Tag Archives: italian

Baked Pappardelle with Pancetta and Porcini

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After receiving a pot of Porcini Mushrooms for Xmas (Santa has good taste), I knew they would come into good use at some point soon. So while sat watching morning TV, full of a cold and feeling thoroughly miserable, ‘The Good Cook’ with Simon Hopkinson came on and after a few minutes he started cooking this dish. It was just the recipe I was after and something that would make me feel a whole lot better after eating it 🙂

Now, after family praise for the Seafood Curry, the reaction to this dish was even better! I got a “now you really must cook this again soon – really yummy” comment. I have to agree and it is definitely my kind of comfort food and so simple to make. What was really nice was the contrast in flavours between the earthy nutty taste of the porcini and the cured sweeter taste of the pancetta along with the pasta, sauce and salty parmesan – perfect combination.

Ingredients:
500ml/18fl oz milk
20g/¾oz dried porcini mushrooms
40g/1½oz butter
25g/1oz plain flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g/4oz pappardelle
50g/2oz pancetta, cut into 2cm/1in pieces
4-5 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

2. Warm the milk in a saucepan, add the porcini mushrooms, remove from the heat and soak for 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve suspended over a bowl, pressing lightly on the mushrooms with the back of ladle to extract all the milk.

3. Heat the butter in a clean saucepan, add the flour and stir over a low heat for 2-3 minutes without colouring the roux.

4. Pour in the porcini-flavoured milk all in one go and whisk together vigorously until smooth. Cook the sauce for a further 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.

5. Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain in a colander, tip into a roomy bowl and carefully stir in the sauce, porcini and pancetta until well combined.

6. Place the pasta into a lightly buttered oven-proof dish. Smooth the surface and cover with two tablespoons of the parmesan. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbling around the edges and golden-brown.

7. Serve the dish piping hot at the dinner table and have extra cheese at the ready.

Enjoy!

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Jamie’s Italian


Photo © Jamie’s Italian

For my birthday last week, (on the hottest day of the year so far), we decided to go out to dinner to Jamie’s Italian in Guildford, rather than the ‘local’ curry house or chinese restaurant which are within walking distance of home, as I wanted to enjoy something different. I had heard mixed reviews of the restaurant, with some giving it high praise and others telling me it was below average. I still wanted to try it out regardless.

We booked in advance, which allowed us to have a side booth for the evening, meaning we were not as crowded as others in the very full (good sign) main eating area. The staff, who were welcoming and very attentive as soon as we arrived, got us seated with menus to browse, without the usual forcing us to order drinks as soon as our backsides were planted. We liked the ‘urban’ kitchen eatery décor of the place, as it seemed to match that of Jamie himself, from the good old early days on TV. I’m not sure I would like to have been sat in the middle of the crowded main area though, as people did seem to be sat on top of one another, while some were dodging pillars. Sat on the side, I was wondering for the sake of a few covers, if re-arranging would have made it more enjoyable for the others?

Anyway, after a short period, we noticed that many were there celebrating their birthdays too, as a procession of cakes, puddings and candles kept leaving the kitchen pass area, with ‘Happy Birthday’ ringing out in various tones and keys, across the restaurant (some sang better than others). This prompted my other half, to inform our waiter that it was my birthday too and ‘could my pudding possibly have a candle in it as well’, when it eventually came out. 🙂

We were not in the mood to drink ‘too’ much, especially with it still being 25C+ outside at 8pm and one thing we both really liked, that you don’t really see in many other restaurants, is being able to buy wine by the carafe (50cl rather than 75cl), which went down great, (along with all the water we were drinking to stay hydrated), especially as we ordered one carafe each, Montepulciano Red and Pinot Grigio Rosé.

We didn’t have to wait long for the food to arrive once we ordered it and for what we ordered, I personally do not think it was overpriced. In fact, for the starters we had, I was expecting it to be more expensive, having had ‘similar style’ first courses for more inflated prices elsewhere.

For our starters, we both chose the Antipasti Meat Plank which consisted of cured meats, Italian cheeses, pickles and a crunchy salad, which set the scene for the rest of the evening.

For our mains we had Black Angel Spaghetti (which probably had a bit too much chilli for our tastes) and Seaside Risotto which was delicious.

Finally, for our desserts we had Sicilian Cheesecake and Panna Cotta, with a candle stuck out the top of my Panna Cotta when it arrived, along with a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. I chose the Panna Cotta as I wanted to see if it was as good as the one in my last blog post. I also got my hands on a menu that was signed by all the Chefs and the front of house team working there, which was a great reminder of the evening.

To top the evening off, just before the bill arrived, we were presented with two shot glasses of Limoncello on the house, which would always go down very well!

