I'm a sole man

There I am, full of the joys of a Thursday. "Sorry, darling," says my wife, "but I won't be in for supper. I'm staying up in town tonight."

Oh? Since when?

"It's in the diary. Has been for weeks. Sorry. Got to go."

Of course it's in the diary. I had just forgotten about it. Still, there is always the daughter.

"No, Dad, I told you - I'm at Beth's tonight."

Oh.

So there I am, on my tod for the evening, a solitary saddo, a deserted husband and neglected parent. Am I sad? Am I downcast? Am I put out? Am I ever. It's freedom. It's fun. It's eat-what-I-like, watch-what-I-like, drink-what-I-like, do-what-I-like time. I will be master in my own house. For once.

I am severely tempted to go on a tinned food rampage, as a kind of rebellion against culinary correctness. I will begin with sardines on toast, always a winner for me. Then some baked beans, eaten cold from the tin with a silver teaspoon. A tin of palm hearts for vegetable balance. And finally, tinned guava with condensed milk. Oh yummy.

And then some sense of social responsibility exerts itself. Actually, it's more what the family would say if they happened across the cache of empty cans. No, I could never bear the shame. More to the point, I would severely undermine that little mound I like to think of as the gastronomic high ground on which I like to strut. So, no, it'll have to be proper food properly cooked. A quick check of the fridge, a dash to the supermarket at the bottom of the road, 10 minutes ripping open packages and chopping, five more cooking, and I'm ready for an evening of bliss. I wonder if we could arrange this more often?

All recipes serve one.

Chicken livers and radicchio

Whatever happened to radicchio? Not that long ago, it seemed to be the only foreign-style salad item around. Now it's nowhere to be seen; except at the organic veg stall that comes into town every Friday, where I was happy to make its acquaintance again. Its mildly bitter flavour helps cut the richness of the livers. You will probably need only half a head for this recipe.

1 head radicchio

Olive oil
tsp ground cumin
tsp ground star anise
tsp ground white pepper
170g fresh chicken livers, cleaned
55g butter
lemon
Salt

Cut one 3cm-thick slice from the radicchio, paint it with olive oil, slide beneath a preheated grill and cook for two to three minutes, until the texture has softened and a slight charring has taken place. Take care not to overdo the charring effect. Keep warm in a low oven.

Mix together all the spices and roll the chicken livers in them, making sure they are well coated. Heat the butter in a frying pan until foaming, toss in the livers and cook for two to three minutes - I like them pink and juicy; if you like them not quite so pink, cook for a little longer, but be careful not to overcook them as they will go nasty and grainy.

Plonk the cooked spiced livers on top of the grilled radicchio, squeeze over some lemon juice, season with salt and gobble up.

Beef with rocket

A home-grown version of a dish I have enjoyed many times in one of my favourite restaurants in Rome, Ristorante Abruzzo. Use fillet if you must, but cheaper, tastier cuts work just as well.

85g rocket
115g beef
Olive oil
lemon, juiced
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Arrange the rocket on a plate. Cut the beef into thin strips around 1cm thick. Make sure the beef is really dry. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan until smoking, then add the beef and fry for one minute (two at most). Sprinkle the beef strips over the rocket. Pour the lemon juice over the beef and leaves, followed by a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Season well, and eat with a chunk of bread and a glass of wine.

Aubergine, ham and Gruyère

1 aubergine
Salt
Olive oil
3 or 4 slices ham
114g grated Gruyère (or Emmental, or any other melty cheese)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Slice the aubergine lengthways into 1cm-2cm thick slices - you should end up with three or four slices. Salt the aubergine and leave for 30 minutes.

Rinse off the salt under cold water, then pat the aubergine dry. Lay the slices on a baking tray liberally splashed with olive oil. Lay a slice of ham on each slice of aubergine. Sprinkle generous amounts of cheese on top. Pop into the oven for two minutes, until the aubergine is soft and the cheese melted, golden and bubbling.

Poached egg on crumpet with cabbage braised with ham

170g Savoy or January King cabbage
85g ham (smoked and cut thick)
30g butter
Salt and pepper
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 crumpet
1 fresh egg

Slice/shred the cabbage, cutting out the core and thick ribs from the leaves before doing so. Wash thoroughly and drain. Cut the ham into cm strips.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the ham strips and fry gently for a couple of minutes. Add the cabbage, stir to mix with the ham, season with salt and plenty of pepper, then cover, turn down the heat and braise gently for 20 minutes or so. Stir in the mustard just before serving.

Toast crumpet. Poach egg. Place egg on crumpet. Surround with cabbage and ham combo. Eat in cheery solitude

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.