Wednesday, 8 January 2014

New Year Recipes

As I've discussed, home was almost pleasant (I used 'almost' for effect there, it was really quite pleasant) this Christmas. It was most pleasant on Saturday mornings when my mother wandered in and out of the chilly conservatory that she insisted I sat in because 'why did we build a conservatory if not for people to sit in?' (I don't know, mother, why did you?) with Saturday Kitchen and Nigel Slater on the TV. As you'd expect in the run up to New Year, it was all about his New Year's suppers. (I am sold on the Jerusalem artichokes but not so much on smoked salmon with bacon.) And that will be the theme of this post. While usually, not doing Christmas traditions drifts over to New Year where I don't arbitrarily choose that time of year to form a new habit in my life, this year I happened to make some lifestyle changes around the time anyway so we may as well call them resolutions. I started exercising (for literally 8 minutes a day but still) just before Christmas, eating better (not eating everything I want to whenever I want to) just after 1 January, and, most importantly, making a more rule-based effort to drink less as of 5 January. (I've also literally just signed up to give blood since, sadly for me but hooray for society, 5 years on, I'm certainly no longer too skinny to give blood.) Waking up on New Year's Day still drunk and then being unable to move until 5 really hit home the fact once again that I'm TOO OLD now. Later in the week, while having a 'last meal until May probably' with a friend who lives in France, I had the novel realisation that no one ever needs more than five drinks. So that's the new thing. Maximum three at a quiet social occasion and never, ever more than five, whatever the occasion. Oh, and rigorously keeping at least three nights dry every week. And this is to stick FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. Anyway, this is some food I've cooked recently as the new 'fuck we're all getting old and haggard I must try to delay this' conscious Ari.

Bean and bean salad
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of capers, finely chopped
A few black oives
1 can cannelini beans, drained
2 sprigs thyme
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful of green beans.
200ml chicken stock
Fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Fry the onion in olive oil until translucent.
Add the garlic and chilli, fry for a further two minutes.
Add anchovies, capers and olives, fry for a further minute. 
Add the thyme and tomatoes, fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the beans, stock and pepper.
Simmer, half covered, for about 15 minutes.
Add the green beans and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Stir in some parsley. 

Spaghetti with sage butter and tomatoes
Two portions of spaghetti
One tablespoon of butter
5 sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 sprigs thyme
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

Cook two portions of spaghetti.
Meanwhile, melt half a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan over a medium-low heat. 
Cook for about 2 minutes then add the sage leaves. Continue to cook until deep brown but not burnt.
In a different saucepan, melt another half tablespoon of butter.
Add garlic and thyme, fry for a minute. 
Add the tomatoes and fry for about 4 - 5 minutes.
Drain the spaghetti but reserve half a cup of cooking water at the bottom.
Stir in the sage butter and the tomato mixture and toss. 
Season with pepper.

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