Not too long ago, we told you about how much we love Sunday dinner. Getting together to whip up something delicious and recharge from a hectic week while breaking bread is a treasured routine for which we are eternally grateful.
Yesterday, we broke our end-of-week tradition, and hit the kitchen for a mid-week reprieve, needing one of those restorative meals a little earlier than usual.
Not too long ago we saw a great recipe on My New Roots for Grilled Halloumi & Peaches, and taking some inspiration from that, fired up the barbie for some end-of-season goodness.
The downside here was that our peaches were a bit too firm so the Halloumi was gooey and melty — and falling off the skewers — before the peaches were sufficiently grilled: note to selves for next time, either get riper peaches, or ditch the skewers and grill separately.
In the words of revered wine writer André Simon, “Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.” We can’t argue with that logic, so as we have written in the past, set about to find just the right wine pairing for our late afternoon snack. We settled on a Bruno Giacosa 2007 Roero Arneis, softly unctuous on the palate with ripe peach, paraffin and chamomile floral flavours, it paired beautifully with the sweet firm peaches, earthy thyme and salty, oozy cheese.
Next up, dinner time. Somehow, over the past year Erin’s become a bit of a specialist in Pasta Carbonara, mixing and matching various recipes & techniques until coming up with something uniquely her own (she also does a mean Bolognese, but that’s a story for another day). This recipe is loosely based on Sue Riedl’s Carbonara recipe, with highlights from Marcella Hazan & Epicurious.
Now, we know what you’re thinking: how hard can Carbonara be?
Eggs, bacon, parmesan and pasta. What’s to go wrong? Well, trust us dear friends, sometimes the simplest of recipes can become the most tragic, glopy messes when you don’t have a bunch of sauce and spice to hide behind. Kind of like an unoaked wine … anyway, we digress.
After a bit of trial & error, and a whole lot of carbs and calories, we’ve decided we prefer shorter, stalkier pasta like the one above, to longer thinner pasta like the one below. The shorter pasta (like penne, orcchiette, casarecce etc.) holds on to the sauce much better.
As you can see, we take our Italian dishes remarkably seriously for a German/English family (with some Portuguese influence from the in-laws).
What’s both fabulous and frustrating about this dish is it’s remarkably quick: done in 20 minutes or less, and is a wholesome, filling, elegant dinner. However, when it’s done, it’s done, so everyone better get to the table rapidamente otherwise, the silky sauce almost congeals and becomes thick. Not very appetizing.
Anyway, we have no trouble getting peeps to the table (one time, on a family road trip to Florida, after stopping for the fifth time for fuel and food, our Dad coined us, “The Hendersons – The Family Who Eats”).
And as is always the case, we paired this Carbonara with one of our favourite Chardonnays — Mission Hill Perpetua. Full bodied and elegant with flavours of peach and nectarine, this matched beautifully to the creamy, rich pasta.
So that was dinner: adults went back for seconds and kids — who normally take a painful amount of time to eat the smallest of portions – went back for thirds, cleaning their plates before the grown up were even halfway through their first portions. And the best part was after all those carbs, the children were sleepy enough to march off to bed without any prodding. In our books that’s called a win.
So, we’re going to share this recipe with you, but it’s with some trepidation: we’re not chefs, but we do love to cook, and when friends and family come around, they seem to enjoy what we make and no one goes hungry. Taste is in the mouth of the beholder, so we’ll tell you what we like and if you care to give it a whirl in your own kitchen, hopefully you’ll like it, too.
Serves 4 adults and 2 surprisingly ravenously hungry children
4 egg yolks
1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for sprinkling)
Pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 cup diced pancetta
1 tablespoon chili pepper flakes – optional
2 cups roughly chopped crimini
1 small finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup (or more) dry white wine
1.5 lb dried pasta of choice