How special occasions are celebrated in our family is closely linked to food and thus a discussion may be started weeks before the actual event. Where shall we go? What will be cooked? Last year I took my daughter Nicola to the Cinnamon Kitchen to celebrate her birthday and its proximity to Christmas meant we were able to enjoy their wonderful Festive Tasting Menu. But this year she said well in advance that she’d like me to cook the birthday meal and to have her partner Rachael, brother Jonathan and sister-in-law Lyndsey come too. And because the discussion arose not long after I’d returned from beautiful Istanbul and was cooking up lots Turkish dishes with great enthusiasm, it was decided that the birthday meal would be a Turkish one: a selection of meze.
We all love food of this kind, often going to Turkish restaurants like Tas or Pasha in London. And it’s common for us to choose a meze meal: lots of small dishes brought to the table, some warm, some cold. Another advantage of this proposed meal is that Rachael is vegetarian and we always have plenty of meat-free dishes in a selection of meze so it’s an ideal meal for a vegetarian, with no sense of them missing out on the ‘main event’.
Fairly inevitably I got carried away with the menu, thinking of old favourites and some of the new Turkish dishes I’d made since returning from Istanbul and thus it ended up that there was a lot of cooking to be done. But it was fun to cast a day aside for cooking with the promise of an appreciative group of diners in the evening! Some things could be made early in the day: our favourite lamb kofte from Moro East and some fish kofte from Ghillie Basan’s Classic Turkish Cooking prepared and the Imam Bayildi made. The kofte would have to be cooked at the last minute but without too much trouble, and the Imam Bayildi is delicious eaten at room temperature and stands being made a few hours in advance.
I’d had a mad idea at one stage earlier in the week that I’d head into central London in the morning to buy real Turkish bread from the Tas deli near Waterloo and maybe some baklava, but it’s as well I gave up on the idea because really there was enough cooking on hand to keep me busy! I settled for some pitta bread from the supermarket but also bought some lovely fougasse in our local Paul bakery which is the most similar to Turkish bread I could think of. My favourite hummus recipe from Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Chicken & Other Stories was made early in the day and kept in the fridge till nearer suppertime. The gorgeous Spinach with Yogurt & Pine Nuts I first made soon after my trip to Istanbul, had to be made later in the day at the same time as the meat kofte were griddled and kept warm in a low oven.
The fish kofte – Balik Koftesi – were a bit of a challenge in the end. Making the mixture was fine but moulding them into little kofte shapes that would hold together was another matter. I did the best I could but some broke up in the cooking. However, they still looked pretty good and tasted even better: a lovely blend of flaked cod, fresh parsley and dill, spring onions, currants and pine nuts and spiced with cinnamon and bound together with egg.
I found a lovely tomato salad in the Ghillie Basan book: large tomatoes skinned and sliced and dressed with a tahini sauce flavoured with garlic, cumin and lemon juice and some spring onions.
There was Cacik – a Turkish version of Tzatziki and some Tabbouleh, with plenty of fresh parsley and mint so it was nice and green. I found a wonderful chicken dish in the Basan book too: chicken breast slices marinated in a tahini and pomegranate molasses paste then laid on a shallow ovenproof dish, sprinkled with breadcrumbs and chopped pistachios and baked in the oven for an hour. This was a great success.
There was loads to eat in the end and we had huge platefuls! But it was all our favourite kind of food and everyone loved it.
We’d begun the evening with a bottle of wonderful Ruinart champagne, had drunk some Primitivo with the meal (as Turkish wine was hard to find) and had a bottle of dessert wine in the fridge ready for the birthday cake. We ventured off Turkish piste for dessert. It had to be our favourite and usual celebration Torta Caprese which I served with the Clementine Sorbet I made the other day and some Greek Yogurt.
When we moved into my sitting room for either mint tea or coffee I felt I had to offer Turkish delight too as when we were in Istanbul it came with everything!
It was such a lovely evening. I really enjoyed cooking the meal and it’s always so special to bring family together for a celebration like this.
When I got an email from the fabulous Moro saying that Sam & Sam Clark were cooking at a pop-up supper club in Islington, I knew I had to go and it probably took me less that 30 seconds to decide to forward the email to Annie and ask if she was keen too. Fortunately we were quick off the mark for this two-night event was soon sold out and we happily had seats at the first evening, last night 4 December.
