Creamy tomato and courgette risotto.

image

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.
image

Guacamole poached eggs with crispy speck

 

I love this as a brunch it’s really packed with flavour and the chilli gives it a nice kick..great if you’ve had one too many the night before. This really satisfies my cravings when I feel like something really delicious but  when I’m trying to be good at the same time. Summer is fast approaching after all.

Ingredients, serves 2
2 large eggs
1 avocado
1/2 fresh red chilli
1/4 small red onion
1 small garlic clove, grated
1/2 lime
2 slices crusty bread, toasted
3-4 strips of cured speck
Salt and pepper, to season
Method
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Meanwhile scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl. Finley chop the chilli and red onion and add to the bowl along with the lime juice and the garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste and mash to a rough consistency.
Put a small pan on a medium heat with a tsp olive oil. Fry the speck until crispy then set aside.
Once your water is boiling, turn it right down to the low-medium setting. Crack the eggs on at a time into small ramekins then place carefully into the water. Leave the eggs in the water without touching them for 3-4 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon. Place the eggs on kitchen roll to drain.
Spread each slice of bread generously with the guacamole, top with an egg and crispy speck. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!
   

Chicken & avocado salad

 

 

This is a very simple salad, so feel free to add whatever you want. A little bit onion, mustard maybe a bit chilli or garlic. It’s very versatile and great the way it is or with something extra in it to give it an extra kick.
This afternoon I didn’t feel like anything spicy or garlicky so I made this salad quite simple and of course just using what ingredients I had lying around.

Ingredients, serves 2

1 chicken breast, cooked & cooled
1 tomato
Large handful of Romaine lettuce
1 ripe avocado
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp mayonnaise
Salt & pepper, to season
Parmesan, shavings to garnish
1/4 lime juice

Method

Dice the chicken in to medium sized strips and add to a large mixing bowl. Deseed the tomato and chop in to medium pieces along with the avocado and add to the bowl. Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, lime, salt and pepper and combine together. Roughly chop the lettuce and add to the mixture and combine. Garnish with parmesan & a little more pepper. Enjoy.

  

Super quick peach & limoncello tarts

This was just a very quick, last minute dessert. Yes I know it’s cheating using pre made pastry but sometimes you don’t have time to do everything yourself and still want a nice dessert to enjoy at the end of a meal or as a treat through the day.

Makes enough for 4-5 small tart cases

Ingredients

1 packet of sweet shortcrust pastry ( savoury would be ok too )
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks
300ml milk
3 tbsp of sugar
2 tbsp flour or cornstarch
1/2 vanilla pod, scraped
2 tbsp limoncello
Zest of 1 small lemon
1 or 2 tinned peaches

Method

Preheat your oven to 200 degreesC. Scald the milk in a saucepan. In a separate bowl mix the egg, yolks, sugar and flour until smooth. Add a little hot milk, whisking constantly then add the egg mixture into the remaining milk. Whisk constantly on a medium heat until it thickens ( around 5 minutes ). Take off he heat, add limoncello, vanilla and zest. Mix and place in a separate bowl or container to cool placing cling film directly onto the surface to avoid a skin forming.

Roll your pastry out to about 1cm thick ( if your using ready rolled, fold it in half and roll it out again as it will be too thin ). Cut the pastry to size to fit into your tart cases, leaving a little hanging over the edges and crimp the sides into the mould. Prick the bases with a fork and place baking parchment in each case followed by baking beans.

Bake the tarts in the oven for around 10-15 minutes and leave to cool. Add your cooled pastry cream mixture into the cases and top with little pieces of peach. Chill until ready to serve.

 

  

Tomato and Anchovy Focaccia

I love making a nice big focaccia to go along side a dinner or for when we have guests over as an antipasti. You can put what ever you want on it be it just simple garlic and oregano or some nice spicy sausage and tomato. It’s so easy to make and definitely delicious.

For the dough:

500g 00 flour
40ml olive oil plus extra for kneading
10g dried fast action yeast
320ml cool water
Tsp salt

Topping:
1 large tomato
3/4 salted anchovy fillets
1 clove garlic, grated
Knob of butter Pepper, to season

To make the dough put the flour in a large mixing bowl, place the salt at one side and the yeast at the other side. Make a well in the middle and add 40ml of olive oil and a little splash of water. Using your finger mix the flour adding the water a little at a time ( you might not need all of the water ) until you can clean the sides of the bowl with the dough. Put about 2tbsp olive oil on a work surface and start kneading the dough. It will seem quite wet and stick but don’t worry. Keep kneading for 5-10 minutes until you have a nice soft and elastic dough. Place in a clean oiled mixing bowl or deep tray, cover with cling film and leave to rise for an hour.

After one hour very carefully tip the dough out onto an oiled surface, cut in half and place in two oiled baking tray. Very carefully shape with your hands into a long oval shape, cover with cling film and leave for another hour.

Preheat your oven to the 250degreesC. Using two fingers make little dimples in your focaccias. Heat a knob of butter and grated garlic in a small pan until melted and spoon into the dimples and all over the focaccias. Place 3 or 4 tomato slices on the focaccia followed by 3 or 4 anchovies depending on your preference. Sprinkle with pepper and place in the oven.

