Spaghetti alla CARBONARA: one of the most famous Italian pasta dishes

Although the target audience of this blog is intended to be Americans and those not already familiar with Italian cooking and customs, a consistent part of my audience is, in fact, Italian! And it has been a while since my Italian followers made fun of me because I haven’t yet published the recipe of Carbonara Pasta. You see, together with “Spaghetti al pomodoro, bucatini all’amatriciana, e tagliatelle al Ragu”, Spaghetti alla Carbonara is one of the most famous pasta dishes in Italy! So now that the taunting has subsided, 😉 I will share with all of you the recipe for this Italian classic!

Like many other popular Italian dishes, this pasta dish requires just few fresh ingredients (bacon or better- pork jowl, eggs, spaghetti and parmesan cheese).  It’s super-easy, quick to prepare (ready in 20 minutes), and would be perfect for any kind of occasion. It is absolutely “kid friendly” (my daughters love it), appealing to even the pickiest eaters. I mean, who- especially in the U.S.- doesn’t love bacon and cheese?!?

Just like the Spaghetti all’Amatriciana, the main ingredient of this sauce should be pork cheek or jowl (“guanciale”). However, it could be hard to find or a bit expensive. So since bacon here in the U.S. is really DELICIOUS, you have my blessing to go ahead and make it with bacon! Even Italians often make it simply with bacon! Whichever you choose, I assure you that by making this spaghetti sauce you will for sure bring a breeze of Italy to your table!

Since this recipe is pretty popular, before writing my post, I pried on some American cooking websites to see how knowledgeable the American audience is of how to make an authentic Carbonara. Well, no matter what you may read, Italians don’t use any parsley, onion, peas or tomatoes in this recipe. The only variant I’ve known (typical from Rome’s area) is that you can use Pecorino cheese instead of Parmesan.

IMG_3177

4 serving INGREDIENTS

1 package spaghetti

3 egg yolks (of medium-sized eggs)

1 medium sized egg

about 10 slices bacon (approximately half a pound)

1 tsp. black pepper

3 handfuls of parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

Start heating a pot of salted water to cook the spaghetti (if you want to be sure to cook your pasta in the authentic Italian Style, follow these easy directions).

In the meanwhile, cut the bacon into small cubes.

When the water reaches boiling, toss the spaghetti in to cook. Then move the bacon into a pan (no oil or butter, just let the bacon cook in its own grease) and saute at medium heat for about five minutes, or until it looks crisp and the fat is rendered.

Drain the fat from the bacon, throwing away the grease.

IMG_3768

 

In a good sized bowl (you will need to fit all the spaghetti and bacon in it) beat the yolks and the egg. Add the parmesan cheese and the black pepper and mix altogether, stirring very well. Honestly, when I cook for my family, I avoid the black pepper at this stage, and instead my husband and I just add it on top of our spaghetti once it’s plated.

When the spaghetti is cooked, drain well. Then, while the pasta is still very hot, mix it into the bowl with the egg mixture using a fork. The heat of the pasta will cook the raw eggs into a creamy sauce. (Be sure you do NOT do this in the pot or on the stove or you will be eating “Spaghetti alla Frittata” 😉 instead of Carbonara!) Add in the bacon and continue mixing quickly, until the eggs thicken.

That’s it!

Serve your Carbonara with some extra parmesan cheese and black pepper on the table (in case somebody would like to add a bit more) and Enjoy!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tips:

– Prepare the dressing while the pasta is cooking,  to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready at the same time as the dressing.

– It is very important that the pasta is still very hot when you add it to the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs, and just as important, that the beaten eggs are never combined with pasta on the stove because the eggs would cook too quickly on the bottom of the pot, ruining the creaminess of the sauce. The eggs MUST be mixed with the drained pasta, in the bowl where they were beaten.

– This pasta is very rich- both in taste and calories- so it would work perfectly as a complete meal.

– If you enjoy having a breakfast of bacon and eggs, this could also be considered as a “parachutes” choice when you have no idea what’s for dinner, or a way to use some leftovers.

 

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

 

Savory Cheese and Bacon Pie: puff pastry makes it SO easy!

IMG_2464

Puff pastry is something that usually everybody likes (even kids), and honestly, the one you find at the store is absolutely tasty and so easy to use that it isn’t even worth considering making it from scratch.

In my opinion, using puff pastry could be a good way to approach “cooking” even for those who think they are disaster in the kitchen! It’s the perfect ingredient to use to get beautiful and savory dishes, with a very minimal amount of talent and arduousness.

I use puff pastry relatively often, like to make tasty appetizers (puff pastry and bacon hearts) or to make salted pies.

Salted pies, in fact, are usually fast, delicious, and addictive appetizers/entrees. They are crunchy outside, tender inside, and the one I’m describing here is just a cheesy heaven with a delicate bacon aftertaste.

