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Posts Tagged ‘Pasta’

Chorizo, Orzo & Sweetcorn Stew

A colourful dish for midweek, just as flavoursome as the colours suggest.

Chorizo, orzo & sweetcorn stew – serves 2

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • a bunch of scallions, sliced, keep the green and white parts separated
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 50g chorizo, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 75g orzo
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 200g tin sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 350ml chicken or veg stock
  • ½ small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • ½ lemon, zested and juiced

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry the white parts of the scallions with the peppers and chorizo for about 8 minutes, or until the peppers are soft and the chorizo taking on some colour.

Stir in the garlic, orzo, paprika, sweetcorn and tomato and fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring, until the orzo is tender.

Stir in the parsley, the green scallions and the lemon zest and juice.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Cheesy Ham Hock, Spinach & Ricotta Lasagne

This is a nice crowd pleaser and kept us entertained for a while on a miserable day in Dublin. You can buy shredded ham hock in supermarkets now which makes this a great prep-ahead lunch for friends.

Wine Suggestion: Tonights choice to match the dish was provided by a friend, the Chateau La Bienveillance Sémillon 2019, a delightful and easy white which had a little texture and freshness to balance the cheese, plus a little earthiness which went well with spinach. If you can’t find Semillon then Chenin Blanc will work as well.

Cheesy ham hock, spinach & ricotta lasagne – serves 6

  • 70g butter
  • 70g plain flour
  • 1 litre full-fat milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 80g grated Parmesan or Gruyère (we had both in the fridge so used a mixture)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 600g spinach (the big-leafed stuff works best here)
  • 250g ricotta
  • a grating of nutmeg
  • 300g shredded ham hock (if you can’t find ham hock you can use shred thick-cut ham)
  • 12 dried lasagne sheets
  • 50g grated mozzarella

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the milk (you can use a whisk if you want but I prefer to use a wooden spoon). Add the bay leaf then put back over the heat and bring to a simmer, stirring. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring continuously until thickened. Take off the heat again and stir in 50g of the Parmesan/Gruyère, the mustard and the cayenne pepper. Season.

Put the spinach into a large pan with a small amount of boiling water, about 100ml. Cover with a lid and simmer for a few minutes until wilted, careful it doesn’t boil dry. Drain in a colander, then leave to cool. When cool enough to handle put the spinach into a clean tea towel and squeeze out the water. Tip the spinach into a food processor and pulse to roughly chop. Add the ricotta and pulse again to combine. Grate in a little nutmeg and season.

Heat the oven to 200C/180 fan/gas 6.

Spoon a layer of the cheese sauce into the bottom of a lasagne dish (roughly 24x28cm). Remove the bay leaf when you come across it. Top with a third of the spinach and ricotta mixture, then a third of the ham hock. Cover with a single layer of lasagne sheets, snapping them to make them fit if necessary. Repeat the layers with the rest of the ingredients and finish with a layer of lasagne sheets and cheese sauce. Sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan/Gruyère and the grated mozzarella. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until browned and bubbling (keep an eye on it and if it is browning too much you can cover with foil).

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Orecchiette with Broccoli, Cauliflower & Pecorino

We ate this as a main for 2 but it really is flavour-packed and would work really well in smaller portions as a starter.

Wine Suggestion: This strong combination of flavours pairs well with characterful, fuller bodied Italian whites like Verdicchio and one of our favourites, the Sartarelli Classico, was our match this evening.

Orecchiette with Broccoli, Cauliflower & Pecorino – serves 4 as a starter

  • a large handful of coarse breadcrumbs (we used panko)
  • 100g orecchiette
  • a bunch of long-stemmed broccoli, cut into 5cm lengths
  • 150g cauliflower florets
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 x 45g tin anchovies, drained
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • a large handful of shaved pecorino, to serve (we used Parmesan)

Spread the breadcrumbs out on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven at 200ºC for about 8 minutes or until crispy and golden. Leave to cool.

Cook the orecchiette in lots of salty water according to the timing on the pack.