Regular readers of my blog know that I get quite ecstatic at the thought of dining at Moro. It has for years been one of my very favourite restaurants. If I lived closer, I’d be there a lot more often, but for special events it’s a clear family choice. When my son turned 30 at the end of August I offered to take him anywhere in London for a meal to celebrate – the only proviso being that if it was very expensive we’d have to do the bargain lunch deal! We talked about various options in the months leading up to the birthday but in the end he said, ‘I want to go to Moro.’ So we did!
Tania Rowling used to work at Moro and then two years ago opened a vintage emporium in Islington’s Chapel Market – Possessed N1. An artist and ‘collector of all things beautiful’ she specialises in 1930s to 1950s fashion, vintage dinner sets, mid-20th century furniture and other wonderful things. It was such a delight to be surrounded by all these beautiful things as we ate last night.
I was the first to arrive. Well, anyone who knows me well knows I always am. It could be embarrassing to admit, but there, I’ve done it. I managed to park just outside, some market stallholders still clearing things away but the parking restrictions thankfully lifted. The little shop looked so welcoming as I entered, and there were the Sams plus two helpers from the restaurant, and Tania and her sister Cindy hard at work in the tiny retro kitchen at the back. Tania was wearing a gorgeous vintage dress with a red bow in her hair, a nod to Almodovar movies to fit the Spanish theme of the night.
They welcomed me warmly, despite my slightly early interruption and soon brought me a delicious Pomegranate Cava cocktail in the prettiest glass.
Not long after, other people started arriving – including Annie – and the little shop was soon full. In supper club style people were friendly and introduced themselves. There was a feeling of arriving at some friends’ dinner party rather than a restaurant.
After a little while Tania asked us to sit down as the food was about to come. Annie and I sat opposite a lovely couple who were also great Moro fans. In fact, the evening may well have been the inauguration of the Moro Fan Club. Everyone was talking about their Moro restaurant experiences, the books and recipes, their favourite dishes – as if, we all agreed, you could choose! At some restaurants it can be a challenge to find something you really want. At Moro you want to try it all but how on earth do you decide! It was easy for us last night; no angst over what to leave out. It was chosen for us so all we had to do was enjoy it.
On the tables there was of course the wonderful Moro sourdough bread. There were cups of olives and almonds too. The table was beautifully laid up with vintage dinner ware and glasses; beautiful candlesticks. The first course was Chestnut & Chorizo Soup, served in vintage cups.
Wow! We were in awe. How does soup taste this good? It was thick and earthy yet sweet with the chestnuts, the chorizo adding a warm spicy note (you’ll find the recipe in Moro the Cookbook). It was glorious. Happily, Tania came round with seconds too! Next came Sea Bass Ceviche with Bergamot Orange and Cumin.
It was so well seasoned, enhancing the natural sweetness of the delicate fish. It was so good we ate it with reverence, discussing the taste with our dinner companions and mopping up the dressing with bread. All the while we could see the two Sams and everyone else putting plates together in the little kitchen. There was such a friendly, informal atmosphere I almost felt I should offer to help when Tania came to clear plates, as you do at a friend’s.
The main course was a visual delight: Duck Fattee with Chickpea Pilav, Pistachios and Crispy Onions. Sparkling pomegranate seeds on top added to the festive atmosphere.
This delightful mound of duck and pilav with a yogurt dressing on a flatbread base was a treat of flavours and textures. The recipe is in Moro East and the Sams say they often serve it at Christmas, which sounds an excellent idea to me. Finally, came Sherry Trifle.
Now, when I read ‘sherry trifle’ on the menu I have to confess feeling a slight slump. What, sherry trifle? I thought, thinking of those rather awful over-sweet trifles of my childhood. That didn’t sound very exotic. But of course I hadn’t tasted Moro’s sherry trifle with its Oloroso sherry, home-made custard and cake and tangy fresh raspberries at the bottom counteracting the sweetness. We were all quite full but there was no way we were leaving any of this. What a treat. I think it was the best sherry trifle I’ve ever had.
We finished with tea – fresh mint, of course – which came in a beautiful vintage teapot to be drunk from pretty vintage cups. Then people started to stand up. Sam, Sam and Tania came from the kitchen and mingled and everyone talked until it was time to go home. Coats were taken from the clothing rails and put on to meet the cold waiting outside. What a wonderful evening it had been. Closer to eating in someone’s home than a restaurant experience, yet the food had been outstanding and the whole experience enhanced by the gorgeous setting of Tania’s shop and the friendliness of everyone there.
