The Food of Paradise

or…expletive worthy food


In my last post I took a big step and admitted to my growing addiction to Persian food.  Like many addictions, this one needs constant feeding and there have been many Persianesque feasts since my last confession.

The first of these was a birthday meal for my husband (I mean, how could I refuse a birthday request?); Beef Fillet Steak, Fattoush Salad and Basmati & Wild Rice Salad with Chickpeas, Currants & Herbs.  I was a bit worried about ruining the beef but actually it was superb – pan fried at a high heat until caramelised and then finished in the oven before resting and slicing…mm-mmm!  WARNING: Vegetarians and hungry people should avert their eyes about now.

Such a perfect colour and oh so tender

I’ve made a few versions of Fattoush Salad over the years (which generally consist of radishes, cucumber, salad greens, flat bread croutons and sumac) and this one from Sabrina Ghayour’s “Persiana” was as good as any other.  However the first Fattoush that I ever made was a Julie Le Clerc recipe and that one will always be special 🙂

The Basmati & Wild Rice Salad with Chickpeas, Currants & Herbs from Ottolenghi’s book “Jerusalem” was absolutely amazing. I didn’t have quite enough currants so I topped them up with barberries which added a delicious sour pop.  We brought some wild rice back from Malaysia a couple of years ago and I’m always excited when I get to use it; it’s so nutty and feels slightly exotic.  The fried onions and chickpeas on top are the icing on the cake.


I also got a new cookbook this month (as if I wouldn’t!) called “Ima Cuisine” by Yael Shochat.  This is from an Israeli restaurant in Auckland and I was very excited to buy it as soon as possible after its release.  The first things I’ve cooked from it are Falafel, Arab Israeli Salad and a herb condiment called Zhoug.  The salad and condiment are fantastic – the salad is very herby and is a great side dish to make in bulk and keep in the fridge (as I discovered by accident).  The falafel itself was a bit disappointing – I’ve made falafel a few times now and this is the only one that’s not worked out well.  The mixture was very wet and sort of dissolved into the oil in the pan.  I ended up having to coat them in flour and fry them in a fairly dry pan…the flavour was good but they were a mission to produce.

However – as usual when it comes to Sabrina Ghayour – the star of the meal was the Freekah Salad from her book “Sirocco”.  If you haven’t tried Freekah yet you definitely should…it tastes amazing in its own right just boiled in salted water let alone having anything else done to it.  But adding cranberries, dill and pomegranate takes it off the charts!  On a side note, dill is seriously becoming a favourite herb just now.


The full ensemble…pretty fab despite the dramas

But oh my god…if I thought the Freekah salad was good…I hadn’t yet tried the Preserved Lemon & Baharat-Marinated Pork Loin Kebabs also from “Sirocco”.  This was life-changing.  I made a Baharat spice mix from “Ima Cuisine” which I rubbed all over the pork pieces and then fried them in a healthy (ie. vast) quantity of oil so that they become gorgeously crisp but still moist in the middle…drool.  To go with this I made a Barley, Griddled Broccoli & Za’atar Salad from Persiana; barley is so good in any form and I love it in a salad.  This salad also contains slow roasted, caramelised tomatoes and red onions and a simple yoghurt dressing.  I’m trying very hard not to use expletives to describe how good these were 🙂


A classic Persian dish that my friend Nadine first told me about is Chicken, Walnut & Pomegranate Stew.  The first version I made of this was from Naomi Duguid’s “Taste of Persia” which was ok but not as good as I was expecting.  I decided to try Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe from “Persiana” given how good all of her recipes seem to be and I wasn’t disappointed.  It’s a very decadent dish using a lot of walnuts and pomegranate molasses which gives it a lovely rich and sweet/sour flavour.  One thing I would say about both of the recipes that I’ve tried is that it doesn’t need nearly as much sauce; both recipes had me throwing away excess sauce which was pretty upsetting.  I served this particular version with a Marinated Kale Salad and Crushed New Potatoes both from “Sirocco”.  I’ve tried making a marinated kale salad once before and wasn’t that fussed with it but as I may have mentioned…Sabrina can do no wrong and this was delicious.  Almonds and sunflower seeds provide crunch while the dressing provides sweetness from pureed apple, honey and ginger.  The crushed new potatoes were also AMAZING!  Roasted with peas and chargrilled spring onions and my favourite…dill.


