Monthly Archives: June 2009

Pan fried potatoes with sage

I have made these 3 times in the last week…

Which makes me a little excessive and these potatoes very tasty.

fried potatoes with sage 1

I have had plenty of help in eating them and have since given the recipe, or instructions rather to 2 of my fried potatoes with sage eating companions, one of whom is a very particular, opinionated Italian –the kind you are not sure whether to slap or kiss. They are my new favorite thing and I think I will be making them rather alot Amen.

I had seen the recipe posted over at Rebekka’s Nom di Plume a while ago and I noted it down in the big notebook which sits by the computer, the one I regularly rest and then spill coffee onto so I have to dry it in the sun where it crinkles and expands and now it looks a bit like a open accordion. Then Rebekka changed her header to the most delicious photo of the potatoes in question and I was compelled to make them.

I am not sure my photo really does them justice so maybe some words will help.

Diced potatoes fried so they are deliciously crispy and golden on the outside but soft and yielding in the center sprinkled with coarse salt and then speckled with crumbled deep fried sage leaves which lend a quite deliciously musty, peppery  edge to the whole affair and transform the already delicious fried potatoes into something quite special.

fried sage leaves

The deep fried sage leaves were a little revelation to me, I often saute fuzzy, velvety sage leaves in butter to toss with ravioli, but gently, so the leaves are deliciously soft, floppy and fragrant. Deep frying them is another thing altogether, they become crisp like brittle autumn leaves so you can crumble them between your fingers, the pleasantly musty flavour is less pungent and strangely alluring. The first couple of times I made them I fried about 6 leaves which I crumbled over – delicious, but not enough sage. This time I doubled the quantity of leaves, leaving some whole to scatter over – better. Next time I am thinking 1 cube of potato = 1 leaf, best eaten picked up between two fingers and washed down with a cold beer.

Potatoes aside I think these sage leaves will be popping up and crumbling all over the place in our kitchen now we are acquainted.

Note to myself, soak, soak, rinse, rinse the diced potatoes, they need it to get rid of all the starch, then dry, dry, dry, they fry better that way.

potatoes soaking

The first time I made them we ate them with bacon and eggs and far to much coffee, a brunch which left me extremely happy if not a little jittery. The second time – a supper I will be doing again- we ate them with some oven baked sea bass and garlic flecked mayonnaise which everyone agreed was all very nice indeed. The third time – the photos from this post) we ate them just so, lots of sage, eaten with our fingers with a cold beer – it is the way I think.

Pan fried potatoes with sage

  • olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 10 or 12 sage leaves (or more, I am thinking 25 next time)
  • 6 or 7 golden, yellow fleshed, thin skinned, waxy potatoes such as Yukon gold
  • coarse sea salt you can crumble (maldon worked really well)

Gently wash and scrub the potatoes but do not peel them (I did this time just to experiment. Conclusion = don’t peel). Chop them into 1/2″ dice and them leave them to soak in cold water for 30 minutes to wash away all the starch.

Dry the potatoes carefully and then in a heavy based frying pan heat about an inch of oil.

To see if the oil is hot enough try frying a sage leaf, it should sizzle happily.

Once the oil is ready drop in the sage leaves and leave them to sizzle and fry for about 10 seconds when they should be crisp. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the sage leaves and drain them on some kitchen towel. Set them aside.

Now fry the potatoes in batches turning frequently until they are golden and crisp. Once they are done use the slotted spoon to move them to drain on kitchen towel, immediately sprinkle with a nice amount of salt. Fry the next batch while you taste the cooling ones and try not to burn your mouth.

Once all the potatoes are fried crumble over some of the sage leaves and scatter over the rest whole.


fried potatoes with sage 2


Filed under food, recipes, Uncategorized, vegetables

Spaghetti with barely cooked tomato, red onion and basil sauce.

As you may or may not have noticed, throughout the week lunch is often the proper meal in our house.

You may also have noticed it is very often pasta.

barely cooked lunch

I say proper in the sense that it’s the meal we – a nocturnal musician and erratic teacher – who would both rather work late than rise early – are nearly always together for, the one we cook together, occasionally argue over, the one we try to linger over, at least for a while. It’s all usally pretty simple. but then I prefer my pasta that way. I prefer my life that way.

This is another trusted favourite, hearty but clean and fresh, perfect for balmy days and all the luscious red, tomato shaped, and basil scented produce June is providing.


