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Spagetti con le cozze (Spagetti and mussels)

Today we are in a seafood frenzy! The weather may be cooling down (sniff) but we are determined to continue to eat fresh, light, summery foods that remind us of our summer holidays! “Oh I do like to be beside the seaaaaside” and on that musical note, here is what we had on the menu today.

Our aperitivo was the cocktail of the month – Spritz accompanied by le tartine. Today’s selection included sliced rustic baguette topped with salmon, lemon and parslay, a soft cheese and chive spread and warm smoked mackerel with tarter sauce. Our main was Spagetti con le cozze. You can get mussels from most large supermarkets. We need to be honest, they are farmed and have never frequented the seaside (a small amount of imagine can ignore that) but they are usually fresh and very tasty.  To complete the meal we had a fresh fruit salad. YUM.

Spagetti and mussels

Here is how we made the main course:

Ingredients:

  • A net of mussels
  • Half a glass of white wine
  • 220g spagetti (for a big man and a normal girl!)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ dry chilli
  • 1 ripe tomato medium
  • 3 tblspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Parsley and basil
  • Black pepper, white pepper and salt

 Directions:

  1. Rinse and clean the mussels well and then drain properly
  2. Place a pot on a hot hob and add the mussels and the white wine (no oil)
  3. Cook for 3-4 mins until they open – if any do not open throw them away
  4. Remove from the heat as shell 90 % of the mussels saving the rest for decoration – also save some of the cooking juice in a cup
  5. Using the same pot bring salted water to the boil and cook the spagetti (3 minutes less than the suggested time)
  6. Get a pan on a medium heat with oil and fry the garlic and chilli for 3 minutes so that they start to release the flavor without the garlic turning brown
  7. Add all the mussels and fry over a high heat for a minute
  8. Add finely chopped tomato
  9. Season with salt and black pepper
  10. Add some of the saved cooking juice to create a nice sauce (use judgment of how much)
  11. Cook for 3 mins
  12. Remove from the heat
  13. When the pasta is ready drain well
  14. Put sauce back on hob and mix in the pasta
  15. Add white pepper, parsley and basil and fry for one minute
  16. Serve straight away!

Enjoy

S&H 


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Italian Pasta Bake – requested by Heather

It is Sunday, so the flat it filled with Sunday flavors! A day where you relax (or recover) and where garlic is swapped for onions (at least when it comes to your homemade tomato sauces!) Our Italian Pasta Bake is great for a slow Sunday as you can prepare the elements in advance and then layer up and bake when you are ready. Here is how it is done:

PastaBake

Ingredients

For the Tomato sauce:

  • 250g Passata
  • 1 can Cirio baby plum tomatoes
  • Half an onion
  • 4Tblspoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • A small bunch of fresh basil

For the bake:

  • 250g minced steak
  • 1½ box Garganelli pasta
  • 300g Mozzarella
  • 250g Parmasan
  • 150g Ham (optional)

Prepare the Tomato Sauce:

Sweat the finely chopped onion in olive oil for a few minutes until translucent, add the canned tomatoes and the passata, add half a glass of water, the basil bunch and salt to taste. Bring to the boil and then leave to simmer for half an hour. When done take the basil out.

Tomato Sauce

Prepare the Polpettine (mini meatballs):

You will not be able to find pre-made meatballs that are small enough, so it is time to get your hands dirty. Taking very small amounts of minced steak roll teeny-weeny meatball that are approximately 1 cm in diameter. There is nothing added to the meat and as they are so small, they hold themselves together perfectly. Once all rolled out, fry them off for 3-4 minutes in olive oil, in small batches to seal them and set aside on kitchen roll to absorbed the excess meat.

Polpette

Prepare the Mozzarella and the Parmesan:

Living in England and with half of S&H being born in Campagnia (where Buffalo Mozzarella is produced) makes this a sore topic. The Mozzarella we used in this dish was, well, tasteless. We have found better quality mozzarella here at www.laverstokepark.co.uk in the past.

If you do find some fresh Mozzarella, firstly, tell us where you got it from and secondly, chop it into 2cm cubes and place on kitchen roll to absorb the excess water.

Grate a very healthy amount of Parmesan ready to sprinkle in-between the layers on the bake and your prep is complete!

To make the Pasta Bake:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 200C
  2. Get some water boiling in a large pan
  3. Add the pasta and part-cook it for 3 minutes
  4. Drain the water and mix a spoonful of tomato sauce on the pasta to cover liberally
  5. Take a casserole dish and begin the layer tomato sauce, pasta, mozzarella, pollpette, Parmesan, ham, tomato sauce etc (three layers seems to work best!!)
  6. Cover with foil, place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes, then uncover, turn oven to 150 and cook for 10 minutes
  7. Remove from the oven and set aside

When it comes out the oven it should be bubbling with tasty pasta shells along the sides that have caught a bit too much heat, the cheeses will have melted – the mozzarella will have become a stringy glue holding everything together and the little pollpette will be happily swimming in the Sunday tomato sauce!

Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving so that the melted mozzarella firms up slightly to give a nice consistency to the dish.

Serve with a simple fresh green salad and a good (Italian) red wine!

PastaBakeWine

Enjoy!

S&H Team 


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Sunday spritz

What a beautiful English summer weekend we have been treated to! We made ours extra special by cracking open the Aperol we had purchased in Italy. It’s a lovely sour sweet cocktail, perfect for an aperitivo.

Ingredients
Ice cubes
3 parts prosecco
2 parts Aperol
1 part tonic water
Fresh slice of orange

Directions
Put 3 ice cubed into a glass
Pour prosecco to fill half the glass
Add a good measure of Aperol
Add a splash of tonic water
Dress with a slice if fresh orange

Enjoy!

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