The most recent meal I cooked was all from “Sirocco” – Lamb, Apricot & Fennel Seed Meatballs; Radish, Dried Fig & Apple Salad & Warm Salad of Spiced Kale, Bulghur Wheat & Puy Lentils.  These three recipes were definitely a highlight of the Persian experience so far (and that’s saying something!)…all the way through dinner we just looked at each other and said “yuuum” and “oh my god, this is sooo *expletive* good”!  The meatballs contain sweetness from the dried fruit and so many fennel seeds that I was seriously (but unnecessarily) concerned!

The Fig and Apple Salad was quick to put together and had a delicious mixture of crunchy vs sticky sweetness balanced by the tartness of pomegranate molasses.  And the Warm Bulghur and Puy Lentil salad was wonderfully substantial.  It’s drizzled in a mixture of spiced oil and fried onions and topped with a sharp but creamy goats feta.  An absolutely incredible trio both individually and combined.


So if you don’t mind exploring life-changing flavours and uttering the occasional involuntary (but cheerful) expletive then I emphatically recommend giving Persian food a go.  However, I do feel that it’s only fair to warn you – it can be addictive.

Totally Addicted to Persia

…and Sabrina Ghayour

I have been on a Persian binge recently, I can’t get enough of it; the more I cook it the more I want it…you can see how this could easily get out of control (and it has).  I have quite a few recipe books of that ilk (see my Cookbook Library for the full list) which I’ve used on and off over the last few years; but it’s Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour (see post here) that has set me off on my binge.  After loving Persiana so much I couldn’t resist buying her new book Sirocco and it hasn’t let me down – oh no – It. Has. Not.

The first meal I made out of Sirocco was Citrus & Za’atar Roast Chicken with a Date, Orange, Almond and Rocket Salad and a Maftoul Salad.  The chicken is pretty straight forward – just smother the chicken in a rub made of spices and zest and bung it in the oven for a while. One thing I did find a challenge was not letting the spice rub burn; you can see in the image below that it got pretty dark (but luckily in a good way).  I turned the chicken over a few times while it was roasting and next time I’ll put it on a rack so that the skin stays crisp on all sides.  I ended up taking the chicken out of the oven early (thanks to my trusty instant read thermometer telling me it was cooked) but if I’d left it in there for any longer I would have had to cover it in tin foil to stop it colouring further.

What a gorgeous looking bird 🙂

To go with the chicken I made a Maftoul Salad which is basically just Palestinian couscous mixed with lots of other tasty morsels and a gorgeous citrus-y dressing.  I’d had some black garlic in the cupboard for quite a while and I recently bought a jar of sour cherries so I couldn’t resist making this salad just so I could use both of those ingredients!

I also couldn’t resist the Date, Orange, Almond and Watercress Salad because it looks so beautiful.  In this case I couldn’t find watercress so I used rocket which worked well.  The dressing on this salad contains honey and red wine vinegar and it is ab-so-lutely delicious. One of the great things about all of these recipes is that they are very straight forward to put together and they make a great alternative to the western-style Sunday roast.




The next meal I cooked from Sirocco was Rose Harissa Seared Lamb Steak (was meant to be beef but I wanted lamb) with Turmeric & Spice-Marinated Cauliflower and Asparagus with Preserved lemon & Pickled Chilli.  This was actually a pretty quick meal.  I did do one thing in advance that you wouldn’t normally need to do, but because I was going out on the night that I wanted to cook this I made the spice paste the night before and left the cauliflower to marinate in the fridge. That meant that when I got home from work all I needed to do was make a quick tomato sauce and fry the cauliflower (another adjustment – the cauli was actually supposed to be deep-fried but I shallow fried it).

The asparagus was also super quick and easy to prepare and is deliciously crisp, has a lovely freshness from the mint, a salty tang from the preserved lemons and heat from the chilli (in this case I didn’t have pickled chillis so I just used chilli flakes).  Sooo good!


For the lamb, I don’t have rose harissa so I crushed up some edible rose petals and mixed those in with the standard harissa that I have in the fridge.  After rubbing that all over the steaks I gave them a quick hot fry and Bob was my Uncle – dinner was ready!  Such a nice combination of flavours, looks super fancy and is quick enough for a week night – I had it cooked and eaten in plenty of time for me to lounge around for a while before I went out – win, win and win 🙂


It’s funny but I didn’t realise how often I was making slight changes to the recipes until I was writing this post and it reminded me of something that Sabrina Guyour wrote in her introduction to this book:

“…many people feel the pressure to follow recipes to the letter, but Middle Eastern cookery just isn’t rigid in that way.”

