My take on it …

I’m having a go at a different type of post today. Rather than my usual ‘rants & raves’ I thought I would have a go at something that might be useful.

Photo: Randy Mayor

I was talking to a friend at work last week and the subject of Spaghetti Carbonara was raised. She was a little concerned about how to cook it, not least a fear of “raw egg” in the dish. I explained as best I could that egg is not raw, but that the heat of the pasta when the egg and cheese mix is added, cooks the egg in a light scrambling fashion. I explained my method, but she wasn’t taking up the challenge. However, another friend I had talking to later in the week, did have a go and has since told me I should write it down. So here goes …

This is my recipe for two portions of a medium size. I’ll start with the list of ingredients.

  1. 5oz to 6oz of Linguine or Fettuccine **
  2. Two cloves of fresh garlic, squashed but not chopped
  3. 4oz Pancetta cut unto short strips
  4. 1 egg
  5. Small handful of chopped Parsley
  6. 3oz of grated Parmesan cheese plus another 1oz for serving
  7. Olive oil

The trick is to ensure all your preparation work is completed before you start the cooking process.
(** I prefer either of these two pastas over spaghetti, as they seem to hold the sauce better)

  1. Firstly, put a large pan of salted water onto boil for the pasta.
  2. Next heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large based pan and add the squashed garlic and allow to gently cook without browning
  3. Remove the garlic and add the Pancetta and cook until fully cooked. then remove the pan from the heat
  4. Meanwhile cook your pasta for the required amount of time, bearing in mind that fresh pasta cooks quicker than dried.
  5. Beat the 3oz cheese with the egg and season with black pepper
  6. When the pasta is cooked, turn the pan off.
  7. Add the pasta to the pan with the Pancetta. Do not worry if some water gets in the Pacetta pan as this is what we need.
  8. Now, quickly stir the egg/cheese mix into the pasta and pour into the serving bowl.
  9. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and served the remaining cheese separately.
    Job done!!

I’m fully aware that this is probably not the most classic method, and cheese/egg stirring can seem a bit daunting, but the recipe works for us, and that’s half the challenge

… and that was that … more in the future? Who knows?

As near as vegetarian as I get …..

I am a carnivore! I enjoy eating meat! And fish! I have no conscience with regard to meat or fish, so I’ll get that out of the way first. Also to put to bed is that I have no issue with anyone who doesn’t eat meat. For whatever reason. I’m not a particular fan of vegetables as a food choice. Saying that, there are some vegetables that I   really do enjoy. I like broccoli. I don’t mean that tasteless woody Calabrese that is seen by the basket load in supermarkets all over Britain. No I’m talking about real broccoli. The purple sprouting type that actually has some real flavour. I’m also a fan of Swede, but not Turnip and there are many people that do not know the difference.

My original idea for this post (before I got into the broccoli v calabrese thing) was to explain that I can have food that does not have meat in any form. This delightful looking dish was a Leek & Mushroom risotto. We had some chestnut mushrooms and a stick of leak left over from last week that needed using up. Actually, if the truth were known, they should have been used up before the weekend. Mrs H had spotted them on Thursday, with the ubiquitous ‘best before’ date of Saturday 14th. Too good to miss and too good to let go to waste. We all know what happens to food that exceeds at least one of its dates and if any of our food is going to go to waste, then it will go to waste in our hot composter. I did not have a recipe for the risotto, so it was an amalgamation of three or four different dishes. Unfortunately, I forgot (sieve-head that I am) to make a note of what I used and how I did it. But never mind, it was really enjoyable.


Almost there

   The title of this post refers to my attempt at making hummus. It all started, when Mrs H found a bag of dried chick peas, that we had in the cupboard. She was all set for throwing them out, and like a fool, I suggested that I make hummus. Sounded like a good idea at the time, but the reality of overnight soaking and then 2 hours of boiling put a bit of a damper on it. Then, lo and behold, she finds a tin of chick peas that need using up. So I used them. As I say, it was almost there. I downloaded a recipe from the BBC website, and followed it as closely as possible. Result……too much garlic, as that was all that we could taste. Better luck next time.

   Made a bit of a pig of myself at lunchtime!! I had eaten my sausage rolls and Peperami by half past 11, as I wanted to drive out to shops. After buying some new paint rollers, I though a quick pint would be nice. And it was, but the problem was, that I was feeling a little peckish. So I popped into MacDonald’s. I only had a cheeseburger and small fries, but felt a little guilty afterwards.

A good day….and a recipe

   Well, we did not think it would be. Youngest was in a very good mood last night, but was awake at 6:00am this morning, and we were expecting the worst. However, we have had no problems at all. It’s 10:30pm, and we are trying to get him to settle down. Fingers crossed !!

   I did chicken for tea tonight. It was a made up dish, that worked very well. I have not got a name for the dish, but it is copied below:

Chicken & Tomatoes

Serves 2

  • 2 chicken legs, divided into thighs and drumsticks
  • Half an onion, diced
  • 2 medium sized mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced
  • 1/2 a 14oz tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1oz of grated cheese
  • 1/2 oz of white breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 oz butter
  • 1 tblsp oil
  • seasoned flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Coat the chicken in the season flour, and brown quickly in the oil and butter. Remove to an oven proof dish and keep warm.
  2. Gently fry the onions until soft, but not browned.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes
  4. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes, and a tblsp of water. stir until mixed well. Season with the salt and pepper.
  5. Pour the sauce mix over the chicken legs, and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and cheese.
  6. Place the dish in a pre-heated oven (180 F) for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
  7. Serve.

   Unfortunately, I did not get a photograph, but it does look and smells good. We had it with pasta, but it could equally well with a green vegetable and potatoes. Or possibly a salad.

Cracking Tomato Sauce

Just thought I’d share this…

Serves 3/4


    1 medium onion – roughly chopped
    1 large clove of garlic – roughly chopped
    2 rashers of streaky bacon – roughly chopped
    1 14oz tin of tomatoes
    1 tablespoon of olive oil
    1 tablespoon of fresh parsley chopped
    1 tablespoon of tomato puree
    ¼ teaspoon of caster sugar
    ¼ teaspoon of arrowroot mixed with a little water
    Salt and fresh ground black pepper


1.    Add the oil to a saucepan and gently fry the garlic, bacon and onions, until the onions are soft but not browned

2.    Add the tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil.

3.    Add the parsley, tomato puree, seasonings and sugar and stir well.

4.    Turn the heat down, cover and simmer for 30mins, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from catching. Sauce should have reduced by ?.

5.    Remove from heat, and allow to cool for 5mins.

6.    Pour into a liquidiser with the arrowroot mixture and puree until smooth.

7.    Return to the pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for another 5mins. Check the seasoning and serve.

This sauce can be frozen