Farfalle con i Broccoli e le Acciughe

You know how it is.  Sometimes you look in the fridge and cupboard and think WTH!! What can I make out of this lot!  Well, experiments can turn out well and sometimes, much to my surprise, I find either Italians or Indians [dependent on the amount of spices used] have got there first!  This recipe has its home in Southern Italy, the Apulia region I later found, and it has become a favourite quick meal for ‘Veggie/Piscatorial’ friends when they drop in.

A small head of Broccoli; a good glug of decent Olive Oil; a can of anchovy fillets in oil; 3 oz Manchego cheese, freshly grated; black pepper.  400 g of Farfalle [pasta bows] or Conchigle or similar.

Cut off the broccoli florets, halving if overlarge, slice the stalk into thin rounds.  [I invariably keep my broccoli in the fridge standing in a bowl of water having cut off the bottom slice.  Keeps it fresh & green ’til you need to use it.]  Steam over a pan of boiling water for about 5 mins, removing while still Al Dente.  Then cut the florets into small pieces.

Heat the oil over a medium heat and add the anchovies, oil and all, snipping them up small with scissors.  Add all the steamed broccoli, and stir and cook together for 2/3 minutes. When well melded together grind plenty of black pepper over the mix, and turn the heat right down.

Bring your pasta water to a rolling boil adding a little rock salt and olive oil, then cook your pasta.  Drain and put into a warmed bowl, stirring with a little olive oil.  Add the Broccoli mix and stir gently through.  Sprinkle the Manchego overall.

Then serve, and if asked, airily say, “This?”, “Oh it’s just something I knocked up from odds and ends……….”

Buono Appetito!

Mascarpone di Frutta

A simple but delicious way of making a boring fruit salad into a real treat!

I always use seasonal fruit and, as far as possible, local grown and/or organic, but Kiwis, Melons and Pineapples don’t [yet!] grow in the UK, so indulge yourself a little!

If available fresh English Strawberries, hulled of course and halved if large; Pears and Apples, cored & cut into largish chunks; Peaches and/or Nectarines stoned & cut as before. Kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced thick; A small melon, using the sweetest centre flesh in chunks; Black or White grapes halved.  A glassful of fresh orange juice; 1 1/2 oz brown sugar; 2 tbsp of organic runny honey; small tub of Mascarpone; 10/12 fresh picked Mint leaves [I transplant supermarket mint plants into terracotta pots and stand them in saucers of gravel, water the gravel, the plants take what they want, and last for a year at least!]

Warm the OJ and dissolve the sugar in it.  Pour over the mixed fruit in a shallow bowl and leave for 20 mins.  Mix the honey with the mascarpone.  Serve the fruit into individual bowls and put a large dollop of mascarpone on each.  Pick mint leaves, and roughly tear, then decorate the mascarpone topping with them.

Buono Appetito!

April Fools Day Concert at the Festival Hall

01_april_fools_day_concert_ukes_clusterThe first sunny day of Spring I found myself London Eye-side of the Embankment en route with a friend of the distaff persuasion to an April Fools Day Concert. I was irresistibly drawn there by the promise of an appearance of The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, and having missed several of their concerts this year I thought this might be the next best thing.

After opening screenshots of a suitably ribald /irreverent nature drew the audience together in laughter, The London Firebird Orchestra filed onstage, followed by Rainer Hersch, and the mayhem began.

Ginka’s Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla were variously mangled and thrown to the audience and the pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin came on to give us Beethoven, ‘but not as we know it Jim….’  Pachebel’s ‘Canon’ was thoroughly trashed in a similar vein.  Alistair McGowan, despite my misgivings, was very good and his rendition of the Mikado’s Song by Gilbert & Sullivan was a joy.  Enlivened as it was by various topical ‘digs’ at our current ‘Masters’.

Superb soprano Lindsay Sutherland-Boal stole the show with her version of the Strauss ‘Laughing Song’ sung by gargling with a bottle of Champagne.  Then after the interval The Ukes joined for an all too brief episode of Peter and the Wolf, narrated by Alistair McGowan. Then in a bit of ‘nonsense’ they did one of their gems, ‘The Devil’s Gallop’, or the’ Dick Barton Theme’ for those of a Radio4Extra persuasion.

A wonderful day, in aid of the Musicians Benevolent Fund, and bookmarked for next year already!

Sub-Inspector Sukinder Singh’s Naan Recipe

This recipe was passed to me by an acquaintance in the Indian Police Service many years ago.  It makes 12-16 Naan Breads so you may want to use some, and chill some, of the prepared Naans.  It probably means you will have to enjoy Curries for several days……. I know, I know, it’s a hard life, but someone has to do it………..


Bag of strong plain flour [not the el-cheep-o brand perleese!]; 2 tsp sugar; 1 tsp dried yeast; 1 tsp salt; pack of unsalted butter or ghee; 2 to 3 tsp each of Kalonji [Black Onion Seed], Cumin Seed, Poppy Seed. Jug with 1 pint of warm water / milk mixture 50/50 with the sugar and yeast added, cover in a warm place ’til frothy.

Sift out flour – add salt & seeds and mix thoroughly.  Cut up 1/2 the butter into small bits and ‘crumb’ into the flour.  Mix to dough adding the water/milk mix ’til a smooth dough obtained.  Cover in the mixing bowl with an oiled clingfilm or damp tea towel and leave in a warmish place to rise for an hour or so.  Then gently melt remaining butter / ghee

When risen, knock down, remove from bowl and knead lightly on a floured surface.  Roll into a long ‘sausage’ then cut into 12+ lumps.  [you can add almond flakes and sultanas at the ‘sausage’ stage to emulate a ‘Peshawari’ Naan if you really have to………] Roll and/or pull out into ‘India’ shapes, then stab each one with a fork about 6 times each side.

Cook 2 or 3 at a time under a hot grill, flipping when browned.  Take out each lot when done, coat with butter both sides, and pile up on a warmed plate covering with tinfoil to keep hot.

They keep remarkably warm in their tinfoil ‘hut’ and allow you time to panic about something else!

Mushrooms and Tomatoes with Fennel & Ginger

One of my friends’ favourite dishes.  Quick, easy, simple and delicious hot or cold.  Though, if you are like me, there’s rarely any left over for a cold sampling!

Ingredients to serve 4

Two or three, small to medium, tomatoes chopped into four pieces.  12-15oz mushrooms, firm small ones, nothing fancy.  1/2 tsp fennel seeds roughly crushed. 1/2 tsp ground ginger or 1/2 ” of fresh ginger finely sliced.  One dried red chilli, crushed. Veg or rice oil.  NOT Canola muck!

Cut the mushrooms in half down the centre of the stalk or in 4 slices if larger.  Heat a glug of oil over medium heat in a small frying pan. Add the mushrooms and stir for a couple of minutes.  Sprinkle over the spices, stir.  Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 mins or until the tomatoes soften thoroughly.  Serve without too much of the liquid that is inevitably given off  [mop it up with some spare Naan bread as you go along!]

Serve with Pooris or small Naans as a starter – Favourite Poori & Naan recipes to follow!


I awoke this morning
And my thoughts lay all with you
A mirrored sense of loss
The twined threads
Of joy and sorrow
The privilege to be
The gentle hand
That guides a soul to rest
Unbroken line returning
To other loves they knew
Or born again
Within a pure new child
Unknown weavings from
The Worlds’ Creator
The golden thread unbroken
In life
In love
In you.