So get ready by simply taking out of your freezer a puff pastry sheet, mix together any kind of cheese that will otherwise soon be going bad in your refrigerator (don’t forget some ricotta cheese to make the mix less heavy), stuff the pastry with the cheese mix, lay some bacon slices on the top, bake and … VOILA’!

INGREDIENTS for 4-5 serving

1 thawed puff pastry sheet

1 lb. ricotta cheese

a handful (or more) of asiago cheese cut in small cubes

a handful of shredded parmesan cheese

a handful of blue cheese (or better, real “Gorgonzola“)

5-8 slices provolone cheese

1 beaten egg

5-8 slices bacon

(Truth be told, you can use any kind of cheese you like, as long as it melts easily, and the result will not change… BUT mozzarella cheese will ruin your pie by making it watery!)

IMG_2465

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees F.  Then take out of the freezer the puff pastry sheet and let it thaw until it is easy to roll out, and lay it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

IMG_2469

In a bowl, mix all the cheeses together evenly.

IMG_2471

Spread the cheese mix on the puff pastry sheet, being careful to leave the sides free.

Arrange the bacon slices on the top of the cheese as evenly as you can.

IMG_2468

Close inward the sides of the pastry so the cheese doesn’t run out while baking. Then brush the pastry with the beaten egg.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the pie rises and becomes golden.

Enjoy it still warm!

IMG_1643

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tip: – If you have guests and decide to make this pie, consider that it needs to be served warm, and would not be an easy “finger food”, so be ready with some plates and silverware.

– This pie is really, really rich in flavor and calories, so opt for a light side dish when you serve it!

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

 

Walnut and thyme cream fettuccine

IMG_2523

This special pasta recipe is typical from Liguria, a really beautiful Italian region located in the North-West of Italy.  cartina-liguria

The beauty of this region is that it is overlooking the sea to its full extent, although mainly mountainous, so that the landscape is both mountain and sea- a really stunning scenario.
Liguria is also very famous for its cuisine.  Among the most popular dishes are focaccia with rosemary and pasta with pesto sauce, as well as many seafood specialties.

The recipe that I propose today has a rich flavor and a creamy and crisp texture. A delicious dish that will satisfy even the most demanding palates.

In addition, the cream to dress this pasta is incredibly simple and fast; you can prepare it while you cook the pasta!

In few words: a succulent and spectacular dish, ready just in 20 minutes!

INGREDIENTS for 4-5 servings

1 package of fettuccine

6 tbs. olive oil (3 for the cream and 3 for browning the bacon)

8 oz. bacon (chopped in cubes)

3 slices sandwich bread

1 and 1/2 cups walnuts

1 tbs. fresh thyme

5 oz. whipping cream

sea salt and pepper

 

DIRECTIONS

Start heating a pot of water to cook the pasta (and a small sauce pan for double boi link the walnut sauce).

After removing the crust of the bread, put it in a food processor and chop into pieces.  Then set the chopped bread aside.


Now put the walnuts in the food processor with the cream and blend for a few seconds.

Transfer the mix into a sauce pan, add 3 tablespoons of oil and stir to get a smooth cream.

IMG_2508
Add salt and pepper to taste, and keep warm in a double boiler.

IMG_2511(If the water for the pasta begins to boil, don’t be afraid to pour the pasta in, because your dressing is almost done).
Now dice the bacon and brown it in a pan with the remaining oil until crispy.


Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.  In the remaining oil in the pan, toast the chopped bread with crumbled thyme.


Drain the pasta al dente, toss immediately with walnut-cream sauce, bacon and toasted bread, spice with plenty of pepper and serve still warm.

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

IMG_2520

Tips: – If you don’t have fettuccine at home don’t panic, this pasta sauce pairs perfectly with short pastas like Farfalle or Fusilli also!

          – My daughters (4 and 2 years old) don’t like this pasta sauce because of the walnuts.  I mention that because maybe this is not the most “kid friendly” pasta to prepare!

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do, share it, like it, and support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

Hearts shaped Puff pastry stuffed with bacon: be ready for Valentine’s Day appetizer!

Puff Pastry and Bacon hearts

Less than one week remain until VALENTINE’S DAY!

 Although many of us who have found our “other half” also have kids (and may not be able to go out for dinner on Valentine’s Day), we should not give up on celebrating!

This week I would like to propose to you a recipe for a very tasty and elegant appetizer, ideal for celebrating the “day of love” at home with our family!

But before I go ahead, let me just inform you that VALENTINE’S DAY is a celebration followed also in Italy, exactly the same day as yours: February 14th.

And I would like to add that, in Italy, perhaps just to find the way to make more money (for restaurateurs and other businesses who cater to such holidays) they introduced another festivity, on February 15th, where they celebrate “SINGLES”!  So each “free” person goes out to parties organized just to celebrate their being alone, or maybe to find their soul-mate…

Do you celebrate Singles too?

Well whether you are single or in a relationship, you will fall in LOVE with this recipe!!!