Bring another large pan of salty water to the pan, then blanch the broccoli, followed by the cauliflower, for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Scoop out of the water with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Heat  150ml of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add garlic and cook gently for 5 minutes or until golden. Add the broccoli and cauliflower and toss to combine. Add the breadcrumbs, anchovies and drained orecchiette and heat through, you can add another splash of oil if needed to keep it moist.

Season to taste with salt, then serve with the parsley and pecorino on top.

(Original recipe from Maggies’ Kitchen by Maggie Beer, Lantern, 2008.)

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Creamy tomato, courgette & prawn pasta

There was lots of panic buying in Dublin when we went into lockdown but actually we were able to get pretty much everything, except orecchiette! After four orecchiette-free months we’ve finally got our hands on some. To celebrate we really enjoyed this simple pasta dish with locally grown courgettes.

Wine Suggestion: our choice tonight was a southern Italian white from Fiano made by Michele Biancardi in Puglia. Hints of honey, white flowers and a salty tang this wine speaks of the southern sun, and fresh breezes off the Adriatic seas. Travelling in a glass, when we can’t do it yet physically.

Creamy tomato, courgette & prawn pasta – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 large or 400g baby courgettes, sliced
  • 400g orecchiette pasta, or any other small pasta shape
  • 2 x 400g cans cherry tomatoes
  • good pinch of sugar
  • 200g raw prawns, peeled
  • 100g crème fraîche
  • small pack basil, leaves only, torn

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the garlic and cook gently for a few minutes, then add the courgettes and cook until starting to soften.

Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette according to the timing on the pack.

Add the tomatoes, sugar and some salt and pepper to the pan, then simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.

Add the prawns to the sauce and stir until they turn pink. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce along with the crème fraîche. Simmer for another couple of minutes to warm through, then add the basil before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Hot Smoked Trout & Dill Spaghetti

A lovely weeknight treat and so easy and quick to make. We used Barbecued Rainbow Trout from Goatsbridge Trout Farm in Kilkenny but any hot smoked trout or salmon will work perfectly.

Wine Suggestion: this works with lightly / judiciously oaked Chardonnay which gives structure and a touch of butteriness but retains the fruit and texture; your choice.

Hot Smoked Trout & Dill Spaghetti – serves 4

  • 400g spaghetti
  • 100g frozen petits pois
  • 100g hot smoked trout or salmon (see above), remove the skin and break into bite-sized chunks
  • a small packet of dill (about 25g), remove any thickish stalks and roughly chop
  • 3 tbsp of crème fraîche

Cook the spaghetti in loads of boiling, very salty water, for a minute less than the time given on the pack. Add the frozen petits pois and cook for another minute, then drain and return to the pan. Reserve some of the pasta water to thin the sauce.

Stir the hot smoked trout, dill, crème fraîche, salt and lots of black pepper into the pasta. Add a couple of tbsp of pasta water to the pan and toss everything together over a very low heat. Keep adding pasta water until you have a silky sauce, then serve in warm bowls.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Ferran Adria's Bolognese

An easy Bolognese that is super tasty and feeds a crowd from one of the world’s most celebrated chefs. Despite having never eaten at his table we completely respect him as this is all about depth of flavour and comfort which says more about his food values than any prettily displayed dish. You should have enough sauce to serve over 20 people so don’t be put off by the large quantities of butter and oil, it makes for a rich and delicious sauce. We’ve made this many times to stash in the freezer but this is the first time we’ve remembered to take a photo.

Wine suggestion: As Ferran is Spanish we went for a red from the same country, the Dominio de Tares Baltos, a Mencia with juicy black fruits, subtle and gentle spices and a vibrant freshness.

Bolognese Sauce – makes 2.5kg (serves many people!)

  • 225g butter
  • 1.2kg beef mince
  • 350g pork sausage meat
  • 500g onions, finely chopped
  • 150g celery, finely chopped
  • 400g carrots, finely chopped
  • 150ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12g tomato purée
  • 1.6kg tinned chopped tomatoes (4 x 400g tins)
  • a pinch of sugar

Put a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the butter and let it melt before adding the beef mince. fry until browned, then add the sausage meat. Cook for another few minutes, then season well with salt and pepper, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring, until golden brown.

