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

Spaghetti with Romano Cheese and Black Pepper

This is a very simple and tasty pasta. In fact it is so simple many might be

tempted to give it a pass. Resist that temptation.

Pecorino Romano is cheese made from milk from sheep raised in the hills around Rome. Try and find Pecorino Romano, but if you can’t, any good quality Romano cheese will do. This would go very well with a Pancetta Salad and a glass, or two of Italian red wine.

2 tsp black peppercorns

250 grams of spaghetti

3/4 cup of finely grated

Pecorino Romano Cheese

2 tbsp of the same

cheese set aside

Toast the peppercorns in a dry small skillet over a moderately high heat until fragrant, 2 or 3 minutes. Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle or wrap then in a clean kitchen towel and smash them with something heavy.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente.

Meanwhile warm your pasta bowl by filling it with hot water.

Just before the spaghetti is finished cooking, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta

cooking water.

When it is ready quickly drain that pasta in a colander. Don’t shake off excess water.

Put the pasta into the warmed pasta bowl, reserve 2 tbsp of the cheese and

sprinkle the rest along with 3 tbsp of the cooking water evenly over the pasta and toss quickly.

If the pasta seems dry, toss again with some additional cooking water.

Divide the pasta into 4 bowls, sprinkle with the pepper and the cheese you set aside.

Serve immediately

Spaghetti with Yellow Zucchini Mushroom and Tomatoes

This is a great summer pasta when produce is plentiful and fresh.

2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion halved then sliced
1 handful of mushrooms sliced
1 Yellow zucchini sliced into ½ inch pieces
One 350 ml package of spaghetti (I like corn flour spaghetti because of the yellow colour)
Salt and Pepper
150 ml cream

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. When the water is rapidly boiling put in the spaghetti and cook according to the instructions.
Heat a large saucepan and when it is hot, add the oil and the garlic
Just as the garlic begins to brown, add the onion
As the onion begins to turn translucent add the mushrooms
Stir often
Add the zucchini as the mushroom soften
When the spaghetti is ready add about a cup of the cooking water to the saucepan with the vegetables
Stir then add the cream
Drain the pasta and add it to the vegetable mixture and stir to coat it well with the sauce
Divide it up and enjoy
This will serve 4 to 6 people depending on appetites