Pizza fiorentina for Alejandro

Alejandro being a friend who professes to like Lobstersquad very well, except he can´t cook most of the stuff because I seem to be all about the lengthy process or the purpose-specific electronic equipment.

Well, here´s a winner trick for which you need neither time, skill, ecquipment or complicated shopping. It´s neither cooking nor ordering out, but some mixture of both. Let´s call it takeout fusion.
(If you don´t want to read the whole post, it´s just some steamed spinach with a poached egg laid on pizza margherita. The instructions are for the use of non-habitual cooks)

First, stop by a supermarket (see? easy) and buy a 400 gr. bag of baby spinach leaves and some good eggs.

Second, order a pizza margherita. When I do this, J goes to La vita è bella on Plaza de San Ildefonso and brings it home himself, but any delivery guy will be an adequate accomplice. Try to make this a good pizza and not some godforsaken thick soggy monster, if you can.

While the pizza arrives, take a pan with a lid that looks like it can hold at least half the spinach. Heat it, add a tiny drizzle of oil. While this heats up, wash the spinach and take out any tough stems (Spanish spinach growers tending to take the broad, sweeping view of what is a baby spinach. There are a lot of preschoolers in the bags I buy).
Shake it dry, but not too dry, and put it in the pan. Cover. Wash the other half, if your pan isn´t big enough to hold it all.
By the time the second batch is washed, the first will have wilted so much that the second can go in.
Shake it a little, and in a couple of minutes you´ll have a limp green mess.
Now salt it, see if there´s too much liquid, try a piece. Too irony and green? Leave it some more time.

When you think the pizza is almost home, make a couple of holes in the spinach, and crack eggs into them.
Cover, and leave to set over a low fire.

When pizza arrives, take it out of the box and put it on a wooden board. This is essential to the success of the dish. Looks are everything.

Now take a wide slotted spoon and put the eggs with some of the greens on the pizza, and then dot the rest attractively on the bald spots.
Drizzle with the tiniest dots of good olive oil, and tuck in. The best is to smear the yolk all over the pizza, if there are more than two people. If not, each gets his egg and can do what they want with it.

So there you go. It´s easy, it´s healthy, it´s good, it looks good.
And if you can´t be bothered to order the pizza, you can of course have the spinach and egg on hot buttered toast and save yourself the delivery time.


Easiest ever soup

Madrid was submerged in snow last Friday. J and I caught a nice little stomach flu that´s doing the rounds, so we´ve been eating plain boiled rice and chicken and broth for days. But now that we´re almost well again, this is the thing.

The easiest soup in the world, and so good. Also I´m fond of it because I associate it with Pía´s birth-day. My last act as a civilian was to stop by the post office and pick up a parcel of books, all Lindsey Bareham´s.
This recipe appeared in all of them, and as I lolled by the pool, I flagged it. It seemed to good to be true, but it was too hot. And then P was born and that was that, until I found myself one day with leeks and potatoes to hand, a sleeping baby, and half an hour.

All you do is clean and slice leeks and peel and cut potatoes while salted water comes to the boil. The vegetables go in, are covered and left to cook until the potatoes are coming apart. This takes somewhere around twenty minutes, and requires no action on your part.
When it´s done, you taste, and say, darn, this is nothing. I can taste leeks and I can taste potatoes, but I can taste a lot of water, and I´m bored.
This is when you follow the last step: add 10 gr. butter per serving. Move it around, watch it melt, swirl a little, try it again.
You won´t beleive the magic. The little atoms of butter galvanize that big pot of soup. The flavours are brought together into a harmonious whole, the water turns from pale to interesting, and you can taste leeks and potatoes, but mostly you can taste soup, gentle and invigorating.

As a lesson in the enlivening properties of fat it has no parangon. It is the soup I would teach a beginner cook, and a no-fat fanatic. Just a little spoonful per bowl, and it turns potatoes to gold.

The instructions are really and truly as simple as described above. The quantities:

500 gr. leeks (white and palest green only)
500 gr. potatoes
1.2 litres water (that´s a stingy five cups or a generous four)
40 gr. butter