Put another large pan over a low heat, then add the olive oil. Gently fry the chopped onions, celery and carrot until softened, about 12 minutes.

Add the meat to the vegetables and stir well to combine. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato purée. Season again with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Simmer for 90 minutes, or until the meat is really tender.

Serve with pasta and grated Parmesan of course.

(Original recipe from the Family Meal: Home Cooking With Ferran Adrià, Phaidon, 2011.)

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Classic Basil Pesto

Basil has come into season and is plentiful so we had to make a pesto. There’s likely to be a second batch next week too! We make pesto in a pestle and mortar but you could also use a food processor.

Pesto – enough to serve 4 with pasta

  • 50g pine nuts
  • 50g basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 25g Parmesan

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until lightly coloured, then remove from the pan and leave to cool.

Pound the basil in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt, some coarse ground black pepper and the garlic. When the basil has broken down, add the pine nuts and pound until finely crushed. Stir in the oil and Parmesan, then season to taste. Cover with a layer of oil and store in the fridge.

(Original recipe from the Hairy Bikers Mediterranean Adventure by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2017).

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Broad Bean Carbonara

There has been so many broad beans on our plates in the last couple of weeks, not that we’re complaining, we adore them! The frozen ones are hard to beat as they tend to be small and sweet.

Wine Suggestion: Choose a well made Chardonnay with a deft hand with oak and fresh acidity depending on what you have at hand; Burgundy, Jura, Baden, Stellenbosch, Macedon, Santa Cruz, etc.

Broad bean carbonara – serves 2

  • 85g pancetta (we had bacon lardons which worked perfect)
  • 100g podded and skinned broad beans (put the beans in boiling water for a minute, then refresh under cold water, the skins will slip off easily) – if you’re buying in pods you will need about 400g
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • 200g parpardelle pasta (we used tagliatelle but you could use whatever pasta)
  • 50g Parmesan, grated

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and salt it generously.

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan and cook the pancetta/bacon for about 8 minutes or until crisp.

Beat the egg yolks with the cream and season generously with black pepper.

Cook the pasta according to the timings on the pack, then drain, but save a bit of the cooking water.

Toss the pasta with the broad beans and pancetta in the frying pan. Add the egg and cream mixture and stir to coat, you may need some of the pasta water to create a silky sauce. Add half the Parmesan and toss through the pasta, then serve in warm bowls with the extra Parmesan on top.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food).

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Mussels with Ditalini & Tomatoes

We love mussels on a Friday, so cheap and quick to cook, but still so special and luxurious. We halved the pasta to serve 2 but kept everything else the same – a feast!

Wine Suggestion: Digging into the lockdown cellar again and the Sugrue, Trouble with Dreams 2014 came to hand. A beautifully precise and focussed sparkling from the South Downs in England. If this isn’t to hand a good traditional method, double fermented sparkling would be a good choice too.

Mussels with Ditalini & Tomatoes – serves 4

  • 1kg mussels, scrubbed, remove any beards and throw away any that are open and don’t close when tapped
  • 250g ditalini pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp sea salt flakes
  • 80ml red vermouth, we used Martini Rosso
  • 4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Cook the pasta according to the time on the pack in lots of very salty water.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide pan that has a lid. Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes to soften, over a medium-high heat.

Add the garlic, chilli and sea salt, then keep stirring until the tomatoes start to melt and make a juice. Add the vermouth and bubble up to get rid of the alcohol, then stir.

Add mussels and cover with the lid. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until the mussels have opened, give the pan a good shake now and then. Throw away any mussels that haven’t opened.

Drain the pasta and reserve a little cooking water. Add the pasta to the mussel pan with 2 tbsp of the pasta water. Stir everything together, put the lid back on and leave for a minute or two off the heat. Stir in most of the parsley, then scatter the rest on top.

(Original recipe from At My Table by Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, 2017.)

Mussels with ditalini & tomatoes

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Lentil & Lemon Pasta

We loved this! Something a bit different when we’re all fed up with our usual pasta staples. Also perfect for using leftover coriander, which seems to be an almost permanent feature in our veg drawer. Of course you can use whatever pasta you happen to have. The original recipe suggested fettuccine, we used trofie – no matter.

