Everybody needs good neighbours

Day Nine of the Blogging101 course is to build on commenting on other blogs by writing a post inspired by a comment you have made recently and to link to other blogs in the post.

I don’t usually write opinion pieces so its a little out my comfort zone, however if I find a recipe or blog that inspires me I do often link to them when I try that recipe or post about a related subject. A case in point is my recent pasta carbonara which was inspired by Food, Booze and Reviews spaghetti carbonara and very tasty it was too.

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Pasta carbonara

Reading a post the other day made me hungry. Really hungry. I haven’t had cabonara for ages, I’m not a big pasta fan but bacon in a dish always helps. Having read the excellent foodboozeandreviews spaghetti carbonara recipe, I decided that we were having it for tea the next day. To make a quick dish take longer and to add complication, I decided to make my own pasta as well.

It is actually really fairly simple to make your own pasta, especially if you have a pasta maker to roll the dough with. I definitely prefer the taste but for time and ease, dried pasta is more than sufficient.

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Pork Paprikash

Sunday was spent being lazy and that included surfing the internet and Pinterest for food ideas. That’s where I came across this Martha Stewart recipe. As a Brit, Delia is more likely to pop up when I’m searching for food ideas so I thought this may make a nice change. If you don’t have sweet paprika, you can substitute with other sorts of paprika but it will vary the taste a little.

Ingredients

Pork tenderloin, sliced or cubed
2 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, sliced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
100ml (ish) crème fraiche

First of all, place the pork in a bowl with a tablespoon of the paprika and mix to coat the pork. I used the wok to fry the pork  as it does keep the meat a lot more moist than a skillet or frying pan in my experience. Heat the oil and brown the pork on all sides. Remove from pan and keep warm.
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Melt the butter and fry the onions until softened, then toss in the rest of the paprika, stir well and add the tomatoes. At this point I also added the pork, in hindsight I would actually add this much closer to the end as it was thinly sliced so did not need any more cooking, if you use larger or cubed pork add it back to the dish now. Allow the sauce to simmer for 5 or so minutes until it has thickened, stir in the crème fraiche and return the pork to the pan with the sauce, ensure it is all heated through and then serve over pasta or noodles. In this case the Shopping Fairy forgot to buy any pasta so we had to use macaroni as it was all we had, this dish would work much better with spaghetti or similar.
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I was a little disappointed with the flavour, it was nice enough but not wow-worthy so I don’t think I’ll be rushing to try any more Martha recipes just yet.  Next time  I cook this I’ll also be making sure I have sweet paprika in store and I’ll add some garlic and a handful of sliced mushrooms. Any other suggestions welcome in the comments below!
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Bolognese with mac n cheese

We needed comfort food that used up some mince, I didn’t fancy burgers or meatballs. Bolognese is always a winner but for a change I decided to do something along the lines of the Other Half’s mother’s mince and macaroni.
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Bolognese is something the Other Half usually does, not least of all as his tastes a lot better than mine. Probably because I do things like forget to put in garlic and herbs whilst I’m running round the kitchen not looking at a recipe. Tonight’s was OK and, due to the macaroni in cheese sauce on top, tasted more like lasagne than our normal bolognese. He had two helpings and the child had three so it certainly seems like a dish that went down well.

Ingredients

Onion, diced
Leek, finely sliced
Carrot, diced
500g mince
Worcestershire sauce, dash
Soy sauce, dash
50ml red wine
Tinned tomatoes
Tomato soup
Macaroni
Tbsp butter
Tbsp plain flour
1 pint milk
150g cheese

Fry onion, leek and carrot until softened, if you don’t forget to include garlic then add a chopped clove or two at this point. Dry mixed herbs are also a good addition or add fresh basil at the end. Add the mince and stir until browned. Stir in the wine and sauces until bubbling then add the tinned tomatoes and soup. Bring to the boil and then simmer. Normally I would simmer for 20 minutes covered and 10 uncovered but we went to visit friends so it got abandoned on the woodburner for an hour or so instead.

Whilst the bolognese is bubbling away, cook the macaroni, drain and place to one side. As I don’t like washing up, I rinsed the pan and then used it for a cheese sauce. Melt the butter, whisk in flour, cook off for a minute then whisk in milk slowly until all incorporated. Let this heat up for 5 minutes or so (without boiling) and then stir in half the cheese. Cook off for another few minutes before stirring in the pasta.
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I used an enamel pot so I could transfer straight from hob to oven which I meant I could pile the pasta straight on top of the sauce, otherwise empty the bolognese into an oven dish, top with pasta. Either way, add extra cheese before putting in a pre warmed oven on roughly Gas Mark 6 for 30 minutes.
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How to keep the children happy

Occasionally I look after a friend’s children. I wouldn’t say they are fussy but I’m used to my small person who eats everything – except tuna and avocado but I can live with that.

After a long weekend (car stuff which I will write up soon) and a full day at work, tonight had to be quick, easy but filling. Enter sausages and tomato sauce with pasta. Even better enter my 10 year old commis chef. I didn’t dare let him near the mandolin but, with supervision, I let him prepare the tomato sauce. Very simple, oil in pan, add sliced onions, when softened add some wine and then the tomatoes. I often slip some syrup, honey or sugar into a tomato sauce but tonight was the bare basics. My mini chef certainly enjoyed helping and this is something I will continue to encourage. His favorite job so far has been rolling pasta, something we will repeat soon. The more he and his sister help, the more willing they are to try different flavours and dishes.
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The meal was completed by boiling pasta and frying the sausages. Combine, sprinkle with cheese and enjoy. Normally I’d add more vegetables into the sauce but today was about getting a filling meal into them more than covert nutrition. I’ll save that for Friday when they come over next!

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