I will never get to try all of the recipes in my cookbooks.
Ok, so maybe I don’t even want to try all of them, but clearly there are plenty that I would like to try. In practice, though, I will only ever attempt to recreate a small fraction of the dishes that lie between the bookcovers, and not for want of trying. Yes, technically, I could probably survive quite well on a much smaller cookbook allowance. What am I saying, I could (as it were) go cold turkey on my cookbooks as long as I had access to the ever-growing wealth of food writing and recipes available on the internet and the necessary patience to filter through it all. That, however, is really not the point. As recently observed over at the Constables’ Larder: “Cookbooks are a purchase of desire, not necessity.” How true that is.
Farinata: a savoury Italian delight
So I’ve developed a little obsession with just what is possible with gluten-free flours of late. Happily, this brought to mind a recipe I came across a few years ago in Is There A Nutmeg In The House, a collection of writings by the wonderful Elizabeth David. The recipe was for farinata, an Italian dish made with gram flour (aka chickpea flour) and really very little else (water, salt and olive oil to be precise). The first time I made it, I was a bit sceptical about so few ingredients amounting to much, but it transpired that less, in this case, was most definitely more. The result was a very tasty and versatile little number that you could eat as a snack on its own or use much as you would slices of that other great gluten-free accompaniment, polenta . Of course, it’s got a different texture to polenta and its own distinctive flavour, but it certainly makes for a worthy alternative.
The pressure cooker was pressed into action today for the first time since its ordeal the other week, reverting to what it does best, getting pulses cooked in a vaguely practical amount of time.
That was always the trouble with dried pulses – the chickpeas, the kidney beans, the black beans, the butter beans et al. – cooking with them was anything but impulsive (unless, of course, you bought the tinned variety, which was always an option). Dried pulses, however, always involved a fair amount of advance planning: overnight soakage in water, then (in the case of chickpeas), 2 hours worth of simmering to get something suitably tenderised. The pressure cooker, along with the quick-soak method, revolutionised all of that.