Tag Archives: pasta

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.

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.


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Spicy Crab Linguini

As our home looks like a warehouse, with all the boxes about the place ready for the big move, I decided I would make something quick for supper so that it didn’t create too much more mess and washing up! And as it was my girlfriends birthday over the weekend, I made sure she chose what she wanted me to cook up. By the time I got home from work, she had chosen this recipe from one of James Martin’s books, as she loves seafood dishes.

As James says in his in book, if you want a quick but impressive-looking pasta dish, this is it. Once the ingredients are prepared and the pasta has been cooked, it takes just 5 minutes to make the crab sauce, but looks and tastes as if you spent hours laboring over a hot stove.

Within a couple of minutes I was already being asked if we can have this again as it tasted so good – perhaps once we have moved?

I think this is my first pasta dish that I have done on my blog and hopefully it will be the first of many.

(Printable Recipe)

Serves 2-4

7oz/200g Linguini
1oz/25g Butter
2 Shallots, peeled and chopped
1 Garlic Glove, peeled and chopped
2 Green Chillies, finely chopped
½ tbsp Thai Green Curry Paste
4fl oz/110ml White Wine
7fl oz/200ml Chicken Stock
Good Pinch of Saffron
7fl oz/200ml Double Cream
14oz/400g Mixed Crab Meat, white and dark
½oz/10g Flat-Leaf Parsley
½oz/10g Coriander Leaves, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 Lime
Salt and Black Pepper

1 Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the linguini and cook for 10-12 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2 Melt the butter in a large saucepan set over a medium heat and add the shallots and garlic. Fry for about 1 minute, without browning, then add the chillies and curry paste and cook for 2-3 minutes.

3 Pour in the wine, bring to the boil and reduce the liquid by half, then add the stock and saffron and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the cream, bring back up to the boil and remove from the heat.

4 Add the crab meat to the sauce and heat gently for 2-3 minutes, then add the cooked linguini and warm through, stirring the sauce and pasta together. Remove from the heat, then stir in the parsley, coriander and lime juice, and season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately.


Carluccio’s, Covent Garden, London


Having spent the morning on the underground going from shopping area to shopping area across London, we decided to get off at Charing Cross and walk from Trafalgar Square to Covent Garden, to have a look at the smaller shops, galleries and restaurants along the way. The last time we did this, we ate at the Med Kitchen near the Coliseum which was very nice. After we left on that occasion to get to Covent Garden, we walked along Garrick Street WC2 and stumbled across Antonio Carluccio’s self named restaurant. Looking at the menu by the door, we noticed the prices we so similar to what we had just paid and of course it wasn’t a part of a restaurant chain – so we promised ourselves we would come back next time we came to London.

We were welcomed in and taken upstairs to a lovely bright airy room which wasn’t over-bearing and as my girlfriend said was ‘just enough and not over the top’! We dont often eat out in what we class as a ‘top nosh’ restaurant, so this was going to be a treat we hoped.

The waiting staff were very attentive and after asking for a wine recommendation, the waiter chose one of his personal favourites after asking what I kinds of wine I enjoy. So while going through the menu, a large glass of Salice Salentino Reserva, Candido 2005 from Puglia arrived for me and a Peach Belini for my girlfriend.


We both ordered and not too long a period after, our starters arrived. Between us we had a plate of Bresaola (Thinly sliced cured beef with rocket, parmesan & lemon) and a Bruschetta of fresh tomatoes with basil, oregano, yellow peppers and olive oil on a toasted Toscano bread rubbed with garlic. Both were superb and just enough to get us ready for the next course.



For our mains we both chose the same dish being big seafood fans and so chose the Linguine Al Frutti Di Mare – Linguine pasta with squid rings, mussels and prawns with garlic , herbs and chilli. It was simply mouth-watering and perfect for a lunchtime treat on our day out. I am always worried when choosing something with squid in but I didnt have to worry as it was cooked to perfection and was very soft. The wine was a perfect choice as an accompaniment too.



After enjoying our two courses, we didnt have room for a dessert, so asked for the bill and again was very pleasantly suprised with it being under £40. We left a nice tip, said our goodbyes and thanks to the staff and went back downstairs to the shop to have a look at the goodies on offer. It was a perfect lunchtime treat on a very warm ‘end of summer’ day and a restaurant I would recommend to friends and family who want to something slightly different from the norm of eating out in London!