It is perfectly simple. And quite delicious. And barely cooked.

Well, that is not entirely true, there is a little cooking involved but I will come to that in a minute.

Ingredients are nicely basic, but need to be really really top notch otherwise it will be disappointing,

  • 4 large, ripe, really flavoursome tomatoes
  • a red onion, peeled and sliced in half-moons
  • 5 or so torn basil leaves
  • some good olive oil.
  • 200g good spaghetti
  • Parmesan and extra virgin olive oil to dribble over pasta
  • extra basil leaves for on top if you so wish.

barely cooked ingredients

First you plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for about a minute and then you plunge them into cold water, pull them out and the skins should come away easily. Cut away the hard cental core and then chop the tomatoes into unruly chunks.

Bring a large pan of well salted water to a fast boil. Meanwhile in a shallow pan, saute the half-moons of red onions in some extra virgin olive oil, slowly and gently over a low flame for about 15 minutes, until they are soft and just starting to caramelize. Now you add the unruly chunks of peeled, deseeded tomatoes and the torn basil leaves to the onion and raise the heat for just a couple of minutes, stirring and turning so the tomatoes are, well, barely cooked.

Meanwhile, you have been cooking your pasta – garofalo spaghetti alla chitarra is great for this – until it is al dente.

Drain pasta, toss with onion, tomato and basil

Serve in warm bowls with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan and more olive oil.

barely cooked plate

Eat, linger if possible.


Filed under food, pasta and rice, recipes, vegetables

Cherry compotê

Life is just a bowl of cherries, don’t take it serious, its mysterious. Life is just a bowl of cherries, so live and laugh and laugh at love, love a laugh, laugh and love.

Bob Fosse

cherries 1

At this time of year I am even less inclined than usual to make a real pudding. Actually my pretty limited pudding patience runs out in May, – this year it was about the 5th when I made this again. This is pretty fortuitous timing considering that as my Patience fades, nature throbs and thrives and steps in with the most superlative sweet bowlfuls. The equally superlative gelateria two minutes from our flat – the one someone runs to while the carnage of plates is being cleared from the table, the one that scoops out much icy- creamy flavoured gelato joy to all – provides good company for the fruit feast.

The first sweet bowlfuls are of strawberries, sliced and tossed with lemon and sugar to make them glisten and weep with flavour. Soon we will have bowls of golden apricots eaten just so or macerated in sweet wine, or rose flushed peaches sliced and served with Giolitti’s finest gelato di crema. Next should be the berries which I like straight with some thick cream and then the currants, black and red soaked in cassis, shirt stainingly beautiful. Then will come sweet, smooth skinned nectarines and finally syrupy sweet, luscious figs.

But right now it’s cherry time.

cherries new

We ate the first bag-fulls from the market and those still warm from our friends tree just so, devouring the tiny, deep red, fleshy globes greedily and just a little compulsively. Then, inspired by Sigrid (as I so often am) I gently poached some of our cherry bounty in a little water, some golden caster sugar,  a couple of strips of lemon zest, 2 couple of cloves, and a stick of cinnamon.

cherries before cooking

They needed only 10 minutes, just enough to render them tender but still holding their shape, I then scooped out the fruit from the deep red liquid and set it aside while the syrup bubbled and reduced away for a little longer before reuniting both fruit and syrup and letting them macerate and mellow in the fridge.

I think this compote is best served cold, so the syrup is thick and unctuous.

On Saturday we ate the compote spooned over some bitter, dark chocolate gelato then on Sunday morning we ate the left overs with thick, creamy Greek yogurt which was especially nice.

cherries for breakfast

I have been thinking I should really try and have a little pudding patience this summer because I think a spoonful of these would be delicious with this.

Cherry compote

  • 1 kg sweet cherries, washed de-stalked and slit to the stone on one side
  • 60g caster sugar
  • about 10 tbsp water (just enough to cover the cherries)
  • 2 cloves
  • a couple of strips of lemon zest
  • a stick of cinnamon

Put the cherries in a heavy based pan with the water, sugar, cloves, lemon zest and cinnamon.

Cook over a modest heat until the cherry juices run and the sugar had dissolved and then simmer gently for about 10 minutes.

The cherries should be paler and tender but still holding their shape.

Using a slotted spoon lift the cherries from the juice and set them aside in serving bowl and then increase the heat under the juice and let it boil and bubble until you have an intense, sweet, thicker syrup.

