Thursday, 1 January 2009

Nella Cucina con Dermott II

Opposable thumbs. How did I survive without them for so long?

Now, the thing is, my opposable thumbs have meant more than just that I can now knit. Though, ensconced in an easy chair, boofy hind paws up on a comfy pouffe, the old knit-one-purl-one does have its therapeutic benefits.

Just as therapeutic - and less likely to have the local cani whispering behind their Italian paws that I'm a Friend of Dorothy - has been cooking.

Those who recall my Boofhead masterclass in the deceptively tricky knack of boiling water - and who have been waiting with bated breath for my return to the cucina - can now relax.

Yesterday I ambled my boofy frame back into the cucina. Of course I needed an assistant. On TV cooking shows they're usually credited as the Home Economist. That's the person who actually does the tedious work of peeling things and cutting them up while the hero - in this case, io - takes all the credit.

Many of you will recall that I share lodgings with Barbra Streisand. Well, these days she's actually more Barbara Cartland but that's another story. Of gruesome old age.

Be that as it may, I appointed Barbra/Barbara my Home Economist and we headed into the cucina. Posing for this publicity shot on the way:

The first task was to decide what to cook. Barbra/Barbara argued for anything she could eat through a straw on the basis that, these days, she's got fewer teeth than the back end of a teasing comb:

Of course I won the day. I'm ten times her size.

I opted for Tuna Patties. Now I'm not normally a fancier of tuna, mainly on the basis that, in domestic pet culinary terms, it's considered the province of that soulless sociopath, the cat. In fact, I hear tell that my feline nemesis Cosmo is more than fond of a tin of tuna but only if it contains at least 50% dolphin.

Anyways, Tuna Patties became the go.

And here's the Dermott drill.

Boil some potatoes in their skins in enough salted water to cover them. Test for doneness - but not too often - with a thin skewer or even a cake tester. Test them with a knife and you'll let water inside.

When they're done, take them out of the water and set them aside just until cool enough to handle.

Then peel them. Then cut them up and push them through a potato ricer into a bowl:

If you don't got a potato ricer, get one. This Boofhead opines that a potato ricer is the only way to make perfect, lumpless mashed potato. Not to mention gnocchi.

Next, put your Home Economist - in my case Barbra/Barbara - to work grating some carrot, mincing some onion, garlic and celery, and crushing a couple of dried chillies:

And you can add spring onions (scallions to the American cousins) and, really, just about anything else that takes your fancy inside a Tuna Pattie.

Tip everything into the bowl with the potato and mix and season well.

Next, drain a can or jar of tuna under olive oil:

In this Boofhead's experience, tuna under olive oil is vastly superior to tuna under brine. Break up the tuna into flakes and add it to the potato mixture, mixing thoroughly to distribute the tuna evenly.

If Greenpeace burst in the door, immediately scoff any bits of dolphin you might have picked out of the tuna.

Finally, roughly chop some prezzemolo and add it:

And mix thoroughly.

Now comes the gorgeously gooey bit. The seasoned flour-egg-and-breadcrumb routine:

I'd like to be able to say that I learned this routine at my mother's knee. I didn't. She was too busy being an Australian Dulux Dog:

Not that that's her. But all us Boofheads look alike anyway.

Anyways, in her pursuit of stardom, she neglected me. Hence my more than several personality disorders. Actually, my uncle was a Dulux Dog, too. Chalk up another couple of psychoses. Not that I'm bitter that I didn't follow in their pawprints. Not in the slightest -


But I digress. Now, surely everyone knows how to seasoned flour-egg-and-breadcrumb.

But, for Cosmo's benefit, you use wet paws to form the dolphin mixture into the shape of a pattie before rolling it in the seasoned flour to coat it all over. Shake off the excess, then roll it in the beaten egg. Drain off the excess egg, then roll it in the breadcrumbs. Shake off the excess breadcrumbs, press the stuck-on breadcrumbs lightly with your paws to make sure they're well attached, then set aside.

In the blink of a boofy eye, this is what you're looking at:

Now, you cook the beggars. You can shallow fry them if that's the only means available. This Boofhead prefers to deep fry:

For starters, deep frying lets the patties cook evenly all over. For seconds, you can set the oil temperature high enough to seal the outside quickly, minimising oil absorption. Deep frying, five or six minutes at 190C does the trick before draining any excess oil on kitchen paper:

Hot, golden and crunchy on the outside, velvety and chockers with flavour on the inside.

You can make a tartare sauce to serve with them. Or you can accompany them with a dollop of home-made spicy tomato chutney from last summer's tomatoes from the orto:

Of course, if you're a serious pig - and this Boofhead makes no apologies for his pighood - you stop and think to yourself. "Hang about", you think to your boofy self, "there's the deep frier, the oil, all those potatoes left over ... "

What you do, if you're a truly ruly serious pig, is this:

You garnish the plate with hot, golden, crunchy, double-cooked chippies!

For when too much starch and carbohydrate isn't enough ...

... but isn't that all the time for a Boofhead?

*Cuoco's Note: Any out-of-focus photographs are the fault of the Home Economist who was as crap at photography as she was at Home Economisting.


Katherine Tyrrell said...

Cosmo is very happy to lend you a wet paw any time you like.

He has a very good well developed kneading action.

Especially if you toss him titbits of tuna.

He's currently salivating all over those's making for a very wet keyboard

Dermott said...

