Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I am sure like me you have your favourite cookbooks. The ones you go back to time and time again because you know the recipes always work, and although they might not look exactly like the picture, you know they will taste good too. Someone form home I know I can go back to again and again, is Delia Smith. Not as popular now a she once was, with the emergence of all the new TV stars, Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, to name a few, but Delia was my first encounter of a TV chef and I know I can count on her recipes working for me. This doesn't mean to say I don't acquire the new chefs books on the market. I am a Cookbook Junkie and have no problem admitting it. I was surprised to see her books on sale in Magers and Quinn in Uptown Minneapolis. They are cheap, testament to her dwindling popularity, so now is the time to purchase one. I don't know how many books she has actually written but I own three, her Summer Collection, Winter Collection and her Christmas book. It is just about time for me to start browsing her Christmas one. I start planning early! I go through not only this, but any Holiday books and Magazines I can get my hands on. I never manage to cook everything but it so much fun planning it all. As Robert Louis Stevenson said " it is better to travel hopefully than it is to arrive". I agree, although hopefully this final destination will be worth the journey. My plan for the moment is coming up with something for a Thanksgiving dinner which we will spend with some very special friends in Eau Claire Wisconsin.

During the summer I go back again and again to Delia's recipe for PASTA PUTTANESCA (Tart's Spaghetti). I would like to share this with you.

Serves 2
8oz spaghetti, (cooked)

2 cloves garlic
2oz anchovies, ( I often leave these out and salt to taste)
6oz pitted black olives (optional)
1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped (can use pinch dried)
1tablespoon capers (drained and rinsed)
1tablespoon tomato puree
1lb tomatoes,(chopped) out of season I use tinned.
1 tablespoon fresh basil
olive oil, salt and pepper

Heat oil on medium heat and add garlic, chilli and basil.Cook for 2 mins then add all other ingredients, stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer gently without a lid for 30 mins or until sauce has thickened. Pour over cooked hot pasta and stir through. If the sauce is too thick I pour in some tomato juice until I get it to how I want it to be. How easy is that? I cannot believe there is anyone out there who could fail with this recipe.
I have modified and messed around with it over the years. Sometimes more chilli, not always olives or capers. I sometimes add shrimp and salmon to the sauce, or just shrimp. I have added cooked chicken and most recently I softened an onion with the garlic and added a chopped eggplant, which I allowed to cook in the sauce for about 15 mins, just until it was soft and I then added 1/2 tin chickpeas and stirred in some Parmesan cheese, about 1/4 cup. This I served over the pasta and provided a meal for my vegetarian friends. Serve a nice green salad and garlic bread and you have a supper to satisfy anyone.This has been one of my standby recipes for many years and it has been shared with most of our friends, in one of it's forms. It can be an elegant supper served with the shrimp and wedges of lemon on the side, or casual with crusty bread to mop up the juicy tomato sauce. As you may be able to see from the photograph I make notes and jot down my own ideas in my books. I think this is important because recipes should be used as guide lines and you should feel free to add your own thoughts or ideas to make the recipe work better for you. Just mess around with it until you get it to your taste, it doesn't always have to be exactly the same every time you cook it. My copy is looking rather worse for wear. I do not use it now as often as I used to as I know all the recipes I cook from memory. Many of the pages are sticking together and there are smudges of various unrecognisable ingredients on the pages throughout the book yuk! Picking it up again after all this time gave me a few new ideas, recipes I haven't tried before. There is always something new between the pages of a cook book irrespective of how many times you have used it. Hope you have fun trying out this recipe for you friends. Maybe it will become as good friend to you as it hasbeen to me over the years.


Kate H. said...

That's a great idea - writing cookbooks by season. I find myself looking more at my magazine collection than my cookbooks so I can pick in-season recipes.

Magers and Quinn Booksellers said...

Thanks for the mention. We have a number of Delia Smith's book, I believe. We'd be happy to help anyone find the right cookbook for fall.

We keep a blog, too. It has book news, store news, and events information:

David E
Magers and Quinn Booksellers

Sallie said...

MMMMMMMM....this recipe does sound yummy. I will have to try it this week while my mom's in town - thanks for sharing! And for all of you who have not had the pleasure of tasting some of Jacqui's masterpieces, you are really missing out - she is the most amazing chef!