If I could sing, I'd be singing, and not just around the house, but from the rooftops. Unfortunately I can't. I really can't. I have to mime to my children's "Happy Birthday"! So plain words will have to suffice.
Joy to the world: I have just got Anna del Conte's new book "Cooking with Coco". I have never made a secret of my adoration of Anna, but I feel this book is so fantastic it needs another hurrah. Cooking with Coco is a book about the cooking Anna has done over the years with her granddaughter, Coco, who is one of life's natural, passionate cooks, and the recipes are the sort that have you hurtling into the kitchen straightaway. But it's worth reading the whole book first, as it is written so beautifully, so charmingly, and without any of the cutesiness or patronising that so many books about cooking with children are drenched with.
I'd go further and say, ignore the premise of the book when considering whether to make a greedy acquisition or not. These are recipes anyone would want to cook. I certainly do.
I have already made (on the day I got the book) her [Bucatini all'Amatriciana][[my article text]124107] which Anna and Chatto (her publishers and mine) have kindly let us have for the recipe section to resounding success. It's one of those recipes that is simple but so very good: think onion, pancetta, garlic, chilli, red wine and tomatoes, pecorino. I did make a couple of alterations, just out of necessity. I didn't have any pecorino romano, so used freshly grated parmesan, and didn't have any dried red chillies and so used a quarter of a teaspoon of crushed chillies, which are full of seeds and therefore hotter, but such is cooking.
Similarly, if you can't find bucatini, which are tubing-like pasta similar to spaghetti, only with a hole through the middle, through which you can suck up some of the sauce, do use spaghetti. Oh, and I've just remembered I made another alteration: once I'd put emptied out the tin of tomatoes into the pan, I filled the empty can almost full of water and added that too. I hope Anna's not cross with me, but I sort of do it automatically nearly every time I add tinned tomatoes. It's my way, I'm afraid.
I've put so many post-its in the book, but I almost think I shouldn't have bothered. There aren't any recipes I don't want to try! This is definitely my Christmas present book for friends this year, and I advise you to get it on your list pronto too! Or just get it for yourself for maximum gratification and indulgence. It is an absolute must-have in my book. I am planning the molto exciting Upside Down Sausage and Onion Pie (pic below) for Sunday supper. Though I'm mightily tempted by the Roast Chicken Stuffed with Bread Sauce too. But hey, who said it had to be either/or?