Thoughts before a day of cooking..

It truly looks as though it will be sunny today. Each morning I religiously look at the weather icons, displayed on my computer screen in glowing technicolour, from the multitude of regional weather forecasts available to me and I have come to the conclusion that drawing a symbol of the sun is easier, or quicker, than drawing mist, drizzle, rain or pestilence. Today the forecasting artist must be breathing a sigh of relief as his yellow circle appears to be accurate. It is little wonder that amongst the employees of any given television station there is a high proportion of weather forecasters as forecasting must be close to the ideal job. The reason for this is that it doesn’t matter if you’re wrong, in fact being wrong may well be of immeasurable career benefit. What other job turns a blind eye to hopelessly inept research and poor judgement, naturally leaving aside politics, the military, religion, banking, medicine and the law. Being wrong as an airline pilot is seen as bad because we count ourselves, or our loved ones, as being amongst the dead, but being badly wrong as a meteorologist just leads to celebrity status and hosting a quiz show (which, come to think of it, is a pretty dreadful punishment. I find it a bad enough punishment to mistakenly happen across such a show, let alone be part of it). Weather forecasting, which makes fairground clairvoyants appear as accurate as an MRI scan,  has a strong affinity to the temperature setting on my oven which is about as accurate as the celebrated Michael Fish’s “all clear” forecast, which was closely followed by a tempest that laid waste most of Southern Britain, after which disaster his career blossomed a lot faster than the acres of woodland that are still struggling, some 12 years later, to replace their fallen brethren. Soufflés and other delicately balanced dishes tend not to be in my repertoire. I cook things that need a hot oven or a not hot oven. It’s this level of accuracy that allies me so closely to the weather game. This very simple, delicious and spectacular recipe only needs a hot oven for about 8 minutes.

Spaghetti with olives, tomato and basil al cartoccio : I always have some intense tomato sauce in the fridge, that I will have prepared earlier in the week. I make this by finely chopping shallots, celery and carrot and sweating them in olive oil until soft and aromatic. I then add some chilli flakes and a fat clove of crushed garlic which cooks in the mixture for a few minutes. Add tinned plum tomatoes and stir into the mixture. Season with salt and black pepper and add half a wineglass of good olive oil which makes the sauce glossy and silky. Let this gently cook down for an hour whilst watching carefully with a glass of wine in your hand. Back to the main recipe – warm some olive oil in a pan with some torn basil leaves. Add a few tablespoons of the tomato sauce and some stoned Nyons black olives. Meanwhile put the dried pasta into the pan of boiling, salted water that you had previously prepared and cook for half the recommended time. Drain the pasta and drop it into iced water to stop the cooking process. Drain again and turn a tablespoon of olive oil through the now cold pasta. Make an leak proof envelope/envelopes from aluminium foil or baking parchment and put the pasta and sauce into the bag/bags. Seal them carefully and put them in a hot oven for 8-10 minutes. The bag/bags will have puffed up ready to be opened at the table when you can throw on some fresh herbs.


About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in baking, Cooking, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, France, Italian food, olives, pasta, Photography, Photography holiday, spaghetti al cartoccio, summer, Wine, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Thoughts before a day of cooking..

  1. Good God! That sounds delicious! But what I like most about this post is the “stoned Nyon olives”. British English is so cool 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post and have only just discovered your blog. The accompanying photograph is gorgeous. It’s the dappled light on the table that really captured my attention. Fantastic! (The recipe sounds lovely too!)

  3. ambrosiana says:

    Pasta al cartoccio!! I love it!! As far as weather forecasts, you have answered a question I have always asked myself for a long time. I always wondered why they always put gorgeous looking, air headed girls that have no clue about weather!! I guess they discovered the positive correlation between forecast accuracy and bra cup size.

  4. Your musings on TV weather forecasters are spot on. And I agree with Ambrosiana – in Spain (as in Italy) the news and wether is invariably presented by unfeasibly pneumatic young ladies…I think it´s to distract people from the reporting! A lovely recipe…have never served pasta like this and love the idea. it looks delicious. Hope the sun continues to shine…it´s dull, grey and humid in Andalucia today.

  5. It’s pretty easy to forecast the weather here: It’s going to be hot again and humid and it’s not going to stop until late September. Rain? Ha! Love the pasta in parchment.

  6. While the dish looks delicious, I’m extremely jealous of your outdoor shaded area in which to take photos. I miss having a yard, as I’m currently residing in a high-rise in the city.

  7. ChgoJohn says:

    If a post features pasta, it has to be good. Great recipe and a wonderful way to serve it.

  8. spicegirlfla says:

    Such a fun and interesting read! And the pasta, well, what a great presentation idea! I cook too with glass of wine in hand, so I loved the little side note!!

  9. John Harvey says:

    Sounds fantastic AND pretty easy. I’ll definitely make this. Maybe when Jackie and Alan come to stay in October…

  10. ceciliag says:

    Yum and so pretty. But your weather forecaster musings made me really laugh. So true! c

  11. This looks delicious and the dappled light is wonderful. The white wine and jug of iced water suggest the summer days that you’re having at last! ‘Canicule’ is forecast for south-western France, so I hope it doesn’t get too hot for you!

  12. Tandy says:

    what a lovely recipe. Here in the Western Cape the best way to forecast the weather is to look out of the window – frequently 🙂

  13. ....RaeDi says:

    Love it and the glass of wine in hand….RaeDi

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