Italian, Pasta, Pork

The Best Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves: 6

Where does one start?

Spaghetti Carbonara is that dish that divides more than any spaghetti dish. Cream or no cream?

Or mine is the best or that is the best?

This is the traditional or this one is even more traditional?

Or that Italians don’t even do Spaghetti Carbonara and it is an invention of the Americans: Italians don’t do pasta like this.

I don’t mind a cream-based Spaghetti Carbonara and how couldn’t you? Anything with pasta and cream – at its best – is amazing.

Though it isn’t traditional in the sense that I cannot find any pasta Italian cookbook of mine that asks for even a touch of cream.

Equally though, I can’t find a Carbonara in any of these books.

Which I think means that Carbonara definitely shouldn’t have cream though it probably isn’t an Italian invention either.

Which leaves us here: what is the best ‘traditional’ Carbonara recipe.

For 8 years straight until he was 18, for his birthday, my middle brother Adrian asked nothing else of me than that I cooked this pasta for his birthday.

This recipe was something my mother would do after a day on our boat and as kids, and it simply never failed to wow us.

After years and years of telling Nat this Carbonara was the best she would ever have, she finally let me make it.

And Nat – and the boys – agreed, this is simply the finest Carbonara that exists.

This truly is the best Spaghetti Carbonara you will ever cook.

And this is from someone that makes a point of ordering every time it is available.

THE BEST.

Ingredients

9 slices bacon, trimmed and julienne
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 tbsp butter
½ cup julienned ham (or prosciutto)
12 tbsp grated parmesan
6 eggs, beaten
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
Spaghetti

Method

  1. Brown the bacon and pour off any fat.
  2. Cook the spaghetti.
  3. Add the olive oil, butter and ham and saute for 5 minutes without browning.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan and beaten eggs, Place over the heat only to sufficiently to firm up the sauce.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the spaghetti.
  6. Serve with more grated spaghetti.
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Italian, Pork, Stew

Rosenstrach’s Pork Shoulder Ragu

Serves: 6

Bit of a no brainer this one.

Some weekends call for a ragu. A slow roasted pork shoulder ragu.

Where of course, the longer you cook it, the better it is.

And there you have the Rosenstrach’s pork shoulder ragu: one I found online and one that nailed the note the moment we served it.

It is simply an excellent, down-the-line, rich, warm, wholesome, screw-you ragu. With a glass of red and a green salad at the side… this is as good as things get.

Cook it the night before and serve at a dinner party the next day.

Cook it the night before and serve it on the couch on Sunday.

Cook it whenever you want and eat it whenever you want.

However you do it, this is a winter win.

Ingredients

1 ½kg boneless pork shoulder
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
80gm butter
2 cans tomatoes (800gm)
1 cup red wine
5 sprigs fresh oregano
Small handful of fennel seeds
1 tbsp hot sauce
Pappardelle
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Roughly chopped flat leaf parsley

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180c. Liberally season the pork with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the olive oil and butter to a large, heavy saucepan over  medium heat until the butter melts. Add the pork and brown on all sides: around 10 minutes.
  3. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, thyme, oregano, fennel and hot sauce and bring to the boil. Cover and put in the oven.
  4. Braise for 4 hours, turning every hour or so and adding more liquid (water and wine) as is needed. When the meat is literally falling apart, remove, break apart and return to the pan. Cook until thickened and back the seasoning.
  5. Serve on the pappardelle with plenty of parmesan and parsley on top. And plenty of red wine at the side.
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Salad, Vegetarian

Parmesan Dressing

Serves: 4

Salad is one of our favourite fall-back meals.

And the boys love nothing more than homemade sausages, some chargrilled eye fillet and a green salad… with one of the rotating salad dressings we like to make.

The rotation gets a little bigger with this one from Curtis Stone and its simplicity – and the parmesan – are what make it such a no-brainer for a throw-together grilled chicken salad.

I recommend adding this little number to your repertoire.

Ingredients

2 tbsp red wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 eschalot, finely chopped
2 tsp finely chopped thyme
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Season and drizzled over your next salad.
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Greek, Lamb

Keftedakia (Greek Lamb Sausages)

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Uncooked!

Makes: 20 sausages

We are on a bit of a sausage thing at the moment with the recent addition of a new meat grinder and sausage stuffer to the kitchen.

Though searching for recipes has been a bit of an underground thing.

For whilst you can find the odd super-gourmet sausage recipe out there, there is a dearth of every-day sausage recipes on the web: until you hit the underground sausage forums.

And this is where it gets serious.

I have a few mates that are into smoking meats and they take it seriously. They swap notes about chips and coals and warm-up times and bastes. It is a passion and Facebook is full of their Saturday morning photos and tips as they fire up.

Sausages it seems are much the same, with the sausage forums full of – generally very positive – banter, advice, recipes and tips.

(I am yet to choose the avatar for ‘robbydogcooks3’ and remain a sausage lurker, though I feel the urge.)

Anyway, on one forum, someone by the name of ‘bradsizzle’ asked for the best Greek sausage recipe ‘in the world’.

And the community answered.

Lamb, pork, beef, the people of Crete (joke), orange peel, aniseed, fennel, more lamb, cumin, explosions, debate, more lamb.

The servers were on fire.

We chose this one to begin and it is one bloody fine sausage.

You’ll need a sausage stuffer of course and sorry if you don’t.

robbydogcooks3 is now part of the club and can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t.

