Pasta with Bacon, Garlic, Chilli and Parsley

pasta with bacon garlic chilli and parsley

 

We have had masses of building work done over the summer, hence my silence on these pages.  Some days I had a kitchen to use, other days not so much.  Once the Aga was decommissioned I moved onto a two ring gas hob (no oven) and once that was a goner it was braais or picnics.  There have certainly been some stressful moments and I have deposited more money in the swear box than I care to think about.  My poor husband and children have had to put up with a lot of unusual suppers from a rather mad-eyed cook but it was worth it and we now have a fabulous new kitchen.

The thing about being put on the spot kit wise is that it really focuses the mind.  If all the gadgetry has been boxed up (or just covered in dust) and there is only a pan to hand then one must make do.  One such recipe that came into play was this pasta with bacon, garlic, chilli and parsley.  Comprising of store cupboard and garden ingredients this can be reliably whipped up with the minimum of equipment, time or energy.  On one occasion I also added a pile of halved cherry tomatoes because I had some that needed using up.  It is certainly just as good without and I wouldn’t use tasteless winter (or jetset) tomatoes for the sake of it.

I highly recommend making this whether you are enjoying building works or not – it is cheap, very cheerful and everyone, particularly the children love it – what could be better (apart from a new kitchen).

Pasta with bacon, garlic, chilli and parsley

As with many of my recipes this is open to interpretation – if you adore bacon then add more;  if your children can’t bear chilli then leave it out.  The parsley is very much an ingredient here rather than merely a garnish but if the green stuff horrifies your little ones……

6 good fat rashers of smoked streaky bacon

2 large cloves of garlic

1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

1/2 bunch parsley

300g pasta of your choice

Olive oil

Get your pasta cooking in a large pan of generously salted water.   Put a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and snip (I find scissors easiest here) the bacon into it.  Cook until just turning crispy then add the garlic and chilli, stir it around over a gentle heat ensuring the garlic doesn’t brown.  When the pasta is done, drain it retaining a little of the cooking water.  Tumble the pasta into the frying pan and mix well with the bacon, garlic and chilli adding a splash or two of cooking water to keep the whole thing quite slippery.  Chop the parsley over the top, season well and serve with parmesan if you like.  This amount is enough for two adults and two children.

New Slaw

New Slaw 3

What happened to good old fashioned coleslaw?  I say good but actually, so many times it wasn’t, sometimes in fact it has been downright terrible.  Limp, greasy, over oniony, short on seasoning, cabbage too big, drowned in cheap mayo etc etc.  Poor coleslaw has hung its head in shame and hidden at the back of the buffet table.  Until now and talk about a makeover – the humble coleslaw has had some sort of sonic reinvention, spruced up and started wearing international couture.  Asian Slaw, Spicy Slaw, Citrus Slaw, Moroccan Slaw – it’s thrown off its dowdy mayo, lost the Cole and got down and funky with the kids.   Spicy, herby, tangy or hot – Slaw can be anything you like as long as it is crunchy.

I love a crunchy salad and regulars to these pages will know I am not stranger to this type of side.  My Christmas Salad (December 2013), the Thai-ish Salad (November 2015), Carrot Salad (January 2013) and of course the Celeriac Remoulade (January 2016) are variations on the slaw theme.   They are all cheap and easy to rustle up, happily retain their crunch for a couple of days in the fridge and will go with a myriad of other things as well as being perfect for lunch on their own (I particularly like this ones with a piece of cold salmon).  There is an added bonus though and its a huge and resounding boom of a bonus.  Children love them.   Who knew that getting raw veggies into children could ever be so easy?  My son particularly likes my Christmas Salad and regularly has if for his packed lunch.   My daughter however adores this gingery, piquant New Slaw the best, told me it is her favourite salad and had it three times this week.

Carrots, fennel, beetroot, cabbage (green, white or red), radish, celeriac, apple, broccoli – any of these work well.  Then do you want a sharp, zingy dressing, maybe spicy too?  Or perhaps a creamy dressing, a little more traditional although I favour yogurt or creme fraiche here over the ubiquitous mayo.  Add herbs, lots of them and seeds are good too.  Sometimes I add dried cranberries or raisins as I love that little burst of sweetness.  Customise your slaw as you please, make your own bespoke version.  We eat one of these raw, crunchy types of salad a few time a week and this one is the current favourite.  Gingery, herby and with a little heat it goes perfectly with barbecued chicken and I will post my favourite grilled chicken recipe in the next week or so.  Meanwhile may the crunch be with you, it is delicious and you can just feel it doing you good.

