Spaghetti alla Carbonara



It’s slightly funny that National Spaghetti Day falls so close to New Years. So much for those resolutions. I find it a physical impossibility to see Spaghetti alla Carbonara on a menu and not order it even though I’m usually disappointed. My inability to resist has reached all corners of the world and is well documented on Instagram. Common sense would tell most people that a misspelt listing of Spagetee Corbonera on a laminated menu on the rooftop of a backpacker hostel in India is not the wisest choice but still I can’t say no. My search for the holy grail of Carbonaras is never ending. The best in New York is in my opinion at Barbuto and I have a near toddler temper tantrum when they aren’t serving it. My biggest piece of advice when making Carbonara is don’t make it for a crowd. It needs to be eaten immediately and if you’re serving more than three, the first person’s plate is already past its best by the time you’ve served the third. I’ve revised my version to be more authentic (I’m ashamed I used to add cream). Enjoy wholeheartedly – resolutions be damned!


Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Serves 2


½ lb Spaghetti (preferably De Cecco)
3 oz cubed pancetta
3 egg yolks
½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese



1. Start boiling water in a large pot and add a good handful of rock salt.
2. In a bowl whisk together the egg yolks and Parmesan cheese.
3. When the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and cook according to the packet.
4. Meanwhile fry the pancetta in a little olive oil until crisp and add freshly ground pepper to taste.
5. Before draining the pasta, reserve 2 cups of the salty water and set aside.
6. Drain the pasta well and add directly to the frying pan with the pancetta.
7. Turn off the heat, mix in 1/2 cup of the salty water and mix well. Then add the egg mixture and stir vigorously until you have a creamy consistency.
8.Serve immediately with extra Parmesan.


Stuffed Pasta Shells (Lumaconi Ripieni)


I’ve oddly never written about this dish because I believed it to be supremely complicated and fussy to make. Reserved for the most special of occasions, it took on near mythical properties growing up. On a recent trip to London, my mother offered to show me how to make it and, as is so often the case, it turns out to be very easy. Getting an actual recipe from her, though, was not so easy. Everything done ‘all’occhio’ (literally by the eye), I ran after her remeasuring everything she casually threw in the bowl. They’re packed with flavor from the porcini mushrooms and deliciously rich so remember that a little goes a long way!


NB: Always be on the look out for large pasta shells. Not as easy to find as they once were, buy 2 packs whenever you see them.


Stuffed Pasta Shells (Lumaconi Ripieni)


Serves 4


1/2 lb large pasta shells

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry

Dash of grated nutmeg

1/4 cup butter + 2 tablespoons 

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/4 cup dried porcini, soaked in hot water and then finely chopped

1/4 cup Marsala/sherry

1 egg

1/2 lb ricotta

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese plus more for sprinkling

Salt and pepper

1 cup light cream



1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 8 minutes. Drain and dry spread out on a large tea towel. 

3. In a large pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the spinach with a little grated nutmeg for a few minutes. 

4. Transfer to a large bowl and then in the same pan, heat the 2 tablespoons butter and add the garlic and mushrooms. After a few minutes, add the Marsala or sherry and cook for a further 2 minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Add the mushroom mixture to the bowl with the spinach and leave to cool. 

5. Once cool, add the egg, ricotta and Parmesan. Season well with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.

6. Butter a large baking dish that will fit all the shells in one layer. Stuff each shell with a large tablespoon of the mushroom and spinach mixture. 

7. In a small saucepan, heat the 1/4 cup of butter, add the light cream and bring to a simmer. Pour over the pasta and then sprinkle with more Parmesan.

8. Bake covered for 20 minutes and then uncovered for 10 minutes. Serve warm.


Bucatini all’Amatriciana


A few days after the devastating earthquake that hit the region of Lazio, I made this classic dish that was invented in Amatrice, one of the towns most severely affected. It was my version of lighting a candle for them. With thousands still displaced, the work ahead seems insurmountable. Italian Restaurants across the world have been donating portions of profits from the sale of this dish to the Red Cross. We’d like to do the same and help in our own little way. Any Italian products we sell for the next month, we’ll donate 15% to the Italian Red Cross. It’s not much but every little helps. If you’d like to donate directly, here’s the link


Bucatini All’Amatriciana

Serves 4


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces sliced guanciale or if you can’t find it pancetta
1 red onion, halved lengthwise and then thickly sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 jar Classic Red
1 pound Bucatini
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese



1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt well.

2. Meanwhile in a large skillet, combine the olive oil, guanciale, onion and red pepper flakes. Cook on a low heat for about 10-12 minutes until the fat has rendered and the onions are softened. Raise the heat to medium for a few minutes so the onions and guanciale begin to brown.

