February 2010

3 P Pasta

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

Prepartion Time
Total Time

The 3 P's in this recipe refer to the the peas, prawns and pasta that are it's primary ingredients. This is one of my favourite recipes for work lunches. You can make it in 10 minutes the evening before and it heats up really easily and well in the microwave.

The recipe itself was taught to me by one of our friends. I've only made one modification to her recipe, and that's to remove the courgette as my beau is not the biggest fan of that particular vegetable and it's such a waste to see it sitting sadly on the side of the plate.

Prawns (frozen weight)
Pasta (Fusilli for preference)
Frozen Peas (frozen weight)
Olive Oil
Water (boiling)
1.5l approx
Dried Chili Flakes
½ tsp or less
Garlic (depending on size)
2 or 3 cloves
Salt & Pepper
to season
Other Requirements

A colander and a large saucepan

For a change, the first thing to do in this recipe is not chopping vegetables, instead it's putting the prawns in a colander and leaving them to defrost in the sink. This should take no more than a couple of hours especially in a warm kitchen. However, you could do the super fast defrost which I use when I am in a hurry, and pour freshly boiled water over them. This is probably not the best method though, and while I have never died from it, you might.

Once the prawns have defrosted, put the pasta and the peas into the saucepan. As I stated in the ingredients, I tend to use fusilli pasta for this dish, but it also works really well with tagliatelle.

I then add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive before adding in the boiling water. The pasta and peas then need to cook for about 8 minutes, or however long it states on the packet.

While the pasta is cooking, crush the garlic and put to one side with the chilli flakes. When the pasta is done, drain it through a colander and leave until needed.

Making sure that there are no peas or pasta left in the saucepan, put it back on the heat and pour in the olive oil. Now add the crushed garlic and the chilli flakes.

Stir the garlic and the chilli in the pot and when you start to smell them, add in the prawns. As soon as the prawns curl into themselves, take the pot off the heat.

Tip the pasta and peas back into the pot and stir through the prawns and oil thoroughly.

Finally, season with salt and pepper. You need to be a bit heavier on the salt than you would think as it really brings out the flavour in the dish. I hope you enjoy it, as I said it's one of my favourite quick meals.

Review: Underground Restaurant, Orwell

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

Last Saturday night, my beau, my parents and I travelled down to Dodder Park Road in Orwell to sample a new underground restaurant, run by the very hospitable Sheila O'Kelly.

When we arrived we were shown to our table of four in the corner. There was another table of four, a table of six and a large table of eight arranged through her living room. We were a little close to the other group of four and the group of six when getting into our seats, but once seated there was room for everyone. The room itself is a warm red colour which is low lit, making for a very intimate dining experience.

Upon being seated we were handed a glass of Prosecco and directed to the menus on the table which detailed what we would be eating that evening along with the date of the next underground restaurant.

The starter was a selection of Mediterranean style starters; olive and tomato bread, hummus, tomato salad and thin lentil cakes (they were described as crisps on the menu, but were more cake like in their consistency). The tomato salad and hummus were served to the table in large bowls for sharing and the lentil cakes were served warm from trays. The bread, cut into thick slices, was passed around the tables on a large platter.

The tomato salad was delicious and very fresh tasting, I could've quite happily eaten the whole bowl of it myself. The hummus was also very tasty with just the right amount of garlic through it. I liked the flavour of the lentil cakes but found them a little dry, this was improved by eating them with the tomato salad. The bread was delicious and I had to have two slices of it, even though this was foolish with two more courses to come.

There was a nice pause while we waited for our main course of Boeuf Bourguignon with mashed potatoes and carrots. This was very flavoursome, and you could really taste the wine that was in the sauce, but not in an unpleasant way. Unfortunately I was unable to eat very much of it as I had been seated beside the radiator and had gotten a little too warm to comfortably eat hot food. But my both my parents and Jon thought that the beef was very good.

There was a choice of three desserts, though you were welcome to try all three if you thought you could manage it! I had the orange salad, but there was also tiramisu and chocolate mousse. The orange salad was again served in a communal bowl for the table, the tiramisu was dished out in portions and the chocolate mousse was served in tumblers. My mum and Jon had the tiramisu, which they both enjoyed, though it could have been a tad more boozy, and my dad had the chocolate mousse, which disappeared so fast, that when I went to take a picture of it, all that was left was an empty glass. He said that it was a proper chocolate mousse. The orange salad was nicely refreshing, though could possibly have benefited from having some blood orange mixed in with the normal oranges to add a little bite.

We finished up the evening with coffee for the boys and chamomile tea for the girls, which rounded off the meal nicely.

All in all it was a very enjoyable evening and the atmosphere throughout was relaxed and intimate, like any good restaurant. If I were ever to run a similar evening I would have gone about it the same way; a cold starter, an easy to prepare in advance main and cold desserts. The price for the evening was €25 per head, not bad for three courses and we brought our own wine (no corkage charges) I would definitely consider going again, maybe in the summer, to see the change in cuisine.

The next underground restaurant will be held on Saturday 13th March, if you're interested in attending contact Sheila at for further details.

Tomato Sauce

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

Prepartion Time
Total Time

This is a useful sort of tomato sauce that can used for a multitude of things. I mainly use it to make spaghetti bolognase but it can also be used on its own or as a pizza base. It keeps in the fridge for about a week and it is easily freezable. The best thing about this recipe is that it's total cost is about €1.50 which to me makes it ideal as something to make at the end of the month when money can be a bit tight.

Tinned Tomatoes (400g tins)
Tomato Puree
2 tsps
3 cloves
Dried Chili Flakes
½ tsp
2 tsps
Mixed Herbs (Fresh thyme for preference over dried)
2 tsps
Red Wine (optional)
a splash
Olive Oil
1 tblsp
Other Requirements

A saucepan and a blender.

As usual, the first thing to get out of the way is the endless chopping. Chop the onion and as finely as you can and roughly chop up the garlic. This is also a good time to open the tins of tomatoes so that they're ready to go when you need them.

Put the olive oil into saucepan and heat it up gently on a medium heat, then add the onion and garlic and gently heat for about a minute.

Lower the heat on the hob and add the tomato puree, stir through and let it cook with the onions and garlic for another minute.

Add the chili flakes and herbs and again let it cook for about a minute. At this stage the onions should be getting nice and soft.

Time to add the tinned tomatoes. I like to use the whole peeled plum tomatoes from Lidl, but you can use any type you like. Once the tomatoes are in the pot, allow the liquid to heat up a little and then blend mixture until it is smooth.

Next add the sugar. You need approximately 1 tsp of sugar for each tin of tomatoes that you use. But do taste the mixture after you add each spoon of sugar, it shouldn't get too sweet, but should just take off the metal like after taste. The mixture is also quite watery at this point and should be reduced so that it becomes thicker and more flavoursome. Turn up the heat on the hob until the mixture starts to boil then turn it down to a simmer and leave for about 10 - 15 mins stirring occasionally.

Once the sauce has thickened, season with salt and black pepper. You'll find that the salt really brings out the flavour of the tomatoes. You can then add the red wine if you are using it. I find that about half a glass adds a nice flavour without overpowering the other flavours.

That's it! A very simple, but delicious tomato sauce that you can use for so many dishes as well as just on its own. It is especially good if, while it is still hot, you put in some pieces of fresh mozzarella and serve with pasta just as the cheese gets stringy. Please do let me know how you get on and what you used the tomato sauce for.