Roasted Orange Pepper Pesto Pasta

Is there anything more fulfilling than a simple mid-week pasta dish?

This recipe was suggested by Oddbox in their weekly newsletter and is adapted from the original recipe from Table for Two. I adapted the recipe to include almonds which I already had in stock and made additional portions for leftovers (the below quantities will serve 4). I also lazily toasted the nuts in the oven with the peppers as opposed to frying separately in a pan because hey, it’s OK to take short-cuts.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 x peppers deseeded & chopped into large chunks (red, yellow or orange will work best)
  • 2 x tbsps Pine Nuts
  • 2 x tsps flaked almonds
  • 2 x handfuls of fresh basil
  • 2 x garlic cloves peeled
  • 2 x handful of parmesan
  • Olive oil
  • 200g pasta

METHOD

Preheat oven to 180c

Place peppers, garlic & nuts into roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 20-25 mins.

Once cooked, place cooked ingredients into a bowl and add the basil, a handful of parmesan and a generoug glug of olive oil then blend with a hand blender.

Cook pasta according to instructions then drain, saving a couple of tbsps of the cooking water.

Mix in the pesto with the pasta and reserved water and heat for a couple of minutes before serving with the remaining parmesan.

Such a simple recipe, the pesto can be kept in the fridge to be served as leftovers or as a paste with something completely different, I think it would be delicious on a bruschetta topped with tomatoes. You can also freeze any leftover pesto in ice cube trays, which is what I have done to save a few portions for my son who is pasta obsessed.

Celeriac & Potato Gratin (3 Ways)

I’ve received quite a bit of celeriac in my veg. box delivery from Oddbox recently. My go to recipes with celeriac are normally soup & mash but I do like to vary my meals as often as possible and this week my partner suggested a gratin. As I already had potatoes and onions in the cupboard, it seemed like the perfect accompaniment to serve with Pork for a Sunday Dinner. There’s loads of recipes for celeriac gratin on-line, but here is my attempt. Feel free to adjust the quantities of celeriac & potato if you have different amounts to use up.

INGREDIENTS

  • Half a celeriac (approx 500g.) chopped in similar size pieces to the potato. (I peel with a knife post boiling as find it easier)
  • 600g potatoes halved or quartered depending on size. (I didn’t bother peeling but this is completely up to you)
  • 2 x small onions, finely sliced
  • 150ml cream
  • 150ml milk
  • Knob of butter
  • 2 x cloves of garlic
  • 1 x sprig of rosemary

METHOD

Parboil the celeriac & potato for 10 mins (I start with cold water & start the 10 mins when the water starts to boil)

Melt knob of butter in pan and slowly cook the onions over very low heat for 10 mins, or until they start to brown.

Add cream, garlic, rosemary and enough milk to cover the onions, bring to a simmer and then simmer very gently for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes is up, remove the garlic cloves & rosemary sprig.

Slice the potatoes & celeriac thinly (I use a mandolin) & roughly layer in an ovenproof bowl pouring over some of the cream & onion mixture after each layer.

Top the final layer with any remaining onion mixture, and bake in the oven at 180c for approx 1 hour or until golden brown.

This dish is such a rich, hearty and alternative side to a Sunday roast and it makes for incredible leftovers. I think gratin is one of those dishes that almost tastes better second time around. On this occasion, I completely mixed up the leftovers and served with fried pancetta and fried egg for a incredibly tasty and wholesome mid-week dinner.

My 20 month old son also enjoyed a portion of the gratin, he’s had celeriac a few times and I think originally found the taste maybe a bit too strong, but this time coupled with the cream, he ate every single last bite. Remember that celeriac is an allergen to if your child hasn’t tried it before, start with small quantities. My tactic with my son is to continue to expose him to as many tastes as possible and offer again and again even if he has refused the item on one occasion. It can be hit or miss but he’s generally a pretty good eater and the things he does enjoy often amazes me.

Dill & Gin Mojito

Herbs have got to be one of the worst things for buying in too large a quantity for me, I try to avoid/substitute where possible and if I’m organised enough I’ll dry/freeze them. I have an old blog post on that here.

I’ve also started to grow my own but only have a very small selection at the moment as I’m very good at killing plants, so I’ll keep you all updated on the progress.

Anyway, this week I had a lot of dill left over (which is allegedly 10 days past it’s Best Before date but is still looking pretty good looking to me). I figured it was something that would probably go quite well with gin as I consider it to have that same spring fresh taste as cucumber which compliments some gins very well.

