Monday, 20 June 2016

MUSHROOM, SPINACH AND BLUE CHEESE PASTA

We celebrated Father's Day twice this week and twice with pasta - Pascal's favourite! On Thursday we had Tomato and Basil Pasta with Arabella and then on Sunday I cooked this dish - pasta with mushroom, spinach, peas and blue cheese -  as Arabella wasn't here and she would not be a fan (she hates mushrooms and blue cheese).

This is a waitrose recipe from 2007 (!) and it took about 20 minutes to cook.

Ingredients for 4 people:

500g pasta (we used fusilli but penne would also work)
210g frozen peas
2 tbsp of olive oil
250g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
200g blue cheese (we used Castello creamy blue), crumbled / chopped
235g bag of spinach
Juice of half a lemon
To serve:
Parmesan or grated cheddar cheese



Prepare the ingredients by slicing the mushrooms and crumbling the blue cheese.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet's instructions. Add the peas for the last 3 minutes of cooking time. Drain, leaving a little bit of water still clinging to the pasta and then cover.





Meanwhile heat the oil in a frying pan and gently sauté the mushrooms and garlic for 5-6 minutes until softened.




Add the blue cheese and spinach to the pea and pasta mixture and stir well to combine. Cover and leave to stand for 2 minutes to allow the spinach to wilt and the blue cheese to melt slightly.




Stir in the sautéed mushrooms, lemon juice and season who salt and pepper. Mix well.



Serve immediately with shavings of Parmesan or cheddar cheese and tuck in. 



This was really good - much better than I expected to be honest, and perfect for a summer's day as it was quite light and fresh with all the vegetables. We rarely cook with mushrooms as Arabella can't stand them however apparently tastes change every few years so I might try and persuade them to give them another go as they are so delicious!! This was really quick and simple to make…can't believe it took me 9 years to finally cook it!!! 

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Saturday, 18 June 2016

COD, CHERRY TOMATO & GREEN OLIVE TRAY BAKE

As I mentioned in my last post, I am very limited with time at the moment and so I am all about cooking something easy and quick. However at the same time I want something healthy as well as I am now 8 1/2 months pregnant. I can see how many people must be attracted by ready meals as it is so easy to shove something in the oven but I am determined to not fall into the trap.

This took 40 minutes to cook and was very simple.

Ingredients for 6 people:

1 red onion, cut into thin wedges
750g cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
6 evenly sized pieces of cod loin (125g each)
6 pieces of Parma ham
18 nocellara green olives (I just used whatever ones I had in the fridge)
Flat leaf parsley, chopped to serve
Crusty bread and butter



Preheat the oven to 220 C / 200 C fan / gas mark 7.

Put the onions and tomatoes in a shallow roasting tin or dish. Season generously and add around 4 tablespoons of olive oil and toss together.


Roast for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile wrap each piece of cod in a slice of Parma ham.



After 15 minutes, add the olives to the roasting dish and then sit the cod on top of the onion, tomatoes and olives. Roast for another 15 minutes until the cod is cooked through and the Parma ham has crisped up.





Scatter with parsley and serve immediately with crusty bread and butter.



This was super simple and really delicious. I loved mopping up the juices from the tomatoes with the crusty bread however if you are watching your weight you could have it with some spinach or kale instead. I think if I was cooking it for my husband I would add some buttered orzo pasta. Arabella enjoyed most of this although she isn't the biggest fan of cooked tomatoes - I ended up bribing her with the bread and butter which she loves so much!

I will definitely be making this a regular recipe as it was so easy, flavoursome and mostly healthy - it will be perfect when I am on my post pregnancy diet.



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Sunday, 12 June 2016

CREAMED CORN & PARMESAN RISOTTO

After 7 years of talking about it, I have finally signed up to do a French course. Typically I am actually really enjoying it and wish I had done it sooner. Hopefully by the end of next weekend I will be able to string a few sentences together. My only complaint is the huge amount of homework is really interfering with my cooking and tv time, hence while I have been so quiet on the blog. I did cook this last week though - it was time consuming - but it was worth it. It took about 40 minutes.

Ingredients for 4 people:

1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp of olive oil
A knob of butter
350g of risotto rice
1.2 litres of vegetable stock
400g tin of creamed corn
120g Parmesan, freshly grated (plus extra for garnishing)



Heat the oil and butter in a large pan, add the onion and cook gently for 4-5 minutes whilst stirring gently until softened not coloured.



