Two Pasta Dinners from “Jamie Cooks Italy”

To the surprise of no one, this cookbook, which has Italy in the title, is very strong on its pasta dishes. I mean, I would expect nothing less, though history has shown us here at Cookbook a Month that not all cookbooks deliver what they promise. In this case, at least, Jamie in Italy knows how to cook pasta.

We loved both these dinners. Roll on Jamie.

Sausage Linguine: As previously discussed, anything in this house that has the addition of pork products– be it bacon, sausage or otherwise– is a winner. For this recipe, you fry up a sausage, then add tenderstem broccoli, garlic, anchovies, chilli flakes and small glass of white wine. Toss linguine into the pan once cooked and then sprinkle cheese over the top (of course). Perfection.

Bucatini Amatriciana: This is also delicious. Essentially, you fry pancetta, add a sliced red onion, smash up a can of plum tomatoes, stir it into spaghetti and then eat. As Andrew is now in charge of cooking for himself at university, I’m going to send this recipe to him. It’s delicious, it’s quick, it’s easy: the holy grail of student/new cooks everywhere. Dinner FTW.

The fact that I could simplify both of these recipes into one sentence each is a real plus in my book. Don’t get me wrong– multi-page recipes have a time and a place, too, but it’s usually not on a weeknight when I’m trying to get dinner ready fast. Both will be winging their way into Andrew’s inbox. We’ll see if he actually makes them.

In the meantime, we can add these to the FTW weeknight dinner rotations.

Two Pasta Dinners from “Jamie Cooks Italy”

“Easy Sausage Carbonara” from “5 Ingredients”

Do you know how sometimes you really enjoy a film or a book or a dish but then you go back and try it again and it’s not as good as you remember it?  That’s precisely what happened here.

The first time we had this, we all loved it. We enjoyed it so much, in fact, that when I realised that I forgot to take a photo of it, I thought, “That’s not a problem. We’ll just have it again and I’ll remember to take a photo this time.” Believe me when I tell you it is *extremely rare* to have something twice in the same month from a cookbook we’re testing.

So I looked forward to this, not least because it was night that many busy families will have experienced themselves: we were scattered across London around dinner time, only getting together once we had finished our early evening appointments. So I rushed home to make this, in this case actually happy that it only takes 15 minutes, and was very much looking forward to a speedy delicious dinner.

However, I’m sad to say it just wasn’t as good this time. Despite using the always magnificent Italian sausages from Dring’s Butchers– and it definitely wasn’t the fault of the sausages– it just turned out a bit bland. I don’t think that was a criticism the first time around, but there we are.

However, I was curious how many ingredients a traditional pasta carbonara would use, because surely Jamie turned to this method because the traditional version would exceed the magic five limit. Guess what? Hold on your hats! Traditional pasta carbonara only uses five ingredients too! This even allows for the two different kinds of cheeses, though you could easily just use parmesan instead of pecorino and parmesan. (If you’d like to see the NYTimes recipe yourself, click through here to see it.)

I wish I knew why Jamie didn’t just include a traditional pasta carbonara recipe instead of this one. It’s quite possible that there’s a recipe for that in one of his 20 previous cookbooks. In fact, that’s highly likely. I just can’t be asked to go back and see for myself. So that must be why this sub-par one was included instead.

[While I was kicking around the NYTimes site, I also found this recipe for something that’s pretty similar to this, but I’m guessing, perhaps a little better.]

So would I make sausage carbonara again? Probably. But would I use this recipe? Probably not. It’s not a terrible idea, but clearly a quick Internet search showed me there were plenty of better recipes out there for a dish like this. I think I can stretch to a few more ingredients if it means it’ll taste better.

“Easy Sausage Carbonara” from “5 Ingredients”

“Sausage and wild garlic Linguine” from “Stirring Slowly”


Kirstin: Oh this is so very yum!

Ella: I like this too. Even the bits with visible bits of broccoli.

