I have been playing around in the kitchen making fresh pasta over the last couple of weeks. Making pasta can be hit or miss if you don’t get the consistency of the dough right, if the dough is too supple it will break up when it comes to rolling or will not hold its form when you cut it into tagliatelle or spaghetti. What you are looking for is a firm dough that is firm and elastic. As with many things practise makes perfect and once you get used to recognising when the dough has the right consistency it is very straightforward and fun to make. I am going to share how to make fresh pasta in a separate blog in the upcoming weeks breaking it down into a helpful guide so that hopefully you can avoid making the same mistakes I did when I was learning.
The recipe below is very simple and can be prepared in a matter of minutes. It is a vibrant dish due to the colour of the ingredients that you use. The key to making this recipe shine is buy the best quality tomatoes and mozzarella that you can afford as this will take this dish from being good to great! If you can get a combination of tomatoes preferably a combination of yellow and red that are ripe and packed full of flavour that would be ideal. This is a great mid-week recipe to have on hand if you are having friends over, it is incredibly easy and packed full of the flavours of summertime. Enjoy!
I have many fond childhood memories of summer holidays spent in Italy visiting my Aunt and Uncle. Many hours would be spent searching for the tortoises in my uncle’s vegetable patch between the most delicious al fresco lunches and suppers. I think it was during these visits that I first encountered the delights of Italian cured meats and of course Gorgonzola. Every day platters cheese, freshly sliced salami, Parma ham and Coppa would be piled on a long trestle table along with bowls filled with slices of melon, tomato salads, bread and other delicious bits and bobs and we would eat to our heart’s content.
This salad recipe is a nod to those summer days in Italy. For those of you that are less familiar with Coppa it is a type of salami made using the part of the loin of pork that is taken near the neck which is cured and marinated in red wine a garlic. It is traditionally served raw, cut into thin slices though it can also be used as bacon in recipes. You can find Coppa in most Italian delicatessens, however, if you aren’t able to find it then I would substitute with Serrano Ham.
This recipe is a lovely balance of flavours and textures which for me evokes the tastes of summer and is definitely one to try. The recipe makes enough for 1 person, so multiply the ingredients as required. Enjoy!
The herbs in my garden are flourishing at the moment and most weekends I make a herb pesto or salsa of sorts to keep them under control. There is no right or wrong way to make a pesto, just use the herbs that you have available and adjust to your own tastes. My preference is to make a straightforward herb pesto and add different ingredients to it depending on what I am eating. By adding a little white vinegar, gherkins and capers you get a sharper almost salsa verde type dressing to go with lamb, or If you add pine nuts and parmesan to the mix then you will have a more traditional pesto.
The herb pesto recipe makes roughly a jam jar full and will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. You can use herb pesto in all sorts of ways as it is particularly versatile, for example it can be used to flavour bread as below, as a dip, as a sauce for pasta or simply as an accompaniment to grilled chicken.
The herb buns are a great tear and share food to have with a barbecue or as an accompaniment to a salad. This bread recipe is simple and makes light, fluffy buns, just make sure that you do knead the bread properly at the outset until the dough springs back when you touch it and then just be patient and wait for it to rise. Enjoy!
At home my barbecue is starting to come into its own as it is now being used regularly at the weekends rather than gathering leaves in the corner of the garden. ‘Beer can chicken’ is something that I cook fairly regularly on the barbecue as it is very easy and keeps the meat moist and succulent. The only difficulty with this recipe is getting the chicken on and off the barbecue – I would strongly recommend that you have a couple of decent pairs of tongs to hand when you do this…
You can make this recipe in the oven if you don’t have a barbecue, however you won’t get the delicious smoky flavour. If you are going to use the oven instead then cook at 180°C for 1hr 20 minutes or until the juices run clear. Don’t forget to stand the chicken on a roasting tray if you do cook it this way otherwise you will have one messy oven to deal with afterwards.
This recipe is definitely worth a go if you are having friends over this weekend, just serve with some barbecued veggies or a couple of big salads. Enjoy!
Aubergine is a fairly underrated vegetable which I think is a little unfair. When cooked well it is absolutely delicious and is a fairly meaty vegetable which is great if you are looking for something to bulk up a meal.
As with many things, preparation key to making this vegetable shine. For aubergine this means cutting the vegetable as required by a recipe, place on some kitchen paper or a tea towel, sprinkle over some salt, cover and leave for 10 minutes to draw the moisture out of the vegetable. If you are using the aubergine as a layer in a dish for example as it is used in the moussaka recipe below then there this one further step that I would highly recommend – lightly oil each side of the aubergine, place under a hot grill and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side which will soften the aubergine and give it a slightly smoky taste – adding to the overall flavour of the dish.
I like to think of moussaka as a healthier version of a lasagne as aubergine replaces the pasta sheets and in this recipe the crème fraiche replaces the béchamel sauce. I would avoid using low fat crème fraiche for this recipe as it has a tendency to split and go watery. If you can’t get crème fraiche and don’t want to make a béchamel sauce then use cream cheese instead.
I would suggest serving this recipe with a green salad as this moussaka recipe is packed full of flavour and it would be a shame to overpower it. So don’t over complicate it – a rocket or watercress salad with a little French dressing is the ideal accompaniment to this dish. Enjoy!
