Friday, 24 February 2012

Easy Pasta Recipe, and Shallot Tarte Tatin

Two recipes. The first is for a great pasta dish, easy and quite cheap to make, with full instructions for uncertain cooks. (I shall never post a recipe for the dreaded 'pasta with tomato slop' which restaurants often offer as the 'vegetarian option' but which is extremely easy and cheap to produce and often offensively bland. For anyone cooking this, I beg you to add lots of onions and herbs at least!)

The second is for a tarte tatin, one of my favourites - it's not hard to make but takes a while and needs a steady hand for flipping the tarte at the end. Instructions are briefer for this one.

Penne Pasta with Peas & Lemon Cream - to serve 2 good portions. Needs 35-40 mins.
Yep, this has beans but I lost my pea pic!
Ingredients - best to prepare before cooking starts:
  200g dried penne pasta (ribbed tubes cut
  150g frozen peas
  1 tablespoon of vegetable/olive oil
  1 large clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  200ml single cream (preferably organic)
  Juice and grated zest (rind) of half a large lemon
  1 teaspoon dried oregano (or parsley or coriander)
  60g grated veg Italian hard cheese (e.g. Sainsbury)
                                                           Black pepper

Also 2 saucepans (1 small, 1 medium). Put the oven on fairly low (about 125C), and warm up an oven-proof serving dish.

1  Boil a good quantity of water in the larger pan, then add the pasta and cook as
       instructions on pack.
2  Meanwhile, boil water in the other pan, put in the peas, bring back to the boil and cook
       5 minutes.
3  Drain pasta and peas and put in the serving dish and back in the oven.
4  Heat the oil in the smaller pan, then fry the garlic gently for 2 minutes.
5  Add the cream and bring gently to the boil, stirring occasionally.
6  Add the lemon rind and juice, the oregano and cheese, and about half a teaspoon of
       black pepper.
7  Mix well and stir over the heat for another minute or so to make sure it's all hot.
8  Pile this into the serving dish and mix it all. Either serve straight away, or keep hot in
       the oven.

Shallot Tarte Tatin with Thyme and Balsamic - serves 4, about 75 mins
Crispy puff pastry base covered with shallots gooey with balsamic and sugar. Would serve 4 if there are side vegetables (e.g.tenderstem & baby sweetcorn, not potatoes), or 3 with a decent side salad. When serving, the shallots will be soft and maybe slippery, so a very sharp knife, used boldly, is best to cut wedges. (She says from experience.)

  500 shallots, round or elongated
  3 tbsp olive oil
  2 tbsp dark balsamic vinegar
  1 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
  2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tbsp dried)
  60g vegetarian Emmental cheese (e.g. President, otherwise Cheddar), grated
  180g puff pastry (rolled fairly thinly from a block, or most of
       one ready-rolled sheet)

Also needed: bowl, large frying pan, baking parchment, 20cm diameter non-stick shallow (about 4-5cm deep) cake tin.
After stage 3 below, set oven to 180C if fan, otherwise 200C.

1  Place shallots in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave 6 mins then peel
       (carefully if still hot). If they don't fall naturally into two pieces, halve them.
2  Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry shallots gently for 10 mins, stirring occasionally.
3  Add vinegar, sugar, thyme + 2 tbsp water. Fry gently a further 5 mins, stirring at times.
4  Line the base of the cake tin with a circle of parchment, then tip in the shallot mixture
      and smooth over to cover the base completely. Leave 10 mins to cool a little.
5  Spread the cheese evenly over the shallots.
6  Lay the pastry over the tin, and trim to leave a 5cm overlap all round. Tuck the overlap
      down inside the edges of the tin to seal in the filling.
7  Bake in the top half of the oven for 25 mins or until the pastry is well browned.
8  Allow to cool 5 mins, then run a non-stick knife/spatula gently around the edge to loosen.
9  The good bit: place a large plate over the tarte, hold both firmly, and quickly invert them.
      Carefully peel off the parchment.

Hope these recipes appeal, and please let me know if there are any 'requests' (preferably of a polite nature).

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