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Posts Tagged ‘italian’

Chilli Crab Pasta

Chilli Crab Pasta

My sister once asked me to babysit her son, my two year old nephew. Somehow, I had this impression that she would only be gone a few minutes, 30 at most, little did I know that she would take advantage of that window of freedom and was gone for over two hours.

The first half hour was easy – I sat him infront of the computer and we spent the time watching Mickey Mouse Club House. After awhile he started asking for his Mum (I was secretly wishing she was around too!)… I was in a bit of a dilemma as I wanted to start with my homemade pasta but I also had to babysit. So I asked him if he wanted to help me make some pasta, expecting that this would pre-occupy him for at least a few minutes. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

My two year old nephew was a natural! In fact, I was so impressed that I took a video of him working with the dough, laminating it through the pasta machine, flouring the sheets and so on. We ended up spending a good hour making the pasta and I was so sure that it would turn out perfectly and that no one would believe that he had made it all by himself (with some supervision of course)… so I decided to video the experience. Just in case he gets to be a rockstar chef one day, I’ll have proof that I gave him his first pasta making lesson.

If you’d like to watch him, the clip is below. Apologies for the lousy editing – I clearly cook better than I do make a video!

Anyway, the recipe I’m sharing today is one where fresh angel hair pasta is best used. A few weeks ago we took a friend to the Hunter Valley and had lunch at one of the restaurants there, Roberts. This was my by far my favourite dish and the fact that I didn’t order it (I only managed a taste from my husband), meant that I had to try and copy it at home. I’ve always known that crab, garlic and chilli go well together, but the addition of lemon zest was a brilliant idea!

Angel Hair Pasta with Crab, Chilli and Lemon

serves 2

  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 30 grams butter
  • 2 large red chillis (leave the seeds and pith on for a spicier sauce)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 250 grams fresh crab meat
  • 200 grams fresh angel hair pasta
  • Zest of one lemon
  • salt to taste
  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta, if using fresh, around 1 minute, if dry, follow package instructions.
  2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a sauce pan. Add the chillis and garlic and saute for a few minutes over a low heat until fragrant, around 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add the crab meat and lemon zest. Season to taste and toss in the pasta. If the pasta seems a bit dry, add some of the pasta water to the sauce (around 50 to 100 ml)

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Lamb Ragu with Capsicums

Lamb Ragu with Capsicums

One of the Italian restaurants that my husband and I love  is A Tavola in Darlinghurst.  The restaurant serves fantastic Italian fare and is famous for their handmade pasta and the beautiful sauces that go with it.  When I learned that the CIRA cooking school was having Eugenio Maiale, who is chef and owner of A Tavola to teach “The Art and Sculpture of Pasta”, I knew couldn’t miss it.   Pasta is something I’ve made before, but my husband has always wanted to learn and who better to teach than the chef of our one of our favourite restaurants?  So for over three hours on Saturday morning we learned from Chef Eugenio and his team a basic pasta recipe and how to shape them into pappardelle, farfalle, capelletti, mezzalune and tortellini to name a few.    It was such a treat to watch him and his team talk about pasta with so much passion.

One of the unforgettable dishes we  made that day was Maccheroni alla chittara con ragu d’agnello e peperoni.  This was a typical dish from Abruzzo, where Eugenio’s family came from.  The “chittara” is a special rectangular wooden board with wire strings attached to it.  The sheets of dough are placed on the board and then a pressed through the strings with a rolling pin to create strands of pasta.  The ragu, made with lamb and capsicums, is simply out of this world.  My husband loved it so much that he went up to Eugenio to ask for seconds. And,  as if two bowls wasn’t enough, tonight we made the ragu again using the freshly made rigatoni that the chefs at A Tavola gave us to take home!

So here is Eugenio’s recipe.  If you’d like to learn more from Eugenio, you can check out his videos here.

Lamb Ragu with Capsicums

Lamb Ragu with Capsicums

Ragu of Lamb and Capsicums

From Eugenio Maiale, A Tavola

  • 500 grams lamb shoulder, trimmed of fat and sinew, cut into 2.5 cm pieces
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • pinch pepper
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 250 ml dry white wine
  • 100 ml chicken stock
  • 400 grams canned Italian tomatoes, diced
  • 1 red capsicum, cut into long thin strips
  • 1 yellow capsicum, cut into long thin strips
  • 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 400 grams dried pasta (i.e. penne) or 2 quantities of this fresh pasta recipe
  1. Toss the lamb in a bowl with the salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a large frying pan over high heat, add oil, when hot add the lamb. Brown the lamb all over, this will take around 5 to 7 minutes. Make sure to stir often. Add the garlic and the bay leaves and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the wine and stir well to remove any bits at the bottom of the pan.
  4. Once the wine has evaporated, add the tomatoes and the stock.
  5. Allow the sauce to simmer around 30 minutes, then add the capsicums. Allow the ragu to simmer for another 1 to 1 and a half hours, until soft.
  6. To serve, cook the pasta, add the sauce and top with the cheese and chopped parsley.

