This is a favourite mid week/Friday night supper dish, perfect for when you’re tired and want something quick and fairly easy to rustle up that doesn’t skimp on flavour or comfort 🙂 I think it must have started off as a Carbonara, but time (and bad influences!) have morphed it into the boozy creamy pasta it is today that probably shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as carbonara for fear of offending any passing Italians… But what this dish does have in common with Carbonara is that the sauce should coat the spaghetti and no more, rather than be something the pasta is swimming in.
What I really love about the sauce is how the wine gives it a slightly zingy note that really compliments the slight tang in the creme fraiche. For all that I call this a “boozy” sauce, it should be the flavour you taste rather than the alcohol.
And if you’re feeling particularly lazy (and who doesn’t mid week) you can sub cubed pancetta for strips, but I do think the strips work better. Streaky bacon also works if you can’t get pancetta strips, or if you just prefer bacon.
Spaghetti in a Boozy, Creamy, Pancetta & Mushroom Sauce
Wine, creme fraiche, pancetta - what more incentive do you need?
1/2 pack of mushrooms, diced (I prefer chestnut, and sometimes use the entire pack rather than just half...)
1 packet of pancetta strips
Small glass or miniature bottle (18.75cl) white wine (or buy a normal bottle of white wine, and drink the rest!)
2 generous tablespoons of half fat creme fraiche
Olive oil for cooking
1/2 pack of spaghetti
Salt and pepper to season
Parsley for garnish (optional)
Heat some oil in the frying pan and cook off the onions and garlic on a medium heat until the onions start to look transparent.
Add the mushrooms (you might need to add a little more oil if it starts to get a bit dry) and once they’ve cooked down too, remove the lot to a bowl.
In the same pan, add a little more olive oil and turn the heat up to high. Once the oil is heated up, throw in the pancetta. I don’t like my pancetta crispy for this dish but that’s a personal thing, so cook your pancetta to suit and once it’s how you like it add the onion, garlic and mushrooms back into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and then give it all a good stir.
Now add the wine. Once it starts to bubble, turn the heat down to medium and leave it to simmer for five minutes.
In the meantime, bring a large saucepan of salted water up to boil and once the five minutes is up drop your spaghetti in and cook per the packet instructions. This should give the wine in your sauce another ten minutes to reduce right down – you really don’t want there to be much wine/liquid left, just the lovely lovely flavour of it.
That said, don’t reduce it away completely! If after ten minutes there’s still a lot of liquid, turn the heat up and until there’s around 2 tablespoons worth of liquid in the pan.
This is when I usually grate up (or should that be grate down?) a very very generous amount of parmesan. It really is a component of the dish rather than a garnish, so don’t be shy. And I’d rather have too much of it than too little.
Just before your spaghetti is ready, stir the creme freche into the pancetta, mushroom and onions and warm through.
When your spaghetti is ready, drain, reserving a cup of the cooking water just in case, before adding it to the frying pan along with the grated parmesan.
Toss everything in the pan so that the spaghetti is coated with the sauce and melting parmesan. If it all gets a little claggy, add some of the reserved cooking water which should sort that right out.
Grind some black pepper over it, garnish with a little chopped parsley if you have any to hand, and dish up!
Delicious with a little home made garlic bread on the side 🙂 NOM!
You really can’t go wrong with Delia, and this recipe is as wonderfully tasty as it is easy. I tried it for the first time about a year ago and it’s become a firm favourite in our house. The prep may seem like a bit of a flaff, all that chopping of endless green, but it’s totally worth it. The lime starts to cook the chicken while it’s marinating, and coupled with the literal flash-in-the-pan cooking time results in amazingly tender chicken that is just bursting with that fresh zesty lime flavour.
Quick to cook and satisfyingly savoury!
Delia's Stir-Fried Chicken with Lime and Coconut
A bit of prep work but this quick-cook dish is fresh, zingy and amazingly tender.
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (if you want a little more kick add another half chilli)
4 heaped tbsp fresh coriander leaves
4 spring onions, sliced into rounds, including the green bits
2 tsp / 10ml Thai fish sauce (Hubby likes a wee splash more, but be careful as this stuff is PO-TENT!)
Oil for cooking
Rice (Thai fragrant rice is perfect for this)
First things first, get that marinade going! Zest and then juice your lime into a bowl (the smell alone is worth the zesting!). Chop your chicken into bite sized pieces and then add to the lime in the bowl. Stir to coat the chicken, and then leave to marinate for 1 hour.
Snip the ends off your spring onions and slice into rounds (or at a slight angle for ovals if you're feeling artistic!), deseed and finely chop the green chilli (fifi's top tip! I highly recommend getting some vinyl gloves, or CSI gloves as our family calls them, to keep your fingers safe from accidentally transferring that raw chilli heat elsewhere – they make pepper-spray out of this stuff, and for good reason!), and finely chop your coriander leaves.
I generally put my rice on at this point, and then go and sit down for 45 minutes 🙂
Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat.
Fish the chicken pieces out of the marinade and add them to the wok – if a little marinade goes in too it’s no biggy, but too much and you’ll end up poaching your chicken instead of stir-frying.
Speaking of which, stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until they chicken is golden and starting to brown a little in places.
Then add the chilli and stir-fry for 1 more minute.
Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and almost all of the coriander and spring onions (you really only want to hold enough back for garnishing) and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Serve with rice, and scatter the remaining coriander and spring onions over everything.
