Sweetcorn fritters with couscous and cottage cheese.

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Sweet, juicy, golden sweetcorn. It not only tastes great but it’s full of nutrients including fibre and protein as well as being a great source of vitamin C. It also contains thiamin which helps to produce energy for the heart, muscles and nervous system! So it’s not a bad thing having this little whole grain in your diet.These fritters are more like little pancakes, light and delicious without the grease. Perfect for a weekday dinner as they are relatively easy to make and you can mix it up by adding other veg and spices, whatever takes your fancy.

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Serves 4

Ingredients

FOR THE FRITTERS:

300g tin sweetcorn
2 medium free range eggs
75g flour
50g feta cheese, cubed
2 spring onions, Finley sliced
1 tbsp Piri Piri seasoning or chilli flakes to taste.
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Cottage cheese, to serve

FOR THE COUSCOUS:

200g couscous
A large handful or rocket
50g feta cheese, cubed
1 large tomato, de-seeded and diced
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp hemp oil
Salt & pepper

Method

Drain the sweetcorn and place 3/4 of it in a large bowl with the flour, baking soda, eggs, feta, spring onions and piri piri seasoning. Mix until thoroughly combined then place half of the mixture in a food processor and blend until relatively smooth.

Put a kettle on to boil and heat a large non stick sauce pan on a medium heat with 1 tbsp olive oil.

Empty the contents of the food processor back into the bowl with the other batter then add the remaining sweetcorn and combine.

Add the dried couscous to a clean, empty bowl and cover with boiling water so it’s roughly an inch above the surface then cover with cling film.

Now spoon the batter onto the pan to make the fritters. Two tbsp of batter each is enough the lightly fry for 1-2 minutes on each side.

Once your on your last batch take the cling film off the couscous and fluff it with a fork. Add the feta, tomatoes,rocket and lemon zest the season to taste.

Serve the sweetcorn fritters with the couscous with a dollop of cottage cheese on top and a drizzle of hemp oil. Enjoy!

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Courgetti bolognese 

   
So the craze of using a julienne peeler to make courgette spaghetti is upon us! We decided to give it ago and see what all the fuss is about. Although people say treat it like pasta, with any type of sauce you want you still can’t prepare it in the same way. Firstly I made the mistake of adding the courgette into a hot puttanesca sauce as you would pasta. The result was an ok tasting, watery bowl of veg.

So I decided to make a nice ragù and then cook the courgettes separately on a high heat for very little time. I then done the one thing you don’t do with pasta add the sauce on top of the noodles! However this worked out perfectly with the courgettes! I will say it doesn’t replace pasta in any way but it’s a much healthier alternative for me and it’s fun to make too! So here our version….enjoy.

Ingredients, serves 2-3

1/4 red onion, finely diced

1 large carrot, finely diced

3 large mushrooms, finely diced

250g beef mince

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 bay leaf 

1 Sprig Rosemary

5 tablespoons tomato purée

1 chicken stock cube

1 glass red wine

3 large courgettes

3 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper, to season

Boiling water

Parmesan, to garnish

Method

In a large pan on a medium heat add the olive oil and sauté the onion, carrot and mushrooms until soft. Add the diced garlic cloves and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the mince until brown then add the tomato purée. Stir for a second then add the stock cube, wine and add enough boiling water until it’s just covered. Add the bay and Rosemary.

Let it simmer for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile using a julienne peeler peel the courgettes into thin spaghetti strips. Place on a place and cover with kitchen paper to soak out some water for 15-20 minutes ( this is not necessary but helps with excess water ).

At this point taste your ragù, add salt and pepper if necessary. You can top up with more water or wine if it’s drying out a little. I like to cook my ragù for at least 50 minutes but the longer the better, it’ll only get richer in flavour.

Now when the sauce is ready. Put a large clean pan on a medium-high heat. Add a tbsp olive oil then add the courgetti. Fry for 2-3 minutes while stirring to make sure they all get slightly cooked. Now all that is left to do is plate up. Place the courgetti in bowls followed by a few lovely spoons of ragù. Top with Parmesan and enjoy! 

  

Tasty lunchtime chickpea & steak salad.

