At The Foot Of The Pointy Bits - Switches Blog at - 246945


At the foot of the pointy bits 
Aug. 14, 2011 7:00 am 
Updated: Feb. 25, 2012 7:58 am
Well folks,

So here we go with some more (hopefully rivetting) information.

This year we have had a funny summer - very hot back in April and May, but not that much sun after the vegetables were planted.

This year, my tomatoes just aren't developing as well as they did last year. Last year you may remember we had plants nearly six feet tall - this year none is more than two feet, so far.

However, over on the other balcony, I have a pot of peppers near the rosemary and the sage (and the satellite dish).

Here is a shot of the peppers from a few angles.

And then, 1 week later:


Still so tiny!

OK, getting into the blog proper,
I will start with a few facts,
wander about all over the place and
bring it all together with a photo series 
of me preparing someone else's recipe!

Here we go:

Fact 1: SJ has a recipe which has been published
which was inspired by a visit twenty and more years ago 
to a famous restaurant in London called Bibendum.

Fact 2: I was recently hunting around for some books
I could send as presents to friends Stateside
and found a reference to a cookbook entitled
'Roast Chicken and Other Stories'.
Discussions with like-minded people
revealed that the author,
or one of them any way,
was called Simon Hopkinson.

So Simon is very much the fundamental inspiration behind this blogisode.

One person with whom I was talking
then told me that Simon H was just about to start a TV series,
and that it would be well worth watching.
So I did,
and it was,
and I have recorded each of the six episodes,
each with 5 recipes (if memory serves).
One of the dishes he did
made Diana and I turn and look at each other
and say: "Tomorrow!"
So we did indeed make it the next day.

And have repeated it since to great acclaim.

But first let me give you a little more information about Simon H.

A friendship with the Conrans led to the establishment of Bibendum in 1987,
where he worked as chef and joint proprietor
with Sir Terence Conran and the late Lord Paul Hamlyn.

In 1994, his first book
'Roast Chicken and Other Stories'
(co-authored with Lindsey Bareham)
was published;
it later won a Glenfiddich Food and Drink Award. 
In 2005 it was voted 'Most Useful Cookbook of All Time'
by Waitrose Food Illustrated magazine.

And now we move to more familiar territory in my blogs -
language, and language roots.

Way back at the time of Christ,
the most notable (to western historians) civilisation was
the Roman Empire.
These guys from Rome spoke a language called Latin.
And one hell of a lot of our modern English is based upon Latin.

For instance,
the word we have for mountain
comes from the Latin for a large hill or mountain,
which was 'mons'.
One singular mountain - mons -
many mountains - montes.
So the basic root of the word is 'mont-'

And modern Italian, for example,
has many place names such as Monte Cassino
(a particularly nasty spot in the Second World War)
and Montepulciano (much beloved of wine drinkers) -
indeed Monte Carlo in the south of France gets its name from
the time when this bit of real estate
was under the control of
the Dukes of Savoy and/or the Genovese.

Another word from Latin in modern English is pedestrian.
The Latin for a foot is 'pes', the root of which word is 'ped-'.
So our pedestrian is someone who goes on foot.
Another English word is pedometer,
a measure of how many strides are taken -
then there are pedals, pedestals etc etc.,
all referring to a foot in some way or another.

The modern French for a foot is 'pied',
and in Italian it is 'piede' -
no prizes for guessing from where they derive!

Talking of Italy,
it is divided into a number of regions
(20 including Sardinia).
The capital is of course Rome
which is in the middle of the Lazio region -
a region on the west coast, just about half way up.

Up the coast,
just north of Lazio
is the region of Toscana,
Tuscany to us English-speakers,
which contains famous places such as
Siena, Firenze (Florence) and Pisa,
amongst many others -
wine drinkers will recognise many many names from here.

Following the coast still,
we get to the curved coastal strip region of Liguria,
which contains such places as Genova (Genoa to us).
This strip curves off to the west and the south-west
along to the French border.

And just above, i.e. North,
of this curving coastal region is
the region I want to tell you about.

And the reason for all this waffle.

This 'new' region is called Piemonte,
or, in English, Piedmont.
Which you will now understand means
'the foot of the mountains' -
and it was this that inspired the blogisode title.

This region spreads all the way north to the Swiss border and
is hemmed in on the west by the French 'Alpes Maritimes' -
the Maritime Alps to us.
At the region's centre is the major city of Torino (Turin to us).

. . .

No - I haven't forgotten Simon H!

This is the connection -
the recipe I am about to show you is from his TV show
(and also his latest cookbook called 'The Good Cook')
and is called Piemontese Peppers -
a.k.a. Peppers from Piedmont!

It is simple, delicious and so satisfying.

Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F), ten or so degrees less in a fan oven.

First you will need a handful of tomatoes,
on the small side of medium,
but larger ones can be used and halved or even quartered.
But these tomatoes must be de-skinned -
which is simplicity itself -
just put them into a bowl and cover with boiling water.
I slice light cuts into the skins before immersing them,
but this is not strictly necessary.
Gently stir the tomatoes about,
getting them to roll around in effect.
When the skin splits,
just fish them out of the water and
rub them between your thumb and fingers -
the skin just slips off.

