Killed for a Lobster Bisque, but what a Bisque it was.

Saturday 11/12/2004

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Diary and Notes

Ssshhhh... don't let anyone know I'm here. I think the mafia may be after me.

Apparently Don Dadi Croccanti, oldest and most feared member of the Agrigento branch of the Sicilian Mafia has taken a personal dislike to me bastardising his great grandmother's recipe for puttanesca sauce and has put a contract out to have me 'erased'. He apparently is offering three crates excellent Calatrasi white wine, fifty live lobsters (one over 5 kilos in weight) and as much as you can carry from his own organic vegetable plot, to anyone who can 'silence' me. What a lobster bisque I could make using all those ingredients. "No Jon, it's dangerous thinking like that, that got you into this mess in the first place." (Plus I think I may have suggested that his great granny had actually invented the sauce in the first place, something which offended him greatly for obvious reasons).

You see I am moving back to Britain in a week and want to use up what I have in my cupboards before I leave. I had a good root around in the fridge and found I had a wide selection of Italian staples that were all far too good to be thrown away; olives, capers and anchovies for instance. "Wow!" says I, puttanesca, but I don't have any cherry tomatoes. I know, I'll improvise...

And now I am a marked man.

Still, if it is to be my last meal at least it was a good one. I think if I can convince the Don to let me come and explain, I might be OK. I'll bring a jar of the sauce with me (I made quite a bit) and offer it to him as a gift. I'll also explain that when I suggested his great grandmother may have invented puttanesca ('whore's sauce', originally made by prostitutes as it was nutritious, tasty and quick enough to rustle up between clients) I was trying to say that she must have been a great cook, not a lady of the night. I only hope he believes me.

So as I said, this isn't a true puttanesca but isn't far from the traditional variety. The little dollop of ketchup is probably what set the Don off, but as I often say, if used sparingly, it is an excellent addition to a tomato based sauce. I've spoken to the Don on this subject before and he firmly disagrees. However, his wife (Maria Croccanti) often slips a bit into her Bolognese when he's not looking and he loves it. Oops, I hope I haven't gotten Maria into trouble. Still, he wouldn't have somebody killed just for tricking him with ketchup... would he?

Cake Blog

Quarkstollen: Nothing at all like a stollen cake. More like a loaf shaped (and sized) fluffy, sweet, fruit doughnut, dusted with sugar. Very good, would make an excellent trifle sponge.


  • Spaghetti with Puttanesca Sauce.


  • Sauce: Olive Oil, Onions, Garlic, Chilli, Bacon, Red Wine, Capers, Tomato Puree, Tomato ketchup, Black Olives, Anchovies, Black Pepper


  • Fry (gently) in a little olive oil the chopped onion, minced garlic, chopped chilli and chopped bacon (lardons) until the onion is good and soft. Mince half the capers and add to the pan. Turn up the heat and add a dash of red wine, reduce. Add some water, (a little) ketchup and some tomato puree, turn down the heat, put the lid on and let simmer for about 20 mins. After about 10 mins put the spaghetti on and this should then be ready the same time as the sauce. Just before serving, stir in some sliced black olives, some more capers and some chopped anchovies. Mix the spaghetti into the sauce to ensure it's all nicely coated. Grind on plenty of black pepper and loads of fresh Parmesan. Serve with bread and a bulletproof jacket (oh, and have someone taste the food first, you never know).