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Alice is

cooking very painful sauce

August 31, 2015

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There are certain critical moments in life when hot sauce is desperately needed: Fried chicken moments…fried eggs and potato moments, breaded moments, barbecue moments. Moments when you need the gastronomical equivalent of a slap around the face. I love the buzz that really, really hot sauce radiates, so I’ve put 7 scotch bonnets in mine. The effect is like drinking strong whiskey, it makes your insides dance.

My flatmate had to leave the house when I made it because her eyes hurt. The heat builds to a steady pain which you can temper with fewer scotch bonnets. This batch is for my cousin Sam, who’s been harping on about making his own for several weeks, to no avail. He’s just been offered a new job in St. Andrews. I figure it should see him through the drop in temperature.

By charring the chillies, peppers and tomatoes you add a kiss of smoke to the sauce. There should be no fire without smoke.

You’ll need:

1 white onion, peeled and chopped

3 red peppers

7 scotch bonnet chillies

4 normal red chillies

8 medium tomatoes

5 cloves garlic

2 sprigs of thyme, de-leafed and chopped (optional)

1.5 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

270ml red wine vinegar

Make it:

  1. Char the chillies, tomatoes and peppers either over a gas hob or a hot grill until the skin has pretty much blackened all over. Transfer them to a plastic bag, tie it and leave for about 15min. This steams them so their skins come off easily. Meanwhile cook the onion in olive oil and a pinch of salt for 10 mins. Cook them low so they don’t colour

  2. Take the peppers and co. out of the plastic bags and discard their skins and chop everything (keep the seeds in the chillies)

  3. Add them to the softened onion

  4. Add the sugar, salt, vinegar, garlic and thyme

  5. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30min

  6. Blitz in a food processor (you may need to add a touch of boiling water and a little more vinegar if the mixture is too thick)

  7. Pass through a fine sieve

  8. Leave to cool

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cooking black rice porridge with coconut yoghurt

February 06, 2015

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I’m a thief - I stole this idea from Ottolenghi. I first had his version at his restaurant Nopi a few years ago, and remember it looking as stylish and dramatic as porridge can possibly be.

Cooking black rice down like this transforms it into a deep purple, almost vampy colour which is seductive af.

Black Rice Porridge (serves 2)

150g venere rice

500ml almond milk

a pinch of salt

to serve:

coconut yoghurt (I used COYO)

sliced mango

Make it:

Bring the almond milk, rice and salt to a simmer, and cook on a low heat for 20 - 25 mins, stirring constantly. The rice won’t break down in the way that oats do, so expect a sweet risotto type consistency. It may angrily come to a boil, so keep an eye out.

If you haven’t been introduced to coconut yoghurt yet, well let me do the honours with the aid of this here link. Tesco and Waitrose sell it - it’s a great product whether you want to cut down on dairy or not.

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cooking forbidden rice

February 01, 2015

A recipe for Chinese New Year 2015, the year of the sheep.

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Chinese black rice is called ‘forbidden rice’ because it was only allowed to be eaten by the Emperor and his court back in the Qing dynasty. Strictly forbidden stuff tends to take my interest. So, while welcoming in the Chinese New Year, what better way to celebrate than with a big plate of black rebel?

‘Venere’ rice, which is now grown in Italy is what I’ve used here. It’s seen as medicine in China as it’s anti-ageing, increases libido and contains a sky high amount of anthocyanins which are what give it its ebony colour; blueberries have them, but not like the amount this stuff has. Cheers to Holland and Barrett who sell it, allowing us minions access.

It has a shiny slickness, a nutty taste and chewy texture. This rice plate has a few easy extras to go with, including a quick chilli jam that combines the essential Chinese flavour trio - chilli, garlic and ginger. A traditional Chinese ‘smacked’ cucumber salad, which is as enjoyable to prepare as it is to eat. You just bash up a cucumber with a rolling pin, which creates crevices and a roughed up texture that allows the salt to permeate the flesh better. And finally egg ribbons - probably more Vietnamese than Chinese, but no-ones bothered right? They are essentially very thin egg crepe cut into strips.