I have an ex-boyfriend to thank for introducing me to this delicious soup, which was more delicious than the ex apparently as after we broke up it was the soup I pined for rather than him! And his cat, but that’s another story…
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the foresight to get a copy of the recipe at the time. But, I finally found it online last year, hurrah (thanks to easy-soup-recipes.blogspot.com for reuniting us!), and it was every bit as tasty as I remembered 🙂
The cauliflower blitzes down into a thicky and creamy soup, with the cider adding that sweet and sharp apple note that just goes so perfectly with cauliflower.
This soup is a real winter warmer, and is also the first (and so far only) soup I’ve ever made. Must sneak another one in before Spring hits… If nothing else, it will give me an excuse to try and get a photo of this that does it justice!
Cauliflower and Cider Soup
A creamy, indulgent warmer that's perfect for a cold winter's day.
1 ¼ lb cauliflower florets (which is about 1 medium head's worth)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 carrot, thinly sliced
2 tbsp butter
½ cup milk
½ cup double cream
2 ½ cups cider (a sweet cider like Magners or Bulmers is perfect. This is "hard cider" for you Yanks!)
1 chicken stock cube / pot
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
Snipped chives for garnish (optional)
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat before adding the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes with the occasional stir until everything is just softened.
Then add the carrot and cauliflower to the pan before pouring in the cider. Give it all a good stir and then season it with salt, pepper and a generous grating of nutmeg.
Bring to a boil, then add the chicken stock cube and stir that in before reducing the heat to low and covering the pan. Leave it to cook gently for about 50 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft, and then remove the pan from the heat.
Let the soup cool down a little, then transfer to a blender or food processor and purée the lot until smooth (fifi says... We used a blender and had to purée in batches so probably best to try a little first and see how your blender copes with it. If you're using a food processor the recipe I found says to strain off the cooking liquid and reserve, purée the soup solids with enough cooking liquid to moisten them, and then combine with remaining liquid.)
Return the now puréed soup to the saucepan and stir in the milk and the cream. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as needed.
Simmer the soup over low heat with the occasional stir until it’s heated through.
Ladle up, garnish with a scatter of chives, or a few drops of olive oil and some freshly milled black pepper, and enjoy!
Perfect with lots of warm crusty bread to dip (Jus-Rol Bake-it-Fresh Crusty White Rolls, or one of those half baked french sticks that you finish baking yourself are perfect), or a fresh batch of sourdough croutons.
Spaghetti Bolognese is my go to comfort food, even if it bears little if any resemblance to its Italian ancestor! Like most of my favourite dishes it started off as a hand-me-down recipe from Mum, and over the years I’ve added to it, and taken away from it (pancetta, I’m looking at you!), until it’s settled down to this recipe.
In an ideal world, make it the day before and let it develop overnight. But it’s such a mood thing for me that I usually cook it and eat it the same night, and it tastes just fine. Also freezes really well for another day.
So if you’re ever looking for a hug in a bowl, allow me to heartily recommend this 🙂
Slow-Cooked Spag Bol
My take on a classic British favourite, and my first go to dish when I need comfort in a bowl.
Dice the onions and mushrooms, and mince the garlic. Simples!
Heat some oil in the pot and cook off the onions and garlic on a medium heat until the onions start to look transparent.
Add the mushrooms (you might need to add a little more oil if it starts to get a bit dry) and once they've cooked down too, remove the lot to a bowl.
In the same pot, brown the mince. I find the best way is to push the mince down until it covers the entire base of the pan with no gaps, this helps it to brown rather than broil. Once one side is browned, flip the mince over to cook off the other side.
Turn the heat up to high and tip in the milk, and keep the heat up until the milk has all soaked in to the mince (the milk really helps to tenderise the mince).
Turn the heat back down to medium and squeeze in about half a tube of tomato purée. Stir it all in before adding the onions, garlic and mushrooms back into the pot.
Then, add the can of tomatoes and the stock cube and give it all a good stir. (fifi's top tip - If your canned tomatoes are whole I recommend draining the tomato juice into the pot first, then take a tomato and holding it over the pot squish hard in your hand and drop whatever is left into the sauce. Repeat until all the tomatoes are squished, it's almost as satisfying as popping bubble wrap!! Be warned, though, as the tomatoes do have a tendency to kick back and end up on your clothes if you squish too hard.)
If there’s not a lot of liquid then add some water, about 1/3rd of the empty can of tomatoes.
Season! Salt and pepper, bay leaves, a splash of balsamic vinegar (the sweetness cuts the tinniness that you sometimes get with tomatoes), and a dash (or ten!) of Worcestershire sauce. This last is really a personal taste thing. Me, I like LOADS of Worcestershire sauce so there’s no such thing as too much of it, but it’s easier to add more than remove what you've put in, so start with a little and taste it and work up to the perfect amount of dash for you.
Once it’s all bubbling away, turn the heat right down to the lowest setting and put a lid on it for 1.5 hours, stirring and tasting to check the seasoning every half hour or so.
Take the lid off for the last 30 minutes. If it starts to look a bit dry then add a little hot water. If it looks too wet then turn the heat up a little.
Serve on spaghetti with a generous grating of parmesan. And if you like a little heat in your food, try adding a couple of dashes of Tobasco to the spaghetti. I’m sure it’s the last thing an Italian would add to their ragu, but I’ve been Tobasco-ing mine since I was a kid and couldn't eat Spag Bol now without the hot red stuff!