9th March 2008
Real life seems to be taking over from blogging here at the moment as, finally, the building work seems to be moving on a pace, which is good, as our first painting course starts in September and the apartments and studio need to ready for the summer.
Hard work, however, doesn’t come cheap and this is a point in the project when we seem to haemorrhaging cash.
The house is changing and evolving almost daily and it seems to me that sometimes it ‘talks’. By that I mean it makes it’s spirit felt. When you take a building back to it’s origins and strip away the layers of man made rubbish we like to surround ourselves with; the polyurethane, vinyl, plasterboard and pebbledash to reveal the beautiful bones and stones and brick and wood you set it’s spirit free.
The spirit of this house soared free yesterday morning when marito and Vlad began to chisel off the sombre render on the front of the house and revealed this.
Best thing I ate:
Pasta al forno con pomodoro e mozzarella
This is one of my favourite Italian pasta dishes. I love the way a few humble ingredients like cheese, tomatoes and pasta can be made into something rich and sustaining.
When I take this out of the oven, fragrant and bubbling, it always makes me feel like a sexy Italian ‘mamma’. You will find versions of it in almost every Italian cookery book and it is a regular feature at celebrations all over Italy.
Marito and the girls would gladly eat this everyday of the week given half a chance. It is straightforward to make in large quantities so perfect for a festa. The fact that Italians choose to celebrate with such a simple dish and then to lavish so much care over its preparation is for me what makes Italian food truly great.
It feeds four greedy people;
2 large cloves garlic squashed
1 peperoncino crumbled
Extra virgin olive oil
3x 400g tins of good quality plum tomatoes
2 bay leaves
Sea salt, black pepper
Big bunch of Basil leaves
2 or 3 balls of good quality mozzarella cheese
Lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
400g Penne pasta
Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees and put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta.
In a large deep frying pan heat a good glug of olive oil and sauté the garlic and peperoncino for a few minutes but do not colour. Add the tomatoes and chop them roughly, then add the bay leaves and simmer it all for about 20 minutes until it’s thick and reduced. Mash in the garlic, which should now be soft, and remove the bay. Check the flavour and season with as much salt and pepper as you like.
When your water is boiling add some salt and cook the Penne until just ‘al dente’ then drain, reserving a small cup of the pasta water. Toss the pasta with half of the sauce and use the water to thin down the remaining tomato mixture.
In a large baking dish layer the pasta followed by the tomato sauce and 1 torn up mozzarella ball, some basil leaves and a good grating of Parmesan. Repeat these layers until you have used everything up. Ending with a layer of mozzarella and Parmesan and topping the whole glorious thing off with a grating of nutmeg, don’t hold back.
Bake in a hot oven for about 15 mins until crusty and golden.
This is a perfect sop for large quantities of good red wine. Buona Festa!