How was your Valentine’s week? Hope it was good and full of love <3
This was my first ever with Guy and even if we are not such great fans of celebrating it, we still decided to do something special.
On the 13th he surprised me with a booking to a lovely Cat Café in Tonbridge, UK. I had my eyes on that place for months, but never had the change to actually go!
It was one of the sweetest sursprises ever.
Cats means the world to me, they are my favourite pet ever, although after loosing my beloved 3 cats I grew up with I still find pretty hard to adopt new ones…
Moving on… The place was so intimate and full of furry friends, each one with a detailed page about their personality and place of birth on a special book, which I found really sweet.
The café is not a vegan one, although we were surprised of how many vegan friendly options they provide. Lots of cakes and drinks. If I have to find a little flaw is the fact they only provide soy milk as plant based alternative, which can be not ideal for those who are actually allergic. Same would have been with only one nut-based alternative; ideal for lactose intollerants and those on a gluten free diet it is unfortunately not suitable for who is allergic to nut. Overall the best milk that should be suitable for everyone would be rice. So I believe that if a place wants to provide a plant based alternative they should go for rice instead of soy if it is the only available.
We had a soy cappuccino, carrot cake and a lemon and lime lemonate. Perfect treats while petting all those gorgeous creatures.
The day after I arranged a themed three-course menu starring:
Heart Shaped Puffs with Purple Broccoli and Smoked Paprika Besciamelle;
Heart Shaped Beetroot Ravioli filled with Tumeric, Truffle and Ginger sauce (half spheres of sauce coated in a calcium chloride solution), Parsley, Garlic and Thyme Sponge, sautéed Shiitake, Chestnut and Black Fungus Mushrooms in Truffle Oil on a soil of Roasted Pecans;
No-Bake Five Cereals Chocolate tart with Jasmine and Orange infused Custard.
I made extra beetroot pasta dough because I was thinking of making the dish I’m presenting you today: colourful, wintery and well balanced.
The beetroot dough it’s simply obtained by kneeding half all purpose flour and half semolina flour, a pinch of salt and beetroot juice, and let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes (can be stored in the fridge covered in film up to 3 days).
For the juice you can both use a juicer and fresh beets, or get jarred ones, blend a few with their juice and some water in a blender, and squeeze the liquid out using a cheese cloth. My juicer broke and hasn’t been replaced yet, so I used the second method!
…for the pasta dough…
150 gr All Purpose Flour
150 gr Semolina Flour
180 ml Beetroot Juice
1 pinch Salt
…for the mushroom ragù…
300 gr Chestnut Mushrooms
1/4 cup White Wine
1 Garlic Clove
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Chilly Flakes
…for the spinach&parsley pesto…
100 gr Spinach (either frozen or fresh)
1/2 cup Fresh Parsley
2 tbsp Pecan Nuts (roughly chopped)
3 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove
30 ml Plant Based Milk (Soy)
Cut mushrooms into small dice and sauté on medium heat in a pan with olive oil, minced garlic, chilly flakes, salt, pepper and thyme.
Once all their liquid evaporates add the wine until it evaporates too. Set aside.
Combine all the ingredients for the pesto in a blender and blend until smooth. Note: if you’re using frozen spinach simply defrost and cook for a couple of minutes in the microwave; if you have fresh ones, cook on a pan or in the microwave for a few minutes, then roughly chop before adding them to the blender.
Make tagliatelle using a pasta machine (use store bought ones for a quicker version).
Boil tagliatelle “al dente” (please note that fresh pasta requires only a few minutes of cooking, mine was ready to be drained in only two minutes!) then add them with some butter and thyme to a pan, sauté for a minutes or so, until creamy, then add the mushroom ragù.
You can decide to serve them already coated in pesto or give your guests a pot of pesto for them to add to the dish.
I opted for this, to showcase every single colour of this wonderful pasta dish.