Wine Suggestion: a simple white that veers towards texture rather than ripe fruit is your match for this. We had a La Piuma (meaning feather) Pecorino Terre di Chieti from the western coat of central Italy. Pecorino was an obscure local variety of grape, but one we increasingly suggest and drink and think it has a great future; a charmer.

Lentil & lemon fettuccine – serves 4

  • 140g Puy lentils or brown lentils
  • 300g dried pasta
  • 50g butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • large handful of coriander, leaves and stems roughly chopped
  • 150g Greek yoghurt

Rinse the lentils in a sieve, then put into a medium saucepan and cover with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes or until tender (careful not to overcook as we did). Add plenty of salt about 10 minutes into the cooking time. Drain and keep warm.

Cook the pasta, then drain and return to the pan. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the onion until lightly golden, then stir in the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Stir the lentils, onion and garlic, lemon zest and juice, coriander and yoghurt into the cooked pasta. Finish with plenty of black pepper.

(Original recipe by Celia Brooks Brown in BBC Good Food Magazine, May 2010.)

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Pasta with Cauliflower, Anchovies, Saffron, Pine Nuts & Raisins

We halved this recipe and made it for 2 with a tiny but perfect, new-season cauliflower. You might have everything else in the cupboard already.

Wine Suggestion: Keep it Italian, given the origin of the dish, southern and white. Fiano, Greco, Falanghina … all good as long as the one you have isn’t too heavy. Our Macchialupa Falanghina was a delightful choice.

Pasta with cauliflower, anchovies, saffron, pine nuts & raisins (Pasta chi vrocculi arriminati) – serves 4

  • 1 head of cauliflower, about 1 kg, cut into florets
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 50g raisins, softened in a little hot water
  • 6 tbsp of good olive oil
  • a pinch of red chilli flakes
  • 6 anchovy fillets in oil (we like Ortiz)
  • 50g pine nuts
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 500g dried pasta e.g. bucatini, casarecce or penne

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and season well with salt. Add the cauliflower and cook until tender, about 6 minutes but do check as you don’t want to overcook it.

Warm the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan over a low heat. Add the onion and fry gently until soft, then add the chilli and anchovies. Keep frying until the anchovies have dissolved.

Lift the cauliflower from the water with a slotted spoon and add to the onion pan, stir and cook for another couple of minutes to let the flavours combine.

Drain the raisins, squeeze out any excess water, and add to the pan with the pine nuts and saffron. Taste and season with salt if needed, then remove from the heat.

Bring the cauliflower-cooking water back to the boil and use it to cook the pasta until al dente. Lift the pasta out with a slotted spoon and add to the frying pan. Return the cauliflower and pasta pan to the heat and cook for another minute or two, then serve.

(Original recipe from Two Kitchens: Family Recipes from Sicily and Rome by Rachel Roddy, Headline Home, 2017.)

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Pasta with Cime di Rapa

So clearly this is not orecchiette but trofie is all we could get and we’re not fussy. We’re very excited to get cime di rapa, also known as broccoli rabe, and very similar to turnip tops. These delicious greens are grown in Ireland – who knew? You need to trim any of the thicker stalks as they tend to be a bit stringy and unpleasant, the rest however is delicious. Cheese is apparently not traditional on this dish but we like it.

Wine suggestion: Italian inspired and from the south we found a bottle of the Gulfi Vulcanzjria, a Chardonnay, Carricante, Albinello blend grown on Mt Etna. Fresh, full and intense with a stoney core. Good alternatives would have been Greco di Tufo, Falanghina, or some more serious, but not too hot Vermentinos.

Orecchiette with Greens – serves 4

  • 400g orecchette or whatever short pasta you’ve got
  • 500g cime di rapa (you could also use sprouting broccoli, kale or cavalo nero), discard the thicker stalks, leave the broccoli looking bit whole and shred the finer stalks and leaves into 3cm pieces
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, grated, to serve

Boil the pasta in load of salty water according to the timings on the pack.

Meanwhile, put the cime di rapa into a large pot and pour in about 3 cm depth of water and season with salt. Bring the water to the boil, then cover and cook for 5 minutes or until tender and wilted. Drain.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the garlic for a minute or so, don’t let it brown. Add the drained greens, chilli flakes and lemon zest. Season well with salt and pepper.

