Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Some Tasty Tidbits


The Pipistrellos know how to keep occupied
Ravi Zupa screen print, Thrilling, 2020

Dear Reader, it has been utterly remiss of me to neglect the something-to-eat creed of this blog, so you must be positively starving by now! These neglectful tendencies do come from being thoroughly distracted by the cardboard box we've been stuffing ourselves in during these days of No Fun Allowed, for Thrills can always be found around the casa. Anyway, all that is officially behind us (again) as from today, so after a trip to the shoppes for some ingredients, I can now supply some tasty tidbits. 

Behold, dinner tonight:

Chilli con Carne
nota bene: Artist's Impression

As ever, the finished result lacks the vibrant colouring of the suggested photographic rendering in the recipe book but experience informs us that we've made this many times and it's always delicious, so allowances must be made for what inevitably ends up on the plate. Unlike over at Dear Brother's place, we've not the Master Chef flourishes around here.

It was Mr. P's idea for chilli con carne. I'd had in mind a batch of  Romanesque fagioli, and had been soaking some borlotti and cannellini beans for this purpose when Mr. P declared he wished otherwise. For added vits & mins, I tossed in some English spinach, and was able to use the leftover stock and dripping from some oxtail I'd slow-cooked in a bottle of red wine for an, ahem, beefed up macaroni & cheese last week. Also delicious!

Macaroni & cheese with oxtail is not the only variation on the nursery norm found around here, for it also occasionally gets made with crab meat when I want to get super fancy. (You can see where on the beast the oxtail purports to come from, in the illustration above.)

In other one-dish delights, the season for Brussels sprouts spaghetti carbonara is now over, for it is Spring in this neck o' the woods. Bucatini carbonara is another legacy recipe from Ol' Boyfriend Marco, but as the humble Brussels sprout is a brassica close to my heart, I/we adore this variation with sautéed shredded sprouts alongside the requisite cured porky bit* that is found kicking around the bottom of the fridge. 

The Humble Sprout, a.k.a. Pipistrello's Favourite Vegetable
Christine Stephenson watercolour

While this adored winter vegetable is over for this year, I did chance upon a couple of bunches of something unmarked but green and healthy-looking a few weeks ago at our local weekend growers' market and tossed them into the basket without even enquiring into their bona fides. Imagine my surprise and delight when, upon cooking, the mystery green proved to be broccoletti! 

Quelle surprise! Broccoletti!

This divine bitter green from the brassica family was a seasonal staple in my in-law's vegetable patch, the seeds for which were originally smuggled over from Italy decades earlier in someone's luggage**. We never see it in our local greengrocery, so in Normal Circumstances, it necessitates a journey by aeroplane to visit Brother-In-Law, who diligently grows it.

For why do I buy unlabelled greenery? I've been on & off making weekly batches of what I call Covid-Greens these past two years, as partly of my housewifely prophylactic ministrations, and which variously come in the shape of dandelion, milk thistle, kale in its variations, or any other unidentifiable weedy greens that can be found. They get some decent wilting then get sautéed with the usual suspects: aglio/olio/peperoncino and sometimes some anchovy because I can't help myself, and make a delicious (and sometimes rather obvious) bit of veg on the side. Well, delicious in the world of Pipistrello.

So what else is on the plate at the moment? I can tell you oysters are pretty divine right now, and navel oranges and grapefruit are a gift from the gods (and there are some Seville oranges also kicking around in the fridge awaiting my marmalading them, for I have promised that after last year's slothful approach to home preserving, I cannot pass another year without home-made marmalade), and mandarins are pulling out all stops with the fancy Dekapons and Afourers now becoming commonplace.

But in the one-a-day department, the newest and tastiest apple on the block is the diminutive Rockit. Not much bigger than a crab apple, and crisp and delicious, and so adorable. Just look at them:

Tiny little Rockits

Cuter than a cat in a cardboard box!

* I no longer pretend my home curing of a bit of pork belly is going to be bacon, for it always finishes up as a dead ringer for pancetta, which is more versatile in my book, anyway, and lasts an age if you forget it's there.

** Most likely hidden in socks or knickers, if the apocryphal tales are to be believed.

Image credits: 1: RaviZupa.com; 2, 6: Flying With Hands; 3: via Pinterest; 4: PaintingsOfPlants.com; 5: AllThingsSicilianAndMore.com

Bats In The Belfry