Spaghetti Carbonara- Midweek Meal. 

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I’m all on for a quick mid week meal. As with any working parent, the last thing you want is to have to make something complicated and time consuming when you’re exhausted after a long day.  I’m very lucky in that when I have full time work placements in my role as a supply teacher, Mr SmartCookieSam is great at cooking and having dinner on the table.  But even then there are times when he’s late himself or away working. Or there are days when I’m not working myself. On working days I love meals like Spaghetti Carbonara as it’s quick to make and everyone in our house likes it.  I know it’s one of my son’s girlfriend’s favourites as well.

I’ve tried lots of different carbonara recipes but it was the first time I tried Mary Berry’s version in her “Cooks The Perfect Step By Step” book. Her “My New Spaghetti Carbonara” had added mushrooms and bacon to it, as well as garlic. So it wasn’t an authentic Carbonara, but it still tasted amazing.

While my spaghetti was cooking in my large saucepan, I fried a packet of bacon lardons in their own fat.  Once these had started to cook and crisp up, I removed the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and added a tablespoonful of olive oil to the pan.  Then I fried two crushed cloves of garlic and some quartered closed cup mushrooms.  (Mary suggested chestnut mushrooms, but I don’t like them!) These were then cooked for about 3-4 minutes.

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When the pasta was nearly ready, I combined  2 large beaten eggs and some parmesan cheese, along with  4 tablespoonfuls of double cream in a measuring jug. The pasta was then drained and added to the frying pan with the mushrooms, garlic and the bacon all at once. At the last minute I tipped in the egg mixture, taking the pan away from the heat so that the eggs didn’t become scrambled.

The result was delicious and made four very generous servings of Carbonara.  The whole thing only took about 20 minutes to make from preparation to putting on the table.  Quicker than ordering a takeaway around where I live!

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Love Sam xx

Man Quiche from Holly Bell’s Recipes From A Normal Mum.

About a month ago I was really excited when Holly Bell’s new book “Recipes From A Normal Mum” came out.  Series 2 Great British Bake Off Finalist Holly has been a great favourite of mine and I love following her page on Facebook, reading her Recipes From A Normal Mum blog and her Twitter feed seeing what recipes she creates for her young family.   I like her recipes very much because not only are they imaginative, they use easy to find ingredients that can be bought locally and not just in an expensive or exclusive shop. I also get bored cooking the same things week in week out- not Spag bol or Shepherd’s Pie again?

So when my copy of Recipes From A Normal Mum popped through the door on the last day of term I couldn’t wait to open the package and look through the book.  I wasn’t disappointed.  There were loads of recipes I could tempt not just my family with.

One recipe which caught my eye was the “Man Quiche”.  I love the humorous titles Holly gives her recipes and wondered what it was to make it into a Man Quiche.  She explains in the recipe introduction: “Imagine my surprise when after bagging my old fashioned husband he revealed a penchant for quiche.  My Dad had always held firm that real men don’t eat quiche.  It turns out that very rarely dads can be wrong.”  Well Holly my husband is old fashioned, too and prefers meat and two veg type meals to pasta, etc. but he loves quiche.  I knew he would enjoy this one as he loves leeks and mushrooms so in this case it definitely was a “Man Quiche”  What a shame the other man (or almost man as he’s 14 years old!) in our household turned his nose up at the quiche and said he wasn’t eating it.  Nothing new there, then!

So, one Sunday afternoon when I was busy trying to meet myself going backwards I started off making some parmesan cheese flavoured shortcrust pastry.  I’m ok at making shortcrust now and I allowed time for it to chill in the fridge.

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Weighing out the cubes of cold butter needed to make the parmesan shortcrust pastry.
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The shortcrust pastry dough made in the traditional method before being wrapped in cling film and being chilled in the fridge.
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The pastry rolled out and in the 23cm round tart tin. I pricked the base a few times with a fork then put it in the oven to blind bake with my ceramic baking beans inside.

So far so good!  I was feeling quietly smug and confident thinking, this is going to be a winner here!

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While the case was blind baking I made the filling, here are the leeks and mushrooms frying on the hob.

I was really upset by what happened next!  I was trying to do too many things at once along with trying to rush.  It was getting late and I wanted the quiche ready for when my hubby came home from the race meeting he was at.  I didn’t know what he would have eaten all day.  I’d had a bit of an issue with the Blackberry and Elderflower cake I was baking (more about that here) so I wasn’t in the best frame of mind.  Then to top it all I get the pastry case out of the oven to check on how its going on as it’s blind baking and the next thing the whole bloody quiche case, tin, parchment paper and baking beans all fall out of my hand onto the floor.  The tin dropped onto my toes, but I moved out of the way so quickly I was lucky I didn’t get burnt!  I ran to the cupboard and got my Nordicware cake lifter out and scooped up the case and the tin as best as I could.  Half the case had broken but there was enough to put a little on the bottom but not on the sides!  While I was faffing around with the pastry I found my dog had rushed into the kitchen and had started to lick the baking beans still on the floor!  So I had to get chase him out, scoop up the beans which were still hot from the oven (hadn’t worried the dog though!) and chuck them away.  I was so upset and was crying from frustration.  There wasn’t much food left in the house as we were off on holiday a few days later and I didn’t want to buy too much in for it to go to waste!

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Thankfully all’s well that ends well.  The quiche looked very untidy but I managed to create the filling happily by adding eggs, cheese, double cream and some thyme together and mixing it in with the leeks and mushrooms.  These baked well in the tin on top of the rustic looking pastry.

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The finished Man Quiche.

In the end my hubby rang and said he would be getting his dinner after the race had finished as they were doing the results so I didn’t need to worry about dinner for him.  Both my children turned their noses up at the quiche. My son wouldn’t eat it at all and I forgot my daughter doesn’t like mushrooms! So only I had a slice of it with some salad for my dinner!

The following day I was out for dinner with friends and my hubby was at home with my kids and my daughter’s boyfriend. Apparently hubby had a huge slice of leftover quiche after their dinner and hubby said to my daughter’s boyfriend “It looks horrible but it actually tastes quite nice!” Praise indeed from a man who never gives praise and is more critical than Paul Hollywood, Gordon Ramsey and Simon Cowell rolled into one!  The quiche ended up being lunch for my daughter’s boyfriend the next day as well!

I will definitely bake the Man Quiche again and Holly says “you can add a handful of fried lardons or chopped bacon” which to me sounds like a great idea!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx