"The Little House in the Sink" is a remake for lilliputian foodies, but they had to give it up after
the actors complained of chilblains and chronic athlete's foot. What a great shame.
After I tied my hair in a black handkerchief and put on a reasonably unwelcoming if not threatening face, I set myself to the cooking of the ragù.
I deliberately ignored the original family recipe my own mamma tried to push forward, deciding to give Locatelli's a go. The complete recipe is to be found on Chefs Gone Wild, a great blog orchestrated by a Gâteau Basque god (kudos again)(toutes mes ficelles de caleçon). For any question, please go and nag him. Anyway, by the time you're done that's what you're going to be bopping by:
And the answer to the question "Good thing, where have you gone" is "In my tummy", not "Doodoodoobeedoo".
Keep swaying those hips in rhythm, girlies.
It's true what people say, you need a freakin recipe to start with. Ideally, aim at not too elliptic, unlike me.
And fresh rosemary and sage from your garden, that's nice too.
Get the usual suspects out of the fridge, line them up, collect fingerprints and do a full body search. That involves peeling them off their pimp outfits.
'Fess up, veggies (crachez le morceau, légumes).
Dice everybody finely as they refused to speak. Well they had it coming (ça leur pendait au nez).
You are the king of the julienne and you love it.
Next, sweat them 5 minutes in hot olive oil in a wide & deep pan (with garlic and the bundle of herbs) stirring constantly to avoid colouring (remember bruising on interrogated suspects is always bad form). Then add the seasoned minced neck (le collier) which you have previously brought to room temperature. That is a really good trick, that one is. Once you have thrown the mince in the pan, spread it on the bottom and leave 5 minutes on high heat until it is sealed, don't stir it, just give it a rest (foutez lui la paix). When the time is up, stir away like a good little soldier.
It should look like that. No funny water or foam is coming out of that good meat.
I can't remember the rest of the recipe very well, because that's the point where you add the wine. I checked beforehand with the chef and the recipe requires that you have a glass or two in the process of making the ragù. I started taking amazing pictures of my feet and other interesting features of my 17 square meter kitchen/bedroom/living room. Anyhoo.
So pour the wine in, tasting it to make sure it's not corked (what dedication). Let it reduce, I quote, to "virtually nothing". Then add a spoonful of tomato paste, stir steadily for some time (time-space continuum gets blurred, after a glass or two), then add the passata. Turn the heat dooown. Let it simmer for ages. About enough time for you to make yourself a snack and have a nap.
Another great "before and after" shot. You feel the finitude/achievement thingy seeping in your soul.
Oh by the way, for a reason not yet absolutely clear to me, it looks on all my pictures like I'm cooking on board the Entreprise. Just to clarify, I am not.
"And our kitchen has never looked THAT shiny. What product do you use?"
And when it's ready, guys, it's ready. Cook your fresh papardelle, top with a laddle of ragù, feed your three guinea-pigs/friends. Tuck in too. Because you're worth it.
Wearing a delicate white top isn't recommended. I did it anyway because I'm a rebel.
Brace yourself, Barilla, here comes Mamma Chiara.
No fussing about, straight to the point:
100g fine semolina
1/2 tsp salt
a glug of olive oil (what, not precise? Do not get on the wrong side of Mamma Chiara.)
a tub of Elbow Grease (no, it's not like self-tanning lotion. Rather the contrary)
Mix all the ingredients and knead for 10 minutes. Wrap in cling film and leave that sexy thing to rest for about 30 minutes. It's called beauty sleep.
Cut out the ball of dough in four
and roll each ball in a long rectangle,
dusting with flour as you go. It
should be so thin you can see
your hairy mafioso mitts (vos
paluches poilues de mafieux)
through the dough when you
Then fold lengthwise twice, and cut
in strips of desired width. Use a sharp
knife, just so that people take you
seriously. I made papardelle, as they
are my favourites. But enough about
me, back to the pasta.
Unfold the pasta strips and find a good spot
to hang them so that they dry up without
sticking to each other. Pasta strips, like
Italian people, tend to be all over each other.
They can't fight it (y a rien à y faire) it's in
their genes. A drying rack is good, so is your
oven's door handle for that matter.
Act 2 out soon. You know you can't wait.
He knows he can't.
Shit, I hope he isn't a nervous shooter.
Happy %§#** Birthday, man!
Have a mini vanilla and white chocolate jelly!
I find it silly to stick bits of mint on top of everything, but no candles were available so I figured it would be ok, but just this once.
Who said this blog couldn't be rude AND pretentious? Take a walk on the bling-bling side with me today. As I tend to be nice, and also because, let's not forget, I am a teacher (by the way, health and safety, guys, health and safety is key), translation will be on me today.
Don't sweat it (vous bilez pas), it's the most innocuous recipe ever. I would go as far as saying that it is even HEALTHY. Don't run away.
