May 10th 2012

Well what a gorgeous start to the term: late autumn and we’ve got cool nights but warm, sunny days and the rays of sunshine are cascading over the stripy cottage tables and honeyed floorboards… it’s a beautiful place to be!

And with those cool nights my thoughts turn to warming dishes, and being autumn, mushrooms… we’re yet to find a dark enough place to cultivate our own here but I couldn’t let the season go past without experimenting with a mushroom ragu! This we matched with our own hand-rolled bigoli, a long thin pasta, originally from the region of Veneto in Italy. We’ve had discussion in class about this term’s theme in stages one & two: Local Places and Local Environment, as similar pasta is made in other regions but called different names, as pici from Tuscany and stringozzi from Umbria.

Also on the menu this last fortnight has been parmesan polenta with our own poached eggs and crispy sage; garden herb pizza with bocconcini and rocket; the perennial favourite – soup – with spinach, potato and landcress; a truly delicious lemony leaf salad with the last faithful cucumber; and just in time for the Mothers’ Day Tea (as we’re making extra!) some mini frittate of spinach, pumpkin and feta. Delicious!

I’ve been so impressed with all the kitchen classes, but especially 2F who were incredibly self-motivated and able to complete the recipes beautifully without much help at all! And they cleaned up (in every sense!) And thanks to all the wonderful volunteers who have pledged their support again for another term… Our success is all down to you!

And here below are the much-requested recipes for the bigoli with mushroom ragu. Happy Mothers’ Day to all!

Bigoli

Guy Grossi – Recipes From My Mother’s Kitchen

‘Bigoli is a specialty pasta from the northern Italian region of the Veneto. It is similar in shape to spaghetti, but slightly thicker. And unlike other forms of pasta, it includes butter in the dough.’ Other regions in Italy make similar types of noodles too, for example in Umbria they call them stringozzi, and in Tuscany they call them pici.

2 cups plain flour

Pinch salt

100g butter chopped

1 egg

¼ cup milk

 Place flour on a clean workbench and sprinkle with salt. Gently rub in butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre; add egg and milk, then knead for 10 minutes until smooth.

Flatten out dough, cut into quarters then roll each quarter into a sheet about 3mm thick. Using a pizza cutter, slice into spaghetti-like lengths about 3mm wide, then roll each length between your hands and the workbench so that they’re slightly wider than spaghetti.

Place bigoli on a floured baking tray, cover with a tea towel and set aside.

Cook bigoli in a large saucepan of plenty of salted water until al dente (2 to 3  minutes depending on thickness of pasta), then drain. Add bigoli to sauce and toss to coat.

 Mushroom ragù

Alice Waters – The Art of Simple Food

 1 large onion

1 large carrot

2 celery stalks

6 thyme sprigs

6 parsley sprigs

1 bay leaf

Salt

Extra-virgin olive oil

75g diced tomatoes

900g mushrooms – a mixture of 2 or 3 types

25g butter

100ml cream or crème fraiche

 Wash the carrot, celery and herbs. Spin dry the parsley and thyme, picking their leaves and finely chop the parsley.

Peel the onion & carrot then finely dice them with the celery.

Carefully clean the mushrooms then chop finely.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in one of the frying pans and add the onion, carrot, celery and salt and cook over gentle heat until very tender but not browning.

When cooked add the thyme, parsley and bay leaf, and after a minute add the tomatoes.

In the other frying pan heat up another 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the butter and add the mushrooms, sautéing each type until tender and lightly browned.

Once all the mushrooms are cooked, combine with the vegetables and herbs and add the cream and 225ml water or chicken stock.

Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Taste for salt and add as needed. Moisten with more liquid if too thick.

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