Pappardelle with Broad Beans, Peas Topped with Watercress & Emozioni Pacchieri Review

Yesterday, I had to face the fact that I didn't know all that much about pasta. It looks like I am going to have a bit of learning to do.

We joined his brother's pub quiz team. The team meets regularly in an old suburban pub, the wallpaper virtually peels off, I could swear that each time we go there are more panels of paper missing. 

All in all the place is rather decrepit but so full of atmosphere. Deco-wise the piece de resistance is a massive crystal chandelier for which Del Boy would have sold his grand-dad (and possibly would have found a buyer in this very pub).

During the quiz, we were asked for the name for a  long tubed pasta with ridges. All eyes were on me. I don't do music, I am appalling at questions of  sport, so the least I could do, is to answer spontaneously foodie questions.

But I drew a blank. Nothing sprang to mind. The only thing I could think of, was the exquisite white box I had received the week before, sent for review by an Italian Gourmet specialist "Emozioni". It contained dried, large, short tubes of pasta which I was told, "Were favourite amongst celebrities and designers in Italy and New York."

And though the packaging was beautiful and classy, the content was disappointed. Not for the quality of pasta, far from that, Emozioni's Paccheri Pasta are delicate and of very high standard but at three times the price of  dried pasta, I can't help thinking that customers pay for the packaging, to put it blankly, in my opinion, it's not good value for money. At £5.90 for 250g, I would rather opt for fresh pasta. 

To come back to the quiz, after a moment of panic penne was put forward. But, according to the quiz master Cannelloni was the answer. It looks like I am not the only one having problems with pasta shapes. In the next couple of days, I will definitely study carefully "Pasta" compiled by Academia Barilla but in the meantime let me introduce one of my favourite pasta dishes. Perfect for the summer.

Pappardelle with Broad Beans, Peas Topped with Watercress

Ingredients 

for 2 people

• 200g pappardelle
• 2 big handfuls each of peas and broad beans (outer skins removed) + any greens you have in the fridge (in proportion)
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• Juice of 1/2 lemon + salt and pepper
• Small bunch of watercress (keep a handful to chop finely for decoration)


Method
Cook the pasta in 2.5l of boiling salted water for 10-12 minutes.

In the meantime in a small saucepan boil the peas, broad beans and greens(optional) for 3 minutes. Drain and remove the skin of the broad beans.

Drain the pasta. Quickly return to the empty saucepan (no heat needed) add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and veggies (not the rocket) toss and served on warm plate.

Top with watercress and sprinkle chopped cress on the pasta.


DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliated link.

Apricot Mousse ....of Course


Dreams are stuff made of an improbable wishlists. When I was in Pakistan, I dreamt of going to the Hunza valley (Northern Pakistan). The appeal of the remoteness, the majestic Himalayan scenery, the apricots and cherry orchards was great. So were the geopolitical threats.
 
I still dream of eating fresh apricots in the Hunza valley but I fear that it might be in another life  and for the time being I make do with Lewisham market (South-East London). Which gives it credits, sells apricots too.
 
However instead of the juicy, velvety, golden fruits of my dreams, the local market apricots are of unknown origins (as in "wher' from? don't know luv") and have been picked too early. They are hard-ish, bitter-sweet with an emphasis on bitter.
 
Never to grudge a pleasure, it has to be said that out of the lot, some are juicy and between you and me dreams are powerful and irresistible. So I bought a bowl for a pound, ate of few and the what do I do with the remaining apricots?........
 
Apricot Mousse ....of course
 
Ingredients
  • 500g apricots
  • 4 eggs
  • 40 g icing sugar
  • 20 g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
Method
 1- stone and wash the fruits. Place them in the food processor with icing sugar, lemon and mix to obtain till fine (not bits).
2- Turn your attention to the eggs, separate whites and yolks. Mix the yolks with sugar and add to the apricot mixture.
3- Wisk the whites until firm and add to the mixture, a table spoon at the time.
4- Place in serving bowls and in the fridge for 30 minutes.
 
More Apricot Recipes
 
Amazing bakes, Hamantaschen from Cakes, Bakes, Cookies

Savoury apricot recipe  Grilled Apricot Hoisin Glazed Prawns from Greedy Gourmet
 
If you are a Yummly user here is your button
Yum

Coconut and Strawberry Loaf Cake

Pebble Soup has a distinct pink colour lately, after reporting on an evening of Rosé D'Anjou here is pink cake. For someone who "doesn't do sweet after a meal", I came to realise that there is a lot of dessert recipes on my blog.
 
