Penne with Arrabiata

Tonight was a delightful meal that Diane fixed for our enjoyment.  She makes her Arrabiata Sauce quite liquid so the sauce can make its way into the penne.  I know people joke about the many varieties of pasta that the Italians have but first of all you must consider that Italy was divided into many provinces before Garibaldi unified the country and each one of those provinces made their own particular pastas that matched their own particular sauces then one begins to understand why there are so many varieties. 

Each province has its own interpretation of the shape that allows the pasta sauce to get into the folds of the pasta so that the sauce is not just on the outside surface of the pasta but penetrates into the pasta thus making a more satisfying dish.  If, therefore, you are a little strange as I am, you kind of spend your time in markets trying to seek out new pasta shapes and then marrying the shape to a particular sauce.

I mention all of this because Di’s sauce penetrated the pasta perfectly and because the pasta also had ribs on the outside of the penne that picked up small bits of the pasta sauce; the marriage was perfect and can be expected to last many decades.  

Rice and Fish

Yesterday’s meal ticked all the boxes: it tasted good, it was low in calories and it did not take Diane long to prepare. We both enjoyed a plate of her steamed rice with fairly large pieces of Silver Cobbler scattered on top.  She added sautéed onion and garlic, with peas added very close to the completion and further flavouring came from turmeric.  The dish was filling with no stress on the chef.  She prepared a light cleansing salad for us to end a simple but delicious meal.

Gozlemi Lunch

As a prelude to yesterday’s dinner we ate a Kurdish lunch before our movie. The stand in the Southland’s Shopping Centre calls itself Kurdish but because Kurdishstan is not yet a country and because much of the territory is in Turkey the food is also very close to Turkish food you can eat much the same Gozlemi in a Turkish stand. The proprietor is a Kurd as is his wife and three children who all work at the stand.

For those readers who have never had a Gozlemi they are one of the great snack foods of the world: French Crepes, American Hotdogs, Mexican Tamales, Australian Meat Pies, Japanese Sushi, etc. They are made with two large pieces of thin Turkish bread with one half covered (like ours yesterday) with spinach leaves and sprinkled with Feta cheese. Then the second half is placed on top, the edges are crinkled to prevent separation, turned over to heat thoroughly and last step, the Gozlemi is cut into strips about two centimetres/one inch wide and devoured lovingly.

This lunch cut our appetite so not only did we eat later in the evening but we also ate a small dinner. Diane made us a sandwich and some coleslaw and that was more than enough for our evening meal.


Fresh Pesto

Yesterday was another beautiful moderate early autumn day so we decided to make some fresh pesto from the basil in our herb garden. I separated the leaves from the stems (the guys get the complicated jobs) and Diane added the Parmigiano, the garlic, the almonds and pine nuts with the olive oil. Give the whole thing a good blend and voila you have the best pesto you can imagine because it is fresh.
To begin the meal Di made us a small plate of: small strips of prosciutto, very small Genovese olives, pickled small mushrooms and her own olives from last year. I guess the Italians would call this a primo piatto but we are skipping the main course because the secondo piatto is going to be our main course. We decided to use some delicious imported potato gnocchi to marry with our fresh pesto. The marriage was made in heaven; the ingredients loved each other and we loved the dish.
Diane finished the meal with a lovely balsamic salad and all was right in Leeming!

For good or bad I have returned. Yesterday evening I finally cleared my in-box: having answered all the correspondence and looked at all the Brasscheck videos: I believe that I am ready to record the marvellous meals that are served in this quiet little tree shrouded house in Leeming.

Last night’s meal was a cracker! Diane made a wonderful dish whose recipe was made with olives from our trees that came from a gorgeous little city in western Tuscany called Luca. Luca, not surprisingly, is known for its marvellous olive oil and also from a famous meeting in 56BC of the three most powerful men in ancient Rome at that time: Caesar, Pompey and Crassus; this meeting was called the Second Triumvirate.

We have been using this recipe for about 35 years but it can only be made when the olives are just turning from green to black so that the olives (at least as we appreciate them) gives the dish a strange muted bitter taste that is married to the more relatively sweet taste of the meat in the stew.

The cookbook from which we lifted this recipe is called A Taste of Tuscany illustrated and written by Leslie Forbes from 1985. It is a delightful cookbook with her coloured sketches appearing on every page. She visits nearly every city in Tuscany deriving recipes from those cities.

First of all let me admit that occasionally we have digressed from her recipe by using pieces of chicken rather than lamb because that is what is in the freezer. Her recipe call for: 1 Ka–2 lbs of lamb, 400G—14 oz of peeled and seeded tomatoes, 30 black olives, 8 TB sp olive oil, 2 sprigs of rosemary, 2 wine glasses of white wine, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, and seasonings.

Cook the garlic and rosemary, add the lamb cook until browned, add the wine and cook until most has evaporated then the tomatoes and add to the lamb. Cover the pan and cook over a very low heat until tender: with lamb abut 1 1/2 hours with chicken considerably less. It is best when poured over fresh polenta.