oh my, this is such a delicious plate of umami flavours. spaghetti dressed with a carbonara-inspired sauce of egg yolk, asian fish sauce and chilli sauce is mixed with crispy breadcrumbs that have been fried with plenty of garlic, anchovies and chilli flakes. add lots of black pepper, some parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice for freshness plus a drizzle of some grassy olive oil. demolish the pile of pasta and then lick your plate clean.
Entries in anchovies (8)
i really enjoyed making this tart – after another couple of weeks away from home it was the perfect thing to spend time on and to get me resettled in my kitchen.
it’s a rowley leigh recipe and was meant to have anchovies on as the finishing touch. this was a large part of what drew me to it but which i couldn’t include as the tin i had (smoked anchovies which it took me an age to track down just before we left london - brindisa at borough market occasionally stock them, in case you also want some) exploded as i opened it and i didn’t want to risk eating them in case they had gone off. the smell of smokey fish oil that was all over my face and clothes also put me off.
however that’s not the point of this dish - the pleasure for me came with slowly making it. taking my time to make pastry; to slowly cook fennel until it softened; to slice tomatoes, salt and then dry them so they wouldn’t make the tart soggy. slowly assembling the tart – pasty thick enough to handle and not worry about it splitting; fennel pureed with cream and egg yolks which is then baked in the pastry case until is develops a gentle custard texture; laying out the sliced tomatoes on the tart and then finishing it with basil leaves and a drizzle of grassy olive oil.
i don’t think it’s a perfect recipe – the pastry was a little soggy as i didn’t check it had cooked through enough as part of the blind-baking (this was when the anchovy incident occurred and i had to take a quick shower); i’d probably roast the tomatoes next time so that their flavour is even more concentrated; and of course there are the missing anchovies.
still, it was a pleasure to make and a pleasure to eat – the mild creamy fennel flavour and the sharpness of the tomatoes work really well together and i’ve enjoyed eating the leftovers – scooping the filling out of the pastry case and spreading it on rye crackers. which in turn prompts thoughts of vegetable pates of other sorts – perhaps something to try on another day.
david often jokes about the simplicity of nigel slater’s approach to food – “...nothing quite matches picking a tomato and eating an apple. i do this twice today. the first time at about 9:30; the second just before lunch when i bring a large and knobbly costoluto fiorentino inside and slice it thinly. no pepper, no oil, a very little salt. no bread either, just a great, fat, gloriously ripe tomato. if only lunch could always be as simple as this”* and so i was amused to read the descriptor that accompanied this recipe, where nigel explains it is a simple dish which he eats weekly in the summer.
so, how did i get on?
a fridge full of past their best vegetables prompted a chopping and roasting session the other day. instead of mixing everything up i decided to keep everything separate – aubergine cubes, courgette batons, tomato quarters and strips of pepper – so that i could use things up in different dishes rather than rely on the ubiquitous, and quickly-boring-if-you-have-as-much-stuff-as-i-did roasted vegetables.
i had a real craving for something spicy and tangy last night so decided to make a puttanesca style dish but used roasted aubergine in place of tomatoes.
it was wonderfully quick to pull together – i fried some sliced garlic, chopped chilli and anchovies (optional if you are veggie) then added chopped capers and kalamata olives plus my aubergines. a glug of white wine and some seasoning were the final touches and, because the aubergines were already cooked, it only took 10 minutes to make.
the result was really good – i love the richness of roasted aubergines and this worked perfectly with the puttanesca flavourings. if it hadn’t been the day before my vegetable box was delivered, and my cupboards were less bare, i’d have added some lemon zest and chopped parsley too.
i can’t quite believe april is almost here. however, it does make (very clichéd) sense of the very strong cravings that i’ve been having for lamb.
i have a leg of lamb in the freezer which will make an appearance over easter but in the meantime i’ve returned to an old favourite – slow cooked neck of lamb. neck is a good value cut and if it is cooked long and slow it becomes meltingly tender.
i put the lamb, sliced onions and garlic into a foil parcel with rosemary, preserved lemon and a glug of white wine and then cooked it as noted here. this was served with roasted pumpkin and feta (pumpkin is tossed with olive oil, chilli flakes, salt & pepper before cooking, crumbled feta added for the final 10 mins of cooking) and sassoun.
i read about sassoun in a recent copy of cuisine and was instantly reminded of agresto, a zingy walnut-based paste which i love. sassoun uses almonds in place of walnuts, and mixes them with anchovies, herbs, fennel and olive oil. it works wonderfully with lamb and i will definitely make this again but with one change from the original recipe – i’ll add some lemon zest, and possibly a bit of lemon juice, to lift the flavours so they are even more spring-like.