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WanderSups: Cook up a cockle-warming pasta dish

She’s a MasterChef quarter finalist and founder of world-food supper club WanderSups. In her October column for Velvet, Bury’s Hannah Gregory embraces the shift in seasons with a cockle-warming pasta dish

Homemade pasta is a cut above (stock image) (42431387)
Homemade pasta is a cut above (stock image) (42431387)

As the nights draw in and log baskets begin to be replenished, we enter the month where the clocks go back, heating gets switched on and those balmy nights (there were a couple) filled with gazpacho, fresh salads and fruity cocktails become fond memories. I must admit, I have been in complete denial that winter is coming.

But this week I had the confirmation that autumn is here. I went to visit my mother and she has begun the annual steeping of the fruit for her infamous Christmas cakes. A smell that takes me right back to my childhood - rum, cinnamon, cloves, brandy. . . It really is sugar and spice and all things nice in our house. Battered old humongous steel saucepans that are older than me are filled to the brim as she stirs in candied fruit. And so I admit defeat, the next season is here - I may as well embrace it.

I am pretty vocal about my hatred for the cold, but it allows for one thing that I cannot get enough of: comfort food. Colder nights and shorter days mark the welcome return of stews and soups, creamy mashed potatoes served with just about anything and heaving bowls of pasta with thick, creamy, unctuous sauces.

Autumn also means long cooks. By this I mean taking time to make fresh dough, be it for pasta or bread; lovingly slow-cooking joints of meat that have to be basted every hour; stirring huge cauldrons of dhal to ensure maximum creaminess; baking a cake and actually waiting for it to cool so it can be adorned with icing and decorations rather than hurriedly fanning it, convincing yourself it’s cool and then wondering why all the icing slid off.

Summer cooking is fast; we’re spoilt for delicious produce that needs minimal work, meaning you can quickly rustle something up and then get back to being outside. Autumn is a different ball game. There really is nothing better than a long old cook, a glass of red wine, the rain hammering on the windows and some excellent music to while away the hours. Chunky knit and sheepskin slippers optional (but would highly encourage should you want that full ‘influencer’ vibe).

This recipe ticks all the boxes: woody mushrooms that are in abundance right now,meaning we can keep those food miles down and enjoy the best of British; burrata that IMO should feature in at least one meal a day because, say it with me, #burrataislife; and silky smooth pasta which is a joy to make. It may be colder outside but we can still dream we are in Italy with this heady combo.

Aside from making the pasta dough, this recipe is actually very quick and simple so you could always use dried pasta, but do give fresh a go: if you’ve never tried it before, it’s a game changer. There are a million variations of pasta dough recipes, but this works for me and the Bruce Springsteen tip in the recipe… you are welcome. I will always champion a pasta machine - I think they are an essential bit of kit. But you can do this with a rolling pin, just make sure you clear your surfaces to give you some space as you always need more than you think.

Wild Mushroom & Burrata Tagliatelle

Serves 2

What you need :

300g pasta flour

3 large eggs + 1 yolk

Pinch fine salt

250g mixed wild mushrooms (try and get a real mix - I order mine from Smithy Mushrooms and they are always outstanding)

Knob of butter

1 tbsp of olive oil

125g mascarpone

1 x ball Burrata

50ml double cream

Small bunch of lemon thyme

25g parmesan

Drizzle truffle oil (optional)

Black pepper (lots)

Large handful semolina (for the pasta dough)

How you do it:

First up, pasta dough. Clear a large space on a work surface and tip your flour straight on to it with a pinch of fine salt. Create a well in the middle of the flour and crack your eggs and additional yolk into the well. Using a fork, break the yolks and whisk the eggs to bring them together. Then working in circular motions, start incorporating the flour into the eggs by whisking them in larger and larger circles so that each time you are bringing a little more flour into the middle. Eventually your mix will get thick and doughy at which time you can lose the fork and use your hands to bring in the rest of the flour. Once all the flour is incorporated you should have a big ball of dough that needs kneading within an inch of its life.

The aim of the game here is to end up with a silky smooth, elastic dough. Now, with this recipe I have found the perfect kneading system. Here is what you do - cue your musical device to play Bruce Springsteen: Born in the USA, Hungry Heart and I’m Going Down. Hit play and knead as if your life depended on it for the duration of the three songs, trying to ensure you stretch and fold the dough rather than rip it. If you knead for these songs continuously and with vigour, you will end up with the smoothest, bounciest pasta dough. It should feel smooth to the touch and if you push your finger into it, bounce back. Once you’ve got to this stage, wrap it tightly in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

I try to roll my pasta as close to cooking time as possible to minimise risk of it drying out. Get a bowl of semolina flour next to the machine/ rolling area and keep dousing the dough as you would a pastry dough with flour. This prevents sticking and drying. About 45 minutes before you want to dine, begin the rolling process. If you have a machine, set it to it’s thickest setting and pass the dough through six times. Yes six. Then reduce the setting by one and roll it through twice. Repeat this until you have gone through all the settings. If you are doing this with a rolling pin, cut the pasta into four chunks and work through each one individually (unless you have the world longest kitchen surface, in which case, go nuts). Roll the dough as thin as possible - you should be able to see your hand through it when held up to the light. Once rolled, cover in semolina and then lightly roll the dough into a sausage and cut at 1cm intervals so that when unravelled, you are left with long strips of tagliatelle.

Bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil. Meanwhile prep your mushrooms, clean any that are a bit mucky and quarter any big boys. Melt your butter and olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat until it foams and then add your mushrooms and fry until golden brown. Strip in the leaves of a couple of sprigs of lemon thyme and toss into the mushrooms keeping a few back for a garnish.

At this point your water should be boiling and you can pop in your pasta. It will only take two minutes so make sure you have a colander ready to go. Add your mascarpone and double cream to the pan of mushrooms along with a ladle of pasta water and give the pan a shimmy to encourage the mascarpone to melt down. Grate in the parmesan.

Drain your pasta, adding a little more cooking water to the mushrooms if needed. Tip your pasta into the mushroom sauce using tongs to stir and combine everything or, if you’re feeling real cheffy, do that thing where you flip the pasta in the pan via a flick of the wrist.

Once all combined, divide the pasta between two plates. Very carefully cut the burrata in half and gently place on top of the pasta cut side up. The burrata will melt quickly and is very delicate, but that’s fine as it acts as a sort of self-saucing dish. Finish with a good whack of cracked black pepper, a sprinkle of fresh lemon thyme and truffle oil if using.

Tip: If you are feeling a little guilty about the distinct lack of green here, you can also stir through some wilted spinach with the mushys.

About Hannah

Hannah has recently competed in BBC’s MasterChef, finishing up in the Final 16, as a quarter finalist. She hosts WanderSups supper clubs serving meals created with love, inspired by journeys around the world, dished up on home turf. Her ethos is simple - have fun, enjoy it, make it an occasion. You can find specially curated playlists on Spotify to help create the full WanderSups experience. Find out about Hannah’s upcoming Supper Clubs and what she is currently cooking via Instagram @WanderSups or visit wandersups.com

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