Weekend Recipe – Dickens’ Miserly Pasta with Tomato and Butter (by Susan Cook-Abdallah)
“Papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes, and prism, are all very good words for the lips…” Little Dorrit
1 kitchen wench*
1 bastard boy you took in when he showed up on your doorstep*
1 buggy whip*
8 tomatoes, peeled and seeded
5 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
400 grams of spaghetti
Give a few shillings to the bastard boy and have him run to the market to buy pasta, tomato, basil and butter. Have him get vegetable oil instead of olive oil, as it is cheaper. Compensate by getting good brown bread.
Beat the boy with the buggy whip when he returns with less change than expected, shoving your kitchen wench aside if she tries to intervene. After studying the receipts and realizing that the little bastard didn’t cheat you – this time — offer to let him use the tomato skins, stems and the water used to boil pasta for his evening gruel.
Open a decent claret to accompany the pasta at table, in honor of your long lost uncle coming to dinner. It’s good to be friendly and cultured but there’s no need to be extravagant, as you’ve been administering the family fortune in his absence. Have the kitchen wench serve pasta and try to hide your own shock and fear when your uncle inquires about the child – his son – he sent years ago for you to raise when his wife died and he had been away at war. Calmly make an excuse to go to kitchen to head the little bastard-turned-cousin-and-heir-to-the-family-fortune off before he can make an entrance. Try not to gasp when he arrives to serve brown bread when you’re only half way to the door.
(by susan c-a)
The real recipe: Peel, seed and chop the tomatoes. Place in a pan with one spoon of butter and let them begin to cook. Salt, then once they’re tender crush them into an uneven sauce. When the pasta is near done add the rest of the butter – the best quality you can find – into the sauce and turn off the heat, then shred in the basil. Once the pasta has been drained and placed in a large bowl, pour over the sauce. Sprinkle liberally with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or flakes, to taste. Serve with a simple Italian red.
link – Dickens and holiday tables: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-42322936