Walter Matthau gave superb performances in The Fortune Cookie, JFK and The
Taking of Pelham One Two Three. My favourite, however, is The Odd Couple where
his portrayal of Oscar is perfectly complemented by Jack Lemmon's Felix.
Here, at a card party he is
Oscar: Who wants food? I
got brown sandwiches and green sandwiches. Which one do you want?
Murray: What’s the green?
Oscar: It’s either very
new cheese or very old meat.
Murray: I’ll take the
I would make him this
veggie version of a classic, so that he could enjoy a really tasty sandwich.
Serves 1 (but can easily be multiplied to serve more)
3 rashers vegetarian bacon
3 slices bread
3 tbsp mayonnaise
4 large crisp lettuce
2 Quorn turkey-style
1 tomato, sliced thinly
salt and black paper
If bread is very soft it will be better toasted. If so, do this first.
Spread one side of each
slice with mayonnaise.
Arrange two lettuce leaves
on one slice of bread and season.
Place two turkey-style
slices on top of the lettuce.
Top with another slice
of bread, mayonnaise side up.
Arrange remaining lettuce
leaves on top and add tomato slices.
Fry 'bacon' rashers.
Cut ‘bacon’ rashers to fit
and place on top of tomato.
Cover with final slices of
bread, mayonnaise side down.
Cut in half and pierce with long
toothpicks to keep it all together.
There is no one better
than Alan Partridge to join me for this.
At the famous lunch
with Tony Hayers at the start of I'm Alan Partridge, when he
pitches his ideas for a new TV show, including “Monkey Tennis”, Alan orders a
pasta meal and, not knowing the name of farfalle, asks for ‘action man bow
ties’. Later, he steals the cheese from the restaurant before running out.
This meal uses farfalle
and cheese in his honour.
CHEESY BOW TIES
250g dried farfalle
180g ‘Philadelphia’ or
similar soft cheese
100g grated cheddar
1 onion, chopped
150g mushrooms, finely
Salt and black pepper
4 slices vegetarian
defrosted if frozen
1tbsp olive oil
Serves 2 as a main meal or up to 4 as a snack
Heat salted water in a
saucepan and cook pasta according to packet instructions.
Heat oil and butter in
a large pan.
Fry onions gently
until soft, then add mushrooms and fry until soft and just beginning to brown.
In a separate pan, fry
the ‘bacon’ until crisp. Cut into postage stamp size pieces.
Then mix in with
Spoon all the soft
cheese into pan and add a little milk to soften.
Mix in the cheese and
pasta. Add it to the cheese sauce, stirring it through until completely covered.
Serve in small bowls as a snack or on a larger plate as a main meal.
I am calling these ‘dear’
in memory of my grandmother, Doris Brock, because she would always say that
anything small and appealing was ‘dear’. She was, however, quite a formidable character.
She was known to give unsought advice to people in department stores; one
example being, “Don’t buy that, you’ll look like a leprechaun,” to a woman
looking at a green dress. She also responded to my Mum’s new hairstyle with the
(now oft-quoted) phrase: “Are you getting ready for Halloween?” But let’s
not forget that she was also a young woman during World War II, raising a baby daughter while her husband was on active service. I remember staying with her
for a whole week each summer and loving the time we spent together. This year she would have been 100.
DEAR LITTLE POTATO
About 4 large potatoes
3tbsp olive oil (or any
other oil of choice)
Serves 2 (or more if a
Peel potatoes and chop
into small pieces.
Put in a bowl of cold
water and leave for at least half an hour.
Heat oven to 220˚C/ Gas 7 and put oil into a large baking tray. Preheat oil
for about 5 minutes.
Drain potatoes and place
Roast for about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle salt over and then turn.
Roast for a further 20
If brown and crispy, serve
right away. (Roast for an extra 10 minutes if needed).
Well, you cook fora
couple of Disney Dogsand,
before you know it, an animated mouse is knocking at the door demanding dinner. In this case,
however, Zelda was happy to oblige.
