Month: July 2012

Fresh pasta recipe

Fresh homemade pasta tastes delicious, costs practically nothing, and is great fun to make. Perfect for a rainy weekend, you can even get the kids involved.







Makes enough for 2 people.

200g ‘00’ flour

2 medium free-range eggs

pinch of salt

olive oil

00 grade flour is a high quality, finely milled flour which has a higher gluten content than standard plain flour, making the mixture stronger without being heavier, so it is ideal for pasta.

Place the flour and salt onto a clean work surface in a mound.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the eggs.

Using a fork, gradually mix the eggs into the flour.

When the dough becomes too thick to mix with the fork, continue to mix with your hands.

Form the dough into a firm, smooth ball.

Knead the dough by pushing downward and forward.

Fold in half, turn and knead again.

Repeat this process for about 10 minutes.

Like kneading bread, this stretches the gluten in the flour to make a smooth, silky dough.

Form into a ball, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces.

Flatten the pieces by hand on a lightly floured surface.

Roll out by hand with a rolling-pin until very thin, or use a pasta roller.

Using a pasta machine, set the rollers to its widest setting and run each piece of pasta through, fold in half and repeat.

Change to the next setting and repeat.

Continue until all the pasta has been rolled to the desired thickness.

Cut the sheets of pasta into sheets about 30cm long and arrange on a lightly floured work surface. Use as is for lasagne, cannelloni etc.

Use the pasta machine to cut into strips for tagliatelle, linguine etc. Lay the cut pasta out on clean cloths or hang on batons to dry before cooking in boiling, salted water for about 4-5 minutes.

Drain, season and oil, serve with a sauce of your choice and top with grated or shaved Parmesan.

Flavour the dough with cooked spinach, herb paste, dried mushroom powder or squid ink as a variation.

Wild garlic pesto

A simple herb paste to coat the cooked pasta.

The classic version is with basil, Parmesan, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil.

These ingredients can be substituted according to taste and availability.

I like to do a wild garlic version in the Spring, for example but you could use practically any soft herb.

A good handful basil, rocket, parsley, wild garlic or nettles etc.

A dessertspoon toasted pine nuts, cashews, almonds or hazelnuts

A clove of garlic, peeled (omit if using wild garlic)

A cup of grated Parmesan or other hard cheese

A dessertspoon of olive oil or rapeseed oil

Salt and pepper

A squeeze of lemon (optional)

Place herbs, garlic, cheese and nuts into a food processor (or use a hand blender) and blitz to chop.

Stir the mixture and add the olive oil.

Blitz again to form a paste. I like to leave as a rough paste, retaining some texture.

Season with salt , pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Let down with more olive oil for a more drizzle-able consistency, if desired.

Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Stir the pesto into the cooked pasta, add double cream for a creamier sauce.

Sprinkle with grated or shaved Parmesan.

Filled Pasta

A simple herb and ricotta filling:

125g ricotta, ewe’s curd or other soft cheese

a handful of parsley, chives, basil, sorrel, cooked spinach or wild garlic etc.

salt and pepper

1 egg

a dessertspoon grated Parmesan

Place the cheese in a bowl. Add the egg, salt and chopped herbs and mix well.

Wild mushroom filling:

25g dried wild mushrooms (or fresh)

1 diced shallot or half a small onion

a clove of garlic

salt and pepper

1 egg

a dessertspoon grated Parmesan

thyme leaves, tarragon, parsley, chives or basil etc.

Sweat the onion and garlic off in a little olive oil until softened.

Rehydrate the mushrooms in a little boiling water (or slice and cook off if using fresh).

Leave to cool slightly then blitz onion, garlic, mushrooms, cheese, herbs and egg with a hand blender or in a food processor.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The fillings are easier to use if they’re a firm-ish paste, if too wet try adding some breadcrumbs.


Arrange teaspoonfuls of filling onto the pasta sheets at intervals of about 5cms.

Moisten around the filling with cold water and place another pasta sheet on top.

Press gently around the filling to expel air bubbles.

Use a knife, pasta or pizza cutter, or biscuit cutter to cut squares, or circles around each mound of filling, ensuring the edges are sealed.


Cut the pasta sheets into circles with a biscuit cutter.

Place teaspoonfuls of filling just off-centre.

Moisten edges with cold water and fold in half with the filling in the middle.

Gently press around the filling to expel any air bubbles.

Hold with the filling at the bottom in one hand. Fold the top over and pull the other two corners round the filling to meet each other, press to seal.

Lay the stuffed pasta onto clean cloths or floured tray and leave to rest in the fridge for an hour to firm up.

Cook in boiling, salted water for about 5-6 minutes.

Drain and serve with grated/shaved Parmesan, salt, pepper and olive oil/sage butter/pesto.


Elderflower and ginger cordial/Gooseberry and elderflower fool








From early summer, elderflowers can be found almost everywhere in woodland areas, hedgerows and even in city parks and wasteland. Once you’ve spotted these fragrant bunches of tiny, white star-shaped flowers, you’ll see them all over the place. A few bunches are all that is needed to infuse cordials, vinegars, oils etc. or make your own elderflower ‘Champagne’ as the pollen that coats these delicate flowers is packed with flavour (and natural yeast). When picking elderflowers (on a dry day), please leave plenty on the trees to mature into berries later on in the year.

From ancient times the elder tree has been used for medical as well as culinary purposes. It is known as the medicine chest as it has so many medicinal properties. The elderflower is most commonly used to treat colds, hayfever and other chest diseases but the leaves (sprains and bruises) and the berries (rheumatism) are also used by herbalists.

A cordial is really easy to make and can be the base for many recipes and cocktails as well as a refreshing summery drink when simply added to sparkling water or sparkling wine.

I’ve added grated fresh root ginger as it gives a lovely refreshing kick but omit if preferred.


Makes about a litre:

About 10-12 bunches/heads of elderflowers

500g granulated sugar

zest of 1 large or 2 small lemons

zest of 1 large or 2 small oranges

plus their juice, about 75ml total

1 inch piece of fresh root ginger, grated

Remove most of the elderflower stalks, any pesky insects, and place heads in a bowl with the ginger, and lemon and orange zests. Pour about 750ml boiling water over, cover and leave overnight to infuse.

Strain the liquid through a fine sieve or muslin cloth into a saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon and orange juices. Bring to a gentle simmer to until the sugar has dissolved.

Pour the hot syrup into sterilised bottles. It will keep as is in the fridge for several weeks, or pour into plastic bottles or ice cube trays and store in the freezer.

Try also infusing oils, vinegars or spirits with elderflowers.

Gooesberry Fool

Elderflower syrup can be used to make or enhance lots of desserts, here’s a really quick and easy example utilising two of my favourite ingredients, the classic gooseberry fool.







Makes 4-6

500g fresh gooseberries

100ml elderflower cordial

100g caster sugar

250g Greek yoghurt

100ml double cream, mascarpone or mixture of both

1 vanilla pod (optional)

Gooseberry compote – Top and tail the gooseberries. Put them into a pan with the sugar and elderflower cordial. Bring up to the boil and then simmer gently until soft and pulpy. Leave to cool. Press through a sieve if desired to remove skin/pips. I like to keep as is for texture. Drain some of the juice and reduce to a syrup or dilute with some water to make into a granita (as I did in the photo above).

Cream – I like to use a mixture of Greek yoghurt, lightly whipped double cream and mascarpone for a rich but tangy cream filling. Mix together and add a little vanilla and/or elderflower cordial if desired.

Layer up in bowls or glasses and enjoy!