Pasta with puttanesca sauce, my way. Which meant taking the premise of 'slut's pasta' - tinned tomatoes, tinned tuna, some garlic - and adding chilli flakes for heat (to thaw my toes). I used homemade pasta sauce - made in the summer and squirrelled away in my gorgeous retro chest freezer (perhaps 50 years old, maybe more) that hums away in the garage - one of the best presents my parents have ever given me! Anyway, back to the sauce: dark ruby red, flecked orange with olive oil, just what I needed to give colour to the day.
I also squished in half a tin of cannelini beans - while not in any recipe I've seen, I'm sure those working girls had a tin of beans in their pantry alongside the Sirena. And, then just because I felt like it, some steamed brocolli and peas. I'm sure my Italian friend D would be horrified at these additions - that's not a proper puttanesca! Heresy! - but hey, it's my kitchen. Puttanas need their greens, too.
Some S&P, and some chewy pasta (the same I used in my mac cheese) - a comforting but not heavy dinner. I made so much after I served up that I have enough for my dinner again tonight, and enough to squirrel away into the chest freezer for another couple of meals.
While I prepared dinner, I had my pudding course toasting away in the oven.
The night before I had made some boozy apples. The plan was for apple tart, but I ran out of energy and time, and decided that what I really wanted anyway was a light, crisp, oaty crumble topping. So I made the boozy apples - I love saying 'boozy apples'! - a lightly caramelised concoction of apple wedges softened in brown sugar, water and sherry. Don't wrinkle your nose up at sherry until you've tried it in a dessert like this, where it lends a beautiful, mellow quality to the fruit. But drink it? No way.
Once softened, I piled them into a shallow pie dish and let the flavours deepen overnight while I pondered the crumble. So last night, all I had to do was mix up a crumble that resembled muesli: rolled oats, flaked almonds, a little coconut, and the tiniest amount of spice - much less than I usually use, but I didn't want the crumble competing with the mellow roundness of the cherried apples.
The crumble was a fidget with my 'Nigella's crumble' - that's what I have written on the page; I have no idea of the precise providence. I recalled from last winter that this could be a bit biscuit-like, not what I was after this time. So I drastically reduced the butter and flour, allowing the oats and flaked almonds to become the focus. The final result was quite loose - if you want something more solid, I guess work your way back to the original butter and flour quantities. But I liked this 'loose' topping. Just enough toasty crispness to complement rather than dominate those rich, translucent, almost jelly-soft apples beneath.
I had sour cream on the side. And seconds.
Use in a crumble, or a pie or tart, or just enjoy by itself. I don't know where I got this recipe from.
- Peel, core and cut into wedges 6 to 8 apples.
- Place 25 grams each of white and light brown sugar (this adds up to a quarter cup, so do half and half in that) into a heavy pan/pot with 3 tablespns water. Cook till sugar dissolved, then add the apples and 1 tablespn sherry.
- Half-cover, get a light simmer going, and cook til the apples tender and liquid reduced (this took me about half an hour).
- Then combine 1 tablespn sherry, 1 tablespoon white sugar, and 1 teaspn cornflour. Add this to the apples and stir around til combined.
- It's now ready to use.
I give you the original recipe and, where different, my quantity in brackets. Either this pie dish was smaller than ones I have previously used, or I am becoming more moderate in my old age, but I only used about half this. The remainder too went into the freezer for another day.
- 125 grams butter, melted (50 grams)
- 60 grams rolled oats
- 40 grams flaked almonds
- 30 grams coconut (20 grams)
- 70 grams plainflour (50 grams)
- 1 teaspn each cinnamon and mixed spice (1/4 teaspn each)
- 75 grams light brown sugar (50 grams)
- Combine these, sprinkle over your fruit, and cook at 180 until as brown as you like - about 25 minutes at least for me.