ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. Likewise, I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended.

Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back in the Kitchen

It's been absolutely ages since I posted a recipe, hasn't it?

NOT MY FAULT, mind. In the last few weeks I've lost a job and started a new one, and lost a grandmother - and you don't get new ones.

As a result, I've not been spending as much time in the kitchen as I normally do (which, I'm sure is a mighty relief to the kitchen which has pretty much been my submissive foodbitch since we moved in).

It really is a simple dish
Also, this little blogette has been dominated by my search for the London Pub of the Year, but now that the award has been won, I think we can vary things a tad. After all, some crazy people aren't actually interested in reading about pubs and beer!

Whilst I was musing poetically on the origins of the Cobb salad, I promised I'd share my 'thrown together from whatever happened to be in the fridge' for Salami & Aubergine Tagliatelle, and given that I finally got around to cooking it again this week, it's a promise on which I can actually make good.

And this is such a simple, straightforward dish, I think everyone will be able to cook it, even if your kitchen is an estranged spouse to you.

Of course, this time I actually planned to have the ingredients in stock, obviously...

Salami & Aubergine Tagliatelle

Ingredients - makes two main course portions or four starter portions

Fresh Tagliatelle, enough to make a decent plateful for two

Italian Salami, about 10 slices, cut into 'ninths' (two slices horizontally, two slices vertically, if that makes sense)
Aubergine, one average-sized, or a few baby ones, diced.
Red Onion, one large or two small, chopped
Vine tomatoes, two-three, chopped perhaps a little more coarsely than you'd normally do with a pasta sauce
Garlic, finely chopped
Celery Salt
Olive Oil
Fresh Parmesan


Heat some olive oil in a big pan on a high heat, and fry your onion and garlic for a few minutes until it starts to soften, then chuck in your aubergine and season with celery salt.

You might need to add a little more oil, as the aubergine has a tendency to absorb the stuff as it cooks.

Cook for about 10 minutes, then add your tomatoes, basil, oregano and paprika, ensuring everything is nicely coated, before finally adding the salami. It doesn't matter if some of the bits of salami are stuck together.

Looking good...
Keep stirring it for a few minutes, but once the tomato has softened and it all looks good enough to eat, you can turn the heat down and leave it to simmer.

It's worth tasting it at this point just to make sure the aubergine is cooked through - it shouldn't be mushy, but you don't want it too al dente either. It's one of those vegetables that you don't want to be eating raw!

Assuming the sauce doesn't need any further cooking, leave it alone and cook your tagliatelle in boiling water - fresh tagliatelle only normally takes a few minutes.

Once the pasta is done to your liking, drain it and toss it in a generous quantity of pesto. As this is a fairly dry dish, the extra lubrication afforded by the pesto will be much appreciated.

The pestoey pasta can now be transferred into the pan with the sauce, and everything can be thoroughly mixed together, before you plate it up.

A sprinkling of Parmesan, and the dish is ready to eat - it shouldn't take longer than about half an hour from fridge to plate, and it's a little different from most pasta dishes.


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