Friday, May 8, 2009

Spaghetti with Tomato, Basil and Shrimp

This is a very quick but delightful lunch or supper. It is so simple to make but you will be surprised by how great it tastes.

1 glug olive oil
2 clove garlic finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes chopped
18 shrimp, peeled
1 handful basil coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese grated
Salt and ground black pepper

Put enough spaghetti for three or four people on to boil. When it has softened enough so that it is no longer standing up turn the heat on under a saucepan and when it is hot, add a splash of olive oil and two cloves of garlic finely chopped. Stir for a minute or so, don’t let it brown, then add the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes soften, add the shrimp and stir. Once one side of the shrimp is cooked add the basil and turn the shrimp.
Add about ½ a cup or so of the water the pasta is cooking in to the pan. Stir. Grate in about 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese into the mixture, stir and add salt and pepper to taste.
As soon as the pasta is ready, drain and evenly distribute it into equal portions. Spoon the shrimp tomato mixture over the spaghetti. Sprinkle a bit more pepper over the top.
Serve with a green salad.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Penne Rigate with Vodka Sauce

I'd had this simple meal in restaurants a few times but never made it myself until very recently. This is a quick and easy Russian/Italian combination and tasty too. Who could ask for more?

3 1/4 inch slices of round pancetta
3 to 4 cups dried penne rigate
1 glug olive oil
1/4 lb butter
4 Tbsp tomato paste
3 oz vodka
6 oz table cream
1/3 tsp pepper
small bunch flat leafed parsley finely chopped

* Note: The pancetta is quite salty so you probably don't have to add any salt at all to the sauce. Taste it and use your own judgment.

Chop the pancetta into small cubes and fry them up in a saucepan for a few minutes. You don't want them crisp, just about half way there. Set them aside.
Heat a big pot of lightly salted water to a boil and drop in the penne and the olive oil. Cook until el dente.
Meanwhile melt the butter in the pan. When that is ready add the tomato paste and stir vigorously until it begins to mix. Add the cooked pancetta, the vodka and the cream. Keep stirring until it is well mixed and turn the heat down to low.
The penne by this time should be at least close to ready. As soon as it is cooked, drain it right away.
Put the pasta in the serving bowl, mix in the sauce and sprinkle the flat leafed parsley on top.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

This zesty pancetta and tomato sauce is most commonly associated with Lazio and Rome, but is actually from the town of Amatrice. I have used spaghetti but you could use any thick stranded spaghetti type pasta. The original recipe is made not with pancetta but using Guanciale which is an unsmoked bacon made from pigs cheeks but it is a bit tough to find.


* 1 package of Spaghetti
* 1/4 pound (100 g) pancetta diced
* 1 1/2 cups of good tomato sauce
* A hot pepper, seeded and shredded (or leave it whole if you want to remove it)
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* A cup of freshly grated Pecorino Romano

To give the meal more substance you could add some mushrooms fried up and/or chicken breast cut into small pieces and fried. Add these to the sauce at the end.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fettuccine with Prawns in a Sweet Tomato Sauce

Jamie Oliver is one of my favorite cooks. This dish started As one of his. It very quick to prepare and the cognac gives it a very interesting flavour. You could use several variations, for example try basil instead of the parsley. Canned chopped tomatoes could be used in a pinch but you will lose the fresh light flavour that fresh tomatoes will bring to the dish. Those of you who have my cookbook may recognize it.

6 or 8 Medium sized Roma Tomatoes
2 tablespoons of butter
Extra virgin olive Oil
12 oz small peeled shrimp
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
zest and the juice of 1 lemon
2 1/2 oz cognac
1/2 cup of heavy cream
salt and pepper
Fettuccine, to feed 4
1 handful of fresh parsley chopped
1 large handful of fresh spinach
Feta cheese crumbled

Blanch and skin the tomatoes then chop them into small pieces.
Heat and salt the water in the pot for cooking the pasta. When it is almost at the boil start the sauce.
Put the butter and a couple of swirls of the olive oil in a frying pan and when it is hot add the shrimp, garlic, lemon zest and tomatoes and stir it up for a few minutes then add the cognac. You could flame the cognac if you are into showmanship but if there is no one to impress, don’t bother.
Cook for a few more minutes and add the cream. Simmer gently for a couple of minutes and remove from the heat. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
If you are using fresh pasta put it into the boiling water. It will only take about 3 minutes. If you are using dried you should have started the pasta a bit sooner but don’t worry the sauce will reheat.
When the pasta is el dente, drain it in a colander and when it is drained put it into a pasta bowl and stir in the chopped parsley.
Mix in the sauce, add and stir in the spinach leaves They will quickly wilt.
Crumble feta cheese over the top and serve.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fettuccine alla Carbonara

