Friday, September 15, 2006

Uncle Junior's Pasta e patate

SCOOBY has perfected a great technique for anger management. To conquer his temper he thumps something.
It began with a golf ball which took a hell of a beating after he signed up for lessons with the local pro. Unfortunately the pro worked miles away from a golf course - in a shop on Albany Road - and the whole thing took place on one of those virtual golfing ranges, far away from the field of battle.
But it served its purpose.
When he'd knocked the casing off as many golf balls as possible he packed it in - only to then take up with a Samba band. This gave him the chance to thump steel drums to his hearts content.
But the course finally ran out and Scoobs had nothing to beat up on... until along came a course on African drumming. Now he bashes hell out of the bongos to relieve his considerable stress.
To be fair, my landlord Scooby has plenty to get angry about. Same as the rest of us really, most of it caused by petty bureacracy and ineffective authority.
He's probably lost count of the number of arguments and legal fights he has had to get his disabled son Joe the right schooling and to get adequate hospital care for his mum. Every time he thumps a drum I imagine some petty official's face looms large in his mind's eye.
Mind you, there is another reason for his appetite for drumming. I can't believe it's coincidence that 80 per cent of his classmates are women.
Last night was drumming night for Scoob and after he told me of his latest escapades I settled down to my favourite meal of the moment - Pasta e patate from The Sopranos cookbook.
It's a pretty quick and hearty meal and contains my latest Pasta crush - Macaroni.
You need:
A pack of cubed pancetta, or four slices of bacon.
1 small carrot
1 celery rib
1 crushed garlic clove
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste/1 tablespoon sundried tomato paste (my own preferred choice)
salt and black pepper
three peeled and diced potatoes
two and a half to three pints water
12 oz macaroni
loads of Parmigiano cheese

To cook: Heat oil in pan
Add the pancetta, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley
fry on medium heat, stirring occasionally for 15 mins
Add tomato pastes, spuds, salt and pepper - mix up
Add water and bring to boil
Simmer for 30 mins
Crush as many potatoes as poss with a fork against the side of pan
Add macaroni
Simmer for 12 mins, stirring occasionally
Add half the cheese and stir in, cook for another 3 mins.
Add some hot water if too thick.
Turn off and stand with lid on for two mins.
Serve up dollops of the stuff, add a little more salt and pepper, top with more Parmigian and chilli flakes. Yummy.
Settle down to watch Extras with a starring role for Keith Chegwyn and Orlando Bloom (a great series, welcome back) and later the Sopranos. Hey, some of those guys could do with anger management lessons off Scooby.

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