A quick internet search threw up this wonderful Gin Dill Mojito from Meg is Well and I can now safely say, I’ll never have leftover dill again. This months gin of choice from Craft Gin Club is Cuckoo Gin from my home county of Lancashire. (If you refuse to count Greater Manchester as a county that is). I’m now wondering what other herbs would go well in cocktails, any suggestions?

Ingredients (serves 1) – original recipe from Meg is Well.

Continue reading

Pinto bean chilli and taco shells

Growing up, my mother struggled to get me to eat my greens, and if anything had even the slightest fleck of spice or herb, a food tantrum would ensue.  Over the years, I've managed to introduce so many vegetables and flavours into my diet that I'll now happily eat meals that contain purely vegetables without complaint.

This dish here is made with a whole host of leftover vegetables but the main star of this dish is the dried pinto beans which are a good staple to keep in stock for bulking out meat free dishes into cheap, nutritious and protein filled dinners.

INGREDIENTS

  • 200g pinto beans
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 x garlic cloves crushed
  • 6 x mushrooms chopped
  •  1 x carrot diced
  • 1 x red pepper
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 1x green birds eye chillies
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1-2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 300 ml veg stock
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sugar
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD

Soak beans overnight & cook according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile cook the onion and garlic for 2 mins before adding the spices and chilli and continuing to fry for a further 2 minutes

Add all of the other ingredients and cook for 2 mins before adding the vegetable stock. Stir well and scrape all of the spices off the bottom of pan.

Finally add the tomatoes, oregano and bay leaf, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Limp lettuce

Lettuce!!! I love a crispy iceberg, but nothing upsets me more than when it's started to turn brown and limp its way towards the bin.

I thought hey, there's got to be a solution, and according to the internet there is. Ideas range from storing your lettuce in water (too messy), separating all the leaves and storing each layer between kitchen roll (too fussy) and my favourite…cooking it!

Now this sounded weird to me at first but I thought id give it a whirl, there's various recipes in this excellent Guardian article such as lettuce soup, lettuce pesto or my personal favourite – stir fry.

Lettuce stir fry sounds strange but really what's the difference between a Chinese cabbage and a lettuce? In the grand scheme of things, absolutely nothing.

So I followed recipe number two from the above article and to test out its success, I served it to my better half without mentioning the secret ingredient, and guess what – approval all round.

Never again will the be a limping lettuce in my salad drawer again.

Cheese and Bacon Pin-wheels

A while ago, I posted a recipe idea for puff pastry pinwheels which can be served as a tasty crowd pleaser when entertaining, or with a salad as a quick and easy mid week meal.

The best thing about these pinwheels is that you can make them with a whole host of leftover ingredients including cheese, vegetables and meat. They are also super easy and quite fun to prepare, so why not get the kids to help you out with this recipe during the summer holidays?

Here’s a recipe with my favourite combination of cheese & bacon, but I’d love to hear what ingredients other people use in their creations.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 x bacon rashes, diced
  • 250g pre-made puff pastry
  • 100g Wensleydale cheese, grated
  • 50g blue cheese, crumbled
  • Tomato purée

METHOD

Preheat oven to 200c or as per the puff pastry packet instructions.

Fry the bacon for a couple of minutes, until it starts to brown.

Roll out the puff pastry, squeeze over the tomato puree and spread, ensuring the whole sheet is covered.

Sprinkle the pastry with the cheese and bacon, or whatever ingredients you are using. (In this instance, no seasoning is needed, as both the bacon and blue cheese are already very salty).

Cut the pastry into 8 strips, approx. 2cm wide each and then roll each strip into a wheel.

Place the wheels on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden in colour.

Sausage & bean winter casserole

It’s supposed to be spring but it’s still absolutely freezing outside so I’m resorting to cooking casseroles to keep me warm. From a food waste perspective casseroles are an absolute dream; it’s a dish that you can produce by mixing the simplest ingredients together and turn into something tasty by throwing in a few store cupboard essentials such as stock cubes, tomato sauce or Worcester sauce.

The humble sausage is the main basis for this meal, a cheap and tasty ingredient that can be used to create a hearty protein filled evening meal. A lot of the other ingredients in this recipe were from my freezer, I needed to empty my freezer as I was moving house and this recipe enabled me to use up loads of fresh ingredients that I’d previously frozen. You can find tips on freezing fresh items here and I promise that I will do a follow up blog post soon with further tips.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 x sausages cut into 2.5cm chunks
  • 400g pinto beans
  • 2 x sticks celery roughly chopped
  • 2 x carrots sliced
  • 1 x onion thinly sliced
  • 1 x parsnip diced
  • 8 x mushrooms cut into quarters
  • 16 x cherry tomatoes (optional)
  • 3 x cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 x red chilli finely sliced
  • 1 x tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp paprika
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 100ml white wine
  • 1tbsp mixed herbs
  • 1 x bay leaf
  • Dash of Worcester sauce

METHOD

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.