Reserve a mug of the cooking water before draining the pasta. Add a few tbsp of the water to the greens if they need moistening, then tip in the pasta. Toss everything together in the pan for a minute, then serve in warm bowls with the cheese sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ Mediterranean Adventure by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2017.)

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Tagliatelle with Prawns and a Creamy Brandy Sauce

We bought a pasta machine when we were on honeymoon in Italy … quite a while ago now. We had a delicious lunch in a tiny Tuscan village, probably with a bit more wine than we needed, and bought a pasta machine from the window of a little shop that sold hardware, cookware and everything else. We have used it only a few times since then, but we took it out of the box this evening and made fresh pasta, and very satisfying it was too. So, if you’ve got a pasta machine we suggest you dust it off and give this a go. We haven’t given the recipe and instructions for making the tagliatelle – widely available online or in any Italian cookbook you might have on your shelves; though roughly 1 egg for 100g flour plus a little salt and olive oil.

Wine Suggestion: Tonight a bottle from our holidays last year in the Loire, the Charles Joguet Chinon Rosé. Delightfully dry, mid-weight and with light flavours of red fruits; a good match and a good memory of summer holidays in a tent in France.

Tagliatelle with prawns and a creamy brandy sauce (Tagliatelle con Gamberi e Brandy) – serves 4

  • 30g salted butter
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 60g walnuts, chopped
  • 300g uncooked prawns, peeled
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 60ml brandy
  • 250ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 400g fresh egg tagliatelle (look it up online, it’s easy)
  • 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley

Melt the butter and oil in a large frying pan over a gentle heat. Add the shallots and walnuts and cook gently for 2 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium and add the prawns and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper. Cook for 30 seconds.

Add the brandy and cook for a minute to allow the alcohol to evaporate, then add the cream and balsamic vinegar and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a loads of very salty water until al dente – a minute or two. Drain and tip back into the pasta pan.

Pour in the creamy sauce, add the parsley, and toss gently for 30 seconds to combine.

(Original recipe from Gino’s Pasta by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2010)

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Greek Lamb with Orzo

A treat for the weekend without too many ingredients. There is also just a tiny bit of work at the start and then this can be left to pretty much cook itself for a few hours. You can serve with crusty bread or just by itself.

Wine Suggestion: we think that a southern French blend like Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre is a really good combination as long as the wine is fresh and not too jammy. Tonight we enjoyed the Domaine de Cébène Faugeres “Felgaria” which had a majority of Mourvedre and was pure, elegant and expressive with spices and warm aromas.

Greek lamb with orzo – serves 6

  • 1kg shoulder of lamb, cut into large cubes
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1.2 litres hot chicken or veg stock
  • 400g orzo
  • freshly grated Parmesan, to serve

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Put the lamb into a large casserole dish with the onions, oregano, ground cinnamon, cinnamon sticks and olive oil. Toss with your hands to ensure everything is coated with oil. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Add the tomatoes and stock, then cover and return to the oven for a further 1½ hours or until the lamb is meltingly tender. You can throw away the cinnamon sticks at this point.

Stir in the orzo and return to the oven again, with the lid on. Cook for another 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until the orzo is cooked and the sauce has thickened. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Purple Sprouting Broccoli Pasta Bake

We’ve been cooking pretty much as usual since Covid-19 struck and we’ve all had to stay home. We are trying even harder than usual though to use what we already have. The only fresh ingredient you need here is broccoli, we used purple sprouting as it’s in season but any broccoli will do. Hopefully you have everything else in your cupboard or fridge already, if not the corner shop should have it.

Wine Suggestion: a simple white wine with a bit of freshness and texture is all that is needed here. Our selection is the Macchialupa Falanghina from Benevento in Campania, Italy, which over delivers but is joyfully fresh and vibrant.

PSB and Pasta Bake – serves 4

  • 250-300g broccoli, cut into florets (we use stalks and all)
  • 250-300g penne pasta (or whatever short pasta you have)
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 300ml milk
  • 2 large handfuls of grated Cheddar cheese (or any leftover cheese)
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard (or any mustard)

Cook the pasta in loads of salty boiling water and add the broccoli for the last 4 minutes. Drain and leave to steam dry in the pot.

