Today was one of those rare occasions in the UK when the weather is simply perfect. In fact, that’s all the news could talk about – “Britain is hotter than Spain today”, it said, mocking those sick of the six month winter who had apparently chosen the wrong week to soak up the sun.
After explaining to my Pakistani housemate that I absolutely had to be outside today, because weather here is about as predictable as Game of Thrones, I headed to the university campus to enjoy my last month here. Unhappily for me, though, that also meant taking my near-sacred revision with me. As I arrived, I realised that I was the odd one out:
Oddly enough, Pimms and ice cream in the sunshine are much more appealing than 19th century nationalism.
Since digging out my holiday clothes (which I’d already packed for SE Asia, as I had prematurely cast aside the British summer as a distant dream) reminded me of strolling through Italian cities last year, I went home to satisfy my pasta craving. That brings me to the relevant bit of today’s blog – and the most relevant thing in my life generally – my dinner.
Here it is. Managed to devour it in about 2 seconds flat.
Chianti and Olive Tagliatelle. Serves 4
- 400g fresh egg tagliatelle
- 100g mushrooms (optional)
- 120ml single cream or Elmlea
- 400ml passata/chopped tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- Onion (or onion powder)
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp garlic puree or 1 minced garlic clove
- 1 tbsp dried herbs
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- 4 tbsp of Chianti or other red wine
- 75g green/black pitted olives
You can make the sauce up to 24 hours in advance, if it’s easier.
Mix together the cream, passata, garlic and tomato puree, onion, salt, pepper, herbs and chilli flakes. Add about 1tbsp of chianti, and put back in the fridge.
Saute the mushrooms in a frying pan with a tiny bit of olive oil (or fry light), then add the other 3tbsp of wine. Let the mushrooms soak up the wine and boil down until reduced. Feel free to add more wine – nobody is watching.
Keep them on a low heat whilst you make the pasta, according to packet instructions. It should only take you 3-4 minutes. Once that’s cooked and drained, throw the sauce, mushrooms, olives and pasta into a saucepan, stir and heat through for a couple of minutes.
Serve with the cheese of your choice!
After eating about two bowls of that, I settled in to watch The Durrells, one of my favourite shows on TV at the moment. My love for the series stems partly from my major affection for Alexis Georgoulis, but the casting of Keeley Hawes (or as I know her, Lara Croft) was a stroke of genius, too. The representation of Corfu’s beautiful scenery once again sent me on the reminiscing trail, and on a hot day like this, nothing hits the spot like a traditional Greek Frappe.
If you’ve heard of the McDonald’s and Starbucks bastardised versions, Frappucino, you should already be familiar with the concept of iced coffee. But like all great inventions, it originated in Greece first. Here’s the recipe I used to quench my thirst for a chilly glass of caffeine.
Frappe – makes one glass
- 50ml (2 shot glasses) strong espresso
- 1-2 tsp caster sugar
- 200ml cold water
- Whole milk or single cream. (Can use semi-skimmed, or almond milk, if you want to)
Part of the beauty of this recipe lies in its utter simplicity. After making up your espresso, add as much (or as little) sugar as you’d like. Fill up a watertight flask with ice cubes and the cold water, add the espresso, and shake for about half a minute.
Pour into a glass with a few more ice cubes, add the desired about of milk, and serve with a straw.
Let us hope the rest of the week stays warm enough for me to enjoy a frappe. I’ll need it for all the revision I’ll have to do… for an exam which is, ironically, about Greece.