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James Street Cookery School: A quick carbonara followed by a classic crème brûlée

James Street Cookery School: A quick carbonara followed by a classic crème brûlée

BANK holiday weekends are a great time for pulling out all the stops with a humdinger dish that can be enjoyed – and appreciated, vocally, hopefully – by all the family.

In the warmer weather, the last thing you want to do is stand over a hot stove all day, so simplicity is the main ingredient with this week’s recipes. Don’t be fooled into thinking simplicity means a dull–looking plate, however – it can often be the little black dress of cooking.

While we can’t travel this bank holiday, we can bring a taste of the continent to our plates and this week’s dishes bring out the best of Italy: a surprisingly quick yet impressive carbonara followed by a smooth and decadent crème brulee, both best enjoyed al fresco.

QUICK CARBONARA

(Serves 4)

1 tsp olive oil

200g smoked bacon, diced

150g soft cream cheese

150ml single cream

50g Parmesan, grated

500g spaghetti

Method:

Fry the bacon in a dry pan until crispy and drain off the excess fat from the pan. In a bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, single cream and Parmesan until thoroughly mixed.

Cook the pasta in pot water with salt until al dente, drain and then toss the cream mix until all the pasta is thoroughly covered. Add in the bacon and a spoonful of the pasta water, if needed to loosen. Serve, adding more Parmesan to top if you like.

CRÈME BRÛLÉE

(Serves 4)

450ml whipping cream

1 vanilla pod

6 egg yolks

70g caster sugar

Demerara sugar to caramelize

Method:

Preheat the oven to 150C. Place a pan on the hob, heat and add in the cream. Split the vanilla pod in half and scrape the seeds into the cream. Add in the pod and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to the side.

Mix the egg yolks and sugar together and pour this over the cream, mixing in well with a whisk. Strain through a sieve and divide the mix between four ramekins until they are three quarters full.

Place the ramekins in a roasting tray and create a bain–marie by adding water to the tray, ensuring that you do not get any water into your ramekins. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until set. Once cooked, remove from oven and leave to cool. When cool, you can place them in the fridge until needed.

When ready to serve, remove from the fridge and sprinkle with demerara sugar evenly over each of the brûlées. Place under the grill on the hottest setting until the sugar is caramelised or alternatively use a blowtorch to caramelise the sugar and serve.

 

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