Stuff for pasta

Pasta is a quick and easy dish in our house. For a sauce I usually start off making a base of pancetta, onions and pepper in a frying pan. Start off by cooking the pancetta until browning and then add the onions and peppers. When the onions and pepper are softened add sliced mushrooms. As the mushrooms cook add some spinach.

This is the base for a variety of pasta sauces. 

Add to freshly cooked pasta with pesto for pesto pasta.

Add a tin of chopped tomatoes (or a carton of passata) for a tomato sauce.

For a creamy sauce, I usually stir in a jar of crème fraîche. I always try and use a quality crème fraîche rather than the standard supermarket own brand.

Add parmesan to taste.

I sometimes cook some mushroom separately and add those as an addition to the pasta.

Steak and Black Pudding

The other week I was lucky enough to have dinner at the Mustard Seed Restaurant in Inverness. For my starter I had had the crayfish and salmon salad. For my main course I had the pan fried rump steak served with roasted fine diced black pudding and potatoes with parsley and garlic crème fraîche.

This was really really nice.

The steak was a rump steak, and I have found at many restaurants that rump steak can be quite tough, this one though was cooked to perfection and was very tender. I did ask for it to be cooked medium rare and I think that helped. The black pudding and potatoes were done well and really enhanced the steak. It was all complemented with the parsley and garlic crème fraîche, which had a subtle garlic flavour and the freshness worked well in opposition to the strong spiced flavour of the black pudding. Across those flavours you could still certainly taste the flavour of the beef.

Overall a really nice combination of ingredients, that was cooked well and was as a result delicious.

Pasta with steak and mushrooms

Though I eat pasta a fair bit, I do like to try different things, though more often then not it is a variation on a theme as is the case with this dish.

I cooked the steak in a hot pan, generally in the same way I cook any steak. Hot pan, no oil in the pan, but oil the steak with a good olive oil and season with black pepper (but no salt, as the pancetta used later has more than enough salt to season the dish).

I cook the steak and leave to rest.

While the steak is cooking, cook the pasta of your choice, I used a specialty air dried pasta from the Taste the Difference range from Sainsburys.

After removing the steak from the pan, add some diced onion and pancetta. When the onion has softened and the pancetta cooked, add some button mushrooms. When the mushrooms have cooked add some freshly chopped parsley, a few spoonfuls of creme frache and the steak which should be sliced.

Place the pasta on the plate and spoon the steak and sauce onto the top of the pasta.


Creamy Linguine

This is a nice pasta dish that is quick and easy to make.

In a large frying pan, fry off some pancetta and half a finely chopped onion.

Then add some mushrooms and freshly chopped parsley.

When nearly cooked, add half a tub of creme frache.

Cream sauce

For the pasta  used a fresh egg and spinach linguine.

fresh egg and spinach linguine

It only takes a couple of minutes to cook, mix with the sauce and then serve with a sprinkling of grated parmesan and ground black pepper.

Pasta Salad

I do like a nice pasta salad, especially as it can be eaten instead of bread and adds some substance to a salad based meal.

The problem I have with some you can buy is that they are either too salty or too wet! So where possible I try and make my own.

This is a very simple recipe and you can adjust quantities to taste, how much you want, how much you have in the fridge.

Pasta Salad

Cook some pasta.

You can use any pasta, but have been using and prefer De Cecco’s Fusilli.

While the pasta is cooking, in a frying pan add some olive oil and then add onions and red pepper. After that has cooked for a while add some mushrooms.

Ensure that they are cooked through, add some freshly chopped parsley and turn off the heat.

Now you could add the pepper and mushrooms raw, but I prefer to have them cooked.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and then to stop it cooking further and to cool it down rinse well with cold water.

Put the cooked pasta in a bowl, add a splash of olive oil for flavour and to stop it sticking. Note always add oil to cooked and drained pasta to stop it sticking. Adding it the boiling water does not do this as the oil floats on the top of the water.

To the cooked pasta add some mayonnaise and some creme frache.

Then add the cooked mixture.

Stir with a spoon until the rice and cooked mixture is evenly coated. As with a lot of salads though you could serve this straight away, it will improve if you leave it in the fridge for a few hours.


Pasta with Pork and Cream

Cooked a nice simple pasta dish tonight.

In a hot pan, cook off some pancetta, now add some diced (or sliced) pork and brown.

Now add some finely chopped red onion and add some Italian herbs.

In another hot pan, add a splash of olive oil then cook some sliced mushrooms, they will cook and taste much better than cooking them with the pork and onions.

Cook some fresh pasta in a pan of rolling boiling water.

To the mushrooms add some freshly chopped parsley.

Then add the mushrooms to the pork, add a tub of creme frache, some grated parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.

Drain the cooked pasta, and add the pork and cream mixture on top.

Add some more grated parmesan to taste.


Making coleslaw again and other salads.



I use cabbage, usually organic pointed cabbage or white cabbage. I shred this, ensuring I cut the core out first.

I then skin an onion, cut it in half and then cut very fine slices, before adding them to the coleslaw mix.

I grate my carrots.

For the dressing, I add a small spoon of wholegrain mustard, a couple of spoons of creme frache, a couple spoons of mayonnaise and a few grinds from my pepper mill.

Using two spoons I mix the lot together.

More black pepper and a splash of olive oil.



I have also made a rice salad, a pasta salad and a green bean salad. Going to serve the salads with some freshly grilled scallops, prawns and langoustine.

Should be nice.

Chicken and Mushrooms with a Cream Sauce

Chicken and Mushrooms with a Cream Sauce

A very simple dish which is probably either best served with rice or gnocchi.

In a large frying pan, fry off some pancetta bacon and onions. Once these are cooked, remove from the pan, turn the heat up and fry off the mushrooms.

Now add a tub of  creme frache and some cooked chicken. Add the bacon and mushrooms. Freshly ground black pepper to season.


Steak and Mushrooms

Last night I cooked a very nice (and quick) meal.

I took some sirloin steak, I actually prefer ribeye but sometimes you have to have what is available and not what you want or prefer.

I heated the frying pan without oil, the steaks were oiled though and then placed in the hot pan.

In a separate pan I fried some pancetta and onions, once they were nearly cooked, I remove them, turned the heat up and added the mushrooms so they fried rather than steamed.

Once the steaks were cooked I removed them from the pan, and put them on a warm plate to rest (really important to let steaks rest for a few minutes before serving they will be a lot more tender).

I then added the onions, pancetta and mushrooms to the steak pan and a couple of large spoonfuls of creme frache.

Then in a pan of rolling boiling water I put some gnocchi.

In two minutes the sauce was ready, the gnocchi was ready, so serve.


Pasta with Chicken and Mushrooms

In a frying pan cook off some pancetta bacon, remove from the pan. Cook the chicken, I usually use chicken thigh (bonless and skinless) cut into a size which is about the same as the pasta I am using. Cook the chicken over a relatively high heat. Remove the chicken and then add the onions, cook until softened. Now cook the mushrooms.

Whilst this chicken and mushrooms are cooking cook the pasta. I used fusilli (pasta twirls) and cooked until al dente.

Once the mushrooms are cooked, add back the pancetta and chicken, add some creme frache.

Mix the chicken mixture with the cooked pasta and a good handful of freshly grated parmesan and some freshly ground black pepper.