Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Italian Octopus Stewed in White Wine and Tomatoes

I can imagine it's pretty hard getting people into eating octopus, especially since it looks so haggard and creepy, but if you give this recipe a try it'll get a bunch of people converted I'm sure. I went to the market expecting to pay loads for a whole octopus but it was like, £3.50 - which I stretched between three people. I think that's good value. Also, it took me about 40 minutes between stages 1 and 2 to de-oil the thing and tear its guts out - both of which are pretty gross. For me, you just stick Ride the Lightning on and go to work, but you'll need a strong stomach! This dish is really awesome - so tangy and fresh tasting, you'll hardly stop to over-think the whole octopus deal - it just tastes great.

You Need:
1 whole octopus
3 cloves garlic
1 cup of white wine
1 small green chilli
1 tin of good choppped tomatoes
3 big-ish tomatoes
1 tbl spoon sugar
salt & pepper

Serve with crusty bread, butter and olive oil or, alternatively, pasta.

1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and then throw the whole octopus in. It's gonna freak you out: it kind-of shrivels up and looks like it's coming alive and stuff - gnarly.
2. Chop up the tentacles and some of the 'head' section into mouthful-sized pieces after you've thoroughly cleaned the monster and fry in some olive oil with the chopped garlic.
3. After about 5 minutes frying, chop the chilli pepper and add that, then a minute after that turn the heat down and add a glass of white wine and the big spoon of sugar and give it a little mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Bring the wine, octopus, garlic and chilli mixture to the boil for a few minutes before adding the tinned chopped tomatoes and roughly chopped fresh tomatoes.
5. Now let the whole deal just simmer for about half an hour. Check on it then, you may have to leave it a little longer... octopus is chewy, you can't get over that, but you want it to be digestible, right?
6. When we cooked this we got old-school and just served it with thick, fresh bread and nice butter and olive oil, proper Italian-style, but you could serve it with gnocchi or regular pasta I guess.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Italian Carbonara

Ok, so Victor was telling me how his grandparents are Italian and how awesome his carbonara is. This is where I thought carbonara is the cheesy ham sauce thing, right? It's kind-of boring and naf right?
WRONG!
So actually, it seems, carbonara RULES. It's since become this horrible supermarket creamfest, but the Italian way - you don't even use cream! This dish is totally perfect for the summer too as it's not that heavy and could be eaten hot or cold, sat in the garden listening to Black Mountain...

You Need:
Packet of fresh pasta
3 cloves garlic
2-3 handfuls parmesan cheese
4-6 rashers of cheap-ish bacon
3-4 eggs
lettuce, white onion, tomatos and balsamic vinegar (optional side salad)
salt & pepper
(serves 3-4 people)

1. Throw your fresh pasta in some salted boiling water for about 3-4 mins. You're using fresh pasta because it's awesome and not as expensive as you think, plus it tastes way better and cooks loads faster.
2. Whilst this is going on, chop your garlic up and your bacon and fry them in a little olive oil on a medium heat in a pretty big wok or frying pan. I prefer cheaper bacon because you're actually enhancing the flavours with the fat that comes off cheaper stuff (thanks Victor).
3. Once the pasta is done, drain then literally chuck it in with the garlic and bacon (which, by the way, will be smelling awesome by now) and give it a huge stir. Before anything can start sticking to your wok/pan, simply crack your eggs straight into the pasta/bacon/garlic mixture and get stirring!
4. By this time, I was a little freaked out by the whole 'throwing pasta into a hot frying pan' thing but by vigorously stirring all the time everything starts to look pretty good. Now you sprinkle parmesan cheese into the mix bit by bit. Obviously, the more your throw in, the cheesier it becomes but I don't recommend using other cheeses because it may taste good but it ain't carbonara kid...
5. Turn the heat off the mixture and quickly bang together your salad - some lettuce, half a medium-choppped onion, chunks of tomato and a healthy dressing of balsamic (and olive oil if you're feeling crazy) in a side bowl.
6. Serve your pasta with a little salad, a drizzle of olive oil and you're golden!!

Hey!

Hey guys, just a quick introduction to this whole deal...

I love cooking. Like, seriously love it. I love meandering around the local market and asking questions to gnarly old dudes who run gnarly old butchers. I love buying the weirdest fish I can get and then working out how the hell I make it taste awesome.

So here I am writing a blog about my everyday encounters with cooking rad food. And I'm going to try and explain it so that my friends (and my not-friends) can learn that cooking amazing food doesn't have to be this serious, hardcore task that you dread - it should be fun! I guess that's where the 'punk rock' bit comes from. Don't get me wrong - I love punk rock music - but this is about trying to explain and explore cookery in a way that is so far removed from reading Jamie Oliver books: just straight-talking food. With maybe a few little anecdotes thrown in for good measure...

Anyways, hope you enjoy the blog and feel free to mail me at harry.johns@hotmail.co.uk about how much of a dick I am or some recipes I should try out etc.

Peace!