Friday, December 08, 2006

A Hangover Cure

In South London they live in the future. They have rectangular pizzas about the size of a doormat. This is an innovation that has yet to reach other, less civilised, parts of the world. Its hard to describe the excitement of opening a pizza box the size of a sledge, let alone four of them at once.

My favourite, with a gorgonzola, potato and red onion topping, tastes best eaten cold the morning after approximately 12 pints and some dancing.

Oh yeah. I’ve got a rabbit in the freezer. What shall I do with that?

Birmingham Spice

Prefixing a word with ‘Dirty’ can send the meaning either way. ‘Dirty Old Man’ and ‘Dirty Bomb’ come with pretty negative connotations, whereas a ‘Dirty Weekend’ sounds like fun.

A ‘Dirty Curry’ cuts both ways though, as I discovered in a Birmingham curry house the other night. The promise that a ‘Dirty Curry’ was just what the doctor ordered (it was recommended by two actual medical doctors as well) after six hours drinking Greene King IPA on an empty stomach appealed to my sense of adventure as much as my post-pub hunger. The restaurant on broad street looked promising - like an upmarket burger joint serving day-glo curry.

I had something. lamb? Or was it chicken? I can’t remember. It made my lips sting and my eyes water slightly, it was a touch heavy on the chilli, and a perfect pissed pleasure.

The following morning was a different story mind you.

Pasta Pigs Ears

Slacking again…

Locatelli’s column in the Guardian got me excited about making a variation of his pheasant ravioli. Mrs Jiffler looked sceptical but I was determined. After a night in the fridge, the legs from the other day’s bird where picked clean and chopped up fine to check for shot. I let some panchetta (not the wild boar stuff I fancied: asdas, out of a plastic box) sizzle in the pan with a couple of shallots before chucking in a glass of marsala to reduce. Once the kitchen is smelling sweet and the boozy sharpness has disappeared everything goes into the blender with the pheasant meat and a handful of parmesan for a quick whizz. It was a bit of a wooden spoon job getting it all mixed up, then scraping it out into a bowl. In with a raw egg, and too much single cream, to make a paste for the ravioli filling. It looks a bit sloppy but I manage to get it into fairly regular shaped lumps and into the freezer where it is forgotten for a week or so.

It takes a while before I can be bothered going through the hassle of making the pasta. I don’t have one of those machines with the windy bit, so its hands and a rolling pin and lots and lots of swearing when it goes wrong.

Once, in Brussels I had a business dinner in an Italian restaurant where my Tuscan colleague told me they served the finest ravioli in Belgium. I tried some, straight up spinach and ricotta – four pillows the size of floppy discs - with a healthy slab of butter to help them down. Marvellous indeed (followed by quarter of a chicken cooked in ragu, too much peroni and a sickening high speed taxi ride across town) I had this bright idea about making giant pheasant ravioli. How hard can it be?

Well yes. The main problem is my fat sausage fingers. My digits are more suited to handling a masher at best. Fiddling around with fine sheets of pasta is a recipe for disaster, and my ‘velvet pillows’ came out looking more like (well, exactly like) pigs ears. I’ll just tell Mrs Jiffler that they’re ‘rustic’.

While the pigs ears are drying in the airing cupboard I set about making some sauce to go over the top. Being something of a stock obsessive, I already had some pheasant stock set aside (half had already gone into a ‘Mrs Jiffler’ risotto earlier in the week) and reduced it slowly in a frying pan with more of the marsala until I had some thick, robust, sweet smelling gravy.

Here’s how it turned out:

OK, it looks a bit rough, but it tasted spot on. The marsala hit the high notes while the pheasant provided the bass. Pheasant pasta pigs ears. I’m not sure if I can be arsed making it again though.