Pasta alla Norma


I just love this very simple and quick Sicilian pasta dish.

1 aubergine
3 cloves of garlic
200g fresh tomatoes

That’s it ….. apart from a tiny pinch of dried chilli and a sprig of basil.

Chop the aubergine into bite size pieces and fry in olive oil until cooked and golden. When done remove and place on a kitchen paper lined plate.

Meanwhile chop the garlic quite finely and in a separate pan fry in olive oil for a few moments, don’t let it burn else it turns bitter. Add the diced tomatoes, a pinch of dried chilli (enough so you’d hardly notice it in the finished sauce but would notice if it wasn’t there!) and a few leaves of basil. I try and use San Marzano tomatoes but the important bit is that they are flavoursome tomatoes and not the pale, tasteless tomatoes often simply described as ‘salad tomatoes’ in the supermarket. Put a lid on the pan and let the tomatoes cook down for about 10 minutes then fish out the basil leaves.

Add the aubergine pieces to the tomatoes and warm everything through. Serve with any pasta, I like either penne or rigatoni for this dish, a few leaves of basil and grated parmesan.

Korean Chicken Wings

1 to 2 kgs Chicken wings, tips removed
5tbs sugar
1tbs water
4tbs rice wine vinegar
3tbs soy sauce
1tbs grated root ginger
1.5tbs sriracha sauce
4tbs tomato ketchup

Place the wings into a pan in a single layer, brush with oil, sprinkle with salt and put into an oven at 180C for 40-45 minutes.

Next make the sauce by first making a dark caramel using the sugar and water – remember no stirring! At the dark caramel stage pour in the mixed rice wine vinegar and soy sauce – remember that there will be a volcano like eruption! When things calm down continue to cook until everything is liquid again then add the ginger, sriracha and tomato ketchup. Cook for about 5 minutes until it thickens a bit.

When the wings have cooked for the 40-45 minutes brush with the sauce and return to the oven for 20 minutes. Put the wings into a serving dish and drizzle with a little of the thickened sauce.

Next time I make this I’ll take a photo of the dish, I forgot to do it before they’d all been eaten. UPDATE: I’ve made them twice since posting this but still scoff them all before taking a photo!

Blood Oranges in Caramel Syrup

Firstly peel the blood oranges ensuring that no pith remains and the slice.

This quantity of caramel sauce is about right for 4 oranges. Put 100g sugar and 3tbs of water into a saucepan and slowly heat until the sugar is dissolved – do not stir but you can shake the pan a little. Once the sugar is dissolved increase the heat and boil until the syrup becomes a dark amber/golden colour. Remove from the heat and immediately add 4tbs boiling water and stir. Best to have the water already measured and in a mug or something because the water and syrup combination will boil rapidly and splash up so take care! The syrup may need heating again if it’s not completely liquid. Once cool pour over the orange slices.

These oranges are great served with greek yoghurt but even better spooned onto cold rice pudding. Here’s my rice pudding recipe.

100g short grain pudding rice or risotto rice – don’t use any other type of rice.
500ml milk
2tbs sugar

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for around 30 minutes stirring occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Allow to cool.

Pineapple Curry

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! This is one of my top favourites, plus it’s quick and easy to prepare.

Peel and dice a nicely ripe pineapple Not a hard green one as you so often see. Choose one going yellow and where one of the bottom leaves on the top pulls out easily. Sniff it, it should have a strong pineapple aroma. Find a perfect one and it will make all the difference. The best come from the Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritius and Southern Africa all available in French supermarkets (at a small premium) while the UK offers no alternative to the inferior Costa Rican pineapple. Moan over, back to the recipe.

In a bowl mix:
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/3 tsp turmeric
1 – 2 tsp sugar (1 if the pineapple is nicely ripe, 2 if not)
Pinch of salt
Splash of water

Add the diced pineapple and stir thoroughly to coat and leave to marinate for 30 minutes if you have the time.

Heat your cooking pot, I use a karhai but a frying pan or wok would suffice. When hot add:
2 tbs cooking oil
Pinch of black mustard seeds, after they splutter add
12 Curry Leaves, stir then add
a few crumbled dried red chilli flakes.
Finally add the pineapple and cook for around 10 minutes

Meanwhile:
Dissolve 75g creamed coconut in 300ml boiling water
Stir in a very finely chopped green chilli 1/4 tsp mustard powder and 1/2 tsp salt

After the 10 mins add to the pineapple and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Serve with boiled basmati rice. Naan, chapatis, parathas etc. don’t go well with this curry.