Make a cheese sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour. Keep stirring for a minute, then gradually add the milk, a little at a time, stirring all the time. Keep stirring now until the mixture bubbles, then leave to simmer for a couple of minutes. Stir in the mustard, one large handful of cheese and plenty of seasoning.

Tip the cooked pasta and broccoli into the sauce and stir gently. Tip into an ovenproof dish and put under a hot grill for a few minutes until browned and bubbling.

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Chorizo & Chilli Pepper Pasta

We made this to use up a piece of chorizo ring leftover from a previous recipe. The whole dish took about 20 minutes from start to finish and was yummy.

Wine Suggestion: The first time we had this it was with a Beaujolais (Gamay) and it was a delightful match, and then a few weeks later it was with a white blend of Grenache Blanc and Viognier and again a real delight. We think the key here is a vibrant, medium bodied wine … and avoid to much complexity and concentration … this is a simple, if very tasty dish, so keep the wine the same.

Chorizo & chilli pepper pasta – serves 2

  • 200g penne (or any short pasta)
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 100g chorizo, skinned and cut into small chunks
  • 400g tin cherry tomatoes (regular tin of chopped tomatoes would be fine if that’s what you have)
  • 3 guindilla pickled chilli peppers, sliced on an angle (any pickled chillies would do)
  • a handful of basil leaves, roughly torn
  • grated Parmesan, to serve

Cook the pasta in lots of salty water for a minute less than recommended on the packet.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over a high heat. Fry the chorizo for a couple of minutes or until it releases its oil.

Stir in the tin of tomatoes, a pinch of sugar and seasoning.  Let bubble for 5 minutes, then stir in the peppers and basil.

Drain the pasta and stir through the sauce.

Serve with plenty of Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Ditali Pasta with Cauliflower, Saffron and Tomato Cream Sauce

We made this Sicilian pasta dish by Rick Stein on Valentine’s Day and it was lovely.

Wine Suggestion: this dish needs a rich white wine to match the cream and saffron and a vibrancy for the anchovies. We opened a Gulfi Carjcanti, a Sicilian white made from the local carricante grape. Complex and refreshing with apples, blossom and hints of sea breezes on the nose and vibrant, juicy and mineral on the palate.

Ditali pasta with cauliflower, saffron and tomato cream sauce – serves 4 (easily halved)

  • 25g anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 50g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 large cauliflower, broken into small florets (discard the core) – about 750g
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 medium-hot red chilli, seeded and finely chopped or ½ tsp crushed dried chilli flakes
  • 3 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
  • a large pinch of saffron strands
  • 450g ditali or other small tubular pasta
  • 5 plum tomatoes from a tin
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • finely grated Parmesan, to serve

Melt the anchovies in a small frying pan over a lowish heat, then set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan, add the breadcrumbs and stir over a medium heat until golden and crispy. Season with salt and pepper, then tip onto a plate lined with kitchen paper.

Heat the remaining 4 tbsp of oil in the same pan, add the cauliflower and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes without colouring, until starting to soften. Add the garlic, chilli, season and cook for another minutes.

Mix the sun-dried tomato paste with 120ml of water and stir this into the cauliflower. Cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes or until just tender.

Meanwhile, pour 50ml of warm water over the saffron strands and leave to soak.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add lots of salt (Rick suggests 8 tsp – we just add a load). Cook the pasta according to the timings on the pack.

Add the saffron water, tomatoes and anchovies to the cauliflower and season. Increase the heat slightly and cook uncovered until the cauliflower is very soft. You might need to break it up a bit with a wooden spoon to help it along. When the cauliflower is completely soft add the cream and the parsley.

Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Add the cauliflower mixture and toss everything together well and spoon into warm bowls. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and cheese.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes, BBC Books, 2007.)

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Nigel's Bolognese

We love cookbooks that divide recipes up by the month of year. You can pick them off the shelf and get some instant inspiration that suits the weather conditions and what’s available. This is how we came to make this spaghetti bolognese, from Nigel Slater’s original Kitchen Diaries, on a cold night in January. We don’t usually add mushrooms to our Bolognese but they were really good here. Serve with some sort of long pasta (or penne if that’s what you’ve got) and loads of Parmesan.

