Carbonara…classico!

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This is the simplest supper supreme – yet it needs care and love and attention. Be patient – use the best ingredients and you cannot…well not really… go wrong…really.

Ingredients for 4

100 gm lardons

1 clove of garlic peeled and crushed

400 gram linguine or spaghetti

3 free range eggs

75 grams of grated parmesan

Salt and black pepper

A tiddly bit of cream- if you wish

Put the water on to boil for the pasta with a little oil and salt in. Pop the pasta in for 10 minutes or until al dente. Pan fry the crushed garlic and the lardons til just crispy then take off the heat. Warm a bowl – I use a stainless steel bowl and I pour in hot water to warm it. Crack into the bowl 3 eggs and then with a fork stir in the parmesan cheese. Add a decent grind or three of black pepper and a tiddly bit of salt. 

Drain the pasta. Add the hot pasta to the bowl with the eggs in and if you wish drizzle in a little single cream.

Add the lardons and crushed garlic mix with a little of the oil. Stir gently but quickly – around a minute then serve in bowls.

Oh this is so tasty and so wonderful and oh so often ruined by many restaurants – either they use far too much cream or over cook it and curdle it to oblivion.

With care this is the ultimate simple supper dish.

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My sous chef, Pip, imparting some last minute tips on the perfect carbonara….

Fabulous Courgette Pasta Recipe

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Courgette & chorizo pasta a la crema...

Courgette and Chorizo Pasta A La Crema…

This was a swift store cupboard special supper and one of the tastiest of the last week. I wanted to adapt my usual lardon and courgette pasta…and the simple answer was replace the lardons with cubed chorizo. The result was a sublime cocktail of flavours that slipped down and satisfied.

Do this. It is going to make your week.

100 gm of cubed chorizo
One courgette cubed
50ml single cream
Small bunch of coriander chopped
Pasta
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

In a splash of olive oil heated for a minute, add the courgette and pan fry until starting to just brown, then add the chorizo and continue frying gently whilst you cook the pasta.

Just before you drain the pasta, add the cream and a grind of sea salt and black pepper. Then add the chopped coriander.

Serve on the hot pasta.

Quick, sensuous and delectable. It’s what suppers should be.

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For another exciting twist on the courgette recipe try this one from Nigel Slater

Coriandered tomatoes in cream

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Coriandered tomatoes in cream

Supper had to be swift tonight. I was hungry. I had tomatoes. Manzanos – but baby plums would be fine. In a large frying pan in olive oil I added around 150 gm of superb toms. Then a clove of garlic chopped very finely. I added three strips of smoked bacon chopped up roughly. All fried gently for about 10 minutes. Next a teaspoon of dried rosemary and a large handful of chopped fresh coriander. The pasta was popped on – rigatoni. 400 gm.

Into the tomato mix I added a tub of single cream – 250 ml.

I let it warm nicely and blend together. Pasta was then drained and added to the tomato mix. By all means sprinkle some grated parmesan on if you wish. A simple and satisfying and superb supper.

Scintillating. I told you I was in a hurry.

Sausage Meat Balls in a mustard and cream sauce…

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Sausage Meat Balls in a mustard and cream sauce...

This is a recipe created by the marvellous Nigel Slater and it appears in his wonderful new book – Eat. Like all great meatball dishes you can play around with the idea – adjusting quantities, ingredients to suit your taste / mood. This was my attempt and I was pleased with the result – it is a different way to cook them – and simple yet succulently appealing to the senses.

For 4

6 good pork sausages – skins removed
Olive oil
500 ml beef stock – or you could use chickn stock for a lighter flavour
Tbsp Dijon mustard
A little chopped rosemary
A crushed clove of garlic
A little grated lemon zest
250 ml double cream

400 gm pappardelle

Put the sausage meat in a mixing bowl and stir in the rosemary, lemon zest and crushed garlic. Shape into small balls – I got 16 decent balls, slightly smaller than a table tennis ball. But you can make them smaller if you fancy.Cook the balls in the olive oil over a moderate heat until evenly browned.

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Get rid of any excess fat, then pour in the stock. Bring to the boil and let it reduce a little. Add the cream and stir in, plus the mustard. Season with a little salt and a bit more pepper. Continue to cook for about 15 or 20 minutes, stirring gently every now and then.

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Remove the balls to a warm plate with a slotted spoon.Turn the heat up under the sauce and let it reduce a little. It will not thicken though.

Pop the meatballs on a plate of warm pappardelle and pour over the velvety sauce.

You could miss out the cream and stock altogether and just pan fry the balls in olive oil then add butter and lemon juice to the pan juices at the end, pouring these over the balls and pasta. Tis up to you!

