“Carbonara” from “It’s All Easy”


Kirstin: Of course, for the ultimate carbonara recipe, you have to use the one from the Zuni cookbook, which has two kinds of cheese.

Tom: And broad beans.

Kirstin: We used to have it in San Francisco when it was broad bean season and we could buy them from Preston!

Tom: Yum!

Kirstin: Indeed. I’ve never had a bad carbonara. Have you?

Tom: Oh yes you can. It can be swimming in watery cheesey goo. This is a proper sauce. You would stick it to the wall if you threw it.

Ella: Anything you threw at a wall would stick if you threw it hard enough.

Kirstin: And what do you think of this Ella?

Ella: Edible. Kind of nice actually. You know when you eat food and it makes you feel like wow, I ate food and it made me feel full.

Tom: It is quite substantial. And probably very good food for you in the middle of the exams, no?

Ella: Also it’s CARB-onara.

Kirstin: Niiiiiice!

Tom: I like that you add the pasta water a little bit at a time.

Kirstin: Yes, I’ve had thirds. I should make this again. But not too often…

“Carbonara” from “It’s All Easy”

“Butter & Sage Gnudi” from “Jamie’s Comfort Food”

IMG_5833Well, this was a disaster. I was bitterly disappointed.

Do you see those pools of foodstuffs in the photo above? They were supposed to look like firm balls of dough– like meatballs of cheese, as it were. As you can see, they didn’t turn out that way.

To be honest, I was cutting it a little close in the chilling time. Jamie calls for 8 hours, but I only had 7 1/2. But would 30 minutes really be the difference between success and disaster? I don’t know.

Having just explored the Internet to find another recipe for gnudi, perhaps where this one went wrong was the amount of semolina that it called for to be used. Jamie says “a dusting” but another recipe said you should use equal parts cheese and semolina. That makes more sense to me. I’ve also learned that gnudi are temperamental little creatures (Tell me about it!) so I should have been more careful in the preparation and also perhaps made each gnudi a bit smaller than it was. Then perhaps I wouldn’t have had such a disaster on my hands.

Needless to say, I won’t be recommending this recipe. Avoid at all costs.


“Butter & Sage Gnudi” from “Jamie’s Comfort Food”

“Grilled Steak with Arugula” from “How Easy is That?”

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Peter: This looks like it was quick.

Anna: It was. Super quick.

Peter: It’s delicious.

Anna: That’s primarily down to the quality of the steak. Because this isn’t really a recipe. Rocket, steak, parmesan, bit of dressing, done.

Peter: Yes, it’s a bit like how you serve steak when we do it on the barbeque.

Anna: And we don’t need a recipe for that!



“Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table”

Nicholas (9): What’s this called?

Maureen: Well, I call it lemon spaghetti, but it’s got an Italian name. (Finds cookbook to see what the official name is.) It is Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano. Just like I said. Lemon spaghetti.

Andrew (13): It’s pretty good.

Maureen: I agree. I like this. Though I”m not really sure it merits its own recipe in a cookbook. I could do it in four sentences: Cook spaghetti. Make sauce by grating lemon and adding a massive amount of cheese, some olive oil and a splash of pasta water. Mix spaghetti into sauce and put basil leaves on top. Enjoy.

Nicholas: I would eat this again.

Maureen: I’m not surprised you would. But like I said it’s not like the wheel has been reinvented or anything. Saying that, it’s not nearly as boring as I thought it would be. It’s very nice.


Cook’s Note’s: Gwyneth advises that 350 grams of spaghetti would feed four. I’m here to tell you that 350 grams of spaghetti would not feed the four people in our house, particularly when one of them is a teenage boy and the other is his younger brother who loves spaghetti. Just make the whole packet of spaghetti (500 grams) and augment the sauce of cheese, olive oil and lemon accordingly.

“Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table”

“Pork Loin with Parma Ham & Oregano” and “Spinach baked with Ricotta & Nutmeg” from “Nigellissima””

Anna: I’m sorry we’re eating a bit later than I planned. The crackling took a lot longer than I thought it would.

Judy: But it was delicious and we could nibble on it while we waited for the main course. I have been very careful not to crack my teeth.

Anna: I also have another confession, which is that I’ve screwed up the spinach. In my head I thought we needed marscapone, which I had already. So I’ve had to use it rather than ricotta, which I don’t have. I think it’s going to be very runny.

Judy: I like undercooked eggs.

John: It looks set to me.

Anna: I guess it has set, it just isn’t quite what it should be.

Judy: Well it’s delicious and goes with the pork perfectly. No carbs required!

Anna: This pork is very good isn’t it?

Judy: It’s delicious! The flavours are so fresh. I can tasted the garlic and the oregano. Wonderful! John, you will have to get me this cookbook for my birthday.

“Pork Loin with Parma Ham & Oregano” and “Spinach baked with Ricotta & Nutmeg” from “Nigellissima””

“Meatzza” from “Nigellissima”

Want to try the Meatzza yourself? The recipe can be found on the Nigella Lawson website by clicking through on this link.

Maureen: So I think this is like a meatloaf, but in the shape of a pizza. What do you think?

Nicholas (9): Is this from the new cookbook?

Maureen: Yes. Nigella’s latest tome, which is all Italian cooking. I think we will enjoy this month.