I can certainly vouch for that.

Balls, Bowls and Smoothies

Another week has passed of making healthier meals!  I bought both of Ella Woodward’s books to assist me with this – “Deliciously Ella” and “Deliciously Ella Every Day”.  Below is a delicious smoothie that I’ve had for breakfast a couple of times lately.  It is based on recipes from the Deliciously Ella cookbook and consists of almond milk, raw cacao powder, banana, rolled oats, date syrup and peanut butter…delicious!


During my smoking frenzy last weekend I made Fleur’s Smoked Fish Pie recipe from The Great New Zealand Cookbook.  I used my home smoked fish in this but I made the mistake of adding some of my home smoked mussels that hadn’t worked out so well…I also added a bit too much lemon juice so it wasn’t as good as it could have been.  The greens were supposed to be spinach but I used some beetroot tops that I had in the garden which were pretty tasty.


As a healthy snack for my lunches I made some Superhero Balls from Annabel Langbein’s “Endless Summer” cookbook.  This is another reasonably healthy cookbook and these balls contain dates, almonds, coconut, orange zest, raw cacao powder and salt.  They were really easy to make and a totally satisfying sweet treat.  The nuts give them a nice texture against the smoothness of the mixture.


We got a lot of plums from our tree this year (first year ever!) so I made a big batch of plum jam…this was a desperate move because we still had so many and they were starting to get soft.  As a result I ended up with much more jam than I could handle!  I did the usual ratios of 1:1 fruit to sugar and this actually ended up too sweet.  I’m going to need to use this jam for a range of desserts in order to use it all up…probably a few gifts as well!


The below image shows a very productive day I had last weekend where I made a batch of kombucha, 5 large jars of plum jam and a jar of preserved lemons…yummy.


Another recipe from Endless Summer was this Energy Boost Salad Bowl – my first salad in a jar!  This improved as it warmed up, when I first ate it from the fridge it didn’t seem to have much flavour but by the time I got towards the end of the salad it was really good (I’ll get it out of the fridge earlier next time).  I like the fact that the layers mean that you can make it in advance and it doesn’t go soggy.  Very convenient 🙂



Happy, Healthy Eating

I’m trying to eat healthier this year.  Part of this is the result of my buying “The Unbakery” cookbook by Megan May (a book of raw recipes) and part of this is from visiting my aunty recently who is brewing kombucha, has done a course on fermentation and is increasing her intake of raw food…in fact I bought The Unbakery at Lynne’s recommendation so you could say that my healthy eating is all thanks to her!  Thanks Lynne 🙂

The Unbakery has some interesting information in it that I didn’t know.  For example, most nuts and seeds need to be activated (soaked in water for a period of time) to make them more digestible.  It also contains information about sprouting…information that I have embraced!  I began by attempting to sprout quinoa (didn’t work) and buckwheat (it worked – yay!).  I have now moved on to sprouting alphalfa and red lentils, both of which have worked very successfully…very exciting and they were both sprouted within a day (although they needed another day to fill out properly).

Quinoa and Buckwheat at the early stages


Alfalfa and Red Lentils in the later stages – nice and plump and tasty

I have also finally planted my microgreen seeds that I’ve had for about a year now.  I accidentally bought a microwave steamer at a second hand shop because it was labelled as a bean sprouter!  So as a back up plan I decided this would be the perfect thing to plant my microgreens in…and I was right 🙂  They’re deliciously hot and peppery and were ready to eat within 5 days.  I’m looking forward to putting them in a sandwich or a salad or basically just sprinkling them on everything!


Aside from the sprouts, another delicious recipe that I’ve tried out of The Unbakery is a Coconut Chia Pudding…this is very tasty, really easy and makes me feel super virtuous and healthy while I eat it!  You just mix chia seeds with coconut milk (although you could use any type of milk), some vanilla essence, sweetener (I used date syrup but you could use honey etc) and a pinch of salt.  You leave it to sit for 30 minutes and voila! the chia seeds absorb all of the liquid – it’s amazing!  You then top it with fresh fruit and anything else you like…scrum.

So beautiful!

