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!

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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 ^^

So tired…

For a good reason, though! The amount of proofreading work I have coming in has increased noticeably over the past couple of weeks — it’s not quite up to the level of one month where I nearly broke 1,000,000 words proofread, but this month is nonetheless shaping up to be my best this year! πŸ˜€ I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this signals the end of the year-and-a-bit-long slump in workflow πŸ™‚

Not much to say on the food front this week — made croziflette on Sunday (yum yum!) and did a sort of soss-and-chicken stew with a half-bottle of teriyaki sauce with roasted garlic that needed using up. Turned out pretty well ^^

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!

Quiet times again

Not much to talk about this week, really…

Did an artichoke-based pasta recipe yesterday, turned out okay πŸ™‚

Managed to finish the lineart for the cover of my novella last Thursday, while my cat was at the vet to have a manky tooth taken out (she’s doing great, by the way ^_^), so I’ll be able to start on the digital aspect of it next week more than likely, once I’ve finished the pic I’m currently working on. Fun fun ^^

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!

Ehehehe.

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!

Oh me oh my

Not much to say on the food front this week — I just worked up a batch of fusilli alla ciociara (creamy pea, ham + mushroom sauce, yum yum) because it’s a quick, easy standby that tastes really good ^^

It’s been a bit of a wild ride on the computing front — updated my personal laptop to the latest version of openSUSE last week, then on Saturday night just gone a very weird glitch (possibly a hardware fault) meant I ended up having to reinstall the operating system! It didn’t do my anxiety issues any favours at the time, but I’ve got things sorted out now ^^ Which is a good thing, because that little novella I wrote is currently in the hands of a trusted friend for beta-reading, so I’m gearing up to design the cover — or at least a mock-up thereof. I intend to take advantage of the skills of York Publishing Services’ cover design team to get a good, professional look, but I have a pretty clear idea of the general style and layout that I want, and I’ll be doing a bit of digital art that I’d really like to include in the final cover in any case — for symbolic reasons, relating to my protagonist’s feelings of isolation/not quite fitting in (said protagonist is partly based on my own experiences of being autistic — sadly, I can’t turn at will into a Triceratops though… D: ).

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)