Chicken with peppers

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Pollo con peperoni – chicken at its most supreme

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Supper last night and I was in the mood for chicken…and for pasta…and I had some cream left over and a red pepper…so it had to be this dish…simple and such a refreshing change.

INGREDIENTS

400gm chicken fillet cut into strips

1 large red pepper deseeded and cut into strips

100 ml olive oil

2 small red onions peeled and thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic peels and finely chopped

Teaspoon of dried red chillies

100 ml white wine

Salt and black pepper

8 cherry tomatoes quartered

Small bunch of flat leaf parsley finely chopped

150 ml soured cream – single would be fine too

METHOD

Heat half the oil in a large deep pan – a non stick wok with a lid would be dandy – or a stainless steel casserole pan. Add the onion and fry gently over a lowish heat for about 5 minutes until soft. Remove from pan into a bowl and put to one side.

Add the remaining oil – add the chicken – raise the heat to medium and brown the chicken for around 6-8 minutes.

Return the onion to the pan with the garlic and the dried chilli.

Pour in the wine and let it reduce by half. Add the red pepper slices.

Season with salt and black pepper. After 4 minutes stir in the tomatoes. 

Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for around 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Remove the lid and stir in the cream. Add the chopped parsley and after a minute or so – serve with pasta.

A colourful southern Italian dish with more flavours than you could imagine.

Enjoy!

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Spinach, Goats Cheese and Walnut Pasta

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A winter wonder to wow all the family!

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INGREDIENTS FOR 4

400 gm pasta of choice 

Olive oil and a knob of butter

An onion finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic finely sliced

200ml chicken or vegetable stock

200 gm of spinach uncooked

3 tbsp of crème fraîche

100 gm soft goats cheese

Tsp of chilli flakes

A handful of basil leaves torn

2 tbsp of chopped walnuts

Method

  1. Put your pasta on to cook.
  2. Heat a little olive oil and the butter in a large frying pan or wok
  3. Add the onion and sauté gently until softened then add the garlic. Fry for a minute. Pour in the stock .
  4. Add the spinach and cook  for a minute, then add the crème fraîche and stir in. Season with black pepper.
  5. When the pasta is cooked, drain well and add to the creamy mixture. Crumble in the goats cheese.
  6. Add the chilli flakes and the torn basil leaves, then the walnuts. Stir gently.
  7. Check for seasoning.

A fabulous dish for late autumn and you can play about with it as you wish. Use different greens – maybe rocket – maybe savoy cabbage finely shredded or even crumbled broccoli. You could use pine nuts too. Tis up to you!

But you MUST try it!

Creamy Kale and Bacon Pasta

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Kale is such a favourite green of mine….makes me feel good every time I eat it. It has a wonderfully deep green earthy flavour and a real crunch to it. And it just looks so beautiful too!

Anyway, the other night I had several leaves left over and loitering in the fridge with little to do from a previous meal so I fancied a pasta dish and i fancied kale – a marriage made in heaven!

I pan fried a clove of garlic chopped finely in olive oil with three strips of good smoked streaky bacon chopped into small pieces. You could use lardon also or pancetta.

When it was cooked, I turned the heat down, sliced the kale leaves into small strips and added them to the pan, stirring them round over a medium heat to let them wilt a little – just a minute or so. I had already cooked my pasta. I drained it and left to one side whilst I stirred 150 ml of single cream into the bacon and kale mixture, added a grind or two of black pepper and turned the heat down low whilst I stirred all the ingredients together.

I then tipped the drained pasta into the pan and stirred it all round to coat each piece – I used rigatoni.

You could add a little dried chilli to it with the kale if you fancied a little zing.

It really is a fab way to eat your greens, I have to say!

Creamy tomato and spinach pasta…

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I love spinach and I love finding different ways to get it into my recipes. Here I have adapted one of my favourite easy suppers to accommodate the gorgeous green stuff.

For 4

500 gm pasta tubes of choice – I used De Cecco rigatoni

100 gm of baby plum toms

Good handful of fresh spinach finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic chopped

Small handful of fresh coriander chopped

Olive oil

Truffle oil – optional

300 gm of single cream

Salt and black pepper

Add a good splash of olive oil to a large frying pan or preferably a deep pan such as a non stick wok. Pop in the garlic and warm the oil – add the tomatoes and bring the heat up until the tomatoes are starting to gently sizzle. Add the spinach and coriander and let them all wilt and flop together over a low to medium heat for about ten minutes whilst the pasta cooks.

Add a splash of truffle oil, black pepper and a good grind of sea salt to the tomato mixture. Once the pasta is ready and drained, add the cream to the tomatoes and warm through, stirring all the while for about 2 to 3 minutes. 

