Monthly Archives: March 2014

Pasta with fresh fava beans, chard and pancetta & Cream of butternut squash soup

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I had my second veg box delivery this week after being on holiday for a week and the main item was fava beans or at least that was how it seemed based on size.  There was also butternut squash, lettuce, chard and leeks but the fava beans were the ingredient most unfamliar to me.

For this recipe I was able to utilise both the fava beans and some of the chard and it led to a tasty pasta dish:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/fettuccine-with-fresh-fava-beans-and-pancetta-recipe.html

I would definitely recommend this recipe but with the disclaimer that to use fresh fava beans, you should set aside a good few hours!!!  The ones I got seemed to be very small and the process of taking them out of the pods took almost an hour alone.  Then after blanching them in the water it was probably close to another hour to take them out of the shells.  Due to the fact they were so small, I’m not 100% convinced I could really taste them in the recipe either!  But well, one of the aims of this blog was to learn more about different foods so I will think twice about including them in a recipe in future 🙂  Also it is Sunday, so a couple of hours working on a dish is a treat anyway!

All the favas at he beginning:

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Step 1; taking them out of the pods

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Step 2; about to be blanched:

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Step 3; taking them out of their shells after blanching:

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The easier parts of the recipe…:

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From my box this week I also made a tasty butternut squash soup. The butternut squash was the complete contrast to the fava beans as it was enormous, meaning I made quite a thick soup!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/creamybutternutsquas_88084

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Filed under Food, Food blogging, Italian, Pasta, Recipes, Soup, Starter, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Spinach, spinach and more spinach!

Following the veg box delivery last week, I had a lot of spinach in my fridge so this weekend has been dominated by recipes including this green vegetable!!!

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It started Saturday morning with Eggs and Spinach en cocotte.  I had done a cocotte before:

https://creationsfromlacuineta.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/oeufs-en-cocotte-eggs-in-pots/

They are really tasty, a real treat for a weekend breakfast so a good way to use the spinach.  Again it was really tasty and you can find the recipe I used here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/eggsandspinachencoco_88059

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Next up was Saturday dinner 🙂  I really fancied a curry, so I did this Chicken and Spinach Balti recipe:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/chickenandspinachbal_86977

Really nice flavours from the yoghurt marinade and the spinach gave it something extra for sure.  I usually don’t have spinach in my curries and I’ve eaten a lot of curries over the course of my life so quite a turning point!

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And now this brings us to Sunday night!  As I’m writing this, I’ve been cooking a Ghanaian Beef and Spinach Stew for about 2 hours by now!

http://www.girlcooksworld.com/2011/03/shoko-ghanaian-beef-and-spinach-stew.html

It comes from a really nice blog which features gluten free recipes.  I didn’t have all the ingredients (serrano peppers for example) but I have suitable substitutes and also was able to add a couple of my organic carrots and some leeks.  You can see what it looks like below!  I just need to add the spinach and it will soon be ready to eat!

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For anyone who has not yet had enough of spinach while reading this post, you can find all the health benefits of spinach here:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-spinach

I should definitely be feeling stronger and ready to tackle Monday!!!

Thanks to the BBC for providing a lot of inspiration this weekend!

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Filed under Beef, Casserole, Food, Food blogging, French, Healthy, Herbs, Indian, Recipes, Rice, Slow cooking, Stew, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Cream of Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

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It was a very exciting day today; I got my first veg box delivery!!!  I’ve wanted to do this for a long time but always struggled with the idea of where it could be delivered when working most of the hours in a day.  I discovered last week that some people at my work were organising a once a week delivery, so I snapped up the chance to be involved.

The first box contained spinach, lettuce, carrots, spring onions and artichokes.  Part of the reason I wanted to get a veg box was to encourage me to use ingredients I hadn’t before.  Artichokes was the only one in the box that I hadn’t used, so tonight I got to work with Artichoke Soup 🙂

I loosely followed this recipe:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/creamofjerusalemarti_84614

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Although I only had 4 artichokes and I used 4 spring onions rather than an onion.  I kept the remainder of the measurements more or less the same and it resulted in a very tasty and creamy soup.  I am a very happy cook right now!!!

