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About the Author: Nigel Slater is the author of bestselling cookbooks including Real Fast Food and Real Cooking, and has won six Glenfiddich awards for his writing and art direction. His previous book, Real Food, accompanied his award-winning television series and became a number one bestseller in the U.K. He lives in London.
A creamy, calming pasta dish
We eat not just to please our mouths and fill our bellies but to satisfy our bodies' needs. Clear, hot noodle soups fill us with energy, while anything with pasta and cream can virtually send us to sleep. What follows is a soporific supper for those times when you want to curl up and do absolutely nothing for the rest of the night.
Ingredients per person:
garlic: fresh and young, a whole head
olive oil: a few glugs to drizzle over the garlic
thyme: a few sprigs
pasta: shell or tube shaped, 125g
double cream: a small carton (150ml or so)
Set the oven at 200°C/Gas 6. Trim any long stems from the garlic, then put the bulbs, whole and unpeeled, in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and scatter with some of the thyme. Roast until the cloves are soft, sweet and virtually caramelised. They should be tender enough to squash between your fingers. This will take thirty to forty minutes, depending on the age of your garlic.
When the garlic is ready, tear the heads apart and squeeze the golden cloves from their papery skins, then mash them to a pulp. They should be as soft as butter.
Put a large, deep pan of water on to boil and cook the pasta till it is as you like it. I suggest about nine minutes. Warm the creamed garlic in a pan over a moderate heat, then pour in the cream and let it bubble briefly before crumbling in a little salt, some ground black pepper and the rest of the thyme leaves stripped from their branches.
Drain the pasta, but not so thoroughly that it becomes completely dry. Tip the pasta into the sauce and toss gently until all is warm, bubbling and sweetlyfragrant.
pasta with roast garlic, cream and pancetta. Add crispness to the overall softness by cooking thin slices of pancetta or streaky bacon under the grill, then crumbling them over the pasta as you serve. I reckon on two rashers per person.
pasta with sausage and thyme. Skin a butcher's sausage, crumble the meat into a frying pan with a slick of oil and fry it till golden. Toss with the cream and pasta. A fat, herby butcher's sausage for each person.
and with mustard and Parmesan. Stir in a spoonful or two of grain mustard with the garlic, tasting as you go, then shake over some grated Parmesan.
pasta with cream and mushrooms. Wacky fungi, now available from most supermarkets and the more adventurous greengrocers, will add a warm, woodsy flavour. Toss a handful of mushrooms, cut up if larger than a mouthful, in some sizzling butter, then add the roasted garlic and cream as above.
or with asparagus, lemon and black pepper. Boil a few asparagus spears until soft and truly tender, then chop them into short lengths and fold them in with the cream. Stir grated lemon zest and a grind or two more than usual of black pepper in at the end. When I make this I use slightly less of the roasted garlic purée.
or with ricotta and herbs. You will need a small handful of ricotta and a good, big handful of soft and fleshy herbs, such as parsley, basil or tarragon, per person, folded into the drained pasta and cream.
with Gorgonzola and toasted breadcrumbs. Melt some ripe Gorgonzola with the cream - about 100g per person - and scatter over breadcrumbs that you have fried first in butter till crisp and golden at the end.
or how about a few chopped anchovies, some shredded sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped steamed spinach, or maybe some broad beans briefly boiled and popped from their skins?
a suitable salad. Add crunch to your supper in the form of a salad and use it to mop the garlicky cream off your plate. Frisée or chicory, both crisp and bitter, will be a great contrast to the general sweet creaminess.
A really great trifle
Trifle should, I think, be a soft mound of sponge, cream, custard, alcohol and fruit. Nothing should interfere with its general creaminess, nor would I like anyone to try and temper its indulgence. A trifle is as wantonly extravagant a dessert as you can get and I would never attempt to lessen that. A spoonful of trifle should be a moment of unbridled self-indulgence, and I always make mine with that in mind. I don't like jelly, because it meddles with the voluptuousness of it all. You could make your own sponge (for which you might like to turn to page 431) and your own custard too (page 190), or you could do it the way I most often do it -- that is, with a cheap raspberry jam Swiss roll for the cake layer and that ready-made custard you can buy from the chiller cabinets in supermarkets.
Ingredients enough for 6:
sponge cake: about 200g
sweet wine: Vin Santo, orange muscat
double cream: 300ml
raspberries: a couple of good handfuls,
plus strawberries, blueberries etc to scatter
Crumble the sponge cake into rough lumps and put them into a large dish or six smaller ones. Pour over enough sweet wine to soak it thoroughly.
Pour the cream into a cold mixing bowl and whisk it slowly. The consistency is crucial if the trifle is to be perfect. You want it to be thick enough to stand in soft folds, thin enough to almost slide off a spoon unaided. I find this easier when both the cream and the mixing bowl are very cold. Stir half the whipped cream into the custard.
Whiz the berries in a blender or mash them to a purée with a fork. They should be almost at pouring consistency; if not, then add a splash of mineral water. Drizzle most of the purée over the sponge cake. Spoon the custard over the sponge too, letting it fall lazily over the cake to merge somewhat with the puddle of crushed raspberries. Spoon the remaining cream over the top, then scatter over some whole berries and finish with a drizzle of raspberry sauce.
some other good things. I once had an anonymous letter from someone berating my suggestion of putting bananas in a trifle (it must surely prove my point about the tyranny of recipes that the writer felt they had to hide their identity in order to disagree). I still put them in my trifle, at least I do sometimes. There is something so nannying about the marriage of bananas and custard. I also have a few other suggestions:
if you use macaroons or ratafia biscuits instead of cake, give them a good while to soak up the liquid so that they are soft.
use blueberries, loganberries, blackberries and golden raspberries instead of the raspberries.
try a purée of cooked gooseberries, sweetened with quite a bit of sugar and thoroughly chilled, in place of the raspberry sauce.
alternatively, whiz a can of apricots in a blender, sharpening them with a squeeze of lemon juice.
sprinkle chopped pistachios or toasted flaked almonds on top of the finished trifle.
an orange and lemon trifle. Soak the sponge cake (which could be one with orange zest in it) in sweet wine mixed with a dash of limoncello or mandarin liqueur (you can buy miniatures of these). Mix half the cream into the custard as before but mix the second half with a few spoonfuls of real lemon curd. Use strawberries or blueberries and perhaps some segments of pink grapefruit and mandarin instead of the raspberries.
a summer berry trifle. The raspberry and redcurrant filling for the summer pudding on page 391 will add a thoroughly welcome sharpness to the mixture of sponge, custard and cream. No need to add any extra berries, though some flaked almonds, toasted till golden brown, wouldn't go amiss.
a coffee and chocolate trifle. Soak the sponge in sweet Marsala, then pour over a cup or two of sweetened espresso. Mix the cream and custard as above and top with the second layer of softly whipped cream and a thick dusting of cocoa powder.
Posted October 18, 2007
My favorite cookbook..more than just a collection of recipies..Its the first recipie book that actually captures the authors feeling of what he feels like eating and the spirit of the moment. I can see my own kitchen in his book...abmitious but amateur, always a glass of beer or wine nearby. the kitchen diaries is a logical next book and I'm eager to read it....an idea stolen out of my own head...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.