The Sopranos has a lot to answer for. I’m down with the excessive use of the f and c words (after all who hasn’t got frustrated and used them?), nudity (after all, we’re all born naked), adultery (after all, we all have crushes) and gory,violent murder scenes (after all, who’s not found out their fiancés shopping them to the Feds and then had them ‘taken care of’… oh just me then). What I cannot abide is hearing about all of the amazing food Carmela is cooking and then not being able to eat it myself. Ziti, lasagna, meatballs and gravy…. Oh it’s enough to make me think I should be reborn as a Mafia bosses daughter. The risk would be so worth it. Luckily, I don’t have to resort to such desperate measures; as you may have heard there’s a new Nigella book out which I’ve already blogged about. If you’re in the UK you might have seen her on telly on Monday night looking absolutely amazing and cooking up delights such as Nutella cheesecake and tagliata with Tuscan fries. If eating food like that results in looking like she does at 52, then I need no more convincing that a macrobiotic diet belongs solely in the depths of hell. Away with you Gillian Mckeith! Tonight I got to grips with the delightful sounding lamb ragu from Nigellisima, which after describing to The Boyfriend over the phone while I was cooking it, was told he was glad I was making it while he was all the way in South Africa. It’s safe to say he’s not a big fan of Italian food, so while the cats away and all that. This is my version of playing away, eating truckloads of pasta, which is much better on the conscience, not so much on the hips. I first knew I loved Italian food shortly after I passed my driving test when me and a school friend would go into town during free afternoons and have lunch in this delightful Italian cafe tucked away in a side street. Enter into my life proper Italian lasagna, strong cappuccinos and ammeretti biscuits. Bliss. After learning to drive and then eating this food, I felt like a proper grown up for the first time ever. I’d only just met The Boyfriend around that time too, so even more grown up points for a silly, naive 18 year old!
I should get back to the lamb ragu. Unlike a traditional ragu which is cooked for a couple of hours, this is simple and takes no more than 30 mins from chopping your shallot to serving up. I should note now that if you want traditional,authentic Italian food then buy a different book as this one’s all about Nigella’s unique and tasty spin on the cuisine. After all, this ragu does contain Worcestershire sauce and red currant jelly, two items you’d be hard pushed to find in an Italian nonnas kitchen. Nonetheless, this ragu tastes lovely and was a satisfactory end to a busy and emotionally draining Friday at work. The recipe calls for dried mint and oregano and these herbs pack quite a punch, leaving a zingy, fresh feeling in the mouth which goes really well with the minced lamb (shocker, that, lamb and mint tasting good together). Add to that a sprinkling of fresh mint when serving and you’ve got some added zing. I used tripoline pasta which as The Lawson would describe it, is like tagliatelle with a ra-ra skirt on and the thick, minty sauce clings really well to the stuff. This dish just reaffirms my love for Italian food, and its good to see that it isn’t just us Brits that love the combination of lamb and mint. Now all I need is a good excuse to whip up a Nutella cheesecake….