Pasta dish

pateschotel

Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 1h30 minutes

Don’t be misled by the ‘simple’ name, this is anything but a simple dish.

The Ingredients: for 4 persons

  • 500 g minced meat (half beef, half pork)
  • 6 tomatoes (at least 500 g)
  • 1 onion
  • 2,5 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 4 tbsp. flower
  • fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ l milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
  • 75 g grated cheese (Emmentaler)
  • 250 g pasta (fusilli)
  • salt & pepper

The work:

Cook the pasta al dente in lightly salted water. Follow the timing instructions on the package. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to avoid that the pasta sticks.

Cut the onions into small blocks. Peal the tomatoes and remove the seeds. Cut the tomatoes in large portions.

Preheat the oven at 225°C.

Melt the butter in a pot, don’t let it brown, and mix with the flower. Add a third of the milk and bring this to a cooking point while stirring slowly. At the cooking point, add extra milk to get the correct sauce density. Turn down the heat a bit. Add the thyme and the bay leaf and cook the sauce gently for about 15 minutes. Keep your eye on the ballgame. Sauce on a milk base easily sticks to the pan or overflows, so don’t stop stirring, don’t leave.

Sieve the sauce and mix the grated cheese with the sauce.

Take an oven dish and put in a layer of pasta. Distribute the onion, the tomato and the minced meat on top. Season with salt and pepper. If the dish is not full yet, add the rest of the pasta and cover it with sauce. In case you have some leftover grated cheese you can sprinkle that on top.

The tip:

There are many different pasta kinds you can use for this: fusilli, spirelli, farfalle, penne, macaroni,…

We often replace the fresh tomatoes by canned tomatoes to save time and it has little effect on the end result.

All together this dish takes quite a while to cook. You wonder if it is really necessary to stir in that sauce for 15 long minutes. Believe me, it is exactly that herb-flavoured cheese sauce which lifts this dish from being ordinary to being incredibly fantastic.

If you do make the effort of cooking this on your busy week day, bear in mind that you can easily prepare some extra dishes and put them uncooked in the freezer for later use.

The secret:

I will confess that this recipe comes from a very old ­ actually our very first ­ cook book which came for free with our very first micro wave after we just got married. Because this is a recipe I never came across ever again I felt I should make an exception to my rule not to blog recipes from other cooks. Just to make sure it gets some extra exposure. I can’t leave it to disintegrate with the book.

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Vongole

P1000323

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

The Ingredients: for 4 persons

  • 500 g spaghetti
  • 1 kg clams or cockles
  • olive oil
  • 3 shallots
  • 1 small dried chilli
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • salt & pepper

The work:

Make sure your shells are clean. Rinse as many times as you have to, to get them clean. Cut the shallots and grate or press the garlic. Cut the parsley.

Heat a pot of water with salt to boil the spaghetti and cook the spaghetti al dente.

Heat about a half a cup of olive oil in a pan and gently simmer the garlic, shallots and the pulverised chilli in it until tender. If your spaghetti is not ready yet, then take the pan of the heat until about 5 minutes before the pasta is ready.

Add the clams to the pan with the olive oil and shallots and heat until all shells are open. Put the lid on so you steam the shells to open them.

When the pasta is ready, take it out of the cooking water with kitchen tweezers and add it to the pan with the clams. Add parsley and mix everything gently. Serve is a deep dish.

The tip:

P1000315The golden advice is to rinse rinse rinse rinse… and rinse the shells until no sand or dirt is in the water anymore. Hateful it is when you are enjoying these delicacies from the seas and hear the sand grind between your teeth.

Don’t be dispirited if you have difficulties finding clams or cockles, you can surely find some shells to replace them, even mussels will work great.

Olive oils can have a very distinct taste. Taste your olive oil(s) beforehand to see if its taste is not too dominating, since you are using a lot of it in this recipe it can really start defining the dish’s taste.

