Saturday 27th January 2024 - Food and Tasters from Clifftop Publishing
Following our morning walk, on Wednesday, the rest of the day was spent indoors. This was, to make sure we didn’t miss any of our deliveries, scheduled throughout the day. First to arrive was the Dell’Ugo pasta etc. Arriving before lunch we wasted no time and ate one of the packs of Cromer Crab and Crayfish Ravioli for lunch. Lovely plump pockets of pasta were tasty and very filling but we decided we’d prefer to eat crabs and shellfish at room temperature rather than warm. Half the pack of fresh fusilli, cooked using a leek and saffron recipe, and accompanied by the goat’s cheese and red onion focaccia went down very well, for dinner on Thursday. The cod steaks, from Fresh Fish Daily, had slightly translucent flesh, associated with fresh fish. Its freshness was confirmed; there wasn’t the slightest wiff of a fishy smell. The steaks were bigger than I anticipated and eaten that evening (Wednesday). The photo shows their size; the two just about covered a dinner plate. Next time, I’ll order the smaller size. We had a pair of the Manx kippers for lunch on Thursday. There were 20 kippers in total in the box, so the rest went in the freezer to enjoy over the coming weeks. As for the meat, all bar the mutton went in the freezer. The mutton will be cooked for dinner tomorrow and some of the Calabrian sausages will be used next week in my Greek recipe for Spetsofai. All the deliveries were extremely well packaged and the deliveries made within their individual time slots.
Saying about my Greek Spetsofai recipe, reminded me to mention, I have been updating my website Clifftop Publishing. I have added a page with one of the stories, Betrayal, from my book, Truths and Lies, as a sort of a taster – a try before you buy. Since then, I have been publicising the changes on Facebook. This is not on my website but I thought I would include it here; my recipe for Greek Spetsofai. This recipe is one of over sixty, included in my book The 3R’s – Recipes, Reflections and Reminiscences. I should add, I cook Spetsofai using one of the good quality sausages available from Mundesley butchers and normally when peppers are in season. However, on this occasion, I just can’t wait that long to try the Calabrian sausages and purchased peppers on Friday, from Country Pickings in Mundesley!
Sausage & Peppers Casserole (Spetsofai) - Σπετζοφαϊ
It was in early May 2002 and we were into the second week of our visit to Naxos, before we discovered The Poseidon taverna. Just off the town’s square, The Poseidon was owned by friendly Dimitris but the kitchen was entrusted to Costas, an exceptional cook; he was the main reason we returned every night for the remainder of our visit. The evening before our final full day on the island, Dimitris asked us what we would like to eat the following evening; Costas would cook us whatever we wanted. There was one dish on the menu which attracted Peter’s attention, Spetsofai, a dish of sausages, peppers and tomatoes. It may not sound exceptional but it was (I had my usual taster); a memorable way to complete our stay. When we returned to Naxos in 2006, (on reflection probably one of our favourite Greek destinations), we were greeted with sadness at the Poseidon; Costas had died suddenly the previous summer, his death had been a great shock to all who knew him. As for Dimitris he had sold the taverna and bought another in the outlying village of Angidia. But Costa’s is not forgotten he is remembered, every time I cook Spetsofai and neither is Dimitris, I still carry the key fob he gave us when we went to visit him in his new taverna.
The key ingredients to this dish are the sausages; they must be spicy quality ‘bangers’. Most reputable butchers will have at least one type and more recently supermarkets have become more adventurous in their selections.
Peppers - 6 large of the long Florina variety
Olive oil - for frying
Sausages - 8 large, spicy
Onions - 2, sliced
Garlic cloves - 2, crushed
Tomatoes - 500g, fresh, skinned & roughly chopped
Water - 150ml, hot
Tomato puree - 1 tablespoon, concentrated
Oregano - 1 teaspoon, dried
Ground black pepper
Cut the peppers lengthways and remove the seeds, leaving as much of the stalk as possible.
Fry the peppers skin side down, in an ovenproof casserole, in olive oil, until they start to turn brown. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
Next prick the sausages and fry them in the same pan, just long enough to brown on the outside, remove these from the pan and set aside.
Reduce the heat, add a little more oil if necessary and gently fry the onions and garlic, until soft.
Add the tomatoes to the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes.
Mix the tomato puree with the water and pour over the tomatoes etc.
Return the sausages to the pan.
Finally sprinkle over the oregano and season with the salt and pepper and stir.
Put the lid on the casserole and place in a preheated oven at Gas 4/180ºC for about ½ hour.
Add the peppers to the casserole and cook for a further ½ hour, stirring gently occasionally, to ensure even cooking of the peppers.
At the end of the cooking time you may like to remove the peppers and sausages and keep warm while you reduce the remaining sauce, until thickened.
Notes: In the winter, spring and early summer months, when fresh sun ripened tomatoes are not available substitute with a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes and omit the tomato puree and water.
Serving Suggestion: All this dish needs is some Garlic Mash (see Starters, Salads and Vegetable section) to accompany.