I’ve said it before, but I tend to steer clear when it comes to cooking pasta at home (…and yet I’ve got a whole cupboard full of dried pasta…). Why? Because it’s TOO HARD, and I’m too fussy. Anyone who says that Italian Food is one of the easiest foods to make at home has never eaten great pasta. FACT. The truth is that I can never seem to replicate the simple perfection of really great pasta in my own kitchen. I’m convinced that it’s the culinary version of Natural Look Makeup; sure, it looks simple – but actually, it takes time and skill to pull off. So I don’t bother trying… much.
The problem is that I really love eating pasta (who the hell doesn’t? My husband, that’s who. Weirdo.); I really want to be able to eat it at home. So occasionally, I give it a go and sometimes – whaddya know – I get it right. Or as close to right as possible without having three generations of Italian passata pulsing through your veins. Slightly spicy, slightly sweet; the sneaky ingredient in this cupboard-ingredients friendly Tagliatelle Arrabiata is baby food. Not kidding. Turns out that puréed carrot does a really great job of balancing out the acidity of the chopped, tinned baby tomatoes. Clever huh? And so easy!
Tagliatelle Arrabiata (serves 2)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp garlic paste (no need to peel and chop garlic, yay!)
1 white onion, diced
100g roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
3 chilli peppers, diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
70g carrot purée
250g chopped, tinned cherry tomatos
tagliatelle (fresh or dried, you decide)
salt and pepper to taste
freshly chopped basil to serve
Pour the olive oil into a deep frying pan, and gently heat up on a medium heat. Add the garlic paste and then fry the diced onion until soft and translucent. Stir in the tomato paste.
Throw in the chopped chilli peppers and the roasted red peppers (I like to use the pre-roasted ones that you get in a jar because they’re usually preserved in a mix of water, grape musk and red wine vinegar that’ll slightly sweeten the sauce – cool tip).
Pour in the chopped tomatos and puréed carrot and stir. Bring to the boil, then simmer on a low heat for twenty minutes to reduce a little.
While you’re waiting, cook up your tagliatelle.
Toss the tagliatelle in the sauce, season and serve with fresh basil leaves.
“Ten Minutes to Get Out The Door” Breakfasts Wrapped. Phew.
Happy September! Can you believe it? Tell you what – and brace yourselves because on the list of unpopular opinions this one’s right up there – I’m so relieved that it’s September. I mean, who the hell would take the September chill over those sticky (or soggy, this is Wales after all…) August afternoons? Me, that’s who. I’ve always loved that fresh September air; there’s something really exciting about that seasonal shift and the whole “back to school” vibe that swings around this time of year. I’ve got plans, man. This year though, I’m just feeling relieved that the summer’s over; I ended up having to take a bit of a break from everything due to some health stuff that’s been going on in the background (you’re probably wondering why I spontaneously dropped off the planet at the start of July, well, tada!). I’m fine now, and I might tell you a bit more about what’s been happening soon, but right now I can’t wait to just pack Summer away with my flip flops, move onto Autumn and get back to shoving a weekly helping of food porn in your face. 😉
Speaking of which, I don’t know about you but I could eat Mexican Food every day of the week, any time of the day – including for breakfast. If you’ve never tried Huevos Rancheros before, it’s basically a “Rancher’s Breakfast” of fried eggs, spiced tomatoes, peppers and onions all served up on a tortilla with a hefty helping of refried beans and sometimes a few breakfast potatoes. Yum. I LOVE it; I first tried it out in Arizona before I’d really got a taste for Mexican food and just fell in love with the flavours. Plus, anything with fried eggs is good in my book. Nowadays I like making it at home for brunch on the weekend, but it’s just too much faff for the middle of the week when I’m rushing out the door. Except *drum-roll please* when it’s in wrap form. These Huevos Rancheros Wraps involve a little prep ahead of time, but once they’ve been made up they’ll keep in the freezer or the fridge until you’re ready to heat them up, scoff and go. The only thing they’re missing from the usual list of ingredients are the fried eggs which I’ve swapped out for a smoked paprika omelette. Obviously I’d prefer them fried, but I’m not about getting runny egg all down my outfit just as I’m heading out the door. No thanks.
“On The Go” Huevos Rancheros Wraps (makes 6)
400g potatoes, skinned, diced, boiled (until soft but still formed) and drained
1 white onion, diced
200g roasted red peppers, diced
50g fresh coriander, chopped
1 tbsp hot sauce (Let’s be honest, it’s got to be Cholula!)