Bake for 5-15 minutes, it really depends on your oven. My oven is very hot so my focaccias take just under 10mins but in some ovens they can take longer. Enjoy!

Sun dried tomato and oozy cheese French toast.

IMG_1002-0
So on a lazy Sunday afternoon, we really couldn’t be bothered going to the supermarket before 1pm when it closes and it doesn’t reopen  ( annoying when you have no car ). So we decided to make something with what we had. We love our sun dried tomato pesto and we had the ingredients to make that but we wanted something different, so we created this and trust me it’s BEAU-tiful.

Serves 2

1/2 portion of sun dried tomato pesto
4 slices white bread
100g tilsiter cheese or any good melting cheese like mozzarella or fontina
2 eggs, beaten & seasoned

Spread the slices of bread generously with the pesto and place a few slices of cheese on one slice and close to make a sandwich. Dip the sandwiches into the beaten egg on both sides. Fry in a lightly oiled pan until golden brown on both sides. Serve with some garlic mayonnaise or dip of your choice & enjoy.

Smoked salmon patè with black pepper crackers.

 

 
image

I absolutely love smoked salmon and especially at Christmas time. This recipe is perfect for parties, entertaining, new year or even on Christmas Day as finger food. After craving smoked salmon for a few days, this really hit the spot and it’s so easy to make.

Ingredients

For the patè:
100g Scottish smoked salmon
125g good quality soft cream cheese
Lemon, squeeze
Salt and pepper, to season

For the crackers:
200g plain flour
50g cold butter, cubed
5 tbsp water
Salt and pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degreesC. To make the patè, put the smoked salmon and cream cheese in a bowl and blend together with a hand blender until it is a nice, smooth consistency. Add a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt and pepper, set aside. Now to make the crackers, place the flour,butter, pinch of salt and large grating of pepper in a bowl. Using your fingers mix the butter through the flour. Now add 3-4tbsp of water and bring the dough together. It’s important not to get it too wet. Once you’ve formed it in a ball add another tbsp of water so it all comes together nicely but not wet or sticky. Now roll out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle as thin as possible. Pick all over with a fork and lightly brush with water. Cut into squares and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and serve with patè.
image

image

Simple artichokes and peas

image
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!

image

Salted peanut & marshmallow rocky road.

imageThis really does taste as good as it looks. Salty chocolate and soft marshmallow..mmm just what I need after the week from hell I’ve had. Let’s just say there’s some serious Italian sickness bugs going around and I’ve managed to catch them all!! So after not being able to even think of food for the past week ( not exactly the Xmas diet I was looking for ) I suddenly got all festive again. The Christmas songs went on and my little reindeer came out to play. This honestly takes two minutes to make, it’s ridiculously easy and the reward is well worth making….well not much effort at all.

Ingredients Makes 12

300g good quality dark chocolate
1tbsp runny honey
125g butter
200g salted peanuts
100g mini marshmallows
1 tbsp icing sugar
17 x 22 cm foil tray

Method

Add the butter,chocolate and honey in a saucepan and melt slowly over a low heat. Add the peanuts into a freezer or sandwich bag and bash with a rolling pin ( you want some little pieces and some larger ). Once melted turn the heat off and add the peanuts and marshmallows. Spoon the mixture into a foil tray and leave to cool slightly before placing in the fridge for 2-3 hours or over night. Cut into little squares and sprinkle with a little icing sugar if desired.

image

image

image

White chocolate, candied orange and amaretto trees.

IMG_2957.JPG

Well it’s officially December ( so no one can moan at me for talking about Christmas anymore ) and I have to apologise for our lack of posts recently, but December will be jam packed with lovely little recipes. This is my most absolute favourite time of the year. My apartment is filled with Christmas fragrance so every time I get a whiff or walk in the door I get a whoosh of happiness. Little glass bowls of chocolate coins and reindeers are dotted around, the fruit bowl is filled with clementines, the banister is wrapped in garlands and little red berry fairy lights and I am armed with mince meat, Christmas pudding, spices and indulgent liqueurs ( Baileys being my number one ) to make beautifully decorated and simply devine treats all dusted in glitter of course!

These little trees are so fun to make and are perfect with a cup of tea or a little shot of amaretto to sip in the evening when your all wrapped up and cosy. You can of course choose any shape you prefer and you always change the candied orange to cranberries, dried apricot or anything that takes your fancy.

Ingredients

225g butter, softened
140g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp amaretto liqueur + a little one to sip whilst baking
280g plain flour
Pinch of salt
100g white chocolate chips
50g candied orange bits

Method

Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolk and amaretto. Sift the flour and salt into the mixture and add the chocolate and orange and combine. Shape into a ball and cut in half and shape into two separate balls. Cover in cling film and place in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190 degreesC and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Roll each ball out separately between two sheets of baking parchment and cut out the trees with your cookie cutter. Place on the baking tray and bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Let them cool for 5 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired. I mixed 3 tbsp of icing sugar with a little amaretto and drizzled with a teaspoon over the cookies then added edible glitter. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!