Gnocchi Puttanesca

I love the idea of gnocchi but I always feel like it’s cheating to not make my own even though I’ll happily use pre-made pasta. I got over my reservations to put this quick to prep meal together on my language class night. At 8.30pm I can’t be bothered with anything too labour intensive. Using spinach gnocchi allowed me also to get some greens in there. Puttanesca is my favourite pasta recipe (maybe excluding Spaghetti Vongole) and when I saw the recipe on BBC Good Food, it was an instant winner. I did add a tin of tuna to it which I think was a bit too much but my husband liked it so I’ll leave it to your discretion.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 500g gnocchi of your choice
  • 500g passata (I went for passata with veggies)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 60g kalamata olives
  • 1 tin anchovies
  • 1 tin tuna
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 250g mozzarella
  • olive oil

Method

1.) Peel the onion and finely chop

2.) Heat some oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Fry on a low heat for 5 minutes or so until starting to soften.

3.) In the meantime, chop up the olives then add to the pan with the anchovies and the capers and and fry for a couple of minutes until the anchovies breakdown.

4.) Drain the tinned tuna and add to the pan, stir for a couple of minutes.

5.) Add in the passata and the gnocchi and cook for about 5 minutes. Chop up the mozzarella.

6.) Pour the mixture into a oven-proof casserole dish then dot the mozzarella over the top.

7.) Cook under a grill for 5 minutes or so, until the mozzarella is melted and golden brown.

Fougasse + Beef & Wine Soup

During my holiday staying close to the town of Fougasse, I took it upon myself to try all of the fougasse that I could find. I normally don’t allow myself too much bread at home due to a mild gluten intolerance and a complete incapacity to stop myself eating the whole lot in two days. I was intrigued as to how homemade fougasse (from Rachel Khoo’s ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ would come out compared to the real-thing. The answer was pretty good though I think they put more oil on the outside of the bread that I tried to give it a nice crispy toasted flavour. Fougasse originates from focaccia but is spread out further for the crispiness. As for the beef and wine soup, I’ve just always had an eye on it from the cookbook ‘Two Greedy Italians’ but wasn’t sure how it would work as a vegetarian option. The soup itself was pretty salty using stock and parmesan but it paired very nicely to dip the bread into. As a recommended serving, I would serve a small portion of the soup with the bread as a starter.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 10g dried yeast
  • 250ml tepid water
  • 400g strong white flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (plus extra to brush)
  • 500ml ‘beef’ stock – I used Massel beef flavoured stock which I find has a very convincing beef flavour
  • 250ml white wine
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 50ml double cream
  • 50ml parmesan

Method

1.) Measure out the tepid water into a measuring jug and add the yeast. Leave it to brew for about 10 minutes.

2.) Measure out the flour with the salt, stir the salt into the flour so that when you pour the water on, it doesn’t instantly hit the salt which will kill the yeast.

3.) Mix the yeasty water with the flour. Knead by hand on a floured surface until the dough is soft and smells of yeast or as I did in a stand mixer with a dough hook (5 minutes). The dough will be very soft.

4.) Cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1 hour, then place in the fridge overnight.

5.) Knead the dough for 5 minutes, place back in the bowl, put a damp tea towel on top then leave to rise for 30 minutes.

6.) Split the dough into two and form an oval with each. Cut slashes into the dough like the veins of a leaf.

7.) Line a baking tray with baking paper and place the dough on top. Leave to rise for an hour.

8.) About 15 minutes before the hour is up, preheat the oven to 240 degrees C.

9.) Brush the doughs with olive oil. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 210 degrees C and bake for a further 12 – 15 minutes.

10.) For the soup, measure out the stock and grate the parmesan.

11.) Add the stock and wine to a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook for 1 minute then turn down the heat.

12.) Measure out the cream and add to the soup with a pinch of cinnamon.

13.) Tip in the parmesan and stir to melt. Serve with pieces of bread.