The secret:

P1000318Less is more! Keep it simple, it will make everything better.

Our secret ingredient is the small dried chilli which we add to give the dish more pit.

Pappardelle with cep and truffle

DSC00182

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes.

The ingredients: for 6 persons

  • 550 g pappardelle
  • 150 g grated parmesan
  • 300 g cooked ham
  • 80g dried cep
  • 1 cube butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. of wild broth paste
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (400 g)
  • 1 can passata (500 g pureed tomatoes)
  • 1dl cream (optional)
  • black pepper & salt
  • truffle or 3 tbsp. truffle oil.

The work:

First thing to do is to drown the dried mushrooms in lukewarm water. They need to absorb water for at least 15 minutes. After 15 minutes (or longer) you drain the mushrooms but make sure to collect the brown water in a small cooking pot.

Add the wild bouillon paste to the liquid and boil it down until it is really concentrated. You need a small cup of condensed liquid at the end of the process.

In the meantime, heat the oil and the butter in a pan and add the pressed garlic. Fry for a couple of minutes but make sure it does not get brown. After 3 minutes you add the drained mushrooms. Stir each time you add something, to mix the ingredients. After another 3 minutes add the ham, and after another 4 minutes add the chopped tomatoes and the passata. Season the sauce with pepper, salt and truffle or truffle oil. Let the sauce cook softly for 15-20 minutes. When the condensed stock is ready, add it to the sauce as well.

Optionally add cream to the sauce a couple of minutes before the end of the cooking time; always do this on low fire. Cream should not be boiled.

Cook your pasta al dente. Mix the pasta with the sauce and serve with some parmesan on top.

The Secret:

The reduced mushroom liquid is the secret of the success here. Take your time to reduce the liquid, it will make a huge difference.

P1000282The Tip:

You can make this recipe with real truffle and real fresh cep. Both are really hard or even impossible to find in a suburban town like ours and also influence the cost of this diner a lot. The truffle oil and dried cep are much easier to come by and much easier in your pocket.

We have a disagreement at home about using cream or not in this dish. OK, it adds extra fat to the recipe, but also smoothness in taste. The small picture is without cream. Try it out to find out your personal preference.

As you can see in our pictures, if there is no pappardelle in the house, another pasta will do fine.

Lamb Stew with Tagliatelli

DSC06849

Preparation Time: 1 hour

The ingredients for 3-4 portions:.

  • 750 g lamb shoulder
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • a couple of rosemary sprigs
  • 3 tbsp. of oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 small can tomato paste (70 g)
  • ½ cup meat broth
  • salt & pepper
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 300 g tagliatelle
  • parmesan cheese

The work:

Cut the meat in chunks; make sure you watch out to remove small bone fragments while cutting the meat.
Peel the garlic, wash the rosemary and dry it with paper towel.
Cutter the garlic, rosemary, broth and tomato paste with the blender.
Fry the meat on all sides in the hot oil. Then throw away the fat from frying.
Add the meat, the butter and the mix in one pan and add salt and pepper.
Let the ragout simmer for about 30 minutes. Keep the lid on.
Cooking time can run easily up to 1 hour, depending which lamb.
Cook the tagliatelli in a lot of water, just as you usually do, when your stew is almost ready.
Serve on a large plate: pasta with some stew on top, finished with a sprig of rosemary and grated parmesan.

Enjoy!

The tips:

Green pasta fits perfectly with this dish, so does a fresh green salad.
We have the habit of removing the fat which builds up at the surface while the stew is cooking.

The story:

We’re three people in our household: a man, a women and a daughter. Initally 2 out of 3 voted against lamb. It may sound funny, but this happened ages ago. At a certain moment the one voting for, went shopping, cooked the dish, didn’t disclose it was ‘the’ lamb dish, and served it. It became an instant hit. Our simple lamb stew is one of our family favourites. Funny how prejudices can prevent us from trying new tastes.