasta is in the pan put the sardines in the bowl and mush it up with a fork.  It should now look slightly like cat food:

Yum.  Drain the pasta, then stir the ‘sauce’ in with the pasta in the pan, season with salt and pepper, and serve with.

sardines linguine

It was really easy to make, and it’s very, very tasty.  I’d never had sardines or anchovy before, so I wasn’t totally sure what to expect – but I’m really glad I took the dive and gave it a go.

It takes about five minutes to cut everything up – and then about half an hour to infuse, with the pasta cooking  in 10 minutes . A perfect  dinner for after work.  I’ve made it two more times and not made any alterations to the recipe.

Try it tonight!

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

Week 5: Penne with Gorgonzola and Walnuts

Week 5!

After the success of Burger Night I thought I’d try another pasta dish, so out came the Cupboard Love book again.  I love a bit of stinky French Cheese, so I was hoping for beautiful things from this dish.

Maybe I didn’t get the right Gorgonzola, but it just didn’t taste how I thought it would – it was very rich but just lacked any real flavour (other than the sage) but I think it would be good with a big chunk of meat…

pasta gorgonzola

The recipe says that I can “up the ante tastewise… by adding a sprig of thyme or a scant grating of nutmeg”.  If I try making it again I might try that, and less/no sage – but I don’t know if I’ll make it again.

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

Week 4. Burger Night!

Who here hasn’t tossed a burger?

I must have flipped a million of them while I worked at McDonalds, but I’d never made my own.  I was having a lazy week, and while I spent the week planning to cook something else for New Recipe Night I opted for a basic, no-nonsense hamburger recipe from the Cupboard Love book.

It’s very simple.  It’s beef mince.  I went to my local butcher for some good quality mince and got stuck in and was so impressed by the burgers – I have introduced ‘burger night’ into most weeks.

burger night

To make four burgers you will need 500g of beef mince, half a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of black pepper.  Nothing else.

Combine the mince with the salt and pepper, and form in to burgers about 2mm thick.  Heat a heavy based frying pan/griddle and put the burgers on when it is searing hot.  Cook each side for about 6 minutes which leaves them a little pink in the middle – which is just perfect.

The hardest bit off this recipe is timing the oven chips and toasting the bun so everything is ready to serve at once.

I used normal white flowery baps from Sainsbury’s, lightly toasted on the cut side, oven chips (Tom Norrington-Davies recommends oven chips, although he provides a recipe if you absolutely must make your own; however I prefer Aunt Bessie’s) a slice of mature cheese from Sainsbury’s (I go for the Taw  Valley strength 4, or normal strength 5 cheddar) and some Scandinavian mustard that I picked up at the Scandi Kitchen (but French’s squirty mustard would do too).

It’s really filling and a firm favourite over the last few weeks.  Just a word about the meat you use though – I get mine from the butcher who minces it from a bit of meat while you wait (so as not to have a load of mince sat around) and when it fries there is no splatter and it has a really deep beefy flavour.  The other week I got caught out by the butcher having half day closing on Thursday and had to get the mince from the supermarket and the burgers shrank because of all the water added and as the water left the meat it splattered all over my kitchen, and didn’t taste very nice.  If you can, go to the butcher – the price is more or less the same and it’s much much tastier.

Sure burgers aren’t healthy in the classic sense of the word, but these are much better for you than buying ready made ones, or from a takeaway, so give it a go and add Burger Night to your week!

 

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

cupboard love

Week 1. Pasta with Eggs and Bacon (Carbonara)

For my first New Recipe Night I decided to make something quick.

One of the key reasons I introduced New Recipe Night was to find tasty new meals to make during the week, rather than spending all night on dinner.

cupboard love

I first bought Cupboard Love for my mother, mostly because I thought she’d like the idea of making simple but tasty meals from things in your larder.  She wasn’t keen and I don’t think she’s ever actually used it.  I got my copy about six months’ later from a charity shop, and it’s one of the few books I own that I’d actually cooked from… but only two recipes!

The first recipe chapter is Pasta, and that’s where I decided to start.  At the bottom of page 25 is a recipe called Pasta with Egg and Bacon (Carbonara) The recipe says “The speed and ease with which this meal comes together is something I’ve never managed to get blase about.  Make it tonight.” so I did.

I won’t lie to you, I was surprised at how quickly it was ready.  One moment the pasta was boiling and I was stirring egg yolks and frying bacon, the next I was stirring everything into the drained pasta and it was off to the table.  Wham!

pasta eggs and bacon

It was very very tasty.  It was a little richer than I’m used to; which is unsurprising considering the amount of egg yolks and butter and cheese that go into it… but I would definitely make it again.

The only downside to the recipe is it requires three egg yolks for two servings – and I didn’t like to waste the whites so I ended up hand-whisking meringues at 9pm… but on spare-yolks-day I would not hesitate to make this for a quick lunch/dinner.

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)