Happy Cooking Pasta!


We had a long overdue meeting of our cooking club on Friday afternoon. It is called “Happy Cooking”, because all eight of us are very happy when we are doing fun things in the kitchen! So far this year we’ve done Chinese, Indian and a master class in bread baking. It was my turn to host the meeting. Earlier in the year I volunteered to do pasta making, because of our trip to Italy in July (see Mid Year Resolutions). After delaying and rescheduling we eventually got six of us together for an afternoon. My friend Vicky who lives on a beautiful farm near Clocolan also joined us. It was the perfect day for cooking – cool and overcast. I restarted the Aga so that we had more space for cooking and Poepsie cat was thrilled to have her heater back! The wisteria creeper outside the kitchen has also sprung into bloom bringing a gorgeous perfume to the air. I love how the purple rain comes alive with bumble bees – poor Coco even got a bee sting on her mouth earlier in the week.

Herb garden slowly coming to life.

Contrast of purple wisteria and orange clivias.

Happy Cooking girls at the new Vastrap veggie garden – Heidi, me, Jenny, Wendy, Kathryn, Adri.

But I digress, this day was all about the food, and LOTS of it! On the menu: home-made fettuccine with a fresh tomato and basil sauce; beetroot and goats cheese ravioli with burnt sage butter; spinach and ricotta ravioli with sage butter; and potato gnocchi with ragu/bolognese sauce. All the recipes came from two Italian food blogs: Juls’ Kitchen and The Italian Dish. I had never made gnocchi so Quentin had to be my guinea pig for a few days. In desperation I turned to YouTube to see how real Italian Mama’s do it… it really helped my technique and the ones we made on the day were the best so far. I am keen to try lots of different types made with sweet potato or pumpkin. I also made Nigel Slater’s rose water panna cotta with passion fruit purée, but we were all so full by the end that we could not finish it all! Kathryn brought her pasta machine along which had never been used. Now that she knows how easy it is to make pasta it will hopefully be a permanent fixture in her kitchen.

I have not mastered the art of cooking and taking photos. I was so busy that I did not take ONE photo all day, which really is very unusual for me. My hands were constantly full of dough and flour! So, this photo essay comes courtesy of Heidi and Vicky who were clicking away through the afternoon. The lighting was bad, but as you can see we had lots of fun. A great way to spend an afternoon. Lucky for me there were some raviolis left over, which I have frozen and I made a lasagna with the left over ragu. Buenisimo!

Sage, basil, thyme, parsley, chives with sweet peas from Vicky’s garden.

Passata di Pomodoro for the ragu.

Rolling the pasta.

Home made fettuccine.

Into the pot to cook for 1 minute!

Delicious pomodoro sauce.

Pasta al sugo di Pomodoro e basilico.

Adri and Wendy.

Spinach and ricotta ravioli filling.

Perfect ravioli parcels.

Beetroot pasta with goats cheese and chive filling.

Pink parcels!

The ravioli press I bought in Florence.

Preparing the sage butter.

The favourite dish of the day!

Jenny and Kathryn.

Adri and Wendy preparing the potato for the gnocchi.

Ready to add the flour and egg.

Adding the last ingredients to the ragu.

Delicious after 3 hours of cooking

6 thoughts on “Happy Cooking Pasta!

  1. I just love wisteria and yours is beautiful. It is nice to see spring as we in the north head into autumn. That looked like a great cooking party. I could almost smell the tomatoes.
    Ruth from At Home on the Road


    • Thanks Ruth! It is a treat for us to have nice fresh tomatoes after the winter. They are starting to seed all over the garden so there will soon be too many to deal with.


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