Sunday, February 04, 2007


Remember my procrastination of three weeks ago over how to use my supermarket points? Well, yesterday I was able to pick up my "loyalty reward" of this fine set of pans, complete with pasta drainer, and smart-looking onion chopper. I am rather pleased with them. Next challenge: to fine somewhere to keep them! By the way, the photo is a bit lopsided because I had to lie on the floor to take it, to avoid my own reflection showing in the gleam of the pans! Don't worry: they won't be gleaming for long...
I am making some progress, however, in the "good Italian housewife stakes"; no, I am not yet carrying a duster with me everywhere I go or ironing everything in sight, but I have discovered that I can now judge the amount of pasta needed for however many people I am cooking for by the handful, just as the Italian women do. No more weighing it [100gr per person is what Italians tell you to allow, whilst most British cookbooks suggest 2oz per person, a discrepancy which possibly arises because in Italy pasta is always a starter, never a main course] or putting spaghetti through one of those plastic things with different-sized holes in it which British cookery magazines love to give away. [I've lost the one I had, anyway.] Talking of pasta, I still put a sliced-up potato into the water, as friend Giovanna advised me to do me so many years ago [I know I've mentioned this before]; and yes, I do put a little olive oil in and, of course, plenty of coarse seasalt. I have no idea what the purpose of adding the potato is and different cooks disagree about adding olive oil. All I can tell you is, my pasta never sticks!
It's a while since I posted a recipe so, as everyone here seems to like my ragù bolognese, I thought I'd tell you how I do that. As ever, it's a recipe I have evolved over the years and it works for me:
5 - 6 tablesp. olive oil
1 finely chopped onion
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 stick celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
small packet of pancetta cubetti
small packet dried porcini mushrooms [This is not a classic ingredient but I feel it adds a little "depth".]
80z minced pork
8oz lean minced beef
1 very large glass robust red wine
1 small can tomato paste
seasalt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the porcini mushrooms to soak in warm water for c. 15 mins.
Heat the oil in a large, wide pan [I use a wok] and fry the onion, garlic, carrot and celery till softened and the onion is transparent. Add the pancetta cubetti. Simmer it all for a few minutes.
Drain the mushrooms and chop them. [I do this with a scissors.] Add them to the pan.
Mix everything around then add the meats. Brown them, stirring all the time.
Dilute the tomato paste in a small glass of water and add to the pan.
Finally, add the wine and seasoning. [I find 10 twists of the pepper grinder to be about right.]
Stir well again, put a lid on the pan and simmer gently for c. 3 hours. Keep coming back to stir and check on the mixture - you may need to add water if it seems to be drying out.
This recipe freezes well.


Anne in Oxfordshire said...

It makes me want to go and cook it right now!!!! I love pasta in any shape or form. Whilst in sicily I had a lovely spagetti dish with seafood in a tomato came to me all wrapped up in tinfoil...then when you opened it..the aroma just flowed was absolutely delicious.

Anonymous said...

I think I will make a trip to Italy specially to buy some of your lovely pans - or should I buy shoes instead?

Shades said...

I bought our last set of pans in Galway from Dunnes, the Eire M&S clone- they were very good and dirt cheap on a loyalty promotion. (We were kitting out an apartment as work digs for three contractors so bought lots of bedding & stuff).

They are now approaching the end of their useful life, having slowly undergone a non-stick -> stick conversion.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I would make a main course of that. Looks delecious. Nice pans.

Lee said...

Now you've made me hungry, Welsh! I always add oil to my water when cooking pasta and rice. It not only keeps the pasta and the rice grains separate, the film of oil contains the heat in the pan and rice or pasta cook more quickly. I did it when I cooked in restaurants and I do it here at home, regardless of what some chefs/cooks say.

Great gift from the store...I wish mine up here on the mountain did similar! would have to be a huge temptation!

Anonymous said...

Mm, heavenly recipe. I can smell it's aroma wafting across the seas. As you know, Pete & I love our cooking. But if and when I have pasta, not often these days but Pete dislikes it intensely (I used to live on the stuff when single), Pete has the sauce on a jacket potato. So we don't get around to it somehow.
[This may prick his conscience - Hi sweetheart!]

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks, Anne. I can't eat fish, unfortunately, but I know the type of dish you mean, when they cook it with all the juices and aroma sealed in - works for meat, too.
Oh, shoes, definitely, Ellee!
Hi, Ian. It's annoying when a trusted set of pans decides they are going to go "sticky", isn't it?
Thanks, Steve. Glad you like the pans. You, too, Lee. Whoopee! - we agree on the oil issue!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hope Pete takes the hint, Shirl!

James Higham said...

...By the way, the photo is a bit lopsided because I had to lie on the floor to take it, to avoid my own reflection showing in the gleam of the pans!...

A professional! Plus a recipe, no less. I'm going to try this one, truly. I once had a three hour bolognaise sauce I'd slow cook up and it received some small acclaim.

But this one will take the cake.

Anonymous said...

Hi WL - hope you've seen my latest post about the cookery writing comp!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, James. Well, I am flattered re what you say about the photography 'cos it is all trial and error - story of my life . But the recipe really does work and I am glad you want to try it out.
Shirl, you are so kind. Just had a quick look at your post and will read it again tomorrow. I might even give it a go!

Anonymous said...

A recipe that doesn't talk about fats, and carbs, and GI........aaaaah yes! As soon as I am fully back on my feet I shall give it a whirl. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

You MUST WL - BTW, I call you Wendy in our house. It's easier than Welshcakes etc.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks, Morag. I hope you feel better soon.
Shirl, I'll have to get a bit of courage. I like the name Wendy!

Liz Hinds said...

You can progress in the good housewife stakes as long as it's only in the cooking department! I will not have you carrying a duster!

Lovely looking pans. we will all be booking our hols to Palermo soon.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Liz. If I ever write that I'm carrying a duster round, STOP ME!!

June said...

This is a fine looking set of pans. I bought mine in Siena about twenty years ago and they are still going strong. I have plans for them in my will... If you can get a very fine stainless steel sink cleaner, something like Shiny Sinks here, they shine up a treat after abuse. It is, though, a tragedy that you are allergic to fish and shellfish, living where you do.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks,June. I'll see what I can find to clean the pans. I'd never have thought of a sink cleaner type! It is, indeed, a shame about the fish and shellfish but there are so many other foods that I can enjoy more cheaply than in the UK. I've always eaten loads of fruit and take full advantage of that which is on offer here.

Ballpoint Wren said...

I think I might've mentioned how my son is gluten intolerant and can't eat wheat. So any pasta we eat is made of corn, or rice, and prone to sticking no matter what you do. The next time we make it, though, I'm going to try that potato trick.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Let me know if it works, Bonnie.


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