New Slaw

New Slaw

The other day I didn’t have any cabbage so used more carrots and it was just as good.  Different but just as good and that is the point of these slaws really, add a little more or less of something as you please, make it your own.

3 carrots, peeled

1/4 of a small red or green cabbage, core removed and finely chopped

6 radishes, sliced

2 spring onions, sliced

A thumb of ginger, peeled

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

A small packet of coriander

A small packet of mint

A handful of raisins or dried cranberries (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil, a light one

Juice of 1 lime, you may need 2 depending on their size and juiciness.

Grate the carrots and put into a large bowl with the radishes, onions, cabbage and chilli.  I use a box grater for this rather than an attachment in the processor as I find using this makes the veggies really wet.  Finely grate the ginger, add this to the bowl along with the olive oil and lime juice.  Season and mix well with your hands so that everything is combined.  Chop or snip the herbs over the salad, add the raisins/cranberries if using, mix once more and serve to happy faces.

 

 

 

 

Penne con Salsicccia (or Sausage Pasta)

Sausage Pasta 3

So I promised you easy, everyday family food and then give you shortbread.  This is to make up for it.  For those days when I have so much on my to do list I can’t think straight and whilst busy writing and testing a couple of recipes I don’t actually have anything for supper.  For those days you need emergency food that can be conjured up from whatever you might keep in your fridge or larder.

Any day of the week my daughter would choose pasta for tea.  Ideally a Bolognese type ragu or this sausage pasta.  My son however doesn’t like pasta or sausages…. Quite a conundrum and this tends to remain for days when he is out.  I must stress though that of all the people, child or adult, who have tried this, he is the only one who doesn’t like it!

Sausage Pasta_

I love this though and whenever I cook it for my daughter I hover greedily and wish I had thought of it for our supper.  Speedy and simple, the sauce takes no more time to make than the pasta does to cook.  Add as much or as little chilli as you like depending on your diners.  I struggle to find spicy, Italian sausages around here so add heat with some dried chilli flakes whose  smoky flavour is perfect here.  Should you be able to find some genuine salsiccia (you lucky thing) the taste a bit once it is cooked before adding chilli in case it is not required.

This is supremely comforting, quick, cheap and easy – what more could you want?

Sausage Pasta

I might add the some leaf spinach along with the cream and water if this is for our dinner letting it wilt in the heat of the sausage sauce.  My daughter would be horrified if I did this to her favourite supper so I tend to leave the spinach out for her but sometimes I add some peas…..

1 tablespoon oil

6 good sausages, skin removed

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Pinch of chilli flakes (see above)

1 tablespoon cream

1/2 a small bunch of parsley, chopped

150g short pasta, I use penne but it is up to you

Parmesan to serve

Cook the pasta as per the packet instructions.   Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the sausage, breaking it up as much as you can.  When it is starting to look a little brown and crisping around the edges add the garlic and chilli.  Cook for a few more minutes to lose the rawness in the garlic and then add the cream and 3 tablespoons of water out of the pasta pan.   When the pasta is cooked drain then add to the pan with the sausage, give it all a good mix, taste and see what seasoning it needs then sprinkle over the parsley and serve with lots of grated parmesan.  Enough for 2 but easily doubled or tripled.

Sausage Pasta 2

Girls’ Night In

Chilli

Some years ago, before marriage and children, a girl’s nights in seemed to be a fairly frequent occurrence and enormous fun.  Different in those days though when, to be frank, a couple of bottles of wine, a packet of cigarettes and a video (remember those) of Take That Live made for a belting evening with the girls.  You know who you are!

These days however, finding a free evening is a different ball game.  Children need ferrying from one after school activity to another and there is a husband to be fed.   The girlfriends from those heady, single gal days are now dotted around the World rather than living just down the road and the Take That video looks like a sad relic next to all the dvds.

