Life is a combination of magic and pasta – Federico Fellini

In search of comfort and speed when you are exhausted, hungry and in need of feeding a family rapido, often leads us comfortably to pasta. The humble filling carb that I desire within reason most days! Be it dried or fresh, long, short, ridged, smooth, un-filled or plump and full, the varieties and entities that can be and become are simply endless.

Dried pasta is one of my food loves, as I choose and ponder over my favoured sauce then pair it with my pasta shape, more often than not, without following any particular rules. Dried quality pasta takes approx. 8-12 minutes to cook and fresh pasta around 2 minutes. Every kitchen and family-cook has a place and time within their cooking and feeding week to use both or either pasta varieties so with that, I am as proud as punch to share our newly released fresh pasta range uniquely sold in our local Northamptonshire Italian deli. ‘The Italian Shop, 52 Ashburnham Road NN1 4QY. Adriana Staniscia (the shop owner) and I have been working on our brand ‘Carmela’s Kitchen’ and fresh varieties, and now are happily stocking our small, yet growing range in the shop, with the hope to expand over the coming months.

The range includes pappardelle for heavier meatier sauces, spaghetti alla chitarra perfect for a classic carbonara or lighter sauce and filled ravioli that would work perfectly win the heart of a tomato-based sugo, browned butter with a twist of black pepper or some fresh broth. In addition, we are also stocking freshly made Bolognese lasagne, aubergine Parmigiana and perfectly formed risotto balls known as the famous Sicilian street food that is arancini.

As mentioned, the range is freshly made so when time is against you, but you crave texture, taste, goodness and comfort, then I urge for you to try the taste of ‘Carmela’s Kitchen’ fresh pasta and ready meals.  For further details and information please contact ‘The Italian Shop’.


Bolognese Ragu`, from ‘The Accademia Italiana della Cucina’

The varieties and variations are truly endless and what I love more that anything is that every family whether they be in the UK or happily living in one of the 20 regions of Italy will have their own take on this classically loved and respected recipe. I have chosen to share with you one recipe taken from ‘The Accademia Italiana della Cucina’ which was registered in the city of Bologna on the 17th October 1982.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours 45 minutes


150 pancetta, small cubes

20g butter (I use salted)

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

50g carrot, peeled, finely chopped

50g celery, finely chopped

50g onion, peeled, finely chopped

300g of beef, coarsely minced

300g tomato pasatta or pelati tomatoes

½ glass of red wine

1 glass whole milk

Salt & pepper, to season

½ glass cream to finish (optional)


  1. Into a dry saucepan add the pancetta and fry over a low heat until lightly coloured.
  2. Add the butter and olive oil along with the carrot, celery and onion. Cook for 15 minutes over a medium heat until softened and translucent.
  3. Add the beef cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Pour in the red wine and allow it to evaporate.
  5. Stir and add in the pasatta or pelati tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 hours.
  6. Stir the pan, slowly add the milk, adjust seasoning as required and cook for a further 30 minutes.
  7. Serve with pappardelle.


Carmela’s tip: As I mentioned above this is the traditional recipe. However, I would also add some fresh basil leaves to finish and a little garlic in my soffritto base.