Recipe: Spaghetti Carbonara

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Spaghetti Carbonara is one of those classic dishes that everyone seems to have a slightly different recipe for, although the basics (eggs, pancetta, parmesan) remain the same. My husband makes ‘proper’ Carbonara without the cream, instead adding white wine and a sprinkling of nutmeg as per Nigella Lawson’s recipe. It’s very tasty but I’m pleased to say that the kids prefer my version! In fact, this is my eldest son’s favourite dish and he always requests it on special occasion or when he is having a friend over for tea.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

400g Spaghetti

3 Egg yolks

100ml Double cream

75ml Creme fraiche

75g Finely grated parmesan

Black pepper

150g Cubed smoked pancetta

1 tbsp Olive oil

25g Butter

Method:

1. Boil the pasta in a pan of water with a bit of olive oil according to the packet instructions.

2. In a bowl combine the egg yolks, double cream, creme fraiche, parmesan and a good grinding of black pepper.

3. Fry the pancetta in the olive oil until it starts to crisp and remove from the heat until the pasta has cooked.

4. When the spaghetti is ready, drain and return it to the saucepan. Tip over the pancetta and butter.

5. Keeping the pan on a very low heat, pour over the egg mixture and stir it through until it thickens and coats all the strands of spaghetti.

6. Serve immediately with extra parmesan and black pepper.

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Recipe: Butternut Squash Pasta

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Butternut  squash is hands down my favourite vegetable – I love it roasted, in risottos or whizzed up into a soup. My husband, on the other hand, is not as keen on the orange starchy vegetable but, thanks to the Jamie Oliver cookbook I received at Christmas, we have now found a dish we both enjoy.

The recipe for Squash Rigatoni is featured in Save with Jamie and I have only made a couple of small changes – I use rosemary instead of thyme as we both prefer it, gluten free pasta as my husband can’t eat wheat and I have sprinkled some pancetta fried in garlic oil over the pasta before serving.

Butternut cooked

Start by roasting a whole butternut squash in the oven (180 degrees/gas mark 4) for one and a half hours.

Butternut cut

Once it is cooked, split it in half, deseed and scoop out the flesh and either use right away or save for another day. The recipe only calls for half a squash so you can use the leftover flesh to make soup or another of Jamie’s recipes such as squash houmous or squash fritters.

Here’s how to make the pasta dish: 

(Serves 4, cooking time: 20 minutes)

Ingredients: 

320g dried rigatoni (or other pasta)

Olive oil

Dried chilli flakes

8 sprigs of thyme

2 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons of creme fraiche

40g blue cheese

1-2 tablespoons of boiling water

Parmesan cheese

Put a generous splash of olive oil and a pinch of dried chilli flakes into a large pan on a medium heat, then strip in the leaves from the thyme (or in our case rosemary) and squash in the garlic through a garlic crusher. Fry for one minute then add the creme fraiche, blue cheese and a splash of boiling water. Simmer gently while you cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, then drain reserving a cupful of cooking water. Season the squash mixture, toss the pasta through it, loosening with the cooking water if needed. 

If, like my husband you don’t feel you’ve had a proper meal unless it has some meat in it, fry some pancetta cubes in a pan until just crispy and sprinkle over the pasta along with parmesan cheese before serving.

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Apologies that my pictures aren’t the best – I cooked this in the evening and with no natural light it is hard to make food look appetising. But take my word for it, this recipe is definitely worth trying!

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Happy Wednesday everyone! Hard to believe that we are already halfway through the working week. I have had one of those (very rare) productive mornings where I managed to get loads done without being distracted by the Internet (Facebook is the worst – I can easily waste half an hour on there without even realising – although I’m a lot better now that I’ve deleted the App from my phone) or the pile of glossy interior magazines currently residing on the kitchen table. So far I’ve written an article for work, put all the washing away, hoovered upstairs and ordered a pair of new football boots from Cameron (Rather scarily his feet are now just one size smaller than mine.) I still have half an hour until I have to collect Clemmie from preschool so plenty of time to share some of my best finds from around the web this week.

1. Now that the children are a bit older I would love to start travelling a bit more. I found this list of 100 places to visit before you die and there are plenty of places on there that I have yet to visit.

2. We all have different food tastes in our household but one thing that we all love is a good bowl of pasta. Here are 25 best pasta recipes to try.

3. Tips on how to write the perfect thank you note – and even better if it is written on this gorgeous Smythson stationery

4. The secret of a happy marriage is apparently to tell your partner you love them ten times a week and go on at least three dates a month. Does dinner a deux at home count? Otherwise the babysitting bill could start piling up…

5. This is one that I really need at the moment as I’m trying to sort through all the stuff from my parents’ house as well as old and outgrown clothes, toys etc. I don’t consider myself to be a hoarder but sometimes I have a hard time deciding what to keep and what to throw out or sell. How to edit your wardrobe and avoid stuffocation 

6. Finally, here is a collection of Fashion Quotes to inspire and amuse.

Still 15 minutes to go so I’m off to sit in the garden with my coffee and one of those tempting magazines. Have a great Wednesday. X

Recipe – Lasagne without the Pasta

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I hardly ever eat pasta at home as my husband suffers from coeliac disease and has to avoid all wheat and gluten. The kids will often have spaghetti bolognese or other pasta dishes for their tea and occasionally my husband will make us all a carbonara with gluten free spaghetti on a weekend (although he is not mad about the taste or texture). Over time I have got used to cooking rice, potatoes or just vegetables to go with whatever meat/chicken/fish we’re having. Sometimes though, on a chilly autumn night, I long for a bowl of lasagne with a nice glass of red wine. So I was delighted to come across a recipe which uses thin courgette slices instead of the traditional pasta sheets. As well as being great for anyone with a gluten allergy, it also works for those trying to cut down on the carbs.

I make my own version of bolognese (slightly spicy with a splash of double cream) but you can use whatever recipe you like for the meat sauce.

1 onion – chopped

garlic oil or 1-2 garlic cloves and olive oil

500 g beef mince

1 can chopped tomatoes

2-3 teaspoons Sambal Oelek (or Thai red chilli paste)

1-2 tablespoons soy sauce

a splash of red wine

2-3 tablespoons double cream

1-2 courgettes – finely sliced lengthways, I use a cheese slicer (bought from Ikea) to make the slices really thin

Cheese sauce: 400-500 ml creme fraiche mixed with 300 ml grated cheese

Turn the oven to 175c. Fry the onion and garlic until softened. Add the mince, breaking it up with a fork or spatula. Let it brown then add the other ingredients and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Alternate the courgette slices, bolognese and cheese sauce in an oven proof rectangular dish, topping it with a sprinkle of grated cheese. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes and serve with vegetables or a green salad (and a glass or two of Vino Rosso for that authentic Italian taste)