It's nice to have a happy little rut of recipes that are easy enough that you can make them while mentally and emotionally exhausted, not to mention physically exhausted (for example: from merely existing, or from watching the latest Game of Thrones, amiright? Spoiler alert: omg.) But they're also adjustable and reliably versatile, like an old comfortable bra, that you can really throw them into anything and you'll feel like you've done something nice for yourself of an evening. Somehow, this Tomato, Almond and Smoked Paprika sauce has become that to me. I think it's based on a sauce I saw on a cooking show one time - seriously, those are the only details that I can remember - and occasionally I add other things to it. But it manages to be utterly simple, vaguely nutrient-adjacent (considering the nutritional value of my lunchtime pot noodles is akin to that of their polystyrene containers) and yet a little flashy and sexy and interesting. One of my very favourite things to do with it is to very slowly fry eggs in about five tablespoons of olive oil, then use that olive oil in the sauce itself, then serve all of that over couscous. But on Monday - Queen's birthday, oh that joyous occasion...of a Monday off! - I made it to have roasted vegetables dipped into it or blanketed under it, while my friend Kim and I watched The Craft.
I was curious to see if The Craft was still the piece of important, flawless filmmaking that it seemed to be to me in 1996. It um, wasn't quite. But it was also still really fantastic in some ways, most of them fashion-related, and I still appreciate what it meant to me back in the day. A film about women, into witchcraft, who said "we are the weirdos, mister?" Thumbs up.
(The red candle in front melted rapidly and spilled over onto the floor. Which we only noticed after the movie finished. I admit, at first my brain thought "gasp! It's an evil thing like the thing from the thing in the movie!" But really...it was just spilled wax. Phew.)
This sauce is just ridiculously delicious, although frankly I think the batch I made for myself and Kim was my weakest so far. Possibly because I used multigrain bread, which meant the sauce had linseeds dispersed through it, which...yeah. Not quite what I was going for. Generally though, this sauce is rich and luscious and a little smoky from the paprika and brilliant with all sorts of things - the aforementioned fried eggs, stirred through pasta, poured over cubed roasted potatoes for a patatas bravas effect, tipped onto polenta...it just goes with all things. Particularly these crisp, collapsing and slightly charred vegetables.
Roast Cauliflower and Parsnip with Tomato, Almond and Smoked Paprika Sauce
A recipe by myself.
As much cauliflower and as many parsnips as you please. I found about half of the former and two of the latter fit comfortably on one oven tray and will feed 2-3.
2 slices thick white bread (I used seeded this time round. Uh...don't.)
1/2 cup whole almonds
1 can tomatoes
1 heaped teaspoon smoked paprika
Set your oven to 220 C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Slice the parsnip and cauliflower up however you like, but the more flat/thin you go, the better likelihood of crisp-ity there is. Arrange in one layer on the tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, blast the bread and almonds together in the food processor till the almonds are good and nubbly and small. This may take some time. If your bread is quite stale, soak it in a little cold water for a while. Then drain the can of tomatoes of its liquid - I know, this seems kind of wasteful. I don't know, drink the liquid if you feel bad about it (actually don't, it's weird and metallic and horrible on its own from the tin) and tip the tomatoes into the food processor with the bread-almond stuff and continue to process till it looks saucy and incorporated. Finally, add the paprika, a good pinch of salt, and plenty of olive oil - about three tablespoons - and process again. Taste to see if it wants any more salt or paprika, then either serve cold or heated gently in a saucepan in a bowl on the side of the vegetables.
Dip the vegetables in the sauce or pile them into small bowls and spoon the sauce over.
In case you're wondering, the reason these are sitting on a cardboard box is because our one small table has our projector sitting on a chair on top of it. It's kind of an awkward fixture to have in the house, but then we keep wanting to use the projector, so perhaps this is our life now. It's not a bad life, considering how fun it is watching things projected in large scale onto the wall.
What else happened on the long weekend? Why, plenty.
We went to our friend Craig's 30th. It was a very fun night (less fun the next morning) especially bedizening ourselves with fake tattoos of Craig's face (tattoo locations of Craig's face include Tim's actual face) and "Tattoos are for losers".
First new duvet cover since 2006. As per, "is it instagrammable" guilelessly affected the decision-making process. It's so crisp and clean and whenever I wake up I feel like I've been sleeping inside a bed of white chocolate ganache, I love it.
Amazing burritos occurred.
And finally I got an email telling me an advance copy of my cookbook (which isn't due out till September so don't try asking your bookstore about it yet, unless you think it will build up major h y p e) which I received in the mail today and nearly cried and threw up everywhere when I saw it because every emotion in the world suddenly played out in my brain. I mean, I'm really happy with it of course, but there was just such a rush of feelings when I held it in my hands for the first time, so much more intense than just seeing the printouts of the design and the manuscript and so on. I will have to work on this so I don't black out every time I walk into a bookshop in September. It's just very exciting and terrifying and strange and happy all at the same time. Cookbook!
Title via: Let's Call The Whole Thing Off, a song about a couple who say words differently sometimes. Adorable! Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong do a reliably snappy version.
Mariah Carey feat Miguel, Beautiful. This dreamy, warm song feels like a return to form for my favourite singer ever who's non-returns to form I'd totally justify anyway. Have listened to it many, many, many times.
The final few episodes of Nashville just slew me. I shed human tears and couldn't move for half an hour after the season finale. A joyful highlight though, was Clare Bowen as Scarlett O'Conner, singing the hugely pretty Looking For A Place To Shine.
Polly Scattergood, Wanderlust. Cannot. Stop. Listening. To. This song.
Next time: Umm. I know not of any specifics yet. Will see where my brain takes me. Could probably do with a better weekday lunch than pot noodles, that could be a thing.