Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Good Artist

Matthew Ecclestone, or 'The Cake' as he is known amongst his close associates, has been a pal of mine for almost 10 years now. He is currently studying fine art at undergraduate level, but as it turns out he can wield a whisk just as well as the brush. We both love food and cooking, so I thought why not have him do a recipe for this humble blog here? It would save me the work too, I thought. As it turned out, I had to do all the writing, photos and editing, so it didn't save me too much in the end. But writing and photos is what blogging is all about, right?

Anyway, rather than baking a cake, The Cake decided to make an adaptation of Simon Hopkinson's Baked pappardelle with pancetta and porcini from The Good Cook. All initial guilt at making Matt cook whilst I stood around watching and taking pictures et cetera was instantly forgotten the second I sunk my teeth into this luxuriously indulgent dish. Deeply golden baked cheese gently cloaks a world of velvety, creamy pasta, earthy, rich porcini mushrooms, and salty bacon. I salivate as I write.

This is a perfect meal to spend a lazy autumn afternoon making (not that it requires a whole afternoon of course!); it's the dish that just does the trick of shrugging off the nippy chill and the despondent grey clouds, like a warm edible rug. Be sure to share it with someone!

The tag-line to Mr Hopkinson's The Good Cook was 'Restaurant quality food, made by you'. Now, ladies and gentlemen, it is 'restaurant quality food, made by students.'

Baked Tagliatelle with Smokey Bacon and Porcini


- 500ml oz milk
- 20g dried porcini mushrooms
- 40g butter
- 25g plain flour
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 100g tagliatelle
- 50g smoked streaky bacon
- 4 tbsp good-quality mature cheddar (Matt used Taw Valley), plus extra.


1. Grill or fry the bacon and chop into small bite-sized pieces (you can cut the bacon before or after cooking – your choice). Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 190oC, and then grate the cheddar.

3. Warm the milk in a saucepan, add the porcini mushrooms, remove from the heat and soak for 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve suspended over a bowl, pressing lightly on the mushrooms with the back of ladle to extract all the milk.

4. Heat the butter in a clean saucepan, add the flour and stir over a low heat for 2-3 minutes without colouring the roux.

5. Pour in the porcini-flavoured milk all in one go and whisk together vigorously until smooth. Cook the sauce for a further 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.

6. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the tagliatelle and cook until al dente. Drain, tip into a roomy bowl and carefully stir in the sauce, porcini and bacon until well combined.

7. Place the pasta into a lightly buttered oven-proof dish. Smooth the surface and cover with three to four tablespoons of the cheddar. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbling around the edges and golden-brown.

8. Serve the dish piping hot at the dinner table and have extra cheese at the ready.

Adapted from Simon Hopkinson's original recipe, which can be found here.


  1. Sound yum. I love Simon Hopkinson. I think this recipe originally comes from The Walnut Tree. It was called Vincigrassi and the recipe is in their book Leaves from the Walnut Tree. Check it out!

  2. It is yum! Thanks, I will look that up!