Friday, September 24, 2010


Anchovies. Little bone ridden creatures, sea bound until on the plate, and all too similar to the feel and taste of a cat's fur ball.

Until recently, the word 'anchovy' was one of those which, along with 'custard' and 't-t-t-trifle', would make me shudder at the mere mention. I'm not fussy, but who can trust eating a hairy fish, something you can walk on without sinking, or cake mixed with jelly with said wobbly, yellow slide? Not me.

But since working at Books For Cooks, anchovies have miraculously - just like that - been wiped from the list. I see them no longer as a water vermin but as salty delights to be gobbled at every opportunity. They are too, as I am often persuaded, an almighty hangover cure.

So to show my new love for anchovies, here is a recipe inspired by a Sicilian dish I ate last year, where sardines replaced the anchovies, and by Clara's Mum's special anchovy and broccoli spaghetti. This dish is a great way to ease you in lightly; the anchovies are hidden, cleverly melted into the onions. If you're a hater, it'll turn you; if you're a lover...well, need I say more?


200g broccoli, stemmed
300g good spaghetti
100g pine nuts, roasted
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
50-75g anchovy fillets in olive oil
100g raisins
handful of parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Boil a pan of water and throw the broccoli in for 3 minutes, or until it has a very slight bite. Add the spaghetti and cook for 8 minutes or as packet advises.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a frying pan until golden. Remove from the pan to a bowl to add to the sauce later on.

Using the same pan, heat up the olive oil and soften the onions and garlic on a low heat. Then add the anchovy fillets. With the end of a wooden spoon chop the fillets until they become a paste with the onion mix.

Add the raisins and the toasted pine nuts and mix. Blend half of the mixture with a hand blender or magi-mix. Drain the spaghetti and in a separate, warmed bowl, and fold in the blended sauce and broccoli. Serve on hot plates with the remaining, unblended sauce and a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley.

I use no salt or pepper in this recipe as I think the anchovies give it enough seasoning, but do add to your own taste. Replace the pine nuts and raisins, Clara style, with oven roasted cherry tomatoes and chilli flakes for some-a-bit-o-spicy-time. (For anchovy novices, add more chilli. No need to plunge in with the ladle before the spoon).

Monday, September 13, 2010


This blog is dedicated to my dish de la semaine. I've cooked it three times this week and it continues to excite me...who knew that wee green petit peas could be so wonderfully versatile?




large knob of salted butter
6 sleeves of prosciutto
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped and pasted
200g petit pois
40ml chicken stock
2 tbsp double cream (optional)

Fry the proscuitto in the butter until almost crispy. Remove the pork form the pan, saving the fat. Saute the onions in the fat until soft and salty. Add the garlic with the peas into the onions. Do not burnt the garlic. Add the stock and simmer until the liquid is all absorbed. Stir in the pork and add the cream. Pour hot from the pan into a warm bowl.

I had mine with a poached egg, and I recall groaning a little once the last mouthful went in. If cooked well, you will taste every ingredient that has gone in with the peas. Sweet, salty, crunchy, creamy...The fresh, sweet little garden pea is given a wild and creamy varooom, and you just can't get enough. Think hoppy grasshopper meets roaring hippo.

Try with sweet cure bacon, broad beans and mint for extra bite.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Has Autumn officially struck do we think? Wake up and it's sunny; go home and you wish you'd brought your woolly jumper? Leaves get stuck to the bottom of your shoe, your leisurely stroll unexpectedly skids into an awkward run, that excruciating laugh 'It's fine! Ha ha ha...', an autumnal shade of burnt umber rising up to your roots? I'd say it has.

Which is why I've chosen to cook Georgie's recipe for her Snobrod: the perfect nibble for those days when we're just not sure which season we're in. This authentic Danish recipe is originally cooked over the fire in the great outdoors, but can just as easily be baked in the oven for a bit of warmth if the weather's turned all umbrella.

Just before I left for life int smoke, I cooked this for friends on the beach. Not only did it cuddle our cockles then, but it's warming mine now just thinking about that first stringy bite.


200g flour
100ml water
1tbsp sugar
pinch salt
secret ingredient of your choice
(I used up some of our last Isle of Wight green figs, roasted and wrapped round with the dough)

'This is a recipe I used to cook with my sister as a little girl in is called 'Snobrod'.

'All you need is 200g flour, 100ml water, 1 tbsp sugar and some salt. Knead all the ingredients together to make a dough, divide into 4 portions and roll each portion into thin sausages.

'Wind each sausage securely around a stick (any stick that is lying around, normally best to pull the knobbles off them first!), and cook by turning the stick over the open fire until the Snobrod is brown and crispy.

'It is very basic, but it is tres can add any bit of magic to make it more exciting. Perhaps chop olives, raisins and cinnamon or parma ham into the mixture for extra flavour...'

A wonderful one. Thank you my dear Georgie.