3. Drain most of the fat and add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook for approximately 5 minutes on a low heat.

4. While the sauce is cooking, cook the bucatini until al dente, drain and add to the simmering sauce. Cook for a further minute stirring well.

5. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Lobster Mac and Cheese


This is one of those recipes that you can’t believe actually works until you try it. The ratio of cheese to pasta (2:1) had me very wary. No pre-boiling of the pasta? No roux? Surely these were typos. Having been assured by my friend Leigh that it was the best mac and cheese she’d ever eaten, I had to give it a try. Absolute genius! And incredibly easy to boot. I added the lobster to make an already decadent dish extra special. After years of trying different recipes, I’ve found the ultimate and am a convert for life.


Lobster Mac and Cheese

Adapted from The New York Times

Serves 6 to 8


1 tablespoon butter

1 cup cottage cheese (not low fat)

2 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Pinch cayenne

Freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound sharp cheddar, grated

1/2 pound dry macaroni

2 (8oz) raw lobster tails, meat removed from shell and chopped

3 tablespoons of chopped chives



1. Heat oven to 375°F and butter a 9″ square baking dish.

2. In a blender, purée cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper until very smooth.

3. Reserve 1/2 cup of grated cheese for topping. In a large bowl, combine remaining cheese with milk mixture and dry pasta.

4. Pour into buttered baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes in the upper third of the oven.

5. Remove foil, mix in the lobster so that it’s below the surface of the dish and sprinkle reserved cheese. Bake uncovered for a further 30 minutes until browned.

6. Let it rest for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with chives and serve.

Trumpets with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta


Pasta is a subject I take very seriously – probably too seriously. I have very strong opinions on which shape to choose for which sauce and am a complete snob when it comes to certain brands. Sorry Barilla, but you will never darken my door. We all try to eat local as much as possible but I never thought I’d see the day when I wouldn’t need to buy pasta imported from Italy. That was until I discovered Sfoglini Pasta Shop making pasta that ticks all the boxes from flavor to texture.


To launch them on the shop, I thought I’d share one of my favorite new sauces and had fun deciding which of their shapes would best suit it. A wholly inauthentic carbonara with caramelized brussels sprouts, it gives the illusion of healthy eating and the trumpets are perfect for capturing all the deliciousness and hiding the naughty bits in their folds.


Trumpets with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta

Serves 4


1 lb Trumpet pasta

1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed and then sliced thinly, lengthwise

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 lb pancetta, cubed

3 egg yolks

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish



1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet.

2. Meanwhile in a large frying pan, heat the oil and fry the pancetta until crispy, about 8-10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.

3. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the frying pan and then add the brussels sprouts and cook on medium heat. You can flatten them with the back of a wooden spoon and leave for a few minutes before turning them all over. You want them to get a nice char.

4. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, cream and parmesan.

5. Drain the pasta, retaining a cup of the salted water.

6. Add the drained pasta to the frying pan with the brussels sprouts, return the bacon and then pour in the cream mixture. Mix well and add some of the retained salted water if the sauce is too thick. Top with additional Parmesan and serve immediately.


Tagliatelle ai Funghi


Today is National Spaghetti day. A day that should be celebrated with gusto even if I’m going to use a little poetic license to include Tagliatelle. An old favorite, I love the different textures and subtle flavors from the medley of mushrooms all rolled into the ultimate comfort food. It’s rich, it’s creamy and it takes less than 10 minutes to make. If only everything in life were that easy.


I should probably be starting off the new year with a cleansing soup but why change the habit of a lifetime? I’m too excited about 2016 and all it’s bringing to limit my pasta intake. The first Many Kitchens Cookbook will be in stores in a couple of weeks and I’m holding an advance copy in my hands! I hope you’ll order a copy and enjoy all the incredible recipes our generous producers have kindly shared.



Tagliatelle ai Funghi

Serves 4


4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large clove garlic, smashed then minced

1 lb mixed sliced mushrooms (I used cremini, portabello, shiitake and oyster mushrooms)

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup of chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you want to make the recipe vegetarian)

1 lb of tagliatelle

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese



1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (be sure to reserve one cup of water after boiling pasta).

2. Mix butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan and add in garlic. Cook for one minute then add in mushrooms. Cook mushrooms for 5-10 minutes until they’ve released some of their liquid and softened. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add chicken stock and increase heat to high. Meanwhile cook the pasta according to instructions.