So I was particularly pleased when a couple of Dorset friends suggested coming over for wine, movies, popcorn and ice cream.   We are going to kick off with frozen raspberry daiquiris, a grown up slush puppy.  I persuade myself that the lime juice and berries go some way towards off setting the rum and the fabulous bright zingy pink seems a suitably girly start.  Then chilli – perfect fork food to eat in front of a film, spicy and warming.  Rich with tomatoes, earthy cumin and a good blast of heat from the chilli and cayenne.  Alongside I will offer the essential sour cream, grated cheddar, extra chillies and home made tortilla chips.  For pudding I have good vanilla ice cream in the freezer and the wherewithal for either hot chocolate sauce or salted caramel sauce depending on our mood.

All that remains is to decide whether it will be a “no one puts Baby in the corner”, “Goose, you big stud” or “Kevin, I think I broke your shower” evening…..

Chilli and dvds

Chilli

There are probably hundred of recipes for Chilli but this is how I make it.  You can go the cubed beef or mince route – I use mince just because that is what I have always done and a little nostalgia is not a bad thing on a Girls’ night.   For the tortilla chips, I buy regular tortillas and cut them into 6 or 8, brush lightly with oil, sprinkle with a little salt and bake at 200 for about 5 minutes or until crisp.  They are just right with the chilli but you could serve rice too.  You can cook this ahead of time or the day before.

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, chopped

1 yellow, red or orange pepper, sliced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

400g beef mince

2 heaped teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 – 1/2 cayenne pepper (I do a 1/4 if serving to children, 1/2+ for adults)

250ml red wine

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 tablespoon tomato ketchup

1 tin chopped tomatoes

2 tins of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Chopped parsley or coriander, whichever you prefer

Preheat the oven to 150.  Heat the oil in a large pan and soften the onions and pepper for about 10 minutes until soft.  Add the garlic followed by the mince and cook, stirring, until brown.   Add the cumin, salt, cayenne and a generous amount of black pepper, then the tomatoes, puree, ketchup and wine.  Give it a good stir, bring to a simmer, put on the lid and cook in the oven for an hour, add the kidney beans and cook for a further hour.  Check for seasoning, sprinkle over the parsley or coriander and serve with whichever accompaniments you choose.  Enough for 4 with rice.

 

 

Firecracker Red Cabbage and Sausages

Firecracker hot dog

It took me a while to come around to Guy Fawkes night as a child.  I found the whole Guy business both slightly mad and macabre.  Firstly because they always looked like a giant pair of tights stuffed with old clothes tied with baler twine and sporting a huge hat over the grinning face.  Rarely worth a penny I thought.  Macabre because I didn’t really like the idea of burning anyone although I did realise it was purely symbolic.  Childish anxieties I guess.

What would cheer me up however was the promise of something good to eat whilst standing around an enormous bonfire.  I can see it now on our village green, almost two storeys high, a huge beast of a fire shooting sparks into the night sky and belting out heat.  There was usually the promise of a toffee apple, good for nibbling the toffee off only to be left with a rather sticky green apple on a wobbly stick.  Or cinder toffee, crunchy, splintering and sticking your teeth together.  Always on offer were hot dogs, proper sausages rather than frankfurters with a good squirt of ketchup which inevitably found its way onto your woolly gloves.

Sadly our fireworks were rained off  this week but if they hadn’t been this is what we would have been eating as a relish with our hot dogs.   Sweet, tangy and with a good kick of chilli it is delicious in a bun with a good banger on top.   It would be just as at home served on the side with some sausages or perhaps with roast pork or maybe a ham.   Ideas, ideas….

Firecracker cabbage

Firecracker Red Cabbage

As I was making this I cast an eye over a jar of chilli jelly which you could very easily use in place of the redcurrant jelly and chilli flakes – the reason I didn’t was because they vary so much in their heat so difficult to suggest how much to use.   You could give it a try and taste as you go.  This amount of chilli means my children are happy with it, add more if you want.

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 red cabbage, quite finely chopped

Good pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes

2 tablespoons redcurrant jelly

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and stir.  Add the red cabbage and give it a good stir and then add the remaining ingredients.  Cook gently for half an hour with a lid on and half an hour with the lid off to allow the liquid to bubble down to a syrup which will coat the cabbage.  Taste, it might need a little more salt or a spritz of balsamic.   Serve with sausages in buns or on plates, enough for 4.