Thursday, 24 February 2011

Quick and Creamy Tuna Farfalle - Presto Pasta Night #202

Finally I remembered to take part in a blogging event – the great Presto Pasta night  Every week I see it pop up on other blogs and realise that once again I’ve forgotten – this week though I put it in my diary and just about remembered in time! This week’s host is at The Seventh Level of Boredom, don’t forget to check out her blog on Friday 25th February for a delicious round up!

This is one of my store-cupboard standby recipes. This version has tuna in but it really is quite adaptable, feel free to vary the vegetables too, providing they are quick to cook. Also nothing is really measured, just go with the flow! It also works well with diced bacon, in lieu of the tuna, just fry it first with the onions and add some dried rosemary to the sauce during cooking instead of the Italian herb mix.

Serves 2
15 minutes

2 tbsp or so chopped onion (frozen is fine)
1 tin tuna flakes in brine or spring water
1 heaped tsp tomato puree or a small amount of passata
2 tbsp grated cheese or parmesan + extra for serving
200g or so Farfalle or pasta of your choice
2-3 heaped tbsp. crème fraiche, full or ½ fat. Cream cheese also works well here
1 tsp olive oil or garlic olive oil
3-4 frozen or fresh broccoli florets, peas or sweetcorn
½ tsp of dried Italian herb mix
S&P to taste
(also a little chilli puree works well!)

Boil the pasta as per packet instructions, adding the veg near the end accordingly

In a small frying/ sauté pan, soften the onions in the oil, stir in the tomato puree and herbs, cook for about 2 minutes, add a cup or so of the pasta cooking water, mix well, reduce the heat and stir in the crème fraiche, gently warm through.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, If the mixture is too thick loosen with a little more water from the pasta. Drain the pasta, stir in the sauce and serve immediately, finishing with a little extra grated cheese on top.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Nigella's Crustless Pizza

Oh my, its another Nigella recipe for you! I hadn't planned to post three Nigella recipes in a row but after making this last night, I couldn't wait to post it! So far out of my extensive cookery book collection, I’ve already cooked at least 6 recipes in the 2 months since getting this book, surely a record for me!

When I originally watched Nigella make this on TV I remember being curious as to what the finished result would be like, as I was thinking cheesy Yorkshire pudding hmm...  Fear not my friends, it really is delicious, and it does not taste like a Yorkshire pudding gone wrong! Its beautifully light, cheesy and delicious! Imagine a slightly more substantial omelette .. This is a definite keeper recipe, it takes minutes to assemble and I can see it featuring often on my weekly meal planner!

Once again, I think my dish was a wee bit smaller than Nigella’s recommendation for using a pie dish - I used my Le Creuset pie dish but other than being a bit more voluptuous during its cooking it came out perfectly.

The original recipe recommends topping with pepperoni or similar, and whilst I'm sure it would be delicious; I had forgotten to add it to my shopping list and so instead I added a handful of quartered cherry tomatoes to the batter mix, which worked perfectly. They add a little bit of moisture and you really cannot go wrong with cheese and tomato together!


Serves 2-4 (we had half each)

1 egg
100g plain flour
250ml milk
Pinch salt
5 quartered cherry tomatoes
Butter for greasing
100g grated cheese – I used farmhouse mature

Pre-heat your oven, 200/ gas 6/ fan 180

Lightly beat the egg with the flour, salt, slowly adding the milk to form a smooth batter

Grease the pie dish, add half of the cheese to the batter, pour onto the dish, dot with the tomatoes and bake for 30 minutes. I cooked mine on the middle shelf, which seemed about right.

Top with the remaining cheese and return to the oven until the cheese has melted and is all lovely and golden brown. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes in the dish, it will make it easier to remove from the dish

Cut into slices and enjoy! I imagine a salad would be good alongside but as we had salad for lunch yesterday, we just ate it on its own.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Salami and Mozzarella Frittata

With my health having been not being particularly great over the last couple of months the thought of having ready meals every night was not really something that I would normally choose to eat - this dish is simple to cook and doesn't require too much energy!

