Tag Archives: Italian

Mini pizzas

I haven’t blogged for a while and was keen to get one out there before the year end!  So this one is a recipe/recipes that I have used a lot over recent months.  Partly because they are so quick, partly because they are relatively healthy, as you control the ingredients, and mainly because I have never been disappointed whatever combination of ingredients I have decided upon!

The main ingredient in this dish is the Buitoni mini pizza bases.  You get 8 in a pack so good for 4 people (2 pizzas each) or a good party size if you halve them after cooking.

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From there I’ve used a base topping of either creme fraiche or tinned tomatoes.  The creme fraiche topping was inspired by a trip to France earlier in the year and I have to say it is my favourite.

I usually spread some herbs on the main sauce (basil, oregano, pesto, parsley, etc).  Well some combination of these, not all!

Then on top of that I’ve added chicken or chorizo as my meat of choice (I always pre-cook the chicken to be on the safe side).  And then some vegetables from mushrooms, onions, peppers, courgette (which I usually pre-cook if I’m doing it with chicken although it’s not really necessary).

From then I might add cherry tomatoes before the cheese (I usually choose between feta or cheddar or parmesan).

I bake them in the oven for 10 mins on 220 and enjoy a great dish afterwards.  Recently we made them with our niece so they are child friendly and can be quite a good interactive cooking dish with kids.  Also I made a few for our house warming so great party food also.  I’ve tested them on various guests that came to visit and no disappointment yet even amongst foodies.  Alternatively I have a couple with salad for my dinner.  They are an easy thing to make quickly from whatever you have in the fridge so definitely my recommendation from 2014, even if they are not the most advanced dish!  Sometimes the most simple are the best 🙂

Here you have a picture of one of my favourites:

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Happy New Year to anyone reading!!!

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Filed under Cheese, Chicken, French, Healthy, Italian, Pizza

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

Tagliatelle con gamberi (Tagliatelle with prawns and a creamy sauce)

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My second post in two days!  You can tell the holidays are here and I’m getting to do more of my favourite things 🙂  Today I choose another recipe from my Gino D’Acampo pasta recipe book that I got for my birthday.  This time I bought the pasta 😦  But fresh pasta at least!  With two blogs in two days, making pasta as well would have been a big investment of time when I’m supposed to be packing ready for our Christmas UK trip!

So I choose a prawn based dish as I bought close to 40 prawns yesterday!  The remainder are safely put away in the freezer which will be handy as I’ve a feeling I will be repeating this dish regularly 🙂  I’m really trying to believe Gino when he says pasta is a healthy dish and therefore I don’t have to feel guilty at eating it so often!

I used 8 prawns to make enough for two people.  I shelled them, leaving the tails on and put to one side.  I chopped one shallot, 8 cherry tomatoes, about 50g of walnuts and a handful of parsley.

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I melted 20g of butter with 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a big frying pan and gently fried the shallot with the walnuts for about 2 mins.  Then I added the prawns and the tomatoes, salt and pepper and cooked on a higher heat for about 30 seconds.  I also put the pasta on according to the packet instructions (mine was fresh tagliatelle so 4 mins).

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At this point the recipe says to add brandy which I don’t keep in my kitchen.  I just don’t use enough of it to warrant buying a whole bottle and I would never have it as a drink!  So instead, I used a teaspoon of white wine vinegar which seemed to work fine!  Once I added this, I cooked it for a further minute before adding 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and about 150ml of double cream.  Then I heated it for a further 2 mins.

The final step was to add the chopped parsley and then add the pasta and mix everything well together for approximately 30 seconds to let the flavours blend well.

Again, a simple recipe but a really good combination of flavours between the prawns, walnuts and the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes.  I’m really enjoying this recipe book!

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Filed under Fish, Food, Food blogging, Herbs, Italian, Recipes, Uncategorized

Ravioli con chorizo piccante (spicy chorizo and ricotta stuffed ravioli)

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It was my birthday recently and one of the great presents I received was Gino D’Acampo’s Pasta recipe book.  I already have a pasta machine so it seemed another good opportunity to put it to good use and make a different type of pasta to what I’ve featured on this blog before.  I do remember making ravioli many years ago and thinking it was pretty fiddly.  This time was no exception and even trying the trick of making giant ravioli didn’t save me too much time!

