Polpetto

Flower bunch

A bit of a belated post as I left this in the drafts but forgot to finish it before we went on holidays last month!

This is my inaugural post on the Places to eat category: sharing places where we (unsurprisingly) like to eat!

In need of comforting food in a cosy environment? Polpetto is a safe bet… specially during these cold spells we’re having lately.

  

Calamari and meatballs…

… Broccoli and pine nuts salad, potatoes with olives, gnocchi…

The syrup chunks on this crême were a touch too thick for my tastes, though!

This polenta cake was very nice.

Not pictured: their negronis, which beat their aperol spritz. Always go negroni here.

Polpetto
http://www.polpetto.co.uk/
11 Berwick Street, London W1F 0PL

Allioli is not mayonnaise with garlic

Not real allioli

The Caterer from Hell strikes again, this time attempting to “cook” allioli.

Except they basically mashed industrial mayonnaise with garlic, and called it aioli, and they still went and slept at night instead of turning in bed every half an hour, haunted by the terrible horrors they had awakened.

Ingredients aside, the texture looks wrong, with all those lumps. It looks off. And it didn’t smell of garlic at all. Good allioli packs such a punch you can smell it from a distance.

  • Grossness level: 7/10. Why do they keep pretending they know what they are doing?
  • Offense amount: 8/10. It has mayonnaise. An AMERICAN mayonnaise. There’s nothing Spanish about this.
  • Would I give it a go? NO!!!!!!!!! I’d rather not get food poisoning, thank you very much.

The “Spanish omelette” that looked like a cheese tower

Deceptive "Spanish omelette"

A Certain Caterer (let’s leave the criminals unnamed) just does not get Spanish food, but insists in trying, often with terrible results.

I mean, just look at that.

I initially thought this was cheese. Like maybe red cheddar mixed with manchego? But why would they be displayed like this?, I wondered…

Well, because they are not cheese, but a “Spanish omelette”.

Except they seem to have missed the memo that said “omelettes are a dish of beaten eggs”. So there are just a few streaks of egg scattered around, instead of warmly hugging the potatoes in a snuggly embrace.

And the potatoes look desperately uncooked, more like they tried to bake them, so they could get a bunch of portions with just one tray, but gave up half way because it was taking too much time and they were late for the delivery, so they just took them out and served them raw. Who is going to notice, right?

And that’s how you end with this abomination 😱

  • Grossness level: 8/10. This is extremely disgusting.
  • Offense amount: High. You’re insulting such a Spanish staple with this subpar attempt.
  • Would I give it a go? NO. FREAKING. WAY. 🤐

Courghetti with tomato and onion sauce

Courghetti with tomato and onion sauce

This is fun to make (spiralising things is so much fun), and fairly quick to prepare. Plus it’s quite filling AND lightweight – courgettes are basically water!

You will need a spiraliser, or you can buy pre-made courghetti, although I’ve never tried those and I’ve no idea how bad or good they are!

Ingredients (for two people)

  • Two medium sized courgettes (about 15 cm length)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves
  • One 400g tomato tin
  • Olive oil
  • Optional: Parmesan cheese and butter (leave out if vegan)