 
Would I be a repressed cake eater? probably.
 
My parents cheap and mad reversed-psychology treatment may have worked after all. Like most kids I was addicted to sugar. My mother after conceding that I didn't have the aptitude for the ballet, set her goals on me becoming a model.
 
Therefore, I had to be dissuaded to eat cakes and to that effect my cousin and I (age 7), were let loose in a patisserie. This is where the reversed psychology treatment was going to take place.

There we were allowed to pick all the cakes we wanted, no lesser than five, under the proviso that we would eat them all......
 
The "treatment" worked with my cousin, she felt sick after four, was forced to eat the rest and stopped pestering people for eat cakes for a very long time. On the other hand, I had whale of a time. I ate many petit choux, eclairs and tartlets and I even wrote an essay at school about my experience. A blogger was born. 
 
On the other hand, my parents felt sick to hear me ask for more  after that gargantuest feast. On that day, in different ways, we all learnt the value of "what you wish for".

In honour of one of my mum rare visits, I wanted to show off my recent mastery of cake making so I made the most moist, delicious and girly cake I could think of and I jested that she couldn't go home until the whole cake was finished......
 
Coconut and Strawberry Jam Loaf cake
Ingredients

250g self-raising flour
150g unsalted butter softened
150g caster sugar
3 free-range eggs
100g desiccated coconut
4tsp semi skimmed milk
6 tsp quality strawberry jam
100g/7oz desiccated coconut, toasted
 
For the icing
80g icing sugar
2tsp strawberry jam
2 tsp hot water
+ 2 tbsp dessicated coconut for the topping
 
Method
 
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a large loaf tin (900g) I used my bread tin.
 
In the food processor or in a large bowl beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy, beat the eggs one at the time and add the flour, a little at the time
 
Add the coconut and the milk.
 
Spoon 3/4 of the mixture in the tin, spread the jam on the top (having done this once, next time, I'll heat the jam up so that it gets runny)
 
cover with the rest of the mixture
 
Bake for 35 minutes, cover and return to the oven for another 20-25 minutes until cooked.
 
Leave to cool and turn your attention to the icing: in a small bowl mix all the ingredients bar the coconut. When the cake is cold enough spread the icing with a knife and sprinkle the coconut on the top.

Though strawberry jam was used, I am entering this seasonal cake in simple and in season, hosted by Custard Pie.
 
 

How to Shoot Food Like a Pro: a Tutorial by Top Photographer

In the noughties, "things" happened in basements, nowdays "things" have migrated to roof-tops. Which I suppose, is a blessing when it comes to a food photography tutorial as roof-top = Light.
On my way to a promising evening of Rosé D'Anjou tasting and food photography tutorial on the Queen Hoxton's roof garden, I wasn't expecting much more than talk of light.

You see in my experience, professional photographers always start a talk with, "The light" followed by "more light". Instinctively, you'll know it's the end of the seminar when you hear "....and don't forget the light."
I, for one, often have more interest in the origin and make up of a subject than in the light on it. For this event, put together by Douglas Blyde, a man with many strings to his blow, sommelier and food writer among other talents the subject or rather the object of interest was Rosé D'Anjou.

The evening started pleasantly with canapés under the canopy as June had began with a downpour. A glass of rosé d'Anjou in hand we gathered to hear what Paul Winch-Furness, one of the best known food photographers on the scene had to tell us. Not wanting to appear rude I stayed at the back, I knew I was going to retreat to my imaginery world at the first evocation of the L-word.

Looking a little shy, our fame photographer broke in with "L..ove", he told us, "You have to love what you do otherwise it will show in your pictures".

By the time I had registered, that the man actually had something interesting to say,  I was making furious mental notes and here is what I recall of

Paul Winch-Furness' advice:
-A dish doesn't live in isolation. Your picture needs to tell the whole story, capture the atmosphere. don't hesitate to use your phone it keeps it real.

-Don't tinker with your pictures. People will easily spot when a picture had been touched up in photoshop and will associate it to fake.

-To publish on the web, landscape is a better format than portrait.

-Get close to your subject, a dish has many sides, capture its best side.

-Kill the flash or the flash will kill your food picture. If it's very dark use a white source behind the dish: white paper, plate.

-Stage your dish a little but not too much, keep it simple. Don't shoot pictures on a dirty work top.

And don't forget the light........get it from the side or shoot into it.

