I’m not sure what it is, but sometimes around food I get this distinct feeling that I just don’t know what I’m doing. Sometimes it’s because I’ve been cooking and nothing is working. Other times, I’ll be in a great market and suddenly, nothing looks appealing, familiar or appetizing. Food block – one side of my brain is trying to be creative and inventive – and the reasonable side (the tiny, atrophied side) is saying “shut the hell up and relax” (or “put it on a plate, you’ll enjoy it more…”).
As usual, the best solution is to cook simple food – food that is really, really difficult to screw up. Salsiccia coll’uva (sausage with grapes) is one of those dishes. (Thanks Mark Bittman).
Simply cook Italian sausages (try to get good ones – then let me know where you got them) slowly in a pan – don’t prick them! When they’re done (after about 20 min), prick them to let the fat run into the pan. Remove the sausages. If there’s not at least a tablespoon of fat, add some olive oil. Add seedless grapes and let them cook over medium high heat until they just start to collapse and release their juices. Add a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, return the sausages and you’re done. I challenge you to screw that up.
On the side, roasted asparagus. Trim the woody parts of the stem (peel if necessary). Toss in a baking dish with olive oil and coarse salt. Roast in a 500 degree oven for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan after about 10 minutes. The stalks should have shriveled and begun to brown a bit. Remove from the oven and start the broiler. Top the asparagus with coarse breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and place under the broiler until browned (maybe 1 minute – OK, this you can screw up if you don’t watch it…).