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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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!
   

Smoked salmon patè with black pepper crackers.

 

 
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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.
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Roasted carrot soup with a kick!

imageRecently I’ve been feeling like eating a lot of soup and I’m not sure why? It’s not something that normally gets me excited but it’s great for a cheap lunch and it always lasts me a few days plus it’s so healthy and good for you! I felt so good after eating this soup and it was so delicious and warming even although it’s still 26 degrees outside! I’m a bit Christmas obsessed and as soon as it hits October I get all excited and I think right, weather’s getting colder, leaves are falling off the trees…time for stews, soups and hearty dishes. Time to wear beautiful cosy jumpers and soon it’ll be time to make the house all glittery and sparkly but of of course I’m not in Scotland anymore and it’s still too hot here in Italy for gillets and jumpers. Is it bad I wish it would just get cold so I can wear my winter clothes? Anyway I also love the texture and thickness of this soup but you can water it down to how you like it.

750g carrots, peeled & roughly chopped
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 large cloves of garlic, skins still on
1 tsp of turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 litre of chicken stock
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp Greek yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. In a baking tray add the chopped carrot, garlic, rosemary and drizzle with a tbsp olive oil. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until soft and starting to brown. In a large saucepan under a medium heat add 1 tbsp of olive oil and the onions. Add the turmeric, cumin, cayenne and chilli and stir until soft then add the carrots and pop the garlic out their skins and add them in too, discard the rosemary. Give the carrot mixture a stir then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Using a hand blender, blend everything until thick and smooth ( if it’s too thick add a little water until it’s to your liking ). Finally add the lime juice, taste to see if it needs any salt then serve in large bowls with a dollop of Greek yogurt. So delicious!

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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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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Spicy chorizo, chicken and vegetable bake with pesto dressing.

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Spicy, paprika oil coated over beautifully cooked vegetables and juicy chicken. It’s delicious. It’s very easy to assemble and there’s not much cooking involved so you can chop everything up put it in the oven and it’s ready. I love this when I have had a busy day or I’m tired and want something that’s easy but tastes so good. The pesto dressing and feta give a burst of flavour so although it’s so easy to make it’s really delicious. You can also use chicken thighs in this and put them in to the tray along with the potatoes and veg. There’s no need to brown them first and they are so tender when they are ready. I have to say I usually use chicken thighs when I make this as they are so cheap and much more succulent but we had chicken breasts in the fridge so we used them. This dish is all about using up what you have. The main ingredients I would always use in this is the chorizo, feta and pesto. Other than that you can chop and change your veg to what suits you.

Serves 4

1/2 chorizo picante sausage
2 chicken breasts
2 large potatoes
1 large yellow pepper
1 large red pepper<a
1 fennel bulb
8 cloves of garlic
1 red onion
4 large mushrooms
100g Feta

For the pesto:
Small handful of basil
2 tbsp olive oil
Small pinch of pine nuts, around 6 or 7
1/2 garlic clove
Small handful of grated parmesan

Set the oven to 200 degrees C. Roughly chop the peppers, red onion, fennel and potatoes and place in a large baking tray. Add the garlic, unpeeled into the tray and tuck away behind the veg so it’s hidden. Season with plenty salt and pepper and drench in plenty olive oil. Place this in the oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile roughly chop your chicken breasts and cook them in a small frying pan for 2 minutes just to brown but not cooked through. Set aside. Roughly chop your chorizo and slice your mushrooms. After 20 minutes add the chicken, chorizo and mushrooms to the tray with a little olive oil and bake for 10 minutes. Now add all the pesto ingredients into a bowl and blitz with a hand blender until smooth, season with salt and pepper. Add the feta then cook for a further 5 minutes. Let it cool for 5 minutes drizzle with the pesto then serve. Delicious and easy.

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Spicy chorizo, chicken and vegetable bake with pesto dressing.

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Spicy, paprika oil coated over beautifully cooked vegetables and juicy chicken. It’s delicious. It’s very easy to assemble and there’s not much cooking involved so you can chop everything up put it in the oven and it’s ready. I love this when I have had a busy day or I’m tired and want something that’s easy but tastes so good. The pesto dressing and feta give a burst of flavour so although it’s so easy to make it’s really delicious. You can also use chicken thighs in this and put them in to the tray along with the potatoes and veg. There’s no need to brown them first and they are so tender when they are ready. I have to say I usually use chicken thighs when I make this as they are so cheap and much more succulent but we had chicken breasts in the fridge so we used them. This dish is all about using up what you have. The main ingredients I would always use in this is the chorizo, feta and pesto. Other than that you can chop and change your veg to what suits you.

Serves 4

1/2 chorizo picante sausage
2 chicken breasts
2 large potatoes
1 large yellow pepper
1 large red pepper<a
1 fennel bulb
8 cloves of garlic
1 red onion
4 large mushrooms
100g Feta

For the pesto:
Small handful of basil
2 tbsp olive oil
Small pinch of pine nuts, around 6 or 7
1/2 garlic clove
Small handful of grated parmesan

Set the oven to 200 degrees C. Roughly chop the peppers, red onion, fennel and potatoes and place in a large baking tray. Add the garlic, unpeeled into the tray and tuck away behind the veg so it’s hidden. Season with plenty salt and pepper and drench in plenty olive oil. Place this in the oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile roughly chop your chicken breasts and cook them in a small frying pan for 2 minutes just to brown but not cooked through. Set aside. Roughly chop your chorizo and slice your mushrooms. After 20 minutes add the chicken, chorizo and mushrooms to the tray with a little olive oil and bake for 10 minutes. Now add all the pesto ingredients into a bowl and blitz with a hand blender until smooth, season with salt and pepper. Add the feta then cook for a further 5 minutes. Let it cool for 5 minutes drizzle with the pesto then serve. Delicious and easy.