I thought translating it into Italian would make it look a teeny-weeny more classy, because what it is, is soup, made with radish leaf stalks. I know, pathetic. It's not even an ingredient in its own right. It's a left-over. Poor old leaf stalks (pauvres fanes)!
They taste nice, though, promise. Rather unexpectedly so. The recipe is ancient, my grand ma' would always make it when she'd buy a bunch of radish. I added the cappuccino-foam with white pepper thing on top to jazz it up.
Talking about jazzing things up, here is our latest cool soundtrack to cook by:
Yes I agree the orchestration starts off a little heavy. Ella wasn't a light-weight either.
Ingredients for today's special leftovers soup:
The foliage from that bunch of radish you're not seeing the end of because you're alone (boooo, shame on you) - not too flabby and old please.
A couple of small tatters, or more if you want bulk because you're a tougher cookie and greens ain't your thing, it's fine by me.
3 grains of white peppers from that mixed pepper jar you bought ages ago (crucial for aesthetic reasons discussed further below - yes, bling bling means paying attention to crazy details)
A smidgen of milk with a pinch of salt, in a glass with rather high edges (unless you insist on repainting your kitchen)
Get the green healthy leaf stalks nice and clean, discard super flabby losers (les louseurs mollassons). Make them comfy in your sink and colander:
Don't they look comfy?
then peel and dice the potatoes - WHAT, you need a picture for that too? Tsk tsk tsk.
Sweat the greens in a little butter until they all look like flabby losers. Now they don't feel so comfy. You, on the other hand, are starting to feel hungry.
Add the tatters, cover with water, bring to a simmer, leave until they are soft enough to be puréed with your super duper hand blender (votre mixeur plongeur qui déchire). It's ok for the kids to play with the super safe hand-held blender. The blade is ever so small. Season to taste. The soup, not the childen's shredded fingers. Pop those in a plastic bag in the freezer, for later use.
Next comes the glam factor : the white pepper foam. Get'em in line. Bash ruthlessly with whatever it available. Your stiletto heels. It does require bashing accuracy and patience though. I did it with the bottom of a glass. Quick and painless. No, I am not a monster, people.
I love before/after pictures. They provide you with a priceless sense of achievement and finitude
at the same time. Highly rewarding.
Microwave your glass of milk with a little salt and the crushed pepper, keep an eye on it, it might take 20 seconds to boil out of the glass and make a peppery milky mess. Trust me, I have tried. Ahem. Moving on swiftly (bref, passons).
Next, get your milk whisk out and whisk away to create the foam (electric appliances are cool and fast). Note how the white pepper blends happily in the milk instead of looking like a soot gremlin sneezed in it. Pour the soup in a transparent bowl/coffee cup (go as bling bling as you like, splurge, indulge!), spoon the foam on top of the green goo and serve immediately. You are so stylish. And so healthy. You feel at peace. Eat with your fake Ray Bans on.
Damn you, you stylish devil.
Do you remember those shiny exciting days when you were young and foolish and thought that eating a teaspoon of chocolate powder was bound to be a more intense experience than, say, dissolving the powder in a predictably boring bowl of hot milk?
Yeah, you do. You also remember coughing so much the powder would actually come out of your nostrils and make you look like Puff the Magic Dragon.
Oh, do sing along, you wusses!
Now you're all grown up and still silly (bless your cotton socks) but you drink coffee more often than hot chocolate, and you might have had trouble inhaling whole beans. Although you might have unusually large nostrils. In which case they are called blowholes and you are some sort of freak porpoise and you should NOT be on the internet, you Cetacean weirdo [espèce de cétacé cinglé].
Yeah don't give me that look. You're not even a freakin porpoise. And get off the computer.
Lucky, lucky bastards (bande de veinards), I am here to save the day and bring back that special childhood feel. You know you still have Puff the Magic Dragon inside of you.
Which brings me back to my recipe. Initially, it was going to be this lovely dry biscuit with a mellow date centre, with a hint of cinnamon and orange blossom water. (That's powerful stuff [c'est fort, ce truc], by the way the guy who sold it to me - in a 50cl format for 2 euros - said it could be handy if I fainted [si je tombais dans les pommes]. So girls, whenever you feel faint, make sure you have this half litre of orange blossom goodness in your designer clutch. With the Cannes season starting now, we can't have you feeling all dizzy on the red carpet).
The recipe comes from Culinary Delights, and is rather elliptic, though not that difficult to interpret.
You want (for about 15 powdery stodgers):
100g of soft butter (sultry weather in Paris means you just pop it out of the fridge 15 minutes prior to baking)
100g of fine semolina
100g of flour
pinch of salt (I should have put more)
pinch of baking soda (not sure that really mattered, to be honest)
a little bit of orange blossom water (didn't need it, my butter was soft alright)
And for the (truly gorgeous) filling:
about 125g of date paste
a cloud of cinnamon
a teaspoon of faint medicine (it might need a tad more [un chouia de plus])
And then, easy does it (fastoche):
Mix all the dry ingredients and the butter, shape it into a ball (or a porpoise but that's really up to you), wrap it up in cling film and pop it in the fridge for an hour.
