Thursday, 4 April 2013

Anchovy butter



I think I may have run out of things to say. This is a bit worrying as I'm supposed to be writing another book. I've actually got to write this one, as well, from beginning to end. All brand new.

Yet as I sit here, watching the delightful April snow falling outside my window, drinking a Frijj chocolate milkshake and luxuriating in the Aeron desk chair I have stolen out of my husband's office next door, I find that I have nothing to say.

There's just nothing on my mind. Actually that's probably not true. I'm thinking about those Philpott children, who, when they were pulled out of the fire, turned out not to wear pyjamas to bed. They wore their underwear, or jeans, or their school uniform. I mean, I'm not thinking about it in some kind of Earth Mother I-love-all-little-kiddies type way, it's just been bothering me.

What else. I'm still pissed off about being pregnant, but I can't possibly go on about that anymore, because even I'm bored with thinking about it. Anyway, the end is in sight - May 8 is my due date - and with any luck the little sucker will be early. so that's getting on for exactly a month. Four weeks. I can do that.

The thing I'm not really thinking about, which I thought might bother me more, is that Kitty's sleeping has gone completely up the wazzoo.

I've never really talked about Kitty's sleeping before, which is unusual in any parent who writes words down for a living because normally all they can think about is how their flipping kids keep them awake all night. But Kitty always slept fine. More than fine. Freakishly fine. She went to bed at 7pm and didn't make a sound until 7am the next morning.

This was not a thing I was going to actually say out loud to anyone, because who the HELL wants to know that someone else's child sleeps okay?!?! (I didn't even want to hear about how well other people's kids sleep when mine was still sleeping.) You only want to hear that everyone else's kids are the spawn of Satan too and that on reflection you don't have it that bad.

Anyway ha ha ha the joke's on me, because since Kitty turned 2 she's basically woken up once or twice a night every night. Sometimes, like right now, she's bunged up and can't breathe, which wakes her up and at others she's just wailing in her sleep (I know because I lumber in like an elephant, hair standing on end, having heard a bloodcurdling wail, only for her to be lying down, the wail subsiding to gentle snores). And sometimes she just sits up and chats loudly "Ooo! It's all dark! Where's my sock? What's that noise? OH! the GRAND old DUKE of YORK...." Sometimes I am already awake with my charming gestational insomnia, sometimes she wakes me afresh. It's always delightful, either way. (It isn't.)

But the interesting thing is how quickly you get used to it. How being slightly under-slept all the time becomes normal. A lack of sleep or broken sleep used to be the thing that frightened me most about having children but now it's happening to me, I find that it really isn't that big a deal, despite a lack of sleep being terrifyingly ageing. But this has only opened up a new and exciting shopping venture for me in the anti-ageing creams aisle of Boots.

The only genuine downer is that now during the week my husband sleeps in the spare room so he's not all broken and baggy when he's trying to work and he then takes over from me at the weekend. And I quite miss him. Even though he snores.

Speaking of my husband, he made the most amazing thing over the weekend, which you must try. It was an anchovy butter, which I know for some of my picky-eater readers is probably about as appealing as eyeball stew or chilled monkey brains, but for anyone willing to give it a crack it is not some yucky fishy horror, it is just incredibly, like, I don't know what the word is - I suppose savoury is it. It's just very savoury and terrific. And I am really not that crazy about anchovies so you can approach this with confidence.

We put it all over a lot of purple sprouting broccoli but you could have it on any leafy green veg to liven it up or it would also be absolutely terrific on steak, a firm white fish like halibut or on french beans.

"the thing to be careful with is not to dollop in onto greens and leave it, because then the butter melts and you are left with an unsightly brown mess sitting atop the veg (as i discovered), so whack it on top of purple sprouting or french beans where it looks all nice, then toss it in," cautions Giles. 

It's also very simple and very flexible in terms of amounts.

So take about:

100g butter at room temperature
1 tbsp capers
1 fresh red chilli, no seeds
5-6 anchovies

Then the easiest thing to do is chop everything except the butter up together and then mash the butter into this spicy mix using the side or a knife or a spatula.



12 comments:

  1. It's also bloody good on top of a steak or a bit of chicken. I love anchovy butter.

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  2. I love anchovy butter too. Sorry you're not getting much sleep :-(

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  3. Anchovy butter is the one thing I like about that godawful chain Chez Gerard.

    Having had 3 nights of two-hourly wake-ups from a 6 month old, I've been trying to tell myself it'll get better once she's just a little bit older. But it won't will it? That realisation makes me want to have a little cry. Maybe I'll just eat loads of this and French bread instead.

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  4. My Mum (mother of 5) once told me (when I said that my 5 month old daughter was sleeping about 11 hours straight) that children are never always good sleepers. She said you either cop for it when they are babies or when they are toddlers. Shortly after that my baby had a month of waking up every night at 2-5 am without fail. I'll have to ask her if that counts or if I'll still have the toddler wakenings.

    Anyway, that butter sounds right up my street and you made me laugh with 'OH the grand old Duke of York!'

    I hadn't heard that about those children, there is a lot I take for granted about my own childhood.

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  5. One of mine slept through the night from birth to 2 and then woke 6 times a night for the next 2 years! I used to get up, go into her room, rub her back for 10 seconds and go back to bed and back to sleep, more or less on auto pilot. Got so used to it the first time she slept through again I thought she'd died.

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  6. Just typed out comment about children and sleep but actually bored myself writing it. This butter sounds lovely, I am going to give it a whirl.

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  7. I bought your book yesterday after it was recommended by "recipes from a normal mum" blog, I love the book so thought I'd look up your blog. I quickly read 2013 so thought I'd be better being chronological so today Iv read 2009 & 2010! And still managed a bit of spring cleaning and all the washing!! I love your writing and will def be trying some of your recipes

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  8. This comment is actually about the chilli and feta salad you got from Nigel Slater and wrote about a few years ago. I did not think it sounded very nice but I had a chilli and some salad leaves and feta and not much else, so I made it tonight and it was so good I licked the bowl after and immediately wanted another.

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  9. I just love anchovies and this butter sounds like a good way to enjoy them. Bet it would make a nice dip to go with some of those dough balls too.

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  10. I was lucky too, my daughter just slept and slept. In fact it was me waking her up going 'Aren't you supposed to be waking up all the time?'. Hope it stays this way for your second!
    Anchovy butter...patum peperium. Yum.

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  11. harissa butter is good too though it may clash with your hair

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  12. Terrific recipe. Bit brown but delicious. Love the madeleines and lemonade.Very nice blog.

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