October 2 2019

Slow down!!!

The soup* in the pan on the stove is making comforting little putter-putter sounds, subtly reminding me to give it a stir from time to time. Seven whole garlic bulbs have caramelised in the oven to the point where their skins have turned pearlescent, the sweetly fragrant flesh within the cloves luxuriously creamy to the point of decadence. There’s a casserole in the oven now, on the shelf where the garlic once languished: the sausages (meat-free, as it happens) and butter beans have absorbed the thick, velvety broth they’re simmering in (red, green and yellow peppers; white and red onions; garlic; red wine; a generous handful of smoked paprika) and have all plumped up to almost twice their original size – there’s enough in that pot to feed six hungry people, even when the six portions for freezing have been taken out of the mix. Meanwhile, I’ve polished off a feature, put a restaurant review together and taken at least six phone calls from PR people desperate to tell me that hot dogs are the new sushi.

My grandma had a selection of dishes in her repertoire that she used to refer to as the ‘Sit and Wait’ collection: the kind of recipes that could be braised long and slow in the oven, then simply reheated later on when everybody wanted feeding. Such dishes were, I guess, her version of the ready meal, except they were put together in less time than it takes to cook a ready meal, and boasted flavours and ingredients that benefitted from both the slow cooking process and the waiting around time.

Today, both my grandma’s and my own ‘Sit and Wait’ collection has proved indispensable to me, although I’ve updated some of the ingredients in Margy’s original recipe book, introducing a bit of zeitgeist exotica by using things like aubergine and paprika where once she would have made do with turnips and perhaps black pepper (not that there’s owt wrong with turnips and black pepper, you understand; many a dish served at PG HQ between now and spring will make full use of both). Anyway…

I’m off to the theatre this afternoon. Will I have to start fiddling around with food when I get in? Not bloody likely! Reheat the casserole, squidge some of that garlic emulsion all over it, carve some fresh bread into chunks, open a bottle of wine, et voila! A dinner well worth waiting for… in no time at all.

*the soup, by the way, is lunch for two for the next three days…

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