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Quantities serve about 2:

For the black rice

150g black rice

A few splashes of soy sauce

A few drizzles of toasted sesame oil

Make it:

Put the rice in a pan with 360ml of cold water

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat right down to as low as possible

Place a folded tea-towel over the pan and put a tight fitting lid on top of that

Leave it like this for about 20 mins, then remove the lid and leave to cool completely

You can then stir fry it with soy sauce, adding a little toasted sesame oil when it’s off the heat gives it a shine and seasoning

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For the chilli jam

4 red chillis - I used 2 scotch bonnets - I like pain :)

2 garlic cloves

a tiny nugget of ginger

1 tbsp fish sauce

1/3 tin of plum tomatoes

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp brown sugar

Make it:

Roughly chop the ginger, chillis and garlic

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Blitz them in a processor with the fish sauce

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…then add 1/3rd of a tin of chopped tomatoes and blitz again

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Cook it on low for about 20 mins, before adding the sugar and vinegar and cook for a further 5, then leave to cool

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For the egg ribbons

Just whisk up 3 eggs as if you were making an omelette (use Burford Browns if you can)

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Add a small amount of beaten egg to a non-stick pan, just enough to make a very thin crepe. Swirl it around until you’re ready to flip. You don’t want any colour, so keep the heat low

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Carry on until you’ve used up all the mix and pile the crepes on top of each other

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Roll them up..

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And cut

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Separate them into ribbons

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For the smacked cucumber

1 cucumber

3 tbsp rice vinegar

a pinch of dried chilli

a really big pinch of salt

1 clove of garlic, finely grated

Whack the cucumber with a rolling pin or other suitable implement…

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Cut it up quite chunky…

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And add everything else - you can make this up to a day before, just drain the liquid off it before serving

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Serve the rice with all the extras. Pure health!

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cooking caramelised jerusalem artichokes with tarragon aioli

January 04, 2015

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The focus for the blog in 2015 will be mainly vegetarian, peppered with a few exclusively organic meaty and fishy numbers.

I don’t mean to sound like a dick, but I can’t bring myself to even so much as taste non-free range meat anymore and I’m tired of having to explain that I’m not a vegetarian, but I only eat free-range, mostly organic meat blah blah blah.

I decided there should be a name for it. I mean, it’s morally pretty much the same as being a vegetarian. My mate T and I were having this discussion the other day. There was much deliberation on the new name…‘organitarian?’..’occasionarian??’…‘sometimesIeatmeatbutonlywhenit’sorganic-tarian???…’

We settled on qualitarian, hoping that it would be confused for someone who exclusively eats quality street.

So hello (stands up) my name is Alice and I’m a qualitarian.

Jerusalem artichokes are a good vegetable. They’re at their best up until March - something to do with the dark, cold wet soil.

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When slow roasted they become sticky and sweet and magically caramelised. I leave them cut in half as they shrink a bit whilst cooking. Also I like their weird knobbly shapes, they look a bit like the ancient Venus of Willendorf (the worlds first ever statue) — and I can only see that as a positive.

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Tarragon aioli is sharp, citrussy and like grassy aniseed. It makes the best condiment for them. Like elevated chips and mayonnaise.

Caramelised Jerusalem Artichokes with Tarragon Aioli (makes a huge plates worth)

Ye need:

  • about a kilo of jerusalem artichokes, cut in half
  • a drizzle of sunflower or canola oil
  • a massive pinch of sea salt

for the tarragon aioli

  • 1 egg yolk
  • juice of a whole lemon
  • a pinch of salt, sugar and black pepper
  • a bunch of tarragon, finely chopped
  • a handful of spinach for colour
  • 200ml rapeseed or sunflower oil
  • 300ml olive oil

Make it:

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2

Rub the halved artichokes in oil and salt

Roast for about an hour and a half making sure there’s some space between them. Turn them halfway

To make the aioli, add the yolk, lemon juice, salt, sugar and black pepper to a processor. Whiz up and add the oil gradually in a steady stream. Add the tarragon and spinach and blitz until smooth

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cooking simmered beef & carrots

December 29, 2014

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When there’s beef about, is it just me or do you too immediately think ROAST?

