Papal pasta

I went for an old favourite this week — pasta alla papalina πŸ™‚

It’s a fairly simple sauce, really, containing onion, ham, cream, eggs and parmesan — the recipe in my edition of Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces doesn’t specify the type of cream required, only that about 200ml is needed, so I usually use crΓ¨me fraiche, which tends to be sold in 200ml tubs.Next time, though, I might try using double cream — this recipe is somewhat rich anyway (given that it uses 4 eggs) and thus seems a sensible choice for when the weather gets really cold. This coming February, then, I think…

An interesting little tidbit: this sauce was created by the ‘La Cisterna’ trattoria in Rome and was named ‘papalina’ in honour of Cardinal Pacelli (a frequent patron) when he became Pope Pius XII — that’s where I got the title of this post from.

Bon appetit!


Prowling with pogasca

This week’s culinary special was a two-for-one deal — Hungarian beef goulash soup with pogasca (bacon scones — recipe is second result at the link)!

I have to admit, though, that the scones ended up being rolls through some spectacular brain-burps. I suspect that it might be down to a couple of factors:

  • Instead of 30g parmesan and 120g soured cream, I just used a 150g tub of soured cream in the dough, reasoning that the parmesan was probably just a flavour enhancer and could be left out to help my budget without adversely affecting the final product
  • Simultaneously with the above (which probably made the dough a little too moist for scone-ishness), I used mainly oil rather than flour during the kneading process to stop the dough sticking to things

The rolls were still pretty darn good, though πŸ™‚ I’ll definitely try this recipe again — maybe using the ‘pork crackling’ variant to see how that works.

Sadly, the Google Books preview for Hairy Bikers’ Big Book of Baking doesn’t include the goulash soup recipe, but that’s ok — I fudged the procedures in any case so as to make it in my slow cooker. Stock, veg, tomato paste, a large amount of paprika and 500g of shin beef (to save money — beef is expensive, y’all!) simmered for about six hours — four on medium and two on low — and it turned out pretty good πŸ˜€ The beef was tender and falling apart and the veg was soft and well-done. The soup overall had a fairly decent kick to it, because the only paprika I have in stock at the moment is hot paprika — cut with cayenne pepper — rather than the less-punchy sweet variety. It works, though, and I ended up with five portions of a very acceptable winter warmer πŸ™‚

Work’s been coming in pretty steadily for the past few weeks — money in the bank, which is all to the good, but it does mean I rarely get time to work on the cover art mock-up for my little novella… Oh well πŸ™‚ I’ll find the time somehow ^^

Spinachy goodness!

Yes, really!

I did a creamy spinach and mascarpone pasta sauce this week (another Diane Seed recipe) and it was brilliant! πŸ˜€

I used rather more than one clove’s worth of garlic — I’m using a big jar of chopped garlic from my local Asian food place at the mo, and even a careful teaspoon tends to come out on the ‘heaped’ side. Not that I’m complaining — I love garlic!

I also used frozen spinach rather than fresh — much more cost-effective to spend Β£1.50 on a kilo of frozen rather than Β£3 or so on 300g fresh, plus I have a load of spinach left over for future use! It worked just as well, or possibly better, given that it eliminated a lot of fiddling around and chopping, meaning that I could get my supper more quickly ^^

The dish turned out very well — creamy, savoury, tasty and not at all like spinach’s negative reputation. Tweaks I might make in future (and this is going on the regular rota, make no mistake) include cutting out the double cream and just using mascarpone, sprinkling in a bit of nutmeg to complement the spinach, and throwing some chopped chorizo into the initial sautΓ©ing of garlic so as to get a good kick of flavour and some nice colour contrast. Might also try adding a bit of bacon, or maybe bacon *and* chorizo… Oh, the possibilities! πŸ˜€

Basque-ing in the glory of pie

No, it’s nothing to do with fancy underwear!

I made Basque chicken pie this week, to a recipe in Hairy Bikers’ Big Book of Baking. Chicken thighs (moist meat and good texture), chorizo, red and green peppers, onions, tomatoes, paprika…delicious! I only had hot paprika (which is mixed with cayenne pepper) in stock, so I didn’t need to use much or add extra black pepper to get a good, warm kick and lasting mellow heat. πŸ˜€

The crust turned out well, too — especially as, for once, I remembered that my oven tends to run hot, and gave the pie five minutes less baking than the recipe stated. The crust was PERFECT — golden-brown and cooked all the way through without being the slightest bit carbonised. Yum yum! I’d pretty much cooked the filling before baking the pie (you can’t be too careful when dealing with chicken), but everything was still delicious and unharmed by the baking process.

I’m definitely going to stick this dish on my regular baking rota — it’s just that good!

Hitting the krumpli zone

This week’s recipe was rakott krumpli (recipe is second result at the link), a rather delicious layered casserole from Hungary, containing potato, bacon, sausage, hard-boiled eggs, sour cream and a hefty dose of paprika. Delicious!

For once, I did not have to make any changes to the recipe — ingredients or procedure — at all πŸ™‚ The casserole turned out brilliantly — rich, creamy, flavoursome and very filling. I got five pretty decent portions out of this, which should be immensely helpful given the distinctly chilly temperatures England is currently experiencing. Winter is coming!


