Mussels with spaghetti

This recipe makes wonderfully flavoursome sauce for your pasta. There isn’t much cooking effort to be made, the most time is spent chopping the ingredients. Depends on your portion sizes, this could serve 2-4 people.

olive oil
1 celery stick
3 spring onions (or 1 onion)
5 chestnut mushrooms
4 cloves of garlic
juice of 1 lemon (or 2 tbsp if not using fresh lemons)
100ml white wine (I use Sauvignon Blanc)
400g mussels
150g plum tomatoes
200ml creme fraiche
salt
black pepper
small bunch of dill
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook your preferred pasta.

2. Finely chop the celery and onions. Slice the mushrooms, and peel and squeeze the garlic. Fry in the olive oil for 5 minutes.

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3. Add the white wine, lemon juice and mussels, and boil, covered with a lid, for 5 minutes.

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4. Then add the creme fraiche, halved plum tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper and add the dill.

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5. Add the cooked pasta to you sauce, mix well together and warm through. Enjoy with some additional Parmesan cheese.

 

Lasagne

 

This Italian dish is usually a foolproof way to keep everyone happy: from children to adults, continent to continent, carnivore to a vegetarian, everyone usually loves their version of this food. I’ve made my own lasagna sheets for this dish, but you can absolutely use shop bought, dried ones too. This won’t change anything in the steps, apart from the fact that you can skip the pasta making step. If you are making you own pasta, I would start by making it first, as you can then leave it to dry while preparing the other things. For a vegetarian version, just replace the mince beef in the Bolognaise sauce with vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, courgette / zucchini etc).

Pasta
300g pasta flour, 00 grade
3 eggs

1.  Measure the pasta flour in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, and pour the eggs in. Then, starting with a fork, break the eggs and little by little mix the eggs with the surrounding flour. Once the dough gets firmer, move onto kneading by hand.

2. Divide the dough into three pieces. Flatten the pieces with your hands, and roll through the pasta machine, on the biggest setting. Fold the dough over in half, and roll through the same setting again. Then reduce the setting to the next, and roll through. Repeat until desired thickness is achieved (I went all the way to setting no 3). Next, using a knife, cut into sheets. Then, leave to dry while you prepare the rest.

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Bolognaise sauce
1 celery stick
1-2 carrots
1 medium onion
2-3 garlic cloves
handful of fresh basil leaves
handful of fresh parsley
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp tomato purée
dried oregano
dried herbs de provence
olive oil
salt
black pepper
~~~~~
250g mince beef
salt
black pepper
paprika powder
ground allspice

1. In a blender, finely chop onion, garlic, carrot, celery and fresh herbs,  and a splash of  olive oil. Pour in a pan, and fry until soft.

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2. Blend the chopped tomatoes and tomato purée, and add to the pan. Add dried herbs and season with salt and pepper. Depending on the thickness of the sauce you may want to add a little bit of water.

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3. Fry the mince beef in a separate pan, and mix together with the tomato sauce.

Béchamel sauce
25g butter
3/4 dl flour
7-8 dl milk
2 dl cheese, grated (mature cheddar is good, or you can use half cheddar / half mozzarella) + some on top
salt
black pepper

1. Melt the butter in a pan, then mix the flour with the butter.

2. 1 dl at a time, start mixing the milk in, stirring. If you can’t get rid of lumps, whisk may be useful. When you have mixed all the milk in, if you still have lumps you can run the sauce through a sieve, pushing the lumps through. Pour the mixture back in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring. Season with salt and pepper.

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3. Mix the cheese into the sauce and stir until it’s melted.

Lasagne

1. Butter your owen dish. Layer the ingredients, starting with pasta sheets. Put a little bit of the Béchamel sauce over the bottom layer of pasta, then cover with the Bolognaise sauce. Then, Béchamel sauce again.

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2. Put another layer of pasta, Bolognaise sauce and Béchamel sauce. Cover with a layer of pasta and Béchamel, and sprinkle cheese on top. Always have the pasta and Béchamel  sauce as the last layer. Bake 180°C / 360°F (fan) for about 45-50 minutes.

Spaghetti with squid and chorizo

Even though the weather in the UK has gone really cold, this dish has transported me right to the Mediterranean climate. Making the pasta for the spaghetti couldn’t be easier, it takes less time than chopping all the other ingredients. I would suggest to start with the pasta, as it can then dry a little while you prepare everything else.

250g pasta flour 00 grade
2 eggs
~~~~~
3 medium squid tubes
3 chorizo sausages
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 red or yellow pepper
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters
handful of parsley
1 courgette / zucchini
splash of olive oil
salt and black pepper
juice of 1 lemon

 

1.  Measure the pasta flour in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, and pour the eggs in. Then, starting with a fork, break the eggs and little by little mix the eggs with the surrounding flour. Once the dough gets firmer, move onto kneading by hand.

2. Divide the dough into two pieces. Flatten the pieces with your hands, and roll through the pasta machine, on the biggest setting. Fold the dough over in half, and roll through the same setting again. Then reduce the setting to the next, and roll through. Repeat until desired thickness is achieved. Next, using the spaghetti cutting roller part, cut the pasta sheet into spaghetti. Then, leave to dry while you prepare the rest.

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3. Prepare all the other ingredients. Heat olive oil in a pan, and fry the onions, squid and chorizo for few minutes, until cooked.

