Peperoncino & Fennel rounds.

imageThese little biscuits are so delicious and perfect at this time of year. I first tried these from a Nigella recipe which calls for only handfulls of parmesan in the dough resulting in a soft, crumbly cheesey shortbread. I loved them and couldn’t believe how easy they were! I added my own little twist here by adding chilli flakes and fennel seeds. I love the spicy kick it gives. Enjoy these on their own with a glass of prosecco in hand or with some nice cheeses and chutney.

Makes 35-40

Ingredients

150g plain flour

100g soft butter

1 free range egg yolk

1tbsp fennel seeds

1tbsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

 

Put all ingredients in a food processor and whizz until it forms a clump.

Turn it out and give it a kneed for only around 30 seconds, until smooth, then divide into two.

Take the first half and roll into a sausage shape about 3cm in diameter. Make sure ends are flat so the cylinder resembles a roll of coins. Roll this in in cling film so it resembles a christmas cracker and put in the fridge. Do the same with the other half and leave to rest in the fridge for 45mins.

Pre heat the oven to 180 degreesC. Cut the cylinders into pound coin rounds and arrange on lined baking tray.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they are a soft golden colour around the edges. Leave to cool and enjoy!

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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.

Courgette, chilli and gorgonzola arancini.

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How to use up left over risotto..make arancini. Arancini are balls of risotto stuffed with cheese or sometimes ragΓΉ, originally from Sicily. The name derives from their shape and color, which is reminiscent of an orange (the Italian word for orange is arancia, and arancina means “little orange”). They are then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried, so delicious. Every time we make risotto we always make enough to make these the next day. They’re perfect for a picnic or as a snack. Just as delicious hot and crispy as they are cold.

Makes 8 Arancini

640g Courgette, chilli and ricotta risotto (this is how much we had left over)
1 egg, beaten in a bowl
80g fine breadcrumbs
60g plain flour
1 litre sunflower oil
8 small cubes of gorgonzola cheese
Salt and pepper, to season
Brown paper or kitchen roll, to drain

Place the oil into a deep pot and place under a low-medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to your breadcrumbs on one plate and place your flour on another. Using a normal sized cutlery table spoon shape the risotto into balls, one and a half spoons make a decent sized ball. Then using your finger poke a hole in the middle of the ball. Add a cube of gorgonzola or mozzarella if you prefer and then close the hole back up again by rolling the ball.
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Do this to all 8 balls then roll each one in flour. After the flour, dip them in the beaten egg and then roll them in breadcrumbs making sure they are completely covered. Check your oil is ready by placing a small piece of bread in the oil, if it floats and turns a nice golden colour, it’s ready. Fry your arancini in the oil in batches, 3 or 4 at a time until they turn a lovely golden colour. This only takes a couple minutes. Drain on brown paper or kitchen roll and serve straight away or when cooled, keep them in the fridge for up to 1 day and eat cold, lovely.

Courgette, chilli and ricotta risotto.

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Risotto is one of those dishes that people seem to run away from and think it’s very complicated and difficult to make when it’s actually really easy. Just keep stirring it, let it soak up the lovely stock as you go and within 20 minutes, your done! You also won’t be disappointed with the taste either. The thing with risotto is you can add any flavours you want and make it up as you like. I have seen believe it or not a few strawberry risottos here in Italian restaurants but yet to try it…hmm.

Serves 4

400g arborio risotto rice
1 litre chicken stock
2 courgettes, grated
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 tub, ricotta
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
Pinch of nutmeg, grated
Salt, to season

First of all bring a litre of chicken stock to the boil and turn to a low heat. Meanwhile add your chopped onion into a large pan under a low-medium heat until they start to soften. Add the garlic and chilli keeping a few pieces to garnish and soften for a minute. Then add the grated courgette for a few seconds before adding the rice. Cook the rice just for a minute, make sure you keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the pan or burn then add a few ladles of stock. The stock should just slightly cover the rice, now let it simmer and keep on stirring it until you notice the rice soaking up the stock. As the rice becomes slightly drier add more stock and continue with this process until the stock is finished. By this time the rice should be al dente. Turn the heat right down low and add half the ricotta then season with salt to taste. The rice may need more salt, if you think so make sure you taste as you go. Now add a generous grating of parmesan. Serve your risotto in nice bowls, I like to level my risotto out as it cools much quicker and you can really taste the flavours. If food is piping hot the flavours aren’t nearly as intense. Finally top with a spoon of ricotta, sprinkling of chilli and a small grating of parmesan.
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