Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Fiddle and The Faff

During my time as my man and boy, I've heard lots of people extol the virtues of simply spending time in the kitchen preparing fruit and vegetables, happily easing themselves through the day with a spud in one hand and a peeler in the other. And I have to agree. There really is something quite pleasant about whittling away minutes, hours or days at the sink. Stopping occasionally from time to time to contemplatively stare out the window zone out and pause. Very nice. This state of zen is normally interrupted by a prod in the backside by a wayward son with a light saber or a vision of the cat squatting over my beloved zinnias but nevertheless, this state of grace, however long it last is a very pleasant place to be. I do get caught out sometimes, particularly with aubergines. I think it's something to do with the lovely firm purple skin of this very sexy looking fruit. Standing there grinning with heavy eyelids, cupping the base as though it were a buttock, I easily become distracted and lost in time, thinking lascivious thoughts of yielding, soft flesh. 'Oooh, I am gonna flame grill you until you drip all over the hob, you saucy little thing you'. Again, in this incidence, things usually come crashing to earth when Mrs FU slaps my out of my stupor and tells me to get on with the baba ganoush. But for even if it's just a little while, it's beautiful space to inhabit. Just beautiful.

Not all vegetable preparation needs to be meditative or titilating though. Many a squash has been cleaved in half with the zeal of Jason Voorhees which of course helps to release tension, frustration and anger. Sometimes I find it very soothing to personify said vegetable, even going so far as to stick a photograph onto my butternut before sticking my cook's knife in and slashing it down the middle whilst screaming "DIE! DIE! DIE!". I have done this a lot lately which is probably not healthy but hey, it keeps me out of jail. However, some preparation of fruit and vegetables do sadly racket up the blood pressure due to their sheer finicky attitudes to life. I love gooseberries but I hate top and tailing the buggers. And why, I ask myself, do sulphourous brussels sprouts have to be crossed at Christmas time? And just what is the point of globe artichokes? Never has a vegetable have to give up so much for so little. Well that's my experience anyway, detractors have commented on the size of my artichokes in the past. The humble broad bean is similar in some ways in that you have to pod them from their fluffy overcoats and then further remove them out of their little jackets. To me this is the veritable padlock on a pair of knickers which is time consuming and fiddly to unlock. (The key of course is to blanch the beans for just a minute or so and then they will pop out with nick from your thumbnail and a gentle squeeze.)

Still the rewards are great because this sweet green little bean is very tasty indeed and I always look forward to this time of year when they are ready for harvesting from the allotment. We don't grow many and for that I am grateful but once I've got the fiddle and the faff out of the way, I always end up being rather grateful for them. If that makes any sense.

With this year's batch I made Habas y Morcilla or broad beans and black pudding to you and me. In fact, the black pudding came from Bury and not Spain so this dish does have a fervently British slant to it, he says triumpantly and I urge you to try this handsomely moreish recipe which I got from the first Moro cookbook. It really is worth the effort.

Habas y Morcilla - serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil

200 g morcilla (or Bury black pudding) cut into 1cm slices

2 cloves garlic sliced

Half a teaspoon of fennel seeds

1.5 kg broad beans – to yield approximately 500gms of podded beans

100 ml chicken stock

A good handful of fresh mint roughly chopped

sea salt and black pepper


Warm the oil in a fryin pan over a medium heat and then throw in the black pudding. Leave for a minute or two, making sure that the pudding crisps up but doesn't break down. Put to one side.

In the same pan fry the garlic and fennel for a minute until the garlic begins to colour and the throw in the broan beans, pour on the stock and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes until the beans become tender. Throw the black pudding back in the pan to warm through and right at the last minute toss in the mint. Serve up with griddled bread. Delicious.

From this....

to this...

and this.....

then this.....

and then finally this....


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