I would describe the recipe below as quite manly as the ingredients that are used are hearty and somewhat earthy. However I don’t think risotto is often associated as being a masculine meal but I hope that the chaps trying this recipe will be pleasantly surprised by this little number. If you are looking for a recipe for date night then I would recommend giving this recipe a go.
For those of you that have not made a risotto before the most important thing to remember is not to rush. A risotto works best when you cook it on a low heat adding the stock a little at a time allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more. It is important that whilst doing this you stir it regularly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Provided that you take your time you will end up with a beautifully creamy risotto – so make sure when you are cooking a risotto that you give yourself at least 20-30 minutes to make it!
The other thing I would say for those of you that are put off by this recipe because there are too many elements don’t be as there really are only 6 steps. Here is the breakdown of what you need to do:
Wash and put the red peppers in the oven – no need to remove the core and seeds at this point.
Whilst the peppers are cooking prepare your risotto. Once it is cooked – cover and leave to one side whilst you cook the steak and green vegetables.
Boil or steam green vegetables.
Heat frying pan and cook the steak.
Whilst the steak is resting and the vegetables are draining the vegetables – core and seed the peppers.
Cut the steak into strip and plate up.
It really is that straightforward I promise. The only downside to this recipe is that there is a lot of washing up – sorry about that…
My final comment is that I tend to find the more charred the peppers the better the flavour, so don’t worry if the skin on the peppers is black – that is what you are aiming for. Enjoy!
It has been a miserable week in the UK weather-wise with public transport grinding to a halt in London yesterday morning after some dramatic thunderstorms. As a consequence I have been eating comfort food to get through this dreadful weather and am praying that summer is just around the corner…
The recipe below is for pork with apples and mushrooms served in a mustard sauce, is both comforting and affordable. The flavour combinations are fairly traditional and are a nice balance of sweet, sharp and creamy. This is a straightforward recipe and does take too long to prepare which makes it very achievable to make when you get home after work – to put it into context it takes roughly the same amount of time to make as it does to peel and boil potatoes. If you don’t like pork then I would recommend substituting it with chicken thighs – just brown off the chicken in a separate pan before adding to the mixture in accordance with the recipe below.
In terms of what to serve with this recipe I would go for new or mashed potatoes and whatever green veg is currently in season preferably one with a slight crunch like sugar snap peas or green beans). This recipe is definitely worth a try. Enjoy!
I visited Jordan a few months ago and have been hugely influenced by the food that I ate whilst I was out there. The style of eating is typically mezze with lots of little plates not dissimilar to tapas, which are often served with delicious salads that are dressed with pomegranate molasses and olive oil which both tantalises the palate and is refreshing all at once. I would highly recommend trying to get your hands on some pomegranate molasses if you can to give it a try, the flavour is both sharp and sweet – which really enhances any salad, especially if you also add a few pomegranate seeds, chopped coriander and crumble over some feta.
The lamb burger recipe below is the perfect accompaniment to this type of salad. The burger has quite a delicate flavour with just a hint of mint. The recipe below can easily stretch to 6 burgers or will make 4 large burgers. They are a great option for a barbecue, or if the weather isn’t playing ball work just as well in a griddle pan and on the plus side they are very quick to make.
I would recommend serving these burgers with hummus (see below for a quick and easy recipe that takes no more than a couple of minutes to prepare), a few toasted pittas and a salad. Enjoy!
One of my great friends is visiting from Jordan at the moment and it is such a treat to be able to catch up with her over brunch! Whilst Jordan has delicious food, two things that are relatively hard to get out there are blue cheese and ham. So with that in mind that I thought it would be nice to whip up a quick brunch containing both of these things.
This recipe is really very quick and easy and can be easily adapted according to your own tastes. There is no need to pre-cook any of the ingredients, so it is really a case of putting the filling on the croissant dough and folding them up into a little parcel before putting them into the oven to bake.
Now, if you really want to go the whole hog you can make your own croissant pastry, but in my view life is too short so I tend to stick with pre-made dough. One word of advice in relation to making this recipe is make sure that you seal the edges of the pastry as best as you can by pinching the dough together as this will help prevent the cheese oozing out of the croissant whilst it cooks! Enjoy!
Quiche is a very handy recipe to be able to fall back on if you have friends coming for lunch and don’t want to worry about timings, as it can be served hot or cold and is always delicious. They also are a good option for vegetarians as you can pack them with lots of yummy vegetables and cheeses.
I think a lot of people avoid making quiches as they don’t want to bother with the faff of making and rolling pastry. Well my solution to that is buy ready-made pastry to save you the hassle. My parents who live out in France always use pre-rolled puff pastry which works incredibly well and you don’t have to blind bake it – reducing the preparation time to 30 minutes.
Personally I find the process of making pastry relatively therapeutic especially when you do it by hand. But I also fully appreciate that it is not for everyone so just do what works for you whether it be making the pastry in a food processor, by hand or simply buying it pre-made.
This quiche recipe is perfect for this time of year with the asparagus being in season. It is a nice light option for lunch served with a big green salad – ideal for these warm summer days that we are starting to get. Enjoy!