4. Add a cup of cream to the mushroom mixture, stir then add in the lemon juice. Cook sauce for a further minute on medium heat until all the ingredients have melded.

5. Toss pasta in creamy mushroom sauce and toss with parsley and Parmesan cheese


Baked Penne Vodka


After months of chopping, slicing, measuring and testing recipes for the cookbook, I’ve been grateful for a fridge full of sauces that someone else has spent time perfecting. All I have to come up with is a vehicle for them and I pretty much have dinner on the table. I’ve been impatiently waiting for Jar Goods to introduce new sauces and they’re finally here! A Classic Vodka Sauce as well as a Classic Spicy sauce have all the qualities of their signature Classic Red. They are simply the best tomato sauces available and the reason I haven’t made a red sauce in two years.


I’m almost embarrassed to write out this recipe, it’s that simple but satisfied my craving for a baked pasta like the one my mother always made for Sunday lunch but without any of the work.


Baked Penne Vodka

Serves 6


1 pound of dried penne

1 jar of Classic Vodka Sauce

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2″ cubes (divided)

1 tablespoon of butter

Fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan for serving



1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

3. Cook pasta for 3 minutes LESS than the packet instructions. It should be really al dente as it will continue to cook in the oven.

4. Drain the pasta and mix with the vodka sauce and half the mozarella.

5. Butter a baking dish large enough to hold the pasta, then pour in the pasta and scatter the remaining mozarella on top.

6. Bake for 40 minutes or until nicely browned.

7. Serve with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.


Orecchiette with Broccoli


For one week a year, I get to see all my international publishing friends. At the end of May each year, publishers and booksellers flock to New York for the annual Book Expo. The difference now is that I get to avoid the cacophonous Javits Center and just enjoy seeing my old publishing pals at fun dinners. The highlight of my week was a seven course tasting menu at Sushi Nakazawa. For those of you who have seen the incredible documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, you may remember Jiro’s apprentice who labors for months perfecting his tamago sushi (egg sushi). That same apprentice, Daisuke Nakazawa, moved to New York and opened his eponomous restaurant in the West Village and I’ve been dying to go ever since.


Each year, I try to find the perfect place to take my friend Andrea from Switzerland. This year, the stakes were high as she was introducing me to her fiancé Hannes. Sushi Nakazawa did not disappoint; each spectacular course was paired with a new sake followed by the grand finale of his now famous tamago sushi. There’s a formality, authenticity and simplicity to the food that is utterly Japanese and made me miss Tokyo and the single mindedness of each eatery.


The fair ended, my friends left and the rain set in. I craved a night on the sofa with a bowl of my favorite comfort food and a good book. I turned to one of my staples that I have bizarrely never shared on this blog. It’s the one dish where I always have every ingredient on hand and never need to leave home to satisfy a craving. It even includes a green vegetable to feel vaguely virtuous. Less so when washed down with a gin and tonic with Haber’s tasty tonic!


Orecchiette with Broccoli

Serves 2


1/2 lb orecchiette

3 anchovy fillets

1 clove garlic (peeled)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup of broccoli florets (fresh or frozen work just as well)

crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon butter

freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese



1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and start cooking the pasta.

2. In a pestle and mortar, crush the anchovy and garlic to a paste.

3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the anchovy garlic paste on a low heat. Next add, the broccoli, some red pepper flakes and continue cooking and stirring for 4-5 minutes.

4. Just before you drain the pasta, remove a cup of the boiling water for later use.

5. Add the drained pasta to the frying pan. Stir well and add the butter and a handful of grated cheese. If too dry, add some of the reserved water.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni



I’ve written a lot about my fairy godmother but not so much about my fairy godfather as I sadly see him and his family less. As a child, I was wholly unaware of his distinguished academic career at Harvard, which ran the gamut of teaching courses on repressive societies to presenting Nelson Mandela with an honorary degree. I was far more impressed by the fact that he was a bona fide member of The International Magician’s Guild and performed wondrous magic shows for me and my brother.


I have always attributed the fact that I am the lucky godmother to 6 super cool children to my constant bragging about my own godparents and how important and influential they have been in my life. I owe more to my godparents than I can ever express and I often think of how little I have done to show my gratitude. The only gift I’ve ever been able to give my godfather was to cook him his favorite dish. He’s quite verbal about his obsession with Cannelloni.


