Pasta Risotto with Peas and Pancetta

Heavenly to make and to eat!

2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
6 oz. cubed pancetta
1 1/4 cups frozen peas
8 oz. orso pasta
2 1/2 cups boiling water
salt, to taste
1 tbs. soft butter
2 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
grated black pepper, to taste

Warm the oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp and bronze, then stir in the peas for a minute or two until the frozen look leaves them.

Add the pasta and stir for a bit, then add the boiling water and season with salt. Turn  down to a simmer and let it bubble for 10 minutes, until the pasta is tender and the water absorbed.

To serve, toss with the soft butter, Parmesan and sprinkle with black pepper.

Serves 2

Ginger and Walnut Carrot Cake

Everyone has a favorite carrot cake recipe. This one, however, is exceptional. Studded with crystallized ginger and walnuts, this is not overly sweet and more reminiscent of an old-fashion, rustic English teatime treat.

Ginger and Walnut Carrot Cake

For the cake:

1 2/3 cup plain flour
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. light brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
200ml vegetable oil
1 3/4 cup loosely packed carrots, coarsely grated
1 cup walnut pieces, roughly chopped
4 1/2 tbs. crystallized ginger, finely chopped

For the icing:

7 tbs. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. corn starch
4 oz. full fat cream cheese, at room temperature

For the decoration:

1/4 cup walnut pieces, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tsp. crystallized ginger

Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line the base of a 8″ springform tin.

Combine the flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and fork to mix together.

Beat the sugar, eggs and oil in a large bowl. Stir in the flour mixture. (At this point, the mixture may seem stiff, but the carrots will add moisture.) Fold in the carrots, walnuts and crystallized ginger. Spread in the prepared tin, smooth the top and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing, beat the butter with the sugar until creamy. Beat in the corn starch followed by the cream cheese to make a smooth icing. Remove the cooled cake from the tin and place on a serving plate. Spread the icing generously on top and sprinkle with the walnut pieces and crystalized ginger.

 

Spaghetti with Prawns and Chili

This simple pasta supper is bursting with flavor and color. Enjoy!

1 1/4 lbs. raw prawns
1/4 cup sliced scallions
1/2 tsp. chili flakes
2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
1 cup sunblush or cherry tomatoes in oil
1/2 cup white wine or vermouth
1 1/2 cups arugula
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
8 oz. spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

In a large pan, fry the scallions and chili flakes in the olive oil for a few minutes, then tip in the prawns and tomatoes with their oil. When the prawns are just opaque, add the wine or vermouth and let it bubble a bit. Toss in the arugula and stir until it slightly wilts.

Drain the pasta, keeping a bit of the cooking water, and add to the prawns. Toss everything together, adding some cooking water if needed to make a sauce.

Serve sprinkled with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4

Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

These tender, turkey morsels will delight everyone, from children to adults. Swap in rolled oats for the breadcrumbs for a bit of a healthier option.

For the sauce:

1 onion, peeled
1 celery stalk
2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 x 14 oz. tins diced tomatoes (approx. 3 1/3 cups)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
pepper, to taste

For the meatballs:

1 lb. ground turkey
1 egg
3 tbs. breadcrumbs
3 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbs. of the chopped vegetables
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Parmesan cheese, to serve
Put the onions and celery into a food processor and blitz into a mush. Reserve 2 tbs..

Warm the olive oil in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Add all but the 2 tbs. of the onions and celery mush along with the thyme and cook over a moderate to low heat, stirring now and then, to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer gently while you get on with the meatballs.

Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs (except the Parmesan) in a large bowl and gently mix them together. Roll into about 50 small meatballs. Drop these into the sauce and let them simmer for 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve over pasta or rice.

Serves 4-6

Chicken and Pea Traybake

Nigella Lawson has been dubbed, “The Queen of the Frozen Pea” and for just reason. The small jade orbs play a prominent role in her recipes. This recipe combines them with chicken thighs and leeks, all of which cook effortlessly in a large roasting tin.

Chicken and Pea Traybake

7 cups frozen peas
4 leeks
2 fat garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup white vermouth
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt flakes
small bunch of dill, coarsely chopped
8 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on

Heat the oven to 400°F. Into a large roasting pan, tumble in the peas, leeks and garlic. Pour over the vermouth and olive oil, then sprinkle in the salt and most of the dill. Arrange the chicken on top, skin-side up.

Roast in the oven for 45 mins. Give the peas a stir, but leave to leeks in place (you want them to be caramelized). Roast for a further 30 minutes, or until the chicken is crisp and cooked through. Scatter with the remaining dill and serve.

 

Fish with Toasted Almonds

Perfect in it’s simplicity, this fish is a jot to prepare and a joy to eat.

