Laura’s/Delia’s Spaghetti alla Carbonara

This post is dedicated to my good friend Laura Whiskerd

She lives far away now, well, London.  But it’s further than Boisfort – and miles away from Rue Archimede that’s for sure.

Laura came into my life in the autumn of 2007 – she knew Clare Appleby when they played hockey together several years before.

I knew Clare because she used to drink in a pub that I worked in, then one day we ended up doing a pub quiz together, winning (of course) and deciding to go back to play hockey.  We joined the club that Laura played in and the rest is history.

Our relationship grew to such an extent that our significant others at the time began to to get un peu… irate… that we wanted to spend more time with each other than them. It turns out that our relationship lasted longer anyway so perhaps they were wiser than we thought at the time.  This is us through the years…

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Anyway, this blog is supposed to be for me to gather together recipes of dishes that I have made and liked, so that I remember to someday make them again.  If you had told me 2 or 3 years ago that I would be putting up one that Laura gave me, it would have seemed unlikely.

Food and Laura in my mind used to equal this:

food

That’s what she would usually arrive to your house with, or have in her bag.  Now that I look at it – it’s all very… beige.  She’s lucky we didn’t spot that at the time, she might have been labelled as being beige in other aspects.

Then came the day that we were invited to dinner in her house, I think it was to mark her departure to London.  She produced a delicious Lasagne for us.

From scratch.

It was a sign of things to come, I was in London last week and she had prepared a fancy looking salad for her lunch the next day. There was tupperware. And dressing. Who was this person?  I would say it could be partially due to a certain man in her life who she is inspired to cook for, though I’ve also seen her flatmate/brother cook himself up some form of fancy things, I nosed about their cupboards – there was all sorts of ‘ingredients’.  Things happen in that kitchen….

It’s obviously paying off, because she looks amazing, one might even say she is glowing (not in a pregnant way).

She sent me this recipe, and I made it last night.

I know it’s super simple and takes less than 10 minutes to make but it was delish – and I must say (proudly) it was my very first Carbonara 🙂

Ingredients

  • 8oz (225g) dried spaghetti
  • 50z (150g) sliced smoked pancetta – I couldn’t find any so used half a pack of bacon and some chorizo I had leftover – they worked a treat
  • 2 large eggs, plus 2 extra yolks
  • 4 tablespoons Pecorino Romano, finely grated, plus extra to serve (I used parmasan)
  • 4 tablespoons double cream
  • little olive oil
  • freshly milled black pepper

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta for 8-10 mins (or according to the packet) in boiling salted water with a dash of olive oil
  2. Fry the pancetta until it’s crisp and golden (about 5 minutes)
  3. Whisk the eggs, yolks and cream in a bowl and season generously with black pepper then whisk in the cheese.
  4. When the pasta is cooked, drain it quickly in a colander, leaving a little of the moisture still clinging.
  5. Quickly return it to the saucepan and add the pancetta and any oil in thepan, along with the egg and cream mixture.
  6. Stir very thoroughly, so that everything gets a good coating – the liquid egg cooks briefly as it comes into contact with the hot pasta.
  7. Serve in hot deep plates with some extra grated cheese.

Ta daaaaa!

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Thanks Laura for the tip, also for the last 6 years of being a great friend, here’s to many more …..

Olympics 2

Mary’s Lasagne

Ok so you use the Bolognese from my previous post, plus the following…..

  • 1 ltr Milk
  • 60g butter
  • 150g flour
  • 1 Onion
  • Cloves
  • Peppercorns (whole)
  • Bayleaf
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • Lasagne sheets
  • 1/2 teaspoon made mustard

Note – my beloved mother’s instructions on how to make this white sauce were quite vague. Below you have the measurements that the Stork Recipe Book recommends, and of course there are plenty of Roux/White sauce recipes available on the internet.  She literally just ‘throws it in’. Sigh.

Stork: 575 ml milk, 50g marg, 50g flour, 75g grated cheese (1/2 for top)

  1. Pierce the onion with the cloves, add to the milk with a few peppercorns and the bayleaf.  Bring to a gentle simmer and allow to infuse with flavour for a while – 10-20 mins
  2. Strain the milk and put it back on the hob, add the butter and flour, bring to the boil stirring continuously with a whisk, simmer for 2-3 mins until think and glossy
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  4. Stir in half the cheese and the mustard.
  5. Dip the lasagne sheets in boiled water to soften gently.
  6. Layer as follows: Lasagne sheet, bolognese sauce, lasagne sheet, cheese sauce, bolognese sauce, lasagne sheet, cheese sauce, cheese
  7. Bake at 190degrees for 30-40 minutes.

