Imagine a room lit only by an overhead light. Facing each other off across a dining table are 1977’s The A-Z of Cooking and me. With a flourish worthy of a hot stepping disco move straight out of Saturday Night Fever, the A-Z of Cooking, looking like a young and studly John Travolta places a dish of pasta onto the table, right into the beam of light.
“I’m calling it Spaghetti Etcetera” It says, with a sneer worthy of a Sex Pistol flipping the bird to the Queen.
I stare at the pasta. “Looks good”
“Good it tastes too” says the A-Z of Cooking which has now transformed into Yoda.
“But I will take your Spaghetti Etcetera and top it with an egg. And I will call it Spaghetti Eggcetera”.
“I’m not finished with you” says The A_Z of Cooking and slinks away with all the dignity of the King of Rock and Roll, Mr Elvis Presley dying on a toilet.
And that my friends, is how I defeated 1977 in the battle of “Let’s Give a Plate of Pasta The Most Stupid Name Ever”.
Spaghetti Etcetera is from the Informal Suppers Chapter of The A-Z. Which is maybe why they chose such a lackadaisical name. Then again, the other recipes in the chapter aren’t called Pizza with Stuff on it, Pork Whatever or Who Gives A Toss Potato Salad so who knows what the thought behind this name was.
Regardless of the silly name it is delicious.!
The Etcetera is bacon, black olives, mushrooms, anchovies, onions,garlic and parsley. Otherwise known as the Magnificent Seven of good things to have with pasta. This was a really quick and easy weeknight supper- you can make the topping whilst the pasta cooks so you can go from fridge to table in around 20 minutes! Top with a mix of Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and some chilli flakes, you have a delicious dish!
It’s so good – salty crispy bacon, salty and briny olives, earthy, silky mushrooms, sweet caramelised onions and garlic, fresh and bright parsley with some umami depth from the anchovies. Add some bite from the chilli, some more umami and a touch of creaminess from the Parmesan and you have a dish jam packed full of flavour!
But if you want to take to an entirely new level, why not add an egg and turn it into a Spaghetti Eggcetera?
I used a fried egg but a poached egg would work just as well. I am also about to experiment with steaming eggs which I think would work really well here too. Alternatively, if you are runny yolk phobic, you could crack the entire egg into the hot, drained spaghetti, a la Carbonara, so the heat from the spaghetti cooks the egg. It will taste delicious, but will not look as pretty. Also don’t read the next sentence. Come back after the photo for the recipe.
Okay, now those weirdo’s scared of runny eggs are gone, can I tell the rest of you that breaking into that yolk and then mixing it through the cheese and bacon and mushrooms is a thing of beauty and has an almost addictive joy to it.
A super tasty, super speedy pasta dish, perfect for a weeknight supper.
Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon, anchovy fillets and onions in the oil until caramelised around ten minutes.
Add the garlic, mushrooms and parsley, cover and cook for another five minutes until the mushrooms are cooked through.
Whilst the mushrooms are cooking poach or fry your eggs, leaving the egg yolk runny.
When the spaghetti is cooked, drain it well, return to the pan and stir through the bacon and mushroom.
Serve onto four plates, top with the egg
Garnish with Parmesan cheese, chilli flakes and fresh parsley.
Don't worry if you do not like anchovies, they break down leaving absolutely no fishy taste at all.
Runny egg phobics - break your eggs into the drained spaghetti at step 5, just before adding the bacon and mushrooms. The heat from the spaghetti will cook the eggs as you stir the ingredients through.
By Taryn Fryer
Adapted from The A-Z of Cooking
Adapted from The A-Z of Cooking
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
I’m skipping the next chapter because it’s Jam and I am not much of a jam eater let alone maker. Never fear though, I’m not completely ignoring the letter J. Because coming up sometime in the not too distant future will be a meal – Just For Two. The selections here are all pretty good – there’s a pepper steak, hamburgers, tuna provencal, sesame chicken and gammon with pineapple and corn sauce. Who knows where we will land on that. Stay tuned and have a lovely weekend!
Hello friends, today I am bringing you a fairy tale in the guise of a song. A song of the sea. Which as anyone of a certain generation will tell you, can only mean one thing. Not only are we taking a second dip into the Frozen Food Shortcuts Section of the A-Z of Cooking but also into one of my childhood favorites and guilty pleasures as a grown up. Yes, Fish Fingers are on the menu! Yayyyy!!!!
