Hello my friends, how have you been? The situation is much better in Italy, especially Umbria which has always been one of the safest areas in Italy. Most businesses are open except the ones dealing with big events which will still not be allowed for a while.
People are generally cautious and follow the rules. They wear masks indoors and smaller shops only allow in 1-2 clients at a time. We are slowly recovering even if it will take time. We look ahead and live day by day, trying to find the silver lining in everything.
My thoughts go to all of you who are still in isolation. Please hang on, be safe, you are doing the right thing even if your world seems crazy right now ❤ .
As for us, we are well. We have no tourists at all, but we knew this was bound to happen. We are convinced you will return next year which gives us consolation and the strength to go on.
The weather has been fantastic and my potted garden is thriving.
Tea is preparing to go to University in The Netherlands where she will attend International Studies at The Hague Campus. I can’t imagine how life will be without her but we are overjoyed that she can take advantage of this great opportunity. She also has received a wonderful new photo-camera whose results you see in this post (she took me by surprise in the photo below so I look a bit silly!).
My new book A delicious Italian Feast is proceeding well and I am almost through the first draft. I am so grateful to all of you who have contributed to the fundraiser, those who have tested the recipes and those who are actively editing the chapters. Every morning I wake up thinking that I am so fortunate to live this incredible experience of love, cheer and generosity. And every morning I can’t wait to keep writing and creating. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Today’s recipe wants to be a symbol of all this: keep dreaming and find the silver lining. The truffle carbonara is a recipe which will remind you of Umbria and its wonderful foods. If you still happen to have a jar of truffle paste from your travels, this is one of the best ways to use it.
If you don’t have it, a bowl of properly prepared carbonara is always wonderful and will make you feel like you are in Italy anyway. Please raise your wine glass, I am will be doing the same from the other side of the pond.
350 g (3/4 lb) spaghetti
150 g diced guanciale, or cured pancetta (about 5 oz)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 whole large eggs plus 1 yolk
30 g (1 oz) cup grated Pecorino Romano
freshly ground black pepper
1 small truffle or 1/2 teaspoon truffle paste per person
Using a shallow pan – a frying pan with high sides or wok is ideal – sauté the guanciale 2 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat until just starting to crisp up outside and still tender inside. Good quality guanciale or pancetta should not melt into a puddle of fat. Please don’t overcook it or it will become bitter and salty.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl and add the truffle paste if using. Bring the cheese to room temperature to prevent curdling. Proper Italian pecorino Romano is not excessively salty, however if you don’t have access to it, use half Romano and half Parmigiano.
Cook the spaghetti in plenty salted water according to package instructions until al dente.
When the pasta is cooked, turn the heat to high under the saucepan with the guanciale. Drain the pasta and transfer into the saucepan, then stir quickly. Add some pasta water – up to one tablespoon per person – and stir vigorously until the excess liquid is absorbed. Lower the heat and add the cheese and stir again to incorporate.
Remove from the heat and add the eggs. The pasta will be quite hot and coated in fat and starch. As a consequence the eggs should not curdle. Keep stirring until the sauce coats the pasta and looks creamy and shiny. If it’s too liquid, bring it back on the heat for the briefest time.
Plate, sprinkle with black pepper and shave the truffle over the pasta if available. Serve immediately with additional grated cheese.