Bensoir! It's me, Benjamin. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You may have read stuff I've written elsewhere, but here on my own blog as Ben Viveur I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others, so pretty much anything goes.

BV is about enjoying real food and drink in the real world. I showcase 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. And as a critic 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!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I'm Fired?

Well, I didn't go along this morning to my interview with Sir Alan - or more likely some fresh-faced Broadcast Assistant, or whatever the BBC calls their junior staff these days - and I don't feel too bad about it.

It became clear a couple of days ago that I really wouldn't be able to muster the energy or inclination to fill out a second, longer application, update my CV, get my hair cut, purchase a new suit, trim my beard, and get up early in the morning just for the privilege of standing around in a studio with an imperial tonne of wannabe executive salescunts, so I spent yesterday evening relaxing and cooking Gnocchi and Pancetta-stuffed peppers rather than frantically preparing for inevitable disappointment. Good decision.

I'm 'leaving the process' earlier than most, I know, and I won't have the honour of being humiliated on TV by the terrier-like Amstrad peer, but will the winning candidate know how to cook this dish? Will they fuck.

It's a tasty little candidate with an impressive resume of ingredients, optimised for today's appetites. The rich tomatoey sauce is a USP that achieves cut-through with key demographics... OK, I'll stop talking twat. Here's the recipe:

Gnocchi and Pancetta-stuffed peppers

Ingredients - per pepper (two with sauce is an ample main course)

A whole pepper, any colour you choose
You're Fried! (The gnocchi, that is)
Pancetta cubes, a handful
Fresh Gnocchi, a handful
Black Pepper
Grated Fresh Parmesan

(for the tomato sauce)

A tomato, finely chopped
Onion, 1/2 a small one, finely chopped
Garlic, finely chopped
Capers, a few
Mushroom Ketchup, a splash
Black Pepper
Red wine
Olive oil


First thing we're gonna do is make the sauce, so heat the oil in a sautee pan, and fry your onion and garlic until they soften, then add in all your other ingredients, cover, and leave to simmer on a low heat. If gets too dry, add more wine.
Once the sauce has had at least half an hour, ideally 45 minutes, you can cut the tops off your peppers, remove the seeds and whack them in an oven at about 150 degrees for 20 minutes or so.

While the sauce and the peppers are coming along nicely, it's time to fry your pancetta cubes in good quality butter until they are pinky-white throughout. Add more butter and throw the gnocchi in. Gnocchi does NOT need to be boiled in water. Frying it in butter gives you a lovely fluffy consistency and it will absorb the pancetta juices too.

Keep stirring the gnocchi around throughout, and once it starts to fluff up, turn the heat off and add a little black pepper and a good sprinkling of fresh Parmesan to the pan. Toss it all around so the Parmesan melts and sticks to the gnocchi, making it all cheesy and gooey.

All that's left to do now is take the peppers out of the oven, fill them with the gnocchi and pancetta, sprinkle a little more parmesan on top, then return them to the oven for exactly 4 minutes, 33 seconds. You can listen to the John Cage piece to ensure you get the timing exactly right.

We're now ready to plate up, so whack a couple of peppers on the plate and serve the rich tomatoey sauce in a generous puddle by the side.


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