Pine nut & Pepper Pasta Perfection on a plate…oh, ok…in a bowl…

1

Pine nut & Pepper Pasta Perfection on a plate..ok..a bowl

Right, just got a few minutes whilst I am poaching a chicken for supper and, before I do the rice,  to tell you what has been happening- well work has commenced once more, and yet with the sun still shining all is still fine soul-wise. So, suppers recently have been simple and of the ‘ok what have we got hanging out in the fridge variety’. Last night I just got out several items that nodded politely to me as I perused the cupboards…the general consensus was a pasta dish – and I wanted to do something around my standard courgette and lardon pasta dish that my kids love so much. Something a little more substantial still.

So.

I pan fried two diced courgettes with two cloves of chopped garlic, 100 gm of lardons and then in a moment of recklessness I threw in 75 gm of pine nuts and the chopped stems of several basil stalks. A dash of dried oregano too, then I added a red pepper cut into match stick slices and two mushrooms, very, very finely chopped – why? – my daughter doesn’t like them, so the smaller they are, the less she is likely to see them…and she didn’t! Then I sprinkled over some dried chilli flakes. This all combined pleasantly for about ten minutes. Once it looked just right – I drizzled on a little more good olive oil and waited for the rigatoni to cook. Then I drained it – added a portion to each bowl and spooned on a serving of the heavenly pine nut / pepper mix. And of course, we all shaved parmesan on it to our heart’s content – it was a marriage made in my kitchen!  It looked wonderfully colourful and it tested all the taste buds.

So, I have to head back to the kitchen now – pardon the rush!

Enjoy the coming weekend where ever you reside…and keep in touch!

IMG_4189

Herby Roast Chicken with Pan Fried Veg…

7

Herby Roast Chicken with Pan Fried Veg...

Perfect celebration for an Ashes win against the Aussies. I had just served lunch and we had downed only a few mouthfuls when Jimmy Anderson delivered the coup de grâce. In the picture above you can see the side dish – I started these off in the oven with the chicken then finished them off in the pan when I added the most delicious sweet cherry organic toms, fresh basil and a whizz of lemon and thyme salt. It is basically a mix of courgettes, aubergine, red onion, garlic and red pepper. The chicken I split open along its back, opened it up to cook quicker, smothered in garlic oil and a combination of cumin seeds, rosemary, oregano and thyme. It looks quite frightening actually – but tasted divine.

IMG_3471

Pollo Balsamico…

7

Pollo Balsamico...

Sometimes, I think folk who write cookery magazines can be a little lazy. I have found several recipes, which. if you followed them to the letter would be either rather dull, or even quite tasteless. I like Jamie Oliver a lot, but I sometimes feel, probably like the great painters, many of the recipes have not had his ‘touch’, but one of his minions – someone who is probably trying to fill a space in the mag or beat a deadline.

Anyway – moan over. One of these recipes, I have ‘fiddled with’ and I think it now tastes better than when I originally tried it! In essence it is simple – but success hinges on the use of good ingredients – especially the tomatoes. Too many tasteless ones out there! Beware!

So, last night’s supper went something like this….

For this recipe you need:

500 gm really tasty toms – I used some baby plums and some organic vine wallahs.
2 courgettes – halved lengthways and then cut into threes.
150 gm sourdough or soda bread torn into chunks.
Small bunch fresh thyme leaves stripped off the stalk.
8 free range chicken thighs, skin on and bone in- fine for 4
Olive oil / 5 tablespoons of good balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 190C

Mix the courgettes, tomatoes, bread, thyme, some salt and black pepper in a large bowl. Leave to one side.

Pan fry the thighs skin down in olive oil on a highish heat until the skin browns and crisps a little. 2- 3 minutes should be dandy.

Add them to the bowl with the other ingredients plus the balsamic and a good drizzle of olive oil. Then tip into a large roasting tray. Ensure the thighs are skin side up. Drizzle a little more olive oil – ensure the courgettes get a good dowsing.

Put it in the oven for one hour. Check half way through – baste it a little and add a tad more oil if it looks a little too sticky. But that stickiness is half of what you want! Cook til the chicken is nice and crispy and the toms are squishy and the courgettes nicely roasted. Do not be tempted to put foil over it at any stage! It ends up steaming things and spoils the show!

I served it with a green salad. And a big shiraz….A good dish – and a simple one.
And one that balsamic was made for.

Bits and bobs May round up….aubergines, Noah, rhubarb and Eggs Warhol…etc!

0

Bits and bobs May round up....

