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Wednesday 30 March 2016

Rouleaux Niçois/Cannelloni Niçoise-Style (à la Khoo)

Another of my little whims while on holiday around Easter was to leaf through Rachel Khoo's delightfully quirky recipe book, 'My Little French Kitchen' for something reasonably simple, but more complicated than the Croque Madame Muffins I tried last time (being almost four years ago now). I've actually tagged about a dozen things that I intend to try but, on this occasion, wanted something not too taxing, but still reasonably adventurous.

Since I quite like Italian food, but the closest I've ever come to actually cooking it from scratch is that staple of the single man's repertoire, Spag Bol (which isn't even really Italian), I thought I'd try this French take on an Italian dish. The recipe called for the purchase of fresh ingredients - even, for preference, fresh lasagne sheets - but, thankfully, didn't require an awful lot of chopping.

Back when I did those Croque Madame Muffins, I noted that the instructions in 'My Little French Kitchen' aren't always presented in the most logical - or strictly chronological - order and, yet again, I fell foul of this foible when working through this recipe. I did most of the prep work in advance, as I strive to do as often as possible, but there was a rather critical instruction regarding the lasagne that is placed as a footnote to the recipe, in smaller type, which I shall quote here:
Les petites astuces - tips if your lasagne sheets are a little dry, pop them in a bowl of boiling water for 30 seconds or so. When they are supple, drain them and pat dry with kitchen towel or a clean tea towel.
Now, considering that 'fresh lasagne' sheets, as bought from most supermarkets, are typically pretty dry, one would tend to think an instruction like that isn't merely one of 'the little tricks', but an integral part of the recipe, and should be inserted more prominently within the main text of the recipe... OK, sure, I remember being taught in High School that one should read through all instructions before commencing (and what a great laugh that lesson was)... but that exercise did not involve footnotes.

And I'm clearly less patient now than I was then.

Unbelievable, I know.

So, having peeled long ribbons of courgette and sliced the cooked peppers and artichoke (both from jars, and not as successfully drained as they could have been), it didn't occur to me to dunk the lasagne in hot water before staring to pile stuff onto them and, consequently, when I started to roll up my cannelloni, the lasagne sheets cracked quite spectacularly.

That wasn't the worst of my errors, though. When we went shopping, the punnet of cherry tomatoes we picked up was slightly short of the 500g specified on the recipe, the parsley we'd bought was soggy and browning slightly by the time I came to start cooking this, and I entirely forgot to spread the black olive tapenade onto the lasagne before adding the other stuff, so that ended up getting dumped into the tomato sauce.

While I wasn't far short of the 500g of cherry tomatoes, it seems I was sufficiently short to ensure there wasn't quite enough sauce to adequately douse the cannelloni so, once in the oven, the dish never reached the 'golden and bubbly' stage, because what little fluid there was seemed to boil off too quickly.

I also forgot to grate any lemon zest or add any lemon juice but, after all my many cock-ups, the end result was surprisingly edible. As learning experiences go, it wasn't half so annoying as my first attempt at that HelloFresh Peanut Satay thing, and I'm very keen to try thing again sometime soon with the right weight of cherry tomatoes (with perhaps a bit of added water, just in case), and remembering to spread the olive tapenade over some freshly-dunked fresh lasagne sheets. It was a remarkably simple and fun recipe, so it's a little frustrating to have ballsed it up so stupidly, but it proves I really need to get more practice in the kitchen...

...and read the bloody recipe more thoroughly.

This is the only dish of the three I cooked recently that I remembered to photograph, so enjoy...
"Green salad? We don't need no stinkin' green salad!"

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