I went out last weekend – not to eat out but to see how eating out is going. The restaurateurs clearly are still scratching their heads trying to marry the restrictions with profitability as not many restaurants or pubs were open. And the lockdown ennui can’t be that acute as punters were not numerous either – but then again, I live in a middle-class, middle-aged, staid and cautious part of the country. Don’t we then crave being cooked for and not have to do the washing up? I bet we do – I do – but not quite in the masked, distanced and plexi-partitioned framework. We want to go back to how it was or not at all, and for now we are skulking around waiting to see what happens.
Which means back to the kitchen – embracing cooking at home seems to be staged like grief: mad enthusiasm, boredom, dissent and resigned acceptance. Hopefully the latter is where we are at now as from there we can ignite enthusiasm again. Discover new recipes, new produce now there are more shopping options and also be a little regimental caloriewise in the face of the excess lockdown fat here and there.
Have you heard how lean pigs are these days? Pork is virtually the new chicken. Italians knew it all along so here’s my suggestion of roasting a porchetta: a cut of pork of your choice stuffed with herbs and rolled up. It’s quite entertaining to prepare and will make a mean roast plus divine sandwiches in the following days, with homemade mayo and pickles. There’s a how-to video on the recipe page too. Check it out, and subscribe to my YouTube channel while you're there!
Neither cooking nor eating whole fish should be scary, so how about grilled mackerel with spice crust? If you prefer fillets, make breakfast for dinner with shakshuka with poached salmon. No fillers if you want to stay on the right side of 2000 calories a day but if it’s not a problem, garlic bread from scratch will go down a treat.
You could grill carne asada (outside on the barbecue if weather allows) or cook the beef with the Korean flavours to stuff tacos with. If meat isn’t on your menu, how about feta saganaki or Sicilian pizza with homemade dough (tip: double the amounts and stick the extra dough balls in the freezer)?
If you’re still into baking, try fougasse Emmental. If your baking is limited to desserts, it could be guava cake with pink frosting or a Bakewell tart. Either way, keep cooking and keep finding enjoyment in it – after all, sharing food with others is the ultimate and the simplest kindness.