But not just plain fish fingers.. No way. The A-Z of Cooking and I are jointly acting as the Fish Fingers’ fairy godmother and getting them ready for the Royal Ball. Or, slightly closer to their humble roots, maybe the Over 40’s singles night at the local piano bar.
Before we continue, for my American readers a fish finger is what you more prosaically call a fish stick. It’s so sad that you are missing out one of the best things about fish fingers. Which is messing about with small children’s minds – just watch the total look of bafflement when you tell them for the first time they are having fish fingers for dinner. Even the boldest will pause. “But…fish don’t have fingers.” Opportunity lost, America.
So, what does joint fairy God Mother, The A-Z of cooking have in store for our fishy Cinderella? Well the name of the post might have spoiled the surprise but it’s bacon. Which is almost cheese-like in its ability to make anything taste better! Nice move, A-Z of Cooking!
The idea is quite simple. Wrap your fish finger in bacon.
If the bacon forms the Pumpkin Coach, then the Glass Slippers are my spicy tartare sauce. ( I only just now realised some places in the world call this tartar sauce. In my world tartar is something gross that grows on your teeth. So I’m sticking with tartare for my sauce).
My tartare sauce is a fairly fluid recipe, the only absolutes are mayo and a slug of Tabasco sauce. The other ingredients utterly depend on what I have in the pantry or fridge.
It can include any of the following:
Chopped Pickled Jalapenos
Chopped Red Onion
Finally, lightly toast two pieces of bread. Spread one slice liberally with your tartare sauce.
Place some crisp lettuce leaves on the other slice.
Once cooked, to your liking, place your Fish and Bacon Whirls on the slice of bread with the tartare. Sandwich together and voila!
This can be pulled together in under 5 minutes, the cost is minimal, and Captain Birdseye assures me that my fish fingers are made from sustainably farmed Hoki.
He’s suspiciously silent on what that iridescent orange coating is made from – I’m fairly sure it’s nothing from this planet. Hey, maybe that’s what the new X-Files is about.
Here is the original recipe from the A-Z of Cooking:
I think we’ve done a good job of prettying her up.
As a group we decided that our December book club option would be “healthy”. We had three options to choose from – a gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free dessert book – yeah I know…why bother right? The second was tempting. It was a book espousing the benefits of the alkaline diet. I was utterly sold on the health benefits then I read that the book was endorsed by Victoria Beckham. I refuse to take recipe endorsements from someone who looks like they haven’t eaten in the last 15 years, so, the only choice for me this time round was
Plus, I have a teeny tiny secret crush on Pete…just try take a deep look into those baby blue eyes and tell me I’m wrong. Bad move. You would have had a much better chance to point out that the mouthwateringly super delicious kebab he’s holding is made from beef heart. Yecchhh…
Come back Posh Spice, all is forgiven.
Then again, he has lovely white teeth too.
So, via a process of reasoning that was basically…I’d rather eat the pages of the book..posh spice…you’re hot…I’m going paleo. And in the words of those modern-day philosophers George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley
If you’re gonna do it, do it right”
I’m doing this all the way. Two weeks of paleo meals should be enough for me to judge the book and the diet. And you know paleo should be easy, it’s meat and veggies right?. Which is pretty much what I already eat. This is going to be great!!!! I can’t wait…
One Week Ago
Dear Paleo Diary,
You don’t mind of I call you Pete do you? It makes feel like I’m actually talking to you. Ok, now I don’t want to sound like some whiny little bitch right from the start but I thought this was supposed to be meat and veggies.
So how come I have just spent a small fortune buy a ton of stuff, some of which I had never ever heard of?
Slippery Elm Powder
Pau D’arco Capsules
They refused to sell me the magnesium chloride I needed for the cashew turmeric spread. They said they sell it as bath salts and they could not condone me eating it.
WTF Pete? Seriously. What? The? Fuck?
And for the love of hopscotching Jesus:
Do you have any idea how much all that is going to cost? And that’s just for the muesli.
If I turn over the next page and you tell me I also need to buy quinoa, I’m going to find you and punch you right in your pearlywhite teeth.