Roasted Fennel ‘Chorizo’ Calzone

Calzone is a folded over pizza and it’s hard to find the origins other than it being from Naples but I believe it was was created to be an efficient street/workers food, much like a British pork pie. Like pizza, the filling list is endless but I’m pretty pleased with this roasted fennel, mozzarella and chorizo shroomdog combo (I got the sausages from Sainsburys but any veggie sausage plus smoked paprika will do) adapted from Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite. This could serve 2 as a heavier meal or 4 with a side salad.

Serves 2/4

Ingredients

  • 2 large fennel bulbs
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 chorizo shroomdog sausages
  • 250g mozzarella
  • pinch fennel seeds
  • pinch chilli flakes
  • 200g pizza sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 300g white bread flour
  • 7g fast action yeast
  • 300ml tepid water

Method

1.) Preheat the oven as far as it will go (around 220 degrees C or more)

2.) Finely slice the fennel and place in a baking tray. Drizzle with 1 tbsp oil and season with salt and pepper

3.) Roast for 20 minutes, turn the fennel over after 10. Set aside.

4.) Make the dough. Measure out 300ml tepid water and add the yeast. Let it brew for at least 10 minutes. In another large bowl, measure out the flour. Add the liquid to the yeast and mix it up and knead to form a smooth dough. Oil the large bowl and place the dough back in there. Cover the bowl with cling film and let it rise for 2 hours.

5.) Slice up the sausages and fry in a frying pan with a tbsp oil. Slice up the mozzarella and set aside.

6.) Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C

7.) Knock back the dough. Divide the dough into half then lightly dust your work surface with flour. Roll the half into a ball then roll out with a rolling pin to a thin circle (as best you can).

8.) Spread out half the pizza sauce, sprinkle with half the chilli flakes and fennel seeds, sprinkle one half of the dough with half of the roasted fennel, half of the sausages and half of the mozzarella.

9.) Fold over the half of the calzone without the mozzarella and crimp the edges together to seal. Place on a pizza baking tray.

10.) Repeat with the rest of the dough and ingredients.

11.) Bake for 10 minutes.

Squid ink Spaghetti with mussels

I’m always tempted by the black squid ink spaghetti you can always find in the deli section of TK Maxx but have resisted until now. To use it I adapted a recipe from Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite by Gizzi Erskine. Gizzi is a well-known chef in the UK who used to do this great TV series where they took people’s favourite take-away dishes and made them healthier and easy to make at home. Her recipe here uses clams and N’Duja. Clams are a pain to find except at the fishmonger so I got mussels instead. N’juda is a spicy sausage so I replaced this with chorizo shroomdogs. These are stuffed with paprika and are perfect for any recipe where chorizo is used to flavour the meal. As I learnt this weekend, there are many rules when it comes to using mussels, discard any broken mussels, any mussels that are open that don’t close with gentle pressure, and any mussels that haven’t opened after cooking.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 400g squid ink spaghetti
  • 1kg mussels
  • tbsp olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 chorizo shroomdog sausages (or vegetarian sausages + paprika)
  • 300ml wine white
  • 1 lemon
  • bunch parsley
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Prepare the mussels, wash off any sand, discard any with broken shells or that won’t close after a tap.

2.) Boil some water, place the spaghetti in a pan and pour over the water, cook until soft.

3.) Peel and finely chop the garlic, slice the lemon in half, cut the sausages into slices. Dice up the parsley.

4.) In a frying pan, heat up the oil then add the garlic and chilli and fry gently for a minute.

5.) Add the sausages and fry until cooked.

6.) Add the wine and reduce to half.

7.) Add the mussels and cook for 2-3 minutes until they open.

8.) Drain the spaghetti, retaining one tbsp of water. Tip the spaghetti into the frying pan and stir.

9.) Garnish with parsley.

