A few days ago, my husband and I had something cheering to celebrate and, feeling most encouraged by the news we had received, I ventured out to do the shopping for dinner rather more buoyed and upbeat than normal, bearing in mind that it was a Friday, and that Fridays in Italy are traditionally associated with fish.
I went to the fishmonger’s and got there half an hour before closing time …. and hence my choices were somewhat limited. If the early bird catches the worm, so too does the early shopper catch her choice of fish. Nothing daunted, clueless as to what menu I would come up with eventually, I took in the prospect in front of me and pointed an eeny-meeny-miney-mo finger at: mussels, squid and Italian cod (very small). At home I knew had cauliflower, mozzarella, tomatoes, artichokes, tomatoes and a great big leek.
Once home, I got on with it and produced a fish dinner that saw me literally ‘beaming’. It’s nice to beam now and then, isn’t it!
I am not one to stoop to fishing for compliments. Fishing for compliments is underhand and sneaky behaviour. No, when I am very pleased with something I have done, I actively go out of my way asking for compliments! And I won’t brook anything faint by way of praise — nothing less than generous will do, for I am exuding the kind of joy ascribable to Little Jack Horner when he exclaims “What a good boy am I!” upon pulling out the plum with his thumb.
So … the menu that I devised. A salad made up of squid and artichokes. Another one consisting of slices of mozzarella, tomatoes, fish roe and fresh marjoram leaves. Pasta with mussels and pecorino. And, last, parcels of cod encased in leek leaves and cooked with cauliflouwer cheese in a saffron sauce.
ARTICHOKE AND SQUID SALAD
The artichoke must be peeled and then sliced thinly and put in a bowl containing very cold water and a squeeze of lemon.
While prepping the artichoke, fill a pot with water and turn on the heat to boiling point.
Fill a bowl (I used a heatproof glass oven dish) with cold water and add lots of ice.
Cut the squid into bite-size squares and score the surface in a zig-zag manner with a sharp knife, to create a lattice pattern.