Simple Salmon says…eat this….!

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Simple Salmon says...eat this....!

Ok…a few quick fire posts…last night we had 4 gorgeous salmon fillets to deal with and my kids wanted pasta – so I did a version similar to another earlier dish on this blog but with a few differences. Firstly, it was fresh salmon which I wrapped in foil with a little unsalted butter and baked for 20 minutes at 160c. I then skinned it and flaked it. In a frying pan I popped a carton of crème fraîche and 50 gm of unsalted butter and stirred over a low heat until it melded together. I then added a teansy weansy dash of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper and about a teaspoon or so of dried tarragon-fresh would have been better but forgot! I then added the flaked salmon and stirred it gently once more.

I left this to one side whilst the pasta cooked al dente, drained it and tipped the creamy unctuous salmon mix in and allowed it all to get very friendly.

Variations – well, you could first pan fry a small onion finely chopped until soft, then add a glass of dry white wine and let it bubble together, then add the crème fraîche or single cream if you prefer – no need for butter in this case. You could also add a cup of peeled prawns as well as the salmon. You could also plump for dill instead of tarragon.

Choices, choices!

Chilli prawn pasta…wowza!

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Chilli prawn pasta...wowza!

Came in last night feeling v peckish but wanting something with real zing but not heavy. Decided to go for a simple prawn dish that took less than 11 minutes – the time the pasta took in fact!

120 gm of fab king prawns, tails on – leads to serious finger licking later. One green chilli, one red chilli – both deseeded and chopped. 3 cloves of garlic chopped finely. A handful of flat leaf parsley chopped. A small glass of white wine. 100 gm of passata or chopped tinned tomatoes. Olive oil. That’s it – for two – oh, and 300 gm of fusili and rigatoni pasta ( I keep and odds and sods pasta tin to which I add all the pasta left over from a packet – and every few weeks I have an odds and sods pasta mix!) – though, had I had any in, it would have been better with spaghetti. Must buy some!

You just pan fry gently in the oil, the chilli & garlic for two minutes, then add the prawns. Fry for another two or three minutes whilst the prawns colour – or if they are already cooked just 2 minutes – then add the white wine and the parsley – move prawns to one side and let the wine bubble and reduce a little for a few minutes, then add the passata. Stir gently together – by the time the pasta is cooked and drained – it will be beautifully wonderful. Spoon over the pasta. This one was hot – I mean lip zingingly hot – which we like – if you prefer it less zingy – just use one chilli. But be brave if you can. Tis worth it.

Dreamy creamy zucchini pancetta pasta…

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Dreamy creamy zucchini pancetta pasta...

One of those cold damp nights that needed a solidly substantial yet velvety pasta dish to nourish the nerves, soften the stress and warm the marrow. I decided to cobble together two of my favourite pasta dishes – both on this blog – and it worked perfectly. The creamy tomato pasta with the lardons and courgette pasta. But instead of lardons I had some wonderfully fragrant strips of pancetta. Washed down with a rugged French wine this was a delight.

Ingredients

300 gm of rigatoni pasta – soaks up the creamy sauce
12 baby plum toms
I clove garlic finely chopped
8 strips of pancetta
1 courgette / zucchini cubed
100 ml of cream
Tbsp rosemary
Sprinkle of dried crushed chilli
Olive oil
Black pepper

Pan fry the courgette in the olive oil for about 5 minutes then add the garlic. Continue til the courgette begins to brown then add the tomatoes. Add the chilli and the rosemary.

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Just to warn you at this point – the aroma is stunning!

Put the pasta on- takes 11 minutes normally.

Fry the courgette mix gently for around 8 minutes then add the pancetta. Once the pancetta starts to crisp, about two minutes, add the cream. After a minute add a grind of black pepper.

Drain the pasta and spoon over the creamy mixture.

A super autumnal dish.

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Pasta Broccoli…seriously good for you!

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Pasta Broccoli...

The photo does not really do this dish justice – if you have never tried this combo before – you must. I had something like this in a restaurant over the summer – and I think this is roughly how they did it – but anyway – I like it like this!  It is simple, healthy and delicious.

I was never a fan of this particular greenery but since reading an article on men’s health last year we are now best buddies! This following article is from research into broccoli and the advantages for men in particular – though it is, no doubt, great for ladies too! It caught my eye because I had a creaky joint – not that type! – it was actually my hip! – and, yes, this stuff is good for joints – so, if you can get through the article the recipe follows – but this is great stuff and worth knowing – I didn’t! Listen up!