To sum up it all up, I would say it was a really good experience, with very friendly, attentive staff and with very tasty food that you don’t really get elsewhere and the price wasn’t too bad either. I would go back again, to try something else from the menu, without a second thought, to see if it was as good! I’m glad I dismissed the negative reviews and shows that if you want to judge somewhere, you have to try it out for yourself.

Orange Panna Cotta

Panna cotta (from Italian cooked cream) is an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar, mixing this with gelatin, and letting it cool until set. I’m not sure where the family got this recipe from but it has become a firm favourite with friends and family and, of course, it is gluten free.

We especially like it in the winter served with oranges soaked in Cointreau, and shortbread wafers or in the summer, the vanilla one, with raspberries or strawberries and home-made macaroon fingers. It is lowish in fat (if low-fat yoghurt is used), but have not tried it with half fat cream or crème fraiche, as it is not an everyday pudding and a little cream every now and again is always good 🙂

Serves 6 people

Ingredients:
½pint/284ml Double cream
75ml/2½oz Caster sugar
1 tsp Vanilla paste
2 Leaves of gelatine (soaked in cold water)
350g/12½oz Plain yoghurt (can be Greek or low-fat)
Zest of 1 large orange
Require:
1 glass bowl

1. Put the gelatine leaves to soak in a bowl of cold water.

2. Put the vanilla paste into a saucepan with the cream, sugar and orange zest – bring gently to the boil.

3. Turn off the heat, squeeze the water from the gelatine leaves and add to the cream mixture, whisk until dissolved.

4. Put the yoghurt into a large bowl and slowly pour the cream mixture on top and whisk together until well combined.

5. Pour into your chosen bowl and allow to chill for 3-4 hours or overnight.

NB This mixture will fill 6 ramekins or small bowls. If they are to be turned out line with cling-film.

Fresh fruit can be served with this and other flavours used such as rose water, (a few drops of pink colouring can be added if required), lemon or whatever your choice is.

Enjoy!

Chicken, Porcini and Rocket Risotto

I am always up for experimenting and changing a recipe if I find a good basis, to add something new or adjust it for my tastes and this is one such recipe – after all, this is what I am learning that cooking is all about.

I love a good Italian Ask style Chicken and Mushroom Risotto – its the same wherever you have it and I have not had a bad one yet! So when I saw the Porcini and Spinach Risotto recipe in a suppliment with a free copy of an Olive Magazine, I thought I would have a go at it, having never made a risotto before and keen to keep trying to learn new things.

So I followed the recipe to the letter and it was very good, if not lacking something though – so I reminded myself of the Chicken and Mushroom Risotto’s I had had before and decided that next time I cooked it I would add chicken to the recipe.

A month went by and we decided to make it again and added the seasoned chicken that I had browned off at the start, along with a change from spinach to rocket – I had no spinach in my cupboard or fridge but had an abundance of rocket, some which was growing in my ‘cut and grow’ salad leaf box.

My girlfriends reaction to the changed recipe was ‘wow thats as good as you get in a restaurant’ which was great to hear and a lot more than had I expected! Due to that reaction, I have since made it several times at home and also for my parents on a visit back to the family home – they loved it too.

It certainly isnt rocket science (no pun intended… honestly) and has probably been made a thousand ways like this before but for me to learn to put ingredients together in this way and make something that I love to eat time and time again, cant be that bad!

So here is my Chicken, Porcini and Rocket Risotto variation:

25g Dried Porcini
2 Chicken Breasts (diced)
50g Butter
1 Onion (sliced)
1 Garlic Clove (crushed)
250g Chestnut Mushrooms (the magazine said 200g but every punnet I buy is 250g so why waste the extra 50g)
150g Risotto Rice
1 Glass of White Wine (Large preferably)
750ml Vegetable Stock
50g Rocket
Parmesan shavings

1 Soak the porcini in boiling water for 10 minutes and strain through a sieve, keeping the liquid for the risotto later.

2 After soaking, roughly chop the porcini.

3 Heat the butter in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic till soft.

4 At the same time, brown the diced chicken breasts in some olive oil and season and put to one side once cooked.

5 Once the onions are soft, add the sliced chestnut mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.

6 Then add the chicken, porcini and rice and stir together until coated.

7 Tip in the wine until it is absorbed.

8 Gradually add the stock and porcini liquid, stirring, until the rice is tender with some bite.

9 Stir in the rocket until wilted.

Serve with parmesan shavings and enjoy!

NB I have noticed that the more organic the chestnut mushrooms are (they seem a lot darker) the darker the dish and rice is once cooked. Using supermarket mushrooms, the rice and dish appears a lot lighter once cooked. If it is darker, dont panic – you havent burnt it!!

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Porcini on Foodista