Tag Archives: food

What to do when you have too much Spaghetti

Since Elix moved to Singapore I have had to be more mindful of how much food I am buying/eating to ensure I am not being wasteful. After an unfortunate incident when some bicarbonate of soda fell out of my packed cupboard all over the beginnings of a noodle salad, I decided to start using up the food I already have in my fridge, cupboard and freezer to waste less, save more and create some much needed space.

The cupboard contained nearly every type of pasta you can imagine aswell as four varieties of dried italian herbs and spices that I had picked up during trips to Florence, Sicily and Bologna. I also found two bags of frozen broad beans in the freezer and 3 portions of chorizo from when we didn’t get round to cooking paella over Christmas.

Anyway – these recipes were made by using only food I already had in, were super easy and very tasty – even if I do say so myself.

Both recipes served just me and were made with wholewheat Spaghetti- boiled for 8minutes until al dente.

Spaghetti with Roasted Cauliflower, Chorizo & Broad Beans

Roast 1/4 head of cauliflower in the oven for 30minutes until caramelised. Boil a large handful of broad beans for 5minutes – de-pod and leave to one side. In a shallow frying pan, fry the diced chorizo (i used 1/4 of a whole one) as it begins to crisp up add a clove of diced garlic. Mix for a couple of minutes and add the cauliflower and broad beans. Drain the pasta – add in a teaspoon of dried chilli and oregano and mix together with olive oil. Finally on a very gentle heat, add the chorizo, cauliflower and beans to the pasta. Mix and heat through and serve.

Spaghetti with Garlic & Basil Courgettes & Tenderstem Broccoli

This one is super quick and simple. Boil the tenderstem for 4minutes. Meanwhile slice the courgettes and place in a dry pan letting them char a little. Turn the heat off, add the broccoli and a handful of ripped basil and mix together with a drizzle of olive oil. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain and put back in the saucepan on a low heat. Add a generous glug of olive oil and some dried oregano, parsley and a little dried chilli. Mix together and add the greens. Serve with a sprinkling of grated parmigiana and enjoy!

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Trullo Pastas

Peter bought me the Trullo cookbook as a pre-Christmas gift and we decided to celebrate the New Year with an Italian themed dinner.

Trullo is a very popular Italian restaurant in Highbury – North London – its always busy, gets great reviews and serves delicious unfussy Italian food.

Our starter was Burrata with anchovy paste and broad beans – this is the sort of dish i always order when im out for dinner and it was surprisingly easy to make – blitzing anchovies, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice in the nutri-bullet, and simply topping with the burrata and scattering broad beans on top.

Anyway – on to the main courses which i will write up here – both very simple and tasty and again, the sorts of dishes I would always order in an Italian restaurant.

Firstly for the Orecchiette with Broccoli, Anchovy and Chilli

Serves 2
500g Tenderstem or Purple Sprouting Broccoli
2 Garlic Cloves – finely diced
Sprinkle of dried Chilli flakes
1/2 tin Anchovies
200g Orecchiette Pasta (Farfalle is recommended if you cant source the “little ears”)
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Parmesan – for seasoning at the end

Boil the broccoli for 7 minutes and leave to one side.
Boil the pasta according to instructions – ours took around 10minutes which is exactly how long the sauce took to cook!
In a shallow frying pan gently fry the garlic and chilli in some olive oil until the garlic starts to colour. Add the anchovies to melt for 3 minutes. Add the broccoli and a dash of water and pop a lid on the pan for 8-10 minutes. Remove the lid, season and add more olive oil for a little extra richness. Mix together with the pasta and serve with parmesan shavings on top.

The second dish was Linguine with Crab – this used both white and brown crab meat and was a completely new but easy and super tasty way of cooking a crab and pasta dish.

Serves 2
1 tin White crab meat
80g Brown crab meat
200g Linguine
1/2 Red Chilli – diced
20g Butter
Olive Oil
Lemon Juice
Salt & Pepper
1tbsp Parsley – chopped

Cook the linguine in boiling water for 10 minutes – again this is roughly how long the crab takes to prepare.
In a bowl, mix together the brown and white crab, chilli, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper and leave to one side.
In a large shallow frying pan, gently fry the butter and add the crab mixture – mix well, adding a splash of pasta water to seperate if needed. Once the pasta is cooked and drained – add this to the crab and mix thoroughly – adding more pasta water if needed. The sauce will emulsify as it coats the linguine.
Serve with a little extra black pepper to taste.

Baked Eggs & Baked Beans

Today for my brunch/lunch after a long and very tough workout at the gym i came home to a fridge full of left over vegetables and various bits and bobs remaining not eaten by my clan whilst they spent Christmas with me in Toots.

After a good rummage through the fridge and the cupboard- baked eggs and beans it was!