One warning on this recipe; having never peeled and cut an artichoke before, I have to say it wasn’t the easiest process!  I watched a couple of youtube videos which helped me more or less.  Even though they mention the speed of oxidisation I was pretty shocked at just how fast this happens.  Therefore, definitely have a bowl of water and lemon ready to put the chopped artichokes straight into!  Also I wasn’t 100% sure that I got all the bits I should but the soup tasted good and didn’t have hard pieces in it so that was what I was hoping for at least 🙂

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Filed under Food, Food blogging, Healthy, Recipes, Soup, Uncategorized

Cava sabayon with strawberries and cherry tomatoes (Sabayon de Cava avec fraises et tomates cerises) – Sunday lunch with friends!

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I had a lunch at my place on the weekend for some special dinner guests so needed to put some effort in to make a full 3 course lunch 🙂  They are special dinner guests because when I’ve been to their place, I’ve definitely had some of the nicest meals ever so now was not the time to be cutting corners!

I decided to cook a couple of recipes which had already been on the blog as well as a new one for dessert which I will feature here; strawberries and cherry tomatoes in a sabayon sauce.  I took this approach because 3 courses is not something I do that often so to do a couple of familiar recipes, while mastering one new one seemed like a good balance where I wouldn’t get too stressed!

For the starter I did chicken nuggets which was my last post 🙂  There were 5 of us for lunch and I wanted a relatively simple starter and also so that people were not too full before the main of risotto.  The idea was that the lunch would get posher as we went through the courses!  The chicken nuggets seemed popular anyway so a good choice to kick off the lunch 🙂

Risotto is one of my old favourites and I hadn’t made it for these friends yet so a good opportunity to cook it again as the main 🙂  Also I was able to focus my energy on the dessert.  Actually in the end, the dessert was pretty simple so I would say the risotto won in terms of the most time consuming part but all in all a good mix between the dishes!

The dessert recipe comes from one of my current favourite books; Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo.  Again it looked quite light so wouldn’t be too much after the risotto.  It was pretty simple to make overall.  I think I whisked it for longer than the 10 minutes it suggested but apart from that it was quite straightforward.

The highlight of this recipe was being able to try an egg yolk separating trick with a plastic bottle that I’d seen on an internet article!  So I cracked an egg into a bowl (gently so the yolk didn’t break) and then squeezed the bottle directly above the yolk to suck it up, before depositing the yolk in a separate bowl.

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It’s probably easier if you watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAp8pEaWB1Y

I did this to get 6 egg yolks and then added 3 tablespoons of sugar.  I whisked this over a bain marie a little before adding 150 ml of cava (the recipe quotes champagne but living in Catalunya, I had to choose cava above champagne!).  Then I carried on whisking for about 15-20 minutes until the mixture thickened and was a little foamy (the tip is if you can draw a figure of eight shape in the sauce and it stays then the sauce is ready).  I chilled the sabayon sauce in the fridge until it was dessert time and I think you can do this for upto a couple of hours (one other tip; I do think the sabayon sauce evaporated a little while chilling so I didn’t have as much as I expected!).

When it was time for dessert, I put 3-4 tablespoons of the sabayon sauce into bowls and added a few quarters of strawberries and deseeded cherry tomatoes.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the finished product so I’m posting it from the book instead!

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It was definitely a nice end to this meal, with a good combination of plates.  It’s true that cherry tomatoes go very well with strawberries (apparently, scientifically speaking, strawberries and tomatoes have the same flavour components) which was a nice discovery and the sweetness of the sabayon sauce goes very well with these fruits.

Other learnings from this post are that I don’t appear to be able to spell the word dessert (just had to go through and correct many references to sand!) and also that I think my food pictures have improved when looking at my old risotto post from over a year ago 🙂  I also got a new iPhone…I guess it helped 😛

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Filed under Cherry tomatoes, Desserts, Food, Food blogging, French, Pudding, Recipes, Strawberries, Uncategorized