I’ve also decided to make better use of my Moosewood cookbooks.  I’ve got two of them, Moosewood Simple Suppers and the original Moosewood Cookbook.  Last night I made a Vegetable Saute with a Tamari-Ginger Sauce from the original Moosewood.  This was an excellent way to use up excess vegetables (both in the fridge and in the garden) and get masses of vitamins all wrapped up in delicious flavour. If you wanted to you could add slivers of meat to this but it really doesn’t need it.

Served on bulghur wheat…very satisfying!

Another healthy meal I’ve made this week is a Kale-Quinoa Bowl from a recipe I found online.  If you want to try it you can follow this link: I made this to take to work for my lunch.  It was slightly time-consuming to make but it made enough for 3 lunches.  My husband took one but he didn’t like it; he thought there was too much kale and he could be right about that, I might reduce it a bit next time but I still enjoyed mine.  It has a nice texture from the nuts and I put a few of my buckwheat sprouts in it too.  You also get a delicious salty creaminess from the feta…another virtuous meal!


Our garden has been very overgrown this summer due to a lack of maintenance on our part.  As a result, I forgot about the large volume of beetroot that I planted near the rhubarb and now they are ginormous!  In an attempt to make use of some of these I made a Harvest Salad of Beetroot, Walnuts and Blue Cheese.  The salad I made is a version of a recipe by Annabel Langbein from her cookbook “Great Food for Busy Lives”.  I’ve made this a few times now; its very very nice and very easy to modify to suit.  To make it, beetroot, red onions and pears (or in this most recent case, apples) are roasted in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and brown sugar then dished up with cheese such as feta or blue, some salad greens (sometimes) and some toasted walnuts.  In this instance I served the salad with Fennel Pork Belly Strips from “Nigellissima” where pork strips are rubbed with oil, salt and fennel seeds then roasted until crispy.  I particularly wanted crispy skin and I decided to sacrifice the tenderness of the meat to achieve it…some may say that’s crazy but sometimes crispy skin is the most important thing…in this case the skin and the pork were crunchy…this did of course make it a challenge to locate the bones…but everyone likes a challenge don’t they?!


A close up of one of my home-grown chioggia beetroot…so beautiful!

And that as they say is that!  A weeks good eating and already looking forward to the next. Happy healthy eating everyone 🙂 Although I sense that my healthy eating may be about to take a turn for the worse…I feel a bout of baking coming on… xx

First day back…

Tuesday was my first day back in the office after the Christmas break.  I tend to take the same food to work all the time so I wanted to make something nice to take for lunch this week.  For my “first day back” treat I made some Turkish Lentil Koftes out of Annabel Langbein’s book “Through the Seasons”.  These are pretty easy to make, vegetarian, and are served at room temperature wrapped in a lettuce leaf with some yoghurt dip.  A perfect lunch-type food which partly soothed my “first day back” blues.


One of my goals for 2016 is to reduce my food wastage.  Something that can happen at our house is that I’ll buy an ingredient for a specific recipe such as bamboo shoots, then I’ll only need a small amount of it so the rest of it sits in the fridge for the next month before I throw it away – very naughty!  From now on my intention is that if I need to buy something like that then I have to find another recipe that will use up the rest of the item.  So today I happened to have most of a packet of pickled mustard greens that I bought to cook a Thai dish the day before New Years Eve.  To keep with my new regime I cooked another Thai dish tonight, again out of David Thompson’s “Thai Street Food”.  The recipe is called Chiang Mai Curried Noodles and Chicken. You start by making a curry paste called Kao Soi which is made into a broth with coconut cream, soy sauce and stock to poach the chicken in.  It is then infused with a pandan leaf before being served on top of egg noodles with a range of accompaniments.  The aroma and flavours of these Thai dishes are incredible.  The coconut cream creates a rich broth which is richly flavoured with chilies, coriander root, ginger, soy sauce and a squeeze of lime.  We really enjoyed this meal although I found it slightly too creamy.  The disappointing thing though…I still have masses of pickled mustard greens in the fridge!  Hmmm…what else can I make with them?!


