Pasta is fun to make and, if you have a pasta rolling machine, easy. If you don’t then you’d better make sure your an expert with a rolling pin and have a good dose of patience. Here are the ingredients for a very simple egg pasta. I’ve use it to make noodles here but it’s the same recipe if you want to make lasagne, spaghetti, tagiatelle or any of the hand-shaped pastas (if you have the inclination and time). 300g pasta flour (ideally pasta flour but plain flour will do if you don’t have any to hand) 3 eggs 3 tablespoons olive oil pinch of salt. I was making enough only for the two of us so the quantities in my pictures have been pared down to two thirds. Whack this into your mixer or thrash by hand until it clumps together and then form it into a ball. It sometimes takes a while to come together and if it really doesn’t want to stick, you can try adding a splash more oil. Once you’ve achieved a ball, let it sit for 20-30 mins. Then divi it up into four sections and roll out fairly thinly. (I know the dough looks unfeasibly yellow in the photos but that’s because these are my own eggs – well my hens’ eggs – and the yolks are really bright compared to shop bought ones. That’s because they get to eat a lot of grass while they free-range.) Anyway, pop it through the pasta machine at its thickest setting a few times until it comes through smooth with no air pockets or crimply bits. You might need to fold it a few times while you do this which I generally do in thirds. When it’s smooth, you can trim it with a knife to give nice neat edges and pass it through the pasta machine again, this time on progressively smaller settings until it’s the thickness you need for the type of pasta you’re making. In this case, from setting 0 (the widest) through 1, 2, 3 and finally 4. I normally pop it through twice on each setting before swapping to the next. I don’t know if that’s really necessary but it’s certainly therapeutic. Finally, swap the roller for the noodle/spaghetti cutter (or if you’re doing it by hand, take a deep breath, flour the sheets really well, roll them up, pray they don’t stick and then attempt to cut into strips). You’ll need to hang the noodles up to dry a bit before you cook them or they’ll stick together in the pan. I have pasta stand now but I used to use a wire coat hanger. Works just the same. If you’re going to cook them the same day it will only take two to three minutes in a large pan of fast boiling salted water. If you plan to dry them to use later in the week, you can either transfer them to a long thin pasta jar once fully dried or tangle them into baskets. I keep the inevitable little broken or short bits in a jar for popping into soups. Dried pasta will take 8-10 mins to cook depending whether you like if al-dente or soft. I would say, however, if you do want to dry them, you’ll find it better to use proper pasta flour as the pasta dries harder and won’t snap as easily. I used these noodles with a few prawns, some mustard and sesame seeds, onions, ginger, garlic, chilli and coriander for a very simple supper dish for the two of us.
In the aftermath of Christmas, there’s always a surplus of gammon joints on special offer in the supermarkets. I bought one and cooked it up with some roast potatoes and a good dollop of parsley sauce.
So now to the left-overs – a big hunk of cooked gammon sitting in the fridge waiting for something more interesting than a sandwich filling.
1 cup green split peas (soaked overnight)
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
500ml chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
A good-sized hunk of cooked gammon or ham roughly chopped.
Add the peas, stir and then pour in the chicken stock. Add the bay leaf and thyme, a teaspoon of sugar and a good grinding of black pepper. Don’t add the salt just yet or the peas might not soften up properly.
Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 40 mins or so after which time the peas should be soft and some of them will have broken down a bit. Watch the water and top it up if things start to get a bit thick – it can catch really easily if you’re not careful.
Add the ham and add to the pan to warm through. Add the salt once the ham’s had a chance to warm.
Sometimes I add a dash of cream if there’s some kicking about in the fridge.
Serve with some crusty bread.
Pate is really easy to make and absolutely delicious with a home-made baguette.
I fell in love with pate when old boyfriend of mine who was a chef fed me his restaurant’s Cajun Chicken Liver Pate. It was addictive. Unfortunately, he refused the give me the recipe…hence his ex-boyfriend status!
So, sadly this is the recipe I use for plain (but still very yummy) Chicken Liver Pate.
350g cleaned chicen liver (I use the frozen ones – very cheap and very convenient!)
175g butter, diced
1 shallot or half a small onion, finely diced
1 tsp thyme leaves, stripped or chopped
75ml Maderia (or other fortified wine such as port)
75ml double cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 allspice berry, ground
Cut the livers into half inch pieces and fry in a knob of the butter over a medium heat.
While still slightly pink, add the onion and thyme and soften.
Then turn up the heat to brown the livers. Oh the smell is divine!
Tip the contents of the pan into a blender and zap.
Add to the processor with the cream and spices and all but 75g of the butter and zap again.
Check the seasoning remembering that it will taste much less salty when cold so be generous! If your butter is salty, you may not need to add much more.
Pass through a sieve and pour into a serving dish.
Melt the remaining butter and pour over the top to seal.
Chill until set.