Wednesday, 6 October 2010

My first post and a tasty treat

Ok first post done.
Typical the day I start this and it's one of the few days I'm not cooking as I'm working away.
So this blog is all about food, the pleasure of cooking and of course eating. Obviously I shall be eating later on but that will be limited to what Horsham (which is where I'm working at the moment, I haven't made a special trip or anything like that) has to offer within my meager expenses budget.

Anyway being all keen and stuff to get blogging I thought I'd start with my current favourite midweek recipe.
Now one thing to point out is I'm no expert and something vital thing to remember is that tasting is of the utmost importance. Please don't blindly follow this or any other recipe for that matter, you must, must, must taste at every opportunity.
The amounts here are what I like and what cooks well on my stove you might be completely different.
So don't be afraid to follow with what your mouth tells you, if you don't like too much garlic add less , if you love spice add more chili it's totally up to you.

Oh and some of the recipes don't have exact amounts either some of it is about what feels right.

So, my first recipe, I love because it's very tasty, cheap and easy to make. The olives add an extra flavour dimension and the only place I can find them is Sainsburys everywhere else selling olives adds herbs or other stuff.which I don't want in this dish. As said I'm no expert but what I can tell you is it contains no additives , I think it's fairly healthy (Consult your nutritionist of choice) and even the kids love it

Penne With Spicy Tomato and Black Olive Sauce

Serves 4 to 6 depending on portion sizes

Penne Pasta , the amount depends on how many people you’re cooking for
1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
5 cloves of Garlic finely chopped
1 Shallot finely chopped
1 Birds eye chili chopped and keep the seeds (remove the seeds if you want it less spicy)
Pancetta cubes 1 box
Mushrooms about a handful
Handful of Basil Leaves
Good glug of red wine
1 Small pot of pitted black olives , halved length ways
Good quality extra virgin olive oil

In a Saucepan heat a little olive oil (not the good stuff, normal cooking olive oil) and gently fry, with a little salt and pepper, the shallot and garlic until soft .

Add the tinned tomatoes and continue to cook until bubbling
Fill about a third of the empty tomato can with red wine and tip into the pan
Bring back to the boil and then simmer.
Add the olives
Tear the basil leaves into small pieces and add to the pan
Add the chopped chillies
Taste and season as you go (very important, just in case you didn't read the bit above, how rude!)

Put a big pan of water on to boil

Whilst the tomatoes are simmering thinly slice the mushrooms
Put a non stick frying pan on the heat , when it is hot add the pancetta cubes
Fry them until oil is released and add the mushrooms
When both are cooked add a little water to bind them all together and tip into the pan with the tomatoes, mushroom ketchup instead of water or a little Worcestershire sauce also work well

Simmer the tomato mix for another 10 mins or until the mixture thickens

When the big pan is boiling add lots of salt
Then add your penne and give it a good stir with a pasta spoon thing (You can probably guess I don’t know the proper name for this) and stir every few mins to keep the penne separated
Once the water is boiling again take a two or three large spoons of the pasta water and add to your tomato sauce until it has the consistency you want. It should be nice a glossy in appearance.
We're near the end now so remember taste it and if required add more seasoning
Cook the penne to packet instruction or test if yourself as you go, by tasting bits. Ideally you want it soft but with a bit of resistance when you bite into it. Again though the consistency of the pasta should be how you like it. If you like it soft and mushy then go ahead and boil the hell out of it , just don't ask me to eat it

When the pasta is cooked use the saucepan lid to drain off the pasta
Add lots of pepper to the drained pasta and then drizzle on some of the extra virgin olive oil and stir with your pasta spoon fork thing

Dish up the pasta onto the plates, then add enough sauce for each persons liking
Finally add more torn basil if you want and drizzle with some more of the good olive oil
This goes well with Garlic toast

So as an added bonus …

Garlic Toast

Two thick slices of country bread per person will do
One or two cloves of Garlic peeled
Good Olive oil

Toast the bread on both sides and whilst still very hot rub the garlic onto the toast covering every inch of one side.
Finally drizzle with the olive oil and you’re done

Got Some Left?
Great, scrape out all of the remaining sauce into an air tight container , leave out to cool until room temperature then pop it in the fridge where it will sit for about 3 days. Just reheat when you need it

To be honest it doesn't taste as good reheated but its still good and a very cheap meal


  1. I can vouch that this is a fantastic dish and must be tried!

  2. My favourite pasta dish, really really yummy :)

  3. Great stuff.. Just cooked and ate this and wish I'd made double. West Country Review: Gurt Lush. :-) keep the chilli seeds in for that extra kick.