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Absolutely Delicious Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti

One from my daughter, Maddie, who found this recipe on the Internet to liven up her Uni dinners. What a joy when she offered to cook the recipe on her last trip home! As much as I love cooking, it is an absolute treat when someone else offers to do it and this recipe went straight to the top of my ‘favourites’ list of pasta dishes – it’s hearty and really flavoursome – the tomatoes and spinach contrast perfectly with the richness of the cream and the dish is quite honestly, just fantastic! A perfect family supper dish – thanks Madz – you can do it again!!!!

Serves 6

What you need…

Splash of olive oil

4 chicken breasts, seasoned

8 rashers back bacon, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

300ml double cream

8 tomatoes, roughly chopped

150g spinach

Sea salt and black pepper

150g Parmesan, grated

A large handful fresh basil leaves, torn

Dried spaghetti (amount depends on how hungry you are)

What to do…

In a large saucepan, bring to the boil salted water in which to cook the spaghetti.

In a large frying pan, warm the oil over a moderate heat and then cook the chicken breasts for 6 minutes on each side. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Pop your spaghetti into the pan of boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions: mine is about 12 minutes.

Add the bacon to the chicken pan and fry until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside onto kitchen paper.

Into the pan chuck the garlic. Fry for 1 minute and then add the tomatoes, cooking for 5 minutes. Toss in the spinach and pour in the cream, cooking through until the spinach has mostly wilted.

Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and then tip it and the bacon into the sauce. Stir to evenly incorporate and then add the Parmesan and basil.

Drain the spaghetti and add to the sauce. Mix the whole lot together so the sauce beautifully coats the pasta.

Serve to six hungry people, perhaps with a glass or two of robust red wine and enjoy this truly hearty, really tasty pasta dish.

Inspired by…

Maddie, who found the recipe on the Twisted Food website

How easy…

Fast, easy and very student-friendly!

1st Proper BBQ of the Season!

So, we had one last week on the beach – lovely idea but…burgers with sand, sausages with sand, halloumi with sand…work in progress. Anyway, today was the first PROPER one and we went all out: halloumi, garlic bread with mozzarella, lobster tails with garlic butter, salmon with rosemary and garlic, chicken with my favourite marinade, sausages, burgers in brioche buns and posh roasted vegetables (not quite ready for salad!) Bloody marvellous!!! The sun shone, the wine flowed and the afternoon simply chillaxed by….happy days! (All recipes listed above previously blogged). xxx

Out of the kitchen and onto the beach….again

So, today my jobs included sorting out a long-term battle with Paypal, loads of boring admin, some cleaning, typing up a fab recipe for Tornedos Rossini (steak with unbelievable sauce!) but….instead we took the dog to West Wittering beach and then sat outside ‘Billy’s on the Beach’ enjoying local crab open sandwiches and a glass of wine…..gotta love the sunshine and how the beach corrects my priorities! Will blog the recipe tomorrow I promise – apparently it’s forecast to rain! xx

Roast Fillets of Pork with Prune and Apple

Our default Sunday lunch is Roast Chicken and John is the one who makes this weekly treat, served with Yorkshires and roasted root vegetables (already blogged) but last week, I fancied a change and had seen this recipe in a magazine. The pork is fabulous: the meat is moist and succulent and the stuffing, flavoured with sage, prunes and apples, is simply sublime. The finishing touch is the wonderful crispy Parma ham that is the wrapping to this rather wonderful gift of a lunch. Definitely put this one on your Sunday lunch list – you won’t regret it!!!

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

1 x baking tin, lined with baking parchment

Knob of butter

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1 medium Bramley apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped

Sausagemeat from 3 pork sausages

50g ready-to-eat dried prunes, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

2 x 450g pork fillets

8 slices Parma ham

for the gravy

300ml boiling water from the kettle

1 x chicken stockpot (I use Knorr)

2 tablespoons flour

100g chicken gravy granules

200ml apple juice

A good slosh of Marsala wine

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

First, make the stuffing. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a high heat, add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Pop on the lid and sweat over a low heat for 15 minutes until soft. Add the apple and stir for a few moments. Set aside.

Put the sausagemeat, prunes and sage into a bowl. Season and then add the onion and apple. Stir to thoroughly incorporate.

Cover a large board with cling film. Place the pork fillets on top and then cover them with cling film. Take a rolling pin and bash the fillets until they are roughly one third thinner than when they started. Remove the cling film and spread the stuffing on one fillet, placing the other one on the top of the stuffing.

Onto your baking tin, lay eight slices of Parma ham, slightly overlapping and sit the fillets on the top so they lay across the ham. Roll up like a roulade so that the Parma ham is sealed underneath. My Parma ham kept breaking up so I produced more of a patchwork effect but that didn’t seem to spoil the overall appearance, so just go with the flow.

