Tag Archives: pancetta

Vegetable Soup, or a variation on Minestra

Minestrone (0397)Spring has truly arrived on this little island. The Sun was out beautifully this morning and it was a lovely day. Temperatures are so mild during the day, but we still need to keep the jackets out for the evenings. It’s the perfect weather. Not too warm, not too cold.

During the past few days I’ve been feeling as if I had a nasty fall packaged with a good blow on the head, leaving me with a headache and some bumps, lumps and scratches. Said fall could have been a result of a serious lack of concentration. My mind could have been somewhere else. It could have happened…

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Neapolitan-Inspired Bean Soup

gino-dacampos-bean-soup-0628I was going to write an entirely different recipe today, but that is taking so much of my time on this rainy busy day, that I just had to forgo the idea. Instead let me give you a deliciously hearty recipe for a soup that is easily becoming a staple in my house.

A few months ago, my bro-in-law J2 awarded me the guardianship of some of his cookbooks, a role which I take very seriously, by cooking from them myself, as it should be. It made me think of this beautiful bean soup, especially because today the rain is coming down hard on this island, and it looks as if it’s staying for the next couple of days. It’s annoying but truly we need it. I feel sorry for all those who need to venture out. The roads are crazy with traffic and I just received a message from a friend saying how soaked she got. Stay safe and avoid extra driving everyone. It’s not nice out there.

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Fettuccine with a simple tomato and red pepper sauce

Fettuccine with Bacon and Pepper Sauce (8367)

I’ve always said that, for me, the hardest part of writing recipes is not really the recipes themselves, but the introduction. I’m never happy to post something without one. I think food, like most of the things in life, has to have some kind of context, no matter how small it might be.

Now when I say ‘small’ I don’t mean insignificant. I never mean that because to me that’s somewhat disrespectful. Eating with your partner, spouse, friends, or even alone is never a small thing. I don’t want to sound too philosophical here. Leading busy lives means that sometimes we might skip supper and/or lunch with others. That’s one reason why I like to have people over for supper. Sometimes I do it on the spur of the moment, on a whim,  when I know my pantry and fridge are stocked for that week. Sometimes I even wing it, without many ingredients to hand. We all have those days where all we want is to be alone, and for the most part I lunch alone, but nothing beats a full table.

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Penne with Pancetta, Mushrooms and Bechamel (#PastaFriday)

Pasta-with-Mushrooms-Ham-and-Bechamel-Sauce-(5991)

I think the day has finally come. The day when I can dare to say that the air is crisp and fresh and autumn is here. Can this be true? I don’t know about you but to me this kind of weather makes me want to eat mushrooms. And pancetta. And pasta. Thank goodness these three stars go so well together. All they need is some kind of sauce. Now I’ve got a little confession to make. When I’m in a hurry I make a simple tomato one with a few other ingredients thrown here and there, but I’m not a huge fan. I will eat it because I like it. That’s all. What I really really like is a good cream sauce. Alas, that’s not the healthiest thing on Earth (what a huge disappointment) so instead, that is when I have the time I make bechamel.

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Warm Tortellini Salad (#PastaFriday) and something that bothered me today.

Tortellini Salad (9883)

This post is supposed to go up tomorrow but I have some totally unplanned time today to write. Tomorrow will be a busy day and anyhow something happened this afternoon which I feel deserves a mention. So if you don’t mind sticking around just for a little while, I would like to share something with you. Some will not like me after this but in this space I’m allowed to speak my mind and get to the personal stuff once in a while. Don’t worry, you will find a recipe at the end of his post, but you will have noticed that by now in the title. Here we go.

If you know me personally, or even if you come by my blog or Facebook wall once in a while, you will notice that I take many matters to heart. C&T is mostly about food and I understand that’s why many people come here. Hopefully you stop by because you like the recipes and photos, and my occasional rants about food, and I’m always glad when you pop in and say hello, both on this blog and also anywhere else you can find me on social media. Reading comments is something I hold dear and I don’t take these for granted. No blog comes to life without readers, both the regular ones and those who visit sporadically. I have been criticised many times, and that’s OK. Really. I do get upset sometimes but I am learning to let some things go.

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Baked Rice Revisited and Better Photos

Baked Rice Revisited (8362)

Among the most popular recipes you can find here on C&T is Baked Rice. Yes, it’s already up and has been up for quite some time now. The feedback has been so good – you cannot imagine how pleased I am at how it turned out. Although the photos on that post are decent, I still have a few more I want to show you just because they turned out better.

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Lentils and Ham

Lentils-with-Ham-(4801)

During the first weeks of summer I read somewhere that Rick Stein was publishing a book about the food of Spain, to accompany his series by the same name on BBC2. What a treat! Excellent. I bought it and then…ta-da…I read that he was going to do a book signing in Guildford. Even more…excellent! So I did a thorough read of most of the recipes in the book and counted the days. In the meantime J and I moved to a new place and J’s dad flew in to help us with this move. In all the excitement I got sick. Typical. Not even the flu jab worked. As I resigned myself to the fact that I was only in possession of a mere unsigned copy, J offered to go to the town centre and get it signed for me. So sweet. So as I lay on the couch, fever going up and down driving me crazy, J was having all the fun, standing in a long queue/line, clutching my precious book. Mr. Stein kindly signed my book, commenting to J that it was heavily annotated or something like that. I like Rick’s simple but creative approach to food. Pity I didn’t get to meet him.

So inspired by Rick’s book Spain, I tried an accompaniment – not the usual first recipe to try from a new publication, but it appeared good on paper and I decided to give it a go. It’s not a main meal I think, but it makes a good snack for a BBQ or a picnic – hot or cold, your choice. A very simple but very tasty dish, with some variations peppered here and there. You could leave the pancetta out if you’re vegetarian, but for me it would have that something missing, if you know what I mean. And it’s one way of making J eat more veg! Here it goes.

  • 230g green lentils, cooked as per packet instructions. (Don’t throw away the cooking liquid.)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 whole head of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 2 smallish onions, peeled and chopped
  • 200g carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 100g pancetta or back bacon
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 120ml white wine
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the lentils, use a sieve on a bowl to reserve the cooking liquid, and set them aside. Pour the olive oil into a wide and shallow pan and warm it through. Add the chopped garlic, onions and carrots and cook over medium heat for around 15 to 20 minutes, when the vegetables are softened.

Add the pancetta or bacon and toss it with the vegetables for 5 minutes. Time to add the paprika, tomatoes and wine, and let everything simmer happily until the liquid is reduced and slightly thickened.

Topple the cooked lentils and 150ml of the reserved liquid into the pan. Add the parsley, some salt and pepper to taste, let these simmer for 5 minutes and serve. Serves 6-8 people easily.

Enjoy!

Rob x