The meal cost £50 a head for 4 courses including the cava cocktail. Bottles of wine were on sale for £23 each. If you want to find out more about Tania’s shop and supper club visit her website: www.possessedn1.com and for more news of Moro: www.moro.co.uk
Clementines are the quintessential Christmas fruit. In our house, when my children were little, Father Christmas used to drop them into the bottom of Christmas stockings along with shiny new coins and small chocolate treats. My children, in turn, left Santa a glass of single malt whisky and a mince pie. The latter gifts were a welcome late-night accompaniment to present wrapping and stocking filling. I’m a very organised person but I always loved to leave the stockings until the last moment on Christmas Eve. For me, it was the real beginning of Christmas.
Clementines are just the most gorgeous little citrus delights: sweet and juicy, easy to peel and completely moreish. They’re really just a variety of mandarin but their easy peeling is appealing and they usually have a better taste, I find, than satsumas. However, inevitably, they vary and supermarket ones can be disappointingly tasteless so do make sure you find a really tasty, sweet kind before making this sorbet.
I’d packed my ice-cream maker away with summer gone, but the idea of making a Christmas sorbet of just clementines took shape and yesterday I put the machine back in the freezer. It takes quite a few hours to get cold enough to use so the actual sorbet making had to wait until today. For Christmas stockings I always like to buy clementines with their leaves still on – it seemed to be what Santa would do! Today I grabbed a couple of bags in my local M&S and did a taste check once home. Yes, nice and sweet, so the sorbet making could begin.
First of all I cut about 10 clementines in half and juiced them. In the end I collected 300ml of juice. I also added the juice of 1 lemon. The sorbet would need a little bit of sharpness too. You might like to strain the juice for a smoother finish but I didn’t bother. Meanwhile, I had a sugar syrup bubbling.
Add 150ml water to 100g caster sugar in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, stirring to mix, then allow to bubble and thicken a little for just 2 or 3 minutes. Allow to cool completely before adding to the juice. Mix the juice and sugar syrup together and then I like to leave in the fridge for half an hour to an hour to get really cold before putting into the ice-cream maker. I find my little machine works better that way, but you could always go straight ahead at this point and do the churning. Set the ice-cream maker up and running and then pour in the juice mixture.
I’m afraid my one-handed photography is a bit out of focus – but you get the idea! Allow to churn until you reach the nice soft-scoop stage. At which point I couldn’t resist a taste! Mmmm.
Transfer to a freezer container and put in the freezer until ready to use. If you make it well ahead then you’ll need to take it out of the freezer for a little while to soften slightly before serving.
It was really wonderful. There was a clarity and purity to the clementine taste that was stunningly fresh but intense. Amongst all the richness of a traditional Christmas dinner, this would be a lovely between-courses palate cleanser or just a brilliant dessert for some other Christmas time meal when you’re not serving the traditional rich pudding and mince pies but want something lighter. And really, I can see I might want to make and eat this all through the clementine season, it was so good!
I love beetroot and it’s such a gorgeous earthy warming vegetable for this time of the year. Though it does also make a wonderful salad, used fresh and raw, such as my Sensational Antioxidant Salad; or as a dip, like my Roasted Beetroot, Tahini & Orange Dip and of course soup. There’s barely a soup as fine as a rich Beetroot Soup. I’d never made a risotto with beetroot though. I have to confess I caught sight of a recipe card in a supermarket the other day for a beetroot risotto with goat’s cheese and while I didn’t pick the card up, the idea stayed with me and I played with it a bit. It would be good to use pearl barley instead of rice with such an earthy vegetable as beetroot, I thought, so an orzotto was in order. I’ve taken to making orzotto quite a lot since my first foray into using pearl barley a few months ago, when I made Mushroom & Rocket Orzotto. I don’t prefer it to normal risotto rice – and for some things I definitely prefer rice – but there’s something about the more rustic, nutty pearl barley that makes it perfect for some ‘risottos’ – or more correctly ‘orzottos’ as ‘orzo‘ is the Italian word for barley, while risotto comes from ‘riso‘ – rice.