Remove the syrup from the heat and then pour it over the cherries.

Chill and serve as you like.


Filed under food, fruit, recipes

A kind of holiday and a kind of carbonara

I back from my kind of holiday In London.

It was kind of, because that what happens to your holidays when you flee to another country and ignore paperwork for 4 years.

I did however tuck my knees under lots of nice tables, clink glasses with people I love and eat lots of good food, especially here, twice, which was just great.

…..and made modest progress with the ominous muddle of paperwork.

Back home and I am nursing a hangover from the happy but somewhat frenzied kind of holiday. Piles of paperwork, trying to see everyone and special people as much as possible, eating at so many tables, sleeping in so many different beds has left me in need of a long-weekend of quiet and familiar….

……and plates of pasta with Vincenzo at our table

zucchini car 4zucc car 5

Yesterdays quiet and familiar lunch was courgette carbonara or as Vincenzo would say pasta e zucchini alla carbonara…. or maybe I should say kind of carbonara, which is a bit like a kind of holiday I suppose.

We make this alot, because as you may or may not of gathered we are creatures of habit, especially when it comes to lunchtime pasta, it’s often this, this, or this or this on heavy rotation. The principle of this favorite is similar to that of classic carbonara in that hot al dente pasta is tossed in a frying pan with something fried (guanciale or pancetta) then a mix of raw beaten egg, black pepper, parmesan and pecorino is added to the hot pan which is then removed from the heat. While you stir the heat of pasta and the fried thing (that is usually guanciale) gently cooks the egg and melts the cheese creating a thick creamy sauce to coat the pasta. This is served with more cheese.

When I am alone I am pretty classic but when Vincenzo is around – the man does not partake of meat – the guanciale is replaced by finely sliced onion, courgette, torn courgette flowers, basil and a little more cheese on top than usual

veg for zucc carzucc car 3 eggs and par

You can of course have guanciale or pancetta with the courgette and onion – that is really nice, really really nice in fact and only forsaken because I love Vincenzo more than guanciale, only just, but I do.

So it goes like this…

While your pasta is cooking, we use garofalo spaghetti which takes about 9 minutes, you fry your onion until golden brown (if you are using guanciale you fry that first and then add the onion and fry for a couple more minutes.) Then you add the fine strips of courgette and courgette flowers, stir and allow them to wilt. While the wilting is happening you beat 2 whole eggs with some finely grated parmasan and pecorino and plenty of freshly ground blcak pepper in small bowl. Now, drain the pasta but save a little of the cooking water, then tip the hot pasta and a small ladleful of the reserved water into the pan with the onion and courgette – toss everything together. Next add the egg mixure to the pan along with the ripped basil leaves, remove the pan from the heat and stir evrything together firmly but gently so the sauce thickens.

Serve on warm plates…..

zucchini carbonara 1

…….with more freshly grated parmesan.

Pasta and zucchini alla carbonara or A kind of carbonara

  • 200g good dried spaghetti, Linguine or Fettucine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ( optional -60g guanciale or pancetta diced)
  • a small red onion peeled and cut in thin half moons
  • 2 medium courgettes julienned (if possible with flowers which should be washed, patted dry and torn into strips)
  • 2 large fresh eggs
  • 20g freshly grated parmesan
  • 20g freshly grated pecorino
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves
  • good extra virgin olive oil and more grated parmesan for on top

Start cooking your pasta in plenty of fast boiling, well salted water.

Fry the onion in olive oil until golden brown (if you are using guanciale you fry that first and then add the onion and fry for a couple more minutes.) Then you add the fine strips of courgette and courgette flowers, stir and allow them to wilt.

While the wilting is happening you beat 2 whole eggs with some finely grated parmasan and pecorino and plenty of freshly ground black pepper in small bowl.

Now, drain the pasta but save a little of the cooking water, then tip the hot pasta and a small ladleful of the reserved water into the pan with the onion and courgette – toss everything together.

Next add the egg mixture to the pan along with the ripped basil leaves, remove the pan from the heat and stir everything together firmly but gently so the sauce thickens.

Serve immediately on warm plates with more parmesan and really nice olive on top.

Cherries for pudding are nice


It’s even nicer to be home.


Filed under Eggs, food, pasta and rice, Rachel's Diary, recipes, Uncategorized