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Prawn Pasta with Bisque Sauce

Prawn Pasta with Bisque Sauce

This is one of those recipes that wasn’t meant to make it to the blog. On my way home from work tonight I thought that, since my husband was working late, I might kill time by making some fresh pasta. I stopped by the fish monger and found some fresh prawns and thought that a nice creamy bisque sauce would work well with it. I was wrong. It didn’t work well with it… it worked SUPER DUPER WELL with it!

It was so good, I knew I would do you a disservice if I didn’t share it. So – here it is – prawn pasta with a bisque sauce. Have you got a favourite seafood pasta recipe? Well, now you do!

Recipe for fresh pasta can be found here.

Prawn Pasta with Bisque Sauce

Prawn Pasta with Bisque Sauce

Prawn Pasta with Bisque Sauce

serves 2

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, roughly chopped
  • 45 ml olive oil plus another 30 ml to fry the prawns.
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 12 large prawns
  • 100 ml cream
  • salt to taste
  • chopped parsley for garnish
  • 100 to 150 grams fresh pasta per person
  1. In a large pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook until the onions are translucent, around 5 minutes, then add the garlic cloves. Season with salt.
  2. Peel and devein the prawns. Chop the meat into large pieces and set aside for use later. Place the prawn heads and peel with the vegetables and saute for around 5 more minutes. Add 750 ml of water and allow to simmer until the liquid havles, around 50 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. When the sauce has reduced, strain the sauce and add the cream, continue to simmer until the sauce thickens. Taste and season as required.
  4. Heat the 30 ml of oil in another pan and fry the prawns until cooked, around 3 minutes. Add this to the bisque/cream sauce.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a large pot of water until boiling. Salt the water once it reaches a boil and add the fresh pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and add to the bisque sauce.
  6. Place in serving bowls and sprinkle with parsley.

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Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

I had a friend who was visiting for a few days and I found out that she had stopped eating meat since the last time I saw her.  On a whim, I told her that I too would give up meat.   If you read my blog, you’ll notice that I’ve always loved cooking/eating meat and there are a considerable number of recipes penned here.  So while the decision to do this was initially born out of curiosity to see if I could last a few days, I knew lasting more than a week wasn’t going to be easy.  I don’t know how long this will last – a few more weeks?  Months perhaps?  Forever?  I’m not really sure but for the meantime, I’m starting to enjoy the challenge of making tasty and meatless dinners.

This is one of those meatless dishes that I could happily eat everyday.  Think layers of creamy pumpkin puree and ricotta in between sheets of homemade pasta – believe me – it’s enough to convert any carnivore.

A little note about the recipe – it’s very simple to put together – unless you’re like me where you want to complicate things and make your own pasta (it’s worth it though) – but if you’re pressed for time, use store bought lasagna sheets.  Also, the pumpkin puree is delicious as a side dish too.

“I’m vegetarian!” I told proudly told a  work colleague during drinks one day.

“Since when?”  he asked.

“Wait a second,” another friend interrupted.  “Didn’t you just put that pate in your mouth?”  She asked.

“Ahh… actually I still eat chicken… and sesafood.” I clarified.

Vegetarian… almost.

Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna with Sage, Hazelnuts and Burnt Butter Sauce

Serves 4

  • 1 kilo Pumpkin
  • 150 grams unsalted butter plus 50 grams butter
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 400 grams ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 recipe pasta (see here)
  • 100 grams parmesan cheese
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 20 grams toasted hazelnuts
  1. To make the pumpkin puree, peel the pumpkin and diced into 2 inch cubes. Heat the 150 grams of butter in a pan and add the pumpkin once the butter is melted. Add the vanilla bean and scraped seeds and cook the pumpkin until soft enough that you can cut it with a spoon, around 20 minutes. Stir the pumpkin once in a while to make sure that the pumpkin doesn’t catch to the bottom of the pan. Once the pumpkin is soft enough, blend or process the pumpkin until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Mix the ricotta, egg and nutmeg together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside
  3. Grease a baking pan with some olive oil and lay sheets of cooked pasta to cover the bottom of the pan. Layer a third of the pumpkin puree and top with more of the lasagna sheets.
  4. Top with a third of the ricotta mixture and the cover again with more lasagna sheets.
  5. Now add half of the remaining pumpkin puree and cover with the lasagna sheets. Add half of the remaining ricotta and again, more lasagna sheets. Finally, spread the remaining pumpkin puree and on top of this add the rest of the ricotta. Top with parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake the lasagna in a pre-heated oven at 180c (fan forced) for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown.
  7. Heat the remaining butter along in a small sauce pan until it goes nutty brown. Add the sage leaves and to crisp them up. Top with the toasted hazelnuts.
Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

On another note, the Council of Italian Restaurants Association (CIRA) has just posted their latest class schedule for June/July/August.  If you are interested in attending any of their classes, email cira@cira.com.au or follow @italcira on twitter for more details.

