One of the things I love about Nigella Lawson’s books is that she tells you the stories behind the recipes. And often the story is of someone else’s recipe: a family tradition; a friend’s speciality; the best of a respected, if obscure, tome. They are recipes with history; the outcome of generations of experimentation and perfection. I find it incredibly comforting to be reminded that the bounty of lovely, varied, reliable recipes captured in the pages of the cookbook have a providence and did not spring, perfect and whole from the mind of the writer. Cookbook author as collator rather than creator fits with the romance and nostalgia narrative I weave around cooking. This is Holly’s recipe.
Those of you who have been following this blog might have seen a bit of Holly already. She normally comments on a post pretty quickly, usually to say I’ve made her hungry. Sadly I don’t get to feed her as much as a best-friend should and she has to make do with occasionally express posted baked goods on the rare occasions I get my act together.
Shortly before I headed from the valley chill of Hobart to the freezing frost of Canberra Ms Holly had me over for a day of vitally important Buffy viewing. To mark the occasion Holly decreed that our traditional lunch of black pepper and lime chips, basil and cashew dip and Blue Costello cheese would not do, and proceeded to (gasp!) cook me something. I am grateful she did.
This is the meal Holly’s mum makes her when she is sick and in my first year of fending for myself it proved invaluable. When I can’t bear to plan, to prepare; when I’ve been at the gym till well past 7 and I just need to eat and fall into bed. I make Holly’s wonderful meal. Maybe this meal is so familiar to you that you can’t understand why I adore it so. But the simple meals of a family can prove a revelation when they’re different to the simple meals of you own.
So here it is: Garlic mushrooms; baby spinach; cous cous.
That’s it. Super easy, basically healthy, calling on modern pantry classics, and unbelievably tasty. I adore it.
Make the cous cous according to the packet instructions. Sauté mushrooms in butter and crushed garlic.
Put the cous cous in a bowl, cover with fresh baby spinach on top, then put the mushrooms on top.
This in itself is awesome, fantastic , filling, yum. But I’m a big fan of it with lamb backstrap. I just put the backstrap in some oil with garlic and lemon thyme from my garden, and let it sit for about thirty minutes while it comes to room temperature, then cook it in a medium hot frypan. Slice and put with the mushroom cous cous. Brilliant.
Also a big fan of it with chicken breast sprinkled with Moroccan seasoning and lemon juice in an oven bag and a moderate oven for 30 minutes.
Really just a big fan of it.