100g of finely grated cheese (Cheddar works, but Manchego rocks)
A good, non-stick frying pan – lightly greased with a little olive oil
6 sheets of foil to wrap
1 large avocado blended with sour cream
In a large bowl, mix together the diced potatoes, onions, red peppers, coriander, hot sauce, chipotle paste, tomato paste and salt – then mix until everything’s coated and well-combined.
Get your production line set up! In a fresh bowl, whisk together the eggs and smoked paprika and get your frying pan greased and on the hob on a medium heat. Pile up your tortillas, then heat up the refried beans as per the pack instructions – pouring them into a bowl. On the other side of the hob, have your foil sheets ready to wrap.
Pour a little (1/6th) of the egg mix into your frying pan and swirl it around to coat it (as you would if you were making an omelette). Scatter a couple spoonfuls of the filling mix on top, then leave to cook for a minute. Spread one side of one tortilla wrap with some of the refried beans, then place it face down on top of the egg and filling – press until it sticks.
Flip the tortilla in the pan so that the egg side’s on top, then sprinkle with cheese. Slide the tortilla out of the pan and onto a foil sheet, then wrap it! Make sure not to let the tortilla cook for too long otherwise it’ll be way too crispy to wrap!
Leave the wraps to cool, then store in the fridge or the freezer until you’re ready to heat them up and eat them (make sure to remove the foil if you’re planning on using the microwave!)
Garnish with the Avocado Cream and some extra hot sauce, then scoff! 🙂
So here’s the thing. I’m not a massive fan of salads – in fact, I’m not really a fan AT ALL. (Great start, I know…) I’m a big kid at heart, I need to be tricked into getting those greens; I’ll eat them, but there’s got to be a lil’ something-something tossed between the leaves to bring me to the table.
This (kind of Wimbledon-inspired!)Strawberry and Gruyere Summer Salad is really easy to make and really hits the spot served up for an al fresco lunch or alongside a barbecue. Fresh, sweet and creamy – with a sour, zingy edge thanks to the added raspberry vinaigrette – the strawberries really steal the show on this one, provided you pick the best the season has to offer. British strawberries really are in their peak season at the moment and these “Red Diamond Strawbs” from my friends at Marks and Spencer are quite possibly the juiciest I’ve ever tasted; their sweet scent filled my car on the short drive back from my local M&S Food and perfumed my fridge and kitchen all weekend! Get them while you can! 🙂
Strawberry and Gruyere Summer Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette (serves 2)
150g Strawberries, sliced
Italian Peppery Leaf Salad (spinach, lettuce, rocket)
50g Gruyere Cheese, shaved(use a potato peeler 😉 )
For the Vinaigrette:
150g raspberries (I used M&S’s Sapphire Raspberries)
25ml balsamic vinegar
100ml olive oil
1 tbsp honey
a handful of basil leaves
To make the vinaigrette, blitz together the raspberries, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and basil until smooth.
Assemble your salad, then drizzle the vinaigrette over the top and sprinkle with the shaved gruyere. Easy!
Have a great week! 🍓🍓🍓
*This post contains gifted items from Marks and Spencer, to find out more about what that means click here to read my disclaimer.
Happy Monday (and Happy 1st of July!)! Here’s a recipe to bookmark for later, because – well – firstly, Mac & Cheese isn’t exactly the kind of thing to be scoffing in the middle of summer, is it? It definitely falls under the category of cold weather comfort food; it’s perfect for gloomy, November night’s in rather than a sticky, July suppers scoffed alfresco – right? (Although, honestly my appetite knows no season, and – besides – you never know when the Welsh Weather’s going to trip you up…) And secondly, it’s two recipes in one! Definitely one to keep up your sleeve. 😉
Chilli is one of my absolute favourite meals to make because it’s a one pot wonder that’s easy to whip up mid week when I’m feeling too tired to cook and tempted to reach for that takeaway menu. It’s also perfect for batch cooking; the recipe makes more than enough to sort both one dinner and a couple of lunches for the week. Make it meaty with beef mince if you like, but I actually prefer the veggie version using Quorn Mince. I’ll usually serve it up with some rice, grated cheese and sour cream (my husband likes to add a couple of crushed nachos to his too for some extra crunch), but it’s also pretty fabulous served up on a bed of gooey, super-cheesy Mac and Cheese.