I stuck it in the freezer for a couple of weeks and cooked it yesterday – it was delish if I do say so myself!

next time I might use slightly more white sauce, it was prefect when just out of the oven but for reheating it got a bit dry.

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Mary’s Bolognese Sauce

It was my Mam’s birthday on 28th September so I took the trip back to Dublin for the occasion.

We had a lovely dinner out with the family, followed by a mini-pub crawl which included crashing my friend Michaela’s hen party, leading to an unfortunately unsuccessful search for a stripper and topped off by a birthday Jaegar-bomb bought by Eddie.

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Anyway, a good night was had by all, and after a walk on Sandymount strand to let Toby stretch his little dog legs and try to seduce some lady dogs (also unsuccessful) all traces of hangovers disappeared.  I made dinner on Sunday evening and in return, on Monday Mam kindly agreed to show me how to make lasagne.

Basically she makes a massive amount of Bolognese Sauce and uses half of it for the lasagne.  I mentioned before that there is alot of guess work in her cooking, including a certain amount of boiling over, forgetting about things etc etc, and yet somehow it all tastes delicious. It’s not fair.

That is why the below is a bit vague… but here it goes. I also include a photo from her old recipe books where the original recipe can be found, but this has of course been altered over the years…

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  • 2 Carrot
  • 1 Onion
  • 3 Celery
  • 2 Garlic
  • Bacon/salami
  • Oregano
  • 5 Tin Tomato
  • Dash of Red wine
  • Tomato Puree
  • 800kg Mince

This made about 4 servings of Bolognese and 1 large lasagna – it is currently frozen so I’ll let you know how it tastes when it’s been cooked!

  1. Chop the carrot, onion, celery and garlic and gently saute with the bacon for a few minutes.
  2. Add the tins of tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmer gently until the veg is tender.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar per tin of tomatoes
  3. Blend the sauce (or if you prefer, blend 1/2 the sauce so that it is still a bit chunky) using a hand blender.  Keep some aside to use in other dishes instead of plain tinned tomatoes if you have enough, I guess you can freeze it too!

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4. Meanwhile, fry the mince with some tomato puree and add to the sauce along with the red wine, salt and pepper.

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5. Simmer very gently for about an hour, don’t stir! Taste the sauce as you go and if necessary add a veg stock cube for extra flavour  (this is what I’m talking about with the vagueness….)

My first attempt was ok.

It’s hard to get good quality mince in Belgium, it’s usually pure beef (so no fat = not much flavour) or a mixture of beef and pork, so I’m sure with a good quality mince it would make the difference.

Also I think I added too many tins of tomatoes – I had extra sauce (about 400ml which I froze for future), and when I tasted the sauce before adding the last tin there was a lovely flavour, especially from the chorizo, but that seemed to get last in the end dish.  I will play around with it the next time and let you know what happens!

My finished product (I have to get better at taking photos of food, this looks a bit sad).

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Tuscan Bean Soup

For a broken jaw….

Poor Tim was very unforunate early in 2012 when he was the victim of a vicious assault on the football pitch and came away with a broken jaw.

All the ladies rallied around producing liquid food for him, I think he still has quite a few of our tupperwares, anyway, our mammies would be proud of us.

I thought he would need some serious protein so found this recipe in one of the Avoca books, and it turned out quite delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 celery sticks, finely diced
  • 2 large carrots, finely diced
  • 75g streaky bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1.2 litres vegetable stock
  • 3 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of sugar
  • 110g canned cannellini beans, drained and well rinsed
  • 1 dessertspoon oregano
  1. Saute the onion in the olive oil for 10 minutes or until translucent.
  2. Add the celery, carrots and bacon and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the stock and tomatoes.  Season well, adding the bay leaf and sugar.
  4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked but still al dente.
  5. Stir in the beans and oregano and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the bay leaf and serve with croutons and some pesto if you fancy it.

Obviously, as Tim’s jaw was wired shut I also blended the soup smooth, I prefer smooth soups anyway but next time I might try it chunky….

26th October 2013

Update on Tuscan Bean Soup – I used salami as couldn’t find any rashers, and as I only had 2 tins of tomatoes I threw in the leftover 400ml of tomato sauce from the Bolognese – it was very very tasty….!