Beetroot and Stilton Risotto

I was hesitant about putting this on the blog as I know it’s my third risotto but it’s so different from the other two posts that it merits a post. Also I was quite keen to see how a slow-cooker risotto would come out compared to the usual standing over a pan. There wasn’t much of a difference – maybe a little bit more liquidy but that could have been due to the beetroot which I did use more of than the recipe just due to the size of the packets. My husband has kindly informed me that my picture looks a mess but trust me, it tastes better than it looks. You could switch it up a bit and use goats cheese which is a classic combination with beetroot. I got this recipe from ‘Vegetarian Slow-Cooker’ by Libby Silbermann.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 400g beetroots (I got the pre-roasted vac packed beetroot)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • olive oil
  • 100ml water
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 250g arborio rice
  • 200ml red wine
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 100g walnuts
  • 100g stilton
  • salt and pepper
  • 10g dill

Method

1.) Peel and chop the onion. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion, fry for 5 minutes until soft.

2.) In the meantime, peel and chop the garlic then add to the onions after 5 minutes with the fennel seeds and fry for another couple of minutes.

3.) Add the rice and toast lightly for a couple of minutes. Then pour in the wine and reduce down.

4.) While this is reducing, make up the vegetable stock and add 2/3 of the beetroot to a food processor/blender. If using a blender, also add the water. If not, add the water to the mixture afterwards.

5.) Add the rice mixture and the beetroot puree to the slow cooker with the vegetable stock. Cook on a high-heat for 2 hours.

6.) In the meantime, break up the walnuts and lightly toast in a frying pan until starting to be fragrant. Chop up the remaining beetroot into cubes. Chop up the stilton. Finely chop the dill.

7.) When the slow cooker is ready, add the stilton to the pan and stir to melt. Stir through the dill and top with walnuts to serve.

DOuble baked potatoes with courgette Salad

Just sat watching the Eurovision semi-final today which is cheering me up after a hard day. Can’t believe how rude some people are. Reaalllly hope Russian Woman gets through, it’s too funny. Was half-tempted to buy a boiler suit for my Eurovision party on Saturday as that’s what the singer wears though it wouldn’t be great if she wasn’t in the final. This meal is really two side dishes but the double baked potatoes with Gorgonzola just sounded too tasty (they were). Gino d’A Campo specifies Gorgonzola dolce in his recipe though it’s the only Gorgonzola I seem to find in the UK. The courgettes are meant to be marinated but they’re tasty as is – my husband got the benefit of it more as he eats my cooking the day after as he doesn’t like waiting for dinner (or he just throws it away when he gets to work – who knows!). I used McCain’s frozen baked potatoes as I wasn’t organised enough to bake potatoes in the oven for an hour and a half. I would recommend getting them over microwaving standard potatoes for those of you who love the crispy skin.

Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 3 courgettes
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp parsley
  • 3 tbsp oregano
  • 3 tbsp tarragon
  • 3 baking potatoes (I recommend McCain’s frozen)
  • 25g butter
  • 1 leek
  • 100g mascarpone (probably fine with sour cream/mix of cream and yoghurt)
  • 100g dolce gorgonzola

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Chop up the courgettes into large chunks as per my lovely picture

3.) Add to a bowl, chop up the herbs, peel and chop up the garlic and add them, the olive oil, the honey and the white wine vinegar and some seasoning

4.) Leave to marinade for 4 – 6 hours, turn over once

5.) If using normal potatoes, prick with a fork and bake on a roasting tray for 1.5 hours

6.) If using McCain’s, microwave them for the recommended time.

7.) While they’re cooking/microwaving, clean and slice the leek, melt the butter in a frying pan and fry until soft.

8.) Tip them out into a bowl, crumble in the gorgonzola, add the mascarpone and season with pepper

9.) Once the potatoes are done, scoop out the inside and mix up with the mascarpone etc

10.) Stuff back in the potatoes – they will be full to the brim!

11.) Bake for another 20 minutes until going golden.

12.) Serve with the courgettes.