pasta recipe book

A lovely new pasta recipe book caught my eye recently, The Long and the Short of Pasta. It’s written by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi owners of Caffe’ Caldesi in London and the Marylebone La Cucina Caldesi cooking school and of course, it’s all about pasta. How to make it from scratch and some delicious recipes to try.

An initial flick through the book shows recipes accompanied with lovely photos, not just of the food but shots of Italy, Italians and images you can expect to see wandering the streets of the country. In fact, the recipes are from all over Italy, Tuscany, Rome, Sicily and more of my favourite places.

Fresh pasta is something I have yet to master. Mum did suggest we make some on our last trip to Sardegna and we did buy all of the ingredients but you know what it’s like when you’re on holiday, we never got around to it. However, the how-to in the Caldesi recipe book is very easy to follow accompanied by some very inspiring images. One day I promise, I’ll give it a go. WAtch this space…

Then, there are plenty of wonderful sauces to use on your pasta – fresh or dried. I couldn’t decide at first but in the end, I decided to go with an old favourite of mine – Pasta alla Checca or Pasta with raw sauce. Don’t be alarmed at the ‘raw’, it’s all perfectly edible and in fact, is a recipe from Rome used by families to celebrate the arrival of summer. The sauce has cherry tomatoes, capers, olives, basil (my kitchen smells divine!) and mozzarella. It uses garlic and chilli too and is finished off with ricotta cheese

Pasta alla Checca

Pasta alla checca

5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe book: The Long and the Short of Pasta - Caldesi
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A delicious summer recipe using cherry tomatoes, basil and mozzarella along with other ingredients. A family hit.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 320g spaghetti,
  • 200g cherry tomatoes halved,
  • 1 garlic clove,
  • 20g capers
  • 100g whole green olives stones removed and chopped
  • 125g mozzarella cut into 2cm cubes,
  • olive oil (extra virgin)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper,
  • handful of basil leaves,
  • 100g ricotta
Instructions
  1. Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of well-salted water until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the tomatoes, garlic, capers, olives, chilli, mozzarella and oil in a large bowl.
  3. Add the cooked, drained spaghetti and toss all of the ingredients well.
  4. Season well and add the basil.
  5. Serve with spoonfuls of ricotta on top.
There are 70 recipes to try including pasta sauces, ragus, gnocchi and ravioli all of them simple and quick to make. I love that Katie and Giancarlo have added in notes of their own throughout the book which adds a personal, authentic touch.

Gluten-free fans will be pleased to know that Giancarlo is also gluten intolerant and has spent a long (very long) time developing the perfect gluten-free pasta recipe which can be used for cut ribbons, stuffed and shaped pasta.

Other recipes I want to try out include Semolina gnocchi, (one of my favourites off the hotel menu when I lived in Italy) Linguine with seafood, Lamb ragu with spices and Sicilian ragu. As far as the fresh pasta is concerned, I’m going to start with some ravioli.

Disclosure: I was sent a book for the purpose of this review, all opinions are my own.

Find lots more of my Italian recipes on the blog.

 

meatballs in tomato sauce

The first product I used from my Ciao Gusto hamper was a jar of passata sauce. This is a staple in my kitchen cupboard and can be used in so many recipes. Cirio Passata Rustica is one of the products from the very well known brand in Italy which has been going since 1856 when Cirio, a young boy born to an illiterate family in Sardinia, travelled to Turin and started preserving tomatoes in tin cans. Cirio is all about tomatoes, their brand includes tinned plum tomatoes, chopped plum tomatoes, a variety of passata sauces, a tomato puree and lots more.

I often use the tinned tomatoes as bases for casseroles, soups and pot roasts whereas the passatas are perfect for pasta sauces, like Arrabbiata, Amatriciana and a classical ragú. This time however I had some fresh meatballs and I wanted a recipe that was suitable for all of the family, that means tasty but not too spicy for the little ones.

