A test for anchovy lovers

In the Autumn/Winter edition, Roger Franklin wrote of his love of the anchovy, perhaps the one fish in the wonderful world of the undersea that causes such discussion among food lovers: it’s either ‘yuk’ or ‘yum’. Franklin’s opening sentence says it all: “There are many things that divide us, from footy loyalties to milk-before-pouring-tea or pouring-tea-before-milk, but the clearest division of all runs like a wall across the world’s tables: anchovies, are you for ’em or agin ’em?

(Just on footy loyalties, Franklin is a born and bred Western Bulldogs fan, and in a book I published in 2012, describing all Grand Finals, he wrote of his mother attending the festivities at the Footscray Town Hall after the Dogs’ 1954 premiership, “heavy with child”. That child was Roger, and he had the great joy of watching last week’s Grand Final with his mother: “It was one of the happiest days of our lives,” he said.)

But back to anchovies. I was delighted to receive a note from one of the neither for nor agin crew—somewhere in between—this week, from Anne Grant who wrote about our recipe for spaghetti puttanesca, the classic Italian dish with the evocative name, highlighted in our latest edition: “I loved the look of this recipe, but my husband doesn't like anchovies, and I had never used them before. So I made it anyway!

“I didn't tell hubby there were anchovies in it...and he and my son (age 11) loved it too! I was tempted to only make half but I read your little note about it being delicious the next day...and guess what! We ate all of it in one sitting! P.S I had no passata in the cupboard, so I looked up a quick Thermomix recipe and made some and it worked perfectly.”

That’s great news, but what’s not so good news was a story in quartz magazine online recently noting that the anchovy population in the Adriatic, off the coast of Italy is being attacked, according to Quartz, by “a massive swarm of an invasive species of comb jellyfish called Mnemiopsis leidyi.” These horrors feed on the eggs and larvae of fish like anchovies, and there are no predators of this form of jellyfish in the Adriatic.

Enjoy these wonderful flavours bombs before the jellyfish swarms take a stranglehold.

Our favourite recipe with anchovies is one we included with the Franklin essay, one we modified from Mary Taylor Simeti’s brilliant book, Pomp and Sustenance (Knopf,1989). This recipe, sourced from the period pre-1200 (yes, 800 years ago) is another for Anne Grant to deceive her family, as the anchovies disappear into the sauce, leaving a wonderful umami flavour, with fried breadcrumbs providing wonderful texture.

You can catch up here for more recipes from the Autumn/Winter edition. For non-subscribers, simply register online and visit our online store.

 

Another week, another day

Sigh, just when we’d worked our way through international beer day (August 5), and the Hot Dog eating festival (July 4), along comes National Kale Day (October 5). Simone Egger included a wonderful essay on how kale went from a “what the hell is this?” bumpy green leaf to a super food. It’s all about marketing and uber-promotion, as you’ll see here a website spruiking not only Kale Day, but everything you ever wanted to know about kale.

No surprise that marketing is the driver: the first time I saw kale it was about the only thing growing on the streets of Washington in a freezing winter’s day in 1991, providing colour in those grey days. Now you’re nobody if you’re not having kale in green smoothies, as a crunchy addition to salad, and even as chips, for heaven’s sake.

I’m a fan, but I’m almost with the Masterchef judge, Matt Preston, when he says: “Kale is just silverbeet with a bubbly perm.” The ‘almost’ is about the texture: you can chew silverbeet, but kale really needs to be worked on before you start chewing.

Alyce Alexandra, who joined our team for the latest edition, created a special kale recipe with kale the leader of the pack with her kale (meatless) balls. Kale lovers can find Alyce’s recipe here.

Alyce has kindly offered our readers a discount on her Thermomix cookbook Recipes from our Cooking School. This book, a handpicked selection of recipes from Alyce’s Thermomix cooking classes, is designed to teach you how to get the most out of your machine with great results. You will learn to navigate your way around multilayered meals in the Varoma, conquer the art of homemade bread baking, and discover how to produce a huge variety of delicious, impressive and foolproof meals all in your Thermomix.

To purchase, visit www.theTMshop.com.au and use the discount code TMIX to get $5 off your copy of Recipes from our Cooking School.

Running Late

Apologies to those who pre-ordered Great Recipes for Thermomix and were expecting copies at the end of September. The books were late arriving from the printer and were posted out earlier this week. We had expected pre-orders to be in your hands before copies made it to bookshops, but the shipping delay was unavoidable.

For those who can’t make it to bookshops, we’ll extend our special 20% discount on the $34.95 cover price for subscribers for another week. Just visit our website and when you get to check out punch in GREATRECIPES.