I might have wanted to let it rest longer, the semolina didn't get a chance to soak up the butter and remained crunchy. Too much so, anyway, although I don't usually mind a little crunch.
Preparing the filling was easy enough as I had a pair of helping hands who gently massaged the orange blossom water into the cinnamon/date paste goo. No, it wasn't the porpoise helping me. For Pete's sake (nom d'un chien) stop waffling on about that porpoise. It's starting to piss everybody off (ça fait chier tout le monde). Back to the recipe, thank you.
Nice score, huh. Whoever finds who the composer is gets a random treat shipped worldwide.
This way you also brush up your sight reading, haha.
Then, it's as easy as it gets: get the dough out of the fridge, pat it flat in the palm of your hand, make a little date marble (ah, childhood memories come flowing back, don't they now), shove it in the middle of the dough ball and wrap the dough flaps back on top.
No, it isn't rocket science, I'm afraid.
When you are done with all the dough and have eaten the date paste leftovers with your sidekick, you should get a nice army of little soldiers. Photomontage here we come:
Pop in oven, 15 mins at 150°C, the idea being that you don't want them to brown. They have to remain pretty sallow. Get them out of the oven, give them a fashionable 10 minutes to cool down (does anything cool down AT ALL in Paris at the moment, or is everybody melting like my mom watching George Clooney?).
Then gobble one. Then have your trusty sidekick perform the Heimlich manoeuvre on you (see diagramme below).
I enjoy Health and Safety, all teachers do. That doesn't make me a bad person.
They are really sandy. The outside crust is very fragile and gets in your airways if you're lucky, or spills on the floor if you grab the thing with a little too much enthusiasm. Maybe it's worth assessing whether you'd rather spend one hour in the A&Es or 15 minutes cleaning up the mess. There is a higher chance that you will meet George Clooney in A&Es than in your kitchen. All proportions kept.
The inside was nice and datey, but then again it was that way when you first licked the bowl clean. Maybe I could have skipped the whole semolina crust thing. Less is more, guys (le mieux est l'ennemi du bien, les copains).
Anyone in for another bite?
No, porpoise, no, you, BACK OFF
Colloquial cookin' is here to help you:
1- prepare for your next cooking holidays in France. Swearing will make helping hands chop/peel/clean up faster, it will also ease the pain when you accidentally squirt lemon juice in your eyes.
2- sound professional in your kitchen by swearing in an appropriate language, i.e. one that the kids do not understand.
Colloquial cookin' declines all responsabilities if you get punched or thrown out of a restaurant subsequently to using any phrase found on this blog.
The recipe we try today comes from a French blog, la Food Box. It was nice to use up those baby turnips with fresh orange juice. I'm not turnips' best friend usually, but those babies really rocked (c'est le pied, ces navets).
The original recipe called for caraway seeds (des graines de carvi [karvee]), but I had to skip that, didn't have any. Hard times! (c'est la dèche!)
Ok so ingredients for one (yours truly- mézigue)
about 10 baby turnips
one orange (zest and juice)
half a thumb of butter
a spoonful of sugar
Get the little buggers (les petits bougres) ready by gently castrating them (off go their funky wisps!), and getting the cores out (not in the original recipe but my turnips didn't look quite as nice as the ones Lili used!)
Don't feel bad for them, I'm sure they deserved it
Then I mercilessly diced them. And threw them in a damned pan (une saleté de casserole) with the butter, before dousing the whole thing with the juice of my freshly squeezed orange.
Yeah, I know, that's before the orange shower.
Steam it ten minutes or more (poke the bastards with a knife, they should hold their shape but nevertheless yield, you feel me - tu piges?)
It's hard to take a picture with all the steam, you see.
After a while, the juices of the orange and the turnips combined with the butter will give you a yummy caramel. If you lick the spoon at that stage, you are likely to burn your tongue. I checked it for you. Health and safety first. Sprinkle a spoonful of sugar and turn up the heat to caramelise further. I added a little water to prevent excessive caramelisation which leads to excessive washing up. Keep it low key. N'en faites pas des tonnes.
Toss the whole thing around in the pan to the sound of Diana Ross and the Supremes
I said upside down
You're turning me
You're giving love instinctively
Around and round you're turning me [...]
Yeah baby yeah, give them turnips a little lurv. And when ready, throw them on whatever you're eating at the moment. Semolina in my case because I was hungry and that's a speedy option when one is in a rush (quand on est à la bourre).
Minimal washing up time here as the pan didn't go up in flames and the peelings fit in the paper bag the veggies came in. What more to ask! Que demande le peuple!