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4. Add the garlic, pepper and courgette. Fry for few minutes. At the same time, boil water with salt added, and put the spaghetti in. Boil for about three minutes, then drain.

5. Add the tomatoes and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Add the spaghetti, mixing everything together. Lastly stir in the parsley.

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Pheasant tortellini with homemade spinach pasta

I love making my own pasta. The dough itself couldn’t be any simpler, as you only need flour and eggs for the basic one. You can make different variations by adding different ingredients like tomato puree, spinach or squid ink. I have finally managed to get my dough to the perfect consistency, and have also finally learned how to best make the filling for stuffed pasta. Ravioli is something my husband asks for more often than I make it. In the past, my ravioli didn’t seem to work out so well, however I have now managed to overcome this. Might even be I will have a happy husband eating ravioli more often from now on! On this post, for the first time, I’ve added small video clips about couple of stages of the pasta making. I’m very much at a practice stage with my tutorial videos, and hopefully with experience will get better.

Spinach pasta dough
250g 00 grade pasta flour
2 large eggs
125g fresh spinach, cooked and pureed

Pheasant stuffing
400g pheasant breast or leg meat
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
25g butter
150 ml dry white wine
150 ml double cream
salt and pepper

1. Chop the onions and garlic, and fry in butter until translucent. Add the pheasant meat and the white wine, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the pheasant is just cooked through. Set aside to cool.

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2. Once cooled, place the meat, onion and garlic into a food processer. If you have any liquid left in the pan, leave it there and use it as part of your sauce. Blitz the ingredients in the food processor, and add the cream, until the mixture is soft, mousse or paste -like texture.

3. Boil the spinach until soft. Drain / squeeze all water off, and puree.

4. Measure the pasta flour in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, and pour the eggs in. Then, starting with a fork, break the eggs and little by little mix the eggs with the surrounding flour. Once the dough gets firmer, move onto kneading by hand. Once the basic dough is ready mix the spinach puree in.

5. Cut the dough into four pieces. Repeat the next stages with all pieces. Flatten the piece with your hands, and roll through the pasta machine, on the widest setting. Fold the dough over in half, and roll through the same setting again. Then reduce the setting to the next, and roll through. Repeat until desired thickness is achieved. I would say from 7 down to 3 or 4 should be fine.

6. Cut your pasta. Brush half of the pasta round with egg, and add the filling. Fold the other half of the pasta over, and close with your fingers, pressing the pasta firmly together. Make sure you don’t leave air in.

7. Boil a large pan of water, with a generous amount of salt. Add the tortellini to the boiling water and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Seafood pasta

This is a simple and tasty dish, and I would also encourage everyone to have a go at making their own pasta. You only need two ingredients for basic pasta; flour and eggs. You can then make different variations with tomato purée, spinach or even squid ink if you’re feeling adventurous. For this recipe I used tomato purée. The octopus I use is already cooked (steamed in it’s juices), so it doesn’t require much additional cooking.

Serves 3
250g flour, preferably fine 00 grade pasta flour
2 eggs
1 tbsp tomato purée
~~~~~
200g cherry tomatoes
juice of one lemon, or 2 tbsp.
1 courgette / zucchini
25g bunch or parsley, chopped
2 octopus tentacles, about 225g
90g small scallops
1-2 squids, about 150g, thinly sliced
150g raw king prawns
2 shallots
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt, to taste
coarsely ground black pepper

 

1. Measure the flour in a bowl. I used fine 00 grade pasta flour, but I have also in the past used normal plain flour. Make a well in the centre, and tip the eggs in. Start mixing the eggs with a fork, slowly incorporating the surrounding flour into the eggs. When it gets quite firm, I find it’s difficult to continue mixing with the fork, so I change to kneading by hand. Even though I use large eggs, I don’t tend to use all of the flour. Keep the dough soft, but not sticky.

2. I wanted to make tomato pasta today. For this, warm the purée in a pan, and once you’re happy with your standard dough, knead it into the dough. To make it easier to mix it into the dough, make sure your workstation has flour on it.

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3. I would recommend investing on a pasta rolling machine. At a low cost you will get a useful helper to your kitchen for pasta making. Cut the pasta dough into four pieces, and repeat the steps with all of the pieces. Flatten the piece into about 1cm / half an inch thickness. Set your machine on the biggest setting (7). Push the end of the piece right onto the rollers, and roll. The piece should now go through. Once the dough has come out, fold in half, and put through the same setting again. After this, reduce the setting to 6, and roll through once, then same with settings 5,4 and 3.

 

4. With floured hands, pat the pasta sheet on both sides. Then, roll the sheet through the tagliatelle roller. Separate the tagliatelle strands, and place on a baking sheet. Once you have prepared all dough pieces this way, leave to dry while you prepare the seafood sauce.

 

5. Finely chop the shallots and garlic, and fry in olive oil for 1-2 minutes.

6. Add the squid and king prawns, and fry for about 3 minutes. Then add the small scallops, and fry for another 3-4 minutes, stirring. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Add the courgettes to the pan, and fry, stirring, for 2 minutes. Pour the lemon juice into the pan.

8. Add the octopus and tomatoes, and heat through.

9. Tip the chopped parsley into the pan, and stir.

10. Boil water in a large pan, with a good splash of salt. Add the pasta into the boiling water. The fresh pasta will only need to cook for 3 minutes. Strain, and add to the seafood sauce.