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The simplest creamy tomato soup with Tuscan stracchino sausage rolls.

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We’ve noticed a big change in the weather here the last few days. It’s much cooler although when the sun is shining it’s still like a nice warm summers day. So with the cooler weather coming and Autumn on it’s way it got us in the mood for some soup although I’m not a big soup fan to be honest. I enjoy it when I’m eating it and on a very rare occasion I’ll get a little hankering for it but it’s not something I get excited about. Tuscan sausages and tangy stracchino cheese on the other hand, certainly does. So why not have them both? Stracchino is a slightly thicker cream cheese, it has a lovely tang to it almost like goats cheese does minus the goatiness ( if you know what I mean ). If you can’t find stracchino then a mild, runny goats cheese or strong cream cheese would work well. Also when I buy normal sausages here they are already seasoned with lots of salt, pepper and fennel seeds so there is no need what so ever for me to add any but feel free to add what ever seasoning works for you.

For the soup:
2x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
400ml chicken stock
200g thick cream
Basil, handful plus extra to garnish
Salt and pepper, to season

For the sausage rolls: ( makes 4 large )
1 packet ready rolled puff pastry
2 large sausages
100g stracchino
1 egg beaten, in a bowl with a splash of milk

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
First of all take the sausages out of their skins and place in a bowl. Add the stracchino cheese and mix together until thoroughly combined. Now using your hands mould the sausage mixture back into a sausage shape and place in the centre of your ready rolled puff pastry, joining them together bit by bit until it looks as if there is a long sausage in the centre of your pastry. Brush one side of your pastry with beaten egg and fold your pastry over tucking the pastry into the sausage slightly with your fingers. Now brush the egg all over your pastry until completely covered. Using a fork seal the edges by pressing the fork into your pastry all along the edge. Cut your sausage rolls into your desired size and trim away any excess pastry off the edge. I cut ours in half and then in quarters. Transfer to your baking try and make a couple little cuts on the top of your sausage rolls to let the steam out. Place your sausage rolls in the oven for 20 minutes until golden. Meanwhile you can make the soup, in a large pot under a high heat add the tinned tomatoes along with the stock and bring to boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down low and add your cream, in Italy they use long life thick cream and there is no such thing as double cream here so that is what I use. You can use what ever cream you prefer. Now add a little handful of basil and using a hand blender blitz until smooth. Add salt and pepper to season. Check your sausage rolls are nice and golden and serve.

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Fritto Misto

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Crispy calamari with crunchy, salty anchovies, carrot and courgette. This is one of my favourite dishes to order in a restaurant especially in the summer with a crisp, cold glass of prosecco.
For people who say squid tastes like rubber bands, they simply have not had it cooked properly. If it is cooked too long, especially fried it will get tough. You only need a few minutes to create this beauty.
For me there is nothing better than biting in to a crispy, salty piece of calamari with a squeeze of lemon. My favourite is the little tentacle pieces they are absolutely delicious!
I have tried dipping the calamari in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and panko breadcrumbs but I have to say I do prefer dusting them in flour with plenty salt and pepper. It is so easy and delicious and because they are slightly wet after the cleaning process, when dunked into the flour it clumps slightly around the succulent little pieces resulting in the best crunch and crispiness.
I also love the anchovies, normally when you order Fritto misto it comes with calamari and prawns but we wanted a feast for lunch and anchovies are so cheap and packed with flavour. The carrot and courgette are also brilliant in this dish. I could eat a big plate of these thin and crispy carrot and courgette chips just on their own. What’s not to like?

We made this just for the two of us ( yes I know what you are thinking ) and we have to admit it was very, very filling. I was full up half way through but continued stuffing my face because it was so good and couldn’t bare it going to waste. So a sensible person would say, this serves four…

1/2kg calamari, cleaned and membrane removed
1/2kg fresh anchovies, cleaned, gutted and heads removed
1 carrot, peeled and cut into think strips
1 courgette, cut into thin strips.
Flour, to completely cover all of above, 500g
Sunflower oil, 1 litre
1 lemon
Parsley, handful
Salt and pepper
Brown paper for draining & baking paper

Firstly put the oil in a large pot under a medium heat and pre heat the oven on the lowest setting. Get three bowls ready and divide the flour among them and add plenty salt and pepper.
Cut the calamari into lovely little rings and place into one bowl. After peeling the carrot and cutting it with a sharp knife along with the courgette into very thin strips place them into another bowl and finally place the prepared anchovies into the third bowl.
Make sure you have plates ready, lined with brown paper to drain the fritto misto. Also have a tray ready in the oven lined with baking paper to keep the first batch warm as the rest is cooking.
Make sure the calamari, anchovies and veg are all completely covered in flour in their bowls. Test the oil with a small piece of bread and if it sizzles and floats then it is ready.
Now start frying, in small batches and starting with the veg. It only takes a few minutes. When you see them turning crispy and slightly golden, remove them onto the brown paper to drain. Continue the process then with the anchovies and finally the calamari. Place the batches into the oven as you go to keep them warm. Serve on a large serving plate with wedges of lemon and a sprinkling of parsley. Oh and a nice cold bottle of prosecco. Enjoy!