Well I couldn’t face roasting more meat, not after Christmas. I’m usually all over leftovers, but the thought of slathering another hunk of animal in rosemary and oil and hoisting it into the oven —, nah, it made me have visions of Henry VIII.

And now while this is a meat recipe, it’s in a slightly more curative guise than the Christmas fayre.

By slowly simmering beef with stock vegetables - chunky carrots, onions, bay and pickling spice, you get a gentle but full flavoured broth, tender lean slices of beef, and vibrant vegetables. It feels restorative rather than rich, especially if you add a smattering of parsley. I was going to call it a detox stew, but then remembered I’m not that much of a twat. Anyway, I hope you’ll agree, it’s perf for January…

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Simmered Beef & Carrots (serves 8)

1 rolled beef brisket

(veg for simmering)

5 carrots

2 onions

4 celery sticks

2 bay leafs

1 tbsp pickling spice

a pint of fresh stock (I used the stock from the Christmas bird carcass)

(fresh veg for finishing)

a handful of peeled shallots

peeled whole carrots

baby potatoes (if you want it more substantial)

a handful of green beans

parsley if you have it

Make it:

Put the beef in a pan and add enough cold water to cover it

Bring it to the boil, and skim any scum off the surface with a ladle

Add the ‘simmering’ ingredients, a lid and simmer for at least 3/4 hours

Set the meat aside, strain the liquid through a fine sieve and chuck the veg away (it’ll be stripped of all flavour)

Put the clear liquid back in the pan with your stock and fresh vegetables. Simmer again until the vegetables have cooked, then add the green beans at the end. Now add the salt and pepper (not earlier as it toughens the meat)

Serve sliced with parsley. None in this pic, but there is snow!

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cooking pickled pumpkin

November 09, 2014

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Pumpkin is too often mashed, puréed and pulsed into baby food. Mashed root vegetables (particularly the sweet ones) cause me fierce upset. And yes I’m looking at you parsnips and sweet potatoes.

I’ve said it before many a time — my idea of hell would be God sitting me down with endless bowls of parsnip risotto and making me do excel spreadsheets forever.

I like acidity, bite and punch. Hellooooo pickles!

This is a new way to enjoy pumpkin, one that will keep it’s structural integrity intact and transform it from sweet and dense, into sharp and bite-y.

But what does it go with you ask?

Well, it will pimp up your cheeseboard no end — think of it as a replacement for quince jelly. Also pretty fine with charcuterie and salty, fatty things like black pudding. Would also make an excellent addition to a salad — think goats’ cheese, kale, walnuts.

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Pickled Pumpkin: makes about 1 large kilner jars worth

  • 1 butternut squash or pumpkin
  • a handful of salt
  • 600ml white wine vinegar
  • 400ml water
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Make it:

  • Peel and slice the pumpkin quite thinly
  • Mix it with salt in a large bowl, cover and set aside for 4 hours, then rinse off the salt
  • Bring all the other ingredients to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 mins
  • Pour the hot liquid over the pumpkin and store in sterilised jars or an airtight container in the fridge
  • Leave the pumpkin for about 3 days before eating. It keeps for ages

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cooking salted cucumbers

October 04, 2014

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Lord knows I love a pickle. I used to secretly swig white wine vinegar from the bottle when I was younger, like some kind of vine-holic.

So it’s with a great level of restraint, that I’m presenting gherkins, that aren’t vinegar. These aren’t pickled, they’re salted.

Why salt a cucumber?

Salting your cuc means that you extract some of the water that can ruin a sandwich, salad or relish or with over-wateriness.

A salted cucumber will have crunch, and can be kept in a jar for about a week, ready for tzatziki and cured salmon on soda bread or indeed just a simple cucumber salad. These are perfumed with garlic and dill, which makes them feel aromatic and Scandi. I’m becoming obsessed with dill. It’s just the best herb — it just is.

Try and find about 6 of those nice small cucumbers you can get at markets, or just chop a couple of big ones up.

