Tonight I cooked some calamari (squid in batter) and was well impressed with the results, melt in your mouth.

If all you have ever eaten are the “bake” in the oven ready battered calamari or under the grill “cooked” squid rings, then cooking fresh squid is something you just have to try.

You will find there is no comparison.

So take some prepared squid; you can prepare it yourself, or ask your fishmonger or buy it freshly prepared.

In a bowl mix some self-raising flour, some milk and the yolk of an egg (or you can use a beer batter). I also added some grated parmesan (just to be different).

Then coat and cook the squid in a pan of hot oil.

Serve straightaway with lemon segments, otherwise the cooked squid will go rubbery or the batter will go soft.


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 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.


Pasta in Tomato Sauce

This is a very quick and easy dish with a lovely piquant tomato sauce.

Pasta in Tomato Sauce

In a large frying pan, cook off some pancetta, then in the same pan soften a finely chopped onion and red pepper.

When the pancetta, onions and pepper are nearly cooked, add a good splash of balsamic vinegar, then as this boils add a blended tin of tomatoes (or you could use passata if you want to). Add some tomato puree and sliced mushrooms. Leave to simmer for at least twenty minutes and preferably a little longer. Towards the end add some chopped fresh parsley.

When you are nearly ready to eat, cook the pasta. With a tomato sauce I much prefer to use a dried pasta (and use fresh pasta with a cream based sauce). With this recipe I used De Cecco Fusilli.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and toss the pasta in the sauce.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan and ground black pepper.

If you like to you could add some black olives or anchovies to the sauce, I prefer not to due to the saltiness of these ingredients.

Gnocchi with chicken and mushrooms

This is a very quick meal to cook and shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes, probably even less.

Take some chicken and cut into pieces the same size as gnocchi. You can use chicken breast, personally I use chicken thigh partly because it is cheaper, more so because it has a much better flavour.

In a large hot frying pan, add a splash of olive oil,  then add the chicken.

In another pan add some pancetta. You can use the cubed pancetta, though when I cooked this I used the sliced pancetta cut into small strips.

Ensure that the chicken is cooking and remove the cooked pancetta from the other pan to the chicken. Add some freshly chopped parsley and some freshly ground black pepper.

Keep the heat up in the pancetta pan and pan fry the mushrooms in the fat from the pancetta (you may need to add a little olive oil).

In a pan of rolling boiling water add the gnocchi. Cook for two minutes.

Add the cooked mushrooms to the chicken and mushrooms and then add a couple of spoonfuls of creme frache.

Drain the cooked gnocchi, spoon over the chicken, mushroom and creme frache mixture, toss lightly.

Spoon onto plates, add freshly grated parmesan and ground black pepper to taste.

Risotto disaster…

Last night I decided to cook a risotto to go with the shellfish I was cooking. I have done this in the past usually using white wine, lemon, rocket and parmesan to flavour the risotto. Alas I had no white wine, no lemon and no rocket, though I did have a block of parmesan to hand. Little piece of advice here, never buy pre-grated parmesan this is usually  grated from dried out pieces of old parmesan or so an old Italian friend of mine once said. Though as it is usually cheaper than the solid stuff I am inclined to believe her! So there I was cooking this risotto and wondering how I should flavour it. Well I had mushrooms and they always work well in risotto, I had some red wine, and I had some chicken stock. There we go, good to go, or so I thought.

Basically it didn’t work quite as well as I hoped. Firstly it came out a grey lilac colour rather than the rich red brown I was expecting. Well that was down to the red wine, lack of dark stock and the mushrooms. Secondly it was rather bland, it had no bite. I think it could have done with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Most of it was eaten so either we were hungry or it wasn’t half as bad as it looked.

Having said that, the scallops wrapped in pancetta were delicious.