A filling meal, packed with goodness from courgette, spinach and tomatoes and a good dose of protein to help my post workout recovery. I used borlotti beans which are also a great source of protein but are also packed with iron and magnesium – good for blood pressure and also help digestion (needed after Christmas feasting!)

Serves 2
Olive Oil
1 tin borlotti beans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 onion – diced
Pinch of Chilli Flakes
1/2 Courgette – diced
2 Handfuls of Spinach
4 Eggs
Yoghurt & Sumac to serve

Start by pre-heating the oven to 200 degs and popping the serving dishes in to warm up. This is important to ensure the eggs cook quickly and well. In a cold oven/dish the eggs will take at least 30minutes to cook and will likely go hard on top remaining uncooked inside.

Fry the onion in a little olive oil and as it softens sprinkle chilli flakes and add the courgette.
Once softened, add the beans and tomatoes and mix well. Add the spinach and season to taste.

Split the mixture between two hot bowls and crack two eggs into each. Place in the hot oven and bake for 8-10minutes until the whites are no longer translucent.

Once cooked, top with some yoghurt and sprinkle with sumac – eat with some chunky bread soldiers!

Harissa Roasted Aubergine with Couscous & Feta Salad

Recently I have been experimenting with vegetarian meals in a bid to cut down on my meat consumption. I could never totally give up meat – i value the protein, nutritional content and my roast dinners too much but am trying to have at least 2 veggie days per week especially on days when i dont exercise.

Aubergines are an excellent aource of vitamin C – good for healthy skins and cells and wound healing. Aubergines also contain Vitamin K and B6 which are needed for healing, healthy blood cells and energy.

This meal was made up of food needing to be eaten from fridge and stuff already in the cupboard and was quick, easy, light and very tasty. It was also surprisingly filling so if you are looking for a light dinner give this a go.

Serves 1
1 Aubergine
1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp harissa
1tsp honey or agave
1tsp lemon juice
60g Couscous (bulgar or quinoa would also work)
20g Feta – cubed
Handful of Greens – i used tenderstem broccoli, asparagus and runner beans
Handful of pomegranate seeds

Halve the aubergine and score the flesh with a knife into criss-cross pattern. Mix together the olive oil, harissa, lemon juice and honey and generously  brush over the flesh of the aubergine. Place in the oven at 180degs for 25 minutes or until softened. To assemble the salad, cook the couscous to instructions – I usually cover with boiling water and leave for 5 minutes until cooked through. Steam any greens that you are using. Simply mix the grains, greens, feta and pomegranate seeds adding a little lemon juice, oregano and sumac for extra zing and flavour.
Serve with the aubergine on top for a tasty, healthy, vegetarian dinner.

Tofu Time

I love tofu! I’m on a one woman rampage trying to convert everyone – Elix has just about gotten on board with it and the tofu rice bowl i made for dinner helped in encouraging her into the tofu fan club.

Tofu – made by curdling fresh soya milk and allowing it to firm up as it cools is a great source of protein, calcium and iron. It helps to keep bad cholesterol low and is good for hormone balancing. Great to incorporate into your diet if you are trying to cut out meat but still want a decent amount of protein.

Serves 2
250g Firm Tofu
4tbsp Cornflour
Salt & Pepper
Vegetable Oil
1 Red Chilli – sliced
1 Carrott – julienned
1/2 Cucumber – julienned
150g Shitake Mushrooms – sliced
150g Spinach
3tbsp Soy Sauce
3tbsp Mirin
1tsp Grated Ginger
2tbsp Sesame Oil
1tsp Grated Garlic
2 servings brown rice – cooked to instructions

This recipe requires a couple of pans to be on similtaneously so I advise prepping, chopping and measuring all the ingredients before you start to cook anything. Mix together the cornflour, salt and pepper and coat the tofu pieces. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan and gently fry the tofu pieces with the aliced chilli – turn them to achieve a golden, crispy coating.
Whilst the tofu is cooking, mix together the soy, mirin, garlic, ginger and sesame oil – fry the mushrooms in this sauce and as the mushrooms soften, mix in the spinach.
To assemble the rice bowl, place the rice at the base and the raw carrott and cucumber on top. This gives some fresh crunch to the dish. Now place the saucy mushrooms and spinach on top and finally the crispy, chilli and tofu. Pour any remaining sauce from the mushrooms over the top for extra flavour – almost like a gravy! If you fancy, make this into a bibimbap and top with a fried egg and sriracha chilli sauce! Mix everything together into a giant mess before eating – this way you get a mouthful of all the textures and temperatures aswell as chilli and sweet, sticky sauce.

Tuscan Ragu & Polenta

It’s been a New Year’s resolution of mine for a few years to make polenta – i always enjoy it in restaurants yet have never cooked it myself. Yesterday was the day!

