Spiced Tomato Bucatini with Panko Breadcrumbs

Serves: 4

One of the cookbooks we picked up this Christmas was Saturday Night Pasta by Elizabeth Hewson, a self-taught home cook.

Her passion is clear.

Flicking through around 100 pasta recipes, she provides a wonderful introduction and background to the recipe. Nat and I both sat in the kitchen eyeing each receipt off, reading the background and saying, “yep, this is the one” until we flipped the page and it all started over.

We settled on this particular pasta and it was excellent.

The subtle Indian spicing is of course completely unusual, though as Elizabeth puts it, “the lesson here is don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.”

True that.

Ingredients

1 cinnamon stick, broken in half to release its flavour
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 cardamom pods, crushed
1 tbsp salted butter
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tbsp dry white wine
400gm can whole peeled tomatoes (I used cherry)
1/2 cup pouring cream
1/2 tsp caster sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs

If making fresh pasta (Half the book is given over to pasta making techniques.)

Maccheroni a descita, Pici.

If using dried pasta

Gnocchetti sardi, Bucatini.

Method

  1. Heat a deep frying pan over a medium-heat. Throw in the cinnamon, garam masala and cardamom pods and toast for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the butter, 1 tbsp of the olive oil, the garlic and give everything a good stir for about 30 seconds to until the garlic is soft – you don’t want it to burn.
  2. Pour in the white wine and watch it bubble and drink up the flavours for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cream, sprinkle over the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Give everything a big stir, then reduce the heat to low and leave to bubble away for 30 minutes, allowing the spices to imbue their flavours and the sauce to thinking.
  3. Bring a large saucepan to the boil and salt the water. Add the pasta and cook until al denote. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
  4. Heat a small frypan over a medium heat. Add the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil and the panko crumb and cook until golden.
  5. When everything is ready, fish out the cinnamon stock and cardamom pods and throw in the drained pasta. Stir, adding a little pasta water if necessary.
  6. Divide into bowls, shower generously with the breadcrumbs and serve.

One Pot Chicken and Veggie Pasta – Kids

 

One Pot Chicken and Veggie Pasta – Kids

Serves: 8

We recently employed a nanny to help with the boys at night.

And when I suggested that she might like to encourage their cooking skills by cooking suitable dinners together, she loved the idea.

Tonight’s dinner was really good and kid friendly on all fronts. And one-pot pasta is genius on so many preparation/cooking/cleaning/genius levels.

And when I say ‘good’, I mean, I had a bowl and loved it good. Local cafe good.

If you have kids and want them to cook/eat, this is a great recipe to try.

If you want to cook/eat, you could do a whole lot worse.

Simple.

Ingredients

500gm chicken breast, cut into 2cm pieces
3 cups chicken stock
Penne pasta (packet)
1 cup Greek yogurt
3 bunches broccolini florets
1 cup sundried tomatoes
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Method

  1. Season the chicken.
  2. Over a high heat in a large pot, add the chicken, 2 cups of the stock and the pasta.
  3. Bring to the boil and boil for 7 – 8 minutes, stirring frequently
  4. Add the broccolini, remaining cup of stock and the yogurt.
  5. Stirring well, cook for another 7 – 8 minutes.
  6. Stir in the cheese and sundried tomatoes.
  7. Season and enjoy.

Tagliatelle with shaved parsnip, pancetta and sage

Serves: 4

This neat little pasta is one I found it in Karen Martini’s Cooking at Home. I think she is a really good home cook and everything I have cooked of hers has been a success.

I used fresh pasta and substituted the spicy pancetta (the recipe asked for) for the pancetta I could find at the supermarket.

Tuesday night sorted!

Ingredients

300gm tagliatelle (or fettuccini)
1 parsnip, peeled
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8 – 12 slices of (spicy) pancetta (I cut the pancetta into large pieces, though that is not the recipe)
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 handfuls of sage leaves
1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
100ml white wine
150ml pouring cream
50hm shaved parmesan
1 tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Cook the pasta, drain and set-aside; add a little olive oil and keep warm, ensuring it does not stick together.
  2. Use a vegetable peeler to cut the parsnips into fine shavings (discarding the fibrous centre).
  3. Heat half the oil in a heavy fry-pan over a medium-to-high heat, and cook the pancetta until browned and crispy.
  4. Add the garlic, sage, chilli and parsnip and remaining oil (if necessary) and cook until the parsnip is crisp.
  5. Pour in the wine and cook for 2 minutes and then add the cream.
  6. Add the pasta and toss.
  7. Add the parmesan and lemon juice, season and serve.

Armando Percuoco’s Truffle Egg Pasta

Serves: 4 as an entree

This is a brilliant recipe for so many reasons.

It is the signature dish of Armando Percuoco of Buon Ricordo and typifies his wonderful, modern Italian cuisine; this dish served alongside his deep fried zucchini flowers together with a glass of chilled white wine is simply magic. I few years back, I replicated this combo at least once every summer and seriously, you win smiles and nods.

