They say staying in is the new going out and so after a busy day putting Planet Elldrew in touch with Planet Earth we thought we deserved a delicious home cooked meal. Plus it was a chance to try a couple of Lorraine Pascale recipes we’ve been itching to sample and a good excuse to avoid the car-crash that is The Voice (Jessie J’s dismal “these things happen on Live TV” opening was enough to scare us off).
On the menu was Lemony Basil Spaghetti with Mascarpone, Chilli and Chives accompanied by Cheese, Chive and Ham Bread. Lorraine assured us the meal would be quick and easy and credit to Lorraine for an hour and a half later (including 10mins for the photo shoot) we were sitting down to eat. A nice change to have accurate timings after multiple attempts at Jamie’s 30min meals, all of which have taken at least 50% longer than suggested!
Onto the cooking. Well the prep was simple and probably did not require every ingredient having its own ramekin, but one feels so much more like a TV Chef when staring at a workbench covered with an array of teeny tiny flavour filled bowls. We started with the bread – all went well until we had to add enough water to ensure the dough stuck together but was not sticky. How much water is that Elldrew wondered? Referring back to the recipe we noted it’s between 200-225mls but more can be added as necessary. 200mls later the flour didn’t really seem to be forming “a light ball” so a tablespoon more was added, followed rapidly by another, both of which promptly disappeared into the mix with little impact on consistency. At this point all guidance was abandoned and floury hands reached directly for the tap. Success, the dough was now a ball, if not a rather sticky ball; it’s at this point that Elldrew began to lose faith; have we added too much water? Not enough? How to rectify the situation? Or shall we just wing it and see what happens if we leave it? Latter approach was decided and the dough was ready for baking.
Difficult part over you might think, but no, for now Lorraine suggests using a water spray to create a ‘steamy atmosphere in the oven’. That would be simple if Elldrew had a water spray…but we don’t so some lateral thinking and a hunt in the bathroom found an empty travel sized hairspray bottle (or it might have been from when we had an attempt at a Bonsai Tree…what happened to that?). Job complete the dough was placed in the oven with the water filled bottle on standby to create the required steam. But now Elldrew faced another challenge, for Lorraine clearly doesn’t have a fan oven! Yes, 10 pumps of the bottle later and 10 sprays of water blown instantly over Elldrew’s face, Elldrew abandoned that idea!
Bread finally in the oven it was time to turn Elldrew’s attention to the pasta. A much simpler challenge you would think and, generally speaking, it was, except for the dreaded phrase “now de-seed and finely chop the chillies” – damn you Lorraine; surely every chef fears that phrase not because it’s particularly difficult but because we’ve all rubbed our eyes or touched a nether region after chopping a chilli…ouch! Aaah but once again Elldrew had a cunning plan and so we returned to the bathroom to hunt for that first aid kit because it must have protective latex gloves. Alas no. So instead we resorted to small sandwich bags for protection. Seemed to work but then we have not yet rubbed an eye…
Finally, the bit you have all been waiting for, the eating. The pasta was a delicious, light, summery dish – one that could be repeated after work or served to guests. The bread was dense but full of flavour; we don’t know how Lorraine’s tasted so we’ll assume the dough consistency was right and the oven misting was needless and therefore, allegedly, ours was perfect. We can imagine having a hearty hunk of that bread on bonfire night with Heinz Tomato Soup and fireworks.