With one recipe under my belt, it was time to delve into the unknown, and attempt number two. Last weeks ‘Salsicce e Fagioli’ from the book Tuscan Cookery by Elisabetta Piazzesi was such a success and so simple, my loving better half pleaded for one more recipe from this book.
I am pleased to announce that said book now has two post it notes protruding from within its cover. Yes I gave in to hubby, but with a firm announcement that henceforth all recipes would be from a new book each week. But with his puppy dog eyes, and the way he makes my heart go sigh, how could I resist. So back to the same book, eyes firmly shut, and I opened the book unsure of what I would find.
The book opened to a recipe called ‘Peposo’ which translates to ‘Peppered Stew’ My brain somersaulted I confess. It is (supposedly) summertime and the thought of a stew that was also beef (for which I would not cross oceans to eat), sent my heart into rapid palpitations.
However, like the true kitchen soldier that I am, I would triumph and attempt the unknown – I hoped.
So ‘Peposo’ it was. The lack of ingredients did make me ummm and ahhh. Would my second attempt be a failure, due to the basic ingredient list? The ingredients are 500 grams of stewing steak, six cloves of garlic, three ripe tomatoes, salt and pepper. Yes that is it. Can you imagine my thoughts?
The simple instructions to match the simple ingredients were to cube the steak and place in a deep saucepan. I rebelled at this and used a large pan instead. No browning or oil mind you. The next instruction was to add the chopped garlic and skinned tomatoes. My rebellious (ok I confess lazy), nature surfaced again and I thought I am not skinning tomatoes. So they went in the pan, skin and all, roughly chopped. Now for the secret to this recipe, Pepper. At the least, yes at least, one full tablespoon. Who was I to argue with Elisabetta? I may not skin the tomatoes as she suggested, but I would add that amount of pepper. So I ground up peppercorns, until my pile resembled a tablespoon, and added that to the pan – followed by a cursory sneeze! The next step is to cover the ingredients with cold water. Bring it to the boil and leave on a slow boil (not simmer) for a good two to three hours. Yes, two to three hours until all the juices have been absorbed. The secrets to this recipe are the amounts of pepper and long and slow hot cooking.
The verdict? It was that tasty and tender it warranted a sticky in the recipe book to return to. My adoring husband ferreted some away for his work lunch the next day and pleaded with me to please, please make this again.
My conclusion? Not every recipe has to have ingredients for Africa. This was so simple, but oh so tasty and the pepper added to the taste dimension.
My challenge for next week? It is Chinese New Year. I have a Charmaine Solomon book that I have owned since the early 1980s, and there is a section devoted to Chinese cooking, so that will be an eyes closed and let’s see what we end up with. Watch this space . . .