Preparation

  1. Start by washing and spiralising the courgettes. I make one pile per courgette, as it makes it easier to separate the portions later
  2. Peel and chop the onion and garlic cloves
  3. Put oil on a pan, and start frying the onion and garlic
  4. In parallel, wash and chop the parsley, and add it to the pan as well
  5. Once the onion is pretty soft, move everything to one side, like in the picture
  6. Add some more oil, and set to a very high heat
  7. When the pan is very hot, add the contents of the tomato tin to it, and fry on a very high heat for about 1-2 minutes or until you think things are going to burn! Stir frequently during this time. The goal is to get the tomato to lose its acidity
  8. Now reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes
  9. Optional: add a dash of butter now to get a deeper body. Mix it well until it dissolves.
  10. Slowly add about 200ml of warm water to compensate for the evaporation.
  11. Add a tablespoon of paprika, and mix well
  12. About 10 minutes in the simmering, try a bit of the sauce, and add salt and pepper to taste, mix well and try the sauce again. It might still be a bit acidic, but don’t add sugar – just wait for longer!
  13. Depending on the quality of the tomatoes, you might need to wait for longer. It usually pays off to wait as the flavour gets more developed and interesting. So you might need more than 20 minutes.
  14. Once the sauce is ‘done’, turn the heat off.
  15. To cook the courghetti, add some oil to another pan, and set on a very high heat.
  16. When the pan is very hot, add a ‘pile’ of courghetti, and stir continuously. We don’t want anything to get stuck, and we want the cooking to be homogeneous. We also don’t want the courghettis to get too soft, so that’s why we need the heat to be very high, so they cook outside but not too much inside. If the heat is too low, they will start releasing water, and the result will be too “liquidy”.
  17. Once one pile is cooked, place on a deep bowl, and go to step 15 to cook the next, until all have been cooked.
  18. Pour the sauce on top of the cooked courghetti
  19. Optional: add a good dose of grated Parmesan cheese
  20. Add some pepper
  21. Optional: add a dash of the best olive oil you have

Tricks and tips

I used this smoked paprika my mum brought me from Extremadura, a region in West Spain, renowned by the quality of their paprika!

Smoked paprika

If you have the chance to shop at a Spanish grocers, “Pimentón de la Vera” is the type of paprika you want to look for.

Also, depending on your spiraliser, you might get very long ‘courghetti’ so it might be interesting to cut the piles a few times with scissors before cooking them, so they’re not like 3 meters long and impossible to eat with a fork.

Chickpea omelette

This morning, I was wondering what to have for breakfast when I remembered I had a bunch of chickpeas leftover from yesterday’s dish: rice with Swiss chard. And I had an idea: why not have a chickpea omelette?

Like that dish, this is also a very economical dish, and quite easy to make. The hardest skill required is to know how to flip the omelette without breaking it, although I gave some tips for that on the herb omelette recipe.

Ingredients (for 2-3 portions)

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Parsley
  • Half a 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
  • Olive oil

Preparation

Takes about 45 minutes.

  1. Mash the chickpeas using a fork or a mashing accessory
  2. Peel and thinly chop the onion
  3. And the garlic clove
  4. Place some olive oil on a pan, set on a high heat and start frying the onion and garlic
  5. Crack the eggs and pour them on a bowl, and whisk them
  6. Wash and chop the parsley, add to the bowl
  7. Add a touch of salt
  8. Add the chickpeas to the bowl and mix everything vigorously so there are no lumps of chickpea paste – this is how it’d look like:Chickpea omelette mixture
  9. When the onion and garlic are fried (onion soft, garlic golden), add a touch more oil to the pan and then add the egg, chickpea and parsley mixture to the pan, and mix everything together
  10. Set to a high heat, and cook the first half
  11. Then using the tricks on this post, flip the omelette and cook the other side
  12. Serve and enjoy!

This is a dish which is often cooked with the leftovers of a popular stew called “cocido”, instead of using tinned chickpeas or specifically cooked chickpeas. That makes the omelette even tastier, as the veggies have all the flavour from the stew! Plus also the tinned chickpeas are a bit too hard for this dish and it takes longer to mash them.

When using stew leftover, you end up with a more colourful dish as it might contain all sorts of vegetables: potato, carrot, green beans, cauliflower, cabbage… and it’s fairly common to actually make vegetable croquettes with these.

It just occurred to me that this could also work very nicely with a touch of spice on it to add some ‘heat’ – perhaps some red chilli.

The other great thing about this dish is its versatility: you can have it for breakfast, or in your lunch box (as it keeps and warms up nicely), or even for dinner – it’s a very common Monday dinner (as you might have had the stew on Sunday).