First I would like to wish you a happy New Year and apologise for the paucity of recipes since I started last May! To my family and friends who have gently reminded me from time-to-time to get on with posting recipes, thank you for your gentle chiding – here we go!
I have wanted to try this recipe for a while since watching Rick Stein cook it in Venice during his From Venice to Istanbul television series for the BBC. It has become one of Mr. Stein’s favourite dishes and having cooked it last night, I can see why. It is incredibly easy to cook and absolutely delicious!
Bigoli is a type of pasta made in Venice. It is rather like thick spaghetti and quite difficult to get hold of outside of Venice. I happen to have some Pici Senesi which is a Tuscan pasta almost the same – a speciality of Siena where I bought it last year and which I used last night. If you haven’t got any bigoli or pici senesi lurking in your larder Mr. Stein suggests using bucatini instead but I am quite confident that good old spaghetti will do the job just as well though the sauce does lend itself very well to a thicker type of pasta.
What you’ll need for two people as a main course or four people as a first course is:
200 – 250g (depending on how hungry you are) of either bigoli, pici senesi, bucatini or spaghetti
Salt for the pasta water.
60ml olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
8 anchovy fillets (tinned). NB There are usually about 8 fillets in the small oblong tins you buy in the supermarkets. Just in case, have a spare tin to hand.
250ml chicken stock
Black pepper – around 10 twists of the mill.
Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley chopped.
What you’ll need to do:
Bring a large pan of salted water to boil for the pasta.
In a large frying pan heat the olive oil over a medium heat and then add the onion and garlic. Cook slowly for 10-15 minutes until soft.
Add the anchovies giving them a good stir round the pan which will help break them up. Interestingly anchovies very quickly start to break down once introduced to heat.
Add the chicken stock and let the sauce simmer until two-thirds of the liquid has evaporated. What you want is a nice glossy coating sauce.
Taste and season with black pepper then set aside and keep warm whilst the pasta is cooking
Cook the pasta you have chosen until al dente or to your liking. (If you are using bigoli or pici senesi for the first time you may be surprised by the length of time it takes to cook – about 23 or more minutes for the pici senesi for example)
Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Coat the pasta with the sauce whilst stirring in three-quarters of the parsley.
Sprinkle the remaining parsley on top of each portion when serving.
I did not include salt in the list of ingredients other than for the pasta water because the saltiness of the anchovies and any salt in the chicken stock is sufficient for the dish. If you think you may need more salt then add it at the black pepper stage but I don’t think that you will.
As you can see I drank the delicious Lugana (Zenato Villa Flora) from Lake Garda – available from Waitrose.
I spent last weekend as a guest of my friends Kate and Steve in Marlow. We, along with a gang of friends, had been invited to spend Saturday celebrating our chum Mike’s birthday in Cookham at the Let’s Rock the Moor retro festival.
During breakfast yesterday Kate mentioned that her brother was coming to lunch and she didn’t know what to cook though Kate did think she would like to cook pork and asked for suggestions. Diana (another chum) suggested roast pork with Parma ham which is an easy dish to prepare though I am not at all sure Diana has ever prepared it herself!
So, for you Kate, here is the recipe. I cooked the dish this evening having, by chance, a piece of pork fillet in the ‘fridge which needed attention!
What you’ll need for 4 people:
2 pork fillets/tenderloin. Fillets vary in size and thickness so choose the size to accommodate your guests’ appetites. (The smallest fillets would probably be around 338gr/12oz which would serve 2 people. Take into account shrinkage in cooking when choosing your fillets).
8-10 slices of Parma ham (4-5 per fillet and dependent upon the size and thickness of the fillets you’ve chosen have a few extra slices handy in case they are needed*).
2 cloves of garlic sliced thinly.
What you’ll need to do:
Pre-heat your oven to 180C/356F.
Pat the pork fillets dry with kitchen paper and remove, carefully, any silvery tissue on the surface of the fillet.
With a small sharp knife make several incisions into the fillet (not too deep) and insert a slice of garlic into each pocket.