The other big recipe I’ve done recently is Norwegian almond bars (third result at the link), which I made last Friday. Even though I didn’t manage to completely combine the potato with the other filling ingredients (I was feeling a bit under the weather), it all worked out in the baking process — as the recipe intro said, it was impossible to tell that there was any potato in there at all, even though I hadn’t peeled it before boiling or mashing (extra fibre, ye ken). It tasted pretty darn good, too, although it was more of a tart or cake than ‘bars’ because I used my trusty spring-clip cake tin, not having a rectangular receptacle of the right size to hand. Oh well πŸ™‚

Loafin’ around

Made pork meatloaf as this week’s special, using an Austrian recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ Big Book of Baking πŸ˜€

‘Twas mightily delicious — perfect texture, very juicy, not at all dry, excellent flavour! I did mess up a little on the sauce to go with, because the stock which I’d poured around the base of the loaf before baking it didn’t reduce as much as I’d expected, and I didn’t let it reduce enough in the saucepan I poured it into afterwards, so when I added the sour cream the sauce was still pretty runny. Tasty, though, so I don’t mind πŸ™‚

I got four hearty portions out of this, so I’m happy πŸ™‚

Also, it’s the fourth anniversary of my creating this site today! Yay!

A Strombolian flavour eruption

Back to making stuff out of recipe books this week, although not diet ones — I don’t have a copy of Hairy Dieters Make It Easy yet, and it’s getting towards rib-liner weather, so I’ll be charging around in Hairy Bikers’ Big Book of Baking instead.

The first recipe from this endeavour is stromboli — a sort of rolled-up pizza. Delicious! I made things exactly as the recipe stated, and it turned out brilliantly πŸ˜€ The tomato sauce was just the right amount (after the cooking-down) to cover the bread section, and the prosciutto and mozzarella filled things out to perfection. I used one pack of the cheapest prosciutto I could find in Sainsburys (at Β£1.50), so I only had five slices to play with rather than the eight given in the recipe. This worked pretty well, but next time I make stromboli (and there *will* be a next time, because it’s delicious!) I might get two packs, giving ten slices in total — vivamus cibum!

(Note on the title: the reference is to a type of volcanic eruption known as ‘Strombolian‘, after the volcanic island of Stromboli in the Mediterranean — this type of eruption is characterised by ejections of incandescent cinders and small pieces of solid matter to relatively low altitudes)

The Hairy Bikers’ Big Book of Baking

No recipe-wrangling this week — I’ve been having some fancy ready meals to celebrate the autumnal equinox — so instead I’m going to wurble a bit about one of my favourite recipe books, which was published as a tie-in to the series Hairy Bikers’ Bakeation, wherein Si and Dave travelled to various parts of Europe to discover various forms of baked yumminess.

I’ve been working out of this book a lot recently, doing a baking experiment every other week or so and sharing it with my parents. The Norwegian lemon and cardamom cookies and the linzertorte are favourites that I’ve made occasionally for a while now — they always tend to disappear rather quickly when I bring samples over to my parents’ place!

Other recent success stories include the Scandinavian rye bread, the Spanish olive bread andΒ  especially the spelt bread with chorizo and ham — yum yum! The rye bread, as it turns out, goes really well with taramasalata, and the Spanish olive bread (which, following the recipe, is made as a batch of rolls) is divine on its own or with charcuterie, while the spelt bread with chorizo and ham tastes a little bit like pizza (from the chorizo oil) and is absolutely delicious on its own — I intend, next time I make it, to dial the amount of meat up a ways and knead it directly into the dough, rather than rolling things up Swiss-roll-style, to see if this increases the effect ^^

Since the weather is rapidly cooling towards autumnal temperatures, I’m going to be making a few of the savoury recipes for my suppers in the coming weeks. I’m particularly looking forward to the Austrian pork meatloaf, which appears to be potentially very juicy and flavoursome.

Bon appetit!

Cauli-ing for a bit of cheese

Cauliflower and broccoli cheese this week!

Results were…a bit mixed, I have to admit. The broccoli and cauliflower cooked up just fine, but the cheese sauce (which the recipe instructed be made with milk thickened with cornflour) turned out kinda pallid and a bit watery. I don’t know whether that was down to me screwing up the procedure somehow, or a small but critical typo somewhere in the recipe — in any case, next time I make this recipe I’m going to use a proper roux for the sauce, and damn the calories XD

At the end of last week, I finished writing a small novella — a piece of original fiction which I have every intention of publishing as an e-book. I’m currently letting the manuscript rest for a week or so before I start editing πŸ™‚ I’ll make sure to mention significant updates here!

Capping things off with caponata

Urgh… This weekend’s been pretty intense — longish proofreading job with an extremely tight deadline. It’s money in the bank, so I’m not griping too hard, but that sort of thing is not something I’d recommend doing on a regular basis because of exhaustion and disruption to sleep schedule…


This week’s recipe — caponata pasta! The recipe is for ‘courgette caponata’, but I left out the courgettes and capers because I can’t stand ’em — this left me with a lovely zingy tomato-and-pepper pasta sauce. Very nice! I got four good portions out of the recipe, too, so I’m not going to go hungry for a bit ^^