Cirio vintage postcard

 

Linguine with meatballs in tomato and sweet pepper sauce

Linguine with meatballs in tomato and sweet pepper sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A simple and delicious tomato and sweet pepper sauce to accompany tasty meatballs. Great for dinner, suitable for all of the family
Author:
Recipe type: Main meal
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 tray of 12 meatballs
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 peppers diced
  • 1 jar of Cirio Passata Rustica
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat some olive oil in a pan and lightly fry the meatballs until they are browed all over, scoop out the meatballs and place to one side.
  2. Add the onions, garlic and sweet peppers to the pan and gently fry until softened. Add the jar of Cirio Passata Rustica and stir the ingredients together.
  3. Return the meatballs to the pan, correct the seasoning, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes until the meat is cooked through.
  4. In the meantime, bring to the boil a pan of salted water. Add the linguine and cook until al dente.
  5. Once cooked, drain and add to the meatballs sauce, mix well and serve.
  6. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top and cracked black pepper
A simple recipe to prepare and ready to serve in no time at all. All of the family enjoyed this and dad added extra freshly ground black pepper to add a little kick to it.

We served a glass of Santa Margherita’s Pinto Grigio with our meal

meatballs in tomato and sweet pepper sauce

 

Macaroni cheese recipe

Growing up in our house focused heavily around meal times and when mum replied to the daily, ‘What’s for tea, mum?’ with ‘Macaroni Cheese’ I’m sure the whole street could hear the cheers that went up. It was the 80’s and pasta was already a family favourite, I can remember sitting at the table in the kitchen waiting for mum to finish grilling the top to a crispy cheesy for us and wishing she would hurry up.

Once on the table I would happily squirt some tomato ketchup on top because that’s what we did back then. If any Italians are reading this I can feel your shock and only after spending years in your country and learning how you cook and eat can I see now the error of my ways, however, it was so good!

Funnily enough when I lived in Italy no one had heard of Macaroni Cheese, they had Pasta ai Quattro Formaggi which everyone agreed was most likely where our Macaroni Cheese came from. A quick check on Wikipedia has it that Macaroni Cheese is an English dish made of short pasta and a cheese sauce.

I wanted to make it for the girls and see if they had the same reaction to me all those years ago. They did. The success of macaroni cheese continues!

If you are introducing no meat nights into the family diet then this one is very popular and will fill them up. It’s a very simple recipe that requires baking in the oven and of course, it can be pimped in so many ways. You could add fried bacon lardons, or a mixture of vegetables cut up small.

I served it up in it’s 1980’s glory but I did not offer the squirt of ketchup on top even if dad and I did have a good sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper though ;)

Macaroni Cheese | a family favourite revisited
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A quick and easy pasta to make that is perfect for lunches or evening meals.
Author:
Recipe type: pasta
Cuisine: British
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 300g macaroni
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 600 full fat milk
  • 1 tbsp English mustard (optional)
  • 225g Cheddar cheese grated
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 200C Gas mark 6
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water.
  3. Melt 25g of the butter in a pan and add the flour, stir for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk whisk gently to remove any lumps that may form.
  4. Cook over a medium heat stirring continuously until thickened, season with salt and pepper. Stir in the mustard if using and two thirds of the grated Cheddar cheese, mix well together.
  5. Add the pasta and combine well, pour into a baking dish and scatter the remaining cheese on top.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden
  7. Spice it up with chopped chilli peppers added to the mix.
  8. Mix up the cheeses and go for a quattro (4) formaggi (cheese)
Please also see my Macaroni cheese with bacon and chives recipe

macaroni cheese recipe

 

mulled wine recipe

It’s Mulled Wine time of year and I cannot fail to remember the times we used to prepare cauldrons of it to hang on a tripod in the hotel courtyard and wait for our cold guests to return after a day skiing on the pistes. A recipe for mulled wine that goes back a century and is still as satisfying today.

