Monday, 29 February 2016

CRISPY PESTO RISOTTO CAKES

I made my favourite tomato and pancetta risotto last week and so then had left over risotto rice which I wanted to use up. When searching through my favourite Fay Ripley cookbooks, I couldn't believe I had not made these crispy pesto risotto cakes for my blog before - I remember making them a few years ago and absolutely loving them. They are quite time consuming (I made them the day before) but totally worth it! They take about 40 minutes "active" work but need "chilling" time too (an hour and then preferably overnight).

Ingredients for 4 people:
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2-3 tbsp olive oil
250g risotto rice
800ml warm chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp fresh pesto
50g fresh breadcrumbs
50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 knobs of butter

(I forgot to take a picture of the ingredients - I had a really late night the night before and am not with it)!

Start by making the risotto. Fry the chopped onion in a tablespoon of olive oil until translucent.



Pour in the rice and stir for 2 minutes to coat.



Stir in the warm stock, a ladle at a time, letting the stock be absorbed before adding the next ladle and stirring regularly. This should take about 20 minutes. When all the stock is absorbed the rice should be cooked but still have a little bite.






Stir in the pesto, next spread out onto a large plate or tray until cool and then cover and chill in the fridge for an hour or so. I could have eaten the risotto now!





Mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan together. Divide the risotto into 8 patties and then drop them in the crumbs, coating them thoroughly. Leave them in the fridge if you have time - I left them in the fridge overnight as I feel they hold together better. It is quite a messy process!




When you are ready to eat, in a non stick frying pan, melt a knob of butter with another tablespoon of oil. Place half the patties in the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side so they are heated all the way through and crispy.





Repeat with the second batch. Rest on kitchen paper and keep warm in a low oven if necessary. I served them with roasted peppers and a slice of goats cheese.




I LOVE these - they are a fantastic way to eat risotto rice and I adore that they have a really crisp bite to them. Mine were a little salty but I think that must have been from the stock I used. I think they went brilliantly with the roasted peppers and goats cheese however I have also served them before with pan fried fish and quick roll up chicken. Great for adults and kids alike and definitely worth the effort.


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Sunday, 28 February 2016

MADE IN ITALY, CHELSEA

There are so many Italian restaurants near where I live and I am not shy about the fact that Gola in Fulham is my absolute favourite. However I really enjoyed trying Made in Italy last week during half term. After a trip to St Luke's playground with friends, we were all hungry for lunch and our little friend Bella recommended the restaurant.

Made in Italy in a group of seven Southern Italian restaurants in London and they serve the usual antipasti and pasta however they also make their own mozzarella and they serve pizza by the metre.

The menu is pretty vast and we were all at a loss at what to eat - there was so much to choose from. In the end Arabella and Isabella went for the same - spaghetti carbonara. Not a surprise seeing as it is Arabella's favourite.



No offense to Pascal's carbonara which we all adore, but this was one of the best carbonara's I have ever had. It was more cheesy than creamy but still light with chunky morsels of pancetta. I had serious food envy and was very happy that Arabella couldn't finish off her plate. I was definitely eating for two that lunchtime!!

Fran was being ultra good and had a chicken salad with chicken (obviously), mozzarella, green beans, cherry tomatoes, basil and mixed leaves. This looked lovely and fresh.



Finally Freddie and I both went for the famous metre long pizzas and it is definitely something to write home about. Freddie's half was margarita and I had Capricciosa with tomato, mozzarella, sausage, mushrooms, artichokes and roasted ham.





This was a really good pizza - a crispy light crust, a tasty tomato sauce and plenty of toppings - all really good quality ingredients. We polished the whole lot off (very impressive eating by 5 year old Freddie). Plus it's a real novelty to have the pizza served by the metre rather than the usual round style.

The kids all had ice creams but I forgot to photograph - needless to say they were simple but delicious.

Service was friendly and efficient and the restaurant was very child friendly - they didn't bat an eyelid when the children used hundreds of napkins to make fortune tellers and there were lots of families dining there. There is even a roof terrace in the summer - perfect for people watching - and you do see some sights on the Kings Road! Our only complaint was no hot chocolate and the coffee wasn't the best.

Made in Italy has been going since 1989 and you can see why - the food is very satisfactory, the prices are reasonable especially for the area and it is open all day. I can't wait to go back and have the carbonara again!!! The other restaurants are located in Fulham Broadway, Wimbledon, Kensington, St James, Chelsea and little Chelsea.

Made In Italy

249 King's Road
London
SW3 5EL
Tel: 020 7352 1880

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Made In Italy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 25 February 2016

ICED BERRIES WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE SAUCE

Often I want something sugary to round my meal off but I am already fit to burst and so can't fit a proper pudding in. However one of my favourite desserts in restaurants is iced berries with white chocolate sauce because it is sweet but not too heavy. I have always wanted to try cooking it myself as it is such a simple recipe and two years after I found the recipe on the Internet, I finally got round to making it today. It is very very easy and took 5 minutes!

Ingredients for 2 people:

200g mixed frozen berries such as raspberries, strawberries and blueberries
75ml double cream
100g white chocolate



You need to take the berries out the freezer around 30 minutes before you eat them so they thaw slightly and are not completely frozen.



To make the sauce, pour the cream into a small pan and break in the chocolate. Heat gently, stirring, until the chocolate melts and the sauce is smooth. Keep the heat low, because if it is too high, the chocolate will seize. This will take around 5 minutes.