You just look better in everyone’s eyes!

The truffle egg pasta is a very simple dish to accomplish though it is one where no corners can be cut; the best pasta, full cream and proper butter are the point of the recipe, not merely the base. There is no question that bang for buck, this recipe is way up there.

The few times I have cooked this, I have used truffle oil though when I have had it at Buon Ricordo, it has been with truffled egg. There is a difference in flavour, though not better or worse; just different. Frankly, I’m not sure I can be bothered truffling eggs in my amateur kitchen.

You probably won’t be able to lie to your lady friend about the ingredients or the calories, though life is short and you’re only going to whip this up once a year right?

Do it and thank Armando later.

Ingredients

280g fresh or dry Fettuccine
1 tablespoon Butter
1 cup Cream
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan
4 Truffle Eggs or 1 tablespoon truffle oil
Extra Parmesan for serving

Method

  1. Boil fettuccine for about six minutes if dry, or four minutes if fresh. Drain.
  2. To a frying pan add butter and cream and simmer for three minutes over medium heat to reduce the mixture.
  3. If using ordinary eggs and truffle oil, add truffle oil now.
  4. Add cooked pasta and toss, then add parmesan and stir.
  5. Divide pasta into four serves on plates.
  6. In the meantime smear frying pan with butter and fry egg until whites are firm, but yolks are still runny. Do not burn or allow a brown under-crust to burn; it is not Sunday morning.
  7. Place egg on pasta.
  8. Add more parmesan, salt and pepper and toss egg into pasta.

 

Butterfly Pasta with Spider Crab and Small Prawns

Antonio Carluccio’s Butterfly Pasta with Spider Crab and Small Prawns

Served with a simple salad of greens and avocado, this is Friday night covered.
Served with a simple salad of greens and avocado, this is Friday night covered.

Farfalle con Grancevola e Gamberetti

Serves 4

This is a left of centre dish and one I was slightly suspicious about; where would the flavour come from? Would it be too subtle?

The recipe is from Antonio Carluccio’s beautiful and modestly named book, ‘Pasta’. It is a wonderful book if only that all of the recipes are simple, unique, rustic and incredibly good.

I substituted Spider Crab for Blue Swimmer Crab (given that Spider Crabs are found fairly much only in the northern hemisphere) and increased slightly the quantity of both the crab and prawn.

Carluccio says to garnish with dill or parsley though the dill is the way to go; it keeps the aniseed flavour lingering longer, really pulling the whole dish together. Seriously, if you had this pasta in a top restaurant, you would not be surprised. Its simplicity and flavour is that good.

Ingredients

350gm dried medium farfalle pasta
3 tbsp finely chopped dill (or fresh flat-leaf parsley)

Sauce

250gm ready prepared (spider) crab meat
150gm small raw prawns (I used 500gm medium prawns)
1 aubergine (eggplant), peeled and cut into slices
Salt and pepper to taste
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
150gm leeks, finely chopped (I used one leek)
1 tbsp fennel seeds
50ml White wine

Method

  1. Boil the prawns for about 2 – 3 minutes, drain and peel.
  2. Cook the aubergine in slightly salted water until soft; about five minutes. Mash.
  3. Heat the pol in a large saucepan and fry the garlic and leeks until soft; do not let them brown. Add the fennel seeds and the mashed aubergine and fry for a few minutes before adding the wine and mixing well. Cook gently for a few more minutes.
  4. Add the crab and the prawns, stir and heat through and taste for salt and pepper.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente.
  6. Drain well and mix with the sauce. Serve sprinkled with dill (or parsley).

Spaghetti di Farro con Luganega (Spelt Spaghetti with Sausage Sauce)

This is an Antonio Carluccio dish and it is a cracker; Nat and I picked up the book in the Prahan Markets when we went down to Melbourne for a weekend. Carluccio is a bit of a hero to me and a real father of Italian food.

This dish is rich, warm and rustic and really pretty straightforward to make. The sauce can be pre-made and even frozen for emergency dinners.

Ingredients

350g dried spelt spaghetti pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
60g pecorino cheese, freshly grated

Sauce

30g dried porcini, rehydrated
3 tbsp olive oil
50g unsalted butter
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
½ fresh hot red chilli, finely chopped
250g Italian sausage, meat removed from the skin and crumbled
100ml white wine
2 tbsp tomato paste, diluted in 2 tbsp water
1 tbsp fresh rosemary needles

Instructions

  1. Soak the dried porcini for the sauce in hot water for 20 minutes, then drain, reserving the soaking water and chop.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan with the butter and fry the onion and chilli briefly.
  3. Add the crumbled sausage meat and porcini and fry and stir for another 8 – 10 minutes on a low heat.
  4. Add the wine and then cook for a further 2 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated.
  5. Add the tomato and rosemary and cook for another 10 minutes on a low heat.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste and if more moisture is needed, add some of the porcini soaking water.
  7. Meanwhile, cook the paste until al dente. Drain week.
  8. Mix with the sauce, serve and sprinkle with the cheese.