“Pasta Puttanesca” from “Easy”

Anna: This is very Bill. Very Australian. A deconstructed Puttanesca sauce.

Peter: I prefer this to our regular Puttanesca.

Anna: Why?

Peter: It tasted much fresher. Would it be the tomatoes?

Anna: Probably. He uses cherry tomatoes instead of tinned. And green olives instead of black. And, controversially he adds parmesan shavings at the end. I don’t think the Italians would approve.

Peter: I don’t mind. I liked it. Nevermind the Italians.

Anna: It’s a very Bill thing to do fresh, chunky pasta sauces like this with penne. I think it makes it a little difficult to eat. You end up chasing bits of olives around the bowl. I enjoyed this but, unlike you, not as much as the original.

“Pasta Puttanesca” from “Easy”

“Penne alla Carbonara” from “The River Cafe Book”

Kirstin: It’s been a long day at work today, so I chose something easy. And I wanted to see what cream in a carbonara would taste like, having previously thought it would be a very bad idea. We normally cook the recipe from the Zuni Cafe book, which is about three pages of very elaborate description of how you have to swirl the pan with the pancetta, and has two kinds of cheese (pecorino and parmesan); but the results are totally worth it. This is much simpler. As usual the quantity of pasta was totally wrong. So we halved the sauce but cooked the same amount of pasta. It had too much cheese, I thought. But the sauce itself was very good.

Continue reading ““Penne alla Carbonara” from “The River Cafe Book””

“Penne alla Carbonara” from “The River Cafe Book”

“Penne with Tomato and Balsamic Vinegar” from “The River Cafe Cook Book”

Tonight I needed an easy weeknight meal , which would be pasta.  Trying to find a recipe that didn’t involve monster quantites of cream was a challenge, but my search was eventually rewarded.

Struggling with the recipe’s advice that it served 6, I made it for two.  That’s one hungry cyclist home from work, and me.  Normally I would have adapted the ingredient quantities for the sauce accordingly, but in the spirit of following the recipe faithfully I followed the recipe faithfully.  Well, apart from the quantity of butter and cheese.  Split between 6, maybe.  Between 2, I don’t think so.

As you’d expect, it was incredibly easy to make.  And we ended up with a very yummy bowl of pasta, much richer than expected.  Peter said it was very ‘tomato-y’, which would be about right.  The recipe as written would feed 3, or two very hungry people.  Or six midgets.  I give it 7/10.

(Apologies for lowering the photographic tone with this post, but unfortunately the official photographer wasn’t present at this meal.  This will happen sometimes, I hope you don’t mind….)

Verdict: Would I make it again?  Definitely, if I’m stuck and need a store cupboard dinner.

“Penne with Tomato and Balsamic Vinegar” from “The River Cafe Cook Book”

A “River Cafe” meal with a history. Maybe too much history.

Our first meal from “The River Cafe Cook Book” this month reprises two old favourites that were served together one fateful night, many years ago. Anna will explain. The recipes were: Grilled Squid with Chillis and Penne with a Slow-Cooked Sausage Sauce.

Anna: Well. Um. Well. I was having my first proper dinner party.

Kirstin: No it wasn’t! I did dinner parties with you!

Anna: No, this was a proper two-course meal, not just lasagne when we were 16! Kirstin drove me to Waitrose so I could get the proper parmesan, the proper rocket. And I had a massive problem with grilling the squid,  and I was trying to impress someone who was there, if we’re honest. Kirstin had to take over. It was a successful night!

Kirstin: More for some people than others. Where is he now? Continue reading “A “River Cafe” meal with a history. Maybe too much history.”

A “River Cafe” meal with a history. Maybe too much history.