Showing posts with label italian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label italian. Show all posts

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Cheddar Risotto


Nigella has the best ideas. I persevere with her television persona and fondness for alliteration because her recipes are generally great and she has a real knack to for knowing how to find a guilty pleasure in food. This cheddar risotto is a prime example - all the comfort of macaroni cheese and the cosiness of a risotto (see I'm talking like her already...).

As Nigella says, the Italians may not necessarily agree with this recipe, but sharp cheddar and creamy risotto works so well - if parmesan, mozzarella or blue cheese can work then so should cheddar.

It's a cinch to put together, and a lot less work than macaroni cheese but with the same feeling. I didn't alter the method of Nigella's recipe, only the quantity - 300 grams of risotto rice was far too much to serve 2 as a main, 150 grams saw us fine.

I used a very strong crumbly cheddar, Tesco Finest's Wookey Hole cheddar was ideal, a cheap cheddar will result in a claggy oily risotto. 

Nigella's recipe is here.

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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Aubergine & Tomato Pasta



I've been making this aubergine pasta forever, and I was pretty sure I'd blogged about it already, but apparently I haven't (not going mad, honest). It's originally Aubergine & Anchovy pasta, a recipe from Kitchen 22, former Cambridge resident who has now defected to Oxford (horror!). I forgive her though, because she gives us nice things like this pasta dish.

I don't have a huge amount of success when it comes to aubergines, but things have recently got better due to me realising that fridge-cold aubergines never cook properly - going rubbery during cooking - but room temperature aubergines will cook down like all the recipe books say they should. So there you are, Top Tip - never cook aubergines straight from the fridge. 

This pasta sauce is very simple and has lots of great flavours for relatively little effort. You roast the aubergine for a while, then scoop out the flesh and add it to garlic, tomatoes and oregano. The original recipe has anchovy too, but as Mr is veggie I leave this out (would be unkind otherwise...) and it tastes great all the same. I have taken to replacing them with some capers, for saltiness. I also tweaked and added in passata instead of tomato puree. I'm a tweaker, what can I say.

Aubergine & Tomato Pasta
adapted from Kitchen 22
Serves 2 with a little extra for lunch the next day (yay)

300g spaghetti or linguine
1 aubergine - room temperature!
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced
150g of passata or whizzed up plum tomatoes
1 tsp of capers, chopped
dried oregano
parmesan or veggie alternative
parsley to serve

Heat the oven to 200c / gas mark 5. Place the aubergine on a tray covered in foil (I've found they stick to trays so easily!), pierce the skin and roast for 30 minutes, turning once half way through.

When it is collapsing and the insides soft, remove from the oven. Leave to cool before scooping out the flesh.

Heat some oil in a large saucepan and fry your garlic then add capers, oregano, passata and season (you may not need salt because of the capers) Chop the aubergine roughly and stir in. Simmer whilst you cook the pasta.

When the pasta is cooked add a small amount of cheese to the sauce and stir in. Then stir in the pasta.
Serve with more cheese on top or some parsley.

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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Making pasta at The Bread Bin


Pasta Making Class Cambridge

Pasta making has been on my to do list for such a long time, and I've seen lots of recipes I wanted to try but never found the time to get around to it - or maybe conquer my fear of it! So I jumped at the chance when Miss Sue Flay said she knew a local lady, Ruth from The Bread Bin, who taught pasta and bread making from her home, she'd also tasted her fresh pasta, which she sells to people in her village, and vouched for how delicious it was.
Fresh tagliatelle pasta italian

It was great fun, I'm quite used to working with dough and it was much easier to make than a pastry or a bread dough. Just eggs and flour slowly worked into each other, rested in the fridge and then rolled out and taken through the stages of a pasta machine.

The pasta machine part gets a bit tricky as the dough gets thinner and longer but as long as you work carefully and have plenty of space on your work surface you'll be fine. And if it breaks, well, you can start again or you just have slightly different shaped pasta!