Wine suggestion: we really enjoyed Michele Biancardi’s Ponteviro Primitivo from Puglia with this: wonderfully fresh and with a herbal spice as opposed to jam which appeals to our tastes.

A really good spaghetti Bolognese – serves 4

  • 50g butter
  • 70g cubed pancetta
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 large flat mushrooms (about 100g), finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 400g beef mince
  • 200ml passata
  • 200ml red wine
  • 200ml stock
  • a nutmeg
  • 200ml full-cream milk or cream
  • spaghetti or tagliatelle (to serve)
  • grated Parmesan (to serve)

Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan, then stir in the pancetta and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes to soften, then add the carrots and celery and continue to cook. When they have softened a bit, add the mushrooms, tuck in the bay leaves and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat, stirring now and then.

Turn the heat up and add the meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Leave to cook for 3-4 minutes until the bottom starts to brown, the stir again and leave to colour.

When the meat is well browned, add the tomatoes, red wine, stock, a grating of the nutmeg and some salt and black pepper. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a bare bubble. Partially cover with a lid and leave to cook for 60-90 minutes, stirring now and then. Add a bit of extra liquid if it looks dry at any point.

Gradually add the milk/cream, then continue to cook for another 20 minutes. Season to taste and serve with the pasta and Parmesan.

(Original recipe from

 

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Fusilli with Chestnut Mushrooms, Leeks and Mascarpone Cheese

This pasta sauce can literally be made in the same time as it takes to boil the pasta. The recipe is easily halved for two and therefore good for using up mascarpone.

Wine Suggestion: A tasty supper like this pairs well with unoaked Chardonnay, particularly from slightly cooler areas like the Maçon in Burgundy. Tonight’s choice, the Domaine Manciat-Poncet Maçon-Charnay which has a fresh joy to it with red apples and citrus flavours.

Fusilli with chestnut mushrooms, leeks and mascarpone cheese – serves 4

  • 45g butter
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 leeks, washed and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 4 pinches of cayenne pepper
  • 400g fusilli pasta
  • plenty of freshly grated Parmesan to serve

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the butter and allow to melt. When the butter is foaming add the mushrooms, leeks and garlic and fry for 5 minutes.

Add the mascarpone and cook for another minute or so, stirring continuously. Stir in the chives and cayenne pepper, then season carefully with salt and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in lots of salty water according to the timings on the pack, then drain and return to the same pan.

Pour the mushroom sauce into the pasta pan and stir together for 30 seconds before dividing between warm bowls.

Sprinkle over the Parmesan and serve.

(Original recipe Gino’s Pasta by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2010.)

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Turkey Tetrazzini

A creamy turkey and mushroom pasta bake for the inevitable leftovers. Tetrazzini was created by Italian immigrants to the USA adapting family recipes to local conditions and evolving tradition. We like this.

Wine Suggestion: Given this is American in origin we opened a Californian Chardonnay, the Cline Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast. The richness of fruit and hints of oak were a great match.

Turkey Tetrazzini – serves 4

  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 200g spaghetti
  • 50g butter plus a bit extra for frying the mushrooms
  • 2tbsp flour
  • 250ml hot chicken stock
  • a few drops of Tabasco
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp dry sherry
  • 3 tbsp single cream
  • 300g cooked turkey
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Start by frying the mushrooms in a little butter until softened and browned. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling salted water for the time indicated on the pack.

Meanwhile, make your white sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and stir and cook for a minutes or so. Gradually whisk in the hot chicken stock until smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the tabasco, egg yolk, sherry and cream, then stir in the cooked turkey and mushrooms.

Layer the cooked spaghetti with the turkey mixture in a ovenproof dish, finishing with a layer of spaghetti and the Parmesan sprinkled over.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until piping hot and bubbling. Put briefly under a hot to crisp up the spaghetti on top if needed.

Serve with a green salad.

(Original recipe by Lulu Grimes in Olive Magazine, January 2008)

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