For More information:

Want to see more about the event? here is the video
Remember the entire Pebble Soup team attended. Did you spot us?

There was a lot of talent around that night, read an account of the evening by Being Erica: Heaven is a Rooftop Rosé Garden
Amy laughinghouse reveals How to Taste Wine Like a Pro.


Credit: He attended the evening, all photos on this post are his

Round up - Vanilla Recipes for the Spice Trail Challenge

There were high hopes for the Wow Vanilla!  we were not disappointed. Recipes are mouthwatering. Let's have a look in details at your entries showcasing vanilla. 

Round Up ( winner is announced at the end of this post :)
As the host, I opened the festivities with a recipe from the archives. Ricotta and Vanilla is a tasty combination and never better than in a bun filled with  blueberries.


The buns were quickly followed by Margot's from Coffee 'n Vanilla Chocolate Chip and Vanilla Babka. A Bundt-style cake inspired by her traditional Polish roots. Babkas are baked in Poland for Christmas and Easter but if you ask me this recipe looks yummy for any day of the year.


Linsy joined in, not with one but three sweet recipes. Her Egg-less Tutti Frutti and her quick Brazilian Coconut Rice Pudding are both inspired by recipes she had bookmarked. My favourite of the three has to be her Carrot and Zucchini Cake Bars with Citrus Icing; who can resist a slice of moist carrot cake?


With Camilla's Fab Food 4 All entry we learn that, "Every tin of Danish Butter Cookies has a Vanilla Wreath" so vanilla is not only a favourite of ours it also appears to be a favourite in Denmark too. 






The following entry arrived rather earlier one morning, around breakfast time to be precise. Sent from Elizabeth's Kitchen it was really hard not to bite into the screen. Don't these Boston Doughnuts look fantastic.

Ness at Jibber Jabber UK told us that, "Bundt Cakes are addictive". She and her daughter had a choice of cocktail or mocktail flavours for the Clandestine Club Cake they regularly attend and they came up with a Fruit Cocktail Bundt Cake. Imperial looking cake - alcohol free -

Dairy-free bites from Helen at Family-Friends-Food full of vanilla, almond, apricots and white chocolate what a treat. Great if you are looking for a new snack idea. 

If it was slightly bizarre for Vanester of Bangers-and-Mash to enter her own challenge on somebody else's blog, that didn't reflect in her deliciously creamy Old Fashion Vanilla Ice Cream


While at Food Glorious Food, Charlene was playing with her food and vanilla essence with success. Just look at the result, her Sweetie Spectacular Cake is a joyous explosion of sweets.


Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog opted for a Rapsberry, White Chocolate and Poppy Seeds Muffins. When I met her at a Lactose free products event where this breakfast beauties where prepared by a Michelin Star Chef, she promised to enter The Spice Trail with a fresh recipe. I wasn't counting on one straight from the oven.

Cooking a cake in a rice-cooker is not ordinary so it took me a little while to comprehend what was going on here. What a good idea Nasifret of By The Way...had and what a lovely result: Lemon Sponge Cake


The excitement mounted up at the sight of this Vanilla Spiced Fig Relish by Lapin D'Or, full of savoury goodness, dried figs soaked in red wine enhanced by vanilla. But was it to be the last of our savoury recipes?


Shaheen at Alloment to Kitchen (A2K) offered a teaser. Her Vegan Rhubarb, Vanilla and Pomegranate Tart, a Creamy vanilla tofu with pomegranate which sparkle like jewels was at the time of publication a work in progress. To see the recipe ....forward to early June on A2K.

 For some reason, it never occured to me that Vanilla Extract could be made at home. But of course, it can. Sarah Jane shows us how from The Tales of the Kitchen Shed.
It's only fitting that Vanesther closed the round up. A lovely surprise recipe. A savoury dish with Vanilla: Beef and Guinness pie

Time to hand the baton back to Vanester. But not before thanking everyone who took part in this month's Spice trail and to swing by our sponsors and announce their decision on the winning entry.
And the winner of Wow Vanilla is:
Naturally Good Food had a bit of a task. Choosing a winner was not easy. After much deliberations, in the end the staff picked the Fruit Cocktail Bundt Cake posted on Jibber-Jabber UK by Ness. Naturally Good Food told us, The Bundt Cake "looked slightly unusual and inspired (them) to download the recipe to have a go" what better result can you get?
Congratulations to Ness who will be receiving a gift of organic essences, we want to see what she and her daughter will come up using them.
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