Then pour in the pasta and stir it all together into a wonderful and healthy and simple supper dish. (If you wished to meat it up, you could pan fry some lardon or sliced smoked bacon with the tomatoes at the start.)

Perfect for Popeyes everywhere!

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Game Ragu with pasta…

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Malloreddus con Ragu` di Selvaggina unnamed I had a fabulous bowl of this today at one of my favourite Italian restaurants, Pani’s, situated in Newcastle. The restaurant serves home made Sardinian food of the best quality you can imagine in the most atmospheric of restaurants. Wonderful people work there and make you feel like you are in deepest Italy. Malloredus is a typical italian pasta and it is served here with a game-ragu, made with lentils, borlotti beans, carrots, celery, onion, chilli, garlic & fresh herbs. Stunning and very wintry – perfect for a day or two after Christmas when you are trying to move away from the over familiar flavours of turkey etc! This is a recipe I have found which comes close to the one i had. You can use whatever game you fancy or can get your hands on. One to experiment with and adjust to your tastes. It’s a marvellous dish.

Oh….and if you are ever in Newcastle – eat in Panis !

Serves 6 – 8

Extra-virgin olive oil

50 gm pancetta, diced

1 red onion peeled and finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 sticks of celery finely chopped

1 tsp of dried chilli flakes

1 can of borlotti beans

2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

Sprig fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped

Small bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked

2 bay leaves

1 pheasant boned and cut into ½ inch dice

600 gms venison, rabbit, or wild boar or a mix of whatever you can buy – all cut into ½ inch dice

100 gm ounces liver (optional) – chicken liver would be fine

1 tbsp plain flour 1 good glass of white wine

Salt and Pepper 500 ml chicken or vegetable stock 

2 tbsps unsalted butter

50gm freshly grated Pecorino or parmesan

Zest of one orange

Small bunch of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 

METHOD

Pour two or three good glugs of olive oil into a large casserole dish and heat gently. Add the pancetta, celery, onion, carrots, garlic, chilli, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves and cook gently for 10 minutes.

Stir in the meats (and liver if using) and the flour. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. Pour in the wine, a generous pinch of salt and pepper and stir. Let cook for 5 minutes.

Pour in the stock (there should be enough to just cover the meat). Bring to a gentle boil, cover with foil or a lid and cook for 1 ½ – 2 hours (check liquid level every ½ hour) or until the meat easily falls apart. Add the borlotti beans for the last half an hour.

When finished cooking, remove the bay leaves from the sauce. Add butter, half the Pecorino, half the orange zest and stir well to combine. When ready to serve, pour ragu over pasta and sprinkle with remaining Pecorino, orange zest and parsley.

A Winter Warmer of a Supper…tagliatelle with leeks and sausages

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A simple yet luxuriant dish to greet your family with on a Jack Frost nipping night.

Try and get hold of the best pork sausages you can – preferably Italian, if not, choose ones with a high meat content.

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For 4

6 sausages

50 gm salted butter

4 tbsps olive oil

1 leek, cut in half lengthways, sliced and rinsed

A small handful of fresh thyme leaves or a good level tbsp of dried

200 gm chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly

100 ml dry white wine

200 mll double cream

500 gm tagliatelle or pappardelle pasta

A good handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

Skin the sausages and place in a bowl. Add the thyme, and a little salt and a good grind of black pepper. Melt the butter in a  large frying pan – I used a sauté pan. Fry the sausage meat and the leek for 10 minutes on a medium heat, stirring and breaking up the sausage meat. Try to crumble the meat as it cooks and browns.

Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5minutes. Pour in the wine and cook for another minute before pouring in the cream, stirring and cook for 2 minutes on a low heat now.

Set to one side away from the heat. 

Cook your pasta. Drain and tip back into the same pan. Pour over the creamy sausage meat mixture and the parsley and stir everything together well.

I promise you – this is a dish your friends and loved ones will want you to do again and again. I loved making it – another brilliant recipe from Gino D’Acampo. Grazie!

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Carbonara…classico!

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This is the simplest supper supreme – yet it needs care and love and attention. Be patient – use the best ingredients and you cannot…well not really… go wrong…really.

Ingredients for 4

100 gm lardons

1 clove of garlic peeled and crushed

400 gram linguine or spaghetti

3 free range eggs

75 grams of grated parmesan

Salt and black pepper

A tiddly bit of cream- if you wish

Put the water on to boil for the pasta with a little oil and salt in. Pop the pasta in for 10 minutes or until al dente. Pan fry the crushed garlic and the lardons til just crispy then take off the heat. Warm a bowl – I use a stainless steel bowl and I pour in hot water to warm it. Crack into the bowl 3 eggs and then with a fork stir in the parmesan cheese. Add a decent grind or three of black pepper and a tiddly bit of salt. 