I had a nice bunch of beetroot and in the farmers’ market this morning I bought some buffalo cheese from one of my favourite stalls, but instead of the little ‘lambors’ – soft goat’s cheese – I usually buy I chose a more mature version for a stronger flavour. It was still a soft texture so I knew it would melt down well into my orzotto.
I also decided to add some walnuts as I’ve been inspired to use them much more in cooking with my addiction to Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook over the past few months; another nutty flavour to enhance that of the pearl barley.
When Jonathan and Lyndsey popped round late afternoon and then over a cup of tea asked if I wanted to go back to theirs for supper, I suggested I cooked my planned orzotto for them. Thus ingredients for one soon became ingredients for three, but fortunately there was plenty of everything. Especially when Jonathan told me he had lots of good home-made stock in his freezer for me to use. The beetroot and other ingredients were put into a bag and we all piled into their Mini along with Zeph the Yorkshire Terrier and a 5-foot Xmas tree that they’d bought from the little garden centre near me!!
It’s always slightly strange cooking in someone else’s kitchen, even my son’s. But I can count on him having the best of tools and gadgets along with devilishly sharp knives. Only a long nail saved the top of a finger as I started chopping. I peeled and chopped 4 beetroots. Short of wearing gloves, there’s really no way to avoid getting one’s fingers heavily stained red. Jonathan couldn’t resist pointing out that if I did cut my finger at least there’d be no obvious sight of blood. Fortunately, my greater care left my fingers intact and the beetroot nicely diced into roughly 1cm cubes. I warmed a little olive oil in a frying pan and then tipped the beetroot cubes in. I seasoned with salt and pepper and on a last-minute whim decided to add some freshly ground cumin seeds too, as they go so well with beetroot.
I left this gently cooking, stirring occasionally, until the beetroot was almost cooked through. In another larger pan, in which I planned to cook the orzotto, I warmed some more olive oil and added 1 medium onion finely chopped and a handful of walnuts, roughly chopped.
When the onion was translucent and the nuts lightly browning, I added about a cup and a half – roughly 200g – of pearl barley.
It’s important to rinse the barley first. Put it in a bowl, pour in cold water, stir round with your hand and then carefully pour the water off and any little bits that rise to the surface. You may need to do this two or three times until the water runs clear. Stir it round well and allow to cook for a minute or two then add a good glug of dry vermouth or white wine. Let it bubble over a medium heat and once most of the wine has been absorbed, start adding hot chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you want to keep this vegetarian). As the stock is absorbed, add another couple of ladlefuls.
Once your orzotto is well on the way to cooking through, tip in the cooked beetroot, scraping in any bits in the bottom of the pan. Those are the best caramelising bits full of flavour.
Pour in the rest of your hot stock and stir. I used about a litre of stock in total. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Now pop the lid on and allow to gently simmer until all the stock is absorbed and the pearl barley is tender. Unlike a true ‘risotto’ you don’t have to stir all the time. Turn the heat off when ready and break the soft cheese over the top. Save a little to put on the orzotto when serving.
If you can’t buy this kind of buffalo cheese, use goat’s cheese instead, but a nice mature one with a good full flavour. Put the lid back on for a couple of minutes or so to allow the cheese to start to melt a bit, then gently mix in just a little; you don’t want all sign of the cheese to disappear. Now serve the orzotto, piling it gently on to plates, then dot some more of the cheese on top.
It looked so colourful and wonderful but – in Jonathan’s words – the taste was AMAZING. Everything combined so well: the sweet earthy beetroots with the sharp acidity of the strong cheese; the walnuts with the nutty pearl barley. The flavour was deep and robust without being overpowering. It was really very good indeed.
The pasta dish with chestnuts and mushrooms I cooked the other night was delicious but it left me with nearly a whole pack of ready-cooked chestnuts in my fridge, needing to be used within a week, so I had to come up with another recipe. My inspiration for the pasta dish came from Jacob Kenedy’s column in the Observer Magazine on 17 November and he also gave a recipe for quails with chestnuts, so I decided to do something similar but with a few changes – like adding some bacon to the recipe and using chicken. I could possibly have bought quails in the farmers’ market on Saturday – certainly there were pheasants – but I’m not a great game fan. I like pheasant but it has to be well cooked or easily dries out and, of course, there is the shot to deal with: a potential tooth hazard! I remember once trying grouse in the famous Rules restaurant in London where my parents occasionally took us for a treat. It was just too strong for me but my kind dad swapped dishes. And this was only a few years ago, not long before he died, and I was definitely very grown up! I therefore settled on buying a chicken from the excellent Boarstall Meats stall. I’m becoming quite expert now at jointing the chicken using my son’s instructions – Jonathan’s Masterclass – and the boning knife he bought me. ‘The knife is brilliant and makes all the difference,’ I told him last night as we were about to eat. ‘I know,’ he said, ‘and I knew you wouldn’t bother to buy one for yourself.’ It’s so good to have sons keep you in order in the kitchen!
