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!
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,
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.
and I have recorded each of the six episodes,
each with 5 recipes (if memory serves).
made Diana and I turn and look at each other
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.
'Roast Chicken and Other Stories'
(co-authored with Lindsey Bareham)
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
These guys from Rome spoke a language called Latin.
And one hell of a lot of our modern English is based upon Latin.
the word we have for mountain
comes from the Latin for a large hill or mountain,
One singular mountain - mons -
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
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!
it is divided into a number of regions
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.
is the region of Toscana,
Tuscany to us English-speakers,
which contains famous places such as
Siena, Firenze (Florence) and Pisa,
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' -
At the region's centre is the major city of Torino (Turin to us).
. . .
No - I haven't forgotten Simon H!
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.
just fish them out of the water and
rub them between your thumb and fingers -
Ok, so onto the preparation of the 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.
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.
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
They certainly look good enough to eat as they are!
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!