Sausage and mustard pasta

I’ve not posted on here for a few weeks, it seems like ages anyway. We all had the cold in what seemed like an illness relay race – thankfully the baby’s first cold didn’t seem to bother him too much, the rest of us were very brave too. The baby’s recently learned to sit up and should be ready for solid foods just in time to join in with Christmas dinner, which will be fun. I’ve started working, extremely part-time, but enough that I feel busy (it’s amazing how time consuming someone so small is when you’re trying to fit anything else in too!) and I’ve even managed to start a bit of regular exercise in a bid to shift the last of the baby weight. We’ve been eating a lot of stews (my older son has discovered a deep love of dumplings) which has been great when I have had the time but sometimes we need something a bit quicker to prepare.

This Nigel Slater sausage and mustard pasta fits the bill perfectly. I saw it mentioned on mumsnet and hunted the recipe down, the only alterations I made were to substitute half-fat creme fraiche for the double cream (otherwise what’s the point of all that exercise?!) and to add some chopped fresh thyme to the sausagemeat. The original recipe suggests conchiglie pasta but we had it with fresh egg tagliatelle and it worked well for us.

Olive oil
2 onions, peeled and sliced
300g fresh egg tagliatelle
4-6 sausages (I used a supermarkets ‘premium’ range which were 85% meat)
About a tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
a dollop of smooth mustard, such as Dijon
a dollop of grainy mustard, such as wholegrain
150ml half fat creme fraiche (half a supermarket small tub)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Add the oil to a hot, shallow, large pan and fry the onions until they are very, very sweet. They want to be soft, not crisp, so put the lid on so they steam as well as fry, say a good 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to packet instructions.
When the onions are caramelised, skin the sausages, mix through the chopped thyme and then rip the meat into good sized chunks and add to the onions and cook for a few minutes.
Add in the parsley (saving some to sprinkle over at the end) and stir in the mustards. It’s up to you to add as much or as little as you like of each. A tablespoon of each is usually enough.
Stir in the creme fraiche and check the seasoning, adding more mustard if you want. Drain the pasta and add to the pan and toss about till its all coated and mixed. Serve immediately with an extra sprinkling of chopped parsley.

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“Turning the Tables” and a tasty tea

I’ve not posted in a couple of days as things have been pretty hectic round here. It was the boy’s fifth birthday party on Saturday so we were getting prepared for that and then afterwards – recovering.

Friday started off relaxing enough with a visit from my friend Jo and her daughter. We caught up over coffee and some of the mint chocolate cookies I made and froze for later the other day. Jo has a lovely blog called Binds You to Me where she writes about family and interiors(and lots of other stuff) and makes me jealous with her impeccable taste and gorgeous home. She brought me an amazing book as a present “Turning the Tables” which contains recipes and reflections on food and cooking by fabulous women like Angela Carter and Miriam Margoyles. It brought back fond memories of childhood when my mum’s bookshelves were full of books from feminist publishers, few of which sadly survive today. I’m looking forward to reading it and attempting some of the recipes.

Later on Friday was taken up by making up party bags for Saturday’s festivities and then suddenly realising it was nearly 5.30 and we hadn’t thought about tea*. The recipe below (so simple it barely qualifies as a recipe) is a quick and tasty tea that we quite often fall back on. If you don’t have chorizo, smoked streaky bacon would be nice too.

*A note on the use of the word tea – tea is used here in the good Scottish sense to denote the evening meal.

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Pasta with chorizo and tomatoes

  • 200g chorizo, chopped into small pieces
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Garlic purée or a crushed clove of garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • Long pasta – spaghetti or similar
  • Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil

Fry the chorizo in a little oil until it has begun to crisp at the edges.
Add the tomatoes to the hot pan along with the garlic.
Allow to cook down until the tomatoes are collapsing and you have a sauce-y consistency. Add the balsamic and let it cook off.
If the sauce is a little dry looking then add some of the hot pasta water.
Once the pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the sauce in the pan. Toss it around until it’s all coated and then serve with plenty of Parmesan and black pepper.