When it comes to pasta bakes I usually only have one goal; to mix pasta with cheese, something creamy and whatever needs to be eaten from the fridge. A great way to make them, absolutely, but recently I have been craving the same pasta bake again and again so it’s worth writing down the recipe.
I find that the combination of broccoli and fried sweet peppers work really well together in many different settings, like in a quiche, or in a salad, so maybe that’s why it works so well in this dish too.
Chipotle broccoli and pepper pasta bake, serves 3-4
As I’m of the philosophy that a pasta bake should include anything that needs using up, I highly recommend using up different dairy products and cheese. I’ve been known to mix creme fraîche with cream and even milk! Anything works.
200 g short pasta
1 head of broccoli, stem removed and cut into florets
1-2 peppers, seeds removed and cut into thin strips
1 tbsp mild olive oil
200 ml creme fraiche
2 tsp chipotle paste
salt and pepper
2 handfuls of grated cheddar
salad to serve
Cook the pastan al dente according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and set aside. In the same pan, blanch the broccoli (place the broccoli in boiling water, bring to the boil and drain quickly) and set aside. Heat up a frying pan and add the oil. Fry the peppers on medium heat until a little brown around the edges. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix creme fraiche with chipotle, salt and pepper. Add the pasta and drained vegetables and mix well. Pour into a buttered gratin dish and top with cheese. Bake in 200 C for approx 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with a crunchy salad.
Make the pesto. Cut the potatoes into equally sized pieces and boil in salted water for approx 15 mins. Drain and leave to cool. The potatoes shouldn’t be warm, but lukewarm or cold works well. Mix creme fraiche with wild garlic pesto in a bowl, add the potatoes, salt and pepper and toss until the potatoes are nicely coated. Drizzle with a little extra pesto to decorate.
In one of my twice-monthly oddboxes I came across a new to me vegetable. Kalettes. A cross between brussel sprouts and kale. They looked like leafy broccoli florets and tasted delightful. And my silly tummy could handle them (at least in small quantities). Yay!
We had them blanched instead of broccoli with roast chicken and although nice they weren’t amazing. But another night I fried them in oil with some onions and served it with a crispy fried egg, avocado and a cold sauce and they were SO good. So if you see them in a shop, I highly recommend buying a bag of kalettes and try this dish. I cannot wait to make it again! I think it would work really well with tender stem or purple sprouting broccoli or a mix of broccoli, brussels and kale, if you can’t find kalettes.
Fried greens with crispy fried egg and avocado, serves 2
1 small onion or large shallot, finely chopped
200 g kalettes, trimmed and cut in half
2 tbsp mild olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp mild olive oil
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 avocado, sliced
100 ml creme fraiche
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp dijon with basil
salt and pepper
a little squeeze of lemon
Mix the ingredients for the sauce and set aside. Heat up the oil in a medium frying pan on medium heat. Add the onions and fry until they just start to brown. Add the kalettes and fry until they also start to brown. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. In another frying pan (large enough for two eggs), heat up the olive oil on medium-high heat and crack in the two eggs. Fry until the white is set (cover with a lid for half a minute or so for the top of the white to set), the yolk is runny and the bottom is browned. Remove the eggs to a cold plate. Reheat the kalettes and adjust the seasoning if needed. Add a little lemon juice and divide between plates or large bowls. Add the eggs, tomatoes, avocado and cress. Serve with the sauce.
Which makes it a bit tricky to come up with a good, but not too big lunch. Because in the evening we usually have a big dinner. First world problems, absolutely. But recently I have come up with some good lunch options like the green tortilla pizza we both love and more recently I’ve made us pinxtos!
It stated with us out on an afternoon walk one weekend and getting hungry on the way back. Popping into a supermarket to buy some lunch I wanted something quick, with no cooking involved and so I raided the deli aisle and grabbed a baguette and got to work.
I personally love pinxtos and although these lack the finesse of some of the pinxtos bars in San Sebastien they are still lovely to eat, either for lunch like we did, or as a weekend starter or light supper. What you choose to top your baguette slices with is up to you, but I highly recommend ham and manchego, and if you have any omelette or frittata leftover that’s great too. A creamy cheese and cucumber is lovely and if you have smoked salmon it’s delicious mixed with mayonnaise.
Pinxtos, serves 2
10 slices fresh baguette
Various toppings such as:
Serrano + manchego
Le Roulé cheese + cucumber
Leftover frittata (heated up)
Bresaola + mayonnaise + crispy onions + tomato
Don’t butter the bread, just add the toppings! Serve straight away.