Anyway the end result was good so it can be a once in a while, Sunday afternoon thing!

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I started by making the pasta; mixing 2 cups of 00 flour with two eggs and drizzling over a little bit of olive oil and some salt.  I mixed it together until it became crumbly and then rolled it into a ball and started kneading for about 5 minutes (if it is too crumbly add a teaspoon of water).  I wrapped it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for 20 mins.

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In the meantime, I started making the filling; finely chopping 100g of chorizo and frying in a bit of oil with a teaspoon of chilli flakes (use a fresh chilli if you have it) for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  I let the chorizo cool in a bowl and then added 250g of ricotta and 1 tablespoon of dried parsley (again if you have it fresh, use it! – I could only see it mixed with garlic yesterday in the supermarket so had to go without).  Mix well and transfer to the fridge for 10 mins, after covering in clingfilm.

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Back to the pasta task!  I split the dough ball into three and started flattening with my hands before moving to the pasta machine and running it through all the settings until I reached the thinnest one.  Make sure you keep the sheets well floured during this process to prevent sticking.  The pasta sheets were so long I had to halve them again so in the end I had 6 fairly long sheets.

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I let them dry a little and then placed them on a floured surface.  I added a teaspoon of the mixture about 4cm apart on one sheet and brushed the space between the fillings with some beaten egg.  Then I placed another sheet on the top and pressed in the gaps of the fillings with my fingers and cut them using a pizza cutter (I didn’t have a special pasta cutter so no pretty edges on my ravioli 😦 )  Now if you don’t want giant ravioli, I would suggest folding each sheet over rather than using two.  Up to you!

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I then put them in some fast boiling, salted water for 3 minutes before trying to arrange them on the plate.  Sprinkle over a bit of salt and pepper and drizzle over some olive oil.  From these ingredients I made 16 (giant!) raviolis so I have enough for two dinners, for two people.  I have floured the 8 that I did not cook and covered them and put them in the fridge for tomorrow.  Hopefully they will keep well!

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The taste was very good!  Nice and spicy with the cheese as a contrast.  I couldn’t find ricotta in the supermarket here, so I used queso fresco which somewhere on the internet told me it was a suitable substitute (closer to cottage cheese I would say).  I think ricotta has a slightly stronger taste so would be better if you are able to get that easily!  It was time consuming but enjoyable to make and I’m looking forward to cooking another pasta dish from the book!  Especially as the intro to the book spends a long time saying pasta is in fact a very healthy carbohydrate!!!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of 00 flour
  • 3 eggs (2 for the pasta, one for brushing the made pasta)
  • 100g of chorizo
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 250g of ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes

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Filed under Cheese, Food, Food blogging, Herbs, Italian, Pasta, Recipes, Uncategorized

Chicken Caesar salad

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Having just come back from a trip home and watching a friend eat a very tasty looking caesar salad, I thought it was time to make this dish.  Also a trip home results in a lot of eating, so I wanted to feature a salad as my next recipe in an attempt of correcting this.  Unfortunately due to the amount of mayonnaise in this dish, I think I achieved the opposite but it was delicious anyway!

The recipe is loosely based on this:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/classicchickencaesar_86187

However, as I don’t particularly like anchovies or croutons I omitted these.  I’m also going through a phase of not liking garlic so much so I omitted this also as I thought raw garlic might be overpowering for me.

I started by cooking one chicken breast in the oven for 25 minutes on 180 degrees.  While the chicken was cooking, I mixed the parmesan with the white wine vinegar although I did this in a bowl rather than a blender to save on the washing up (no issues with the results of this technique!)!  I added the mayonnaise, mustard and salt and mixed some more.

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I added the lettuce mix directly into the sauce and continued to mix.  I used a bagged salad of a few varieties of lettuce and carrot.

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I put the salad mixture on plates and added a few strips of cured ham.

