Sausage Meatball Stroganoff

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meatba 12/06/2017

After going meat free for so long, I was craving a meat fix. What better way to get it than with sausages?! This recipe uses good quality sausages to create a really simple meatball dish that packs a ton of flavour and satisfaction.

If you can find it, shiitake mushroom powder is so good to use in recipes like this. It delivers a real umami punch to dishes. The savoury flavour is perfect with the creamy mustard sauce but if you can’t find it, the dish will still be really lovely.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  • 4 sausages, skins removed (I used Lincolnshire)
  • 2 spring onions, chopped finely
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp breadcrumbs

For the sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 100g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 heaped tsp mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp Shiitake powder
  • 300ml water
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • Linguine, or any pasta and fresh herbs to serve

meatb meat

Method:

  1. Grind the fennel seeds and rosemary in a pestle and mortar until well ground.
  2. Add the sausage meat to a bowl along with the spring onions, breadcrumbs, seasoning and ground herb mix. Stir really well with a fork to combine.
  3. Take teaspoons of the mixture and roll out into little meatballs.
  4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the meatballs off until browned all over.
  5. Add the garlic and mushrooms to the pan and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Next, add the flour and shitake powder and crumble in the stock cube. Stir to coat the meatballs and mushrooms before adding any liquid.
  7. Once this is done, add a splash of water along with the sour cream and mustard. Stir everything together then add the remaining water and let the meatballs bubble away on a medium low heat while you cook the pasta.
  8. Once the pasta is ready, stir the spring onions through the meatball sauce and serve.

Mushroom Stroganoff

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16832212_10154933293991000_6247086306092457628_n 21/02/2017

Sometimes, I don’t have time and my stomach doesn’t have the patience for me to stand and cook a long, complicated meal. As much as I love getting creative in the kitchen, it doesn’t have to take forever to whip up a tasty offering and this mushroom stroganoff is a case in point. It takes 10 minutes to make. The sauce is made while the pasta is boiling then the pasta is tossed through the sauce to soak up all the earthy, creamy flavours. The paprika lends the smallest hint of spice and the parsley provides a freshness against the luxurious sour cream

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 25g butter
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 200g chestnut mushroom, sliced
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 150ml beef stock
  • 142ml carton soured cream
  • a handful of chopped parsley
  • tagliatelle, to serve

Method:

  1. Fry the onion in the butter in a large frying pan until soft. Stir in the garlic and mushrooms and fry over high heat until browned. Add the paprika, fry for 30 seconds. Pour in the beef stock and bubble fiercely to reduce by two-thirds.
  2. Take off the heat and stir in the soured cream, parsley and salt and pepper. Serve with tagliatelle.

Slow-Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu

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screenshot_2016-10-17-22-20-21-11 17/10/2016

Slow cooked tender beef that pulls apart in a delicious herby, winey, rich tomato sauce intertwines with buttery cheesy pasta for a proper comfort meal that’s packed with flavour. This recipe makes a huge amount and if you do have any leftovers, they taste even better the next day!

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ pounds beef shin, in 2-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped leaves for garnish
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, thickly sliced
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 400g can peeled whole cherry or plum tomatoes
  • 1 pound pappardelle
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

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Method:

  1. Season beef with salt and pepper to taste. Place a heavy cast iron pan over medium-high heat, and add olive oil. When oil is hot, add beef. Stir until beef is well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add rosemary and sage sprigs, onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and continue to simmer until liquid has reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices. Bring contents of pot to a simmer. Place in an oven preheated to 140C, covered, or on the stove over the lowest heat for 2 to 3 hours.
  3. Using two forks, shred the meat and vegetables. Discard herb stems. Loosely cover pan and return it to low heat to keep warm.
  4. Place a large pot of lightly salted water over high heat to bring to a boil. Add pappardelle to boiling water. As it cooks, scoop out 1/2 cup water and reserve. Cook pasta to taste then drain well. Return pasta to pot and add butter and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano; mix gently until butter has melted. Add a little reserved cooking water to loosen.
  5. To serve, lift pasta into each of six shallow bowls. Spoon beef ragù over top. Sprinkle each bowl with a pinch of rosemary, and a spoonful of cheese.

Pasta Bake

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Screenshot_2016-07-11-21-27-03-1[1] 11/07/2016

I almost feel patronising to be blogging a recipe for pasta bake because it is so simple but as with most recipes that require little effort and let ingredients speak for themselves, this dish is packed full of flavour! Pasta bake can be whatever you want it to be from whatever you have but always leaves you satisfied. It is cheap, healthy, comforting, tasty and great as leftovers too.

One rule I always follow for a good pasta bake is – TOP WITH LOADS OF CHEESE! And I mean loads, to the point where you think ‘I’ve put too much cheese on that pasta bake’ then maybe a bit more. Baked in the oven until melting, bubbly and golden brown, it gives a wonderful luxurious, melting finish to the vegetable pasta mix. Not to mention the bits that go crunchy round the edge – ooo yeah!