I feel like Mac and Cheese gets a bit of a bad rap from all those cardboard microwave versions (bleugh!). I mean it only takes a little extra effort to make it yourself, and it tastes so much better! Especially if you use the right kind of cheese. Lucky for me, the guys from Dragon Wales (who make my favourite vintage cheddar – my fridge is always stocked with a block!) sent me a lovely little hamper full of their brand new range of cheeses, including a Maple Smoked Cheddar that was born to make the smokiest, creamiest cheese sauce for Mac and Cheese. 👌
Chilli Mac & Cheese (serves 2 – with plenty for leftovers!)
For the Chilli:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
350g mince (sure, beef’s traditional, but I personally love Quorn mince)
To make the chilli, heat up your olive oil in a deep pan – then add the diced red onions and fry on a medium heat until they’re glossy. Add the garlic and fry for one minute.
Next, add the mince and fry it for a couple of minutes until brown, then add the bell pepper and black beans. Add the chipotle paste, honey and passata and stir until combined.
Season the chilli with the paprika, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper and chilli flakes – then turn down the heat, whack on the lid and allow the chilli to simmer for twenty five minutes. If it’s looking a little dry, pour in a little cold water.
Once it’s cooked, you can stop there, season it with salt and pepper and serve it up with some fresh coriander, rice and sour cream… or you can keep the lid on and whip up some Mac and Cheese to scoff it with! 😉
To make the Mac and Cheese, first get your macaroni boiling with some salt. While it’s cooking, grab a fresh saucepan and gently heat the butter until it’s melted. Next, add the flour and whisk to make a roux (fancy-pants term which basically means a sauce base).
Keeping the heat down low, slowly pour in the milk and whisk until everything’s combined. Add the grated cheddar, season and stir to make a lovely, thick and cheesy sauce. 😉
Stir in the cooked (and drained!) macaroni, then serve up with the chilli and fresh coriander. Yum!
Have a great week everyone! And thanks to Dragon Wales for the lovely cheese! 💛💛💛
*This post isn’t sponsored, but contains gifted items. To find out more about what this means and to read my disclaimer, click here.
Okay, I’m well aware that it hasn’t exactly been “Ice Cream Weather” recently (it’s been so wet and windy here in Wales the past couple of weeks that I’ve had to dig my winter coat back out of storage)… so let’s call this post aspirational, shall we? Mind you, I grew up slurping down Joe’s Icecream cwtched-up in the back of the car with my Mum and Mamgu parked up on the front in Mumbles in the dead of winter so I can’t say the weather’s ever really stopped me, so…
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that making ice cream is difficult – or that you need a special machine to do it – because they’re having you on (and trying to stop you from creating your own never ending supply of the good stuff…). There are a lot of complicated recipes out there that involve creating the custard base with eggs, or stirring the mixture every hour as it freezes (ugh)… but this recipe? It’s EASY. Too easy, in fact. All you need is some double cream and condensed milk, and with some restrained whipping you’ll have yourself a simple ice cream base that freezes like a dream (no need to break your wrist when it comes to scooping!) and can be flavoured any way you like it.
Since the weather’s been a bit… autumnal, I added some marshmallow fluff and toasted marshmallows to mine to make this Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream – which I bet would be absolutely awesome served up between two cookies as a kind of Smores Ice Cream Sarnie. Yum! 😉
Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream
600ml double cream
400ml sweetened, condensed milk
100g marshmallow fluff
200g large marshmallows (plus a few more to serve!)
This recipe is so easy, it’s practically criminal. To make the ice cream base – grab a mixing bowl and whip up your double cream (whip it good) until it’s nice and thick and forming stiff peaks (if the cream becomes foamy and starts to separate then you’ve whipped too much!).
Pour in the marshmallow fluff and condensed milk and whip until everything’s combined.
Next, toast your marshmallows. It’s completely up to you how you do it; you can either pop them in the oven under the grill until they start to brown and bubble, or you can (carefully!) scorch them with a blow torch. Set them aside for a few minutes to cool down – then mix them into your ice cream!
Pour the ice cream into tubs, then freeze for at least five hours. Serve up in cones, or between a couple of cookies (yum!) or over grilled peaches with a couple of scorched marshmallows and toasted nuts on top. 🙂