Penne Al Pollo Recipe #TuscanyNowCookOff

Tuscany Now Blog are giving you the chance to win a weekend away in the beautiful city of Florence over on their site. All you need to do it share your favourite Italian recipe with them.
Heres mine. I adore it and its one of our favourites at home. Just add a simple salad of Rocket lettuce,  Mozerella pearls and baby plum tomatoes drizzled with some balsamic vinegar and you have a wonderful meal full of summer sunshine! See others over at #TuscanyNowCookOff

Penne Al Pollo Della Casa

Salsa Di Funghi

10g Dried Porcini Mushrooms
3 Tablespoons Extra virgin Olive oil
30g White Onion, chopped
20g celery, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
A pinch of fennel seeds
100g button mushrooms, finely chopped
550ml Water
100ml chicken stock
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
60ml (4 Tablespoons) milk
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
Freshly ground pepper

Soak the Porcini’s in 100ml of warm water for 30 mins. Strain (keep the water) & finely chop.
Heat oil in saucepan. Add onion & celery & cook over a low heat till onions are translucent (about 6 mins) Add the garlic, fennel  & porcini and half the button mushrooms. Add half the water (275ml) and simmer gently for 5 mins.

Use the Porcini water, chicken stock, sugar & cornflour and stir into remaining water.
Remove saucepan, blend till smooth & pour in to cornflour mixture. Return to saucepan and stir with a whisk back to simmering (sauce should have thickened slightly)

Add milk, herbs & remaining mushrooms. Simmer for 10 mins. Use immediately or cool and store in fridge for up to 3 days.

And the rest:

4 Tablespoons Olive oil
300g Button mushrooms, sliced
400g Raw Chicken Breast cut into thin strips
30g Butter
60ml Dry White Wine
375g Salsa di Funghi (half the above recipe)
380ml Single cream
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
500g De Cecco or Italian Penne (I used gluten free)
40g Parmesan grated
Freshly ground salt & black pepper
2 Sprigs of fresh Thyme to decorate.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a medium frying pan. Add mushroom and sauté over a medium heat for 3-4mins. Remove from heat & set aside.
Toss the chicken in a bowl with remaining oil, season with salt & pepper.
Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil for the pasta. Preheat oven to 200c
Melt butter in a large saucepan. When it foams add chicken pieces and turn them to brown for 3-4mins. Stir in wine & raise the heat until wine has evaporated. Add the sautéed mushrooms, mushroom sauce, cream & thyme to the pan. Stir as your bring sauce gently to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 mins.
Cook the pasta for 2 mins less than package instructions. Drain. Turn the penne into the pan with the sauce and cook together for 1-2mins. Spoon pasta mixture into an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 10-15 mins. Remove from  the oven, garnish with the sprig of thyme & serve with a fresh salad.

My favourite Snacks & Drinks

Its December soon! I know the shops have been full of treats for ages but November seems to be flying past quicker than I like. I have a mound of Christmas Cards that need writing and I still need to order a turkey! Plus the parties start next Friday! The round robin we have of all our friends where we head to a different house each week for party food, chats and the catch up’s we don’t seem to be able to make time for the rest of year.

This to me means that whatever fancy foods I serve have to be fun and fairly simple. With two boys, the school fairs, nativity plays and endless birthday parties while I love entertaining I no longer have a whole weekend to prep and study the latest cocktails and buffet ideas.

I have to say this year Pinterest has been my go to board. I have it on my phone so I can surf it while waiting at the school gates!
 So first up Drinks! Well you have to have a hot chocolate bar don’t you? Cocktails I’ll get to in a bit (thank you Christmas Connections!)

Hot Chocolate Bar
WishesnDishes is  my go to recipe here.


1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
6 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups of milk chocolate chips (can also use half semi-sweet)


Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla, and chocolate chips in a 5 quart crock pot (if doubling, use a 6-7 quart slow cooker/crock pot).
Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally with whisk, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted.
Once it is heated through and chocolate is melted, switch the slow cooker to the warm setting. Stir again before serving. (If you have trouble getting the chocolate to melt, turn to high temporarily).
Have little pots of marshamallows and Chocolate chips and Candy canes for guest to decorate with.

Mini Jacket Potatoes


500g bag new potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt
75ml half-fat soured cream
small bunch chives, snipped

Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Prick the potatoes with a fork, rub with the oil, then toss with sea salt. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hr. Let the potatoes cool for 10-15 mins, then cut a small cross in the top of each and pinch the bases to open a little. Add a teaspoon of soured cream to each, a little freshly ground black pepper, and a sprinkling of chives. Serve straightway.

Apple Cinnamon Bacon Bites (these can be popped in while the jacket potatoes are cooking!)


2 packets of bacon with each slice cut in half
2 large peeled apples cut into 1 inch slices
Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 190C . Wrap ½ piece of bacon around each apple slice until you run out of bacon. Place each bacon bite on a foil lined baking sheet and sprinkle each bacon bite with the cinnamon sugar. Bake around 10 minutes each side or until the bacon is a deep brown and crisp on the edges. Take from heat and sprinkle a little more cinnamon sugar.

Parmesan Swirls
Martha Stewarts - Great for all year actually!


1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon paprika
Coarse salt and ground pepper
All-purpose flour, for rolling
1 sheet puff pastry (from a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
1 large egg, beaten


In a bowl, mix cheese and paprika; season with salt and pepper. On a floured surface, roll out pastry to 10 by 14 inches. Brush with egg. Sprinkle with cheese mixture; using a rolling pin, roll mixture into pastry. Roll up pastry, starting from short end. Refrigerate until firm, about 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 190 degrees. Cut roll into 3/8-inch-thick slices. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on sheet; transfer to a rack to cool completely.


The lovely Martha Stewart again

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cans (15.5 ounces each) chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cumin seed
Coarse salt

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Pour olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and place in oven until oil is hot, 3 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas, cayenne pepper, and cumin seed. Season with salt and toss to combine. Place chickpea mixture on hot baking sheet and spread in a single layer. Bake until chickpeas are crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and let cool slightly. Serve warm.

And now for those Cocktails.

I’ve included one of my favourite videos here but over here to see the rest of the  Cocktails & a Mocktail