INGREDIENTS for 4 servings (about 15 hearts)

1 thawed puff pastry sheet               (1 foglio di pasta sfoglia)

2-3 tbs rosemary (dry or fresh)     (2-3 cucchiai di rosmarino)

2-3 tbs parmesan cheese             (2-3 cucchiai di grana

1 beaten egg                                   (uovo sbattuto)

8-10 slices of bacon                (8-10 fette di pancetta affumicata)

 DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat your oven to 400 F. (250 C.)

Lay the puff pastry sheet on a baking paper, and brush on some of the beaten egg (you will need more of it in the next steps).

Then sprinkle the rosemary, and then the parmesan.

Arrange the slides of bacon on the top, as regularly as you can.

IMG_1604

Fold one side of the puff pastry toward the middle, and then do the same for the other side creating 2 equal halves.

Apply to the top some more beaten egg, and then fold the two sides together, as shown in the picture.

 Brush the rest of the beaten egg on the outside of your loaf, and then cut it in slices about 1/2 inch wide.

(Since the pastry will be very sticky at this point, I usually use a kitchen scissors,

or a very sharp knife to cut it).

IMG_1606

Arrange the obtained hearts on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.  Bake for about 20 minutes on the middle rack of your oven.

 Enjoy your appetizer still warm!

IMG_1611

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tips: – This appetizer is absolutely delicious, fancy, and simple to prepare, so I would make it any time I have some guests to impress!

         – If you know that you will not have time enough for preparing the hearts at dinner time, you can also make them during the day, and keep them refrigerated, and bake them at the very last minute.

        – Since they are made with puff pastry, these appetizer have to be eaten immediately, and are not ideal as leftovers.

       – According to my experience, kids love this food (who doesn’t love bacon?!?) so don’t hesitate to make them happy with this fun Valentine treat!

SPAGHETTI ALL’AMATRICIANA: how to get the best from bacon!

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana
Spaghetti all’Amatriciana

 

During the Thanksgiving holiday, my parents in-law came to visit us from Italy.  I knew one of my mother-in-law’s best dishes is pasta all’Amatriciana, so I asked her to made it for us, and I wrote down the recipe for you!!!!

“Amatriciana” is the name of a pasta sauce, originated at the end of 1700 in Lazio Region (the region of Rome, middle Italy) in the town of Amatrice.

This is what we call "guanciale"
This is what we call “guanciale”

 

Honestly the main ingredient of this sauce should be pork cheek or jowl (“guanciale”)

but since it couldbe hard to find (or too expensive), in the rest of Italy it is also simply made with bacon.

Considering that bacon here in U.S. is really DELICIOUS, by making this spaghetti sauce you will for sure bring a breeze of Italy on your table!

One curiosity I want to share before starting with the recipe is that in Italy we usually dress with the Amatriciana sauce a special kind of spaghetti called “Bucatini”(Buco in Italian means “Hole”). This special kind of spaghetti has a hole inside, which allows to the sauce to soak them better, and make them more tasty.

BUCATINI
BUCATINI

But no problem, this is just a curiosity, and if cannot find “Bucatini” at the groceries store or  on-line, your Amatriciana will be perfect also with spaghetti!

To prepare the sauce, you will need about one hour.  It would be neat to make a big pan of it any moment you have some free time, and then freeze it in small containers and just thaw the quantity you need as needed.

 

INGREDIENTS (for about 20 servings)

10 oz. bacon (chopped)

1 big onion (chopped)

5 tbs. olive oil

4 springs of rosemary

3 cans tomato sauce

1 can diced tomato

1 beef buillon cube

1 tbs unsalted butter

1 (or more if you like spicy taste) tbs. crushed red pepper

sea salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a big pot, pour the 5 tbs. of olive oil and as soon as it starts to be warm, add the onion already chopped.

Let the onion brown, and then add the bacon, the rosemary, and crushed red pepper.  Let them cook for 3-5 minutes at medium heat.

Now add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, stir a little, turn the stove on high heat, and let your sauce reach the boiling point uncovered (it should take 10 minutes, keep stirring sometimes).

When your sauce reaches the boiling point, add the butter and as soon as the butter melts, add the beef buillon.

Let the mixure cook for about 30 minutes more, at medium heat, half-covered (just to save your stove form a lot of messy tomato sauce stain!). Don’t forget to adjust with sea salt and crushed pepper according to your taste.

SUGO ALL'AMATRICIANA
SUGO ALL’AMATRICIANA

It sounds super easy, and I promise you that you will love this velvety and creamy sauce.

As soon as your sauce will be ready, cook your spaghetti as usual, dress them with this sauce… and enjoy it!!!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tips: – You can easily freeze your sauce in small containers, and just thaw each as needed. I usually pack 1 pound sauce for 4-5 spaghetti servings (about 1 container of spaghetti).

          – If you don’t overdo the red pepper, this sauce is definitely “kid friendly” : my daughters love it!