We’re getting quite a few courgettes in the garden at the moment too so at this time of year I’m generally looking for imaginative ways to use them.  A very nice way I found is a recipe called Griddled Courgette Carpaccio, Chickpea Salsa and Pistachio Dressing from “Anjum’s Indian Vegetarian Feast” by Anjum Anand.  As suggested in the title, the courgettes are sliced and chargrilled on a griddle pan which gives them a really nice smokiness.  For the dressing, I didn’t have pistachios so I used a mix of hazelnuts and walnuts which is ground up with vinegar, garlic and oil and drizzled over the grilled courgettes.  This is all topped with a lovely chickpea mix including tomato, red onion, cumin and feta…YUM!!  I served this with chargrilled steak with a small amount of cumin so that the cumin and smoky chargrilled flavour tied in nicely with the salad.  This was a very simple but delicious meal and a great way for using lots of courgettes!



Quick goals update (see my page “Cooking Goals for 2016“)

To improve my intuitive cooking skills I’m trying to pay more attention to the recipes I use and the ingredients that go into them.  After each recipe I cook I see whether I can remember the bare bones of the method and I’ve been surprised to find that I can remember them.  Now that it’s been a few days since I cooked some of these recipes I had a go at writing down three that I’ve cooked in January (La Ribolitta, Chiang Mai Chicken and Lentil Kofte) and I’m very excited to report that I was able to remember all three of them!  Obviously the real test will come later in the year but it’s a great start to the Thomas Keller method that I talk about on my goals page and on my blog of the same name 🙂




Online recipes

Despite the fact that I own more than 150 cookbooks I still had to resort to finding recipes on the internet this week!  Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, in fact it’s probably a good way to discover new food writers.

I made an Al Brown recipe for lamb backstraps called Roasted Lamb Backstraps with Baby Beetroot, Watercress and Feta Salad.  You can find it here if you’d like to try it, I highly recommend it.  Usually I prefer to cook everything myself for a recipe but we were pushed for time the day I made this so I used pre-cooked beetroot from the supermarket which made it an extremely quick and easy meal to throw together.  I also had to use a mix of watercress and lettuce because I couldn’t get watercress on its own.  The instructions for cooking the lamb were perfect, it was lovely and caramelised on the outside and pink in the middle and the simple dressing combined with the feta, beetroot and watercress was a delicious combination.  A beautiful spring recipe.


Another online recipe I made this week was one I found through the Eat Your Books website, a great site for indexing and searching your cookbooks as well as magazines and online recipes…I love it, very efficient for finding recipes when you have a lot of cookbooks!  The recipe I made is from a book called One-Dish Dinners by Penny Oliver.  I don’t own the book but this recipe can be found online if you follow this link. This was another quick easy meal called Sausages with Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans, great for a week night.  I probably should have served it with some greens but I was feeling a bit lazy.  I have to say that my dish didn’t look anything like the photo on the recipe but it was still very tasty.  If I make it again I will reduce the red wine vinegar a bit – I only put in 1 tsp [the recipe suggests 1-2 tsps] but it tasted a bit too strong.

The sourdough croutons on the top add a lovely crunchy element

The recipe below is from my Peter Gordon Everyday cookbook called Lamb, Chickpea and Mushroom Stew with Minted Olive Salsa.  This was supposed to use lamb neck off the bone but I had lamb neck chops which worked just as well for this recipe.  It was a nice recipe to cook because each task flowed easily from one to the next with plenty of time to do other things in between.  I wasn’t really in the mood for cooking on the night I made this but in the end it was very enjoyable.  The flavour of the olive salsa was lovely and fresh with the mint and lemon zest which added some extra life to what could have been just a typical stew.


Getting a bit fancy…

Last weekend I said “no” to muesli and made a lovely Shakshuka instead…this weekend I said “yes” to muesli but in a slightly different format.  I made Jamie Oliver’s “Pukkolla” from “The Return of the Naked Chef” which he uses to make bircher muesli.  It was easy to put together because I had all the ingredients to hand…to be proper bircher muesli it should have been made the night before to soak overnight but I didn’t have time for that so I put my pukkolla in a bowl with the milk and grated apple and left it to brew while I had my shower.  I’m not sure if it’s because it hadn’t had its proper soaking time but I didn’t really enjoy my pukkolla (which is awkward given that I now have a huge jar of it!), it was a bit watery and lacking flavour but this could also be caused from too much apple (the apples off our tree are huge!).  So I will try making up a batch tonight with less apple and see how it tastes in the morning…

It looks like it could use some more dried fruit as well…

After breakfast I made Rachel Khoo’s “Spiced Apple Tray Cake”…in theory to use up some of our apples…but in reality because it looked delicious!  It makes a huge quantity…the photo below is only one of the two cakes that this recipe made.  It was fun piping the last of the mixture onto the top to make a lattice, it made me feel very fancy because they always do that sort of thing on The Great British Bake-off!  It tastes really good but it definitely needed more apples…as mentioned above, our apples are huge so I thought I should do less than the recipe said.  After cutting up 4 apples it looked like I had masses so I decided to stop there…that was a mistake.  Luckily it can also be eaten as a dessert with cream so I will stew up some more apples to serve with it…I have a sneaking suspicion that that will make it scrumptious!