Get a plastic bag, and cut your small cucumbers in half, lengthways. Sling the cucumber halves in the bag with a large handful of salt, a large bunch of roughly chopped dill and a handful of crushed garlic. Leave them in there for about 6 hours. The cucumber will have leaked out their water, but still remain crunchy, and they’ll have taken on the garlic and dill flavours lovely.

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cooking bircher muesli

September 27, 2014

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I like croissants for breakfast. Big flakey all-butter ones. I never eat muesli. Why would you? Miserable stuff.

Bircher muesli is an exception. I think of this as summery porridge. It’s cool, creamy and fruity and somehow feels quite indulgent despite actually being something Gwyneth Paltrow might approve of.

No recipe, because it’s too easy and straightforward, I’ll just talk you through.

You just put a handful of oats in some tupperware and pour over enough apple juice to just submerge them. Leave them in the fridge overnight and in the morning they will be all plumped up and pulpy like this

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Mix them with a dollop of nice thick yoghurt, I like Total or this French stuff is very good (Waitrose).

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Mix through some fruit. I like apple matchsticks and toasted almonds. Oh and dates, but didn’t have any in when I took the photos.

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cooking kale crisps with sesame yoghurt

September 25, 2014

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I’m aware that kale crisps have been done to death. But not with a cool sesame yoghurt dip they haven’t - oh no.

Not sure whether roasting kale kills its superpowers or not, but they do make excellent crisps. The curly leaves transform into something reminiscent of that deep fried seaweed you get in dodgy Chinese restaurants - but a good clean version.

To make ‘em you only need:

● A large bunch of kale. Washed and left to dry

● 1 tbsp olive oil

● 1 tsp salt

● 1 tsp brown sugar (optional)

For the yoghurt dip you need:

● 100ml natural yoghurt

● 1 tsp ground cumin

● 1 tbsp runny honey

● 1 tbsp tahini paste

What to do:

  1. Cut the leaves up into manageable pieces. Put them in a mixing bowl with olive oil, sugar and salt and go in with your hands

  2. Scatter them about on a baking tray and roast them for about 25mins, or until crispy

  3. For the dip, just mix everything together. Would make quite a nice side dish with the dip drizzled over

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cooking fried porridge (gf)

September 12, 2014

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Having just spent a week with the fam (literally) on a tiny Hebridean island called Tiree, I thought it fitting to play around with oatmeal. My family are extreeeemely particular about porridge. It’s the only thing my dad insists on taking charge of in the kitchen.

His puritanical view is that the oats have to be pinhead, uncut. He uses water, adds a hefty pinch of sea salt and has it with a splash of cream if there’s any in the fridge. I see it as punishment porridge.

I’m more baby bear — I like mine made with milk and honey.

This recipe is inspired by an old school Scottish tradition of pouring leftover porridge into a drawer and leaving it to cool. It’s then cut up and eaten it on-the-go as the original energy bar. If you’ve read Kidnapped (Robert Louis Stevenson) you’ll know what I’m on about.

Oatmeal was the basis of the Scottish crofters diet, makes sense — cheap and sturdy fuel for slow energy-release. I like to imagine a burly Scotsman knee deep in heather, pulling a slice from his sternum along with a hip flask of whiskey while he’s roaming the highlands.

I know this sounds kind of DISGUSTING but stay with me — I don’t use a drawer to cool the porridge. I used a baking dish, and I fry it in butter. The result is something between porridge, French toast and oaty polenta. It’s one of the most brilliant breakfast discoveries I’ve had, I’m mad for it. So much so that I’m going to list what would be excellent with it:

Raspberries and honey drizzle

Crispy bacon and maple syrup

Yoghurt and berries with a dusting of icing sugar

Caramelised apples and cinnamon

Spiced butter (cinnamon/nutmeg etc) and roasted pecans

MAKE IT!

Crispy Fried Porridge Slices (serves 4 for breakfast)

200g porridge oats

300ml whole milk (or soy if you’re that way inclined)

300ml water

pinch salt

pinch sugar

grating of fresh nutmeg (optional)

  • Method:

  • Mix the oats, water, milk, sugar and salt to a pan

  • Stir on a low heat constantly for about 15mins until thick and creamy. The more you stir, and the lower the heat, the creamier the porridge!

