When the apcalypse began my working life went cracray, like most people. 15 hour days 7 days a week. For the first time in my life food was just for eating, there was little pleasure involved. It was energy to keep me going. In Madrid we were allowed out to go to the supermarket and the visit to the supermarket meant a long wait outside as was one-in-one-out. Instead of shopping on a daily basis i was shopping twice a week. All i did was bung some frozen veggies and onions, some hydrated asian mushrooms into the slow cooker, stirred in mustard, miso, soy, tomato pure and a can of beer and turn it on im the morning, then added a cubed chicken breast halfway throuygh the day and then some dried asian noodles before i was ready to eat my main meal.
as the apocalypse went on, life and work got easier and after a few months we were even allowed out for a one hour walk between 8pm and 9pm, my working day became far more human and i was able to enjoy binge watching Netflix.
Xmas came along and i had a nice break coming up, without having to waste days travelling back to the wesht of Ireland and then back home to Madrid. I realised that i needed a bit of self love and to get back into cooking properly.
Pre Xmas high end cooking was Sartu di Riso. Never had it, never seen it, certainly never cooked it but it was mentioned in an Inspector Montalbano novel i was reading.
this is how it looked when served. surprisingly easy to make.
Make your favourite ragu. I made with minced beef.
Cook most of a box of quality risoto rice in stock, add a couple of bay leaves. drain. add a couple of eggs into the rice and loads of parmesan. stir obviously.
Get one of those baking tins with an open circle in the middle. butter the sides of the tin and then add breadcrumbs, shake it around so the tin has breadcrumbs all around it. put a good 2/3rds of the rice into the side, using your hands to press down the rice at the bottom and the sides of the dish all the way around. add sliced fresh motsarela around the bottom of the tin. add enough ragu so that it goes to 2/3rds of the top of the tin. now use the remaining rice create the top of the cake. add some more breadcrumbs to the top.
stick in the oven for about 30 minutes at 200 degrees. Take out of the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes,
it’ll hopefully come out looking like that. Then get a large tray and put that on top, flip over. add any remaining ragu into the hole in the middle. grate some cheese on top
For Xmas eve i made a lovely fish pie. don’t need to tell anyone how to make a decent fish pie…you’re not animals.
For Santa’s birthday on the 25th of December, I had decided to stay Italian and has prepared a porchetta.
I aksed the butcher to buterfly a loin of pork, which he was happy to do. then i brined the pork overnight (never done that before but i read that it was a “game changer”). i soaked the pork in water and changed a few times. dried by patting with paper towels. i covered the pork with various meats such as salami and ham, and a sauce of spinach, onion, garlic, chicjpeas and olive oil. Rolled all this together tightly as i could and put in a plastic bag which i vaccuum packed. Then i cooked sous vide for 24 hours. When the timer went of i carefully cut the plastic off and to my delight the time spent in the sealed bag cooking, had made the roll fairly robust
no way i was getting through that so i sliced in half
vaccum sealed the other half and put in freezewr. the remaining half i put in oven on high heat to crisp up any of the fat and to brown it. sliced and served with mash and a sauxe made from the cooking liquid. Was nice.
New years eve i did what i alwats have for new years eve…a curry. I won’t bore you with the details. fish and prawns, chickpeas and spinach. popadoms. rice. I had a guest who described it as “orgasmic”. i hid my blushes
There you go. Worship me as a god