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  • Writer's pictureGary Mack

Danielle's Delicious Dinner

My sister in England, Danielle, has a different mother to me, and as luck would have it her mother is Italian, and you know what that means...FOOD! 

When I was 18 years old I came to London on holiday, low and behold, I ended up not going home. I moved in with her, or should I say, I made a mess and ate all her food . What an amazing six months with her that was. The things I learnt from her. In fact, every time I see her, I still learn things. It was quite ground breaking to find out that garlic was not a powder!  She taught me straight away some valuable recipes. Ones that I will never forget.

You never know what you're going to eat when she cooks for you. It could be Italian, Chinese, Indian, Thai or something she just makes up. It is always delicious.

we fancied something Italian, so she got to work! I don't think she realised quite how much I would interfere by taking pictures.

Tonight's dinner will be king prawns in a spicy Italian tomato sauce, with roasted veg as a side (she had some veg that were about to turn on her, so one of the best ways to revive their tasty goodness is to roast them for 30 to 40mins)

Dan is one for less pans the better cooks - unlike me! She started by preparing the veg (peeling and chopping) throwing them in to a large roasting pan - this made a lovely noise dump, thump, bump. She drizzled a generous glug of olive oil. You need to coat all the veg. This will help the sugars caramelise.

"Now, Gary, what do we not do?" I love this. It feel's like I am back in home economics - which I loved!

"That would be salt, Danielle".

"Salt brings out the water in the veg. You want to roast the veg, not steam them in their own juices. You want them to caramelise" she confirms.

Danielle threw loads of garlic into the roasting pan (whole, unpeeled cloves). She roasted them in a hot oven for about 40ish mins. I would say about 200°C, shaking them once or twice to turn and allowing the veg to become tasty. Once the veg was done she separated the veg from the garlic. It has to be said, that by adding whole garlic to a roasting dish it adds a whole different dimension. Roasted garlic is sweet and very tasty. Keep the garlic cloves behind, they are going to be amazing in the tomato sauce.

Mush the garlic up in the roasting dish over a flame on the stove with some chilli (Dan's mother's side are from the south of Italy. They like a little fire in their leisure, love and their land). Chop the plum tomatoes up. Whole canned plum tomatoes are a few pence cheaper than chopped and in some ways I think they taste better! I quite enjoy sticking my knife in!

Now onto the prawns - lustrous, opaque and strangely firmer than they ought to be. These little bad boys needed a good hour to defrost in a bowl of cold water (still in their bag; you don't want them to be watery). Once ready, throw them into the roasting dish ,when they begin to turn a little like saffron in colour, it is time to pour in your hand chopped tomatoes. Season and throw in a little herbs. Bubble on a medium heat for a good 15 mins. It's amazing what happens to tomatoes when they are cooked over a medium heat and allowed to evaporate. You end up with this beautifully thick sauce, just begging for a carriage to take it to the ball.

Now get your pasta on while you are waiting for the sauce to... how should I say... develop.

Boil your water and cook your pasta as per the instructions. When ready, assemble. Dan served this with a lovely salad and the roasted veg.

How I love her so very much. Thank you Danny for all the love and lessons you have taught me over the years. x

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