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“There is no sauce in the world like hunger.”

Miguel de Cervantes

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Entries in pepper (7)

Thursday
Jul072016

Babatunde's jollof rice with chicken

I have an affinity for West African people. Whenever I find myself attracted to a person of African descent, they inevitably turn out to be (a) Nigerian or (b) Ghanaian. At the risk of making a sweeping generalisation based on the behaviour of 3 ex-partners, the downside of this is that they are near impossible to pin down for any kind of social arrangement. The upside is that when they finally do commit, there is bound to be jollof rice on the table. I can live with that.

Jollof rice is perhaps the most popular dish in West Africa. You will find it at every large social gathering and small ones too. In Nigeria, you can even get it as a side dish at KFC.

It is said to have originated in Senegambia and to be named after the Wolof tribe, but like any such claims when it comes to food, this is fiercely debated by other West African nations. I have heard a Ghanaian and a Nigerian argue for almost an hour about where jollof rice is really from and who makes it best (their mums, of course).

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Sunday
Mar242013

Dad’s Provençal Seafood Soup

 

Continuing the French theme, here is my Dad’s take on a Provençal fish soup or stew. It's similar to a bourride, using many of the same aromatics, but without the egg yolks. Also, a traditional bourride is usually just fish, but Dad uses a range of seafood.

I asked him to send me the recipe, which was characteristically vague – a pinch of this, a slug of that, “loadsa garlic”. Having eaten it many times when I was younger I was able to guesstimate, but I have tried to make it more user-friendly for you. However, there are some things that are hard to quantify and that are really up to you. For example, the amount of stock depends on the consistency you want; how much saffron depends on the quality of the saffron and how much you like the taste of it; what seafood you use is up to you, which means it is hard for me to give accurate cooking times.

I made this for my flatmates a few weeks ago and they both thought it was fab. I didn’t think it was quite as good as Dad’s, but then these things never are when you try to replicate them, are they?

“What do you think is missing?” asked Jen.

“I don’t know. A little bit of love?”

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Tuesday
Aug212012

Silvena Rowe's Smoked Aubergine Salad with Hibiscus Salt

I first tried this recipe when holidaying in Spain. Our very dear family friends Gayle and Gilpin have a lovely house in the arid, mountainous region of the Alicante province. I was lucky enough to be invited along to the 2012 congregation of the Lippy Witches Cauldron – an annual celebration of three of my favourite things: cooking, eating and drinking good wine.

On our first evening we were on the food and wine appreciation committee (no cooking, just consuming). Lippy witch Jools and husband Trev cooked up a range of delicious salads, exactly what I felt like after a typically unpleasant Ryan air flight and a stuffy car ride full of wrong turns and familial bickering. My favourite was this salad from Silvena Rowe’s Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume.

Trev wasn’t so sure. Rowe writes in her introduction to the recipe that “The smell of charred aubergines – nutty, smoky and caramelised – is seductive, and that’s what makes this salad what it is.” Trev lost this element because he roasted the aubergines rather than charring them on an open flame. Still, it was a huge success with all the judges and delicious enough to inspire me to make it again – this time with charred aubergines, which did take it to another level.

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Friday
Jun102011

Tapas no.4: Ensalada Campera from Movida Rustica

 

Next up is a dish that may seem a bit simple to some, but it is one of my favourite things to order on a hot day in Spain and I was so pleased when I was reminded of it. When talking potato salad in the UK or Oz, most people think mayonnaise. Of course, mayonnaise has its place – indeed in Spain Ensalada Rusa, a potato salad which has more mayonnaise than it does potato is very popular – but in the height of summer it is this light and fresh salad of potatoes dressed in vinegar and olive oil that win my heart and apparently Camorra’s too,

“Mum would always have a potato salad in the fridge over summer: roughly cut potatoes, ripe tomatoes, onions, olives and a little egg. A little plate of this makes a great lunch on a hot day.”

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Tuesday
May312011

Tapas no.1: Russian Roulette with Movida Rustica

I recently revisited a recipe book that has been sitting on my shelf for over a year but which I have never actually made anything from. This is not unusual; many of my recipe books only serve the purpose of making me hungry every now and then when I am silly enough to flick through them on an empty stomach.

When I started the blog I resolved to try out more new things. Instead of just using my recipe books for inspiration and then going off on my own tangent in the kitchen, I thought I should make an effort to try out the original recipe first time. In the process, I have become more open to new ideas. I have come to respect traditional recipes more, rather than trying to make things more interesting, namely by adding more of the things I like.

So when I flicked through Movida Rustica: Spanish Traditions and Recipes, apart from making myself very hungry – I resolved to make some of the wonderful tapas dishes that Frank Camorra discovered on the year he “travelled around Spain researching recipes from the Spanish people, from the chefs of Madrid to the widows of Galicia”.

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