What you put in is really up to you. You can make a bolognaise style sauce, white sauce, spinach and ricotta, squash puree, spicy bean, bacon, meatballs, go wild! Add vegetables, pasta of your choice, CHEESE, bake, enjoy.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 50g whole wheat pasta (I used fusilli)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 small courgette, chopped
  • 50g button chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 can cherry tomatoes
  • 100g mascarpone
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tsp dried herbs (I used basil and oregano)
  • Extra mature cheddar cheese, grated

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Cook the pasta for a minute less than the pack instructs. Reserve some of the pasta water to use in the sauce. Drain and set aside.
  2. For the sauce, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the onions and garlic and fry for 5-6 minutes until softened and golden.
  3. Add the courgette, peppers and mushrooms and continue to fry for 5 minutes until slightly softened.
  4. Add the dried herbs, can of tomatoes and stir in the mascarpone. Reduce the heat to low and combine everything well. Season to taste and let the sauce simmer gently for a few minutes. Mix the pasta into the vegetable sauce and a dash of pasta water if the sauce is really thick. It should be slightly loose as it will thicken a bit in the oven.
  5. Transfer the pasta and sauce to an oven-proof baking dish and top very generously with cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden and the dish is piping hot.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes then serve with salad and garlic bread.

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

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Screenshot_2016-06-25-13-51-45-1[1] 25/06/2016

Here is a beautiful recipe for a homely, comforting dinner. It is a little hands on and requires a bit of effort and time in the kitchen but that is half of the fun and the resulting meal is satisfying and flavourful. If you are pushed for time or don’t have the patience then you can cut corners such as using ready made lasagne sheets or cannelloni tubes and buying ready made pasta sauce but you WILL be able to tell the difference.

The pasta in my recipe is so easy to make and the touch of wholemeal flour in the recipe not only adds texture and flavour but fibre too.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 200g ricotta
  • 300g fresh spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 500ml passata
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • Fresh basil, a handful, roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A pinch of sugar

For the wholemeal cannelloni:

  • 50g wholemeal flour
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch of salt
  • A dash of water, optional

For the béchamel sauce:

  • A knob of butter
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • Semi skimmed milk
  • Salt and ground white pepper
  • Nutmeg, finely grated
  • Parmesan, finely grated, for topping

Method:

For the spinach and ricotta filling:

  1. Bring a saucepan with 1cm of water to the boil. Add the fresh spinach and wilt it for 30 seconds. Drain all the water and, using a pair of rubber gloves, squeeze the excess water from the spinach.
  2. Roughly chop the spinach and add it to a mixing bowl along with the ricotta, garlic, seasoning and nutmeg. Set aside in the fridge.

For the tomato sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Gently sweat the onions for 8-10 minutes until soft and lightly golden. Add the garlic and stir for another minute.
  2. Add the passata, sugar and seasoning and leave to simmer gently for 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally then add the basil before removing from the heat.
  3. Place half of the sauce in the base of a loaf tin or ovenproof dish and set the other half aside.

For the wholemeal cannelloni:

  1. Place the flours and salt into a mixing bowl. Add in the egg and combine with a fork until a dough is formed. You may need a little added water to help combine the dough.
  2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Wrap in cling-film and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  3. When ready, roll the dough into one long sheet. You can do this with a pasta machine if you have one but a rolling pin and good old fashioned elbow grease is just as good if you don’t. Roll the dough as thinly as you can.

For the béchamel:

  1. Heat the butter in a milk pan. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook the flour out over a low-medium heat for a couple of minutes then, away from the heat, add a splash of milk and whisk constantly until thickening. This will happen very quickly. Keep adding small amounts of milk and whisking to incorporate. Keep adding milk until you have a saucy consistency and place back over the gentle heat.
  2. Add the nutmeg and seasoning and keep stirring on the heat until the correct thickness is achieved.

To assemble:

  1. Cut the long sheet of pasta into 8-10 rectangles and fill each with a good dollop of the spinach, ricotta filling. Roll up the rectangles to encase the filling in a cylinder and place each cylinder on top of the tomato sauce in your loaf tin.
  2. Top with the remaining tomato sauce then drizzle the béchamel sauce over the top.
  3. Top with plenty of grated parmesan and bake in an oven preheated to 180C for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Screenshot_2016-06-25-13-55-24-1[1] Screenshot_2016-06-25-13-53-21-1[1]

Spaghetti Carbonara

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IMG_20150204_212538[1] 08/02/2015

This recipe would probably have Italian mothers turning in their graves as it is certainly not authentic with the addition of such items as peas and mushrooms but the sauce is smooth and velvetty as a good carbonara should be. Note that no lashings of cream or copious amounts of butter are used at all as the flavour and texture come from the salty, smoky, crisp bacon and fresh herbs combined by the silky sauce.