Once for the quinoa. Once for calling your daughter Chilli. Can we all just get over the foodie people naming their children after ingredients? They’re children. Not recipe inspirations.
My shopping bill for the week is DOUBLE what is normally is. But my seeds and nuts are soaking for my muesli and crackers.
I’m on top of this.
I did buy another book on Paleo because I found your breakfast and work lunch options a little limited. Also, I looked into making some of your cultured or fermented vegetables. They take a minimum of two weeks to ferment so that’s not happening. I have some kimchi in my fridge. That will have to do.
Getting worried. How will I survive without my basic food groups – cheese, chocolate and chickpeas? What about booze? Is that Paleo? Surely those cavemen were fermenting something? And now we come to one of the problems I am having with this Paleo diet thing. Everyone seems to have their own idea of what is and isn’t allowed.
A couple of sites I looked at were kind of ambivalent about alcohol. They were a little bit like…well, you really shouldn’t but if you feel you must then some choices are more Paleo than others. Other sites? Absolutely forbid it. Vis a Vis:
Really, annoyingly same with the buckwheat which is now soaking for my crackers and muesli….
Pete, you gobshite,
I already hate this. And it’s only Day One. Woke up dying for a cup of coffee.
Coffee is another one of those yes / no / maybe items on Paleo.
I had bought almond milk for my muesli so I was good for the dairy.
Turns out coffee with almond milk and no sugar sucks. Bye bye coffee, it was fun knowing you.
I put my crackers in the oven, where they needed to cook for 6-8 hours and tootled off to Body Balance class. BTW – they looked disgusting. Overnight they had gone all gelatinous and gloopy. See the photo above.
Back from Body Balance and quite hungry. However, my crackers still have another seven hours to cook and don’t get me started on the muesli.
A slice of ham
Half an avocado
The muesli is a hot mess. Pete, you say to dry the soaked nuts and seeds with paper towel or a dish cloth. Problem is, the chia has gone all to jelly and sticks to everything Eventually I decide to put the nuts in the oven with the crackers to dry them out,
A slice of ham
Half an avocado
A handful of almonds.
The crackers are done and they are awesome. The muesli ingredients are still wet. Decision time. I can cook some Paleo muffins from the other book so I will have something for breakfast tomorrow.
But then the nuts will need to come out of the oven because they need to cook at 50º. And the muffins need to cook at a normal temperature.
Nuts out, muffins in. If sounds like some vague sexual innuendo so be it. I’m too hungry to care.
The muffins are good. Well they would have been, if I could have tasted them. I ate the first one so quickly I burnt all my taste buds off.
Have started making the Lamb Harira which will be my lunch for the next few days. Quelle surprise the buckwheat needs to soak overnight and the soup needs to cook for four hours.
NOT. FUCKING. HAPPENING.
The buckwheat is going to soak for considerably less than that. At which time it will be added to the soup. According to some websites I shouldn’t even be eating it anyway. The only reason I’m even bothering with it is that I had to buy it specially so there is no way I’m not using it.
The harira is ready. It’s a bit more like a stew than a soup, I think the buckwheat sucked up some of the liquid. Tastes pretty damn good though. Mind you, a wet paper bag would taste good about now.
The m****er f***king muesli is still not dry.
I’m fed up and I’m going to bed.
Best thing I’ve eaten all day was the muffins. And they came from the other book.
Bastard. I hate you. And your baby blue eyes.
PS. They say one the side effects of the Paleo diet is a certain crankiness. Thank goodness I haven’t experienced anything like that and I am still my sweet and sunny self.
Have a fabulous week. And eat some cheese and hummus for me!!!
Paleo Breakfast Muffins
Paleo friendly breakfast muffins, bake ahead and take into the office all week
Ever have those moments where you take a good long hard look at yourself and wonder how on earth you ended up in a certain place? Where your life took that turn?
I had one of those tonight. And it wasn’t pretty. Unlike these Fruity Devils which we will get to in due course.
So, let’s imagine my life as a movie. Not a very glamorous movie. But a movie nonetheless. We’ll start with a close up…
Eight o’clock Friday night and I am sitting alone. At home. Wearing a sweatshirt that had seen better days about five years ago and yoga pants. Well, that’s what the shop I bought them in called them. They may have never seen the inside of a yoga studio or known a down dog but technically they are yoga pants.
