Spiced peanuts

I am well aware that this post will sound barking mad to many people. The idea of tinkering with a bag of peanuts, when it's so delicious on its own, and when there are so many flavoured versions out there, is plain loony. I know. I see people who wear makeup to the gym with that horrified fascination. But what can I say? This is much better than anything you can buy, and it takes about three seconds to do. You don't have to turn on the oven, so it's quick, and summer-friendly. It also costs a fraction of the price on fancy flavoured peanuts, which is the kind of thing that makes me feel clever. That's who I am. Let it go.

So, heat a basic elemental bag of salted peanuts (or almonds, cashews, whatever). 
Heat a frying pan that will hold them comfortably. Now add a spoonful of garam masala. This is to taste, of course, and depends on how many peanuts there are. Suit yourself. When it smells toasty, add the peanuts, toss them until they're hot, and serve them in a pretty bowl. Everybody loves them, and they are impressive way beyond the effort they take. 

You can also try different spices. A pimentón/rosemary/garlic combo is great. Just add them to the hot peanuts and toss until you can smell them. That way they won't burn. A bit of sugar at the end gives a nice little touch, although it can catch and become caramel. Not that it's a problem, just don't bite into it if it's hot.

Cold beer is a very good thing with them. Or Sherry, of course.


Dolce far niente cooking

This post can be considered to close a trilogy dedicated to summer cooking.

There is non-cooking, almost non-cooking, and then there is get-out-of-jail-free-card cooking. By which I mean, tin opener cooking, or twist of the wrist cooking, which is, in fact, not doing anything cooking. Dolce far niente.

The stuff in your store cupboard. The special stuff that you buy on holiday or in that cute, expensive deli, and then don't use because it's, you know, special. And you like the look of those labels, sitting so prettily next to the rice and the garbanzos, and like to think they make your larder look like Elizabeth David's.
This is the time to go for them. Toast bread, slice tomatoes, open tin, and there you are, dinner.

I now have a box that is super extra special and that I really am rationing like a castaway. It came all the way from Sicily, from Fabrizia Lanza (you know her from this earlier post, and this one, and this one), and is chock full of gorgeous stuff. Dried tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, dried herbs, tangerine jam, all done with produce from the kitchen garden at the school. I did the drawings on the labels, so there's an element of shameless self promotion, but not much. This, like the best Italian cooking, is all about the ingredients.

I could only wish that it was still hot enough to warrant that kind of lazy cooking. I fear Scotland may be lapsing into its usual weather. Hearty soups are only around the corner. Sigh. Let's have some of that Sicilian sunshine in a jar, then.