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Once the chicken was cooked, I sliced it and added on top of the salad mix.  I used one chicken breast between two people.

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Finally I grated some more parmesan over the top along with some freshly ground black pepper.

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The taste was great as expected mainly due to the amount of mayonnaise in the recipe!  However, I suspect the calorie content is still much lower than you would find in a restaurant caesar salad so not so bad.  I will just have to keep it for the end of very healthy week as a weekend treat!

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Filed under Cheese, Chicken, Food, Italian, Recipes, Salad, Uncategorized

Spicy salmon mousse and homemade tagliatelle with chicken and asparagus

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Today’s blog is more than one recipe again 🙂  A starter and a main;  spicy salmon mousse served with rocket and bread followed by homemade tagliatelle with a chicken and asparagus sauce.

The starter is from a book I have from the TV show Come Dine with Me.  Definitely recommend it to anyone who has not watched it although like most reality type tv shows, the earlier shows were the better ones!  The commentator still makes me laugh though even though the contestants have gotten more extreme over time!

The main course was decided as after 3 years living in Barcelona, I finally found the flour I needed to utilise my pasta machine!  I’ve probably moaned on here before about the limited range of flour in Barcelona so this flour came from a specialist Italian store.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a bag of flour 🙂

To start the salmon mousse I added 100g of smoked salmon (keeping a couple of small strips aside for garnish), 1.5 tablespoons of double cream, 150g cream cheese, a squeeze of lemon, half a teaspoon of parsley and a teaspoon of chilli flakes to a blender and mixed until smooth.  This made enough for 3 ramekins where I added the garnish on top and put into the fridge to set.  It goes great with rocket leaves and fresh bread for dipping directly in the mousse 🙂  These ingredients make enough for 3 people (same for the main).

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For the main, I added 2 cups (200g) of 00 flour and 2 eggs into a blender and mixed until the dough started to form.  Then I kneaded it for a couple of minutes on a floured surface, before putting it into the fridge for one hour (wrapped in cling film).

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After one hour, I removed it from the fridge and sliced in half ready for rolling.

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I rolled it into two relatively long strips before getting some help from the pasta machine!

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The biggest challenge with the machine was attaching it well enough to a surface!  The table would not work despite my intense level of concentration….

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…neither a chair, nor a coffee table!  In the end a bedside table seemed to do the trick but still with an element of holding the machine steady!  Another day where I wished for a bigger, more equipped kitchen!  But anyway, got there in the end!

I put the strips through the machine 6 times (twice on three different settings, getting thinner each time).

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Then I used the tagliatelle attachment of the pasta maker, cutting the long strips into two pieces so the tagliatelle was of a normal length!

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I find it quite a fun process, pretty simple but it’s always nice to make something that is shop bought 99% of the time, at home 🙂

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I put the plate of tagliatelle to one side while I concentrated on the rest of the main course.

I chopped half an onion, one quarter of a courgette, about 5 pieces of asparagus and one chicken breast.

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I cooked the chicken and the asparagus for 4-5 mins in a little bit of oil, before adding the onion and courgette for a couple more minutes.  Once they were cooked, I added one clove of garlic (crushed), 150ml of double cream and 100ml of chicken stock (I substituted this in place of white wine) and heated until the sauce started to thicken.

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In the meantime I cooked the pasta in boiling water with a bit of salt and olive oil for 3-4 minutes.  I added 1 tablespoon of fresh basil and 50g of freshly grated parmesan to the sauce, mixed well before also adding the cooked pasta.

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The result was so good!!!  I think this is actually one of my simpler posts but actually it has to be one of my favourites 🙂  I even went back for seconds which is not like me!  The taste was really rich and the pasta did taste fresh.  Just a really nice, simple dish that I really recommend!

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Filed under Cheese, Chicken, Fish, Food, Herbs, Italian, Pasta, Recipes, Starter, Uncategorized

Blogging 1 year on! – Razor clams (navajas) with chorizo, Seafood and cava risotto, Arancini and Stewed plums!

