With the holidays all but a distant memory, and her monumental pile of books returned to the library, the librarycook was delighted when the February issue of Delicious arrived.
And maybe it was a coincidence, but both recipes the librarycook chose were vegetarian – a reaction to the over-indulgence of the festive season, perhaps, or just in response to the bounty of the season.
First up was Yotam Ottolenghi’s Braised Eggs with Zucchini, Feta and Lemon. The librarycook will hear no criticism of Mr Ottolenghi or his work, and this recipe lived up to her expectations. Its C:R ratio* could have been better, with only 20 minutes of reading time, but the mix of lemon, feta, chilli, shaved zucchini and zucchini flowers was a winner. Especially when the dill was left out*.
Next up, a week or so later, the librarycook’s eye alighted on a recipe with the intriguing, slightly mysterious, title Pici with Basil, Lemon and Pecorino Canestrato. Pici, it turns out, are a thick, handmade pasta, originating in Siena, where perhaps they haven’t noticed that they looks startlingly like the casarecce which can be easily obtained at any good deli. The phrase “It takes around an hour to roll enough wiggly worms (the pici) to serve four” was enough to send the librarycook post haste to her local deli in pursuit of some casarecce. That hour was far better spent in the company of Garth Nix’s The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, an exuberating and wild ride through 1980s London – a London where mythical monsters and legendary beings are policed by a guild of magical booksellers.
So, the pasta problem having been sorted through strategic shopping, the sauce could not have been easier. Perhaps five minutes’ work zesting and juicing a lemon, and grating the Pecorino, and then into the pan with the cooked pasta and basil for a few moments longer. C:R, not great, but dinner on the table in about 15 minutes? Well worth a missed chapter or two.
*The librarycook acknowledges that leaving the dill out could be interpreted as criticism of Mr Ottolenghi. This is, however, his only fault.
*C:R ration – Cooking time vs Reading time – in the librarycook’s opinion, any time spent not reading is wasted time.