None of that is is the problem. He has a new job where he is working nights and I am perfectly comfortable both in my own company and with my attire.
So, lets draw the camera back and see where the problem may lie. Sitting on my lap is a plate of chopped up bananas smothered in peanut butter, wrapped in bacon and grilled. I had a grand idea to do a take on a Devils on Horseback and call it Elvis on Horseback. It didn’t really work…Anyway, bacon and peanut butter is admittedly not the healthiest combination on earth but it wasn’t that that had me cringing either. I count eating weird stuff as R&D. I’m eating it so you don’t have to! And you, know sometimes in this blogging lark you have to take the (super) crunchy with the smooth.
That peanut butter gag was like the Spanish Inquisition. (Because no one expects the Spanish Inquisition).
I’ll stop now.
Maybe the problem will be apparent if we draw the camera back even further…
Yes, that is a very hefty glass of wine in front of me…could that be what has me in a such a state of consternation? Drinking alone? Am I worried about some incipient alcoholism /the state of my liver / my ability to get up and go the gym tomorrow morning?
No, no and resoundingly no. It’s Friday, it’s been a long, hard week and if a girl wants a drink in the privacy of her own home, she should be able to have one. Or two. Don’t judge me.
So what it is? Why am I pausing for a moment of reflection? Not that I am alone at home on a Friday night, wearing let’s just call them “comfortable” clothes; not that I am eating a banana smothered in peanut butter then wrapped in bacon; not that I am drinking alone but that I am doing all of the above whilst watching a movie where Robert Pattinson is playing Salvador Dali.
I really need to re-evaluate some of my life choices. I may need professional help. Or at the very least some movie recommendations….
Who on God’s green earth thought that was a good idea? (Me apparently seeing as it was on my Netflix queue). But then again, I’m alone at home on a Friday night eating bacon, bananas and peanut butter! My judgement is at best questionable.
But apart from me, who else thought it was a good idea? It’s TERRIBLE. Well, to be honest, the film itself is probably not so bad. R Patz, however is more wooden than the stake that should have been driven through his cold dead heart in any one of the billion Twilight films.
Oh, God, why am I still watching it?
Make it stop…someone please make it stop!!!!!
And does anyone else think Vamp boy looks a lot like the Blackadder?
I have no idea what possessed me to pick that film. What is far easier to track is how I ended up thinking bananas and bacon were a good idea. The seed of THAT insanity lies within the book club. One of the ladies brought along one of her mother’s (?) Women’s Weekly cookbooks from the early sixties. It was AWESOME. And whilst I really wanted to just grab it and run….I contented myself with flicking through the pages.
Which is when I saw the recipe for Jaffa Devils. Orange slices wrapped in bacon and grilled. Two ingredients, easy to remember. So I made them. They were ok. They weren’t the best thing I’ve ever eaten but they sure weren’t the worst! And it works in theory – bacon and orange mix well at breakfast…so why not in an appetizer? (Mind you, it’s that kind of thinking that leads to coffee flavoured scrambled eggs…and Little Ashes, which incidentally, STILL watching).
The problem was, the Jaffa Devils became like a gateway drug. For a while there I was utterly obsessed with wrapping fruit in bacon. I kind of like it when food is both good and bad for you, bacon and fruit, peanut butter and celery, cranberry juice and booze..it’s the way o’ the world, yin and yang, toxifying and detoxifying in equal measure.
I wrapped peaches, pineapple, a tangelo…I couldn’t leave the citrus alone. And the banana. The banana was not good. The tangelo, like the orange, was a bit meh…..
The peach and the pineapple? OMG. Super. The Bacon and Peach Combo worked best with a sauce made from Pomegranate Molasses. By which I mean some Pomegranate Molasses poured into a bowl. But you could use some reduced Balsamic if you did not have the Pomegranate Molasses. The Bacon and Pineapple Devil worked with both a sweet chilli and a BBQ sauce.
Pretty damn good, even if I do say so myself! And super easy and super quick to make as well.
In all honesty, give the banana and orange ones a miss. But do try the peach and pineapple. They are gold! And for some Dali gold, skip Little Ashes and watch this clip of the real Salvador Dali utterly bamboozling the folks on What’s My Line.