  • Pour the porridge into a medium sized tupperware container or an oven dish

porridge

  • Leave to cool, then refrigerate overnight

  • Turn the cooled porridge out carefully - you’ll end up with a beige solid slab of porridge. Slice it up into triangles or squares. Dusting the squares with a little flour prevents them sticking in the pan, if you don’t have a non stick one

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  • Pan fry in a little oil and butter (or can be fried without if you’re using a non-stick pan and don’t want the extra cals) for about 5 mins on each side, or until golden

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Serve with whatever you like. This one has maple syrup

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This one has been fried without oil — and has honey and cinnamon

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cooking babaganoosh with herbed yoghurt and walnuts

August 22, 2014

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This is a really nice way to enjoy babaganoosh. Rather than just using it for scooping up with bread, make it part of a kind of middle eastern salad of sorts.

My babaganoosh recipe is here

The rest is just decoration:

Macerated red onion. Finely slice a red onion, and pour red wine or white wine vinegar over, leave for about half an hour

Toast some walnuts

Mix yoghurt or labne with some chopped mint, parsley, or whatever soft herbs you have. Season and add a little olive oil.

Layer the babaganoosh, yoghurt and pickled red onion, then sprinkle the walnuts and mint over. Would be really nice with lamb.

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cooking tarta de santiago (flourless almond cake)

August 19, 2014

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This is an old school Galician almond cake. I think it’s invention was in the Middle Ages. The translation is cake of St James and it’s normally quite a religious looking confection, with it’s cross of St. James stencilled over the top in icing sugar. You can bake the filling in pastry, or have it as a cake, as it is here.

I choose to forgo the sugar cross, but apart from that the recipe is pretty true to the original. Oh except I swap almond essence for vanilla, because I think satan himself may have invented almond essence, horrible stuff.

This cake is flourless, so get stuck in if you’re gluten-free. It has a lovely sticky, nutty, cloudy crumb.

I like to serve it with macerated strawberries and thick cream. And amen, it’s delish.

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Make it!

- 250g whole almonds, blitzed in a processor until you get rubble-like almond flour


- 6 organic eggs, separated


- 250g caster sugar


- the zest of 1 orange


- the zest of 1 lemon


- 4 drops of vanilla extract

plus butter for greasing, flour for dusting, icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.

Butter and flour a 25cm diameter cake tin or line it with a paper cake liner. Traditionally this cake should be quite flat and wide, but I prefer a less wide tin because I like the stickiness you get from a taller cake).

Beat the yolks and sugar until they are pale and paint-like in consistency, so you can’t feel any sugar grains left. Add the orange zest, lemon zest and vanilla extract and ground almonds. Mix well.

Whisk the egg whites in a super clean mixer (wipe a lemon in the bowl to get rid of any grease) until really stiff. Fold through the almond mixture in two parts. The almond mix is quite thick, so you’ll have to work the egg whites in a lightly as you can. You should end up with a really voluptuous batter.

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Pour into your cake tin and bake for about 40mins. Leave to cool before turning out, and dust with icing sugar

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Once you’ve turned it out, turn it the other way over, so you get a nice even surface for dusting

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strawbs

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cooking quick aubergine parmigiana

August 17, 2014

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Most of the stuff I cook is like this — simple and vegetable based. Many dishes can be deconstructed (forgive the horrible word).

You just have to make sure they are properly seasoned and that the cheese is melted, not cooked, which turns mozzarella into rubber. For two, slice up one aub.

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Fry to colour

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Bake in a single layer with mozzarella and Parmesan

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You want to just melt the mozarella, so they only need about 15mins in the oven on 180

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Make a simple tomato sauce

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Toast some seasoned breadcrumbs in a little olive oil and grated garlic, just so they’re coloured. I got this ruddy great sack in Sicily, have a feeling it’s going to last years

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And layer up on the plate. Nice with salad, bread etc

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