Tag Archives: pasta

Mamma Mia Ciasa Mia! Could this be the best pasta in Paris?

20 May

I know I know, it’s a big call, but trust me — I take these statements very seriously. After my first meal at Ciasa Mia, I got home, and in an unprecedented event, I could not sleep. And not because I ate too much either. I simply could not stop thinking about the incredible meal I had just experienced, and found myself lying awake dreaming about that amazing PASTA like some intoxicating whirlwind holiday romance.

ciasa mia best pasta in paris

The stuff dreams are made of. Ciasa Mia’s Kamut Spaghetti with Mussels, Girolles and Smoked White Pepper with Pecorino.

Ciasa Mia potato and rosemary ravioli with speck

Potato, speck and rosemary ravioli filled with cèpes and mageret de canard fumé

The discovery wasn’t all mine, so I do admit I was tipped off. When you hear your Italian friend’s voice rise two decibels excitedly describing food with dangerous hand motions and enough passion to scare the French diners at the table next to us, I knew I had to check this place out. And yes I’ve been back multiple times since, just to make sure I wasn’t kidding myself the first time, but the food at this place never ceases to amaze and delight me.

For someone with a terrible memory, I can still remember and describe in intricate detail, every course I have eaten there: Truffle-filled egg yolk amuse bouche, pine infused ice cream, cèpe and white truffle carpaccio with parmesan soufflé, scallops in hay-steamed smoke, pastas that are delicious enough to overcome the strongest of carb-nazi willpower, deconstructed tiramisu, melt in your mouth house-made focaccia, and not to forget the famous “colours d’automne”- a dessert experience you absolutely must save space for. The flavours, the products, the seasons, the passion for quality, innovation and creativity with respect for tradition and romance, the flamboyant service with flair and precision… the passion the food is made with here paired with the warm friendly ambience of a family–run Italian alps ski chalet is so cosy you could just crawl up by the fire with your limoncello, satisfied belly and just dream away.

Who would have thought this little gem on a tiny street just next to the pantheon was hiding there? If you didn’t know to look past the cutesy quasi-kitsch restaurant signage and lace curtains on the facade, you could easily miss it. And if you can’t get there in person, don’t worry. In my usual form, I shamelessly went back and asked the chef for the recipe so we can all enjoy the pleasure of THAT PASTA (scroll down for recipe).

Where was the best pasta you have ever eaten? My runners-up for Paris are Procopio Angelo and Bocca. Drop a comment below to share your favorite addresses in Paris and beyond.

Ciasa Mia Restaurant is located near the Pantheon in Paris’ Latin Quarter at
19 Rue Laplace 75005
Ph: +33(0)1 43 29 19 77
www.ciasamia.com

See a video review by Francois Simon here

La lotte en croute Ciasa Mia Paris

La lotte en croute de peau de poulet (monkfish in chicken skin crust) with balsamic lentils, rosemary potato and vanilla eschalotte

ciasa mia italian wines

Wine selection at Ciasa Mia

Lemon brulee with almond praline

Lemon brûlée with almond praline- amazing!

ciasa mia paris truffle injected egg

Six minute scallops- steamed in hay smoke with sea salt. Black truffle jus-injected egg yolk. explosions of flavor- literally.

Deconstructed Tiramisu Ciasa Mia Paris

The delightful deconstructed tiramisu

Pine infused Icecream ciasa mia paris

Pine infused ice cream – unforgettable.

Chef Samuel Mocci with Italian white truffles

Chef Samuel Mocci with Italian white truffles

Organic kamut spaghetti with mussels, girolles, pecorino, and smoked white pepper

Recipe by Samuel Mocci from Ciasa Mia Restaurant, Paris

Serves 4 people

This recipe cooks the pasta using the absorption method, like you would a risotto. It soaks up all the flavor from the stock and self-sauces once you add the cheese and remaining ingredients.

Ingredients:

300 grams kamut spaghetti (or substitute with a similar fresh pasta of your choice)
1 litre of unsalted chicken stock
30 grams sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 knob butter
50g pecorino finely grated
50g parmesan finely grated
Freshly ground smoked white pepper (if you can’t find smoked pepper you can use smoked sea salt to add the smoky flavour)
200 g mussels (weight without shells)
200 g girolle mushrooms (you could substitute for cepes or chanterelles also)
2 cloves garlic- finely diced
2 tbsp finely diced flat leaf parsley

Recipe Ciasa Mia Pasta

Preparing the Ciasa Mia Kamut Spaghetti Recipe

Directions:

Bring the chicken stock to boil in a large pot with olive oil, butter and sea salt.

To cook the mussels: In a separate pot, place mussels in their shells with white wine, olive oil and finely diced garlic and parsley. Once the mussels open, remove the mussels from their shells (leave a few in the shell for presentation purposes). Leave in pot and set aside. Thoroughly rinse and then pat dry the girolles with paper towel. Dice the mushrooms finely and set aside.

Once the water is boiling add the spaghetti to the pot and gently stir the pasta and water until all the water has been absorbed by the pasta, being careful not to let the pasta stick together or to the pot. Check that the pasta is cooked just to al dente. If it is still too firm, add more stock and cook further until it’s absorbed (as you would a risotto)

Once the spaghetti is cooked, remove from the flame and add the parmesan, pecorino and a generous portion of freshly ground pepper. Mix through well- you will see that the remaining moisture in the pasta mixes with the cheeses to ‘self-sauce’

Sprinkle the diced girolle mushrooms on the base of the serving plate and then season with quality virgin olive oil. Serve the pasta into portions over the mushrooms and then add the mussels, with a few still in the shell over the pasta. Serve with extra grated pecorino and diced parsley to garnish if desired.