On a chopping board or flat surface carefully place slices of Parma ham to accommodate the fillet. Overlap each slice of ham slightly to make it appear to be one long piece of ham so to speak. Carefully wrap the fillet in the ham, at an angle so that the whole fillet is wrapped in its blanket of ham. Repeat for the second fillet.
Select 4 sage leaves and place on top of the fillet, slightly apart, and secure each leaf with a cocktail stick.
Select a roasting tin that will accommodate the fillets and line with cooking foil. Place fillets on the foil and make a loose parcel. Pop into the hot oven and cook for approximately 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove from the oven and open the foil and put the pork back into the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes. After that check to see that the juices run clear and if they do your pork will be ready.
Once you are happy that the pork is cooked cover with the foil and let the fillets rest for 10-15 minutes in a warm place.
When ready to serve slice the fillets in even, thick slices. I would suggest three slice per guest to start with. Oh yes, don’t forget to remove the cocktail sticks.
To accompany this dish you could serve potatoes roasted with garlic and rosemary (see next post). Caramelised carrots would go nicely as well, so too steamed stem broccoli. As there will be very little by way of natural juices from the pork I would suggest you serve apple sauce along with it.
*If you find you have extra slices of Parma ham left over they can be pressed into service as a first course served with fresh figs which have been cut across the top with a criss-cross incision, squeezed open gently to form a pocket or bowl into which you pour in a little liquid honey. Scrummy. Oh yes, you could also plop a dollop of crème fraîche alongside! I’ll post the recipe as soon as figs come into season – maybe my lovely friend and neighbour, Joy, will have a bumper crop this summer – Kent figs are delish!
Keeping to the theme of easy recipes I thought I would launch my blog with one for Spaghetti Carbonara taught to me by my chum, Tommy, from Zürich.
This recipe is for the classic carbonara which is a light dish and bears no resemblance to what is often found on restaurant menus doused in litres of cream.
The origin of the name of the dish is obscure and debates continue as to whether it was, in fact, invented by charcoalmen (Carbonari) but it seems certain that the dish was created in Rome. As to its arrival in this world the recipe appeared in Elizabeth Davis’s Italian Food published in the UK in 1954 but it did not feature in Ada Boni’s classic La Cucina Romana of 1930.
The dish is simplicity itself and requires only the following:
Ingredients for 2 people:
4 rashers of bacon (smoked or unsmoked as preferred) sliced into strips or use cubed pancetta if you like. If you like a bit more bacon,then add another slice per person – as you like it!
a little olive oil
a handful of flat-leaf parsley chopped as fine as you can get it
30g/1 oz Parmesan cheese grated or Grana Padano (which is less expensive than Parmesan)
170g/6 oz spaghetti (depending on how hungry you may be, add or subtract the amount of spaghetti)
Put a large saucepan of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil. (It is important that there is plenty of water to cook your spaghetti).
Whilst the pasta water is coming to a boil, in a mixing bowl break the eggs and whisk with a fork. Mix in the grated cheese, the parsley and a few twists of pepper to taste. NB I would not recommend that you add salt because the cheese will be seasoning enough.
Put a little olive oil into a frying pan and fry the bacon strips until a little crispy. If you are using pancetta just pop that into the frying pan, without the oil, because it will have plenty of its own fat in which to fry. Once cooked to your liking, set aside and keep warm.
Once the water has come to a boil add the spaghetti and give it a good stir round and allow to cook according to the instructions on the packet/taste.
When the spaghetti is cooked drain in a colander and then return it to the saucepan making sure the heat is turned off beneath the saucepan. Pop the bacon/pancetta into the saucepan followed by the egg mixture. Stir thoroughly ensuring the spaghetti is coated. The trick is to have the egg mixture emulsify and hot through but not let it get over-cooked that it turns a little into scrambled eggs!
Divide into two bowls and throughly enjoy along with a glass or two of wine.
Ps This can easily be made for one person simply by using one egg and dividing the ingredients accordingly.