I just love pasta. I think it has something to do with the Italian in my blood. [But, then, pasta was apparently invented by the Chinese, so it could be my Chinese heritage.]
I had an awesomely easy recipe for egg pasta passed onto me a little while ago and it has worked for me every time. This is how easy this recipe is: I now have my pasta maker set up full-time on my kitchen bench.
Recipe #19: Egg pasta. Makes enough for 4 large servings.
To make this, you will need: 2½ cups plain flour; ½ tsp salt; 4 eggs.
The method is super-simple. Make a well with the salt & flour in a large bowl. Break the eggs into the well and stir into the flour with a knife or chopstick. When the mix has turned into a large blob, knead the dough against the side of the bowl until well combined and form it into a ball. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least half an hour before rolling.
As an aside, I have found that gluten-free flour works well in this recipe.
Bacon carbonara. A picture of the meal cooked for me by my partner on Tuesday night:
I was so impressed with this. He did my trick – looked up and combined several recipes, kind of knowing what flavours to use – and it turned out so well. Rich, creamy and satisfying. I was so proud to see eggshells on the bench afterwards. He really did make it from scratch.
He wouldn’t give me the recipe; didn’t think it was as fabulous as I did. I am sure the fact that dinner was cooked for me for a change made it taste all the sweeter – plus all the essentials were there. It was sublime.
Tonight, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to make for dinner. I was keen to use the frenched lamb cutlets that were taunting me from the top shelf of the fridge, but how to prepare them – and what to serve with them?
I gained inspiration from my 7-month old son. I fed him pumpkin and ricotta for dinner and started to think about how delicious that would be in a filled pasta with sage and seasoning. I could just taste it. Burnt butter, toasted pinenuts. I was salivating already. So I poured myself a glass of red and set to work. Or so I thought.
Xander had other ideas. Poor little one had his 6-month immunisations yesterday. He was feverish and unsettled – which meant that dinner had to wait until 8pm and calmer times.
Recipe #20: Polenta-crusted lamb cutlets. Mixture coats 15-20 cutlets. [I made 10, to cover us for dinner & Aaron’s lunch tomorrow.]
You will need:
• 10 lamb cutlets
• 1 cup flour
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup polenta
• 4 tbsp Ras El Hanout
• few pinches salt
[You can use any lamb-friendly herbs or spices you want with the polenta. Ras El Hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that can, apparently, contain over 50 ingredients. My thanks go again to Liz @ Limpopo Gourmet for her excellent blend. Here is a simplified (and untrialled) version I found online.]
Prepare a baking tray by wiping it over with olive oil. Set up 2 bowls and a deep dinner plate together in a row. In the first bowl, place the flour; in the second, the eggs. Lightly beat the eggs. Mix the polenta, salt and Ras El Hanout together on the dinner plate.
Step 1. Coat the cutlets completely and evenly with flour one at a time. Shake any excess flour from the cutlets back into the bowl.
Step 2. One at a time, coat the floury cutlets with egg. Let excess egg fall back into the bowl, then place the eggy cutlets onto the plate of polenta/spice.
Step 3. Coat the cutlets with the polenta-spice mix, then place onto the prepared baking tray.
Rest for about half an hour before cooking in an oven preheated to 200°C. You will need to cook the cutlets for 20-25mins, turning carefully (so as not to break the crust) after 10mins on the first side.
Your cutlets should be crispy on the outside and juicy inside. Fabulous.
Recipe #21: Pumpkin and ricotta agnolotti. Serves 4 as a side. Agnolotti is a crescent-shaped filled pasta.
You will need:
• a half-portion of the egg pasta recipe [see Recipe #19, above]
• 5 tbsp cooked pumpkin
• 4 tbsp ricotta
• a couple of tbsp polenta (or you could use the leftover mix from the lamb cutlets, as I did)
• the leaves from one small sprig of rosemary [I would have used sage instead, had there been some to hand]
• ½ tsp salt
• extra plain flour, for dusting
• a couple of handfuls of pine nuts, toasted [to toast: place on a baking tray and into a 150°C oven for 10-15mins]
• 30g melted butter
• 4 tbsp very good extra virgin olive oil [I used the Voyager Estate oil that Aaron & I received as a gift – thanks, Sylvia & Geoff!]
Mix the pumpkin, ricotta, polenta, rosemary and salt together in a bowl.
Roll the pasta out thinly and cut into rounds with the largest-diameter (and thinnest-rimmed) wine glass you have [or you could use a large cookie cutter]. One circle at a time, dab water onto one half of the circle then place ~½ tsp of the pumpkin mix in the middle. Lift the other side of the circle over the blob of mix and press down firmly, making sure there are no air bubbles. Toss the agnolotti in flour and place on a dinner plate.
This is what it look like before cooking [snaps to my partner for filling the agnolotti while I focused on the cutlets]:
Cook in salted boiling water for 6-8 minutes, then extract by using a slotted spoon. Plate immediately. Scatter over some toasted pine nuts, melted butter and olive oil for a mouth-watering result.
We didn’t start eating until 9:30pm – and it was glorious. I have to say, the finished product looked and tasted pretty darn delectable:
After the meal, we sat in the loungeroom, each with a glass of wine, and debriefed about our day and our dinner, utterly sated.