Salmon fishcakes with salsa verde

salmon and salsa verde fishcakes

This is a bit different  as the salsa verde is mixed into the fishcakes but go with it, they taste amazing. Continue reading “Salmon fishcakes with salsa verde”

Italian meatballs

Itlalian meatballs

Are there any other kind of meatballs apart from Italian ?  The answer is obviously yes but these are still the best, this is a classic Italian recipe. Continue reading “Italian meatballs”

Focaccia breaded chicken with salad

foccacia chicken

This is an excellent twist on a simple breaded chicken recipe using an old foccacia to give it an Italian twist.  Its better if you can make your own focaccia. Continue reading “Focaccia breaded chicken with salad”

Gnocchi with tomatoes, pinenuts and blue cheese

Ok, so this is a bit of a cheat as the gnocchi aren’t homemade but it’s still damned good and let’s face it, sometimes needs must! It’s such a quick and easy dish and the soft pillowy gnocchi with the garlicky sauce and oozy cheese are the perfect comfort food after a busy day. Glass of red wine mandatory. Continue reading “Gnocchi with tomatoes, pinenuts and blue cheese”

Pesto stuffed chicken with parma ham

chicken stuffed with pesto

This is a straightforward recipe, chicken is amazing when stuffed with this pesto and wrapped in the salty Parma ham,  you might want to use toothpicks to keep the stuffing inside Continue reading “Pesto stuffed chicken with parma ham”

Chicken and Tuscan bread salad

This is a really simple chicken recipe which captures Tuscan flavours and is ideal for using up old bread, in this recipe it was a foccacia which was just too hard to eat! Continue reading “Chicken and Tuscan bread salad”

Pasta with mackerel, Marsala and pine nuts

Pasta and mackerel work well together, try and get very fresh fish.  The Marsala adds a bit of sweetness and the pine nuts add texture. Continue reading “Pasta with mackerel, Marsala and pine nuts”

Chicken and mushroom ravioli with fresh tomato sauce

chicken and mushroom ravioli

This is a very simple and easy to follow recipe for chicken and mushroom ravioli which serves 4 as a starter or two as a main course.  First make the pasta  by adding the flour to a large bowl, or just tip onto a large dry surface.  Make a well in the middle and add the eggs, salt and olive oil. Continue reading “Chicken and mushroom ravioli with fresh tomato sauce”

Pearl barley risotto with roasted squash, red peppers and rocket

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the squash and peppers in a roasting tray with a good drizzle of olive oil and the leaves picked from the thyme sprigs. Season and toss well and roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes until tender. Give it a good mix halfway through.

Pour the stock into a small pan and keep warm over a low heat.

Meanwhile, heat a good drizzle of olive oil in another pan (I used a deep-sided frying pan with a lid) and add the onion and garlic. Cook gently for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft. Add the barley and cook for one minute.

Start adding the stock a ladle or two at a time, stirring well and making sure all the stock has been absorbed before adding more. This will take 30-40 minutes – the barley should be tender but still al dente. When you’re happy that it’s cooked, put the lid on, turn the heat off and leave to stand.

Take the squash and peppers out of the oven. Add these to the risotto with the parsley and gently mix through. Divide between two warmed bowls and top each with the rocket and parmesan. Another drizzle of olive oil and some balck pepper and you’re good to go.

Garlicky pumpkin risotto

pumpkin-risotto

Method:

Make the pesto:
Pulse the basil, garlic and pinenuts in a food processor to a coarse paste, adding enough olive oil to produce a loose-textured puree. Pour into a bowl and fold in the parmesan.

Cook the garlic:
Blanch the 6 cloves in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain all the water off then add 200ml of the stock and half the butter. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes until the garlic is really soft and the stock and butter have reduced to a syrupy glaze. Remove from the heat. (You can do this up to 4 hours in advance).

Cook the pumpkin:
Heat oven to 200C. Toss the pumpkin cubes with the olive oil, season and roast for 10-15 minutes until just tender.

Make the risotto:
Sweat the onion in the remaining butter in a large shallow pan until soft – about 5 minutes. Tip in the rice, raise the heat and toast the rice until translucent. Lower the heat and add the remaining stock a ladleful at a time, stirring well until the stock is completely absorbed before adding the next ladleful.
Once the rice is al dente, fold in the two cheeses, garlic cloves and pumpkin. Cook for a further 2 minutes.

Serve with a drizzle of pesto on top.