I jointed the chicken into 8 portions. I did this earlier in the day so I could get a stock cooking – which I also used to make some celeriac soup. Thus I had some good, tasty fresh stock for my chicken dish. I chopped 1/2 large onion (I only had huge Spanish ones in my fridge), 2 sticks of celery and crushed 2 cloves of garlic. Then I sliced 4 rashes of streaky bacon into small pieces.
First I seasoned the chicken pieces with salt and black pepper and browned them in a large pan in some olive oil.
Then I removed them to a plate and tipped the chopped vegetables and bacon into the pan. Add a little more olive oil if you think it’s necessary. Cook over a medium heat until the bacon has browned slightly and the vegetables are softening.
Now sprinkle over a tablespoon of plain flour and mix in. I wanted to thicken my sauce a bit. Next I poured in one of those small individual-sized bottles of white wine (about 200-250ml) and stirred until smooth.
I also added some Herbes de Provence that I brought back from France in the summer. My fresh herb supply isn’t looking great now that winter is here.
I let the sauce bubble for a couple of minutes then added a few ladlefuls of hot chicken stock – about 250ml. Once that was mixed in, I put the chicken pieces back in the pan and then turned the heat down to a simmer, put the lid on and left for 15 minutes.
Then I added the chestnuts. The pack was a 200g pack and I’d only had 4 out for the pasta so there were plenty left. I also added a good handful of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley. Then I covered the pan again and cooked for about another 30 minutes, until the chicken was tender. Check seasoning before serving.
I served the chicken with some soft polenta seasoned well with plenty of salt and black pepper and some Parmigiano cheese. I flash-fried some cavolo nero as another side dish, drizzling over some olive oil and a little lemon juice.
It was all very delicious. The chicken was beautifully tender and the taste rich with wine, herbs, chestnuts and celery. A piece of sweet, nutty chestnut eaten with a slice of chicken was gorgeous and made such a good partnership. ‘It’s a bit Christmasy,’ said Jonathan, and certainly it would make a great alternative Christmas meal to the usual turkey.
There was some wonderful produce in the local farmers’ market in Twickenham yesterday. I often go with the intention of buying some particular things – yesterday I wanted to buy a couple of chickens – but it’s also great to just look around and see what’s on offer and in season. I wanted to make more soup for my freezer now that the colder weather is here as it’s great to be able to pull a portion out to defrost for lunch during the week when I’m working. When I saw some globes of creamy-green celeriac, I decided that would make a very nice soup.
It has to be said that celeriac isn’t a very pretty vegetable and getting inside to the creamy interior is a slight challenge. There’s no point in trying to use a vegetable peeler; you just need to slice the outside off with a sharp knife. It makes a wonderful classic French salad - Remoulade de Celeri-Rave - and in the winter I like to cook it and combine it with equal parts of potato, some butter, cream and black pepper to make a puree to serve as a side dish with a rich beef stew. When thinking about my soup I decided to add some potato for texture and to soften the strong celeriac taste and went for a 2:1 ratio – twice as much celeriac as potato. I considered using mustard as a flavouring thinking about the lovely mustard dressing in the Remoulade but in the end went for the less pungent choice of some fennel seeds.
My celeriac weighed just over 400g once I’d peeled it and a large potato I had about 200g. I peeled both and chopped into large pieces. But first of all I finely sliced a large shallot and slowly softened that in a large pan with some olive oil (about 1-2 tablespoons) and a large nut of butter (about 1 tablespoon). I added 1 stick of celery, sliced into smallish pieces and 1 teaspoon fennel seeds crushed.
