take a large violet pearl aubergine, slice it, fry the slices in hot olive oil, lay them on a tray, cover them in tomato sauce, top with mozzarella, bake in the oven, sprinkle with basil.
roast the leeks in the oven, score them lenghtwise, fill the opening with sweet gorgonzola, put back in the oven for a couple of minutes.
eat several helpings of both.
a few days ago the sun shone bright and warm(ish) over brighton.
if we are lucky springtime might actually come sometime soon, i thought.
among many other more meaningful things it made me realize i do not have much time to talk about one of my favourite winter comfort foods.
(yes, i was actually leisurely pushing my little girl's pram on the seafront and worrying about this blog. ten out of ten for dedication!)
there's no lack of winter comfort foods where i am from, a small town on a lake close to the swiss border, with an average of 250 rainy days per year and ball freezing cold winters aplenty.
my mom is from the northof italy too, from a region where rice is grown extensively and october fogs last until february.
that's how mediterranean i am. there's no olive oil in my childhood memories.
my mom cooked with butter, sunflower oil, cream - not at same time, mind you, i wouldn't be here to tell the tale - and one of her signature dishes is maiale al latte o pork cooked in milk and cream.
a nice piece of roasting pork is browned in butter (note to british readers: remove all skin first) then covered in cream an milk and left to braise for one and a half hours or until you see it's going to break under a slight pressure of a fork. you want it to be *tender*.
when its ready i slice the meat and transfer the lot in a roasting tin with some porcini mushrooms and boiled potatoes. the tin goes under the grill to give the lot a slightly charred edge.
serve on its own and eat all snuggled up in warm clothes with someone you love and a glass of a nice ruby red wine of medium body (nebbiolo, grignolino).
who needs the sun?
to my knowledge there are two situations in life in which some people feel authorized to brag about their ignorance and wear it on their sleeve like a badge of honour.
the first is computers: phrases like "me? i don't even know how to switch the bloody thing on" or "e -mail? I couldn't send one to save my life" are usually delivered with a self satisfied grin and a certain disdain.
even worse though, is the fierce pride with which some people declaim that they "can't cook, won't cook". these people will usually eat junk straight from a dodgy tv ad via a microwave, spend fortunes on take aways and restaurants and end up fattening up their arteries first, and the atkins empire's vaults later.
it defies me: after all it takes some training to use a computer but cooking is more than anything, a state of mind, an attitude. what does it take to make a good healthy meal? at a certain level, nothing. and i have the proof.
a few nights ago i was feeling tired and lazy. blessed as i was with a pause in child caring duties and two episodes of the simpsons in a row i still needed to feed my lovely partner and myself.
as it often happens i had some fresh mackerel and fennels.
i wrapped the mackerel in foil with: no herbs, no spices, no condiments., no oil, no lemon.
i chopped up the fennel.
did i add oil and herbs?
couldn't be bothered.
stuffed the lot in the oven.
nailed myself on the sofa until the first ad break of the second episode.
the fish was perfectly cooked, its fats good enough to keeep the flesh tender and moist, its freshness more than enough to provide a wonderful flavour.
and fennel was just slightly charred, which only added to its charm.
a meal worth of the great homer himself.