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It is hard to believe but one year has passed already that I’ve been blogging!  On average, I’ve stuck to my one blog a month rule but it is true that I was much more productive in the beginning!  However, to celebrate this one year, try to put this right and make the most of the fact I had friends staying who also love cooking, we managed all of the recipes listed in the title over two meals this weekend!  The cava recipe was chosen especially for the one year celebration 🙂

The starter was Rob’s inspiration following a visit to the local market:

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Razor clams (navajas) with chorizo, shallots and red pepper!  When I met Rob he was always quite random with his cooking ingredients, never measuring anything with sometimes amazing results and sometimes not so amazing… I think he will forgive me for mentioning his syrup sponge pudding which was more like a soup (although it still tasted amazing!).  Over the years he has perfected many techniques and is a great cook so now the random recipes are usually great too 😉  which included this one!

I’d never cooked razor clams before and it was quite a new experience as I discovered they were still alive while washing them.  They made some noise and were kind of pulsing a little.  I’ve come a long way with food but still, this gave me the heebie-jeebies!  If in doubt, you can find the definition here:

http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/heebie-jeebies

We grilled them (alive! yes we felt kind of bad for some seconds…) for a couple of minutes until the shells opened and then cleaned them again (removing the dark parts) although I have to say thanks to Kristine and Rob for doing this dirty job!  In the meantime we had chopped up about 10 shallots (after soaking them in boiling water to make the skins come off more easily), roasting a red pepper for 20 mins, removing the skin and chopping and also chopping about 100g of chorizo.  We cooked the shallots, red pepper and chorizo in a bit of oil on the hob for about 5 mins before adding the razor clams for a couple more minutes.  Then we put all the ingredients back in the shells to serve.  We used about about 15 razor clams for 4 people.

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The next course was inspired by my blog entries.  In honour of the anniversary, the guest chefs had to choose one (or two as it turned out!) recipes from my blog from the past year.  They chose risotto and arancini but with a slight variation this time in that it was seafood and cava 🙂  Again we took the inspiration from the market and chose razor clams and shelled and unshelled prawns with Kristine being head of ingredient sourcing!  The remaining ingredients were shallots, asparagus, fish stock, rice and butter.

We snapped the asparagus ends off (using about 15 in total).  This was Rob’s tip for knowing how much to remove from the end;  bend them until their natural point of breaking and then all the “bad” part is removed.  We boiled the ends in about a litre of water for about 30 mins with 2 fish stock cubes to make the stock before blending.

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In the meantime we melted a knob of butter and gently fried the chopped shallots (approx. 10) before adding about 300g of rice and one glass of cava.  Once the rice had absorbed the cava, we started to gently add the stock, one ladle at a time, waiting until the liquid was soaked up before adding another one.  We added the remaining asparagus and continued this process for about 25 mins.

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We added 8 unshelled prawns and cooked for about 4-5 mins before removing and then adding the shelled prawns (approx. 12) and cooking for 2 mins.  We added a little more butter and ground pepper, mixed well and placed the unshelled prawns on top before serving.

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For the next day we decided to use the leftover risotto for arancini.  We used about a quarter of a baguette to make breadcrumbs and added flour to a plate and one beaten egg to a dish.  We rolled the rice mixture into small balls, rolled in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs.  We cooked them on an oiled baking tray for 25 mins at 200 degrees.

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The final dish went through various interations due to when we were going to cook it and the remaining time available before their flight home!  So in the end we did stewed plums 🙂  We cut the plums into quarters, removing the stones and added to a pan with 4 tablespoons of water, 6 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.  We stewed in the pan (with the lid on) for about 15 mins until the plums were soft.  Fairly easy but delicious!

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I guess this must be my longest blog ever!  Definitely the most recipes at one time which is fitting for the one year anniversary!  I’ve really enjoyed the blogging experience and over this weekend, it’s been really nice to look back at all the recipes I’ve done and hope that I’ve learnt something along the way.  The best part of this though was to celebrate it with friends, friends who share the love of cooking and eating.  A very special occasion and photographic evidence is provided below demonstrating just quite how small this cuineta is!

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Filed under Desserts, English, Fish, Food, Italian, Recipes, Rice, Uncategorized