Tag Archives: Pasta

Proper Pasta and Pizza Flour

Earlier this week I spotted a tweet from Damien Mulley requesting food bloggers to get in touch with Roma for a free bag of pasta flour and as the offer contained 2 of my favourite things, pasta flour and “free”. I immediately popped an e-mail to the appropriate address and received a prompt response that left me feeling on top of the world, my new contact in Roma is a fan! It’s the little things that make yer day :)

Roma Gift Box
Roma Gift Box

Yesterday morning the door bell rang so I headed for the front door to be greeted by a courier with a package for me. It was a bit large for a bag of flour, I thought and sure enough once the paperwork had been signed and the courier thanked, I hurried inside to open the package.

Not only was there the flour as promised, but also a re-usable pasta box filled with dried penne and a recipe card. The recipes are for ravioli and a calzoni pizza. Now as some of my long-time readers know I’ve posted both pizza base and pasta recipes previously and I’ve posted about my difficulty in finding Farina Tipo 00 in Ireland so I’m overjoyed to hear that Roma are now bringing this product in to Ireland and that Superquinn and the larger Dunnes Stores will be stocking it. Thanks so much, the shopping trips to Italy were getting a bit pricey! :)

I’m also really looking forward to playing around with my pizza base recipe and hope to get a little bit closer to that genuine Italian pizza flavour at home, in the next few days so keep an eye out for a new recipe in the coming weeks.

More Pizza

A few Weeks back, I did a post about and highlighted some of my favourite pizza places in Dublin. Since then I’ve visited a few more and want to add to that post a little.

In particular I want to mention two restaurants; one fantastic and the other a bit of a let down. I like to finish my posts on an upside whenever possible so I’ll start with the disappointment.

Milano was the most recent addition to my summer long search for good Italian style pizza in Ireland. I should point out 2 things before I go too far into this, the first is that it was the restaurant in Temple Bar that we visited and secondly we were there as a result of a special offer they had advertised, which allowed us a Pizza for €0.15 with every main course ordered.

The initial impression was quite good as the restaurant was busy when we arrived and even though we had not booked in advance I was pleasantly surprised that we were seated immediately. We were given menus and allowed plenty of time to make our choices but not so much as to make us feel neglected. Our orders were taken, two starters, two main courses (both pizzas) and two drinks, a Peroni for myself and wine for Elly.

It was when the drinks arrived things started to go wrong. Our waiter poured my beer at the table which would have been nice except for it was a terrible pour and if that wasn’t bad enough the beer had only been in a cooler for a few minutes before serving, judging by the temperature, but it was drinkable and I wouldn’t even be mentioning it if the rest of the service had been good.

The starters weren’t exactly earth shattering and to be honest given the descriptions on the menu I was expecting more. Then there was the extended wait between courses. During which I spotted the carton of bechamel sauce in the kitchen area of the restaurant. Now call me a food snob, but if I’m in a restaurant I don’t expect to be eating processed food!

When our pizzas did arrive my regular pizza was small and unusually thick based for an Italian pizza, Elly’s thin base option was rolled so thin that it couldn’t support the moisture of the sauce and was a bit soggy and limp while somehow managing to be difficult to cut and chewy.

We were availing of a rather good special offer which meant that at least we didn’t over pay, but having now sampled Milano’s fair I can say with confidence that there are at least three other restaurants (Bar Italia, Botticelli and Le Med) within 100 yards that will serve you better pizza and for less than the regularly priced menu in Milano.

So that’s enough about them, the other restaurant that we visited recently was Pregos in the Ballyowen Shopping centre, Lucan‎. As they don’t seem to have a website they can be contacted on 01 610 9119 (Location Map)‎.

I’ve heard a lot about Pregos and have been eager to try it out as it’s close to home and has a good reputation locally. From the outside you could be forgiven for thinking that Pregos was a pizza take-away/delivery place on closer inspection you see that there is a restaurant upstairs, so in we went and up the stairs to one side of the counter where we were greeted by an Italian waiter and cosy little restaurant space with seating for about 40 people.

After a very brief wait while a table was cleared for us we were seated. We were not made to feel rushed at any time and the only hitch we encountered was with the bottle of wine we initially ordered as it was out of stock but a very pleasant alternative was suggested (with a little bit of local knowledge from our waiter sealing the deal) and greatly enjoyed. The service was quick and attentive without making us feel rushed at all. Both our starters and main course were fantastic. The pasta was great and the presentation simple but effective.

While we were enjoying our meal I spotted some Pizzas being delivered to other tables and was a little disappointed that I had decided to be a grown up and order pasta instead, not that there was anything wrong with the pasta just that the pizzas looked that good.

As we left the restaurant that evening there was a queue of people on the stairs waiting to be seated and as we walked home I realised that at no point had any seat in the restaurant been empty for more than a few minutes in the time we were there, and I fully understand why, the food is simply superb.