Lamb and sweet pepper sauce

Lamb and pasta sauce

Method:

Cook the lamb into 1 cm cubes before frying on a high heat in olive oil for 10 mins with some salt and pepper, stirring often, until browned on all sides.  Sprinkle in garlic and fry for a further minute or two before adding the bay leaves, then pour in wine and let it bubble until reduced slightly.

Next add tomatoes and peppers, stir well. Check the seasoning, cover and simmer over low heat for 45-55 mins or until lamb is very tender. Stir occasionally and moisten with water if sauce becomes too dry. Remove bay leaves before serving with short pasta and parmesan cheese.

Pancetta and chestnut stuffing

xmas-stuffing

Method:

Pre heat the oven to 180c.  Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the shallot, celery, leek and chopped pancetta. Cook for about 5 mins until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a minute. Cool. Add the sausages to the cooled mixture with the parsley, chestnuts, breadcrumbs and egg. Season and mix well.

Shape 2/3 of the mixture into 12 balls and wrap each ball in a rasher of pancetta. Arrange on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 25-30 mins. Put the remaining stuffing into an ovenproof dish – this can be cooked alongside the stuffing balls.

Alternatively you can line a loaf tin with the extra pancetta. fill with the stuffing and cook in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out hot.

Focaccia

foccacia

Put flour in a bowl with the salt on one side and the yeast and sugar on the other, make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture and mix with your fingers. Add enough of the rest of the water to make a moist dough. Knead for 5 minutes. Dust the top with flour and place it on a floured baking tray and score the top 2 or 3 times with a knife (this speeds up the proving). Put in a warm place and leave to prove until doubled in size (about 40 minutes).
Once it has doubled in size, knock it back (that just means to knead the air out of it) and shape onto a well floured baking sheet. Scatter over some rosemary and drizzle on some olive oil. Push the top all over with your fingers to make little indentations and to massage in the oil and herbs. leave to prove again for about 45 minutes then bake for 10 – 15 mins in a really hot oven (as high as it will go). when ready remove from the oven, drizzle over more olive oil and scatter over some Maldon sea salt.

Cook’s tip

This recipe can be easily doubled to make 2 loaves.

You can try other toppings such as basil, thyme, tomatoes, olives, cheese, thinly sliced potato…..

Spaghetti Bolognese

spaghetti bolognese

Method:

Add the onion, carrot and celery to a pan with a good splash of olive oil and soften on a medium heat for about ten mintutes before adding the garlic and cooking for another couple of minutes.  Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside.  Crank up the heat and add both sets of mince and the pancetta, you want to brown the mince and break it up while it cooks so that it doesn’t clump together.

This normally takes about 5-10 mins, once this is complete add the vegetable mixture back to the pan, keep the heat high and add the wine.  Continue cooking on a high heat until the wine has almost disappeared befre adding the milk (or cream), tomatoes, puree, a couple of teaspoons of salt and herbs.

Reduce to a low heat and leave to cook with the lid on for as long as possible, ideally 2-4 hours.  Check for seasoning when cooked, the sauce shouldnt be too wet so if it is cook with the lid off for a bit, you can’t overcook this really.

Boil the spaghetti or pasta of choice until al dente, before serving.  Personally I belive the sauce should be mixed through the pasta so that’s what I would recommend, although i have seen it with the sauce “plonked” on top of the pasta.  Add paremsan chees to serve.

If you have an alternative recipe and there are many then feel free to send it in.

Gnocchi with creamy mushrooms and spinach

Method:

First, prepare the spinach. Put it into a large sieve or colander and pour over a kettleful of boiling water so that it wilts. Leave it to drain and once it is cool enough, squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible before chopping roughly. Set aside.

Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan and add the mushrooms. Fry them over a fairly high heat for five minutes or so until they are nicely browned and have given out all their liquid. Tip them out into a bowl and set aside.

Pour a little more olive oil into the pan and add the shallot. Fry for a few minutes until starting to soften. Add the garlic and fry for a few minutes more before adding the white wine. Allow to bubble until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Return the mushrooms to the pan along with the chopped spinach and mix everything together. Add the creme fraiche along with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper.Simmer gently so the sauce thickens a little.

Meanwhile heat your grill to its highest setting and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the gnocchi. Cook according to packet instructions but generally the moment they rise to the surface, they are ready. Drain.

Grate some nutmeg into the sauce and add the parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. You can be quite generous with the nutmeg. Mix the gnocchi in with the sauce then spoon into a gratin dish. Grate over a generous amount of parmesan and place under the hot grill for a few minutes until golden and bubbling. Leave to cool for a minute before eating or you’ll burn your mouth (like I did).