Sunday, 7 February 2016


I seem to be on a roll with Jamie Oliver recipes at the moment! Here is one I ripped out of the Sunday Times magazine a few weeks ago. You are meant to use merguez sausages as they are slightly spicy and so will give the dish a good kick - however I couldn't find any in our local supermarket and also Arabella and I don't really like spice! Instead I just bought my favourite Toulouse sausages. The recipe was pretty easy to cook and it took just under an hour in total.

Ingredients for 4 people:

16 small sausages or 8 regular size ones (they are be merguez or a flavour of your choice)
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 red onion, finely sliced
1/2 a celery heart, finely sliced (I had some celery sticks in the fridge so used a couple of them)
1kg ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
Olive oil
2 fresh bay leaves
1 fresh red chilli (I left this out)
1/2 a bunch of fresh oregano, marjoram and thyme, leaves picked (I used dry herbs)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
320g dried spaghetti
80g ricotta 
Extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 210 C / 190 C (fan).

If using regular size sausages, twist the casing in the middle of each and cut into two so altogether you have 16 sausages. I was apprehensive about doing this as I thought the sausage meat would squirt everywhere, but it was actually a lot easier and less messy than expected!

Peel and finely slice the garlic and red onion, trim and finely slice the celery and chop the tomatoes in half.

Place a deep, ovenproof pan or casserole dish over a medium heat, add a splash of olive oil and cook the sausages for around 5 minutes until browned all over. Jamie said this should only take a couple of minutes but it took longer for me.

Add the garlic, onion and celery and cook for 10 minutes until softened.

Add the cherry tomato halves with the bay leaves. Halve and add the chilli (if using) and then add the leaves of the herbs. As I mentioned I just used dry herbs, probably not as good but I didn't want to buy some and then end up throwing most of them away. Season and toss well, then place the pan in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes remove from the oven, drizzle over a little olive oil and gently stir the mixture.

Return to the oven for another 15 minutes.

During the last 15 minutes cook the pasta according to the packet's instructions in a large pan of salted, boiling water. Mine took 8 minutes, drain when ready, reserving a little cooking water just in case you need it (I didn't).

Remove the sausage and tomato mixture from the oven when it is ready and add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and remove the chilli halves.

Combine together the pasta and the sausage and tomato mixture and then serve immediately, sprinkled with the ricotta, any remaining thyme leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.

I am always a little wary when I cook Jamie Oliver recipes, for some reason I believe they aren't going to turn out right. However I am pleased to admit I was wrong and in Arabella's words - this pasta dish was "mega"!! We loved the tomato sauce with sausages and the ricotta made it even more special. It was similar to spaghetti bolognese but a little "posher". It is pretty healthy too as you use so many cherry tomatoes. I look forward to making it again, maybe with a different type of sausage such as chorizo next time, I expect it will be just as "mega"!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016


I had the most amazing meal at Kurobuta on Friday and I am currently wishing I could eat there every night! The wagu burgers and pork belly buns are just out of this world. Unfortunately being pregnant means I couldn't eat any sushi as they don't freeze it first, so there was definitely going to be fish on the menu at home this week.

This recipe is from Jamie's Superfoods book and it took about 40 minutes to prepare and cook.

Ingredients for 4 people:

16 baby leeks, trimmed and washed (if like me, you can only buy normal leeks, I would use around 4-6 big ones and slice them)
4 x 200g fillets of white fish, off the bone, skin on (I used cod)
1 large lemon, cut into 8 thin wedges
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
12 rashes of smoked, streaky bacon

For the marinade:

A couple of sprigs each of fresh thyme, rosemary and bay leaves, picked
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
Juice of half a lemon

Preheat the oven to 200 C / gas mark 6 and place a baking tray in the oven to warm up.

To make your marinade, bash up the thyme, rosemary and bay leaves with a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar until the salt turns green. Pour in a couple of glugs of olive oil, add a pinch of pepper and the lemon juice and give it a stir. Unfortunately I don't have a pestle and mortar and so I just blended it all together in a food processor and it seemed to do the trick.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and parboil the leeks for around 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and let them steam dry.

Put the fish, lemon, rosemary sprigs and leeks in a bowl. Pour over the marinade and toss to cover everything in the lovely marinade flavours.

Place the fish, skin side down, into the preheated tray. Scoop the lemon, rosemary, leeks and marinade out of the bowl and place over and around the fish. Place 3 rashes of bacon over each fillet of fish and then roast in the oven for 20 minutes. 

I found that the two lower rashes of bacon weren't crispy enough so I would suggest either laying the bacon separately and not on top of each other (like I did) or putting them under a high grill for a few minutes at the end.

When it is ready, serve and enjoy.

I have to admit, I wasn't really looking forward to this, it looked good but I was worried it was going to be bland. I was so wrong…..this was actually really delicious, I loved the combination of the leeks, fish and bacon but it was surprisingly the lemon that bought the dish together. Arabella enjoyed the bacon and fish but apparently wasn't that keen on leeks - she would have preferred the pea mash that I made with my Pesto Baked Cod - I would add this rather than substitute it and I think it would then be the perfect midweek meal for the two of us.