Sizzle bradsizzle.

Ingredients

1kg lamb shoulder, 2 cm pieces (or ground)
½ cup breadcrumbs soaked in ½ cup milk for 5 minutes
1 large red onion, finely diced
2 tbsp red wine (or ouzo)
4 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley
4 tsp finely chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (or Kefalotiri cheese)
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp freshly cracked pepper
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
1 tsp whole aniseed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp white flour

Method

  1. Combine the ingredients.
  2. Process through your mincer and stuff your sausages.
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Healthy, Vegetarian

Spinach and feta muffins

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With some melted butter, served warm? Heaven.

Spinach and feta muffins

Serves: 12 – 15 muffins

The boys have loved these muffins ever since Oliver – and then Tom – were capable of eating muffins.

Until last weekend however, it has been awhile since I’ve cooked a batch.

The good news is that good things never change and the boys were just as enamoured with them as they were the first time they had them; warm with some butter and they are literally savoury heaven.

They’re great the next day either and tick all the boxes as a healthy, filling, lunch-box treat.

And they certainly aren’t just for kids.

Try them and enjoy.

Though do yourself a favour and have at least one warm with butter.

Ingredients

Canola oil/spray, to grease
2 ½ cups self-raising flour
250g chopped baby spinach
150g low-fat feta, crumbled
½ cup chopped semi-dried tomatoes
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan + 2tbsp to sprinkle
330ml (1 ⅓ cups) milk
90g butter, melted
1 egg
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Brush/spray 12 muffin pans with canola oil to lightly grease
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl. Add shredded spinach, feta, tomatoes and parmesan and stir to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, using a fork, whisk together the milk, butter, egg and dill until well combined, Add milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir gently until just combined.
  4. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin pans. Sprinkle with extra parmesan and bake for 20 – 30 minutes until golden and cooked. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

 

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Stew, Vegetarian

Aubergine purée

Aubergine purée

Serves: 4

The base for a rich braise or stew is often half the dish.

A magic potato mash or a creamy polenta; anything with celeriac, cauliflower, semolina and of course, parmesan, cream, butter and salt.

So here is your next base and it is seriously amazing.

The next time you pour a bottle of red wine into your casserole and set aside hours of slow cooking, you must try this purée.

Magic.

Ingredients

4 medium aubergines
30gm butter
30gm plain flour
380ml full-fat milk (we added a dash or two of pouring cream in addition)
75gm parmesan cheese, grated
1 lemon, juice only
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  2. Roast the aubergines whole for 30 minutes until soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Peel, chop and mash well using a fork.
  3. In a pan over a medium-heat, make a roux: melt the butter and add the flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the milk and stir until you have a thick white sauce.
  4. Mix in the aubergine, cheese and lemon juice. Season with the salt and pepper and keep warm.

 

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Lamb, Stew

Rich Turkish lamb stew with aubergine purée (Hunkar begendi)

Rich Turkish lamb stew with aubergine purée (Hunkar begendi)

Serves: 4

We have been watching Rick Stein’s inspiring cooking tour – Venice to Istanbul – over the Christmas Break.

We’ve streamed an episode or two a week as a treat after dinner and other than dozens of plans to spend months of our lives travelling Greece, Croatia and Turkey, we’ve also picked up some pretty amazing recipes to try.

When Rick cooked this Turkish stew, he was pretty taken aback by it, especially the aubergine purée.

It is incredible.

It is a whole new chapter in stews for me with a unique, earthy, rich, creamy heat; literally, as good as stews get. So much so that I am breaking the aubergine purée out as its own post.

It is a comparable to my favourite pan fried polenta as the base for a rich braise or stew.

There is a little bit of prep work in it, though this is an awesome stew.

10/10.

Ingredients

For the red pepper paste

600gm red peppers (3 – 4 red peppers)
50gm tomato paste
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

For the aubergine purée

4 medium aubergines
30gm butter
30gm plain flour
380ml full-fat milk (we added a dash or two of pouring cream in addition)
75gm parmesan cheese, grated
1 lemon, juice only
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the lamb stew

4 tbsp olive oil
850gm boned lamb shoulder, cut into 3cm pieces
1 tbsp red pepper paste
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 green finger chilli, sliced
1 green pepper, seeds removed and sliced
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
200ml hot water
Chopped flat leaf parsley to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.

For the red pepper paste

  1. Roast the peppers for 30 minutes until dark and softened. Transfer to a bowl and cover with clingfilm and leave until cool enough to handle.
  2. Remove the charred skins, stalks and seeds.
  3. In the blender, blitz the peppers with the remaining ingredients; store for up to a week in the fridge.

For the aubergine purée

  1. Roast the aubergines whole for 30 minutes until soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Peel, chop and mash well using a fork.
  2. In a pan over a medium-heat, make a roux: melt the butter and add the flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the milk and stir until you have a thick white sauce.
  3. Mix in the aubergine, cheese and lemon juice. Season with the salt and pepper and keep warm.

For the lamb stew

  1. Warm half the olive oil in a large casserole pan over a high-heat and brown the lamb in batches.
  2. When browned, return all the lamb to the pan and add the red pepper and tomato pastes, the remaining olive oil, onion, garlic, chilli and green pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until softened.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and the hot water. Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat, cover with a lid and allow to cook slowly for 1 – 1½ hours.

Reduce the gravy to a thick consistency and serve ladled over the aubergine purée, scatter the chopped parsley.

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