In this posting, I am also very happy to report that I got the all clear from my surgeon this week, which was a huge relief! Whilst a couple of you knew what has been happening, until I’d got my results back I didn’t really want to share too many details here... I had a (thankfully) non-invasive Thymoma, which I’ve had successfully removed and can now look forward to the future and get back to normality again. And more importantly back in the kitchen!
One favourite dinner was this frittata recipe, slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe for ‘Mortadella and Mozzarella frittata’. Our adaptation was the fact we couldn’t get any Mortadella, and therefore substituted for the salami. The recipe is taken from her latest book ‘Kitchen’ which I treated myself to at Christmas. I really love this book. Every time I get close to putting it in the bookshelf, it mysteriously comes back out again! Both for inspiration and the recipes I’ve cooked so far, it’s a book I can honestly recommend, providing of course everyday cookery floats your boat. Definitely a keeper.

Anyway, enough of me rambling, it’s a very easy and simple dish to make, and whilst it was lovely served hot for our dinner, it was also equally good served cold the next day. Best served on a nice, warm evening though, not the rainy grey night it was made this on!

You will need a 25cm wide frying/ sauté pan, suitable for both hob and going under the grill.

Serves 4-8 (I’m guessing 8 if you are serving children, we easily ate half of it between the two of us..)

Super easy:

6 eggs
125g mortadella (or salami), roughly chopped/ sliced
125g mozzarella, also roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped plus a little extra for sprinkling. (I left this out, not a huge parsley fan, unless it is adorning garlic bread)
1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
S&P, to taste
1 tbsp butter
Drop of garlic oil (aka my new best friend!)

Pre-heat the grill, nice and hot

Beat the eggs in a bowl, add the meat, cheese, parsley and season.

Gently melt the butter with the oil, in the frying pan, add the beaten mixture – do not stir – cook for about 5 minutes or until set, and golden (ours was more nearer 10 minutes). Transfer under the grill, and cook until all golden brown and puffed up. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then gently ease out onto your serving plate, I found a silicon spatula very useful for this part!

Serve hot with some nice green vegetable, such as broccoli or cold with a picnic and salad.

I am very tempted to add more cheese next time but then it becomes not so light and pretending it’s a healthy dinner..

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Marmalade Pudding cake

Delightful greed explains the awful picture – it was the last piece, immediately prior to being wolfed down by me with lashings of cream! The cake did not hang around long, even my fiancée D who doesn't like marmalade, really liked it. This annoyed me slightly though as I really wanted to just hide it away and eat it all. It’s a glorious cake, bursting with delicious orangeyness and I urge you to try it soon!

The only minor niggle I had with the recipe is that I needed a square baking dish, rather than the rectangular pyrex one I used, as my cake was rather volcanic looking when baked! Oh to have a kitchen like Nigella and every pan in every size.... Why do I seem to have a cupboard full of random dishes, pans and tins, and not one remotely the size or shape ever needed? Please tell me I am not the only one who has this trouble?

Anyway, this cake is a good way of using up a lot of marmalade; I had seemingly acquired several various jars and in the end opted for a jar of Fairtrade organic orange marmalade, from Traidcraft which was perfect for the job, fruity, not too sharp but still with a lovely tang to it, I can highly recommend it.

The recipe is from Nigella Lawson's recent ‘Kitchen’ book.

Makes 1 lovely cake
Requires 1 x 24cm square pyrex or similar ovenproof dish

Easy. Even easier if you have a food processor!

250g soft unsalted butter, plus a little extra to grease the pan with
75g caster sugar
75g light brown muscavado (from memory I was running low and mixed this with some soft brown sugar..)
150g + 75g marmalade
225g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (aka realise you have run out mid mixing and kind neighbour loans you again!)
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
Zest and juice of 1 orange - reserve ½ juice for the glaze

Oven 180/ gas 4/ fan about 160
Grease the dish with a little butter

Place the 75g of marmalade and ½ the orange juice in a small saucepan, reserve for later to make the glaze with.

