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.

Leek, Cheese and Pine Nut Risotto

I really love risotto and I loved the look of this one from Gino D’Acampo’s ‘Italian Escape’. I love Gino D’Acampo and our cat’s named after him (kinda). We had to give him an Italian name as his brother is named Figaro after the cat from Pinocchio. I picked the recipe in his book because it used Taleggio cheese which is one of my favourites – a creamy cheese with a slight blue taste to it. As I couldn’t find it, I instead used half St Agur (a mild blue cheese) and half Iberico (similar to Manchego). It was so tasty and now I just need to make it again but with Taleggio to compare.

Serves 4 (large portions)

Ingredients

  • 30g butter
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 courgette
  • 400g arborio rice
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 150ml white wine
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 60g pine nuts
  • 200g Taleggio (100g St Agur/100g Iberico cheese)
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Wash and slice up the leeks. Dice the courgette.

2.) Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the vegetables.

3.) While these are softening, strip the leaves from the thyme sprigs. Measure out the rice and weigh out the rice.

4.) Add the rice and thyme to the pan and stir for a couple of minutes.

5.) Add the wine to the pan and let it cook off. In the meantime, make up the stock.

6.) Add ladles of the stock at a time to the pan and let them be absorbed.

7.) In the meantime, weigh out the cheese and cut into cubes.

8.) Once all the stock is absorbed, add the cheese and pine nuts and stir through until the cheese is melted. Season and serve.

Neopolitan Scrambled eggs

My last recipe from the Cicchetti book (at least for a while). I was intrigued by the use of tomato, anchovies and mozzarella in this recipe and it is delicious. You could change the cooking method slightly and finish under the grill to make an omelette.

Serves 2 (main meal) 4 – brunch

Ingredients

  • 1 tin anchovies in oil
  • 125g passata
  • 125g mozzarella
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 8 large eggs
  • handful spinach

Method

1.) Add the anchovies and oil to a heated pan, cook until the anchovies have broken down

2.) Add the passata and turn down the heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes

3.) While this is cooking, chop up the mozzarella and crack the eggs into a container and beat

4.) Add the mozzarella and oregano to the pan and stir to distribute around the pan

5.) Add the beaten eggs to the pan and cook until set. For the last 5 minutes, sprinkle the handful of spinach over the top to let it wilt.

Broad bean stuffed pancakes

Another recipe that caught my eye in the Cicchetti cookbook was this one for stuffed pancakes. It’s probably not so much a normal weeknight dinner meal but being on holiday this week, I’ve been a bit more flexible. This would be a good one to make if you have guests as you can make them the day before. The recipe suggests to use cocktail sticks to hold the wheels in place but I didn’t personally feel the need.

Ingredients

  • 1 tin broad beans (250g drained)
  • 60g cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 5g chives
  • salt and pepper
  • butter
  • 8 slices quorn ham
  • 3 sprigs basil

Method

1.) Make the pancake batter by beating the eggs in a bowl, whisk in the milk and flour. Chop up the chives and mix in the batter.

2.) Melt some butter in a small frying pan, add 1/4 of the pancake mixture at a time and make 4 pancakes. Set aside on a plate to cool.

3.) In a food processor, add the drained broad beans, the cream cheese and the parmesan. Blend until a smooth paste.

4.) One at a time, move a pancake to another plate, lay 2 slices of quorn and dollop on 1/4 of the broad bean mixture in the middle. Spread out the broad bean paste all around the pancake.

5.) Roll up the pancakes one by one then cut into slices. At this point, seal with the cocktail sticks if wanted.

6.) Chill until cool, then rip up the basil and sprinkle over the top.