Halloween pasta


The night before last I woke up in the middle of the night to hear Bert calling for me. I went into his room and he pointed sadly at some sick on his bed and said, ‘poor old Bert.’ As I gathered up his bedding, blanket, Rex the dinosaur and John the rabbit to be washed he shouted, ‘no, not John! Not the dryer for John!’ It was like Sophie’s Choice on a tiny scale.

(Spoiler: John was fine.)

There are good parenting days. And there are days when I’m constantly infuriated at dinosaurs being smashed onto tables, wee accidents less than a minute after he’s refused to try for a wee, denials of the need to nap and sulks at the end of Dinosaur Train – alongside teetering washing baskets, sinks and dishwashers both full of washing up and clients that promise work then disappear. And then I see a serious little face with round cheeks and I apologise, again, for being grumpy.

Today I mostly feel like this picture. Poor old Bert.

Serves 2-3

200g pureed pumpkin (the scrapings from our T-Rex pumpkin – what, you can’t see it? – blitzed in the blender till smooth)

4 rashers streaky bacon, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons chopped or dried rosemary

1/2 bag of spiral pasta

50g grated mozzerella

100g mixed grated Cheddar and Parmesan

Fry the bacon with the garlic and rosemary till it’s starting to crisp. At the same time, boil the pasta till it’s just done. Drain the pasta, put it back in the pan and combine it with the bacon mix and pumpkin, stirring till the pasta’s well coated with pumpkin and the bacon’s evenly distributed. Stir the mozzeralla through more roughly so there are pockets of it melting into the pasta and tip the lot into an overproof dish. Top with the Cheddar and Parmesan and cook at gas mark 4/ 180 for half an hour, till the top’s golden and bubbling.

The other 364 days of the year you could subsitute any other squash for the pumpkin.

We’re having ours with broccoli.



Our carbonara

nyt carbonara

Actually, this isn’t our carbonara, it’s the New York Times’.

Serves 3-4

200g pancetta pieces or bacon lardons

Splash olive oil

2 eggs, 2 egg yolks (make a meringue or throw them away, according to your temperament and mood)

1/2 cup of grated pecorino, 1/2 cup grated parmesan

Good grating of black pepper and good grating of nutmeg (the nutmeg is my sole contribution to the recipe). (You can swap the nutmeg for a couple of handfuls of peas, added to the cooking pasta in the last minute or two of cooking time, and some shredded fresh mint, added to the egg and cheese combo.)

Pasta to your appetite

Fry the pancetta in olive oil in a hot pan till just starting to crisp and brown. Meanwhile put the pasta on to cook and boil the kettle again. Fill a large bowl with boiling water and set aside.

Mix together the eggs, cheese and seasoning. At this point I had the dog begging for scraps and a very small person standing next to me saying ‘thcheesthe’ very insistently. Reader, I gave them both cheese.

Then add the cooked pasta to the pan with the pancetta and continue to cook it on a gentle heat for a minute or two.

Empty the bowl of water and immediately add the pasta and bacon and the cheese and egg mixture to the hot bowl. Stir to combine.

Serve with more grated parmesan. Bert had his with fresh strawberries (intended for pudding, but he insisted) and I had mine with a green salad.