old, cold, french fry soup

Obviously, I am not suggesting anybody goes and buys french fries to try this recipe, but if you ever find you have been entrusted with the care of an abandoned box of french fried waifs and strays with rigor mortis setting in, don’t call social services, don’t arrange a funeral 🙂 MAKE THIS SOUP! Even day old fries work fine.

2 parts water to 1 part old french fries, a clove of garlic chopped. Place in saucepan, bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer until all hard leathery bits have gone completely soft – usually about 10 minutes. Blitz. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Eh, voilà, before your very eyes will appear a velvety soup of honeyed gold – maybe it should be called cinderella soup – it is more properly a ‘Purée Parmentier’ – undoubtedly it’s the high oil content in the original fries that makes it taste so silky and delicious.

Mr Benz used to do this to me so often -ie, come home with uneaten/unwanted fries (like a bloody cat bringing you dead mice), that I had to come up with variations……
Nasturtium leaves added 3-4 minutes before the end – like watercress soup
A sprig of thyme, rosemary, sage or marjoram added at the beginning and removed before blitzing.
A few leaves of basil added just before blitzing.
A 1/4 of a porcini stock cube added to the cooking water, and a dribble of truffle oil added upon serving – a particular fav.
A dribble of olive oil you’ve fried with paprika and garlic, upon serving.

On this occasion, I added some of the wild garlic leaves about 2 minutes before the end of cooking.


Linguine with sage and oyster mushrooms

…last thursday week’s lunch

I got really excited because Lidl said they were doing a special offer on asparagus for £1 a bunch, but when I got there with my tongue hanging out, the bunches were only 125g….whereas the veg stall on Bethnal Green Rd has 250g for £1.50, which is unfortunately in completely the opposite direction to Lidls…walked out without spending anything.
The following recipe probably didn’t even need the oyster mushrooms (I don’t normally think of buying them because they’re free in the woods all summer/autumn long) but sage loves mushrooms and mushrooms love sage and my sage bush has gone mental with the advent of some warm weather and I had been looking forward to a small treat and,and
…any excuse 🙂
There is a really good Turkish shop – the only one in the area – close to my house, which is also practically the only shop that sells some West Indian/African veg near here – the East End Food Centre on Commercial Rd – and I went to buy veg for the Jamaican Pepperpot…they happened to have some really fresh looking oyster mushrooms loose for £4.99 a kilo (Sainsbury’s charge £10 odd a kilo, prepackaged and often past their best), so I bought 50g, enough for one generous portion, for 25p.
This recipe evolved from the classic Italian ‘Ravioli/Gnocchi al burro e salvea’ – the addition of salt and garlic is to replace the butter and copious Parmesan traditionally used, but the method is pretty much the same.

Ingredients 10-15mins
per person
100-125 g linguine or pasta of choice, dry weight
approx 50g oyster mushroom/mushroom of choice (optional)
1 fat clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
Fresh sage – 4 or so leaves

In a large/big enough pan, bring copious water to the boil with a good amount of salt. Cover with a lid until it’s boiling, it saves energy. Add pasta, cover again until it returns to the boil, stir in case the pasta has stuck together or to the bottom of the pan. Put the lid on a slant, because otherwise it will boil over, but keep on a hard rolling boil until cooked al dente – follow guidelines on the packet more or less, but sample until it’s done to your liking. Drain, and if you’ve only got one burner like me at the moment, sprinkle with a scant teaspoon of oil and fork through.
Meanwhile/in stesso tempo, in a different pan, heat oil, and gently fry the smallest of your fresh sage leaves until still green but crispy. Remove with slotted spoon and reserve. Tear mushrooms by hand down the length of their gills, add garlic to oil, then larger sage leaves finely snipped with scissors/shredded with a knife, then mushrooms and (a two fingers and one thumb if you’re cooking for more than one, but don’t overdo it) pinch of salt, Saute for 2-3-4 minutes. In the original pasta pan, combine pasta ‘et al’, plate up, and add small crispy sage leaves as garnish.
Oyster mushrooms are quite peppery, but if you used any other kind of mushroom, or no mushrooms at all, you might want to add a twist of black pepper, but add it incrementally, as it can overpower/ overtake the sage – less is so often more 🙂

If you decided to be more traditional or you just can’t imagine pasta without Parmesan – then the garlic and the salt are optional – I really hope you know that the so called grated parmesan in a tub tastes like baby vomit, and that ‘fresh’ pre-grated/pre-shaved from the supermarket is a rip off…but likewise posh ‘Parmigiano Reggiano’ in a vacuum packed wedge is defeating the point ‘cos it’s all sweaty. The best deal in the UK is Sainsbury’s basic range ‘Italian Hard Cheese’, £2.89 for 200g – fine for cooking, grating and even shaving over salads. Also freezes fine. I use it sometimes, but I didn’t have any last thursday, and I’m a great believer in the principle of ‘if you can do without, without noticing the difference, then do without!’

I was a very happy kitten after eating this, which was just as well, considering the evening that awaited me….