Ounce for ounce, broccoli has more vitamins and minerals than almost any vegetable you can eat. (Good news indeed!) Take vitamin K, for example. Broccoli is brimming with 93 micrograms of the stuff per cup. That’s good news, since K is essential for building cartilage and heading off joint inflammation as you get older.

Broccoli also protects your peepers with an abundance of lutein and zeaxanthin, two cartenoids critical to vision. Florets harbour the bulk of broccoli’s carotenoids, including beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.

It is also a good source of fibre and may help ward off cancer. Studies show that eating three servings a week of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli may slash your risk for prostate cancer significantly. Mix broccoli with tomatoes for even better protection.
Broccoli’s secret to fighting cancer? Researchers believe it’s an antioxidant called sulforaphane, which helps substances called Phase 2 enzymes defend the body against cancer. Sulforaphane also squelches H. pylori, the bacteria behind most common stomach ulcer.’

OK, some jargon there towards the end, but you get the picture. Broccoli is good for you! I guess you all knew that – it was more a learning curve for me….

Anyway, enough science! The recipe!

Ingredients for 4

400 gm pasta
A head of broccoli broken into florets
Olive oil
4 garlic cloves finely sliced
Pinch of red chilli flakes
Black pepper
About 50 gm of parmesan cheese grated – you can use more – or add more at the table

Ok. Put your pasta into a big pan of boiling water – after 4 minutes add the broccoli. No need for salt, as the parmesan does the job later – but add some if you must! Whilst it is cooking ( I cooked it for a further 6 minutes) in a small frying pan, fry the garlic gently in a good, hearty splash of olive oil until it just, just turns a little brown.

Strain the pasta and broc – reserve a tiny bit of the cooking water in the pan. Add the broc and pasta back to the pan and then add the garlic and the oil – stir round – grind over some black pepper and add the chilli flakes – stir gently then stir in the parmesan.

Serve immediately – you can add more chilli flakes to your taste, or more parmesan, or even more oil at the table if you so wish. I like the broccoli a little more al dente than I cooked it yesterday – I took my eye off the pan! So be careful ! But it was, nonetheless, a great and easy supper dish – my kids loved it and it is now a firm fixture in my culinary simple supper repertoire.

And, I know it is doing me….. deep within….good!

Pine nut & Pepper Pasta Perfection on a plate…oh, ok…in a bowl…

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Pine nut & Pepper Pasta Perfection on a plate..ok..a bowl

Right, just got a few minutes whilst I am poaching a chicken for supper and, before I do the rice,  to tell you what has been happening- well work has commenced once more, and yet with the sun still shining all is still fine soul-wise. So, suppers recently have been simple and of the ‘ok what have we got hanging out in the fridge variety’. Last night I just got out several items that nodded politely to me as I perused the cupboards…the general consensus was a pasta dish – and I wanted to do something around my standard courgette and lardon pasta dish that my kids love so much. Something a little more substantial still.

So.

I pan fried two diced courgettes with two cloves of chopped garlic, 100 gm of lardons and then in a moment of recklessness I threw in 75 gm of pine nuts and the chopped stems of several basil stalks. A dash of dried oregano too, then I added a red pepper cut into match stick slices and two mushrooms, very, very finely chopped – why? – my daughter doesn’t like them, so the smaller they are, the less she is likely to see them…and she didn’t! Then I sprinkled over some dried chilli flakes. This all combined pleasantly for about ten minutes. Once it looked just right – I drizzled on a little more good olive oil and waited for the rigatoni to cook. Then I drained it – added a portion to each bowl and spooned on a serving of the heavenly pine nut / pepper mix. And of course, we all shaved parmesan on it to our heart’s content – it was a marriage made in my kitchen!  It looked wonderfully colourful and it tested all the taste buds.

So, I have to head back to the kitchen now – pardon the rush!

Enjoy the coming weekend where ever you reside…and keep in touch!

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Comfort food…

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Comfort food...

It’s good to have another half who steps up to the plate – literally the hotplate in this case – and cook you a supper that hits the spot when you feel grim. Last night my wife made her standby ‘cheer up’ supper. She puts a small can of tuna, flaked, into a bowl with a can of chopped tomatoes, fresh basil chopped, fresh golden oregano chopped, a diced garlic clove, a fresh red chilli finely chopped, black olives, a ball of mozzarella torn up, a good tbsp of rinsed capers, a tiny splash of red wine vinegar, a drizzle of olive oil and a grind of black pepper, sea salt and a dash of tomato sauce. She lets it all marinate for at least an hour – then simply pours it into a pot of just cooked and drained rigatoni. It is delicious and I was very grateful….I’m beginning to feel more alive today…hopefully might get into the kitchen later! But whilst I have been recuperating at least my chief sous chef has come up trumps! Thank you ! x