Ok, so onto the preparation of the peppers.

The RED peppers.

No other colour could work so well.

First I snip off what I call the 'shop end' of the stalk,
leaving a good inch or more on it.

Now I slice the pepper in half, through the stalk.

Now I carefully cut across the base of the stalk on the inside.

Why carefully?

When doing this,
remember that the material there is considerably tougher,
so use your knife carefully,
making sure not to fly across and
slice into the outside of the pepper.

I then loosen the white inner material on the ribs.

Now I turn the pepper halves upside down and
tap them onto a chopping board -
bingo, all the cut out seeds etc etc just fall out.
How easy is that?

Slice a garlic clove or two (or three, or four, or ....) and
line the inside of the pepper halves with these slices.

Add a little freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sea salt crystals.

Now crush the tomatoes into the peppers
(they can spit juice quite easily so I suggest wearing an apron)

A grind or two (or three) of the black pepper mill over the top,
another pinch or so of sea salt crystals and
we are just about ready.
They certainly look good enough to eat as they are!

Place the peppers,
tomatoes upwards
in an oven-proof dish and
then generously glug in plenty of olive oil,
filling up the peppers to overflowing and
getting the edges as well.
So that the peppers are sitting in a shallow pool of oil.

Into the oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
Check that its not burning after 30 minutes or so
(which is why I do NOT use a metal tray)
and if they are, just reduce the heat a little.
We want them done until the edges just begin to darken.

They are just SO good like that.

HOWEVER, we can take it up another notch .......

Have ready 2 anchovy filets per pepper half,

 and lay them diagonally across
as soon as the peppers come out the oven.
The heat will 'melt' the fishy bits into the food.

(I did some 'sticky' sort of roast potatoes as well on this occasion)

Decorate with some fresh basil leaves.

Spoon over the oven dish juices and serve, either alone or as a side.

Simon, you are now a registered food hero of mine!

