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13th January 2012

13th January 2012

I love a bit of companionable cooking and I've had a lot of it this week. Yesterday, my Brazilian friend (and the best cook I know) Helio came round with a ridiculously beautiful bouquet of vegetables, and we set to dismantling the ravishing still life together. I did tweet the pic of it all in its glory but I can't stop myself from showing it here.

From the back, there's Romanesco (a venerable proto cauli-broccoli), pumpkin, artichokes, aubergines, red onions, basil and a particular favourite of mine, tardivo. Tardivo is a version of treviso, which itself is a version of radicchio. I get tardivo (and treviso) from my greengrocer's but I wish they were more widely available as I happen to love both much more than the round radicchio.

We cooked the aubergine with some rosemary from the garden and the red onions, and the tardivo (which I normally eat as salad) with some pancetta cubes and I made Helio show me how exactly to prepare the artichokes. That's to say, I knew how in theory, but have always been slightly frightened of doing so. So - under instruction - I pulled off the hard leaves, trimmed and peeled the stems and, using a latte spoon (all I had to hand) dug out the 'hay' from the centre of this flower-bud of a vegetable.

Helio then took over and stuffed them with a mixture of cheese, breadcrumbs, pepper and tomato. And after they were baked in foil in the oven, I took over and promptly ate them!