Grazing on ‘picky’ food is absolutely my favourite way of eating. It’s possible this stems from Sunday tea when I was a child, not being a character that enjoyed the rituals of 1970’s mealtimes or what they had to offer…I did love Sunday tea. This would be a selection of small plates of seafood, some salads, a little bread a little cheese and so on… or on occasion it would be some nice ham, and celery, always celery. I enjoy many different styles of cuisine these days but whatever the flavour origin I adore those that come in the form of a ‘bit of this and a bit of that’. A groaning table of Indian streetfood, a Middle Eastern mezze or the southern French lunch we inhale with our friends and family with it’s cured meats, paté and cheeses.
A particular lover of the ‘picky bits and bobs’ being our friend the DJ Ozz, he was in hospital of late. There haven’t been many advantages to going up to the hospital in Camberwell, it’s been a journey and I don’t mean the walk down Camberwell New Road…but shopping for comfort food on the way back became a thang.
The DJ liked a tale and his not being in a position to eat a slap up meal did not deter his enthusiastic participation in my talking to him of this lovely shop on route to the hospital and this and that… and I was going to pop in on my way home to get the makings of a bit of supper for myself and Rocket. There was, smacking of lips, as ever – a habitual sign whenever we were out enjoying ourselves that someone fancies a snack or a drink. The DJ loved presiding over the lunch table in France…for several hours and man! that boy loved a pud.
Then he was gone, we are still reeling. At sometime in the future, memories of the tables we have sat round, the trips we have been on, the beaches on which we have slumbered may offer some comfort, but right now there is a gaping hole and it’s hard to imagine a life without our dear friend.
It seems glib to go on to talk about food but perhaps in honour of his vicarious enthusiasm and also the fact that he was, from the very start, so supportive of my writing the blog, I shall continue. DJ was instrumental in the naming of the blog, and of course a star of the cast of characters here. Before you read on, here are links to a couple of charities that supported The DJ’s care, please feel free to donate.
The best shop in our local area – is the Turkish Food Centre (TFC). There are many of them in London, this is the one in Camberwell and I commend these shops to you… http://tfcsupermarkets.com/ they bake the most delicious bread, have a range of great quality produce (you would surely covet the bunch of parsley I came by) and then there are the jars of this and bottles of that. Back to the tale.
Rocket was due to arrive home in the evening and a little supper was needed..I unearthed left over cacik, some taramasalata, put some delicious pickles in a dish and took Pitta bread from the freezer. This was to be a low maintenance supper, but how to dial up the flavour? A bowl of spicy beans, and a couple of salads would add the right note and we would mop up with the bread. I think the idea for the beans had come to me via memories of those rustic dishes at tiny patio restaurants somewhere off the beaten track in Greece…peasant food at it’s best.
The only cooking involved was the beans, 5 minutes to prep and 15 minutes to cook they make a lovely tasty dish, and with an egg on top would be a fabulous brekkie.
1 400g can of butter beans, drained and rinsed.
1 400 gram can of chopped plum tomatoes
2 shallots, peeled and roughly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, grated.
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder (or to your taste)
1/2 tsp Ras al Hanout
1/2 tsp sea salt
6 grinds of the black pepper mill.
4 table spoons of olive oil
1 preserved lemon, chopped small (can be substituted with lemon zest if you don’t have preserved lemons).
Pop the olive oil into a saucepan and soften the shallots and garlic before adding the spices. Fry the spices to bring out their aroma, then put the tomatoes in and allow to come up to a simmer. Next add the beans, bring up to a simmer and add salt and pepper. Let the mixture bubble away and reduce some of the moisture, for about 15 minutes.
This is a great dish that can be eaten hot or cold – preparing ahead can only improve it.
Dedicated to our lovely DJ, wherever you may be, you were so loved.