Pasta making class Cambridge

Ruth is a fantastic baker, she bakes all kinds of things for her family and also to sell - breads, breadsticks, pitta, flavoured pasta. She has a real passion for real bread and uses the best ingredients and sources them locally. Her knowledge of all things made with flour is encyclopedic! Miss Sue Flay baked breadsticks whilst I did the pasta, and the bread dough she used can also be shaped to make lovely fluffy pittas - something I must try.

Pasta making class Cambridge

You can find Ruth on Facebook, where you'll find details of her courses and also make bread orders to pick up on Fridays, ready for the weekend!
Pasta making class Cambridge
Photo by Miss Sue Flay
We've been enjoying eating the pasta I made - tagliatelle, bows and little cups of pasta - since the class last week. And now I am on the hunt for a pasta machine.

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Friday, 24 August 2012

Tomato Bruschetta


So who else, whilst watching Celebrity Masterchef this week, thought - who boils tomatoes for bruschetta and removes the skins? I always thought the idea was to use fresh tomatoes?

Anyway, despite that, I really fancied some nice basil and olive oil spiked tomatoes after watching it. Here is a confession - my tomatoes which should have been some locally grown fresh summer tomatoes were actually from Tesco. Sorry, are my blogger credentials ruined?

Anyway, I used some cherry tomatoes which are sweeter than the normal sized ones and gave them some help with decent olive oil and basil from my garden. So I think I win a bit more because I grew the basil myself? I finely chopped and then crushed into a paste with the knife some garlic and added that, with plenty of seasoning.

Instead of the traditional ciabatta I used some pizza dough I had in the fridge to make pizza fritta. This is a pretty unhealthy but awesome way of making pizza, I got the recipe from Jamie Oliver's 'Jamie at Home' book. Basically you fry it in olive oil on both sides til it fluffs up - then add toppings and grill to melt the cheese. For this I just topped with tomatoes and served it up.

This was a perfect indulgent but light lunch and the extra flavourings from basil and garlic pimped up (sorry been reading too much Joliver) some ordinary tomatoes. I will try it with some 'proper' local tomatoes soon, I'm sure it will be amazing!

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Monday, 9 April 2012

Pesto Pull Apart Bread



This Pesto Pull Apart Bread is a real crowd pleaser, I think tearing big chunks of freshly baked bread slathered in pesto is just about anyones favourite thing to do. I took this bread along to The Secluded Tea Party Unbirthday this weekend as part of the pot luck spread, along with some sundried tomato palmiers (more on that soon). It looks kind of awesome, all big and gnarly on the table and tastes even more awesome.

This bread takes time time to make but if you are confident enough making a normal bread dough then you'll be fine here. It is quite a nice bank holiday activity, something you potter in and out of the kitchen at regular intervals to do the necessary stages.

I've seen this as a sweet filling before too, filled with cinnamon sugar, and also in other savoury ways - sun dried tomato, cheddar & mustard. 

Pesto Pull Apart Bread
based on the recipe from Miss Igs

For the dough
1 cup of warm water
1 packet (7g) of fast action yeast
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups of strong white bread flour
2 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg

For the pesto
Large handful of fresh basil
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts (toasted in a dry pan)
approx 1/8 cup of grated parmesan or hard cheese
extra virgin olive oil

Mix together the warm water, yeast and oil in a large bowl. Leave for 5 minutes til the yeast starts to bubble.
Then add the bread flour, sugar and salt to the yeast mixture. Mix well with a wooden spoon (or a mixer if you have one, I have one on my wish list!) until all incorporated in to a dough, add the egg in and mix to incorporate again. Your dough might be a bit wet here so add in some more flour to form into more of a kneadable dough. Knead lightly in the bowl for just a couple of minutes. You'll not need to worry so much about kneading if you are using a mixer with a dough hook.


Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave in a warm, dry place for at least an hour to prove. It should double in size.
You need to make your pesto now. Just blitz all the ingredients in a food processor or mini blender. Add some oil to begin with and then add more as you need to loosen the mixture.

