(Part of a weekly series by a group of bloggers, featuring Gourmet Live’s 50 Women Game Changers in Food – see end of post for list of bloggers participating & their blogs)
This week we’re shining the spotlight on Delia Smith at #35 on the list of 50 Women Game Changers in Food. For someone who is Britain’s best selling cookbook author and has been teaching the nation to cook since the 1970s, Delia doesn’t evoke the kind of recognition or awe one would assume came with those accolades. That could also be because she has humble roots in the world of cooking and appeals to cooks all across the board. She’s not one of your exuberant chefs that display complicated or fancy techniques. She’s more down-to-earth, working her way through the kitchen in a laid-back manner, teaching you the basics and simple techniques in cooking. That has obviously endeared her to the larger population.
Critics sometimes call her dull, lacking in passion while working with her ingredients but, who are we kidding – she’s sold 21 million copies of her cook books. She’s had no formal training in culinary school. She started out enthusiastically cooking for her boyfriend when she was a young girl. I guess she truly believed the phrase – the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – even though they eventually didn’t stay together. But, that was the beginning of her journey with food. She started working in the kitchen of a restaurant, doing the dishes, slowly working her way up to waitressing and then even cooking. She landed a food writer’s role at The Daily Mirror’s new magazine in 1969 and was on her own cooking show by the early 70s. Cook books followed and slowly she was educating the whole nation on British cooking. You can read an exhaustive biography of hers in an article by The Independent and also pore through tons of her recipes on her website, Delia Online.
I picked a pasta recipe because it is both simple and unassuming like her but, incredibly delicious in taste. The husband and I ate this along with baked meatballs in a white wine sauce and it was one of the most perfect meals! The crème fraîche really makes the difference here and lends such a delicate, creamy touch to the pasta. I love mushrooms in any shape or form, so having them in the dish was just the perfect combination for me. You should really try this, it’s simple and easy to make. Bon Appetit!
Penne with Wild Mushrooms and Crème Fraîche by Delia Smith
Ingredients and instructions:
- 1 lb 2 oz penne rigate (I used farfalle)
- 1 lb mixed fresh mushrooms (flat, chestnut, shiitake or mixed wild mushrooms, for example), finely chopped
- ½ oz dried porcini mushrooms
- 9 fl oz (250 ml) crème fraîche (If you don’t have this, you could substitute with 3/4 measure sour cream and 1/4 measure heavy cream – still tastes divine)
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ¼ whole nutmeg, grated
- lots of freshly grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), to serve
- salt and freshly milled black pepper
First pop the porcini in a small bowl, then heat the milk, pour it over the mushrooms and leave them to soak for 30 minutes. Then heat the butter in a medium frying pan over a gentle heat, stir in the shallots and let them cook gently for 5 minutes.
Next, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Give it all a good stir, then cook gently, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, until all the liquid has evaporated.
About 15 minutes before the mushrooms are ready, put the pasta on to cook (see How to Cook Perfect Pasta below). Then, 2 minutes before the pasta is cooked, mix the crème fraîche into the mushrooms with the soaking liquid, and warm through.
Drain the pasta in a colander, return it to the hot pan and quickly mix in the mushroom mixture, then place the pasta back on a gentle heat so it continues to cook for 1 more minute while it absorbs the sauce.
Take it to the table in a hot serving bowl and hand the Parmesan round separately.
Here’s a list of the other bloggers participating in this series. Do go over to their blogs to see what yummy dishes they’ve whipped up. If you’d like to join the group, please get in touch with Mary of One Perfect Bite.
Val – More Than Burnt Toast  Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed  Susan - The Spice Garden  Heather - girlichef  Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney  Jeanette – Healthy Living  Mary – One Perfect Bite  Kathleen - Bake Away with Me  Sue – The View from Great Island  Barbara – Movable Feasts  Linda A - There and Back Again  Nancy – Picadillo  Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits  Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen  Annie – Most Lovely Things  Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook  Alyce – More Time at the Table  Amrita -Beetles Kitchen Escapades