Andrew (Now 13! Happy Birthday!): It’s OK. These are two things that don’t need to go together. They work fine together, but I don’t see the point. Either have pizza or have meatloaf. Why make it one thing?

Nicholas: I think it’s AMAZING. It’s like a meatloaf, but with the added tomato sauce and cheese on top. Delicious.

Maureen: I’m with Nicholas on this one. I think it’s good, and I suspect that I will make it again.

Andrew: Don’t get me wrong. It’s good, but it’s not my favourite.

Maureen: I don’t know, with time it might become your favourite.

Andrew: Nah.

Tim: I’m with Andrew on this one. I don’t see the point of this.

Maureen: What do you mean? It’s not meatloaf, it’s not pizza: It’s meatzza!

Tim: Nope. Not buying it.

Maureen: A house divided on the Meatzza. Controversial.

“Meatzza” from “Nigellissima”

“Macaroni Cheese” from “A Taste of Home”

Tom: This is great! I’m having seconds. This is the best macaroni cheese recipe so far. Yum!

Miles: It’s delicious!

Kirstin: Should I make it again, Miles?

Miles: Um, no thanks.

Tom: Why not, Miles? Do you just like other things?

Miles: When I tasted it with loads of sauce on it, then I didn’t like it. I wanted to taste the sauce. With a little bit, then I liked it. With a lot, then I didn’t like it. May I please be excused?

Kirstin: It was very easy to cook.

Miles: And very delicious!

Ella (eating it from the pan): I like the crunchy bits. They are all chewy!

Tom: Leave some for me!

Ella: Uh-uh. These are the only bits I will eat.

Kirstin: I will keep cooking macaroni cheese recipes until these two decide that they like it.

Ella: You will be cooking for hundreds of years. And into the afterlife.

Kirstin: Well, there’s a challenge! And I really struggle to make macaroni cheese look good in a picture, I so do. I feel another challenge coming on….

“Macaroni Cheese” from “A Taste of Home”

“Macaroni with Asparagus, Cream and Ham” from “A Taste of Home”

Anna: The spinach was a guest ingredient, but I actually think it made the dish.

Peter: This was good. I liked the fact it was a small pasta. The ham was a change from the usual pasta we have. It was like a luxury macaroni cheese. With vegetables.

Anna: I thought it reminded me of a carbonara actually. The salty ham and the cream and the parmesan.  It was so quick and easy we’ll definitely have this again I think.

Peter: You could probably adjust the vegetables for whatever is in season.

Anna: I’d do it just with the ham and spinach.  Angela did miss one trick with this recipe. She instructs you to cook the asparagus separately to the macaroni, when in reality you can do it in the same pot at the same time, and just take it out after a couple of minutes. One pot. Time saved. Simples.

“Macaroni with Asparagus, Cream and Ham” from “A Taste of Home”

“Red Wine and Chorizo Risotto” from “A Taste of Home”

Judy: Yum, yum, yum.

John: You have to say more than that.

Judy: It’s very moreish. Fantastic flavours.

John: It definitely needs an intercourse interval though.

Peter: Boom boom!

John: Because it’s heavy and rich. Like an Italian princess.

Peter: Are you just back from the northern club circuit?

John: I have nothing against Italy, just the Bunga Bunga…..

Judy: It’s definitely not Bunga Bunga.

Anna: I’m lost now.  It’s very winterish I think, quite heavy.

Judy: It’s not heavy, it’s light. I think risotto is always light, at any time of year. The textures are wonderful. The al dente rice, with the crunchy onion, and the chorizo.

John: It is quite regal.

Judy: Like the Italian princess.

John: It would go well with a Verdi opera.

Anna: Which one?

Judy: Il Trovatore.

Peter: Well I thought it was unctuous.  It had a refreshing blend of large bits of chorizo and small bits of chorizo. I think it was the surprise and delight of the dish.

Judy: I agree with that. At first I thought there were only small bits and then I found the large bits.

Anna: That was by accident rather than design. The chorzio fell apart when I was cutting it up.

Peter: Did you like the way she structured the recipe? It looks quite simple to me.  Compared to, say, Jamie’s 30 second Whatsits…..

Anna: It was great. Easy to follow, easy to make, delicious to eat. Though a bit hot to make on a hot, muggy night. But well worth it. I will be making this again.

Judy: And I will be copying the recipe from you!

“Red Wine and Chorizo Risotto” from “A Taste of Home”

“Pasta with Walnut Sauce” from “A Taste of Home”

Maureen: We’re on duty tonight, folks. We’ve got something from the new cookbook. It’ll be a month of Italian recipes from Angela Hartnett. It’s bound to be a good month. Today we’re having pasta with walnut sauce.

Nicholas (8): I would have liked it without the lettuce.

Tim (with mock horror): There’s something green in this, Mom. It might be good for me! You know I don’t like green salad stuff!

Nicholas (not picking up on the sarcasm): Yes, it ruins it a bit.

Maureen: It’s just parsley! It won’t kill you!

Nicholas: Sorry. Erase that.

Continue reading ““Pasta with Walnut Sauce” from “A Taste of Home””

“Pasta with Walnut Sauce” from “A Taste of Home”