 

I really enjoyed making this salad. It’s simple, delicious and very satisfying as well as being good for you too. We’ve been thinking of new recipes, new ways of using veg and getting as much goodness into us as possible. This looks like a big list of ingredients but you can always adapt it to suit you. You can change the seasonings you what you have in your cupboard and use more spinach instead of rocket, I just like the peppery taste the rocket gives but it’s not essential.

1 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 generous handful spinach, roughly chopped
1 handful rocket
1 tbsp feta, cubed
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1/2 small red chilli, deseeded
1/2 garlic clove, grated
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp piri-piri seasoning
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cayenne pepper
450g steak, I used a cheaper cut and cooked it to medium
5 tsp left over tomato sauce (or you can add a couple tbsp of tomato purée)
2 tbsp sour cream
Salt and pepper, to season

Firstly put a large pan or a griddle pan on the highest heat meanwhile season your steak with the paprika, piri-piri, cayenne, salt pepper and a tsp olive oil, rubbing it in all over. Cook the steak until medium or to how you prefer ( I cooked my steak to medium as I got a cheaper cut ) and rest on a plate.
In another large pan heat the remaining olive oil under a medium heat. Add the red onion and fry for a minute then add the chilli for another 1-2 minutes. Once the onion has softened add the chickpeas and tomato sauce and stir. Once heated through add the chopped spinach and cook until wilted and take off the heat.
On a large serving plate place a handful of rocket and spoon on the chickpeas. Thinly slice your steak and place that on top of the chickpeas. Crumble the feta on top followed by the sour cream mixed with the garlic. Add an additional sprinkle of paprika over the salad and serve.

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Creamy tomato and courgette risotto.

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I really love risotto, I prefer to have it as a main course so I can have a big bowl although it’s great in small portions as a starter especially if you have lots of people round.
I don’t normally add tomato to my risottos but this was delicious and I will definitely be exploring different tomato based risottos from now on.

I hope you enjoy this one!

Serves 4

400g arborio rice
1 litre chicken stock
1 white onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp mascarpone
2 tsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small courgettes.
Salt and pepper, to season
Parmesan, to season

In a large deep saucepan under a medium heat add 2 tsp of olive oil and sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile cut your courgette in half lengthways then cut into slices. Add the courgette to the pan and fry for 1 minute. Add the rice and garlic and stir to stop it sticking just for a few seconds.

Add a few ladles of chicken stock and continue to stir until the rice starts to absorb the stock. Add he tomato purée and continue adding the stock a ladle at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the stock each time whilst constantly stirring.

When there is just a couple ladles of stock left add the mascarpone, salt and pepper to taste, then the remaining ladles of stock as before and stir until it reaches a nice creamy consistency but not too sticky. Try your rice to make sure it’s al dente and the seasoning is right.

I like to add 2 tbsp of parmesan at that point too and stir it in before serving.
Serve in nice big bowls with a good grating of parmesan.
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Simple artichokes and peas

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I hadn’t tried this pasta before and I now love it. It’s very dense and has such a lovely texture to eat, it would be great with a rich tomato sauce or a ragù. I decided to go for a nice fresh tasting pasta last night which was again so easy. I used my artichoke dip and added peas to it for the sauce and that was it, simple. I thought about warming it up with a little mascarpone or ricotta but I wanted a lighter pasta so if you want to add any of those in your version please let me know how it goes.

1 quantity of my artichoke dip + a little extra artichoke oil
50g frozen peas
200g fusilli lunghi bucati

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and a little pot for the peas. Add the pasta to the large pot and peas to the small pot. After 1-2 minutes, remove the peas and add to your artichoke dip and mix. Add more of the artichoke oil to your dip than normal so it’s not as thick. Once the pasta is al dente, drain and place back in the pot. Add your artichoke and peas on top and coat the pasta thoroughly. Serve in large bowls with a grating of parmesan. Easy peasy!

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Smoked pancetta & Blue-Sticks Blue Mac n’ Cheese

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This is the ultimate comfort food. There’s many times I get that craving for mac and cheese. Especially when it’s been a cold or hectic day and you just want to chill on the couch with a nice big bowl of something comforting, delicious and of course cheesy! There has been times when the thought of a lovely, oozing, cheesy bowl of this gorgeous pasta has been rather exaggerated in my head and I’m then let down by the lack of cheesiness but not this one! This dish was a last minute, use up things I have in the fridge kind of dinner and I’m so glad I had that tangy, strong blue cheese to use up in the fridge, Blue-sticks Blue. It really made this mac and cheese unbelievably delicious…you really need to try it!

