Shiny Brand New…

What innate joy life is when, from nowhere, you make a new friend; someone who you immediately click with. A shiny brand new chum who understands your humour and connects with you on every level. Who will practice hip hop moves with you in the drunken wee hours, who inspires you to try something new, who appreciates your love of vintage enamel pans and who will go for a walk with you on a grey wet Tuesday afternoon.

If food be the bonding of friendship – cook on.

What to cook your super shiny buddy on a very tight budget in the bleak mid-to-end winter. Sex on a plate; pan con tomate. Use fresh or day old French baguettes or sourdough toasted lightly under a grill. Meanwhile, with love and a glass on hand, finely dice some fresh juicy tomatoes, whatever fresh herbs you have in the garden go get some, either rosemary, mint, sage or parsley, finely slice and mix with the tomatoes. Peel a fat clove of garlic and rub all over the crispy golden toasted bread, sprinkle over some rock salt, generously place the tomatoes and herbs on top and finally drizzle on top vast amounts of fine olive oil – et viola. Enjoy as an hors d’oeuvre, as a sidedish with supper or whenever or wherever, as it is, indeed, delectable.

Moroccan aubergine salad, a flavoursome spicy dish that will wake up your taste buds during the fug of February. Slice your beautiful purple shining aubergine thickly, rub on some olive oil and grind pepper and salt over each slice, grill. When browned on both sides, remove and cut up into bite-sized chunks. Meanwhile, open a can of chickpeas or haricot beans rinse and tip into a gorgeous serving bowl. Finely slice a red onion, add to the dish along with the aubergine and some fresh coriander. In a jam jar shake up a spoonful of smoked paprika, ground cumin, fresh lemon juice, a drop of honey and some olive oil – shake and tip into the salad – gently mix the dressing with the ingredients.

These two wildly piquant and divine dishes are perfect served alongside a good fresh piece of white fish. Take your fish fillet – try haddock, cod, whiting or bass depending on your budget and the fisherman – wrap in a coat of foil, dropping a good splash of olive oil, white wine and salt and pepper inside, gently wrap and bake in a hot oven for 15-25 minutes.

Serve these three plates with a glass of cold crisp white wine, or chilled beer to your delicious new (or old buddies), sit back and relax, reveling in the sweet elixir of life; friends and simple food.


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