As in guess which bozo forgot to celebrate her own blog’s 2nd birthday on May 25th?
So, today we’re having a Belated (don’t worry, I promise I won’t capitalise every word that starts with a B) Birthday, (no really, I won’t) celebrating my second annivesary with food using the second letter of the alphabet. See what I did? Second year, second letter?
You’d think I planned it.
Maybe you should keep thinking that….I”m all for anything that makes me look better!!!
So anyway, it’s my birthday so let’s get this party started. And I’ve said it before, and no doubt I will say it again, (purely because I’ve got a bottle of the stuff that isn’t going to drink itself) a retro party isn’t a retro party without Parfait Amour. And any party is better with a blonde bombshell!
Nope not like this, the blonde bombshell I am referring too is a cocktail made with the aforementioned Parfait Amour. I’m not sure why it’s called a Blonde Bombshell as it comes out a gorgeous dusky pinky purple.
First Course – The Birthday Blonde Bombshell
It’s my party…cocktails count as a course….in my perfect world, we would skip main meals altogether. We would move from cocktails to fingerfood to dessert.
Wow!!! I think I may have found my Parfait Amour drink of choice. This was lovely!!! Sweet and florally and almost kind of musky…it reminded me a little bit of Turkish Delight…maybe it was the roses in the Parfait Amour. Very girly, very pretty. Easy to drink….hmmm….maybe getting rid of that bottle won’t be as hard as I previously thought!
Second Course – Bay Wrapped Bacon and Prunes
This is basically a take on a Devils on Horseback. But wrapped in a bayleaf. And I added a little smear of my Strawberry Habanero Sauce to the bacon before wrapping it around the prunes.
Note for the unwary – grilling bay leaves makes your entire kitchen smell like you’ve been smoking marijuana. For about a week. Which is fine until you have a plumber come to fix your leaking tap and they ask you if you can score them some bud.
I barely even know what that means.
Despite that, you really can’t go wrong with these…salty, sweet, spicy, crispy…The bay leaves added a slight resiny flavour that was quite pleasant but prevented the bacon from getting really crispy which was slightly disappointing.
I served it them with some more of the strawberry habenero sauce. And the saltiness was a great foil to the sweetness of the Blonde Bombshell.
But now to the piece de resistance. The dessert.
So….what’s better than a triple chocolate baby bundt?
A QUADRUPLE chocolate baby bundt.
And what’s better than a quadruple chocolate Baby Bundt?
A Quadruple Chocolate Chilli Baby Bundt!
Third Course – Quadruple Chocolate Chilli Baby Bundt
So, if you’re following me on Instagram you would have already seen me post my first experiment with the Spice Peddler’s Mexican Chilli Chocolate Cake Mix. That was a Chili Chocolate Cupcake with a Chilli Toffee Shard topped with Vanilla Icecream and my Strawberry Habenero Sauce. OMG, I thought this was the best thing ever…so, so good. The cake was fudgy and spicy and delicious, the vanilla icecream and chilli sauce worked together perfectly and the chilli toffee was a cute and quirky touch. Basically, this was me on a plate!!!!
Gahhh….so how do you top that?
Well, I found this recipe for a cake called a Tyroler in a Delicious Magazine and I had a little play with it. And came up with the the Quadruple Chocolate Chilli Baby Bundt. I used the Spice Peddler Mexican Chilli Chocolate Cake Mix as my base and it was super delicious!
This was really good. Then again, how could it not be?
It had quadruple chocolate.
And a touch of chilli.
And rum soaked sultanas.
And did I mention quadruple chocolate?
So, it may have been belated but worth the wait because these were all awesome!!!!
I’ll try to be on time next year and if not, I can always repost this and rename it Birthday 3 – Cocktails, Canapés and Cake.
Chill, then lightly dust with flour, shaking off any excess.
Soak the sultanas in rum.
Place butter, eggs and cake mix into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until well combined.
Stir through chocolate chips, sultanas and any rum remaining in the bowl.
Pour into the prepared cake pans and cook on the lower shelf of the oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly in pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack.
Chop and toast the walnuts.
For the Dark Chocolate Ganache
Melt the dark chocolate and the cream over a double boiler.
Cool then pour over cake.
For the White Chocolate Drizzle
Melt the white chocolate and cream over a double boiler.