He and his granddaughter were visiting New York and I had long promised to make it for him. I had never made Cannelloni – it seemed like one of those dishes that was never quite worth the effort. One best ordered at a restaurant as it involved too many pots, pans and bowls let alone trying to use a piping bag or for that matter owning a piping bag! Surely there must be an easier way. And of course there was. What I thought would take hours to cook and clean up, can now be done in under half an hour in part thanks to the discovery of Jar Goods and their Classic Red Tomato Sauce which I unashamedly pour straight from the jar. This is the recipe I made for my godfather which, judging by his empty plate, seemed to satisfy his high standards.


Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
Serves 4

2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 anchovy fillets rinsed and chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
700g (about 3 cups) of fresh spinach leaves, thoroughly washed and still wet
Grated nutmeg
1 pack of fresh lasagna sheets
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup of grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
Salt and pepper
1 jar of Classic Red Tomato Sauce
Fresh basil leaves


2 cups of whole milk
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of flour
Salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. In a large frying pan, heat the butter and olive oil. Add the anchovy fillets and mash them with the back of a wooden spoon until they become a paste. Add the garlic and fry for a minute or two until it begins to change color.
3. Begin adding the spinach and turning over using tongs. As the bottom layers begin to wilt, you will be able to keep adding until all the spinach fits.
4. When all the spinach has wilted (about 5 minutes), grate over some nutmeg, stir and transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool.
5. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to the boil and cook the lasagna sheets for 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Then, lay the sheets flat on tea towels to dry.
6. Now that the spinach has cooled, squeeze out any excess liquid and chop finely on a board.
7. Return spinach to the bowl and mix in the ricotta and Parmesan. Then season well with salt and pepper.
8. Make the béchamel (see below)
9. In an ovenproof dish large enough to fit the cannelloni, spread a layer of tomato sauce.
10. Cut the lasagna sheets so that they are approximately 4” x 8.” Add 2 heaped tablespoons of the spinach mixture along the length of each lasagna piece and roll into a tube. Lay each piece (seam down) on top of the tomato sauce and continue until the dish is full.
11. Spread over another layer of tomato sauce, followed by a layer of béchamel. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and beginning to brown.
12. Garnish with chopped basil and serve with extra Parmesan at the table.


1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk with a bay leaf to just below a simmer.
2. In another saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat.
3. When butter begins to bubble, add the flour and cook together for a few minutes, stirring continuously, without allowing the mixture to color.
4. Remove butter mixture from heat and whisk in the milk gradually.
5. Return the mixture to the stovetop and stir over low heat until thickened and smooth – about 15 minutes. The consistency is right when it coats the back of a spoon when tested.




Linguine with Clams


Usually the worst day of the week, Monday has now become my favorite with the start of a new tradition. Kate and I have decided to walk the High Line every Monday after work and then tackle a recipe that we’ve both been wanting to master.


Our first choice was obvious. A dish that we both love and order whenever we see but have been fearful of trying at home for as much as everyone says it’s easy, there’s still something that has stopped me from trying to recreate the classic linguine with clams. Will they open? Won’t they open? It turns out everyone was right – it really is incredibly easy and fast and yes, they do open as if by magic.


We wanted to recreate the best version we’d ever had which was at a restaurant in Florence. They had just a hint of tomato but it was in no way the dominant flavor.  The fun for me was in the research – pulling out all my cookbooks and comparing recipes. Trying to take an element from each, we set about making our dinner and it was a total hit. Within minutes we were at the table toasting to our success and discussing what we would tackle next.


Below is a fantastic illustration by Aurora of one of my favorite pasta tricks for long shapes like spaghetti and linguine when you’re pot is not quite big enough!



Linguine with Clams

Serves 2


1/2 lb of linguine

1 lb of small clams – I used Manila Clams.

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

3 large cloves of garlic (sliced paper thin)

1/2 cup of dry white wine

A good pinch of red pepper flakes

The juice of one fresh tomato

A big handful of roughly chopped fresh parsley

Zest of 1/2 a lemon



1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil with plenty of salt and cook the linguine a couple of minutes less than the instructions on the packet. You will finish cooking them in the sauce.

2. Rinse the clams in cold water in a colander – make sure you ask the fishmonger if they are already cleaned.

3. In a large pan that has a lid, melt half the butter and all of the olive oil.

4. Add the garlic and cook on a low heat until soft – do not let it brown – about 5 minutes.

5. Add the clams and the wine, turn up the heat and leave covered for a couple of minutes.

6. Uncover and check for any that haven’t opened – discard these. There always seem to be a couple!

7. Drain the linguine making sure to reserve a mug full of pasta water to use if the sauce is too dry.

8. Add to the sauce and mix well with the remaining butter.

9. Then add the remaining ingredients: pepper flakes, tomato, parsley and lemon zest.

10. Toss well and serve immediately.