I just added what needed using in the fridge for a quick, tasty, healthy meal. This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 4 smoked bacon rashers
  • 50g parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g spaghetti, linguine or tagliatelle
  • 2 plump garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 100g mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • A handful of chopped parsley
  • ½ mug of frozen peas, cooked
  • salt and freshly grated black pepper

Method:

  1. Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl, season with a little freshly grated black pepper and finely grate the cheese. Mix the cheese and eggs together and set aside.
  2. Add 1 tsp salt to the boiling water, add the chosen pasta and when the water comes back to the boil, cook at a constant simmer, for 10 minutes or until al dente (just cooked).
  3. While the spaghetti is cooking, place the bacon rashers in a cold pan and place the pan over a medium-high heat. As the pan heats up, the fat will render from the bacon. Turn the bacon over to cook both sides until crispy then remove from the pan. Chop the bacon into chunks and set aside. In the same pan you cooked the bacon in, add the mushrooms to the bacon fat along with the garlic and thyme and fry until the mushrooms soften and cook. Add the chopped bacon back to the pan.
  4. Keep the heat under the bacon and mushrooms on low. When the pasta is ready lift it from the water with a pasta fork or tongs and put it in the frying pan with the bacon. Don’t worry if a little water drops in the pan as well (you want this to happen) and don’t throw the rest of the pasta water away yet.
  5. Take the pan of pasta and bacon off the heat. Now quickly pour in the eggs and cheese and, using the tongs or a long fork, lift up the spaghetti so it mixes easily with the egg mixture, which thickens but doesn’t scramble, and everything is coated. Add extra pasta cooking water to keep it saucy (several tablespoons should do it). You don’t want it wet, just moist. Season with a little salt, if needed.
  6. Serve immediately with a little sprinkling of extra parmesan cheese, a grating of black pepper and the parsley. I also added some frozen peas that I boiled for a couple of minutes to add a few more veg to the mix. If the dish does get a little dry before serving, splash in some more hot pasta water and the glossy sauciness will be revived.

Tip: Don’t add the egg mixture to the saucepan before removing it from the heat and allowing to cool slightly or the eggs will scramble. Do not be afraid to add plenty of pasta water either as the pasta will finish cooking and suck up the moisture to create a lovely sauce. Just keep the contents of the pan moving so the egg does not catch then serve immediately and enjoy!

Lasagne

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IMG_20141210_183439[1] 10/12/2014

This is a classic recipe for lasagne. No fancy adages or variations but a hearty, warming and delicious crowd pleaser.

This lasagne is a big one. It serves eight so you’ll need a big oven dish or you could divide it into smaller dishes and freeze what you don’t want for another night. If cooking from frozen, cook at 180C for 90-120 minutes, depending on the size of your dish, until the lasagne is piping hot, brown and bubbling.

Ingredients:

For the meat sauce:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 140g pancetta
  • 500g pack beef mince (I used extra lean)
  • 500g pack pork mince or British veal mince
  • 2 x 500g cartons passata
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • 500ml red wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • about 400g dried pasta sheets
  • 50g parmesan, finely grated

For the béchamel sauce:

  • 2 Litres full fat UHT milk
  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves
  • 75g butter
  • 75g plain flour
  • good grating of nutmeg

Method:

  1. First infuse the milk for the béchamel sauce. Put the milk, onion, bay and cloves into a large saucepan and bring very gently just up to the boil. Turn off the heat and set aside for 1 hr to infuse.
  2. For the meat sauce, put the oil, celery, onion, carrot, garlic and pancetta in another large saucepan. Gently cook together until the vegetables are soft but not coloured. Remove the vegetables to a large bowl and brown the mince in batches in the same pan. Set each batch aside with the vegetables as you go. Tip all the vegetables and mince back into the pan and add the passata. Using a wooden spoon, stir together well then stir in all the herbs, the stock cubes and wine and bring to a simmer. Gently simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to stop the bottom catching. Cook until the meat is tender and saucy. Taste and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
  3. To finish the béchamel, strain the milk through a fine sieve into a large jug. Melt the butter in the same pan then, using a whisk, mix in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the strained milk, a little at a time – the mix will thicken at first to a doughy paste, but keep going, adding milk gradually to avoid lumps. When all the milk is added, bring to a gentle simmer, whisking constantly. Gently bubble for a few minutes until thickened. Season with salt, white pepper and nutmeg.
  4. Heat oven to 180C. Spread a spoonful of the meat sauce over the base of a roughly 3.5 litre baking dish or do as I did and make two dishes for four people and store one in the freezer after assembly. Cover with a single layer of pasta sheets, snapping them to fit if needed, then top with a quarter of the béchamel. Spoon over a third of the meat sauce and scatter over a little Parmesan. Repeat the layers – pasta, béchamel, meat and Parmesan – two more times to use all the meat sauce. Add a final layer of pasta, the last of the béchamel and remaining Parmesan. Sit the dish on a baking tray to catch spills and bake for 1 hr until bubbling, browned and crisp on top.

IMG_20141210_174532[1] IMG_20141210_174612[1]

Remove the lasagne from the oven and allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes to firm up a little. This makes it much easier to dish up and you won’t burn the roof of your mouth off. Serve this with a light side salad. I used spinach and tomato. And of course, no lasagne is ever really complete without a chunk of garlic bread and a cheeky glass of red wine!