Drain the pasta. Add the hot pasta to the bowl with the eggs in and if you wish drizzle in a little single cream.

Add the lardons and crushed garlic mix with a little of the oil. Stir gently but quickly – around a minute then serve in bowls.

Oh this is so tasty and so wonderful and oh so often ruined by many restaurants – either they use far too much cream or over cook it and curdle it to oblivion.

With care this is the ultimate simple supper dish.

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My sous chef, Pip, imparting some last minute tips on the perfect carbonara….

Red Fideuá

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This is such a sensational supper dish and simplicity itself. It is a sort of paella but with broken spaghetti instead of rice.

Fideuà is a Valencian word, in Catalan it is Fideuada – from fideu, Catalan / Valencian for “noodle” – and it is a dish typical of  the Valencian region of Spain.

It originated in the 1920s in the city of Gandia (close to where we were on holiday this year – a very beautiful small coastal resort on the Costa Azahar) when thin noodles like vermicelli were used instead of rice in the popular dish paella. It can have all the usual culprits; chicken, prawns, rabbit etc but, like all great peasant dishes, it is perfect too for using leftovers, or as a make do dish from what you have in your store cupboard and fridge.

So, this is my version tonight!

I went for a red motif! I had san marzano tomatoes, red pepper, a red chilli and chorizo in the fridge so, along with 400 gm of dry spaghetti lingering in my pasta pot – fideuà it was.

I pan fried a sliced red onion, a deseeded and sliced red pepper and 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic in olive oil in one of my smaller paella pans for about ten minutes. But you could easily use a large frying pan or a sauté pan.

Then I added 100 gm of lardons and about 50 gm of chorizo sausage cut into small cubes, a finely chopped and deseeded red chilli and 6 san marzano toms quartered. I cooked this mix for a further ten minutes or so, added a sprinkle of smoked paprika, then a glass of white wine – about 125 ml.

Once the wine had reduced a little I added 500 ml of hot chicken stock. I fiddled with my Spotify tracks for a moment on my i phone, and then when the mix was all bubbling pleasantly I added     400 gm of broken up spaghetti. You need then to gently coax  the mixture round the pan for about 20 minutes until the spaghetti is al dente – you may need to add a little hot water along the way to keep it moist.

About 5 minutes from the end I stirred in a little saffron to give it a golden edge. The resultant dish was remarkable and delicious in the extreme.

My two teenage children were wowed – and they do not wow easily!

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FUSILLI ALL’ARRABIATA CON SALMONE…

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PASTA IN SPICY TOMATO AND SALMON SAUCE

This is a super quick and healthy supper that satisfies the parts you want to reach when you are famished. You can use rigatoni or penne or really any shape of pasta you feel passionate about – or have hanging around!

INGREDIENTS FOR 4

6 tbsps olive oil
2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli deseeded and chopped – if you want more heat – then use 2
2 x 400gm chopped tinned tomatoes
Small bunch of coriander leaves chopped
400 gm salmon fillet skinned and cut into cubes
500 gm of pasta
Pinch of salt

In a wok or large frying pan, heat the oil and then gently sizzle the garlic and chilli for about a minute. Do not burn it! Best way is once it is sizzling just remove it from the heat for a minute – works fine. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir and simmer gently for 10 minutes uncovered. 

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Carefully stir in the salmon pieces and season with a pinch of salt. Remove from heat whilst the pasta cooks. Drain the pasta then and return to the pan, pour in the salmon sauce and stir over a low heat for 30 seconds or so. 

This is a super summer supper dish or a lazy lunch perfect with a glass of rosé or a crisp white.

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Fabulous Courgette Pasta Recipe

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Courgette & chorizo pasta a la crema...

Courgette and Chorizo Pasta A La Crema…

This was a swift store cupboard special supper and one of the tastiest of the last week. I wanted to adapt my usual lardon and courgette pasta…and the simple answer was replace the lardons with cubed chorizo. The result was a sublime cocktail of flavours that slipped down and satisfied.

Do this. It is going to make your week.

100 gm of cubed chorizo
One courgette cubed
50ml single cream
Small bunch of coriander chopped
Pasta
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

In a splash of olive oil heated for a minute, add the courgette and pan fry until starting to just brown, then add the chorizo and continue frying gently whilst you cook the pasta.

Just before you drain the pasta, add the cream and a grind of sea salt and black pepper. Then add the chopped coriander.

Serve on the hot pasta.

Quick, sensuous and delectable. It’s what suppers should be.

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For another exciting twist on the courgette recipe try this one from Nigel Slater