Place all the remaining ingredients into a food processor, blend to a nice thick, creamy batter and decant into your baking dish, smoothing the surface.

If you are not using a food processor, cream the butter and sugars together, beat in the marmalade, then the dry ingredients, then the eggs and finally the juice and zest.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes, though do check after 30 minutes. The cake should be risen, and golden, check with a cake tester, as per Nigella, or a cocktail stick, as per me as I don't own one. It should come away relatively clean looking, though the marmalade does make for a sticky batter so bear this in mind.

Heat the reserved glaze mixture until melted and spoon evenly over the still hot cake, allow to cool slightly before eating.

Serve with lashings of custard or cream. Both are good. Hard to choose a winner on testing!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Lovely Lemon Cordial

After recently coming out of hospital, I found lurking in the bottom of the fridge a couple of tired, old lemons, bought several weeks ago and now not much use for anything other than the bottom of the bin. However, I really do not like to waste anything, and with the practical help from an assistant, as I can’t chop or lift anything for a few more weeks, we made an old favourite of mine – Lovely lemon cordial.

The recipe is inspired from my nanny J, who used to make batches of this all summer when I was a child, I have never found a recipe written down in her books, so this is my take on it. Also the quantities are a bit rough and ready but I’m sure you will find your own balance, to suit your personal taste.

Once its made, just top up with water as needed, mixing well with a long wooden spoon, and leave to sit a while before using again. The cordial will keep refrigerated for a couple of weeks. It is hard to give an exact date, though when you feel the cordial is losing its edge, it’s probably time to make a new batch up!

Depending on your personal taste, and how bitter your lemons were to begin with, dilute with ice cold water or sparkling water on a 1/6 ratio.


2-3 washed, unloved lemons, roughly sliced
5-6 tbsp caster sugar
Boiling water

You will need a tall glass, lidded jug, I think mine is about 2 litre quantity.

Rinse the jug out with freshly boiled water, add the lemons and sugar, bash about a little with a splash of boiling water and a long spoon, top up with boiling water and place the lid on, leave until cooled down and then refrigerate, allow 24 hours if you can before trying, to allow the flavourings to mingle together.

I love the joyful bitterness of this, even drinking a glass on a cold and wet afternoon, it can’t help but bring a little smile to your face, and think of the (hopefully!) sunnier months to come!

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Its been a while...but we have a new shiny Kitchen!

Dearest Readers of my blog,

Sorry for abandoning you at Christmas time, I had to be bad Mrs Santa last year and I felt very guilty about it all. Many, many thanks though for all the lovely kind messages and e-mails, they all helped me get through a not so good time in my life and I am eternally grateful for the support :)

Unfortunately, as mentioned briefly on my last posting my health was not so good, and I ended up requiring two major surgeries recently; the great news though is that I am all fixed again, and though it will a few more weeks before I am back fully in the kitchen, I am ready and raring to go!

One thing I must add here, is that whilst I had a lot of people to thank, my up-most thanks also goes to each and every wonderful blood donor - I wouldn't be here, typing this now if it wasn't for their donations.

Say goodbye to the hideous Olive and beige delight, complete with wonky draws and broken doors:

And say hello to our shiny new, and very pink kitchen! Our (male) landlord had chosen white tiles, and white cupboards, so I thought it needed a woman's touch, not sure our kitchen fitters were exactly over the moon when I chose paint shade 'Moroccan Velvet 3' and a flowery blind but I am so pleased with the result!

I will be back very shortly with some new posts, hope everyone is well in blogger land :)


(01/07/14 - that kitchen sadly is no longer mine and I currently live once again with a very lame kitchen and antique oven!)
01 09 10