I don't know about you, but I'm crazy about cooking and mad about French and Italian cuisine (not to mention Thai, Chinese, Indian, Moroccan and Lebanese). I have to restrain myself from writing about food and drink on this blog; otherwise, I fear, it would take over. However, I do talk about cookery, and recommend recipes, from time to time. (Click here if you want to read more!)
We've been into cooking a lot lately. Luckily we both enjoy it. We've made winter soups and stews, and steaks with boulangère potatoes. I made a cherry sponge cake ...
... and on Shrove Tuesday Carmen made pancakes — thin, light as a feather, and sharp with lemon juice. Last night I created an Italian supper dish which was quick and easy to make and — though I say it myself — absolutely delicious! Let me share it with you.
I cooked tiny meat balls in olive oil in a frying pan for five minutes, then added two chopped onions for five minutes, then added some thyme and sliced mushrooms for a further five minutes. I seasoned the dish. (While all this was going on I drank a glass of wine — this isn't an obligatory part of the recipe but, hey, you may as well enjoy life — and boiled some dried pasta in salted water. I chose pennoni rigate, because you want quite a big and chunky pasta so that the sauce can stick nicely to it. The main thing, however, is to make sure your pasta is of good quality — the packet stuff does vary enormously.) I turned up the heat and splashed in a generous slug of white wine (essential!) and waited till it had all but evaporated, then added the cooked pasta plus a dollop of mustard, some grated nutmeg, a pinch of cayenne pepper and a good handful of parmesan cheese. With the pan off the heat, I stirred in some single cream, and served with a little more parmesan and a scattering of chopped parsley on top. Naturally, we drank the rest of the bottle of wine with the food (it was an Italian Orvieto). The great thing about this dish is that it really does taste like top notch, Italian restaurant fare. If you close your eyes when eating it you almost feel you're right there in Tuscany or Umbria ... and that can never be a bad thing!
I haven't suggested any quantities for the above recipe as I think it's one of those recipes where weighing scrupulously exact amounts of this or that is tedious and unnecessary. A lot of it's down to common sense and personal taste.