Food Diaries #2 – Strange urges

by John Pope

In the second instalment of his ‘food diary’ John has a sudden baking urge, and uses up odd bits in an Italian style.

A few weeks ago I wrote an article here about how and why I had decided to keep a food diary. I also stated that I might randomly decide to post excerpts from it here on P&G, this then is one of those random moments.


4th August 2013

Everyone has certain urges that can’t be avoided. Mine aren’t always conventional and are almost always food related. 

Last night, as I sometimes do, I suddenly had the uncontrollable urge to bake something. 

The Baking of Babka

Since we already had some fresh bread at home, there didn’t seem to be much point in creating anymore, so instead I decided to bake a Babka. 

It’s probably a pretty safe assumption that the majority of readers won’t have a clue what Babka is. It’s a Polish word meaning ‘little grandmother’, but it is also a fantastic yeast dough cake. Traditionally baked and served at Easter, nowadays Babka is eaten all year round. It’s a delicate light and fluffy bread/cake with fruit running through it, I use raisins and mixed peel, but you could really substitute virtually any fruit that won’t exude too much juice while it is cooking. 

There is also a Babka in Jewish cuisine, but this is a different thing altogether, it’s a twisted plait of yeast dough filled with chocolate or cinnamon.

Breakfast this morning consisted of a cup of good strong coffee and a big slice of the Babka that I’d baked last night. Cake for breakfast probably isn’t the healthiest thing in the world, but it does make me smile.

An Italian Ensemble

I was busy doing various things throughout the morning, but home for lunch, and decided to go on a bit of a mission to use up random things that had been lurking around the fridge. What started out with no direction at all soon turned into a sort of Italian mix. 

A couple of small pizza bases that were looking for a home, became (suprise, suprise) some small pizzas. A couple of tins of plum tomatoes from the cupboard combined nicely with some shallots, garlic and white wine vinegar to make a simple and quick tomato sauce, topped with some bacon, olives and capers, and finished off with some grated cheese. What could be easier?

There were also two sweet Corno Di Toro peppers that were in danger of being left behind in the bottom of the fridge. The shallots and garlic came out again, this time combined with some minced beef, finely chopped cubes of bread, some vegetable stock and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. This was all fried together, and then stuffed into the deseeded peppers and put in the oven to roast at the same time as the little pizzas went in. 

Just because I’d got myself into an Italian mood, I thought I might as well use up the last few spinach and ricotta ravioli that were left at the back of the middle shelf. Throw them into boiling water for 4 minutes, reduce to a simmer, and then add some nice olive oil and some grated parmesan. 

A selection of (not quite traditional) Italian dishes to feed four people, using all of the random leftover bits in the fridge, and on the table in next to no time.

  • jo.owens

    Babka is Polish version of a fruitcake only much better. Luv anything Polish especially fond of the Polish male population. Married one.

    • John

      I’m especially fond of vodka and pierogi. I married one as well, different gender though.