10 MARCH 1990, Page 49

i Amiable abstinence kh.,4 ..-)AL.,..) 49 /Ljt iP Lot if416 hf.%j 6 k- I WAS delighted to see

in last week's letters that they still bring the plough to the church on Plough Sunday at Pevensey Church accompanied by a, nice old prayer that the Greens might well take up as their motto. Many thanks to Anthony Ham- mond Christian (what a suitable name for the vicar).

Browsing through the estimable Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book, which I love and revere, I stumbled on to the sauce section and was reminded of the Greek version of ailloli which is traditionally eaten in Lent with slices of aubergine and courgette fritters or with beetroot and boiled potatoes. It is also excellent with boiled or fried fish. Made without egg- yolks, it is truly Lenten and non- salmonella-forming. Caterers, take note.


3 good fat cloves garlic a 2-inch slice of stale white bread from a small loaf 3 to 4 oz blanched grated almonds 4 fluid oz olive oil wine vinegar, salt

Crush the garlic well in a mortar or on a wooden board. Cut the crusts from the bread, soak the crumb in water, then squeeze out the surplus. Add to the garlic in the mortar and pound away gradually, mixing in the grated almonds until you have a nice homogeneous mixture, then start adding the olive oil drop by drop to begin with, as for mayonnaise. Finally season with the salt and vinegar to your own taste.

Much as I love spaghetti con vongole (clams, cockles), I detest the grit that seems inseparable from those bought here, except for the very expensive tinned Italian ones. A great dish of pasta and mussels, however, is gritless and equally delicious. Mussels are fine and plentiful, so use them.

Maccheroncini with mussels 11/2 lbs maccheroncini

2 large fresh tomatoes 1 tablespoon olive oil 4 lbs mussels in their shells 3 oz butter 1 onion, chopped finely 1 level tablespoon of plain flour Salt and pepper

Dip the tomatoes into boiling water for half a minute, peel, remove seeds and liquid. Chop the flesh finely. Clean and scrub the mussels, removing any beards and seaweed and discarding any that are broken or open. Put the oil in a large pan, then the mussels, cover with a lid and fry briskly until all the mussels are open. Take the mussels from their shells and keep on one side. Pass the liquid from the pan through a sieve lined with butter muslin and reserve. There should be a good half pint; if not, top up with boiling water. Gently fry the onion in the butter for two minutes, add the flour, and fry for another half minute. Add the mussel liquid little by little, stirring all the time until smooth; bring the whole lot to the boil, add the tomatoes, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring to the boil again and then simmer gently for a further 12 min- utes. Now add the mussels for a moment, merely to heat through, then pour over the cooked maccheroncini, which you have drained into a warm serving dish. Mix well with two forks and serve. A good Lenten hors d'oeuvre would be the famous Mex- ican avocado mash:


2 tablespoons minced Spanish onions 1 small hot green pepper, de-seeded and minced 4 sprigs of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped 2 good-size avocados 1 large tomato, de-seeded and chopped 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice

When you de-seed the hot pepper and chop or mince it, wash your hands thor- oughly afterwards — it's murder if you accidentally get it into your eyes. Mix the Spanish onion, the pepper and half the coriander with about 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a mortar; pound into a paste. Into another bowl scoop the avocado flesh, but reserve the large stones. Mash well, then add the paste from the mortar. Mix thoroughly, stir in the tomatoes, red onions and the rest of the coriander. Embed the stones into the mixture (this stops discoloration) and sprinkle with the lime or lemon juice. Cover with cling-film and chill. Just before serving, remove the stones, give it a good stir and adjust seasoning.

Jennifer Paterson