Pile the berries into 2 separate dishes and pour over the chocolate sauce which in turn will soften the berries even more. Tuck in and enjoy!




I absolutely loved this - the white chocolate sauce is divine and I could have drunk it like a soup! It does taste great with the berries however mine were still slightly too cold…..no one likes brain freeze. Arabella was not a fan - she didn't like the frozen berries. If that is the case, you could make this with fresh berries instead. 

This is a lovely light quick pudding, I will definitely be making this for my next dinner party and it is perfect for the upcoming summer months.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

ITALIAN CHICKEN BAKE

I haven't been cooking very many new recipes recently because we were in France for half term and I don't find it very easy to cook in a different kitchen with foreign ingredients. I did make my millionaire shortbread as it is my husband's favourite however I didn't have any scales and had to guess the measurements - it was good but incredibly sweet as I majorly overdid the golden syrup!!

Anyway now I am home and back into cooking - I made this a couple of years ago for a dinner party and it was a great success. However I can't believe I have never cooked it for Arabella and I as it a great family friendly recipe. It tool about 45 minutes in total.

Ingredients for 4 people:

1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
3 skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tsp dried oregano
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
250g ball mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
75g sliced pepperoni or salami



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

In a frying pan, fry the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes until translucent.


Add the diced chicken and fry, browning them for 5 minutes.


Add the garlic and oregano and fry for a couple of minutes before pouring in the tomatoes. Let it  bubble gently for 5 more minutes and season to taste.




Pop the lot into an ovenproof dish and top it first with the mozzarella and then then pepperoni / salami. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.





About half way through cooking, pop the garlic bread in the oven and cook according to the packet's instructions. Mine took 12 minutes.



When the Italian chicken bake is ready, serve with the warm garlic bread.




There is a reason why I have every single one of Fay Ripley's cookbooks - all her recipes are so so good and both adult and kid friendly. Arabella and I both really enjoyed this, the ingredients all go so well together and it is not too dissimilar to a pizza! Typically Arabella suggested adding goats cheese rather than mozzarella which I am sure would definitely work, although to be honest I would probably add both! The garlic bread was a wonderful addition although you could have it with a crisp green salad if you wanted to be a little healthier.

Monday, 22 February 2016

KIRSTIE'S SMOKED SALMON PATE

One of the things I am enjoying the most about being pregnant is the fact I am not constantly thinking about diets! Normally I would have a very light lunch however nowadays I make sure I have something far more substantial. 

It has also given me an opportunity to try some new things. I love to buy smoked salmon pate from the supermarket but my lovely friend Kirstie makes such an excellent one, I decided to give it a go myself. It was super easy and took about 10 minutes.

Ingredients for 4 starter size portions:

150g smoked salmon, trimmings are fine
200g tub of soft cheese
1 tbsp creme fraiche, if you have some (I didn't)
Juice of half a lemon
Small bunch of dill or chives, I used about 5-10g
2 heaped tablespoons of capers

To serve:
Bread sticks or granary toast



If you aren't using smoked salmon trimmings, chop the salmon into small strips.


Add the soft cheese, smoked salmon, creme fraiche (if using), the capers and lemon juice into a food processor and season generously with black pepper. Then blitz to your liking - you can have it smooth or chunky. I like mine a little chunky and so only pulsed the ingredients for about 40 seconds.




Snip in the herbs and taste - I added a little more pepper at this point.




Finally serve in a ramekin with either toast or bread sticks.



This is really good - it works as a starter, a lunch or even a dip. You can make it the day before and it will taste even better the next day. It was really simple and I think will become a lunch staple for me - a great way to get my omega 3s and I truly believe fish increases your brain power - a bonus for me and the baby!!!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

SPINACH & RICOTTA PASTA SHELLS

I had some ricotta left over from when I cooked my slow cooked tomato and sausage pasta and I didn't want to just waste it so I searched for a recipe where I could use it up. I came across this recipe in Fay Ripley's second cookbook "What's for Dinner?" - I remember cooking it before, about 3 1/2 years ago - it took about 25 minutes to cook in total.

Ingredients for 3-4 people:

250g dried conchiglioni pasta shells (large pasta shells)
200g baby spinach
150g ricotta cheese
A good pinch of nutmeg
1 tbsp of olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
100g Black Forest ham or Parma ham

To serve:
Parmesan cheese, grated



Whizz the spinach, ricotta, nutmeg and a tablespoon of olive oil in a food processor until roughly combined. 



Grind in some black pepper and add the ham. Give another quick whizz to roughly chop together.



Pop the filling in a small pan and gently warm over a low heat.



Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the packet's instructions in salted boiling water. Mine took around 8 minutes.



When the pasta is ready, drain and then drizzle with some olive oil so the shells don't stick together.

Finally stuff each shell with the filling and serve immediately with a generous drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of Parmesan.



I cannot believe that I hadn't cooked this for 3 1/2 years, it was absolutely delicious, in fact Arabella even finished her plate before me….which never happens. It was quick and easy and a great way to encourage Arabella to eat spinach…..I think she thought it was actually pesto. My only complaint is that it takes a bit of time to scoop the filing into the shells and so it consequently can be a little cold if you don't hurry. Next time I will ask Arabella to help which I am sure she will adore anyway. 

I will be cooking this again very soon….I do find Fay's first two cookery books really the best!