Thursday, 28 January 2016


When Jamie Oliver first came on the scene, I was pretty obsessed with his cookbooks. I think I bought them all and cooked about one recipe if that - I mainly just looked at the pictures! Fast forward 10 years and whilst I still like Jamie, I never buy his books anymore for the simple reason that his recipes always require so many ingredients and so many herbs. His latest book is based around super foods and balanced eating and a friend of mine bought it so I photographed a few recipes including this pasta recipe. The recipe was quick and easy to make and took about 20 minutes in total. Jamie suggests you make your own pasta but I bought mine!

Ingredients for 4 people:

400g pasta such as spaghetti or tagliatelle
250ml creme fraiche 
150g sliced fontina or another nice melting cheese (I used mozzarella)
150g Parmesan, finely grated
400g purple sprouting broccoli, cut into bite size pieces (I just used normal broccoli)
2 large egg yolks
A small bunch of fresh herbs such as thyme, marjoram or oregano (I used some dried oregano and fresh thyme - not pictured)
Salt and pepper

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. In a bowl, large enough to rest on the top of the saucepan, mix together the creme fraiche, the Parmesan, the melting cheese such as mozzarella or fontina and season. Place the bowl on top of the pan so that the cheese melts. Mine took about 15 minutes and I occasionally gave it a stir.

While this is cooking bring another pan of salted boiling water to boil for your pasta and cut the broccoli into bite size pieces - mine were far too big to eat!

Depending on how long your pasta takes, put it on so it is ready for when your cheese melts. Mine took 8 minutes.

Finally in a separate pan of boiling water, cook the broccoli for the final 3 minutes so this is also ready around the same time.

In a little bowl, mix the egg yolk with the herbs.

When the cheese is melted, mix in the egg and herbs.

Drain the broccoli and pasta but reserve some of the pasta water just in case you need it to loosen your sauce - I didn't.

Combine the pasta, cheese and broccoli. Taste and season if necessary - mine needed quite a bit of seasoning.

Sprinkle with some extra Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil and eat immediately.

Arabella enjoyed this as she loves cheese and broccoli although she would have preferred me to use goats cheese to mozzarella. I wasn't a huge fan as broccoli isn't my favourite vegetable, I would prefer this with mushrooms but that would be Arabella's idea of food hell! I was expecting more from a Jamie Oliver recipe but maybe I should have used more fresh herbs, I just find that I end up buying bunches of herbs that I then throw away….much better in the summer when we can grow them ourselves.

Anyway a nice recipe and a good way to get kids to eat their greens!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016


I love filo pastry but I have never actually cooked with it or even bought it before. My first surprise was that it was frozen and then my second surprise was how messy and flimsy it is - I made a right old pig's ear of it!! Anyway practise makes perfect and I soon got the hang of it….cue this could be the start of many filo recipes…I can't wait to do something with feta and spinach!

Anyway this is a recipe card from Sainsbury's and is especially for kids. It took just over 45 minutes in total.

Ingredients for 12 parcels - I think an adult would eat 3 and a child 2:

240g boneless salmon fillets
1 medium egg, beaten
125g full fat soft cheese
1/4 x 28g flat leaf parsley, chopped (I actually used dill)
6 sheets of ready rolled filo pastry, cut in half
150g frozen petit pois
2 tbsp olive oil
335g cherry tomatoes
200g pack of green vegetables like fine beans or sugar snaps

Preheat the oven to 190 C, 170 C fan, gas mark 5.

Fill a saucepan with boiling water, add the salmon fillets and simmer for 5 minutes.

Next drain the salmon and let it cool slightly before removing the skin.

Flake into a bowl and mix with the egg, soft cheese, parsley (dill in my case) and the frozen peas and mix well. Don't forget to season generously.

Cut the 6 sheets of filo pastry in half. Take one half at a time, brush with olive oil and then fold in half again. Put 2 tablespoons of the salmon mixture into the centre of the filo pastry, brush the edges with oil and then fold the pastry up and twist like a parcel. This is much easier if you don't overload each parcel with filling. Repeat this with the remaining filo sheets and salmon mixture. Put them on a baking tray and brush with oil once again.

Put the tomatoes on another baking tray and put in the oven with the salmon parcels and bake for 25 minutes. Leave to cool a little.

Five minutes before the salmon parcels and tomatoes are ready, cook your vegetables according to the packet's instructions. Mine took 4 minutes in a saucepan of boiling water.

Divide the salmon parcels, tomatoes and vegetables between the plates and tuck in. I would suggest two parcels for a child and three for an adult.

Arabella adored these however I found them a little bland. Next time I would add some chopped sun dried tomatoes to the parcels as well to add a little more flavour - then they would be perfect for me. It was a nice different way to cook salmon however you could use any boneless white fish as an alternative instead. A great kid friendly supper.