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  • Writer's pictureMartin Castle

Pasta Carbonara

As first cooked by me from Delia Smith's Winter Collection.

The first time I cooked this I couldn't believe that such an odd looking panful would turn, with the simple action of adding heat and a bit of stirring, to such a delight to the taste-buds.

I once cooked this on a tiny liquid-fuel primus stove at a Proms in the Park in Bedford. The four of us had iced gin from a thermos as I chumbled the ingredients - it was fabulous and better still, against the rules as no-cooking was allowed - I was young & that's my excuse!

This year marks 25 years of Bedford's (my home for 19 years) Proms in the Park so I suppose this cooking took place in 1995. - a slightly more simple event back then. Wouldn't it be nice to think this 25th concert will go ahead this summer?


From the original recipe I did change from spaghetti to penne (just a personal preference) and I substituted double cream for crème fraîche - either will do.

Pasta alla Carbonara

Serves 2


225g/8oz penne pasta

140g/5oz pancetta, sliced or ready cubed

1½ tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp Pecorino Romano cheese finely grated (use parmesan as a substitute)

2 large eggs + 2 extra yolks

4 tbsp crème fraîche (double cream as a substitute – about 6 tbsp)

Salt and black pepper

Extra Pecorino to serve


1. Whisk the eggs, yolks, cheese and cream/crème fraîche in a bowl and add a generous amount of pepper. Set aside as you’ll need it pronto when the time comes.

2. In a large pan bring to simmer 2.4l/4pts of water adding a little salt and olive oil.

3. Once simmering, add the pasta, stirring once, and cook for 8 minutes – check the packet instructions.

4. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the pancetta until crisp and golden – about 5 minutes. Reserve the bacon and using the oil for the croutons.

5. When the pasta is cooked turn off the heat, drain the pasta and return to the pan, adding the pancetta and the cream and cheese mixture. Stir thoroughly – actually I like to shake it all in the pan – so that everything gets a good coating. The hot pasta should cook the egg.

6. Serve immediately, with freshly grated cheese and a bit of crusty bread to scoop up the left-over sauce.

Goes well with a simple crisp leaf salad with a handful of chopped black olives and small cubes of bread fried in the fat from the pancetta.

Leaving out the bacon still results in a filling silky tasting pasta.

As a counter to Monday's contemplation - the story of Edward Thomas always make me feel sad - and reminiscences from 100 years ago, here's a couple of thoughts to lift the spirits of times to come. The first is not mine (via Facebook) but the sentiment is and the second is for when you can go back to the pub and sit near friends and prove to them that you actually are a wizard!

"Even in these uncertain times we have so much to be GRATEFUL for and we enjoy an abundance of blessings everyday.... stay positive.

For weeks I’ve heard people saying “I can’t wait for things to be back to normal.” I remember saying it a few times myself. But as I’ve thought about our current situation I’ve realised how much I don’t want things to go back to the way they were. Here are a few of my thoughts...

1. I hope the next time a friend grabs me and pulls me in for a hug, I actually take the time to appreciate the gift of their embrace.

2. I hope that the next time I’m sitting in a crowded restaurant I take the time to look around at the smiling faces, loud voices and be thankful for the gift of community.

3. I hope that when I am at the supermarket , that I take a moment to be thankful for the necessities of life and for the amazing people who work so hard to keep us supplied.

4. I hope that I never again take for granted the ability to hop in the car and visit a friend, go to the shops, take a class at the gym, etc.

So, truth is, I don’t want things to return to the way they once were. I hope we take the lessons and challenges of the past few weeks and create a new normal. My goal is to be more thankful, love harder, and truly appreciate all the blessings each day that were so easily overlooked just a mere few weeks ago. If someone tells you they love you, take it to heart!"

And how to be a wizard ...

How smart is your right foot?

1. Whilst you are sitting with a friend or loved one, tell them to lift their right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

2. Now while they are doing that, instruct them to draw the number 6 in the air with your right hand.

Their foot will change direction.... Go on - try it!

Thanks to Debbie for passing this on - (she is a wiz.)

Robert Macfarlane's Word of the Day is ...

"blossom - a flower or mass of flowers; to develop; to thrive

This is the blossom on our sweet cherry. This part of Norfolk was once famous for its cherry orchards, sadly mostly grubbed out a generation ago unable to compete in the growing global market.

There are a number of Norfolk dessert cherry varieties. I want to track down Summer Sun, first grown around 1900. It crops in mid/late July with a medium sized dark red coloured fruit that has good tolerance to late frost and can be planted in exposed areas. It is partially self-fertile. Actually, I like the name - says it all in terms of cherries as far as I am concerned.

PS - writing this to the sound of Al Stewart's Year of the Cat, produced by Alan Parsons. Forgotten what a good listen it is.


and I rose up, and knew that I was tired, and continued my journey” - Edward Thomas.
"Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." - St. Francis of Assisi
“All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well”. - Julian of Norwich

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Martin Castle
Apr 15, 2020

Streaky bacon works best - enjoy it


Apr 15, 2020

Morning Mr Castle ❤️ Gonna try that recipe! Sounds yum!!! Can I substitute bacon instead of pancetta as might not be able to get it in my little farm shop? X Glad you enjoyed my wizard moment! Couldn’t believe it! 🤪 xx


Unknown member
Apr 15, 2020

Thanks Dave. Veggie recipe tomorrow.


Martin Castle
Martin Castle
Apr 15, 2020

Dave, I made it the other day and substituted the bacon with wild mushrooms.


David Burns
David Burns
Apr 15, 2020

Dont forget us Veggies :)

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