Butternut Pasta Bake

Butternut Pasta Bake

To think that until a few years ago the only times I ate anything with pumpkin I had it when someone cooked it for me… I’m happy this has changed. Continue reading

Honestly now that I’m back from my honeymoon, as much as country life is beautiful, now that I’ve re-spent some time in a city, I really miss it. I miss all the attractions and the possibility to talk to random people and so to keep my spirits up, I spend more time in the kitchen and in front of my computer, getting ahead with the novel I started some time ago. So yesterday within the realm of my kitchen, I’ve been making a pasta bake which is my favourite way of having this particular carb: it’s comforting and so tasty!

Butternut Pasta Bake

Recipe for 4
Cook time: 45 min
Prep time: 20 min


800 g butternut (peeled and deseeded)
320 g short pasta (fusilli, penne, rigatoni…)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 red onion
3 tbsp. chopped sage
½ – 1 dl water or vegetable stock
3 dl cream
2 dl milk
2 knobs butter
Cayenne pepper
6 tbsp. grated cheese (+ 3-4 for topping
3 tbsp. pine nuts
2 tbsp. breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

Cut the butternut into cubes (the smaller the pieces the quicker they’ll cook), chop the onion and pass the garlic cloves through a garlic crusher.
Place a pan on a medium heat and add the olive oil and the onion. Cook for 4-5 min. stirring occasionally. Add the sage leaves and the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.
Now add the butternut cubes and season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes before pouring in a little water or alternatively some stock (about ½-1 dl). Preferably add the water little by little during the cooking process rather that all at once. Cover the pan and cook until the butternut will have become soft, don’t forget to stir occasionally.
Once the butternut is soft, transfer the content of the pan to a bowl and mash it with a potato masher or if you want a very smooth result use a food processor. Place the mass back in the pan (always on a medium fire), add the cream and the milk and combine the ingredients by stirring. Add the knob of butter and correct taste with salt and pepper if needed. Remove the pan from the fire and add the grated cheese and stir to combine.
While the butternut is softening or once the sauce is done, prepare the pasta in salted boiling water but make sure you cook it until just al dente or once you cook it in the oven it will become too soft. To stop the cooking process, once you drain the pasta pass it under cold water. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.
Transfer the ingredients to a lightly greased baking dish and top with the remaining grated cheese, breadcrumbs and pine nuts (optionally add small pieces of butter on top which will help the browning process). Bake in the oven at 190°C for about 20 min.

Gruyere Sage Potato & Sweet Potato Gratin

Potato & Sweet Potato GratinI think if I had to choose a last meal I’d go for some kind of gratin. Continue reading

Going through an old potato recipe book (from our “national” Betty Bossi – a brand I find myself liking less and less lately) I found this recipe and decided to adapt it to my taste. To begin with, instead of adding in a few zucchini to the potatoes, I made a 50/50 mix of potatoes and sweet potatoes and added sage for the taste. Secondly, after a first attempt, I removed some of the moisture from the potatoes and the result was less liquid at the bottom of the baking dish. One thing I really enjoyed about this gratin was the use of grated potatoes; each mouthful is well balanced in taste… and personally I like it when I don’t have to look around my dish to pick up what I consider the perfect bite (I guess I’m a bit like Rose Morgan in The Mirror Has Two Faces).



Gruyere Sage Potato & Sweet Potato Gratin



350 g peeled waxy potatoes

350 g peeled sweet potatoes

80 g grated Gruyere

1 tbsp. butter + more to grease baking dish

2 tbsp. finely sliced sage leaves

1 tsp. salt

2 dl milk

2 dl cream

Pepper and nutmeg



Heat oven at 200°C.

In a bowl grate the potatoes and sweet potatoes. Place them in a clean tea towel and squeeze out most of the excess moisture.

Ina a pan melt the butter and add the sage leaves to cook for 1-2 min, then combine with the grated potatoes and sweet potatoes and mix well. Mix in the grated cheese too. Place everything in a greased baking dish.

In another bowl combine the milk and cream with the salt, a little nutmeg and pepper. Mix all together and pout it over the other ingredients, which are already in the baking dish.

Cook for 40-45 min in the oven.

Baked Polenta with Chicken in a Tomato Sauce

Baked Polenta with Chicken in a Tomato Sauce Polenta is something sentimental to me.

Continue reading

When I was a child in the eighties, when we were expecting guests at home I still see myself jumping between the kitchen where my mother was preparing either a stew or some other meat, and the fireplace where my father would prepare the polenta the way it was made in more remote times. He would stay there for at least an hour, constantly stirring and adding milk and stirring again. In the mean time I would prepare them little love notes, which I would slip on the kitchen counter for my mother or under the milk carton for my father. While I made this recipe I remembered such times and it brought me back to those times. Polenta is a poor man’s food and yet it’s something which can easily be served for a dinner party as it’s so simple and it can be dressed up for so many occasions.


Baked Polenta with Chicken in a Tomato Sauce


Baked Polenta with Chicken in a Tomato Sauce

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 35-40 min



250 g instant polenta

1.2 l stock

480 g chicken tenderloins (alternatively use chicken breast cut into 16 chunks)

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

1-2 tbsp. butter

2 heaped tbsp. chopped sage leaves

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 red onion

2 pressed garlic cloves

160 g grated cheese

0.8 dl cream

salt and pepper



Heat oven at 220°C.

