Monday, 19 January 2009

Nella Cucina con Dermott IV

So I had some of the local cani over the other night. Just to catch up, shoot the breeze, and stick pins in our cat dolls.

Yes, Cosmo, that's why you've been feeling those aches and pains.

There was one vegetarian. Imagine that? A vegetarian dog?

Boys will be boys. After we'd overcome our shock, we pulled the pins out of our cat dolls and stuck them in him.

Obviously the Boofhead* was Home Economist-less. Barbara was on the phone to a lawyer seeking advice re wrongful dismissal.

What to feed a vegetarian? The Boofhead* rooted around in the frigo and the cupboards in search of something to satisfy the lunatic.

This is what the Boofhead* came up with:

A cauliflower that the Boofhead* cut up into florets, getting rid of a lot of the tough stems; a roughly-chopped tomato; some roughly-chopped Italian parsley; a couple of peeled cloves of garlic; a couple of dried chillies; a glass of white wine and some Extra Virgin olive oil.

And this is what the Boofhead* did with it all. Tossed the oil, the garlic and the crumbled chillies into a padella over medium heat and let them share their flavours for a couple of minutes:

Then the Boofhead* tossed in the cauliflower, stirred the lot around for about five minutes, partly cooking the cauliflower and letting it take up all the lovely flavours. Till it looked sort of like this:

Then the Boofhead* poured in the white wine, put a lid on the padella, and let everything cook for about another ten minutes. Then the Boofhead* added the roughly-chopped tomato -

- and a good lashing of salt and pepper, gave everything a very good stir, before putting the lid on again and letting it cook for another seven or eight minutes.

At which point the Boofhead* checked the seasoning, stirred in the Italian parsley, and put this in front of the vegetarian:

He was chuffed.

Less so when we put one of Barbara's frocks on him, tarred and feathered him, and tossed him out into the street.

Boys will be boys.

*I've noticed more and more pompous, self-important types referring to themselves in the third person. I've joined the club.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Nella Cucina con Dermott III

So the boofy opposable thumbs got itchy again. They needed a workout.

I tried cards. No one would play with me after I kept producing extra cards from my various boofy orifices.

Hence the boofy opposable thumbs got even itchier.

So back into the cucina we went.

We, of course, as regular readers of this boofy bilge will recall, means me and my Home Economist - aka Barbara Cartland nee Barbra Streisand.

When I say we, that's how it started out. That's how it was on the way to the cucina. But, halfway to the cucina, Barbara had what she obviously thought was a better idea:

440,440 winks.

You can't get reliable staff anymore. Not for love or money.

Anyways, it was down to me. The Boofhead flying solo.

What to cook today? I rooted around in the frigo and what did I find?

Two nice, pink, juicy nodini. That's two nice, pink, juicy veal chops to the uneducated amongst you.

Now, in an earlier life, prior to my boofy opposable thumbs, I'd've done my usual boofy thing and, without hesitation, swallowed them whole, raw, as they sat. And eaten the plate for dessert.

Now, guided by my boofy opposable thumbs, I was led to do something much more interesting with them.

First, I tossed a knob of butter and a boofy pawful of rosemary needles into a pan on the stove. Over gentle to moderate heat, I let the butter melt and take up the scent of the rosemary. Then I tossed in the nodini:

And I left them there. Undisturbed. For 7 or 8 minutes. I was letting the underside get nice and golden brown and caramelised.

Only then did I turn the nodini:

At which point I sprinkled some boofy salt on the cooked surfaces. The salt helps the nodini release their juices into the pan.

They got another 5 or 6 minutes cooking time, undisturbed, in this fashion.

Then I whipped them out of the pan to rest on a handy plate, leaving the pan looking like this:

Boofhead Tip: That's where the real flavour is when you're pan-roasting like this. That's bits of caramelised veal stuck to the bottom of the pan, browned butter flavoured by the rosemary and caramelised veal, and crusted rosemary needles.

And it was going to be the basis of the sauce for the nodini.

I tipped a glass of white wine into the pan, grabbed my patented Boofhead Wooden Spoon, and began scraping up all the bits of stuff stuck to the bottom of the pan:

Note to sensitive readers of this boofy bilge with delicate stomachs: I have framed the above photo in order to avoid seeing a boofy hairy paw in close proximity to the food. You can also nick off, you cloth-eared milk-sop softies. My boofy hairy paws are spotlessly clean and germ-free on account of I lick them thoroughly every day.

But I digress. I simmered the liquid for a couple of minutes, stirring and scraping, while it reduced in volume and gained in flavour.

Then I returned the nodini - and all the juices that had accumulated on the plate - to the pan:

I let them simmer gently for another couple of minutes, taking up the flavour of the sauce, turning them two or three times.

At which point, they were done.

At which point, Barbara woke from her slumbers.

She gazed in awe and admiration:

And I sacked her as my Home Economist for sleeping on the job.

Applications for the position of Home Economist to the Boofhead should be emailed to me in plain brown envelopes.

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.