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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Ricotta and cherry cheesecake

 This cheesecake is perfect on a summer evening with a large scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream on the side. It’s delicious and light, not to mention very easy to make. You can add different types of berries if you can’t get cherries and it will be just as delicious. It’s also great for entertaining as it can be made well in advance.

Ingredients

200g good quality ricotta

200g sour cream

200g fresh cherries, deseeded & roughly chopped plus extra to garnish

175g caster sugar

3 large eggs

Zest of 1 lemon

1 vanilla pod

150g digestive biscuits

70g butter

1 tbsp, icing sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degreesC. Place all the digestives into a sandwich/freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin until you have fine crumbs. In a pan, melt the butter and add the biscuits ( if too dry add more butter ) then press into a 9 inch cake tin to form the base. In a food processor mix together all the ingredients apart from the cherries until smooth. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and then add the cherries. Place in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes until golden and very slightly wobbly. Place tin foil over the cheesecake and leave to cool. Remove from tin, place on a serving plate and garnish with cherries and a sprinkle of icing sugar. Enjoy!

Smoked salmon, spinach and chargrilled pepper open sandwich with garlic and herb cream cheese.

  

I’ve been making this sandwich for the last few days and I love it. I’m now determined to get fit for summer as it’s very scarily fast approaching and obviously as we all well know it’s not just exercise we need to think about.

Now that spring is well and truly here and the sun is shining, I find it a bit easier to get motivated to exercise and take care of myself (most of the time). So this sandwich idea is great for feeling full and satisfied as well as it being tasty and good for you too.

 

Serves 1

Ingredients

 70g Scottish smoked salmon

2 small slices wholegrain bread

1-2 tbsp garlic & herb cream cheese (you can pick a low fat version if counting calories)

4-5 chargrilled peppers (jarred in olive oil)

1 large handful of spinach

Tsp lemon juice

Salt & pepper to season

 

Method

 Firstly toast your slices of bread on both sides then spread with cream cheese. Add a generous helping of spinach followed by the smoked salmon and peppers. Finish with a small squeeze of lemon juice and pepper. Serve with your favourite herbal tea and Enjoy!

Some smoked salmon can be saltier than others so you may need a pinch of salt, I didn’t have too but judge for yourself and see what you think. You can also be more adventurous and add the garlic and herbs to a cream cheese of your choice and make the chargrilled peppers at home. I just opted for this quick version as a midweek lunch on the go.

 

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!
   

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.

  

Orecchiette with radicchio, peas and smoked pancetta

DSC_0239  Orecchiette “little ears” as it translates in Italian. The pasta shape resembles little ears although I try not to think about that as I’m eating it. It’s not the most appetising thought. This is a quick, simple and excellent dish to make, as are most of our recipes. There are times when I like to take time cooking, relaxing with a glass of wine, making homemade pasta, stewing or roasting things for hours but just by chance a lot of what we make is delicious, easy, simple and takes no time at all. Perfect for everyday cooking. We have changed this recipe a few times in the past and maybe it will change again but that’s what cooking is all about, you can add, takeaway and adjust things as you like so try this out and let us know what you think. If you make any adjustments, great! Let us know how you like to mix up your recipes!

Serves 2:
250g orecchiette pasta
65g smoked cubed pancetta
2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
60g peas
1/2 chicken stock cube
2 tbsp mascarpone
Handful of radicchio, roughly chopped

First thing to get sorted is a pan of salted water and bring it to the boil. In a frying pan under a medium heat, fry the pancetta until it starts to crisp up and brown slightly. Add the pasta to the water now. Then add the chopped garlic to the pancetta, fry for a minute then add the stock cube followed by two large spoons of pasta water. Wait for the stock cube to melt then add the peas, let simmer for a couple minutes. Taste the pasta and drain if “al dente”. Turn the pan to the lowest heat and add the mascarpone followed by a little pepper. I found this needed no salt as the pancetta is quite salty and the stock cube adds seasoning too but give the sauce a taste and see what you think. Finally add the pasta to the sauce and mix thoroughly. Add some of the chopped radicchio and transfer to lovely big bowls and finally top with the rest of the radicchio. Enjoy!!

P.s Make sure you don’t add the radicchio too soon into the pasta as it loses it’s lovely vibrant purple colour and turns brown when cooked.

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Marsala nectarines with basil and vanilla mascarpone

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Deliciously fruity, sweet, sharpe and creamy. The perfect pudding for a summers night. I have noticed the recent nectarines and peaches we’ve been buying are not quite as soft as they used to be, it may be because we are heading for the end of summer and the season. However this recipe is the perfect way to use up the fruit that’s not quite soft enough to eat on it’s own and can also be made with perfectly ripe fruit. It’s so quick, easy and delicious..what’s not to like?

Serves 2
2 nectarines
6 tbsp Marsala
5tbsp water
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp icing sugar
125g Mascarpone
1/2 vanilla pod
2 basil leaves, to garnish.

Firstly cut the nectarines into wedges. Heat a non stick pan on a medium heat and dry fry the nectarines until slightly coloured. Meanwhile mix the mascarpone with the icing sugar and vanilla, set aside in the fridge.
Once the nectarines have coloured add the Marsala and let it bubble for a minute then add the water and caster sugar and let it thicken slightly to create the sauce.
Place the nectarines on plates and create a quenelle with the mascarpone using two spoons, garnish with basil leave and drizzle with more delicious sauce.