I'm blessed with a good memory. Exams, as long as I can learn the subject by rote, have never been too taxing. I'm sure I exasperate my husband with my ability to remember every. little. thing. But when it comes to food, I'm Rainman. Along with the list of Andy's likes and dislikes that I have committed to memory, I have freaked my friends out with my tendency to have conversations like:
"I know you miss Marks & Spencer Smoked Mackerel Pate, so I've made you some".
"When did I tell you that?"
"Three years ago, in passing in a conversation".
One friend doesn't like eggs, one doesn't like parsnips, one doesn't like cooked apple. You get the idea. It can make catering for groups of them an exercise in elimination, rather than blissfully picking one thing and sticking to it.
The same applies for recipes. I have an uncanny recall of recipes I've read just once, let alone a few times. So when it comes to a book I have probably read, cover-to-cover, novel style, more than any other, it's no wonder I can virtually recite the index from memory. Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course was the first 'grown up' cookery book I owned just for me, rather than borrowing from Mum. It was a gift as I headed off to university - and what a gift. I still recommend it to this day for people just setting off on the cooking journey. Delia holds your hand through this in an informative, slightly strict at times, no-nonsense fashion, and I for one am still reaping the rewards. Back in the days, before laptops and internet invaded student halls, there was just me and this book, and I read it, and read it, and read it.
So when I woke up this morning, and the word "Piperade" jumped into my head, I wasn't especially surprised, even though I'd never cooked it before. I knew it contained eggs and peppers, both of which I had lying around. I also had all the other ingredients, and so made it for a brunch. Very glad I did; the sweetness of the slow-cooked vegetables makes the eggs incredibly sweet and creamy. My young, grown-from-seed basil is aniseed-strong, and was a great highlight to the eggs.
I'll be remembering this one for the future.
Adapted from Delia Smith, 'Complete Illustrated Cookery Course'
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
A few basil leaves
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil and butter in a medium pan over a low heat. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, until soft but not brown.
Add the pepper, tomato and garlic, and continue to cook slowly for another 20 minutes, until the vegetables are sweet and soft. Season well with salt and pepper
Beat the eggs well then add them to the pan, stirring constantly. After a couple of minutes, before they are firm, remove from the heat and continue to stir for 30 seconds.
Serve over toast or, as I did, a grilled field mushroom. Garnish with basil and serve immediately.