Saturday, 23 February 2013

Carbonara in Due Modi (My two "FANTASTICHE" Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipes!)

This is my big brother Mimmo... Not just a pretty face! He's quite the CHEF!

When we were little, I never saw him in the kitchen cooking, like I was, always helping our mother, confidently having fun, under her watchful eye! But... as soon as my mother was out of the way, Mimmo turned into a "masterchef!" He always made little pizzas which were totally hideous and inedible! It was so much fun, I ate them, pretending they were truly special. His zabaione, I would never taste, believing that he had made it with eggs and salt, rather than sugar.

As we grew up, he carried on being a secret chef, when our mamma was out of sight. Now, he really, really cooks like a chef!

One Summer afternoon, my brother even caught an "ingredient": a very naive pigeon (the city kind!) by making a trail of melon seeds. When the pigeon walked into the living room, Mimmo shut the window. You can imagine the panic! We were terrified of the bird and didn't know how to set it free! The screams could be heard all the way to Albania and Greece, across the Adriatic sea. We had never eaten pigeon and were not really intending to eat that one, but, you know... men are hunters, aren't they? So they say...

One very hot Summer day, a few years later, our parents went out for the day... The kitchen was ours! I made a salad using my favourite ingredients: frankfurters and boiled eggs, very "cleverly" arranged on a plate, the sausages  sliced and, into millions of little rounds, looking very" pretty!" That's what I though, anyway!

Mimmo, my brother, made an authentic Carbonara, using, as you do, very few ingredients. As he used butter, I didn't eat any of it, but I am sure it tasted really delicious!

Carbonara isn't really a sauce, as such. Certainly not something which can be preserved in a jar, and sold in a supermarket, as they do abroad.  Good knows what it must taste like! Please, never, ever buy "Italian" sauces in jars: they are hideous and full of artificial flavourings.

I love buying and cooking with fresh  ingredients! In Italy, vegetables are locally produced, GM is illegal and I can't tell you how exciting, walking round an Italian food  market can be! 

Today, I made two kinds of Carbonara: The first follows the traditional recipe, made by my brotheras you would eat in an Italian home (in Italy) or in a restaurant, in Italy. The second recipe I discovered in one of my Italian monthly food magazines. I used smoked salmon, instead of fresh, as I don't really like eating pasta with fresh salmon or fish (though I love it with shellfish, prawns and even cuttlefish!) I also added an extra ingredient, for colour and texture: asparagus. It was delicious!

Here are my recipes. Do try them!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Serves 2:

300 g (11 oz) spaghetti

50g ( 2 oz) butter

1tbsp olive oil

100 g (3 1I2 oz) pancetta or Parma Ham, diced
3 eggs
2 generous handfuls grated Parmesan cheese


a generous sprinkling of black pepper

This is a very quick dish to prepare.

In a large pan, boil some water. When it comes to the boil, add your spaghetti and some salt and cook "al dente."

While your spaghetti is cooking, put the butter in a largish frying pan with the oil (the oil will prevent the butter from going brown too quickly) and let it melt. Add your pancetta or Parma Ham (Prosciutto Crudo) and cook until golden. Take off the heat.

In a bowl, beat the eggs tom a creamy texture, then add all your cheese with some pepper. Some chefs only use the yolks and whisk them over a bain marie. I made it as one would in an ordinary Italian home, "mamma style!"

When your pasta is ready, drain (, reserve some of the cooking liquid, in case your finished dish is too dry for you) then pour it into the pan, with the pancetta and butter. Turn the heat on, mix and add the egg and Parmesan mixtures. Mix all the ingredients together, until well blended. Serve with an extra sprinkling of cheese a lots of black pepper (I use black and pink!) As you can see, I garnished my dish with a 
few leaves of radicchio

Enjoy your authentic Spaghetti alla Carbonara: very good, genuine, simple everyday Italian food at its best!

Eat immediately! 

This is my second recipe. Not a traditional Carbonara, but good all the same, for the fish lovers!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara con Salmone Affumicato e Asparagi
(Spaghetti Carbonara with Smoked Salmon and Asparagus)

Serves 2


300 g ( 11 oz)spaghetti

50g (2 oz)  butter

1 tbsp olive oil

100g (3 1I2oz) smoked salmon (cut into strips)

3 eggs

2 handfuls Parmesan Cheese

5 tbsp single cream

10  asparagus spears, poached for a couple of minutes (keep four whole and dice the rest)

Cook your spaghetti, as explained in the previous recipe. Cook the asparagus in boiling water for a couple of minutes, just before serving.

In a large frying pan, place the butter and oil, followed by the  salmon. Cook for a minute or so, then remove from the heat.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the cream, whisk together, then add Parmesan and Black pepper. Cut the cooked asparagus into smallish pieces and add to the egg mixture.

Drain your spaghetti, add to the salmon in the frying pan, mix, then add your cream,asparagus  egg and cheese mixture and blend together. Feel free to add more cheese, if you like and lots of lovely black pepper. Garnish each serving with a couple of asparagus spears. I love asparagus so much, I eat it Raw!

Try this unusual recipe: it's delicious, If, like me, you don't eat butter, you can use olive oil, instead!

Che buono!