I’ve revived an old habit of mine: devouring biographies. My local library has seen a lot of me lately, as I’ve read stories from all walks of life, Ken Livingstone to Steve-o, Chris Evans to Keith Floyd.
One that’s stayed with me is Antonio Carluccio – A Recipe for Life. I picked it up as a fan of his food and TV programmes. I wasn’t prepared for the vast scope of his life, from growing up the station master’s son, to travelling Europe in all sorts of jobs, to being driven to several suicide attempts due to crippling depression. You would expect the avuncular TV host’s story to be whimsical and giddy, but it is weighed down by a man who seems profoundly lonely. Even his now-beloved Gennaro betrays him and further fuels his sadness.
It’s a sobering read, but well worth tracking down.
On a more upbeat note, Antonio was on Saturday Kitchen this weekend and served up this delightfully simple dish that speaks to his core food philosophy: mof-mof, or “minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour”. Only an Italian could come up with that credo!
It’s a delicious pasta dish, and if I could’ve laid my hands on parsley like the original recipe asks it would’ve been perfect. I embellished mine with truffle salt, a birthday present which just happened to be Carluccio’s branded too. It’s so quick to cook, and delicious.
Open raviolo with mushrooms (serves 2):
1 garlic clove, crushed
300g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon tomato puree
70ml white wine
4 fresh lasagne sheets
Freshly grated parmesan
- Get a frying pan on a medium-low heat and some salted water on to boil in a saucepan. Add a little oil to the saucepan to prevent the sheets from sticking.
- Melt the butter in the frying pan and add the garlic. Before it browns add the mushrooms and gently fry for 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree and season with truffle salt and black pepper. Cook for another minute before adding the wine and bringing to the boil to reduce.
- Pop the lasagne in the water to cook – this should only take 1 – 2 minutes. Put them to one side when done.
- When the wine has reduced to a thick orangey sauce, assemble the dish by alternating pasta sheets with the mushroom mixture. Top with parmesan before serving.