Increase the heat, stir in the rice and cook gently for a minute, stirring, until the rice in opaque.



In a separate saucepan, pour in the stock and bring to a gentle simmer.



Now for the time consuming bit! Add a ladleful of the simmering stock to the pan of rice, stirring continuously until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Continue adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring all the time, and making sure all the previous liquid has been almost entirely absorbed before adding the next.






After about 20 minutes, by which time the rice will nearly all be cooked, tip the creamed corn into the remaining stock and simmer for a couple of minutes. Then add to the risotto like before. When the risotto is ready it should be tender but al dente.





Season to taste and stir in the Parmesan.




Serve and garnish with some more Parmesan if desired.



Even though this isn't the quickest recipe to cook - it was worth it and I think all that stirring is meditative. I was a little put off by the thought of "creamed corn", I have never cooked with it before, but it worked brilliantly with the risotto and Parmesan and Arabella was also a huge fan. We did discuss how it would work well with pancetta or lardons as well. The other thing I liked about this recipe was how few ingredients it needs, a great and easy family supper idea.
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Monday, 30 May 2016

JAMIE'S SIMPLE TUNA SPAGHETTI

I hope everyone is enjoying the bank holiday weekend, not sure what happened to the sun today?! After a few days of barbecues and ice cream, the Chelsea Flower Show and a music festival in the Cotswolds….it is now back to warming pasta dishes and TV in bed! I am not complaining though, it is around 7 weeks until the baby is due and I need to make the most of having some quiet time.

My husband Pascal and I decided to cook this pasta dish as it didn't need too many ingredients and only took around 15 minutes, I found it on Jamie Oliver's website but I made a few alterations.

Ingredients for 2 big portions (we were hungry):

250g spaghetti
Sea salt
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
4 anchovy fillets, sliced
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
Extra virgin olive oil
2 x 120g tin of quality tuna in olive oil
1 tablespoon baby capers, rinsed
10 green olives, halved
Juice of half a lemon
100g wild rocket

To serve (optional):
Parmesan



I always prepare my ingredients first so started off by chopping the garlic, olives, anchovies and tomato.


Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the packet's instructions - mine took 8 minutes.



Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the garlic, anchovies and capers for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomatoes and toss well.




When the pasta is ready, drain but reserve a cupful of cooking water. Add the pasta to the tomatoes etc and mix well, adding a splash of water if necessary - we needed to.




Flake in the tuna, squeeze the lemon, add the olives and most of the rocket and drizzle with olive oil and toss again.





Season generously and serve with any remaining rocket and a scattering of Parmesan if desired.



This was really really good - we were surprised how much we enjoyed this, such a simple recipe but bursting with flavours. I am very pleased I have left over ingredients as I will definitely be making this again soon and I love that this is easy to make for just one person as well. It tasted so fresh…..a real winner!

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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

ROAST GARLIC & THYME MUSHROOMS

As I mentioned in my previous post, my husband and I cooked for our friends last weekend. We started off with little snacks like truffle salami, olives, crisps, crudités and my favourite roquamole dip. Then for starter we made these mushrooms on a bed of rocket and we scattered them with black truffles although this isn't actually part of the recipe. For mains we had truffle pasta and then cheese followed by Fay's simple sachertorte. It was a HUGE meal but yum!

These mushrooms are super simple but delicious - they take about ten minutes to prepare and 30 to cook - they are also from Fay Ripley's second cook book like the sachertorte.

Ingredients for 4 people:

4 large portobello mushrooms
40g butter
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 heaped tsp ground almonds


Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan). 200 C, gas mark 6.

Pop the mushrooms in an ovenproof dish, cut the butter into little knobs and scatter on top.



In a bowl, mix together the thyme leaves, oil, lemon zest, garlic and Dijon mustard. Then spoon on top of the mushrooms and sprinkle over the almonds. This was a bit fiddly for me and mine weren't as "neat" as I hoped but I don't think it matters!




Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the topping is golden. Season generously and serve.




I served mine on a rocket salad however they would go very very well with garlic bread or they would even work as a side with a steak. I am a huge fan of stuffed mushrooms but normally they are covered in cheese so this is a lighter way of doing them. I had to use dried thyme as what I thought was thyme in the garden, was actually mint! I do think fresh thyme works a lot better however they were still great.  A great quick and easy dish to do for a dinner party.


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