Friday, October 30, 2009

The question of cream

The recipe I chose for this month’s HHDD called for ‘pouring cream’ and it called up an interesting question about cream globally.  The differences between regions and the white stuff their cows produce is often the subject of heated debates.  On travels with my fork I have heard displaced Brits in France and other parts of Europe lament the local cream (even in creamy Normandy) where crème fraîche is de rigueur and dream of the cream from back home amongst the black and white dappled dairy cows (Friesians). 
To me cream is normally double cream, one this is thick, doesn’t split when added to hot sauces and can be whipped into airy peaks.  It used to always seem to be in the blue pot but I noticed Waitrose for one have gone all arty and just the words ‘double cream’ and the patterns on the cream jug are blue.
Alternatively we have the one in the red pot- single cream, one that I use less as I don’t drink coffee and the like nor do I like cream poured over my strawberries (balsamic vinegar every time for me).  For this recipe I have bought single cream however, as I believe this is equivalent to an Australian pouring cream and in the US – light cream.  Though I’ve also read that it is almost like the US half and half – except the butterfat content is a little higher. So if you’re still planning to shop for your cream to make your Donna pasta with the roasted garlic, I recommend pouring, light, or single if in Australia, the US or the UK.  If in Europe the struggle might be tougher, if all you can find is crème fraîche as that is a little sourer.  I seem to recall cartons of crème liquide and that seems to fit the bill better.
I am sure there are other complications in other parts of the world but I hope you can find a local equivalence to make a lovely cream sauce.  Hopefully see you tomorrow!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hay, hay it's Donna against vampires

Hay Hay its Donna 
Day This month I have the honour of hosting the 29th hay, hay it’s donna day.  I had all sort of worthy things I planned doing this weekend but I have instead been getting lost amongst the pages of the donna hay magazine.  I like many seem to have a plethora of fluorescent tabs marking the most ‘must cook’ of her recipes but what to choose, what to choose? I’ve decided that feeling full of mellow fruitfulness and nearly that time of year when the vampires are out in force (or is that just the little plastic fanged trick or treaters?) I’d go for roasted garlic.  Donna Hay seems to favour the roasting treatment for her garlic bulbs; I spotted these sweet nuggets of golden stickiness cropping up all over the place but the recipe I’ve chosen for HHDD #29 is creamy pancetta and roasted garlic pasta.  It may only be a few months since pasta appeared at this event but I make no apologies for another HHDD pasta recipe as last time it was more of a salad and featured peppers and tomatoes – as I’ve chosen this recipe, mine contains neither!  I think this pasta sounds delicious, is undeniably easy, quick to whip up and is adaptable for the non-meat eaters/bacon haters.  Despite the ‘pancetta’ in the title, this could be easily swapped for a bacon-like substitute or replaced entirely for a handful of woody autumnal field mushrooms.  The pasta is up to you, if you want to knead your own golden egg-yolked fresh strands please do or if you rather rely on an Italian artisan and their hand-cut dies, that’s also perfectly okay.  As long as the roasted garlic features amongst some creamy pasta, and the essence of Donna’s recipe is honoured, I think we have a HHDD dish. 
For the rules of the event click here, for previous entrants we are a little out of sync on the timings this month so please can I have your homage to Donna’s creamy pancetta and roasted garlic pasta post by the end of the month?  I will gather all your entries, summarise and post a roundup by 5th November.
If like me you like to leaf through your donna hay magazine stack to see the original recipe this is reproduce faithfully from issue No. 38.  But if you aren’t such a recipe pack-rat, the recipes you’ll need are below.  First – roast your garlic, this is how Donna does it:

roasted garlic
2 heads of garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil

  Preheat oven to 180C/fan 160C/355F. Cut off the tops of the garlic heads so the cloves are just showing. Drizzle the garlic with olive oil and wrap in aluminium foil. Place on a baking tray and cook for 45 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool slightly before peeling off the skins*.
   Place cloves in a bowl and mash with the back of a fork.
*The garlic will be so soft and jammy that you'll be able to press the flesh out by gently squeezing the cloves between your fingers, or gently lift each clove out with a skewer.

Donna assures us we can make a batch of roasted garlic and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.  My experience of roasted garlic is the aromatic pungency that lingers, as lovely as it is I don’t really want it to pervade my breakfast, so make sure your pre-roasted garlic is tightly sealed – unless of course you do have a problem with vampires!     

Take your caramelised garlic cloves and transform into a tasty pasta dish:

creamy pancetta and roasted garlic pasta
400g dried or fresh pappardelle pasta
2 teaspoons olive oil
300g piece mild pancetta, chopped
1 head roasted garlic, mashed
½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
125ml pouring cream
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
finely grated parmesan, to serve

  Cook the pasta in a saucepan of salted, boiling water until al dente (10-12 minutes for dried or 3-5 minutes for fresh pasta). Drain and keep warm.
  Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 2-3 minutes or until browned. Remove from the heat and add garlic, chilli, cream, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add the warm pasta* with the parsley and parmesan and toss to coat. Serves 4
*the heat from the pasta will thicken the sauce

- donna hay magazine issue 38

Inspired by my garlic musings I thought I’d do a spot of amateur Donna Hay food styling for this post with the obligatory folded rough linen white cloth and a very J heart-shaped dish.  The simplicity of a single ingredient plus the white on white-ness vibe always makes me feel I’m channelling Donna!  Happy garlic roasting and pasta cooking everyone, I hope I’ll see your dish soon.