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Chocolate Biscotti

Chocolate Biscotti

A work colleague once asked me if I order in restaurants the same way that I order coffee.  I thought his comment was pretty funny, especially since the weekend before my husband had said I was a waiter’s worst nightmare.

“What do you mean?” I asked my husband.

“Well, you like to change everything in the dish.  You want to order the steamed fish but have them fry it instead, and have the sauce on the side instead of pouring it over the fish – and if it comes with potatoes, you want rice instead!”  He said.

Surely he was exaggerating!

But I did have to concede to my work colleague that being finicky with my coffee never earned me any brownie points with the baristas.  One day I’m having a cappuccino with one sugar then the next I’m having it with one and a half sugars.  Then I learned that you get more milk with a latte so I switched to that (with one sugar).  Then I went off coffee and started having chai lattes – then soy chai lattes, then I missed my coffees and got back on to the lattes – but I wanted a weak latte, one and a half sugars and chocolate sprinkles on top…. oh and extra creamy.

And then I switched to tea – but that’s a whole different story altogether!

(more…)

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How to make pasta

How to make pasta

A funny thing happened last weekend.

My husband and I were having dinner at a new Italian restaurant and half way through the meal I asked him “Did you bring any money?”

I can’t remember what prompted me to ask but his answer, “Of course”, was enough to appease my concerns.

When the time came to ask for the bill, my husband gave his credit card and the waiter looked down and said the dreaded five words no one wants to hear “We don’t take American Express.”

The waiter was kind enough to allow us to go back home and get some money but needless to say, it’ll be awhile before we recover from the shame.

(more…)

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Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies


This last week has made me reflect on the many happy accidents in my life.  Starting, in fact, nine months before I was born.

I always thought it was cool that my sister and I were the same age for a month during the year.  I liked it when I told people we were sisters, “same age but not twins”. I found it hilarious when they would give us this puzzled look. It only dawned on me one day, when  I was around thirteen or fourteen, my family was having dinner at the house of some friends they had just met.  The lady was introducing her four children.

“The eldest is James, he is sixteen, followed by Natasha, she is twelve.” She said.

“Then this is Raul, he is eight.  Bea, my youngest, is also eight.”  Then the lady patted her youngest daughter’s head and said as she smiled cheekily and said “She’s the accident of the family!”, to everyone’s amusement.

Everyone, except me, as I was shocked.  If Bea and Raul were the same age and Bea was an accident… I started to think about the age gaps between all my other siblings – everyone was around two years apart except for me and my sister.  I felt my face turning red. Could this mean I was an accident too?

It was only after the dinner that I confronted my Mom about this discovery.

“Am I an accident too?” I asked.

This is why my Mom is so fantastic.

“If you were, you’d be the best accident ever!”  she said.

Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

Which brings me to these Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies.

Last week I had some friends over who wanted to learn how to make macarons.  I had prepared the almond meal, cocoa powder, icing sugar and caster sugar in little bowls so that all we needed to do was make the meringue and mix.  I pointed to the  almond meal, cocoa powder and icing sugar and told them to mix all of it.  I turned my back to separate the eggs.

“Do you want me to add the sugar?”  My friend asked.

“Yes please.” I told her.

As we started to make the meringue, I asked where the caster sugar was”

“It’s with the almond meal mixture!”  They told me.

“What?  We needed it for the meringue.” I said.

“But I asked you if I should add the sugar.” She said!

I just had to laugh.  Of course I did tell her to add the sugar!  So she added even the caster sugar. Silly silly me!

But that’s okay, because just when I thought that my Trissalicious World’s Best Pistachio cookies couldn’t get any better, I made this with that accidental supply of almond meal and sugar mixture. So here you have the the chocolate and pistachio version, gluten free, easy to make, and terribly delicious.

Serendipity!

Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

Trissalicious Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

  • 180 grams Pistachios (raw, shelled)
  • 225 grams almond meal
  • 120 grams caster sugar
  • 125 grams icing sugar
  • 30 grams dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 75 grams eggwhites (from around 2 to 3 eggs)
  1. Chop the pistachios roughly and set aside.
  2. In a bowl place the almond meal, sugars and egg whites. Mix well until you form a paste.
  3. Scoop the cookie batter and form into logs around 5 cm long, (at this point, if you find the batter too sticky add a little bit more almond meal to the paste) then roll them in the pistachios.
  4. Place them in a baking sheet, around 2 cm apart and bake for around 13 minutes at 150c (fan forced).
  5. Update on recipe: Dust with icing sugar when cool.

 

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