The following evening neither myself or Elly felt like cooking so we telephoned a take-away order in and drove round to collect our pizzas. They really didn’t disappoint, the bases were thin, crisp and a little bubbly with really fresh toppings and cooked quickly in a pizza oven. The only negative I can give is that the Pizza oven was not wood fired which really does add the final touch to the flavour but even without this Pregos’ pizzas are exceptional. If you happen to find yourself in Lucan then do treat yourself, you really won’t regret it.

Recipe: Quick and Tasty Pasta

Ingredients;

150g dried pasta (the smaller the pieces the better)
40g butter
2 cloves of garlic finely diced
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, chopped
Juice of half a lime
Handful of grated parmesan

Serves 2


Begin by preparing the pasta as per the packaging. Then when you drain the pasta get your pan back onto a high heat and add the butter to the pan.

Once the butter has melted add the garlic and fry this for about one minute, then add the thyme and stir it in well. Finally, add the lime juice and stir for about thirty seconds before adding the pasta back in, mixing together well and serving with some grated parmesan.

You can also add some chopped salami, pepperoni or even chorizo at the same time as the garlic if you want some additional flavour.

Recipe: Spaghetti Nero Amatriciana

Spaghetti Nero Amatriciana
Spaghetti Nero Amatriciana

Ingredients;

225g spaghetti nero (or your favourite dried pasta)
120g of streaky bacon
1 onion
Half a dried chipotle chilli
400g can of chopped tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Worcestershire Sauce
Some chopped parsley and freshly grated parmesan (or pecorino) for garnish

Serves 3


My thanks to Kat, who mentioned this as one of her favourite dishes in our recent prize draw, it wasn’t a dish I was familiar with so I Googled it, liked the look of the dish and found a recipe here, which I’ve adapted a little to make it my own.

It was only later when I was researching a little more I discovered this Wikipedia article which gives great information about the origins of the dish and a list of more “authentic” ingredients, which included pigs cheek. While I’m growing more adventurous in both my cooking and eating, I think I’ll stick to the streaky bacon substitution for now :)

Start by thinly slicing the onion and chopping the bacon into strips between half a centimetre and a centimetre across. Then take your chipotle chilli and cut it in half, discard the seeds and chop half of it as finely as possible. If you don’t have chipotle chilli available you could use a whole fresh chilli or about half a teaspoon of chilli flakes instead.

Next heat some olive oil in a pan and fry the bacon on a medium to low heat until it begins to crisp at the edges. Now add the onion and chilli. Cook on a low heat until the onion begins to caramelise, this will take about fifteen to twenty minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and sugar and stir this together. Bring this to a very gentle simmer and allow it to thicken for another fifteen to twenty minutes.

Taste it and season to taste with salt and pepper and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.

When I made this first, we served and ate straight away, there was a portion left over which I planned to eat for my lunch the next day. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the flavours had come together much better after the sauce had been cooled and left overnight in a sealed container in the fridge. It seemed to bring out the smoky flavour of the chipotle and this blended with the bacon much better. Don’t get me wrong, it was still delicious immediately after cooking but in future I will make the sauce the day before and store it in the fridge overnight before eating.

So the next day, prepare and cook your pasta as per the instructions. The pasta pictured above is spaghetti nero, the taste is very similar to regular pasta however it has been coloured with squid ink during the manufacturing process and gives a different visual aspect to the dish.

While the pasta is cooking, gently reheat the sauce. Once the pasta is ready, plate it with a generous serving of sauce, some freshly grated parmesan (or pecorino) cheese and some chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish.

Recipe: Minty Pea Pasta

Minty Pea Pasta
Minty Pea Pasta

Ingredients;

Pasta for 4 – I used fresh spaghetti
1 onion, finely diced
2 large handfuls of peas
1/2 cup butter, softened
A large handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
Large pinch of salt

Serves 4


In a bowl mix the butter, lemon juice, mint (fresh and dried), salt and paprika until well blended. I’ve found it’s best to soften the butter first, about 10 seconds in our microwave on it’s lowest power setting does the job, although in the recent heat just leaving the butter out of the fridge for about an hour has the same effect. Once mixed pop it in the fridge while the rest is being prepared.

Next you’ll need to prepare your pasta. If you’re using dried pasta follow the instructions on the packet. Alternatively you can use our fresh pasta recipe for this, I just used the spaghetti cutter that came with our pasta maker instead of a knife for the tagiatelle described in the recipe. This recipe works great with any pasta so use your favourite.

The pasta needs to be just ready when you complete this next stage so timing is important. Thankfully this next step is pretty easy 😉

Now add about half the butter mixture to a frying pan on a medium high heat and when it has melted add in the onion and fry until they start to soften. Now add the peas and a little of the pasta water and let this cook the peas for 2-3 minutes.

Drain your pasta, then add the contents of the frying pan to the pasta and toss this over a medium heat. Add the remaining butter mixture and continue to toss the pasta until it has melted completely. Then you’re ready to serve.