I let them sweat in the pan for a couple of minutes until the shallot and celery were starting to soften then added the chunks of celeriac and potato. I added some salt and pepper and stirred round, then allowed it all to cook for a bit, without browning, for a deeper flavour before adding the stock.
I had some stock on the go. I’d already jointed a chicken (for Sunday evening’s meal) – according to Jonathan’s instructions - and put the carcass and trimmings into a large stock pan with onion, carrot, salt and peppercorns. It had been bubbling away nicely for a while and once my celeriac was very slightly coloured, I added some ladlefuls of the stock to the soup pan (about 700ml). I brought it all to the boil again and then turned the heat down, put a lid on the pan, and left it to simmer for about half an hour.
I checked the vegetables were cooked by squashing them against the side of the saucepan with a wooden spoon. Then I turned off the heat and blitzed it with a hand blender until nice and smooth and wonderfully creamy. I thought it was a little too thick so added another couple of ladles of stock. Then you need to check the seasoning.
I served the soup with a little cream and chopped flat-leaf parsley on the top. This wasn’t so much a pretty decoration but because both cream and parsley go so well with celeriac. However, I didn’t want to add a lot of cream and parsley to the whole pan of soup as I was planning to freeze portions and I felt it was best to add them at the point of serving.
It was very delicious and has such an earthy, nutty flavour that it feels just right for winter. Celeriac is highly aromatic but slightly more mellow than celery. Its creamy interior seems to invite you to add some more cream and that makes it a wonderfully luxurious soup that would grace a dinner party table as a starter, but I shall just enjoy rather luxurious lunches for a few days!
I saw this combination in a Jacob Kenedy recipe in last Sunday’s Observer Magazine and liked the look of it. It’s chestnut season and I’m never quite sure what to do with them other than roast them and eat straight. I’ve combined them with Brussels sprouts for a Christmas side dish but generally they’re not something I eat or use a lot, although I like them. Kenedy goes as far as to make his own pasta with chestnut flour but that was definitely a step too far for me, so I settled on penne out of the choice in my store cupboard. I made a couple of other small changes but his recipe was my inspiration and it turned out really well.
I bought some vacuum-packed chestnuts, ready prepared and cooked and thus much easier to use. They are fairly easily available in supermarkets, especially at this time of year. It’s a fairly quick dish to prepare so it’s best to get the ingredients ready and cut up before you begin: finely chop 1 shallot; cut 3 pieces of streaky bacon or pancetta into 1cm strips; slice 4 of the chestnuts – about 5mm; slice 4 chestnut mushrooms – 5mm; chop a handful of flat-leaf parsley.
I used chestnut mushrooms not only because Kenedy did but because it made sense with the whole ‘chestnut’ theme and I love their nutty flavour. They don’t have much to do with chestnuts though and the name comes from their brown colour. However, the chestnut-mushroom association is strong in the wild where mushrooms grow under chestnut trees. In Japan shiitake mushrooms take their name from shii, a type of chestnut tree and take, meaning mushroom. In northern Italy a tagliatelle made with chestnut flour is served with a porcini mushroom sauce (ref: The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit).
First of all I got my pasta cooking – about 100g dried pasta per person. Cook according to the instructions and when you drain, save some of the cooking liquid. Meanwhile, I got on with the sauce. I added my finely chopped shallot to a pan with a little olive oil. While that started to soften I sliced the bacon and added that to the pan. Once the bacon was colouring nicely I added the sliced chestnuts with a good knob of butter. Stir round and when the chestnuts start to colour add the sliced mushrooms, and keep stirring occasionally so they brown each side.
When the mushrooms are cooked, add a good drizzle of single cream, the parsley, a good grating of Parmigiano cheese and a ladleful of the pasta cooking liquid. Stir together to make a sauce and taste to check seasoning.
Remember the bacon will have added some salty flavour, but you may need more salt. Also add a good grating of black pepper. Let it bubble up for just a minute or two, then add the drained pasta.
Stir round carefully so all the pasta is coated with the sauce, then transfer to a serving dish. Grate over a little more Parmigiano.
I served it with a green salad. It was so delicious. I loved the combination of the salty bacon with the sweet chestnuts; the earthy mushrooms and the gorgeous decadent addition of a little cream. It all came together well and really, like most good pasta dishes, it’s so easy and quick to put together. I do have rather a lot of chestnuts from the pack left though, so I feel that maybe there’s a chestnut soup coming soon …