Place the stock in a pan and bring to a boil. Once it’s simmering sprinkle in the polenta and cook for 8-10 min while constantly stirring. Towards the end add the cream, stir until combined and remove from heat. Add 120 g of the grated cheese, stir to combine in the polenta and add pepper to taste. Pour the prepared polenta in a greased baking dish.

Pat dry the chicken and season it with salt and pepper. Heat 1-2 tbsp. olive oil on high heat in a pan and sear the chicken on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pan, reduce fire and add 1-2 tbsp. butter with the onions, garlic and sage and fry for 4-5 min. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 8-10 until slightly reduced. Add back the chicken to the pan, toss and place on top of the polenta.

Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese and bake in the oven for 15 min.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter Walnuts and Goat Cheese

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter Walnuts and Goat Cheese 4After spending ten days in constant company I needed a day at home where the only other heart beating in the house was the dog’s. I decided to stay home and get cooking something new for me. Continue reading

When I went to do my groceries for my day I saw some nice sweet potatoes and since making gnocchi part of the schedule, I thought that changing from the normal potato ones, could be fun. I can’t remember last time I had gnocchi and I was really looking forward to tasting this dish again. I made this dish only once, it was with my mother and we must have had guests. She only made them on those occasions and this was one of the reasons I wished we had guests more often. In my research for this dish I found a couple recipes at home but like almost always I wanted to see what I would find online. Including one of the versions I have from my mother, I found that many other recipes use the same ratio. I chose to follow the most commonly used version of the recipe and I liked the result; the gnocchi were soft but not mushy nor too floury.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter Walnuts and Goat Cheese 1

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter Walnuts and Goat Cheese

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 30-40 min

Cook time: 40-50 min



800 g sweet potatoes

200 g floury potatoes

300 g flour

Salt and pepper

1 good tbsp butter

A handful of sage leaves

Handful dry roasted walnut kernels

120 g goat cheese



Separately boil the sweet potatoes and the potatoes, skin on. Once soft, while still warm, remove skin. Mash the whole lot, mix and leave to cool.

Once cooled place the potato mash on a working surface, add the flour, a pinch of salt and the egg. Blend the whole preparation together without over working it. On a lightly floured surface take a piece of the gnocchi dough and roll it in order to have a 2 cm thick ‘sausage’. With a smooth bladed knife cut away pieces of about 2 cm (not like I did by using a fork). Repeat with the rest of the dough. Leave the gnocchi to rest for 15 minutes before continuing.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil with some salt. Once the water sizzles add the gnocchi and once they rise to the surface remove them from the heat and set them aside. Remember not to overcrowd the pot, otherwise do it in more batches.

If the sage leaves are large, chop them. Cut the cheese into small cubes.

In a non-stick pan melt the butter and add the sage leaves and the walnuts. Cook on a low heat for about 1 minute. Add the gnocchi and toss to coat them. Add the goat cheese and cook further until it starts to melt. Eventually correct taste with salt and pepper, remove from fire and serve.


Pumpkin Knoepfle / Spaetzle with Sage Butter and Caramelized Onions

Pumpkin Knoepfle 6As a student, I remember going to the supermarket and buying the ready made spaetzle. Continue reading

Once you have tried home made ones I can tell you: there’s no comparison with the commercial products. Now I know why I wouldn’t get excited over the store bought ones: plastic consistence and a lack of flavour in general. When I made these ones, the bad memories of the flavourless disappeared and was replaced this version. I found the recipe in a book I recently bought and instead of using spinach I used pumpkin. I like the way it turned out from the first try. Next week is my turn to cook for our new weekly event: the ladies’ night. I thought I could make some knoepfle, maybe served with some meat. Anyway there’s basically still one week to go and I know I will probably change my mind three or four times before I take a decision. Thinking about it, I get the same dilemma when I have to choose which shoes to pack when leaving for a weekend. So, this is my version of the spaetzle / knoepfle or as we call them in Switzerland spaetzli and knoepfli.

Pumpkin Knoepfle 1

Pumpkin Knoepfle / Spaetzle with Sage Butter and Caramelized Onions

Prep time:

Cook time:


300-400 g pumpkin cut into cubes

400 g white flour

4 Eggs

1 tsp salt

0.75 dl milk

0.75 dl water

¼ tsp nutmeg

2-3 tbsp butter

A small bunch of chopped sage leaves

2 red onions

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 small tbsp sugar


For the knoepfle:

Soften the squash cubes in a pan with a couple tbsp water on a low-medium fire.  Once they are soft (after about 15 minutes, depending on cube size) remove from fire and mash well. Set aside to cool (if there is, remove excess of liquid).

Add the flour with salt, nutmeg, milk, water, eggs. Mix all together with a wooden until bubbles form. Add the mashed squash and mix it in. Set aside to rise for 30 min.

Heat water with salt. Divide the dough into four parts and use either a knoepfle sieve or scrape the dough on a cutting board, making the small pieces fall into the water (these will be larger and will become spaetzle). When the knoepfle rise to the surface they are ready. Remove them with a skimming ladle and rinse under cold water.

Heat 2 -3 tbsp butter with the sage leaves. Once the butter is starting to colour, add the knoepfle to brown.


For the caramelized onions:

While the dough is resting cut the onions in ½ and slice them.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil on a low fire and add the onions. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so the onions don’t burn.

Once the onions are soft (personally I like them when still have a bit of a bite) add the sugar and balsamic vinegar and cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until caramelized.


-Serve the knoepfle with the caramelized onions and eventually some good grated cheese.