Mulled wine dolomites

The sight alone of the tripod with it’s log fire under the cauldron is enough to make you smile and as the guests arrived they’d gather around and accept a small cup of mulled wine allowing it to warm them up from head to toes.

mulled wine

Chatter would commence, stories of the day’s skiing, funny things that happened, achievements that were made, who had mastered the snowplough and who had attempted a black run for the first time.

Laughter could be heard as people relayed how their partner had ended up skiing backwards or completely misunderstood the ski instructor with embarrassing consequences

These were the moments of the holiday that sealed our guest’s love for our hotel, Club Hotel Alpino and our resort Folgaria, after a few glasses of mulled wine they’d head up to their rooms to get changed and later the conversation would flow easily as a bond had been made.

So when I see bottles of Mulled Wine for sale in the supermarkets, these are the memories I am filled with, good times.

mulled wine tripod

Lindeman’s Shiraz

However, we used to make our own and it is so simple. Lindeman’s have a delicious Shiraz that suits this recipe perfectly and seeing as the grapes are grown in the hot Australian sun you are adding good health and sunshine to your mulled wine too. Throw a couple of steaks on the barbie!

It’s good for you!

In case you needed an excuse to treat yourself to a delicious glass of mulled wine then please take note of the medicinal qualities of some of the ingredients…

Lindeman’s Shiraz – adds sunshine to your drink

Cinnamon stick – Antiflu properties

Cloves – antibacterial

lemon – antiseptical and good for the respiratory system

Orange – vitamin C

Apple – 1 a day keeps the doctor away

As if you needed that excuse! Cin Cin! as they say in the Dolomites.

 

Recipe for Mulled Wine from the Dolomites
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A recipe for Mulled Wine direct from the Dolomites to warm you from head to toe.
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 bottle of red wine, Lindeman's Shiraz
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 100g sugar
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a pan and heat slowly until it is warm but not too hot.
  2. Serve in small cups or mugs.
All photos of vin brulé in Folgaria at Club Hotel Alpino with the kind permission of my daughter in law Oana Dascalul

Find more information on Club Hotel Alpino, the perfect family friendly hotel in the Dolomites.

Find more information on Folgaria

Fusilli with smoked trout

Trout is very good for you, it is low in saturated fats but high in essential proteins and omega-3 fatty acids, it’s also high in vitamin D – aka the sunshine vitamin – which so many of us are deficient in.

 

British Trout is very easy to cook with and it’s economical too – plus all the healthy bits mentioned above. All this together makes it ideal for a family meal. So British Trout sent me all the ingredients to try their recipe for Fusilli with Smoked Trout. 

If you’d like to introduce some fish to your weekly menu take a look a the British Trout recipe page here where you’ll find loads of delicious ideas to inspire you. In the meantime –

Fusilli with smoked trout

Ingredients for 4 – 6

2 carrots cut into matchsticks
1 leek cut into matchsticks’2 celery sticks cut into matchsticks
150ml vegetable stock
225g smoked trout fillets skinned and cut into strips
200g cream cheese
150ml white wine or fish stock
15ml Chopped fresh dill or fennel
225g fusilli or other dried pasta
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh dill sprigs to garnish

Method

  1. Put the carrot, leek and celery matchsticks into a pan and add the stock. Bring to the boil and cook quickly for 4 -5 minutes until most of the stock has evaporated. Remove from the heat and add the smoked trout.
  2. Put the cream cheese and wine or fish stock into a pan over a medium heat and whisk until smooth, add the dill or fennel and slat and pepper.
  3. Cook the fusilli in boiling salted water, when the pasta is tender or al dente drain it thoroughly and return to the pan.
  4. Add the sauce and toss lightly, transfer to a serving bowl. top with the cooked vegetables and trout.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with sprigs of dill.

fusilli with smoked trout

 

Verdict: 10/10

A delicious pasta dish that is easy to prepare and the children loved it too. My only thoughts on this one is the faffing around with matchsticks which is time consuming and if you’re not precise with a knife your matchsticks may look like boulders as mine do! I think chopping into a small dice would work too – an extra time saver.