On my recent trip to Rome, I had some fantastic meals, including pizza and pasta, pastries, and of course, tiramisu. I arrived back in London inspired, ready to attempt to recreate some of those meals back home. I made a pasta dish, and I also devised a new recipe for tiramisu, both of which I am sharing with you here.
When in Rome, I had an excellent pasta dish at Nerone, by the name of Pasta all’amatriciana. This originates from Amatrice, in central Italy, but is a common pasta in Rome. It is such an ideal winter dish; filling, warm, and homely, yet decadent and rich.
The traditional recipe uses a type of pork called guanciale, which is from the cheek of the pig. This is difficult to find outside of Italy, even in a big foodie city like London, so you can substitute with pancetta, which is what I did. The type of pasta should be Bucatini, which is like spaghetti, but with a hole through the middle. It is robust, yet light to eat due to the hole through the middle. All the fat and cheese in the dish makes the sauce ‘sticky’ and so it coats the pasta beautifully. The single chili in the sauce is enough to bring warmth to your mouth, without even being aware that there is chili in the dish.
250-300g guanciale or pancetta
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 small dried chili, chopped
2 cans tomatoes
100g bucatini per person
½ cup grated quality pecorino or parmigiano, plus extra for the top
Chop the onion, garlic and chili finely, and fry in olive oil until the onion begins to brown, in a large solid pan.
Remove any skin from the pancetta/guanciale, slice across the grain into matchsticks about 1cm cubed or less. Add to the onion and fry, on a medium heat, until the fat starts to melt and the pork starts to brown, approx. 5-10mins.
Force the tinned tomatoes through a sieve to remove seeds and fibre. Add this to the pork and onions and give a good stir. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 15-20 mins. If the sauce thickens too much, add some water to thin down again.
Cook the bucatini in plenty of salted water (use a large pot), until al dente, about 6 mins. Drain using a colander and put back into the pot.
Add the pecorino or parmigiano to the sauce and stir. Check whether the sauce needs salt – I found that it didn’t because the pancetta is so salty, but it will depend on your pancetta/guanciale. Add all the sauce to the pasta, and stir through.
Divide onto plates and sprinkle with more pecorino/parmigiano. Serve with a good red wine, and a green salad.
The sauce recipe above serves about four people. Use 100 grams pasta per person.
Inspired by eating the perfect tiramisu in Rome, I decided to try and modify my own tiramisu recipe. I have cut out the egg white, which makes for a very smooth cream, and I also cut out the Marsala wine and replaced it with Amaretto. This is not a classic recipe, but I think it is my new favourite; rich and indulgent and delicious.
We found the tiramisu improved dramatically with age – the flavours settled into each other. I strongly recommend you make this a day in advance (or even a couple of days). Tiramisu is perfect dinner party dessert, because you can make it a day ahead, and it requires no heating, cooking or preparation, other than placing on a plate. So you can spend the time enjoying your guests’ company rather than having to rush off to prepare dessert.
6 egg yolks
½ cup caster sugar
¼ cup Amaretto
500g mascarpone (the smoothest you can find, I used the Italian brand Granarolo)
½ pack savoiardi
¾ cup strong coffee
Good quality cocoa (I used Green & Blacks)
Place the egg yolks in a metal bowl that fits over a pot. Add the sugar and whisk until it grows paler in colour. Whisk in the Amaretto.
Heat water in a pot on the stove, and place the bowl over this. Whisk continuously until the mixture thickens to a custard-like consistency, about 5-7 minutes.
Remove from the heat and continue to whisk for a few minutes. In a larger metal bowl, place the mascarpone, and add the cooked egg-sugar mix. Use the whisk and blend this all together until completely smooth. Set aside.
Lay the savoiardi out in the bottom of the dish (use a dish approximately 25cm by 15cm). Put the coffee in a jug, and pour this all over the biscuits, making sure you cover each individual biscuit.
Spread the mascarpone mix over the biscuits and smooth the surface. Use a sieve to sprinkle cocoa liberally over the top, until you can’t see any white showing through.
Cover, and refrigerate at least overnight. Once ready to serve, you can cut into squares and carefully place each on a plate.
If you wish to make a larger tiramisu, with more savoiardi, you could increase the mascarpone mix by half and you would have enough for two layers.