Thursday, November 06, 2014


In 2003 I lived, for one month, in Prague. I loved the tiny apartment I rented there and I bought a Czech cookbook and cooked my way through it. One of the techniques I learned there was to thicken casseroles with bread and every now and then, I still do this. 

At Halloween, having found, for the first time, a butternut squash here, I decided to add it to a Prague-style casserole. The Sicilian ingredients are 'strattu [tomato paste], pomegranate seeds, the orange peel and Mediterranean cardoncello [king trumpet] mushrooms:

First of all, cut a long strip of peel from an orange and put it on a plate in the microwave for about 1 minute on medium. Put aside till needed.

Heat 6 tablesp olive oil in a large, wide pan and in it brown 1 kg cubed beef for casseroles or spezzatino. Add 1 chopped white onion and a chopped clove of garlic and swirl these around with the beef until they are browned too. Then add the peeled and chopped squash and brown this. 

Now add 1 tablesp 'strattu, seasalt to taste and a few grindings of mixed peppercorns plus 170 gr roughly sliced mushrooms, a handful of chopped parsley and some sprigs of fresh thyme. Add the strip of orange peel and 568 ml water [1 UK pint]. Bring the mixture to simmer, cover and leave for 1 hour, stirring once or twice.

Add 4 slices of bread, crusts removed and cut into squares. [This can be brown or white - it doesn't matter] and stir till dissolved.

Finally add the seeds of 1 pomegranate, discard the orange peel [if you can find it] and serve.

This is serious comfort food and will serve 4 - 6. 

Buon appetito!  Dobrou chuť!

Me in Halloween mood

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