For the 3rd Random Recipe Challenge, Dom asked us all to go back to our first ever cookbook, for many I'm sure this will mean retro recipes galore but since I didn't start cooking until about 4 1/2 years ago, none of my cookbooks are that old.
I thought my first cookbook was this funny little cookie book but I wasn't sure so thought I'd better check with Mr. P. who immediately told me Jamie's Italy was in fact my first cookbook. He was right, I remember now when he bought it for me, I love Italian food so I was pleased, I love this book and that funny little cookie book isn't the best.
I always aim for somewhere near the middle of the book for these recipe challenges, mainly because I know the cakes and desserts are always at the back of a cookbook and aiming for that bit would be cheating.
I was so chuffed to land on this gorgeous sausage carbonara, I love carbonara but hubby isn't a fan so I very rarely make it, this was a fantastic excuse and even hubby admitted it was really good, the sausage meatballs are a lovely variation on a beautiful classic.
4 good-quality organic Italian sausages
4 slices of thickly cut pancetta, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g dried linguine
4 large free-range or organic egg yolks
100ml double cream
100g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
zest of 1 lemon
a sprig of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
With a sharp knife, slit the sausage skins lengthways and pop all the meat out. Using wet hands, roll little balls of sausage meat about the size of large marbles and place them to one side.
Heat a large frying pan and add a good splash of olive oil. Gently fry the sausage meatballs until golden brown all over, then add the pancetta and continue cooking for a couple of minutes, until it’s golden. While this is cooking, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the linguine, and cook according to the packet instructions.
In a large bowl, whip up the egg yolks, cream, half the Parmesan, the lemon zest and parsley. When the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water, and immediately toss it quickly with the egg mixture back in the pasta pan. Add the hot sausage meatballs and toss everything together. The egg will cook delicately from the heat of the linguine, just enough for it to thicken and not scramble. The sauce should be smooth and silky. If the pasta becomes a little claggy, add a few spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water to loosen it slightly. Sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan, season if necessary, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.
This months challenge really made me look back to a time I couldn't cook at all, just so you all know the full extent of my lack of culinary skill when I was given Jamie's Italy I will tell you this...
I couldn't even cook rice! I couldn't cook anything but my first few attempts at rice were bad, really bad. I didn't realise you had to let the water absorb and kept topping up the pan with more water as the rice was cooking. Such a fool!
I decided to learn to cook because Mr. P. and I had been living together for a couple of years and eating rather badly. Once I started I couldn't stop and I became completely obsessed with baking and cooking. I was always amazed and astounded when I created something delicious in the kitchen and every tiny little triumph was like gold dust to me. I have had so much fun on my culinary journey so far and can't imagine what life would have been like had I not learnt to cook.
I'm going to dig out my first ever cupcake book and bake something form that soon, just for nostalgia's sake really but I can't wait.