Tag Archives: pasta

Return to Blogging: Cheesy truffle pasta bake

17 Jun

Yes it is true I have been away for a long time dear readers.

End of last year saw me slaving away over the last of my masters degree, followed by some wrist surgery that took me out of the cooking game for a while, a lengthy trial followed and some further surgery a couple of weeks ago,  this time to remove my wisdom teeth.

While the limitations on my abilities to cook created by my wrist surgery tested my patience, the removal of wisdom teeth accompanied by the inability to eat anything not in liquid form for almost 2 weeks, was almost a killer. I could cook but I couldn’t eat it. Dante never described this level of hell.

The liquid diet has since stopped, but I am still on the softer foods until the gums are all healed. The only good to come from such severe food limitations is that you have an increased appreciation for even the simplest of things.

Macaroni and cheese is one of those classic comfort dishes and as the weather gets colder, comfort food comes calling. This isn’t the kind of mac and cheese you get out of the box, although there is always a place for that too, this is a pasta and cheese bake for a person who has glimpsed gastronomical redemption.

There are so many variations on this classic and the use of  truffle cream brie in this recipe is really just  decadent excess for the sake of it. I know I am usually so restrained 😉 The truffle  just adds a little extra depth of flavour and makes the whole dish feel more grown up and elegant, you could use truffle oil, or actual truffles if you could get your hands on them, but there are times I have just used a good creamy brie instead.

Cheesy Truffle Pasta Bake

An original recipe by The Legal Tart

Serves 2

  • 300 gms Penne
  • 80 gms truffle brief
  • 80 gms of cheddar
  • 100 gms of Mozzarella
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • Plain flour
  • 100 mls cream
  • 150 mls milk (reduced fat is fine)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Breadcrumbs for topping

1. Boil the penne until just tender and then drain and put aside. Keep in mind that the penne will be baked in the oven, so you don’t want the penne too soft.

2. Put the butter in a small sauce pan and melt,  then add approximately 2 tablespoons of plain flour. Start with one tablespoon and work it in to butter and then add some more until it comes together. Cook for 1-2 mins until the flour is cooked.

Flour and butter

Flour and butter

3.Add 100 mls of milk to break up the flour mixture and use a whisk until the milk and flour is combined and then add the cream. Continue to whisk until the cream thickens and there are no lumps.

4. Add the mozzarella and whisk into the cream mixture until melted and then add the other two cheese one at a time allowing each one to melt before the other one is added.

5. Use as much of the milk as need until the cheese sauce is thinned so that it has a loose dollop consistency that will easily coat the pasta. Season with salt and pepper.

Can be eaten greedily from the pan now.

Can be eaten greedily from the pan now.

6. Toss in the penne until all the pasta is coated.

7. Put the pasta into individual ramekins of a deep baking dish and top with breadcrumbs.

8. Bake for 20-30 mins or until bubbling at the sides and browned on top.

Crunchy and cheesy

Crunchy and cheesy

Reworking an Italian Classic: Pumpkin, Spinach and Goats Cheese Cannelloni

28 Jul

I had a cooking mistress in a class one day lament the acts of terrorism being committed against Italian cooking. Don’t worry no one is hijacking Cannoli for nefarious purposes or dropping gnocchi like missiles from planes, though quite like the idea of gnocchi dropping from the sky 🙂 What she meant was that much Italian food had become reinterpreted and short-cutted to such a point that the craft of the food was undermined. I totally put my hand up for committing some horrible acts and the following recipe is likely to be one of these.

While I like cheese sauce on many things, sometimes I feel that it can overcome the otherwise fresh flavours of foods and those cannelloni dishes I was served as a child in Italian restaurants were often so loaded with cheese sauce they could have filled the cannelloni with anything and you wouldn’t have been able to tell. For this reason I have tried to make a lighter version that is packed with lots of flavour but is also satisfying. I can not emphasise enough how roasting the pumpkin increases the flavour. Boiling it simply isn’t the same, and I quite like anything I can bung in an oven a leave for 30 mins while I get on with a glass of wine and a book, I call it time management. The red onions become sweet from being roasted and the goats cheese adds enough creaminess that you don’t feel that you need a béchamel sauce to cover it. Best of all you are getting a good dose of your vegetable needs in one dish!

Do you sometimes commit crimes against Italian food?

Pumpkin, Spinach and Goats cheese Cannelloni

A Legal Tart recipe

Serves 10-12

  • 1 butternut pumpkin chopped into chunks
  • 1 red onion cut into segments
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 100 gms goats cheese
  • 300 grams of chopped spinach(frozen) defrosted and squeezed of water
  • 100 gms of pinenuts toasted
  • 1 Egg
  • 250 gms Onion and Garlic Pasta sauce
  • Grated mozzarella

1. Roast the pumpkin with the red onion and some olive oil until soft and burnished. Cool the pumpkin. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin

2. Mash the pumpkin and garlic until slightly smooshed but with some texture. Then add the spinach, goats cheese pinenuts, egg and onion and combine with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste

3. Spoon pumpkin mixture into the cannelloni sheets and roll then place in the baking tray. Repeat until all the cannelloni sheets are used.

4. Top with tomato pasta sauce and as much grated mozzarella as you prefer. I used about 2 handfuls.

5. Bake until skewer detects a tender pasta sheet and the cheese is golden and melted, about 30 mins.

*I did have some mixture left over. I used this in wonton wrappers to make ravioli. You can freeze the cooked cannelloni.

Quickie Dinners: Pasta with Peas and Pancetta

30 Jan

Sometimes you want a quick dinner made from things you have in the fridge. Pancetta may not be something everyone keeps in their fridge, so you could of course substitute ham, speck or bacon. I had some cream left over from some dessert I made and  despite my dislike for peas, I usually have some of them in my freezer. I must admit that there is always white wine open in my house and using it in food ensures I don’t just drink it while unwinding after a hard day. You could just use stock or water, but the end result will be a little thinner in flavour. Plus how better to justify having a glass while you cook!

Fast, Filling and Tasty

This isn’t a fancy meal but it is tasty, filling and fast.

What is your favourite quick dinner meal?

Pasta with Peas and Pancetta

Serves 1

  • Small shell pasta enough for one
  • 1/2 diced  onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 slices of pancetta sliced
  • 1/2 cup of baby peas
  • 1/3 cup white wine ( I use chardonnay my tipple of choice)
  • 1/4 cup cream

1. Bring water to boil in pan and add pasta

2. Heat  small amount of olive oil in pan and add dice onion. Cook for 1 minute

3. Add pancetta and cook for a further 2 minutes before adding garlic. Cook for a further minute

4. Add wine and deglaze the pan scraping at any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, reduce until half the liquid is left.

5. Add peas and stir in until tender

6. Take 1/2 cup of water from the boiling pasta pot and put aside.

7. Take pan off the heat and turn off the hob and add cream stirring in to the other ingredients.

8. Drain pasta.

9. Place the sauce pan back on the previously used warm hob, add the pasta and enough water to create a sauce that coats the pasta.

10. Serve with parmesan.

 

 

 

 

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