a weekend of food


somehow this last weekend felt like the first proper weekend of the year. there was no need to recover from the first week back at work (a new job for me so all the new girl stuff to work out well) and no more dealing with the dregs of holiday food. a fully stocked fridge-freezer and cupboards bursting at the seams makes 2007 feel like it’s up and running.


we’ve had great food this weekend. the picture above is roast belly pork that david and i had for supper on saturday - the layer of juniper berries, fennel seeds, garlic, olive oil, lemon zest and juice between the crackling and the meat imbued it with fantastic flavours. we had it with roasted fennel and courgette which worked really well.

today we had friends round for lunch and as i’ve just bought georgio locatelli’s made in italy (which i am very excited about!) i had to try out some of his recipes. i actually used a recipe he published in the guardian for panettone bread and butter pudding as the starting point and chose a light main course from there (we were playing mah jong so snacks were how we started).


two antipasti recipes caught my eye – caponata (adapted recipe below, abstract photo at the top) and green bean salad with roasted red onion and parmesan.


we had piles of these two fantastic salads with roasted chicken thighs which were flavoured by a pesto of parsley, orange zest and juice, lemon zest and juice and garlic. the orange flavour was what came to the fore and was superb – i shall definitely try this again (it was a whim to use up an orange that had been sitting in the kitchen for too long). piles of warm ciabatta completed the menu.

it’s good to be back in my kitchen, cooking properly, happy 2007!

caponata (serves 8 as a side)

for the dressing:

8 tablespoons red wine vinegar

150ml olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato passata

2 tablespoons caster sugar

2 aubergines, cut into 2cm cubes, salted and left to drain in a colander

3 courgettes, halved lengthways and cut into 2cm chunks

1 bulb fennel, cut into 2cm chunks

olive oil

1 large onion, cut into 2cm chunks

6 tomatoes, cut into 2cm chunks

bunch basil

50g toasted pine nuts

make the dressing and place it in a large mixing bowl.

heat the oven to 200c. in a large dish mix the aubergine, courgette and fennel with a few tablespoons olive oil, making sure everything is coated. roast until the vegetables are soft and starting to colour – c45 minutes.

meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and fry the onion over a low heat until it softens but doesn’t colour. add to the dressing with the chopped tomatoes.

add the roasted vegetables and half the basil, seasoning well. cover with clingfilm and leave to “steam” as the vegetables cool. apparently this allows the vegetables to develop sweet-and-sour flavour that caponata should have.

before serving (at room temperature) add the rest of the basil and the toasted pine nuts.