Pop your pork into the oven and roast for about 1 hour, until crispy and cooked through. Transfer to a warmed serving plate to rest.

Whilst your pork is cooking, turn your attention to the gravy. First, make your stock by using a balloon whisk to dissolve the stockpot into the boiling water. Into a hot saucepan tip the flour and then, over a high heat, gradually tip in the stock, thoroughly whisking in each addition before adding any more. Once all the stock is in, pour in the apple juice. This then, was the end of Mary’s recipe. We however thought that the gravy was too sweet and a little light on body so we tweaked as follows: tip the gravy granules into a large jug and then whisk in some of the hot stock/apple juice mixture. Gradually add all the liquid to the granules, whisking as you go and then pour it all back into the saucepan. Bring to the boil and then slosh in some Marsala. Taste. Season and add more Marsala to taste – pretty damned good!!!

Serve your pork in slices with the gravy – absolutely delightful and very, very moreish!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

The pork itself is dead easy. As you can see though, we struggled a bit with the gravy. For us, Mary’s version was too sweet. We were however very happy with the tweaked version which was a rich and smooth with a gentle sweetness from the apple juice. My advice would be to make the pork following the instructions and then to make your own favourite gravy, adding a little apple juice to it!

 

 

Christmas Rocky Road

Wow! This stuff is just gorgeous and completely addictive. Crunchiness mixed with mellow, slightly melted mallow and the joy that is the mix of chocolate and golden syrup. Nuts, glace cherries and amaretti biscuits all combine to create something that can only be described as a seasonal joy! Just lovely!!!

Makes around 30+ bite-sized poppables!

What you need…

1 x 23 x 29cm-ish baking tin, lined with foil

250g dark chocolate, broken into chunks

150g milk chocolate, broken into chunks

175g butter

4 tablespoons golden syrup

200g amaretti bisuits (not the soft ones)

150g brazil nuts, shelled

150g glace cherries

125g mini marshmallows

Icing sugar for dusting

What to do…

In a large saucepan, tip in your chocolate chunks, butter and syrup and let the whole lot melt together over a low heat.

Meanwhile, in your food processor, fit the cutting blade and whizz the brazil nuts to rubble. Tip them out and set aside. Then do the same with your amaretti biscuits – it won’t take very long so just a quick whizz or you’ll get dust rather than rubble!

Once everything has melted, take the pan off the heat and tip in your nuts, amaretti, cherries and marshmallows. Gently stir the lot so that everything is evenly covered in the chocolate mix.

Tip the lot into your foil-lined tin. Run a spatula over the top so that it’s flatish. Pop in the fridge for 2 hours.

Invert your rocky road out of the foil-lined tin and cut into bite-sized ‘poppable’ squares. Stack up so it’s roughly rocky-road-mountain-like, dress with daft figures and dredge with icing sugar. Serve to everyone’s absolute delight! Just keep popping them in – it’ll be hard not to!!!!

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

You chop some bits, you melt some bits and you mix some bits! Then you enjoy the whole lot and wow, it’s great!

Risotto with Scallops and Black Pudding

There’s something about the happy marriage of scallops and black pudding: just yummy! And in this risotto, they are really scrumptious: the earthy black pudding and the sweet scallops mixed in with the rich, creamy risotto – ooooh, just lovely!

Serves 4

What you need…

750ml hot water from the kettle

2 fish stockpots (I use Knorr)

25g butter

1 shallot, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 leek, washed and diced

250g Arborio risotto rice

50ml dry white wine

1 dollop mascarpone

50g Parmesan, freshly grated

4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon rapeseed oil

12 slices black pudding

12 scallops (out of shells)

What to do…

Use a balloon whisk to dissolve the fish stockpots into the hot water to create your fish stock.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and sweat the shallot, garlic and leek without colouring.

Turn the heat down and add the rice, stirring to coat in the butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Then start to add the stock, one ladle at a time, waiting for each ladleful to be absorbed before adding any more – this should take 15 – 20 minutes. The rice should be cooked but still retain some ‘bite’. Add in the mascarpone and Parmesan together with the parsley and seasoning. Taste and adjust the cheese content and season to suit.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat the oil and when it starts to smoke, add the black pudding, cooking it for 3 minutes before turning over and adding the scallops to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, turning the scallops once.

Serve your delicious risotto with your lovely scallops and black pudding and just enjoy the sheer yumminess that is this combination!

Inspired by…

James Martin

How easy…

Very easy and very relaxing to make as long as you have the time that the arborio needs to get to that lovely oozy, delectable state!

 

A Little Moving Problem…

Grrrrrr – moving house and the only thing that’s keeping me sane is the ability to cook/bake, photograph and blog: am at new house with great photograph of today’s dish (a Mary Berry number) but the transfer cable from camera to computer is at the old house – of course it is. Blogging to resume on Sunday!