Pass onto Cosmo my undying gratitude for his very generous offer of help with the rider that I can't promise he won't finish up inside a Cosmo Pattie.

I have moisture problems sitting at the computer, too, only in the area of the seat of the chair, a very middle-aged bloke thing.

Judith in Umbria said...

Well, so you were finally shamed into getting off your big boofy butt and DOING SOMETHING. I think Robyn better watch out-- or maybe you should!

Dermott said...

Shamed? Nothing shames me. I'm shameless. You know that.

vivien said...

Paddy wishes me to inform you that he has very efficient opposable thumbs due to his polydactyly*

he says they come in very handy when juggling mice - this I can unfortunatly vouch for.

*(extra toes on each foot as he has to explain to the artista here who isn't always very quick - especially at opening doors when instructed he says)

Dermott said...

Juggling mice? How does he stop himself eating his props?

vivien said...

he scrunches them too


after a lot of juggling practice

he just doesn't have Cosmo's class I'm afraid

He says to tell Cosmo that 'Mouse Surprise' (pronounced supreeez) is a very nice snack and enables him to turn his nose up at the often inferior dishes served up by his people.

Stew Magoo said...

Hello Dermott,
All hail the Boofy!

I showed your post to Zoe. And she immediately scoffed. She told me to tell you that she knows there's no way that food would have lasted long enough on that plate for anyone to take a picture.

And I have to concur. It's a well known fact that the Boof breed can eat very fast. Faster even than light.

And that looked really REALLY tasty. I think even a non-Boofhead would attack it with gusto.

I think you owe us all an explanation here...

Dermott said...

vivien - what am I? Some sort of internet chat device for cats? Sheesh. If Paddy wants to talk to Cosmo, he knows where Cosmo is. Probably juggling kippers. What is it with cats doing circus tricks with their nosh?

Stew - I have two hats. Cook and Garbage Guts. When I'm cooking, wearing my Cook hat, I can resist the urge to scoff the lot. Soon as I'm done cooking, on goes the Garbage Guts hat, and nothing within a hundred mile range is safe.

vivien said...

Paddy is unfortunately very busy watching behind the plant pots in the garden - looking for more mice to juggle.

Your message will be passsed on when he deigns to come in.

the staff

Anonymous said...

My husband wants to come back as you Dermott...he would kill to have these tuna paties...if only i was not a south beach there hope for me yet????? ok i don't have a deep fryer...but i could try it anyway...Jil

Dermott said...

Staff - did Paddy return from his rat hunt? Was the message passed on?

Jil - warn your husband that coming back as me would have its disadvantages in terms of dribbling and the more-than-occasional public fart.

What is a South Beach nut? South of where?

In terms of the Tuna Patties, you can easily shallow-fry them. You would need at least an inch of oil in the pan otherwise only the top and bottom of the patties would cook, leaving the sides uncooked and a different colour.

Get the oil hot enough to seal the outsides but not so hot as to burn them. Seal one side, then turn them over and seal the other. Then keep turning them every minute or so to ensure even cooking.

Everything inside that needs cooking is already cooked anyway, so what you're really doing is crisping and heating them through. Shouldn't take more than five or six minutes. If you've got more patties than you can fit into the pan at once, cook in batches - without ever overcrowding the pan - while putting the cooked ones into a warm oven while you do the rest.

Anonymous said...

according to my husband only dribbling and farting would be an improvement....and a south beach nut is a person who follows the south beach in nothing sugar and carbs....but i am going to try the shallow fry method....jil

Dermott said...

Jil, nut seems to be the operative word in the expression South Beach Nut. Sugar, carbs and white stuff are staples in a Boofhead diet.

Tell your husband that there's an upside to coming back as a Boofhead - every time you roll on your back and put your paws in the air, someone tickles your boofy tummy.

Alexander's Horse said...

Hi finbar

I've been distracted by Dermott's great blog more than once whilst looking for you across the internet trying to make contact for no particular reason but old friendship, and also because I'm nothing if not persistent.

Quite a few laugh out loud moments, and some sad ones too in hindsight from the late Dermott, and others. I have shared his boofhead chronicles with my most literate son, who will enjoy it but officially sneer at it.

They all remember Dermott. I have also shared with the son who just left school, and who can barely read. He will enjoy the pictures anyway...while mother and father gently weep in the background. He remembers Dermott best though.

The only fleeting recent sightings of you were a very short U-tube of either a woman teaching water colours or a skilful sneaky cleavage/boobshot, the latter interpretation probably just me because I'm not that interested in painting; and a vague reference to a war memorial in Southern Italy, which may or may not have been you and I lost almost as soon as I found it.

The search continues....your cunningly difficult surname may betray you if I manage to spell it correctly. If not, which is quite possible, you are safe unless you take the initiative by return, using your mod powers.

I shall give up soon - I started a Facebook page, which I regretted almost immediately because it takes up so much time in an inane, chaotic sort of way which I hardly understand. It gives me anxiety attacks with its constant prompts and people sending me spam, and leaves little time for anything else, like finding finbar.

I found the remains of the tomato plant you left here today - sadly it didn't survive the tenants. Nothing much did. These are the things though, like this blog, that prompt me to reach out to you.



P.S. I am developing my own little blog which is pitiful by comparison at its early stages but I have hope it will improve as I get in my stride - A H Rides Again.You can stalk me back there if you wish.

Dermott said...

Horse, tried to send you a message on your blog, you can get me on