Kirstin: That’s not broccoli! Really?!? That’s pesto with spinach, you noodle! Tom, you’re doing that thing again where you just eat!

Tom: It’s delicious! Is it from the new book.

Kirstin: It is! Would you like some more pecorino?

Miles: Can I finish off the pecorino?

Ella: Miles, you have parmesan to finish it all!

Kirstin: REALLY?!? That joke’s a bit cheesey.

Tom: I hope you’re making this again.

Kirstin: Totally. I’ll get Italian sausages next time. For sure. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

“Sausage and wild garlic Linguine” from “Stirring Slowly”

“Italian Sausage and Chips” with “Torn Tomato Salad” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

Miles and Ella: I love it when you make this!

Kirstin: Really? I thought you didn’t like it.


Miles: I don’t like those seed things on the top.

Kirstin: Oh, the fennel. I’ve put fewer in these time than the recipe calls for. But I’ve kept the chilli in because I love it so.

Tom: I really love it when you make this! I particularly love the tomato marmalade that you serve it with.


Kirstin: Oh yes. It is good, isn’t it? Right, I’ll start making this again,  in that case!

“Italian Sausage and Chips” with “Torn Tomato Salad” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

“Spicy Sausage Rice” from “Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course”

Maureen: Yum. I like this.

Andrew (13): Me gusta! I like it!


Nicholas (9): I thought it was just alright.

Andrew: What are you on about?

Nicholas: It’s my opinion, not yours. I think it’s just OK.

Maureen: What didn’t you like about it?

Nicholas: It just doesn’t give me enough excitement. I liked how there were loads of flavours, but the flavours didn’t work well together.

Maureen: Well, I’m sorry but I disagree. Gordon says this is supposed to be like a jambalaya, which you can find all over the American South, and I think it’s pretty close This also would be a good weeknight dish. It was pretty easy to make, and it was delicious. Would you like me to make it again?

Andrew: Yes, definitely.

Nicholas: Probably not.

Maureen: I think you could persuaded to like this NIcholas. I am going to make it again.

Cook’s Notes: If you can’t find Italian sausages for this recipe, plain cumberland sausages would work OK too. I didn’t have time to get some Italians, and that’s what I did, and it was still good. I’ll bet it’ll be even better with Italian or even Toulouse sausages though. Gordon does say you can use any type of sausages you like. Chorizo also would be delicious.

“Spicy Sausage Rice” from “Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course”

“Sausage Fusilli with Creamy Garden Salad” from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals

Prep time: 7 minutes.

Cooking time: 30 minutes, 29 seconds.

Kirstin: This is rather good.

Tom: It’s rather clever the way he cooks the meat in parallel with the sauce which makes it much drier than our usual sausage sauce. Nice one! Because the way we normally cook our sausage sauce means the longer you cook it, the better it is.

Kirstin: I could have added some of the cooking water to make it  less dry, but tipped it all away before I read that bit in the recipe. I also couldn’t be bothered to really rush this recipe as I had a lovely chat with Tom about our days as I cooked. It added time, but also pleasure to the making of the meal.

Continue reading ““Sausage Fusilli with Creamy Garden Salad” from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals”

“Sausage Fusilli with Creamy Garden Salad” from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals

“Shortcut Sausage Meatballs” from “Nigellissima”

I made a variation of this once before. We had arrived at our holiday let late on a Friday night after horrendous London traffic and a delayed ferry journey. I had intended to make our family’s stalwart Sausage Sauce, but I didn’t have the time or the patience. So I ended up taking the sausage out of the casings and making meatballs from them, which we had with pasta.

What I didn’t do that night, and what Nigella has ingeniously included here, is a very easy tomato sauce that you add to the sausages to finish it all off. Yum.

This is the perfect weeknight meal: it’s easy, it’s relatively quick and it’s delicious. It doesn’t require any special ingredients. In fact, she says in the introduction that you don’t necessarily need to use Italian sausages– even English would do. (I would stick with Italians, but that’s just because our amazing butcher, Dring’s, makes a fine specimen of one).