Carbonara means coal, and many believe the dish derives its name because it was popular among Italian coal miners. Others believe however, that the dish is called carbonara simply because of all the black, freshly milled pepper that is used. There are many variations to this hearty pasta dish. I like this one because it is fun to do at the table. If you can’t find, or can’t get pancetta use bacon.

1/4 cup butter
3 eggs
1/4 cup whipping cream
8 oz pancetta cut into small squares
1 lb fettuccine
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Let the butter, eggs and cream stand at room temperature for 2 or 3 hours. This is optimum but don’t worry if you have to rush it.
Cook up the pancetta until it begins to brown, remove and drain on a paper towel.
Warm the pasta serving bowl in the warming oven if you have one.
Add the fettuccine to a large pot of salted boiling water and cook until al
Meanwhile, beat together the eggs and the cream.
When pasta is ready, drain but do not rinse, Turn pasta into the warmed serving bowl.
At the table, toss the pasta in butter, add the egg/cream mixture and toss until well coated.
Add the pancetta, cheese and pepper. Give it one last quick mix, sprinkle some parsley on top and serve.

Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Arugula

Shelley and I went to a very good Italian Restaurant in Calgary called Mercato. It is attached to an Italian grocery store so all the ingredients used in the kitchen can be purchased in the store. We sat at the counter overlooking the open kitchen. The food was fantastic and the cooking lesson was thrown in for free.

This was Shelley’s meal.

The recipe calls for Ricotta Salada which is an Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk. It is firm and salty and is nothing like the ricotta cheese most of us are used to. It can be tough to find. A fair substitute is mizithra which is Greek and similar.

For each serving

1/2 cup pine nuts

1 cloved garlic finely chopped

15 leaves of Arugula

Extra Virgin Olive oil

10 grape tomatoes

Ricotta Salada

120 grams fresh spaghetti

Salt to taste

Toast the pine nuts until they have browned slightly.

Take half of the arugula and chop it finely. Add to it the garlic, some pine nuts and olive oil. With a mortar and pestle mash it into a pesto.

Put on a large pot of salted water on to boil. Meanwhile cut the tomatoes in half and crumble the cheese into pieces about the size of a marble. Tear the remaining arugula leaves in half.

When you have everything ready to go put the pasta into the boiling water and

bring it back to the boil. Don’t forget, fresh pasta cooks very quickly and you want it al dente or slightly firm.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it reserving some of the cooking water.

Heat a sauce pan on medium high, add a good swirl of olive oil, take enough pasta to make one or two servings, the pine nuts and the pesto and add it to the pan.

Quickly toss it a few times. add about half a cup of the cooking water and toss again. Remove from the heat. Toss once more and put the mixture into a pasta bowl.

Add the tomatoes, the cheese and the arugula and toss. Serve with a little more of the cheese shaved on top.

If you are serving more than two people it is better to mix the pasta up with the oil and other ingredients as individual servings or perhaps two at a time. Once you get past a couple of servings it is harder to manage and you may over cook the ingredients. The tomato and arugula should have a fresh flavour.

Spaghetti with Arrabbiata Sauce

This is Spaghetti in an “Angry” Tomato Sauce. If you shy away from spicy food
don’t worry too much about this recipe. When Italians call a dish “spicy” it is rarely truly hot.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon minced Italian parsley or basil
1 can canned chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons plus ½
teaspoon salt
1 pound spaghetti
3/4 cup freshly grated
Pecorino Romano (optional) You could use
parmesan instead

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 14-inch skillet over medium-high
heat. Add the garlic, chili, and parsley, and cook 30 seconds, or until
Fold in the tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cook over medium heat 20
minutes, covered, stirring once in a while. Meanwhile, bring 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and the remaining 2 tablespoons of salt. Cook until al dente, then drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Add the spaghetti, Pecorino, and the reserved pasta cooking water to the sauce in the skillet. Cook 1 minute, stirring; the sauce should coat the spaghetti; cook a few seconds longer if it does not.
Serve hot.
Serves 4