350g lumaconi pasta or any shape you prefer
100g smoked pancetta
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
50g blue stick blue cheese
60g strong cheddar cheese
500ml milk
1 pinch of grated nutmeg
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper, to season

Firstly put a large pot on water on and bring to the boil. Meanwhile in a small saucepan add a tsp olive oil and then the pancetta and brown slightly. When it’s starting to brown add the garlic and continue to fry for a minute before placing on a plate and set aside. Now add your pasta to the water. In the same saucepan you cooked the pancetta in add a knob of butter on a low heat. Once melted add your flour and stir together until it becomes a thick paste. Cook for a minute before adding the milk, stirring with a whisk constantly to avoid any lumps. Continue to stir until it has thickened then add a little salt, pepper, nutmeg, 3/4 pancetta and garlic, cheddar and 3/4 blue cheese. Once the pasta is al dente, drain and add back into the pot. Now pour over the cheese sauce and mix together thoroughly before transferring into a baking tray. Top the cheesy pasta with the remaining pancetta and blue cheese then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Place under a high grill for a few seconds until the cheese has melted and the breadcrumbs had browned. Serve and enjoy!
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Stornoway black pudding and chorizo stew.

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Dark and rich yet not heavy in anyway and so satisfying. A dark, glistening sauce with good quality ingredients in a bowl is, for me a perfect Autumn/Winter warmer. The key to this is using the best quality ingredients you can get other than that this takes very minimal effort and hardly any time to make.
Whilst I was visiting Scotland last week there was one thing Nathan insisted I bring back, Stornoway black pudding. It’s made on the western Isles of Scotland from the best quality of ingredients, beef suet, Scottish oats, onion and of course the ingredient people normally squirm about, blood. It has been granted protected status so along side Champagne and Gorgonzola, you know not just any black pudding can be labeled “Stornoway” and you know your buying the best of the best. If you’ve never tried black pudding before please don’t be put off by it because it really is delicious, give it a try!

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Serves 2

1 red onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 large red pepper, roughly chopped
125g cooking chorizo, cut into bite size pieces
1 spring of rosemary
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
400g tinned plum tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
175ml red wine
1/2 chicken stock cube
1/2 can water
200g Stornoway black pudding, cut into large chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to season
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In a deep saucepan over a medium heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil and add the onion, after a minute add the pepper. Heat through until starting to soften stirring occasionally. Now add in the chorizo and let the lovely paprika oil coat the peppers and onions for a couple minutes. Add in the garlic for a couple seconds then add the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, rosemary, chilli flakes, stock cube and then fill your tomato tin half way with water and add that in too. Let it simmer for 15 minutes before adding in the wine. The stew now needs to reduce and thicken so let it simmer nicely for 30-40 minutes. Taste your stew and season accordingly, I just added a pinch of salt and a little sprinkling of pepper. When the stew has reduced to a nice thick sauce add in the black pudding and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Stir it carefully so it doesn’t break up too much, remove the rosemary sprig and serve in big bowls with some crusty bread.
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Spicy carrot and angel hair pasta salad with roasted chicken drumsticks.

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I like this dish because it’s tasty, hot and very fresh tasting. I feel over the summer I have totally over indulged. Some people feel the sun makes them want to get fit and healthy and pig out in the winter, I kinda do both. The sun makes me want to eat nice food outside with friends and have a few glasses of vino and the cold weather in the winter makes me want to snuggle up with some cheese or carb related food. Of course I am still sensible and I’m not over weight at all but I seem to get to a point at this time of the year that I feel I’ve over done it especially because both our birthdays are in the same month and we seem to go all out with food and drink.
I don’t believe in diets because I don’t think they work on the long term. I much prefer to eat in moderation and exercise which when you’ve stopped for a while ( like me over the summer ) it’s hard to get back into it but once I’m past the hardest hurdle of getting out of bed and I have started I actually really enjoy exercise and you feel great after it. So here is my fresh and healthy spicy salad on a budget of course.

