THIS week, I’m sharing two recipes that both use simple ingredients and won’t break the bank. The first is the famous carbonara pasta dish. There are many different versions of this recipe, and just as many claims about its origin and name. One take is ‘carbonaro’, the southern Italian word for ‘coal miner’, with some believing the hearty, easy-to-prepare meal was created by ‘carbonara’, meaning ‘coal miner’s wife’, for workers . Another explanation dates back to the 1940s when Italy was liberated by American troops and their rations of bacon and eggs were added to pasta dishes. Italians are very attached to certain recipes and I know that the subsequent addition of cream or creme fraiche by some French chefs almost triggered a “Carbonaragate” in the culinary world. I’ve kept the recipe here as close to the version I was served a few months ago in Rome. Fresh fettuccine or spaghetti laced in a sauce made with egg yolk, parmesan and pancetta, with the pasta cooking water used as the base for a creamy sauce without any other ingredients. The hot pasta is combined with the sauce to create a creamy dish rich in flavor, without the taste of cooked egg yolks. Remember that the egg will not be completely cooked, but will simply be taken as Hollandaise sauce. It’s a great for a quick and tasty lunch or dinner. And if you want to launch a new ‘Carbonaragate’, simply replace the pancetta with chorizo or prawns or add a little creme fraiche to the final mix. The dessert is a delicious combination of rhubarb and meringue. My Eton Mess uses seasonal rhubarb and raspberries, which are just starting to come into season here in Dunbrody. We are fortunate to have an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables in our garden. It makes a world of difference to taste. Happy cooking, Kevin
Ingredients for 4 persons)
■ 400g fettuccine
■ 200 g pancetta, cut into pieces
■ 4 egg yolks
■ 1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
■ 100 g grated parmesan
■ Salt and cracked black pepper
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Bake according to package instructions.
2. Meanwhile, in a heated skillet, brown the pancetta for 2-3 minutes until crispy. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
3. In a bowl, beat together the egg yolks and half the Parmesan. Season lightly with cracked black pepper. Add 2-3 tablespoons of pasta cooking liquid to loosen the mixture.
4. Once cooked, drain the pasta and return it to the pan (off the heat). Add the pancetta and egg and cheese mixture, stirring to coat the pasta and let the eggs set with the residual heat. Season well.
5. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the rest of the parmesan.
ETON MESS RHUBARB & RASPBERRY
INGREDIENTS FOR 4 PERSONS
■ 4-6 rhubarb stalks, finely chopped
■ 1 tablespoon of orange marmalade
■ 1 orange juice
■ 100g of raspberries
■ 2 tablespoons caster sugar
■ 300 ml of cream
■ 100g mascarpone
■ 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
■ 8-10 mini meringues
1. Combine the rhubarb, marmalade, orange juice, raspberries and caster sugar in a bowl. Cover with cling film and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (preferably up to a day).
2. Transfer the rhubarb mixture to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook 5 to 8 minutes until the rhubarb is softened. Let cool.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat cream and mascarpone with vanilla extract until stiff. Then add the mini meringues and incorporate the rhubarb mixture.
4. Pour the Eton mixture into dessert glasses and enjoy immediately.
Trick : If you have broken or slightly less fresh meringues to use, simply mash them in a bowl with the mascarpone cream and rhubarb and raspberry compote and swirl.
Alternatively, serve all three components – meringue, cream and compote – in three separate bowls and allow guests to build their own Eton mess. Either way, it’s delicious.
TOP COUNCIL: NO EGG NEEDED TO PREPARE A VEGAN MERINGUE IN MINUTES
MAKING a delicious meringue dessert for family members or vegan guests is a breeze. In fact, you can make the same batch for everyone, because they’re so similar in texture and flavor that no one will know the difference – I promise.
Simply use 150ml aquafaba (the liquid found in a can of chickpeas) in place of the egg white and whisk as usual with 300g caster sugar until smooth and brilliant. Pipe into meringues, bake and use as needed.