So the time and space for blogging has been a bit thin on the ground recently, and I think it’s going to get a whole heap worse before it gets any better. It’s all well and good planning your ideal kitchen but somehow I underestimated the preceding chaos. And that’s saying something considering the background chaos that we’re used to dealing with around here, believe me. So for the next couple of weeks or so (fingers crossed) simple is the name of the game. Don’t even ask about the couple of weeks after that.
There is just something about this time of year that makes me want to keep serving up steaming pots of stews and casseroles. Preferably with loads of autumnal veg and definitely my fair share of carbs. I’m not sure why really. It hasn’t even got that cold yet but I for one am all about some comfort food right now. I could eat it all day; the only problem is finding the time to make it all. But that’s where this recipe comes in.
Physalis, that tiny paper covered cousin of the tomato is back. If you like a tart little treat you’ll be relishing them just as they are, minus their papery cases (that goes without saying) but if you’re like me, you’ll be looking at them, sitting there looking more than reminiscent of their Mexican cousin the tomatillo, thinking they must have so much more to offer other than the traditional pies and flans. And as there’s nothing like putting a good theory to the test, that’s just what I did.
They started slowly it’s true. The first few early birds serving as an advance party to warn of the impending invasion. But, as is the way every October, my kitchen is suddenly inundated with squashes. I’m not complaining but I’m quite convinced that if I could eat them morning, noon and night I’d still not make much headway so I’m always trying out new ways to enjoy them. And of course, (somewhat more challenging) for the kids to enjoy them. If left to them they’d veg eternally in their soup/ curry/ cake loop but I get bored and feel obliged to mix things up a bit. A change is as good as a break after all, and surely we all need one of them.
Like I’ve said before this is the time of year that really makes me feel like a culinary throw back to the days long gone; if not quite medieval then definitely pre-refrigerators. The desire to preserve anything and everything is strong and, I’m not going to lie to you, gets a bit stressful at times. Well, for me anyway. The problem is that everything makes an appearance at once and stays at its best for such a short window. Damsons are no exception.
Well it’s that time of year again when we should all be donning our hunter wellies and skipping off around the fields filling every vessel we can lay our hands on with blackberries and other fruits of the hedgerows. I don’t know about you but I love it. Trouble is some years it seems harder than others to find the time. That’s when my back up plan comes in handy. I send the boys and accept the fact that not so many blackberries come back. But luckily usually just enough for some hedgerow jelly and this gorgeous autumnal stew.
So summer has officially shifted over to make way for autumn and now the flimsy clothes have been packed away it’s time to stop all the lounging around (I know I’m finding it hard too), start making the most of all those serious produce gluts and start cooking. I’m not sure about you but I don’t know of a better place to start than with some gorgeous autumnal plums. And cake of course.
I know I’ve talked before about necessity being the mother of all invention on this blog before but never is that more true than in a house filled with boys. Maybe it’s just mine but I’m never sure whether they exist on the same dimension as me. I’m not complaining; it has led to quite a few spectacular culinary discoveries in my house and last week has was no different.
I’m not really that particular when it comes to good food. I like most of it and I like a lot of most of it (moderation is a work in progress for me; serving sizes have never been my strong point) so perhaps it will surprise you to know that I also love lovely little plates of tapas. Possibly because it represents as good a reason as any to sample most of what the menu has to offer but that’s by the by. I’d find it hard though to condense down though to one or two of my favourite dishes; Spanish cooking always seems so undeservedly underrated to me. From the garlicky prawns to the Serrano hams served with various cheeses all the way through to the octopus salads, simple tortillas, anchovies, olives or padron peppers the choices are almost infinite. And hidden in there comes this dish. I couldn’t even dream of claiming this as one of my own as one of my own; even the briefest trip through Spain will reveal hundreds of variations on the theme but this is my take on it. So good that if you don’t fancy preparing the other bits or bobs for a true tapas feast you can serve a soup bowl full of it up rustic style with a hunk of crusty bread on the side. Make it in advance if you’re that organized and let the flavours develop then serve it a bit warmer than room temperature or stick it in an ovenproof dish and crack a couple of eggs into a couple of wells you made for just that purpose and bake for a different version of heuvos rancheros. Your choice. However you serve it it won’t matter. It’s always delicious.
There’s nothing like a summer holiday for making me feel like my body is a temple (and no, not to Bacchus). Who knows, perhaps you feel like that constantly if you live in a tropical paradise. Perhaps the urge to hunker down and survive off stews and stodgy puddings never comes. And conversely perhaps if you hail from colder climes lighter fare such as today’s fruity salad are an anathema to you. But the point is, I don’t. And I rather like the way the seasons change where I’m from (sometimes as much as all in one day in the UK but that’s beside the point) bringing with them endless opportunities to mess around with meals.