After proving knock back the dough, flour a board well and roll out thinly in a rough rounded square. Spread the pesto over the dough.

Cut the dough into 4 long strips. Then pile the strips on top of each other, then cut into little square stacks. Then stack the little squares into a oiled and floured loaf tin. Leave to prove for another 30-40 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 170c / gas mark 3. When it is proved bake in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Keep an eye on it in case it starts to brown too much, you may need to turn your oven down, mine went quite brown in the end.


Remove from the tin about 5 minutes after it has come out of the oven. Cool on a wire rack. Tear into it when it is still slightly warm / as long as you can bear without eating it.




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Monday, 11 April 2011

Asparagus Pesto



Didn't I promise you another asparagus recipe? Here it is!

To break from the rut of asparagus/egg/bread which whilst being delicious is a bit of a standard way to have asparagus, I decided to whizz up the stalks into a nice fresh pesto.


Asparagus makes a beautifully green pesto which is creamy and light, not as strong as the basil variety and perfect for a quick dinner.

Use any pasta you have to hand, spaghetti or linguine would be lovely as well as any other pasta shapes.


Asparagus & Walnut Pesto - serves 2
adapted from local lemons

8 stalks of asparagus
50g parmesan
handful of walnuts
few basil leaves or any other soft herb
pinch of chili flakes
handful of fresh spinach leaves
good quality olive oil
salt and pepper
1 small clove of garlic - add less if you don't like raw garlic
approx 150g - 200g pasta

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, you will use this to gently cook your asparagus and cook your pasta. Put the asparagus stalks in whole, woody ends removed. Cook for only 2 minutes, they will be just tender enough in this time.
Remove them from the pan and then add in your pasta.



Chop your asparagus into roughly 1 inch pieces, put the tips to one side.
Blitz the rest of the chopped asparagus with the other ingredients (except the olive oil) in a food processor. You can use a pestle and mortar for a rougher pesto. Add in approx 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and pulse, adding more oil if it needs be to loosen up the pesto.

Drain your pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking water. Return the pan to the heat with the pasta, add in your pesto and the reserved stalks and mix really well. Serve in warmed bowls with another grating of parmesan.


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Friday, 18 February 2011

Mushroom Ragu


We've been going veggie in this household, the last 3 and a bit weeks we have only eaten veggie evening meals (except for a couple of slip ups, one involving takeaway pizza) which has made me more creative and I have tried lots of new recipes.

This mushroom ragu is one of my favourite meals from the last few weeks because it is so MEATY and really easy to put together. Other highlights from our veggie adventure include Ottolenghi's black pepper tofu and pasta puttanesca. You must try the tofu, it will convert you if you don't like tofu- but you must use silken tofu as stated.

Anyway, onto the ragu. You can use any mushrooms you have, about 300gs serves 2 people, I had some mini portobello mushrooms (yes I admit I bought them because they were cute) which I put in. A mixture of different interesting mushrooms would be lovely, maybe with a few dried mushrooms thrown in.


Mushroom Ragu
serves 2

half an onion or 3 shallots
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato puree
approx 300ml passata or pureed tomatoes
300g mushrooms, sliced
dried or fresh herbs - oregano, thyme, basil - about 2 tsp if dried, handful if fresh.
bay leaf
dash of chili flakes
milk

Fry the garlic and the shallots in some olive oil, then add in the mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add in your tomato puree and passata with your herbs, bay leaf and chili. Season.
Bring to the boil and then simmer very gently for about 15minutes, stirring every now and again.
I read somewhere that a splash of milk or cream at the end is lovely in ragu, so I always add some in, it takes the acidity out of the tomatoes.
Serve with spaghetti and parmesan on top (apparently parmesan is not veggie but you can sub with cheddar or maybe some nice feta?).

This is so rich and comforting, definitely cured my craving for a proper meat ragu.

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