I must apologise for the lack of comics recently. More so, guilt is slowly eating me from within thinking of the sweet PR ladies and gracious restaurant owners who are waiting patiently (not to mentioned silently cursing me) for their reviews and post event coverage to be published. I’m sincerely sorry for the long wait. Unfortunately, they will still have to a wait a little while more before that could materialise.
This November, as it turns out, isn’t like the years before where I can slowly start to wind things down and prepare for the coming holiday season. I’ve been overwhelmed by last minute projects which I have completely no control over. Instead of spending this time of year reviewing all that I’ve done and working on a speech for a bigger bonus and promotion, I find myself scrambling around like one of Santa’s elves working overtime trying to meet the Christmas deadline. It is tiring, yet I still find myself putting on a brave smile every morning and marching on forward. All while repeating the “Brighter days are ahead!” mantra in my mind.
Truth is, some days I just wish I could run away and hide from this reality. But where would I disappear to?
The kitchen, perhaps?
Like many of you, I indulge in food when I’m stressed. Unfortunately for my body, I’ve been binging on unhealthy snacks instead and to make matters worse I’ve been turning down dinner offers so I can work a more few extra hours. Let’s not even talk about working out because we all know that is only going to make me feel even more depressed.
However, there are days like the previous Friday when I decided that enough was enough and walked out the office at 7pm. That was really early in comparison to the rest of the week. I headed straight for home and en route back I decided to reward myself by cooking. You must think that it is absurd for a tired guy to hit the kitchen. Not to be a master of the obvious but it is a dangerous decision too. The kitchen is after all a place filled with boiling liquids and sharp objects eager to attack you. Peril pounces on a distracted and careless cook, but for me this lurking hazard is part of the attraction. I actually find it therapeutic to unwind at the edge of the knife.
While cooking may demand your entire attention, it also rewards you with endless sensorial pleasures. The sound of water skittering across leaves of lettuce. The knocks of the knife slicing onions, and the tears they makes as their inner rings are unfolded. The sensual softness of bright tomatoes in your hands and the tug of its puree against the spoon when it thickens in the pan, and the lovely lightness of Parmesan drifting from the grater in flimsy flakes. Time slows down in the kitchen, offering up an entire universe of tiny comforts. Ultimately, there is something very rewarding in knowing the outcome of the whole process is something satisfying and completely under your control.
That evening, I made myself a simple Spaghetti and Meatballs which didn’t take more than 20-minutes to whip up. If you ever find yourself getting home from a crappy day and after something comforting, go ahead and give this adult take on the humble recipe a try. I’m sure it is exactly the kind of thing you need.
Monkey’s Spaghetti and Meatballs
3 chorizo (Spanish pork sausages)
9oz dried spaghetti
About 15-20 medium sized cherry-on-vine tomatoes (or 2 regular medium sized tomatoes would suffice, I just prefer the scent and sweetness of the cherry tomatoes)
1 small red onion
1/2 tsp grounded paprika
1/2 tsp grounded cinnamon
1 tbsp of sweet chili sauce
2oz Parmesan cheese
1 small bunch of basil leave (optional)
Ground black pepper
1. Cook your spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions. Give it an occasional stir to make sure it doesn’t stick together. At the same time…
2. Slit the chorizo skin lenghtways with a sharp knife, and squeeze the meat out. Wet your hands, then roll the sausage meat into little balls – about 5-6 balls from each sausage.
3. Place a large pan on medium heat, add a splash of olive oil to your hot pan. Add the meatballs to the hot pan and fry for about 6-minutes until brown all over. Meanwhile…
4. Peel and finely slice the onion and chop the cherry tomatoes into quarters.
5. Add in the onion, paprika, cinnamon and sweet chili sauce together with the meatballs and fry until onions are aromatic but not browned.
6. Then pour in the chopped tomatoes into the pan, turn down the heat and stir with a wooden spoon. Simmer for a few minutes until the tomato has softened and then season well with salt and pepper.
7. When your pasta is ready, scoop out a cupful of the starchy water for later, then drain the pasta in a colander.
8. Tip the drained pasta into the pan of sauce and toss together. Turn up the heat and add in a little of your reserved cooking water and let the sauce thickened.
9. Grate some lemon zest and squeeze in a little lemon juice. Add the basil leaves if you like and finely grate in half the Parmesan. Give it a final stir.
10. Divide the pasta into two plates and serve it with a side of salad if you like. Top it all up with an extra grating of Parmesan and slurp it up!
*Note: I used 3 cloves of garlic instead as I ran out of onions. Ideally, the sweetness of the onion works better in this dish.