Aug. 14, 2011 7:15 am
Oh, Phil...I am going to try that recipe when my peppers are bigger. I know exactly what you are referring as far as the tomatoes growing. We've had some rather unusual weather here in the Pacific Northwest this summer, as has the rest of the country. Ours has been opposite of the searing heat wave, our temperatures have not even reached 90 degrees yet and it sure did rain, well into July. Last year my tomatoes were huge and beautiful, this year, most are succumbing to some weird weather related blight. I teased Bob this spring that I could grow a better garden...I should know better than to do that because my garden looks like and his tomato plant, out back under the pine tree, is flourishing and looks beautiful. I planted a big container full of bush peas this year, they did pretty good, I'll try them again, but the star of my garden are my lemon cucumbers...I planted 6 starter plants and they are coming along amazingly well. Back to that recipe, Bob & I love anchovies and that seems like a simple, delicious recipe...the kind of recipe that lets the flavor of the pepper and tomato shine and the anchovies just enhance that. I'm glad to see you back blogging, I've missed reading your blog with my coffee on Sunday morning. Good job, my friend and, please, give my best and many hugs to Diana!
Aug. 14, 2011 10:00 am
Hi Phil, i'm definitely going to try this recipe. it looks like a wonderfully yummy summery dish, the only drawback is using the oven. temperatures have been in the mid thirties here for the past month and we have no a/c in our house! when the weather cools off, i will definitely try it though. i thoroughly enjoyed your blog and i too have Simon's book 'Roast Chicken..' and love it too. love to you and Di.
Aug. 14, 2011 10:52 am
Awesome recipe! Not to mention the great pics! This is a must try for me... Thanks!
Aug. 14, 2011 11:17 am
That looks so tasty! And it is very simple. I have some nice tomatoes on the plants but they haven't ripened. But peppers are plentiful so I will but the tomato at the Farmers Market. Thanks for sharing and say Hi to Sarah Jane and Diana.
Aug. 14, 2011 11:29 am
Wow - turn my back for a moment, and I have some comments. I have found that someone has posted the relevant episode to YouTube - check out: I hope that URL works in the States.
Aug. 14, 2011 11:31 am
Dear Laurrie, thanks for being the first and for the news and the kind comments. One day let me know what you think about the subs book, would you?
Aug. 14, 2011 11:32 am
Wow Wizza - did you join AR just so you could comment here? What devotion. Our love back.
Aug. 14, 2011 11:33 am
Terry T - thanks for taking the trouble to comment. I'm sure you will love it. And welcome to my weird world.
Aug. 14, 2011 11:36 am
BSM - you are always so kind and this is a simple one that I'm sure you'll love. Diana says hi back, but Sonya Jane is still in South Africa - we Skype so I will pass on your kind thoughts.
Aug. 14, 2011 11:51 am
Oh, those peppers look so yummy! Definately gonna give them a try! Good to 'see' you again, Phil...hope all is well! :)
Aug. 14, 2011 12:00 pm
I have missed your Sunday columns! Thanks for the one today. Those peppers sound so easy and delicious! I love it when you are my tour guide through areas I might never get to see! The language connection is fascinating!
Aug. 14, 2011 6:25 pm
Phil, so good to see you back. I have missed reading your blogs. They are always so interesting and informatative. ((hugs)) to all....Ginny
Aug. 14, 2011 6:34 pm
That subs book is even has a sub for smoked zebra...not sure what dish that would be, but, by God! There is a substitution for it...LOL! Seriously, I love that book and it was fun to read up on things that I had no idea even existed, let alone having a sub for it. Thanks again!
Aug. 15, 2011 8:28 am
Good morning, Phil! I'll be using your recipe in the very near future. ... How you cut the peppers is how I cut peppers for stuffed peppers. It makes a decent portion without serving a huge portion. ... Maybe, in your next post you could explain how you winter over your herbs. I put all of my herbs in pots this year so I could keep them year-round. I have a couple plans but that's me making plans.
Aug. 15, 2011 1:26 pm
FINALLY! May I look forward to more posts? The recipe looked like something only I would truly enjoy in this house but since both of my men will be gone I can cook what I like!!!! Just sorry it took me so long to catch up with you :)(:
Aug. 15, 2011 6:46 pm
You are a wonderful teacher. I am an apprenticed chef and it is because of excellent teachers, like yourself, that a great love for good food was born in me and I learned the art of taking simple ingredients and making great food. I want to thank you for taking the time to use the talent you have to teach the rest of us - and you may never know their name, but very possibly a new chef has been born today by your inspiring words and pictures.
Aug. 17, 2011 3:08 am
Hi Christina - thanks for dropping in - don't forget to let me know what you think of the pepper dish! RL is a tad hectic at the moment!
Aug. 17, 2011 3:10 am
Hi Sue - HAVING to produce a blog every week got so that it compromised the quality, I thought. So after a very hectic start to the year, I have decided to contribute when I have something of quality to share. It's nice to know that regulars like yourself will appreciate my efforts.
Aug. 17, 2011 3:12 am
Hi Ginny - much appreciative of your continual support! Please also see my answer to Sue just above! I will make a promise that all future ones WILL be posted on a Sunday :-)
Aug. 17, 2011 3:13 am
WW - that sounds great!
Aug. 17, 2011 3:17 am
Mike - thanks for popping in - the rosemary, sage and thyme I actually leave out all winter, admittedly with a felt mat under the pot to separate it from the bare concrete. Tomatoes I plant every May, buying the plants from a local greenery shop - this year I have 6 plants and five different varities. Always good to 'hear' from you, and I must get to commenting on your blog soon, but after having had no computer for most of July, I have such a lot of sh1t to catch up with - my inbox had 1684 entries by the time the computer came back from the shop!
Aug. 17, 2011 3:19 am
Hi Cat - you say 'Finally' - does that mean you missed my blog a couple of weeks ago? (I thought you commented - mental note - go check). I intend to blog more frequently but can't keep up the what was in the end punishing schedule of EVERY Sunday. But I love you for always dropping in. Keep smilin'
Aug. 17, 2011 3:21 am
l2c - aw shucks - *blush* (well I would if I could remember how to!) I do so appreciate your comments and this one was a little special - thanks!
Aug. 17, 2011 5:27 am
Love the pictures!
Aug. 17, 2011 2:03 pm
Deep sigh! Had a nice long post and got bounced off. Nope didn't see last month's. My bad! Loved it and this one!
Aug. 18, 2011 4:38 pm
That looks amazing! Thanks for the step by step. So glad you are back and posting again. You've been missed!
Oct. 28, 2011 8:37 am
So glad you are back! What a recipe, can't wait to try. As soon as I don't need a co-signer for a red pepper, lol. Hope to hear from you often, just not every Sunday, good grief Charlie Brown, nobody else on AR does that! Do they? Sorry to be slow to see this blog, have been busy with other stuff...check me out here.
Feb. 25, 2012 7:58 am
This is my idea of blog heaven Phil. History lesson, Latin lesson, and cooking lesson to boot! This recipe sounds like one I need to add to the repertoire and also sounds really (dare I say, I do so hate to...)healthy. I'm looking forward to trying this soon, you've also motivated me to really try and get to growing some tomatoes and peppers this year in my rainy Irish weather. Thanks for a great post Phil!
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Swiss Phil

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Bern, Bern, Switzerland

Member Since
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About Me
Currently unemployed, I spend a lot of time researching food and foodstuffs, and keeping my working wife happy. I also ski, write novels, watch sport and get bored on a treadmill. Stumbled across this site on the 1st Feb. Seems pretty good.
My favorite things to cook
Roast Beef and the trimmings, Fish of various sorts, Soups, Stews, Casseroles, Stir Fry, Chicken Liver Parfait, Salmon Tartare, and on and on and on. Every August, I do a nine course meal for friends (12 of them) with appropriate wines.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My family....cook....HA!
My cooking triumphs
My August meals.
My cooking tragedies
Placing my bare hand on a hot ceramic field on the stove. Failed Yorkshire puddings when the gas went off in the middle of cooking a roast dinner. Slicing the top of my finger off when slicing Courgettes (Zucchini) on a mandolin - thus inventing a new dish which I called "Raw meat with red courgettes"
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