Stuart began life in a1954
children's novel by EB White. Incidentally, I would love have a bit of a
chinwag with Elwyn Brooks White. I would ask him how he could make such a fuss
of saving Wilbur inCharlotte's
Web, but place it in the context of a novel where pig farming and its
consequences are seen as acceptable. Don't get me wrong; I am glad that Wilbur
was saved, but what about all the others on the farm? I am not a militant
vegetarian: I don't campaign against meat eating and I cook my veggie dishes to
tempt carnivores, not to judge them, but I don't see how Elwyn can have it both
That aside, let's get back to Stuart who is a loveable little
character who found further fame again at the end of the 1990s with a series of
films, loosely based (but actually improving on) his adventures in print.
We know that mice love cheese, so I think that Stuart would be quite happy with this.
CHEESY LEEK PASTA BAKE 250g/ 8oz fusilli 2 leeks, chopped 1 small onion, chopped finely 100g/ 3½oz cheddar cheese, grated 25ml /1floz milk 25g/ 1oz butter 25g/ 1oz plain flour 100ml/ 3½floz vegetable stock 100ml/ 3½floz double cream (replace with milk for a lighter meal) 100g/ 3½oz breadcrumbs 1tbsp olive oil Preheat oven to 200C/ Gas 6 Cook pasta according to packet instructions.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pan and fry onion and leek until soft.
Add vegetable stock. In a separate pan, heat butter and add flour to make a roux.
Gradually add milk (and cream if using). Add to leeks. Add 50g cheese and mix well until melted.
Drain pasta and add to leeks, stirring well.
Place in oven-proof dish and spread breadcrumbs and rest of cheese over the top.
Noel Coward – what a
genius! I love Private Lives. I have a CD version and play it whenever I need a
Coward was a playwright,
actor, director, author, composer, singer, cabaret performer, etc., etc. His
wit was renowned and, although now often parodied, was unique at the time.
Here is his wonderful rendition
of Mad Dogs and Englishmen:
And here is (the also
wonderful) Neil Hannon’s version of I
Went to a Marvellous Party:
In 1935 Coward wrote a short
play called Red Peppers which was
part of a ten-play cycle known as Tonight
at 8:30. He performed in it himself, alongside Gertrude Lawrence. I think that if he came to
dinner he might appreciate me cooking something with red peppers as a main ingredient.
It would appease his legendary ego.
When choosing my dish, I
did wonder at first whether it might be too familiar and not flamboyant enough,
but then I thought that Coward was always one to take the obvious and elevate
it, so I would serve this – but with champagne!
Actually, with this tart
you can’t fail to impress, however ordinary it is.
This is one of the easiest
veggie mains you will ever find. Something similar crops up in many cookery
books, but this is my even simpler version.
One of the problems that I
have found in the past is that the filling makes the pastry soggy. This method
should take care of that.
ROASTED RED PEPPER TART
1 sheet pre-rolled puff
1 red pepper
1 red onion
2tbsp olive oil
2tbsp tomato ketchup
1 ball mozzarella
1tsp dried mixed herbs
Deseed the red pepper and
chop into chunks.
Peel the red onion and cut
Place both in an oven
proof dish. Coat with the olive oil. Roast at 200˚C/ Gas 6 for about 15-20 minutes until soft. Keep oven
on at same heat.
Meanwhile unroll the puff
pastry, retaining the paper. Allow to rest for a few minutes. Then, cut into
quarters, doing the same with the baking paper the pastry was wrapped in. Score
along two sides of each rectangle and fold the strips over to the opposite
corner. Then repeat with the other sides. This sounds complicated but it isn’t, and don't try to make it look too 'neat'. Place each on a paper rectangle and put all four on a baking rack, on top of a
baking tray. Heat in same oven as peppers for 5 minutes then remove and allow
to cool for a few minutes.
Coat the base of each tart
with ketchup and sprinkle with the mixed herbs.
Rinse the mozzarella and
allow to dry. When the peppers and
onions are cooked, drain and dry on kitchen paper.
Then, scatter over the tarts
making sure you have an even distribution.
Tear the mozzarella into
chunks and place it around the onion and pepper.
Heat in the oven for 20-25
minutes until the pastry edges and mozzarella are lightly browned.
Carefully remove from the
paper and serve immediately.