A PENNE FOR YOUR THOUGHTS...

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I have a pen­chant for pasta. Al­most any shape or size, but per­haps my most favourite is Penne, those lit­tle tubes of dried flour and wa­ter each about 3 cms long. You can buy sev­eral types of penne – with a smooth sur­face, or ridged. I pre­fer the ridged be­cause they take up more sauce. I have of­ten bought Cyprus-made penne, which is very good. It needs a minute or two less cook­ing than Ital­ian, be­cause it is made from less hard wheat and is softer when cooked. It needs around 8-9 min­utes as against 10-11. I have six favourite sauces: 1. With but­ter, pars­ley and gar­lic with a touch of lemon. 2. “Alio, Oglio” – gar­lic and oil. 3. Al Pomodoro, with quickly stir-fried fresh, ripe toma­toes or a can of Ital­ian. Add a lit­tle sliced onion and some chopped gar­lic to the fry­ing, if you will. 4. Ragû the tra­di­tional metay Bolog­nese. 5. Arra­bi­atta – “The Hot One” 6. Mush­rooms, leeks, peas and cream. Try th­ese recipes for the last two…

1. Finely chop the onion and gar­lic and cut the ba­con into thin strips.

2. Scald the toma­toes for 1 min in boil­ing wa­ter, then skin and re­move the seeds.

3. Chop or slice. (If you are us­ing canned toma­toes, put them through a sieve, if you don’t want pips.)

4. Melt the but­ter in a wide skil­let and cook the chopped onion, gar­lic and ba­con over low heat un­til golden brown. 5. Add the toma­toes and the red chili pep­per. 6. Sim­mer over mod­er­ate heat, and dis­card the chili pep­per when the sauce is suf­fi­ciently spicy to suit your taste. 7. Half cook the pasta and drain af­ter about 5 min, re­serv­ing a lit­tle of the cook­ing wa­ter. 8. Trans­fer to the saucepan, add 1-2 tbsp grated Pecorino cheese and stir gen­tly for about 5 min un­til the pasta is cooked. 9. Di­lute the sauce with some of the pasta cook­ing wa­ter if it is too thick. 10. Serve with the rest of the grated Pecorino cheese. 2. Re­move any coarse and “choggy” green bits of the leek and cut into slices. 3. Wash and re­move any grit or dirt. 4. Put leeks in a saucepan, pour boil­ing wa­ter over and sim­mer un­til they are al­most cooked through. 5. Drain and seat aside. 6. In a sturdy non-stick pan heat the oil and fry the mush­rooms quickly un­til they are browned all over. 7. Add the peas and stir round for a minute or two, then add the leeks and the cream. 8. Gen­tly heat the mix­ture – do not let it boil – and sim­mer un­til it is warmed all through. 9. Serve at once, with fresh bread and a glass or two of a nice dry rosé.

Mrs. D.K. (by email) asks: “I seem to re­mem­ber you do­ing a recipe a few years ago for Hal­loumi Balls - I made them at the time, but I’ve lost the recipe”. My plea­sure, Ma’am. It was pro­duced by the chef at the Londa, for a fes­ti­val meal we or­gan­ised there called HUR­RAH FOR CYPRUS. They look like this…

For around lit­tle balls…

1. Grate one pack of hal­loumi cheese quite finely into a bowl.

2. Add two eggs yolks and mix well.

3. Mix in two finely chopped sprigs of fresh mint.

4. Sprin­kle with black pep­per and mix well.

5. Make small balls of the hal­loumi.

6. Heat oil and fry them in batches of 4 - 6 for about three min­utes, mak­ing sure they are browned all over.

7. Serve with cherry toma­toes and baby cu­cum­bers.

10-12

Make as a part of a starter or as a side dish for a main course. I some­times do it with a dish of slow-cooked lamb.

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