Fry the sausages for approximately 4 minutes or until browned, remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion and celery to the pan and cook until the onions start to soften.

Add the crushed garlic and sliced red chilli and cook for 1 minute before adding the paprika, stir well so that all the ingredients are covered in the spice and cook for a further minute.

Add the white wine or a splash of stock to the pot and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon, turn up the heat and bring the casserole to the boil, continue to cook until the liquid has reduced by half.

Add all the remaining vegetables to the pan, bring back to the boil and cook for 3 minutes before returning the sausages to the pan.

If using, add the cherry tomatoes to the pan along with the stock, Worcester sauce and seasoning. Bring to the boil before reducing to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 40 minutes, adding more stock if needed.

Finally remove the lid, add the pinto beans and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, serve with crusty bread.

TIPS

If you prefer a thicker sauce add a tbsp of flour towards the end, or more if required.

Substitute the vegetables for any others that you need to use up.

Prosecco Clementine Jellies

On the 7th day of Christmas…

Prosecco Clementine Jellies

Happy new year!

Chances are that some of you may be letting in the new year with a sore head, chances may also be that some of you have guests coming round with new year greetings.

If you’ve managed to open any prosecco, champers or other fizz but shock horror, somehow failed to get through the whole bottle, a good use is prosecco jellies.

Here’s a lovely festive recipe from James Martin for clementine jellies but they’re equally as lovely with pomegranate (May need to add some sugar with this concoction) or other festive fruits.

Now these will take a few hours to set so it might be a bit of an early start which a hangover could hinder, but other than that they’re a easy and crowd pleasing desert to tackle so you can greet New Year’s Day guests with some fizzy jelly wonders.

Lemon Drop Martini

On the 6th day of Christmas …

Lemon drop martini

As it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought it appropriate to share one of my favourite cocktail recipes.

This was discovered whilst attempting to deplete the contents of a relatives drinks cabinet, so I feel that it’s perfectly legitimate to classify it as a food waste recipe.

It’s not just food that gets over bought at Christmas but wine and spirits as well. I’m sure a lot of you will have numerous random liquors in the cupboard such as the classic creme de menthe, or as used in this recipe, triple sec/orange liquor.

Most of these beverages aren’t designed to drink neat, they’re meant to be mixed with other spirits and mixers to create some quite delicious tipples. Also it’s a common misconception that liquors last forever, whilst they may still be drinkable it’s likely that the alcohol content will have largely evaporated over time.

A lemon drop is a classic martini cocktail and there are numerous variations however here’s the recipe I tend to follow (makes 2)

Sugar
75ml vodka
75ml lemon juice
25ml triple sec

Use a slice of lemon to wet the rim of a martini glass (or a tumbler/champagne flute if you don’t have)

Roll the rim of the glass over a plate of sugar to create a sugar rimmed glass. The sweetness of the sugar on the glass takes the edge off the bitterness of the lemon and also looks quite impressive.

Pour all other ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice

Shake and strain into martini glass.

A tip that I learnt from my days as a bartender was never shake too much as you only want to chill the drink and not dilute it with melted ice but hey where’s the fun in that? It’s New Year, feel free to let your best Tom Cruise cocktail impression loose.

A delightful tipple to greet your new year guests with.

20141231-104606.jpg

Cheese Pinwheels

On the 5th day of Christmas…

Cheese Pinwheels

As it’s almost new year and almost time for yet another party, I thought I’d post a recipe idea that can be used as quick and simple dinner party nibbles.

Cheese is another ingredient that we seem to buy in abundance over Christmas; when else is it acceptable to essentially create your own cheese room.

If you haven’t managed to demolish the mound of cheese in your fridge over Christmas, cheese pinwheels are a wonderful way of getting through it and provide either a yummy snack, a dinner party canapé or a handy lunch for later in the year as they can  be frozen when cooked.

If you google cheese pinwheels you’ll find hundreds of recipes but simply put you will need pre-made puff pastry, tomato puree and of course cheese.  Other ingredients such as herbs, ham and vegetables can also be added for other variations.

All you have to do is take a sheet of puff pastry, smother it in tomato puree, sprinkle with the cheese and any other additional ingredients and roll. To create the rolls, cut the topped pastry into strips of around 2-3cm thick, roll into a pinwheel and bake according to the puff pastry instructions on the packet.

Simple, cheesy goodness.