Spiced Apple Tray Cake
Looking fancy!

When I was rummaging around in the back of the pantry this morning looking for my pukkolla ingredients I discovered that we have a container full of rice bubbles that no one ever eats…I decided that they should be transformed into a delectable, chewy treat otherwise known as Rice Bubble Slice.  This recipe came out of the “Prebbleton Plunket Cookbook” which is a book I was given years ago by my Aunt and Uncle as a fundraiser…it is my go-to book for fudge cake, chocolate self-saucing pudding, orange cake and rice bubble slice!  It is so quick and easy to make and when I was stirring the caramel ingredients in the pot the smell instantly took me back to my Grans kitchen…I love the way the smell of food can do that!  The awe on the face of each family member who opens the tin and sees what’s inside just proves that it’s often the simple things that bring the most pleasure (the apple cake took me about 2 hours…the rice bubble slice…10 minutes)!

Rice Bubble Cake
I cut good decent sized pieces that we can really sink our teeth in to!

After all this sweetness I decided I needed something a bit healthier for my lunch.  Last night my husband Andrew made some delicious pizzas for dinner and we had a ball of buffalo mozzarella left in the fridge and piles of tomatoes starting to come out of our garden…this seemed like a sign!  I always want to make tomato and mozzarella salads but we don’t tend to buy mozzarella much because of the cost so this seemed like an opportunity not to be missed. When looking through my “Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers” book this week I noticed a recipe for one of these salads so I found it and whipped it up in a matter of minutes…yum…yum…yum…so good.  The tomatoes are so lovely and sweet with the occasional burst of fresh basil and the beautiful subtle flavour and texture of the mozzarella…what’s not to like?!

Mozzarella & Fresh Tomato Salad
Plus it looks so beautiful!

The final bit of cooking for the day was at the request of my daughter Steph.  When I mentioned that I wanted to make some fresh pasta but also needed to use up some courgettes she said “ooh, make your pasta recipe with prawns and courgettes!”  I was only too keen to comply because it has been a bit of a favourite over the last few summers when courgettes are plentiful.  The courgettes are browned and then cooked with a bit of salt and water until softened and mashed to make it more saucy…it really does make a delicious sauce when combined with the rest of the ingredients.  I tried using a different vegetable once when courgettes were out of season (broccolli I think) but it really didn’t work…it needs to be courgettes.  The official name of the recipe is Prawn and Courgette Linguine, I got this from the BBCgoodfood website but it doesn’t seem to be on there anymore so I’m glad I saved it!

Prawn & Courgette Linguine
Look at the beauty of that home made linguine!

I had an interesting time making my pasta tonight.  The usual recipe for 2 people is 50g of flour, 50g of semolina and 1 egg…however I was cooking for 3 people and didn’t really want to have lots of extra pasta and didn’t want to halve an egg.  What I decided to do was use 150g of dry ingredients with one large egg (because I usually have to add quite a bit more flour due to the size of our eggs anyway) and to add some olive oil and a touch of water to make up the missing liquid.  Now, I knew from watching Masterchef that you shouldn’t add too much oil so I was careful not to do that and then I added a tiny bit of water by wetting my hands a couple of times when bringing the dough together.  It was still pretty dry but I decided to put it aside to rest for 30-60 minutes which usually softens it up a bit.  It did soften but it was still pretty dry to the point that I had quite a bit of trouble rolling it and cutting it!  However I persevered because that was all I had to work with and actually it turned out really well.  The strands didn’t stick together in the pot and retained a nice bite to them.  I have often read that pasta dough should be fairly dry but I prefer it wetter because it’s easier to work with…after tonight’s experience I think I will have to make it a bit dryer in the future (although not quite so dry as todays attempt!).