Serves 2/3

Salad:
2 carrots cut into fine strips with a peeler
1/2 small radicchio, finely chopped
1/4 small ice berg lettuce, roughly chopped
100g angel hair pasta or noodles
4 chicken drumsticks
2 tbsp Piri Piri seasoning
1tbsp olive oil

Dressing:
Zest 1 lemon & juice of 1/2
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 small fresh red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp Piri Piri seasoning
Salt to season

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. In a small baking tray mix 1tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp Piri Piri seasoning with a pinch of salt. Cut three little slices on the top of the chicken drumsticks and place them in the baking tray rubbing the seasoning all over. Roast for around 25-30 minutes turning occasionally until thoroughly cooked through. Meanwhile bring a small pot of water to the boil and cook your pasta until al dente around 5 minutes, drain, place in a bowl and add a dash of olive oil to stop it sticking together. Put all veg in a large bowl. In a small bowl add all the dressing ingredients and pour 3/4 over the pasta and stir until thoroughly combined. Once the chicken is ready pour the remaining dressing over the veg and stir them add the pasta and combine everything together before placing on plates with the chicken drumsticks on top. Lovely.

Tuna and provolone loaded potato skins

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This is very easy and definitely comforting. Who doesn’t love fluffy baked potato with melted cheese? Perfect for the colder weather coming and absolutely delicious. You can even bake the potatoes in advance and load them up when your ready to eat and it will only take you 10 minutes. Perfect!

Serves 4
Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

4 medium baking potatoes
240g tuna in olive oil, drained
120g Provolone picante cheese, grated
1/4 large red onion, diced
1 free range egg, lightly beaten
Handful or basil leaves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to season

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Place your potatoes on a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil, give them a rub so they are fully covered and add a sprinkling of salt. Make a little incision in the centre of the potato ( we don’t want any potato explosions ) and place in the oven for around 45 minutes to 1 hour, check them half way through and turn them around. When a knife can be inserted into the potatoes with ease, they’re ready. Cut each potato in half and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Now, in a bowl, place the scooped out potato from the skins, tuna, onion, 3/4 of the provolone cheese, egg, basil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix together thoroughly and load your potato skins back up with the mixture. Top with the remaining provolone cheese sprinkled on top. Place back in the oven for 10 minutes until the cheese if crispy, gooey and golden. Leave them to cool for 5 minutes and get stuck in. We served ours with some pea shoot and radicchio salad. Yum!

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Breaded chicken cutlets with squash mash and pesto dressed spinach.

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This is such a comforting dinner whilst still being relatively healthy. Pesto again…have you noticed we love pesto? Sorry we seem to go through fazes of eating it a lot then not for a while. But this is a blog about what we love to eat, so there you are. It’s especially nice coated on spinach, just lovely raw spinach, so flavoursome and so healthy! I also love squash and it’s coming into season for it, so why not. It’s funny back in Scotland we were used to seeing most things in the supermarkets all year long whereas here in Italy if it’s not in season, it won’t be in the supermarkets. It’s a good thing I suppose, your eating what you should be at the right time of year and it’s going to taste the best it can be too.

Serves 2-3

2 free range chicken breasts
300g squash, cut into cubes
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
2 large handfuls or spinach, washed
60g plain flour, on a plate
1 egg, beaten in a bowl
80g fine breadcrumbs, on a plate
Knob of butter

For the pesto:
25g Basil
1/2 garlic clove
Small handful of pine nuts
Squeeze lemon juice
30g finely grated parmesan
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place your chicken breasts one at a time in between two sheets of cling film and beat with a rolling pin until they are roughly 1/4 inch thick. Cut them into decent sized strips then dip them into the flour. After they are covered in flour, give them a shake so they are just dusted in flour and dip them into the egg then the breadcrumbs. Make sure they are thoroughly covered in breadcrumbs and set aside. Now put a large pot of water under a high heat and bring to the boil. Meanwhile make your pesto by adding all ingredients into a bowl and blitz with a hand blender, set aside. Add your potato and squash to the water and boil for 20 minutes until soft. Meanwhile fry your chicken cutlets in a little olive oil until crispy and golden on each side, because they are so thin they don’t need very long to cook through. Around 2-3 minutes on each side. Once your potato and squash is ready, drain and then place back into the pot. Add a knob of butter, salt and pepper to taste and roughly mash with a fork. Place your spinach in a large bowl and add the pesto, toss until totally covered. Serve a couple chicken cutlets on a plate with a large spoon of mash and your spinach, Enjoy.