A PENNE FOR YOUR THOUGHTS...
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.
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.