Would I make this again? Absolutely. In fact, I’ve already made it twice this month. Typing this up is making me ponder the possibility that tonight may be time number three.

Shortcut Sausage Meatballs from “Nigellissima”

450-500g Italian Sausages

2 x 15ml tablespoons Garlic Oil

4 fat or 6 spindly Spring Onions, finely sliced

1 teaspoon Dried Oregano

60ml White Wine or Vermouth

2 x 400g Chopped Tomatoes, plus water to rinse 1/2 can

2 Bay Leaves

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Chopped Fresh Parsley, to serve (optional)

Squeeze the sausage meat from the sausages and roll small cherry-tomato-size meatballs out of it, putting them onto a clingfilm-lined baking tray as you go. Your final tally should be around 40.

Heat the oil in a large, have-based pan or flameproof casserole and add the meatballs, frying them until golden; as they become firmer, nudge them up in the pan to make room for the rest, if you ca’t fit them all in at first.

When all the meatballs are in the pan and browned, add the spring onion and oregano and stir about gently.

Add the wine or vermouth and chopped tomatoes, then fill half of one of the empty cans with cold water and tip it into the other empty can, then into the pan. The can-to-can technique is just my way of making sure you will out as much of the tomato residue as possible.

Pop in the bay leaves and let the pan come to a fast simmer. Leave to cook like this, uncovered, for 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly and the meatballs are cooked through. Check the sauce for seasoning, adding some salt and pepper, if you like.

During this time you can cook whatever you fancy to go with the meatballs, whether it be pasta, rice, whatever.

Once the meatballs are ready, you can eat them immediately or let them stand, off the heat but still on the stove, for 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken up a bit on standing. Should your diners be other than children who baulk at green bits, sprinkle with parsley on serving.

“Shortcut Sausage Meatballs” from “Nigellissima”

“Roasted Sausages with Peppers and Onions” from “Easy”

Tom: This is fantastic! Sausages, burnt onions, peppers, bread and red wine. Yum!

Ella: Is there something different about the sausages?

Kirstin: They’re yummy Italian sausages! Do you like them?

Ella: I prefer the normal ones, but yeah, these are OK.

Miles: This is the second best bread.

Tom: Which is the best bread then Miles?

Miles: The bread mummy made today.

Kirstin: Ah yes. That will be the fruity bread my new bread maker made for us then.

Miles: In Moshi Monsters, can you become a member forever?

Tom: You would have to keep paying forever. What tends to happen is that people play games for a while and then when they grow up a little bit, they decide they want to play something else instead, like Minecraft.

Ella: I play Moshi Monsters still!

“Roasted Sausages with Peppers and Onions” from “Easy”

“Mummy’s Toad in the Hole” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

Maureen: What does everybody think? It’s a new kind of Toad in the Hole.

Andrew: It’s good.

Nicholas: Yup. Good.

Tim: It’s fine, but (shrugs), it doesn’t have any unicorn tears in it.

Maureen: What do you mean by that?

Tim: I mean that it’s not special. Unicorn tears– real or imaginary– would make it special. This dish obviously lacks them.

Maureen: But the boys seem to like it.

Nicholas: Actually, I think it’s in the middle.

Continue reading ““Mummy’s Toad in the Hole” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter””

“Mummy’s Toad in the Hole” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

Spicy Sausage Penne from “Virgin to Veteran”

Kirstin: Blimey. This is the best version of sausage sauce ever. We have made sausage sauce every Friday since… when did we get married? For at least 16 years. We’ve always used the River Cafe recipe — the “slow-cooked” version. But this recipe is better. The addition of harissa has made it even more epic.

Georgia: It was different than usual. In a good way. It was a lot spicier! It was nice.

Kirstin: Ah, yes. I also put more chilli in than it said.

Continue reading “Spicy Sausage Penne from “Virgin to Veteran””

Spicy Sausage Penne from “Virgin to Veteran”