Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Autumnal busyness.

It's been a while, hasn't it? I ought to be better behaved about keeping this up. Lots of things have been happening, not least that I got promoted. Yay! And I'm moving house AGAIN. Third time in 9 months. I hate the graduate life. Being a student was SO much better. For the next three weeks I'm living in North Cambridge with John (Christian's old housemate) and Andrew... Techie house extraordinaire. Then I move BACK, get it BACK, to the road I was living in before - this will be the THIRD TIME I move into a house on that road. Dammit. At least it's not the same house. The rats are going on holiday to Christian's for a bit while I build them a shed in the garden to live in and work out how to get power to them so that I can plug in their heater. That house is rapidly becoming more and more like a zoo.

What else? I've spent every weekend for the last month in a capital city. 1) London, 2) Edinburgh (where I made a brief appearance at the Fringe, where I made the famous lemon cake as ever, and saw some great shows, got drunk with Matt and Chris and had an amazing curry), 3) Belfast with Elaine (where we made pasta and went to the seaside), and 4) London. I'm in Cornwall this weekend, then the Scilly Isles for a bit, and then I come back and go back to London to cook for the crowd of friends that live there - three of whom have moved to BOROUGH HIGH STREET, putting me within 5 minutes walk of a certain Market. I've already claimed my weekly sleeping spot...

It's getting autumnal over here, without really showing us a summer that was anything more than sticky. The shops are beginning to get over the summer veg, (I had to hunt for peppers from a reasonable location in Tescos yesterday), so I guess I must regretfully abandon my hopes that the sun was going to come out in September. I did find butternut squash, however. Yay squash! Andrew bought a monster one a couple of months ago that sat in the fridge for AGES until I came up with something to make from it. Squash makes amazing soup (roast chopped up squash with thyme/sage/both at 200 degrees C until soft (about 40 minutes-1 hour, depending on age of squash and how much chopping you did), fry some chopped onion and garlic for 10 minutes or so until soft but not coloured, add the squash and some good veg stock, bring to the boil, puree, and add a hefty quantity of grated parmesan...), but I'm bored by soup most of the time. I opted for curry that time, instead. It came out quite well, but we did eat it for about a week. This time I went for pasta, and made sure that I bought the smallest squash I could find!

Squash is pretty keen on thyme and sage as platefellows, teamed with something salty - like parmesan or bacon - to complement its sweetness. Hence my pasta, really.

Creamy Pasta with Squash and Bacon
(veggies, just leave out the bacon and have more parmesan at the end - when frying the sage, do it gently but for long enough that the leaves go crispy or they might be tough)

For 2

- one very small squash (about 300g, at a very rough guess...something about 4 or 5 inches high, probably)
- 4 rashers good organic smoked bacon
- 1 dessertspoon chopped fresh sage leaves
- 100ml single cream, or a couple of tablespoons of full fat Greek yoghurt (I'm not sure actually which comes out less fattening, if you can find the lower fat single cream that Elmea make, of which I approve)
- about 150ml white wine
- black pepper
- olive oil
- 200g sturdy pasta shapes, e.g. caesarrece or penne
- salt for the pasta water
- parmesan to serve

Chop the squash into fairly small dice no bigger than 1inch cubes (no need to peel - that way there are more vitamins and more texture...), and mix with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Spread it out on a baking sheet and roast at 200 degrees C for around 40 minutes, until soft and crisping around the edges. If you clean the seeds off a bit, spread them on another baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes until brown and crisp, you'll have a snack to eat while you wait.

Put the pasta on about ten mintues before the squash is going to be ready. Dice the bacon and fry in another tablespoon of olive oil with the sage, until the fat runs and meat is crispy. Add the white wine and allow to reduce for a minute or two. Add the squash and turn it over in the juices, so it can soak up the flavours. Turn the heat down and add the cream. Drain the pasta and add that too, along with a good grind of black pepper. Stir together and allow to heat through for a minute or two before serving with plenty of parmesan and the rest of the bottle of wine. Some sort of green salad would be good on the side.

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