1/2 cup sliced almonds
3 tbs. butter
2 tsp. olive oil
4 cod fillets (or other meaty white fish)
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley

Add the almonds to a dry skillet and heat over a medium flame until they are just beginning to toast. Remove and set aside. Add the butter and oil to the pan, then sizzle the fish for 3-4 minutes per side, or until cooked to your liking. Reduce the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, plate the fish and top with the pan sauce, the toasted almonds and a good sprinkling of chopped parsley.

Serves 4

Snickerdoodles

More cake-like and less sweet than the American version, these are easy to make and even easier to eat.

1 2/3 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 2 tbs. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbs. cinnamon

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the flour, nutmeg, baking powder and salt, then set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1/3 cup of sugar until light in texture and pale in color. Beat together the egg and vanilla, then stir into the butter mixture. Add the dry ingredients. Roll into walnut-sized balls.

Combine the cinnamon and remaining sugar in a small bowl. Roll the balls in this, then place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and leave to sit on the baking sheets for 1 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 2 dozen

 

Beef and Aubergine Fatteh

Nigella describes these as “Middle-Eastern nachos”. It is a subtly textured, richly flavored arrangement of  toasted pita bread with a meaty topping of beef and aubergine and a garlicky tahini sauce. This is meant to be put in the center of the table and shared.

4 pita breads, split oven and cut into triangles

For the topping:

1 1/4 cups Greek yogurt
5 tbs. tahini, at room temperature
3 tbs. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 sea salt flakes

For the beef:

3 tbs. regular olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 aubergine, cut into small cubes
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. Aleppo pepper or paprika, plus more for sprinkling
1-2 tsp. sea salt flakes
1 lb. minced beef

To sprinkle over:

1/2  cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 tbs. chopped fresh mint

Heat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the pita triangles on a large baking sheet and toast for 10-15 minutes until crisp.

Beat the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice and garlic together. Add salt to taste.

For the meat, warm the oil in a heavy saucepan and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Turn the heat down and continue to cook until soft and golden, about 4 minutes longer.

Turn the heat up to medium, tumble in the aubergine cubes and stir well. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the cumin, coriander, Aleppo pepper or paprika and 1 tsp. of the salt. Add the beef and, breaking it up with a wooded spoon, stir until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Taste and see if you need more salt.

Sit the bowl of the yogurt mixture over a pan of just simmering water. Stir until it is slightly room temperature and has the consistency lightly whipped cream.

To assemble, place the pita triangles on a large platter. Top with the beef mixture, followed by the yogurt sauce. Scatter over the pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and mint. Sprinkle with a little Aleppo pepper or paprika and serve.

Serves 4-6

Fettuccini with Mushrooms, Marsala and Mascarpone

This pasta is quite elegant and sophisticated. The creamy marsala-laced sauce is just right with the husky and earthy porcini mushrooms.

1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup marsala
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup mascarpone
freshly grated nutmeg
ground pepper
2 tbs. chopped fresh parsley, plus more to serve
8 oz. egg fettuccini or taliatelle
1 tbs. unsalted butter
small clove of garlic, grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Measure the porcini mushrooms into a small saucepan and add the marsala and water. Bring to a boil, then take it off the heat and let stand at least 10 minutes.

Put the mascarpone into a bowl and add a good grating of fresh nutmeg and pepper. Strain the marsala and water from the saucepan into the bowl and mix with a fork. Squeeze the porcini mushrooms over the bowl, then chop and add as well.

Boil water for the pasta and salt when it boils. Cook the pasta per the package directions. Keep a little pasta water aside, then drain the pasta and tip back into the pot. Stir in the mascarpone mixture and add a little of the pasta water if you need to loosen the sauce.

Check the seasoning and serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 2

 

Lamb Patties with Hummus and Pita

Think hamburgers, Middle Eastern style.

scant 1/4 cup bulgar wheat
18 oz. lean minced lamb
4 tsp. dried mint
4 tsp. dried oregano
1 garlic cloves, crushed
zest of 1 lemon
vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/3 cup hummus
1 1/3 cups whole-milk yogurt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
8 pita breads
1 Little Gem or Boston lettuce, shredded
bunch fresh mint, chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3-4 tomatoes, chopped

Soak the bulgar wheat by covering it with boiling water and leaving it for 15 minutes in a small bowl. Sieve out the water and mix with the lamb, mint, oregano, garlic, lemon zest and seasoning. Form into small, walnut-sized patties and set on a baking tray. Chill for 20 minutes or up to 6 hours.

Fry the patties in a little oil until cooked through and golden. You may need to do this is batches so as not to crowd the patties.

Stir together the hummus, yogurt and cumin. To assemble, toast or warm the pita bread, then slice off the top. Into the cavity, dollop in some of the hummus mixture, several patties, some lettuce, mint, onion and tomatoes.

Serves 8