The tiny kitchen in our London flat was the height of mod cons for the 60s. We had a fridge, A FRIDGE! It required constant maintenance and once you put in a pint of milk and a lettuce, it was full. But at least we didn’t have to hang the milk out of the window in a bag to keep it cool. Wall shelves, a tiny built in work surface and a larder cupboard completed the storage. The white stone butlers sink was squeezed in next to these wonders of the modern age, but required you to slide in sideways past the cooker to get to it. This kitchen was small, even to a child of three or four it was small.
Out of this tiny space my mother produced wonderful meals and I learnt the basics of cooking. Pasta was a staple diet for us which came to the table in an oversized red iron pot. The short stubby handles slightly chipped and the colour not quite as shiny as it once was. I knew whatever appeared from this pot was going to be delicious. Creamy spaghetti cheese with sweet tomatoes buried up to their necks and roasted in the oven, taught me how to make Bechamel (we called it white sauce). Rich, robust ragu made from cheap cuts of meat, rather than mince, taught me the wonders of transformation that come from slow cooking. Best of all, that sausages can be so much more than bangers on a plate. I’ve recreated one of these simple but tasty dishes using my favourite sausages and an easy tomato and garlic sauce. Add to that nutty, wholesome Emmer wheat pasta and this makes a great midweek supper dish. The pasta can be made in advance and cooked from frozen.
What was your favourite childhood meal and did you have a kitchen full of ‘mod cons’?
- 400 g Your favourite sausages
- 1 teaspoon Fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoon Olive oil
- 2 Banana shallots
- 2 clove garlic
- 100 ml Red wine
- 1 heaped tablespoon Tomato puree
- 2 tin chopped tomatoes
- 3 sprig Fresh thyme
- 1 Bay leaf
- Squeeze the sausage meat out of the skins into a bowl. Add the fennel seeds and mix well with your hands. Take a walnut sized piece of the mixture and roll into a ball, repeat until all the mixture is used. This is easier if you oil your hands.
- Put the oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat. Place the sausage meat balls in the oil and brown on all sides, they don't have to be cooked through at this stage. Once brown remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the shallots to the pan and cook for 7 minutes, add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes stirring to stop the garlic catching. Once the shallots are soft add the wine and cook off to evaporate the alcohol for 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree and combine the ingredients well.
- Add the tomatoes and stir to combine then add the herbs. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the sausage balls back to the pan. Cook for a further 12 minutes. Add the pasta to the sauce and serve.
- 200 g Organic Emmer Flour
- 200 g Organic Plain Flour
- 4 Eggs
- semolina or flour for dusting
- Sift the Emmer and plain flour together in a bowl and add the salt, stir to mix in the salt.
- Make a wide well in the centre. Carefully break the eggs into the well. Using a fork gently stir the eggs from the centre incorporating the flour until a dryish dough is formed.
- Once all the flour is incorporated into the dough, knead for 7-10 minutes, on a lightly floured surface, until the dough has an even consistency, is no longer dry and when pressed with your finger it springs back. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge to rest for 20 -30 minutes. You can leave it until the following day.
- Set up your pasta machine if using one. (if not, see the method at the bottom of the recipe) Remove from the fridge and cut into 8 pieces. Keep one of these smaller pieces and place the remainder in cling film. Lightly dust the work top with flour, using a rolling pin roll the dough once or twice into a rectangular shape. Dust both sides with flour before putting in the pasta machine.
- Set your pasta machine dial to the lowest number (this is usually 1) and pass the pasta through twice. Move the dial to 2 and repeat. Dust with flour at each step, as needed to stop it sticking in the machine. Repeat with the dial on 4. Then fold the dough into three, like folding a letter. Press the short edge with your fingers and set the pasta machine back to 1. Put the pasta through the machine once only at 1, then 2, 4, 6. You will then have a long length of thin dough.
- You can cut the dough into two shorter pieces to make it easier to handle, or keep it long to make longer tagliatelle. Set a tray, covered with a clean tea towel or cloth, dusted with semolina or flour, to one side. Set the tagliatelli cutter on the pasta machine and run the dough through the cutters, catching the tagliatelli as it comes out to keep it from sticking together until it can be dusted. Lay flat on the tray, dust with flour of semolina and repeat with the remainder of the dough.
- Once all the dough is cut, either form into nests or leave until needed for this recipe. It can be frozen as nests and cooked straight from the freezer - About 6 minutes in boiling salted water.
- If you are not using a pasta machine, remove your dough from the fridge, cut into 8 pieces. Keep one piece and wrap the remainder. Roll the dough into a rectangle as thin as you can, the egg pasta thicken up in the water when it's cooked. Then dust with flour and roll the pasta like a swiss roll, slice across the rolled edge and you have long lengths of tagliatelli. Place on a tray, covered with a clean tea towel and dusted with flour or semolina. Repeat with the remainder of the dough.
- Once the pasta is made, put into boiling salted water for about 5 mins until just al- dente.
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