Well. you can tell it is half term because I am eating breakfast! And so far, despite the Noah style rainfall yesterday, it has been very pleasant thank you for asking. This is a sort of catch all post – I have been experimenting a little and eating out a little and shopping a lot. Ok…this pic

IMG_3146

is this morning’s breakfast. It scores little, if anything, on looks… I agree…but the flavour was bang spot on.
2 eggs lightly scrambled with a slice of black pudding pan fried and then crumbled through the egg mix midway through scrambling. It mellows out the pud flavour and is immensely filling in a nice way! Anyway – there you go – it had a sort of Andy Warhol look – a good name maybe for it – Eggs Warhol.

At the weekend I marinated slashed chicken thighs in sloe gin, slivers of garlic and bay leaves for an hour. Then roasted them for about 40 minutes til crisping.

IMG_3106IMG_3101IMG_3110

I served them with courgettes oven baked ( I had pan fried them lightly first) with snowfalls of parmesan, drizzles of olive oil, garlic and a handful of Greek Basil – I love those gorgeously aromatic tiny leaves. Oh and I also did Jersey Royal new potatoes in butter and coriander on the side too. Got to make the most of these beauties whilst they visit!

Popped into Morrison’s near Basingstoke – as it is to me – one of-if not the best – supermarkets in this whole area. Nearest I have been to a French or Spanish affair. The veg counter is a work of art and has a huge variety of veg not normally seen anywhere unless you live in Brixton or some other marvellously multi-cultural spot. Everything from these gorgeous Graffiti Aubergines at the top of the page, to eddoes, fresh turmeric rhizomes, several different varieties of chard, cassava, different gourd, about 10 different types of chillies, elephant and rose garlic, hundreds of fresh herbs – all being sprayed gently with cold air. All fresh – nothing in plastic bags! The fruit counter is equally as fascinating – plus they have a phenomenal fish counter and a butchery populated by guys who are ACTUALLY butchers and know what they are talking about! If you have to shop in a supermarket then this slice of paradise is it.

IMG_3128

Right, enough sales talk – and I won’t even get commission!

Yesterday’s lunch was lemon sole in lemon beurre blanc sauce with spinach and new pots- again!

Not a great shot of it this – does not do it justice – still…

IMG_3132

Last night’s supper was a version of a Keith Floyd dish that I only seem to ever cook about once a year but I love it – it is simple and has a sort of Turkish / Greek feel to it.

He just calls it Minced Beef and Spinach – but I often miss out the spinach and I also like using minced lamb, which I did last night. Being someone who can’t just follow a recipe – I have to fiddle. But is that not what it is all about?

Anyway – I did. Fiddle on!

Ingredients:

3 spring onions finely chopped
12 okra trimmed
2 cloves of garlic chopped
butter
1 tbsp smoked paprika
500 gm minced lamb
1 cinnamon stick
1 chopped and deseeded red chilli – or you could use dried chilli flakes
2 large tomatoes deseeded and sliced
basmati rice

Stir fry the okra, onions and half the garlic for about 2 minutes in olive oil. Set to one side.

Next, in a mix of butter and olive oil, fry the minced lamb for about 5 minutes. Then add the cinnamon stick, the paprika and the rest of the garlic plus the chilli. Sprinkle in some black pepper too and a grind or two of sea salt.

I add a splash, no more of water, once the lamb is browned ( If you chose to add fresh spinach – about a half a kilo – at this point – no need for the water.)

Add in the tomatoes and the okra, onion mix. Continue to cook – it will be about 30 minutes in all. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

IMG_3133

I then cooked basmati rice – enough for 4 – and stirred it into the lamb dish. You could serve it separately if you wish with some plain yoghurt – I like the buttery texture of stirring it all together though.

IMG_3136

Simple and summery and perfect for supper. Right – out now to pick some rhubarb as the Ark appears to have docked for a while and the sun is considering making an appearance.

English: depiction of Noah's ark landing on th...

English: depiction of Noah’s ark landing on the “mountains of Ararat”http://www.facsimile-editions.com/de/nf/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Courgette Salad, Zucchini Salad…you choose!

3

This is one of my stand by favourite salads. Simple and divine…..

Grate two courgettes into a dish. Do not peel first! If you want you can press the grated courgette lightly in a sieve first to get rid of some of the water – but it is not vital. Add a table spoon of olive oil. Add a crushed clove of garlic. Squeeze in the juice of a fresh lemon. Add a little salt and pepper. Check for oil and and lemon. Add more of either, or both, according to taste. Refrigerate for an hour (this bit is important).

Serve with fresh crusty bread.

Image