5 March 2013

GUEST BLOG: Talking Italian

By guest blogger TRACEY

The group were on fire again at the Approved Premises on Wednesday 27 February! Alison explained the different types of pasta sauces we were going to be making: a substantial weighty creamy cheese sauce with ribbon-cut ham and a mix of sliced chestnut and white mushroom to go with penne, plus a highly flavoursome spaghetti alla puttanesca (surprisingly we’d not forgotten the translation of this dish - whore's-style spaghetti!).

The prep got underway: slicing onions, mushrooms, garlic, peppers and chillies. Alison introduced some new flavours to some of the guys - capers, which were thoroughly washed to remove some of the salt, and black olives. The olives received a mixed range of comments and actions from “not bad” to the offending olive being rapidly expelled! I must confess that olives are not to my liking either, but once added to a dish, I find they compliment the flavours and I was pleased that many others agreed. The aroma of the onions and mushrooms filled the room and once the garlic, chilli and peppers were fried, the hunger pangs started to get stronger. 

All hands were on deck for prepping the roux sauce, melting the fat, adding the flour then mixing in the milk, and Alison shared her mum’s tip of warming the milk beforehand to avoid curdling and lumps. One participant put some serious elbow work into stopping it from getting too thick, resulting in a wonderfully silky smooth and delicious cheese sauce, then the mushrooms, onions and ham were added, resulting in a subtle but tasty savoury dish.

The puttanesca took shape after the tomatoes, garlic and a good glug of olive oil were left to reduce down for an hour, with capers, olives, parsley, chillies, black pepper and lemon juice all going in. The mix looked so appealing and it tasted wonderful once it was mixed with the spaghetti.

And I wasn’t the only one who thought the food was good - as one participant commented: “This is the best bit of scran we’ve had so far.” So thanks, guys, for a nutritious and hearty lunch!

There are more photos from this community session on the Cracking Good Food Facebook page.

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