Secret sauce. My Maltese Nanna’s ricotta ravioli recipe

6 Jun

Tessie's tomato sauce with fresh Maltese ricotta ravioli

Who can resist a tried and tested family recipe? On a recent visit to Malta to reconnect with my family heritage and meet long lost cousins, aunties and uncles, one of my most treasured and memorable experiences was that of a cooking session with my wonderful Maltese Nanna Tessie.

Before leaving, my mother begged me to get the recipe off my grandmother for her basic tomato pasta sauce- the most important and versatile base in Maltese cuisine. Being smack bang in the middle of the Mediterranean with a hot and dry climate, the staple food of the Maltese usually involves pasta, rice, bread, cheese, meat, rabbit (fenech), fish often with a tomato base- thus the importance of a perfect and simple tomato sauce.

Here I share with you a visual snapshot of our little cook-off and of course, Tessie’s family recipe for the sauce… including what Tessie swears is her ‘secret’ ingredient which will certainly surprise you!

What about the recipe for the actual ravioli itself you may ask? Well, I thought the same thing when I turned up to lunch expecting a kitchen armed with a pasta-machine, flour dust storm and production line of settling fresh curd cheese. I instead arrived presented with a neat bag of ready-made fresh pasta on the bench! It turns out that most Maltese buy the ravioli fresh and pre-made from their local pasta master of choice because the quality of the bought product is so good and only about €3 for a big bag of 3 dozen ricotta-filled morsels (or so my Nan convinced me anyway). However, If you really want to have a stab at making the pasta yourself to go with it, here are some good resources:

The real-deal: The awesome Italian Mamma ‘Rosa’ shows us how it’s done

Crazy Maltese John cooking ravioli in his kitchen

A video response tribute and step by step guide by the talented ‘Pip’ from MeetMeAtMikes showing  how she made ravioli from scratch with Nanna Tessie’s recipe

 

Setting the scene- here’s my Nanna Tessie with her pot of sauce

Nanna Tessie with her pot of tomato sauce

Ready for that recipe now?

Here it is! (serves approx 4)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6 whole tomatoes (Tessie insists they must be super-red vine ripened roma tomatoes)
  • 1 tsp white sugar (start with 1/2 teaspoon and add the remaining half to taste as some may find the full amount a little too much)
  • 2 bay leaves (dried)
  • 1 tbsp good quality tomato paste
  • Extra virgin olive oil (preferably Spanish)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste

And now for her ‘secret’ ingredient…

Wait for it….

1 chicken stock cube!

Yes, that’s right- a chicken stock cube! A little unconventional and I’m sure they were never part of her own mother’s repertoire, but to Tessie, those things are like butter to a french chef!

The other big no no, she insists, is never to put onion in the tomato sauce, and always cook it slowly slowly, gently gently.

Here she is again- reminding us not to use onion!

Tessie says 'never use onion, and simmer it slooooolwy'

Now for the method:

Instructions:

Using a medium sized, heavy based pot, fill the base with olive oil to the depth of approximately halfway up your index fingertip. Peel and dice the garlic lengthways. You can add 2 extra cloves if you wish, it only intensifies the flavour (in a good way). Add the diced garlic to the pot with oil and gently fry the garlic at a low heat being careful not to burn them.

Fill a separate small pot with water and bring it to the boil. Add the tomatoes and boil for approximately 3 minutes, until you begin to see the skin peeling away from the flesh. Remove from the boiling water, discard water and then peel tomatoes.

Add the tomatoes to the pot with oil and garlic and chop them into small pieces with sharp knife. Simmer at a low heat and stir continually as the sauce begins to thicken and reduce. Gradually add a few drops of water, then add the stock cube and the bay leaves. Stir and simmer for a further 10 minutes then add the tomato paste, sugar and salt and pepper. Keep on a low simmer for a further ten minutes for the sauce to reduce and flavours intensify. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Sauce on simmer

In a large pot bring water to the boil at (3/4’s) full and add 1 tbsp sea salt and a dash of olive oil.

Add the ravioli (fresh bought version or homemade) and cook until all the pasta has floated to the top.

Ravioli on the boil- floating to the surface when ready

Immediately drain in a colander.

Serve on a wide pasta dish with generous servings of freshly grated romano or parmesan, cracked black pepper and finely diced parsley (optional). Traditionally this is served with a side of mortadella ham and a local delicacy- black pepper chesee with crusty Maltese bread called “hobz.”

Savourer!

Side serving: Mortadella ham and Maltese black pepper cheese with crusty 'hobz' bread

Lambrusco frizzante or spumante are refreshingly light and fruity sparkling red table wines commonly found at a Maltese table

Dining at Tessie's Table

Nanna Tessie's kitchen

Sweet tooth. Maltese Kannoli "ta l-irkottaare" is a delicous dessert of fried pastry shell piped with sweet ricotta and dusted with crushed almonds

Viva la ravioli! Ciao, Tessie xxx

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