Using Up Stuff Spaghetti

So we are finally off on holiday at the end of the week and the ‘using up stuff’ campaign is in full swing. Ridiculously enough at any given moment I seem to have enough food to last all four of us about a week (excluding bread and milk). I suppose if we were ever besieged or stranded in some way this is reassuring.

I’m going with a spaghetti dish as this is always the last carbohydrate item I am prepared to be without and everyone adores it. I have only relatively recently worked out how to make delicious creamy sauces to go with. I have no idea why, perhaps in my middle age I am more prepared to eat them so more motivated to get it right.

So here we go; this is a cream and blue cheese sauce base and I wouldn’t mind betting with the soft fruit season in full swing, odd half cartons of cream are lying around in most fridges right now!

Serves 2 so scale up for more, you will need: 250g Spaghetti, a handful of toasted Pine Nuts, some French Beans, topped and tailed, 6 tbsp Double Cream and 6 tbsp Milk, or 12 tbsp of Single Cream, 30g Blue Cheese (Dolcelatte, Danish Blue, Stilton), a rasher or 2 of Bacon, diced, 1 tbsp Garlic Oil, Black Pepper, Parmesan (optional).

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add a dash of any oil. Once boiling add the spaghetti and the french beans and cook for the stated time and not a second more. (Spaghetti is cooked once a strand has just lost the ‘white’ uncooked center so test strands as you approach the end of the cooking time. If it is overcooked the spaghetti becomes spongy and soaks up the sauce too readily and it disappears. This is then problematic as the spaghetti then clumps and sticks together).

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cream, milk and blue chesse by mashing the cheese into the liquid, add some black pepper. Dry fry the pine nuts in a small frying pan over a moderate heat until toasted and remove to a plate, then cook the bacon in the garlic oil and remove to the plate with the  toasted pine nuts once cooked though.

Once the spaghetti and beans are cooked, drain and return to the saucepan, add the cream-cheese mixture and stir over a very low heat until the cream is heated through (probably less than a minute), add the bacon and pine nuts and toss with the spaghetti. Dollop out onto bowls and serve with grated parmesan and a little more black pepper if you wish.

I might get a chance to blog whilst I am away but I’m not sure, so if not, see you in a couple of weeks! Bon vacances tout les monde!!

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Freshly Milled Black Pepper (or Garlicky Breadcrumbs with Spaghetti)

So if you are reading this over the posting weekend, this comes to you by the power of cutestcakeseveryday IT support, otherwise known as my better half, who has kindly stepped into the blogging breach and has published on my behalf as I am Laptop and iPad-less at my current location. But more of that next week.

I am trying to post twice a week and according to IT support a higher frequency would be an unsustainable blogging rate. This is actually hard to do currently. Despite having many other activities I ought to be engaged in, frantically tapping away to create a new post has started to become quite absorbing. I went past 600 hits last weekend for which I am very thankful and pleased about and the ‘biggest hitting’ posts are always cake related. Apart from the Chicken Noodle Soup. This analysis of the analysis, which wordpress offers to all those with a blogging account, is a fairly additive past-time too. I fully appreciate that no-one is really interested in beetroot and what one might do with it, but another high performing post has been the first Unloved Vegetables one about celeriac, curious….

So, do I start to pander to the audience. I have a ‘poll’ widget winking at me from mission control and I think I might just be tempted to give it a press. I’m supposed to be blogging about the general output from my kitchen but the hits would suggest I should do more chicken and cake related posts.

Decisions, Decisions….

Anyway, whilst I ponder on that, I’ll talk about Black Pepper.

I think for the first time in my culinary existence I ran out of black pepper a few days ago. Since then I have been frustratingly forgetful about replacing it. It just never occurs to me at the appropriate moment. Now I can’t say as a rule I’m deeply impressed by coincidence or subliminal messages and that sort of thing but when I was making a note of the recipe which follows below I was a little amused.

Black Pepper along with salt is one of those culinary must haves. If you were raised on a diet of Delia Smith’s cook books you will be aware that every savoury recipe ingredients list ends with – salt and ‘freshly milled black pepper’. I consequently have a pepper mill by the hob. Mine looks like this  →

My Brother very kindly bought it for me for Christmas. I pretty much put pepper in everything and not having it available has put me out of sorts with a deep seated achy pang.

Why do we put pepper in everything? Can someone enlighten me?

I expect Wikipedia could tell me but I want to try and coax someone into a bit of audience participation. If I post a poll, audience participation will be key. For anyone who is a little virginal when it comes to blog following, polls are widely used by some sites to whip up some chat. They are very straight forward and look like a multiple choice question. They are neatly arranged and usually look very tempting. You merely click on the preferred answer. The results are fed to me and at some future point I let you know the outcome or act upon it. I really love all the comments I receive and as the commenting is becoming more frequent I’m sure we could try something new?

I’m just warming everyone up to the idea for now.

So back to the recipe and the subliminal channeling. This works really well for kids I have discovered and can be adapted to cope with individual food preferences to some degree. It’s also another barely got your hat off moment, but not quite as quick.

Garlic Breadcrumbs and Spaghetti (Serves 2)

Boil kettle full of water, empty boiled water into a saucepan, add a pinch of salt and a drop of oil and return to the boil. Add the required amount of spaghetti  (200g-250g for adults). Return to the boil and simmer for 9 minutes. You want ‘al dente’, so still retains a bit of bite. (I’ll talk about this soon)

Meanwhile in a frying pan add 2 tbsp of Olive Oil and 1 tbsp of Garlic Oil and once warm throw in 50g of breadcrumbs (one standard slice of bread, chuck it all in the mini chopper, crusts and all). Stir to coat in the oil over a moderate heat and continue to stir frequently until the breadcrumbs take on a toasted look and appear to have crisped up. Remove to a plate.

Now the Italians would stop there really as they have pasta as a starter but for a midweek meal for anyone else, add a drop more oil to the frying pan, if needed, and you can add a half a chopped red pepper and a couple of chopped up rashers of bacon or ham! Once all this is cooked through return the garlicky breadcrumbs to the pan to warm through too. Drain the spaghetti once cooked and just before the very last drops of water are gone return it all to the saucepan. Add a good handful of rocket (peppery or what) and toss in the spaghetti until it starts to wilt. Add about ¾’s of the breadcrumb mixture and toss through too and then heap out into the bowls/plates. Garnish with the rest of the breadcrumbs, grated parmesan and, if you have it, freshly milled black pepper!

Note: I am loving all the comments I have received so far, so many thanks. Discussion is the next goal and I think a poll is a good place to start. Usually once one has decided on an answer there is always a natural urge to justify and expand.

And this is what it would look like, you can ‘select’ and ‘vote’ if you wish.

The Cutest Cakes: Classic Cakes

Lilies and Pearls

The Cutest Cakes: Cupcakes

Rosebud Vanilla Cupcake

The Cutest Cakes: Individual Iced Cakes

Miniature Fruit Cake

Details for The Cutest Cakes can be found at www.cutestcakes.co.uk or if you click the image on the side bar you will be transported there.