My dear friend Laura who lives in Florence sent me a wonderful Tuscan cookbook for my birthday and after a long 3 days completing the 3 Peaks Challenge the Tuscan Ragu recipe provided inspiration for a comforting, warming, tasty dish that kept me happy in the kitchen yesterday afternoon.

Serves 4
For the Ragu
1 Carrott – diced
2 sticks Celery – diced
1 Onion – diced
2 Cloves Garlic – finely chopped
Sprinkle dried Chilli and Oregano
20g Pancetta Cubes
300g Minced Pork
2 Sausages – remove the skin and mash the meat
Handful Chestnut Mushrooms – chopped
Handful dried Porcini Mushrooms – chopped (save the soaking liquid)
3/4 Pint Sangiovese Wine (or any Italian Red)
1 tin Chopped Tomatoes
1 tin Plum Tomatoes
3/4 Pint Beef stock
Nutmeg
Handful Basil leaves – torn
For the Polenta
5tbsp Extra Fine Polenta (Cornmeal)
2 Bay Leaves
2 handfuls Grated Parmesan
Pepper

In a large saucepan, gently fry the celery, onion and carrott in some olive oil until softened. This is a classic trilogy of ingredients called a Mirepoix or Soffritto and provides the flavour base for the dish. After 15 minutes or so, add the pancetta , garlic and the dried herbs and continue to sautee for another 10 minutes.
Add in the pork mince and sausage meat – mix thoroughly and mash together. Stir in the mushrooms and a sprinkle of ground nutmeg and leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Pour the wine in – don’t be surprised by how red the dish turns, allow the wine to reduce and once the mixture is dry, add in the stock, porcini liquid and tomatoes. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for at least an hour – add more stock if the dish starts to dry out.
Meanwhile, make the polenta. Boil the bay leaves in a pan on a medium heat in 3/4 pint of water with some salt and olive oil. Add the polenta and whisk to avoid lumps. Turn the heat down and continue to whisk – add more water if needed. After 20-30 minutes the mixture should thicken up – you want it the consistency of a very creamy mash potato. At this point stir in the parmesan and add black pepper to taste.
To serve, scatter the basil leaves into the ragu and amend any seasoning.
Place the polenta at the base of the bowl with the ragu on top. Enjoy this warming, autumnal dish with some kale, tenderstem broccoli and sauteed sprouts.

Chicken & Vegetable Noodles with Mushroom & Miso Broth

Summer has officially ended and I write this post on a wet Wednesday morning having had to dig my rain mac out of the wardrobe. One of the positives that this means……its the start of Elix’s favourite time of year…..SOUP SEASON! Granted she isnt here to enjoy it as she is sunning herself in Italy but I have commenced Soup season in her absence and yesterday made a tasty, comforting, healthy and nutritious Asian Chicken soup.

Two ingredients which form the base of the soup and create a depth of earthy, umami flavour are miso and  mushrooms.

Miso is a Japanese fermented soya paste – known for aiding digestion as it is packed with good bacteria so is a probiotic. Miso is also a good source of vitamin K which is great for healthy skin, bones and heart. For any vegetarians out there – miso is a protein source too and great for energy.

Mushrooms are one of the best ways to get vitamin D into your diet – when we dont see the sun as much now that Autumn is upon us, this is much needed and mushrooms are the only vegetable which makes it’s own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Mushrooms are also a good source of iron, vitamin C and antioxidents.

The recipe is fairly speedy and easy –  feel free to switch in other veggies or meat (pork would work well) – even add a soft boiled egg in if you are looking for something more filling.

Serves 4
2tbsp Coconut Oil
1 leek – finely sliced
1 clove garlic – finely diced
1 tsp grated ginger
3 large handfuls of mixed mushrooms – chopped. I used portobello, shitake, oyster and enoki
1 small handful dried porini mushrooms soaked and diced
1.5 litres vegetable stock
1 large roast chicken breast – shredded (i used leftovers from my Sunday Roast!)
1tsp Soy Sauce
1tsp Mirin
1tbsp Miso
2 handfuls of chopped veg – i used mange tout and mini-corn
1 handful coriander – shredded
2 nests noodles – i used soba noodles but rice noodles or ramen would work well too
4 Spring Onions – sliced

Start by gently frying the leeks, garlic and ginger in the coconut oil until softened. Add the chopped fresh mushrooms and mix together. Add the porcini mushrooms – keep the soaking liquid to one side (drain through a fine seive to remove any sedement).
Add the soy, mirin and miso stirring through and once mixed 1- add the stock and porcini liquid. When the soup has reached a simmer, add the veggies and coriander and leave bubbling for 20 minutes. For the final 5 minutes add the noodles and check for seasoning – if you want more depth, add more miso and a tiny sprinkle of soy.
Once the noodles are cooked al dente, serve with a scatter of spring onions on top for some freshness.