I’m still working like a mad woman as you may have noticed from lack of posts and cooking but I think I may have found staff at long last, I have a girl starting tomorrow and she seems OK so fingers crossed. The main problem in finding someone for the counter is lack of food knowledge, especially about Italian food. A lot of our customers like to ask questions about different foods, recipes etc and to be honest I spend most of my day talking about food with them. That is the kind of place La Cucina is, it’s very relaxed and everybody likes to come in and have a chat so I really need someone very friendly who will get to know all of our regular customers and hopefully be a foodie too!!Believe me this is no easy task!! It always works out in the end but it’s just taking a little longer this time.

There has been little time for cooking so we’ve been mainly eating from La Cucina or else Bru and the princess have been eating at the “The Mil’s” when I’m working – I don’t hear Bru complaining but the princess is starting to experience ice-cream and white chocolate a little too much for my liking;) Bru’s sister has just built a new house and is waiting for her Italian kitchen so she’s down there every evening with her 2 kids for dinner too. The “MIL” rarely gets a break, she works all day and then comes home to cook for all the family and grandchildren but she wouldn’t have it any other way, Italians are so good like that, family comes before everything no matter how tired you are!! Even when we go there on a Sunday, she has been cooking and preparing all morning, barely eats herself and then cleans up everything after and she won’t even let me help as she wants to let us relax so all the boys end up on the couch watching Italian soccer for the evening and I usually head home for a while and get a bit of ironing done and she minds the princess!!! Even today we had planned on making Gnocchi alla Sorrentina and she rang this morning to see if we wanted to come down for dinner this evening and of course being the lazy lumps we are we accepted, I’m so glad we did as we had pasta with peas and pancetta and then BOTH monkfish and seabass done in the oven!!!Thank god for Italian “MILS”.

I mentioned in a recent post that we have started “PASTA AL FORNO” again, this method of cooking pasta isn’t very popular in Ireland as most people do a lasagna when making pasta in the oven but this is a great alternative and you can make it in advance and then just pop it in the oven and you will have a really delicious dish!!

This recipe is with Italian sausage but you can actually make it with anything, bacon, chicken, aubergine, courgette, whatever you prefer. It is actually quite similar to the “al cartoccio” recipe!!


  • 1-2 Italian sausages with skins removed and chopped up.
  • 8-10 mushrooms cut in 1/4’s
  • porcini – about a handful
  • tomato sauce or tin of Italian tomatoes.
  • 1 clove garlic
  • rigatoni or tortiglioni
  • white wine
  • olive oil
  • margarine
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan cheese
  • 1 ball mozzarella cheese cut into cubes


 – put your porcini in a bowl of boiling water and leave to soak for about 15 mins.

 – fill the base of your pan with olive oil and cook your garlic clove until brown and remove, let oil cool down for a couple of mins.

 – bring a pot of water to the boil, add salt and cook your pasta until al dente and drain.

 – add your mushrooms and sausage to your pan, season and cook.

 – add a splash of white wine and leave to evaporate, add your porcini and some of the juice and leave to simmer for a couple of mins.

 – add your tomato sauce and mix together over a high heat for a couple of mins or add your tin of tomatoes and let simmer for about 15 mins. Check your seasoning!!!

 – add your pasta to your pan and mix together.

– grease your oven dish with margarine and put a layer of pasta on the bottom, top with parmesan and mozzarella, place another layer of pasta over this and top again with parmesan and mozzarella.

 – cook in the oven for about 15-20 mins until the top layer of pasta is golden brown and crispy!!!