Although I am a hobby-chef and adore cooking in my free time, the current situation and my efforts to mix chairs, crutches and my tiny galley kitchen have not been particularly successful.
It’s been with regret that I’ve been cooking less than once a month, and it’s a source of frustration. Luckily we have Foodie friends who have either turned up and cooked for us in our own kitchen or been very accomodating with my simple menus.
In recent months with physio expanding I have ongoing spells of pain that I couldn’t quite get on top of and when I finially had a “good” day last month I was spurred by my frustration to make the most of it.
I duely gave Himself a shopping list for lasagne ingredients, dispatched him to the supermarket post haste and warned him that if I was going to cook then I wanted to cook in bulk and make the effort worth while.
Just by using my tall soup pots and taking a few small shortcuts (adding precut frozen vegetables to the tomato and meat sauce, and dried lasagne sheets that don’t need pre-cooking), I made four large lasagnes in mass production fashion: kept one for direct use, gave one to Himself to deliver to a friend needing her rest in the last days before her baby was due and shoved the other two into the freezer for future easy meals.
Now a month later I have the cooking urge again and help was at hand in the form of a television programme on the BBC. It’s called “The Good Cook” and is presented by chef and cookbook writer Simon Hopkinson.
I immediately warmed to his style of using fresh easily available local ingredients.. and easy, uncomplicated recipes . We had dinner guests coming over and I needed to cook within my limitations so: Lasagne out of the freezer = main course almost taken care of, just need a side dish.
Simon’s roast pepper recipe “Piedmontese Peppers” looks divine… literally! (and easy) I’m seriously into “easy” right now.
I have copied the recipe below and added in my own working method below as well as step by step photos of how I made the recipe.
8 – 12 ripe plum tomatoes
4 red peppers, stalks left on (for decoration), cut lengthways in half, seeds removed
4 garlic cloves, sliced
5-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 large canned anchovies cut in half lengthways
small handful fresh basil
1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
2. Pour boiling water over the plum tomatoes, leave for 10 seconds, carefully remove from the water and refresh in a bowl of cold water. Peel off the tomato skins.
3. Place the halved peppers into an ovenproof dish (preferably one that will be nice enough to present later), cut-side up.
4. Place the garlic inside the peppers and then fit the tomatoes inside too, pushing them gently into the space. Add a small pinch of salt and a grinding of freshly ground black pepper.
(this is where I put mine into the fridge instead)
Spoon over the olive oil and then place into the oven.
5. Bake for about 45 minutes to one hour, turning the heat down a little if you notice any excessive scorching of the peppers.
6. Once they are nicely softened and have slightly collapsed, remove the peppers from the oven. Criss-cross each pepper half with an anchovy, baste with the oily juices and allow to cool to room temperature.
7. Top with basil leaves and serve.
Ok first I made three peppers (six halves) rather than the 4 (8 halves) in the recipe but we looove garlic so five cloves of garlic went into my six halves. I minced my garlic instead of slicing it. (tiny tweek). I added some freshly ground black pepper to the garlic layer before putting in the peeled tomatoes. Himself had bought an assortment of vine tomatoes and not enough of the plum ones so I mixed and matched them all to fit. (worked fine). Another layer of black pepper went in on top.
At this point I was too tired to continue and needed a rest, so just covered everything with plastic wrap and shoved it in the fridge. Half an hour before guests arrived that evening I shoved it into the oven above the lasagne to cook.
I confess that it’s been so long since I’ve used anchovies that I couldn’t remember if I liked them or not… you know what it’s like: “should I use them or should I just give them a miss?” ….but was brave and put them in as the recipe asks and wasn’t dissapointed, this tastes great with anchovies, and I need not be nervous about anchovies ever again, they are better than I thought.
The fresh basil was the final note in the harmony of this dish… yum, seriously yummy and I’ve already passed on the BBC link http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/piedmontese_peppers_40938 to the three friends who came to dinner since they sang it’s praises too.
I delighted that I tried this recipe, it wasn’t hard, you can make it in advance up to the oven stage and it’s a keeper!