I am bit late posting part three of my Supermarket Siesta as we’ve got builders in. Not here, thank heavens, but I had forgotten how much time it takes to choose bathrooms, especially when there are two of you trying to make the decision. It is quite amazing how strongly one can feel about taps, or should I say mixers. It is a curiously British habit to have separate taps in the bathroom and frankly idiotic, although we did agree on that. Anyway, this is not the purpose of this blog but I do feel better having got that off my chest, thank you.
You’ll know by now that I’ve been taking a day from the weekend and comparing costs between shopping from a non-supermarket source and an on-line supermarket. So far, the previous two blogs have been in favour of the non-supermarket source, cost-wise, but to be honest, I have been waiting for this to end! It almost seems too good to be true so this weekend, especially because we were having cod, I was expecting this to be the week it ended. Cod is rightly now an expensive fish; cod stocks were abused for too long and we should have to pay a premium for this beautiful fish, not to mention the fact that trawler men face danger every time they set out to sea. It therefore makes perfect sense to me that its price is where it is.
Anyway, here is what Sunday looked like for us:
Jersey milk yogurt
Pan fried cod finished with beurre blanc
Sweet potatoes roasted with thyme and garlic
Cavallo nero finished with olive oil and nutmeg
We had been given gorgeous chocolate from guidogobino.it in Turin, so that was dessert. Too many, in truth…..although I will post about them another time, as their chocolate is out of this world, even for a non-sweet tooth person like me.
Anyway, bearing in mind ingredients like olive oil, thyme, anchovies, salt and pepper are for me, store cupboard ingredients so I haven’t included them, I was absolutely astonished this week by the price difference. I had to have my maths checked (that not being my strong point…) to ensure I’d got this right. All the ingredients came from lovely Farmdrop.com as with the builders etc, I just didn’t have the bandwidth to shop around or go to Borough Market. Which actually, kind of makes another point; if you’re time-poor, you don’t have to rely on a supermarket when there are other suppliers around who can deliver flavour, cost efficiency and ethical supply chains.
So, Sunday cost us £22.15 and had I sourced from the same on-line supermarket I have used for comparison so far, the bill would have been £30.68. That (I am reliably informed!) is a staggering 38% more expensive.
I guess if your budget isn’t an issue, then this is irrelevant for you but ethical supply chains are, I hope an issue for many of us and flavour and freshness are surely top of any cook’s list? Shopping more closely to the supplier gives much fresher ingredients and I have noticed a discernible difference in the flavour of the food I’m serving. I can assure you it isn’t because of any step-change in my cooking abilities and in fact, in may ways, I am preparing food more simply. I just don’t need to make my home cooking complicated when I am using such beautiful ingredients – life is better all round.
So, the recipe this week is something I mentioned a week or so ago – Piedmont Peppers – and we do eat it quite a lot this time of year as all the ingredients come together seasonally. You can make other times of the year but the ingredients won’t be seasonal, will have probably covered many food miles and this will be reflected in the flavour.
It works well with green salad and good bread as a light lunch and also as a starter. It is easy to multiply up to feed lots of people in a buffet, or to include as a table of anti pasti if you are serving Italian style.
I first cooked this many years ago, using Elizabeth David’s recipe but have been fortunate enough over the years, to see this cooked in Piedmont home kitchens, so have modified my way of doing things. This, however, is very much my way of doing this lovely dish but I encourage you to experiment to find you own favourite way.
Piedmont PeppersPrint Recipe
- 2 red peppers (look for heavy, fleshy specimens with the stalks intact)
- 3 San Marzano tomatoes, skinned
- 4 anchovy fillets (make sure you rinse them well if you are using salted)
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- fresh basil leaves
- extra virgin olive oil (I like Ligurian oil for this but if you prefer a more peppery oil, that's fine too)
- freshly milled black pepper
- an oven proof baking dish or baking tray with a lip
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c/180 fan
Slice the peppers lengthwise, trying to slice through the stalk and preserving it as part of the pepper
Remove all the seeds and white pith
Sit in the oven proof dish, propping them up against each other if you have any wobbly specimens
Pour a couple of teaspoons of oil and an anchovy fillet into each pepper
Add a few slices of garlic and a torn basil leaf to each pepper
Season with black pepper
Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and add to the peppers
We like a good amount of tomato, so cut them to make them fit, although you do not want chopped tomato
Pour over a little more oil to moisten the tomato and tuck in more basil if you can
Put in the oven for about 45 - 50 minutes, until the peppers are a little blackened round the edges and they look relaxed and wrinkly
Best served warm or at room temperature; too hot or too cold and the flavours are lost
There are squabbles in our house about who gets to mop up the lovely savoury juices and I would implore you not to waste them.
I have tried this with yellow peppers - nope, doesn't work. The full, red ripeness is needed for the flavour to be at its best. I have used yellow peppers but then altered the ingredients to include capers and black olives but then they are not Piedmont Peppers! Lovely, but not Piedmont Peppers as I was told in no uncertain terms when in Turin.