When I was quarantining in our summer house by the beach in Sweden one of the little pleasures (apart from walks along the beach, Netflix and rediscovering the vinyl collection) was of course the food. I had given mamma a shopping list beforehand so she could order the food and stock up before I got there. One of the things I was longing for (alongside Swedish sweets and my favourite cheese) were prawns in abundance. In my family we’ve had prawns pretty much every single Friday night. My parents still do. In London that feels like a real indulgence as you only buy prawns in small quantities, so I made sure to make myself a proper prawn sandwich while at home.
But with the heating on high, snuggled up under blankets and with warm socks on a cold sandwich wasn’t all that tempting. So I made sure the egg wasn’t fridge cold and cooked it just before assembling the sandwich, AND I fried the bread in butter. Frying bread in butter, if you haven’t tried it, is genius and so delicious I promise you will become obsessed and it was so the right decision for a winter version of my beloved Scandi prawn sandwich!
Prawn sandwich on butter-fried bread, serves 1
1 large egg, boiled to your preference (I like mine runny so I’m a 5-6 minute gal), cooled, peeled and sliced
1 slice of white good quality bread
2 tbsp salted butter
1-2 lettuce leafs such as little gem
plenty (approx 4 tbsp) good quality mayonnaise (i.e. Hellmann’s or homemade)
250-300 g large shell-on cold water prawns, peeled (shell on prawns have more flavour so I prefer to peel my own)
2 slices cucumber
1 slice of lemon
sprig of dill
Fry the bread in butter, 1 tbsp per side, on medium-low heat until golden brown. Drain on kitchen roll. Place the fried bread on a plate and add a thin layer of mayo (to hold the lettuce in place). Place the lettuce on top and then distribute the sliced egg. Top with a very generous amount of mayonnaise. Then place the prawns on top. Decorate with lemon, cucumber and a sprig of dill.
Anyone else excited about rhubarb right now?! I just love it (you’ll find lots of lovely recipes here) and as it’s still cold out (it snowed earlier in the week!) I thought it best to start this rhubarb season with a warming crumble. It was also the perfect opportunity to improve on the recipe a little; to make it perfect!
All I did was to reduce the sugar a little and substitute some brown sugar for caster sugar to let the rhubarb flavour come through more, and it made such a difference! It was yummy before but now it’s *chef’s kiss*.
My perfected rhubarb crumble, serves 4
ca 250 g rhubarb, washed and cut into smaller pieces
60 g caster sugar (to balance the acidity from the rhubarb)
100 g softened butter
200 g plain flour
65 g soft brown sugar
70 g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Butter an ovenproof dish. Place the rhubarb pieces in the bottom. Scatter the sugar on top. Combine the ingredients for the crumble in a mixing bowl using a wooden fork. Pour on top of the rhubarb. Place in 175C oven for about 30 minutes or until the fruit is soft and the top golden brown. Serve with double cream, custard or ice cream.
One of my favourite foods is undoubtedly burrata. It’s just so creamy and delicious and a nice weekend treat. But, it’s also the easiest thing to use for a lovely starter. When you have burrata you don’t have to work so hard with the rest; just make sure it goes well together.
So for a lovely spring time starter a few weekends ago I made minimal work. Apart from taking the burrata out of the fridge an hour ahead of eating I really didn’t do much; my appliances did all the work for me. The oven slow roasted the cherry tomatoes until jammy and sweet and the food processor made a really delicious wild garlic pesto to smother the burrata with. Add to that some bread and Bob’s your uncle.
Burrata with slow-roasted tomatoes and wild garlic pesto, serves 2
Preheat the oven to 150C. Wash and halve the tomatoes. Place them in an oven-proof dish and drizzle with mild olive oil. Add the herbs, salt and pepper and mix to coat. Place in oven for approx 1 hour.
Take the burrata out of the fridge an hour before it’s needed. Make the pesto.
To assemble, place the burrata on a deep plate, place the tomatoes around the burrata and dollop the pesto on top. Drizzle with a grassy olive oil and add salt and pepper. Serve with bread.
No Easter without chocolate, am I right?! So for the Easter cake this year I made sure it was super chocolatey! I used my go-to chocolate cake recipe (courtesy of mamma and granny) but made it gluten-free (so we could share it with friends) just substituting plain flour with Doves Farm gluten-free flour blend. For the filling I made a chocolate buttercream with both melted chocolate and cocoa and it was so delicious I will definitely make it again and again.
Chocolate cake, serves 10
600 ml (480 g) caster sugar
500 ml (300 g) plain flour
6 tbsp cocoa
4 tsp vanilla
4 tsp baking powder
200 g melted butter
300 ml just-boiled water
1 batch chocolate buttercream – recipe below
2 bags Cadbury mini eggs
1 Lindt milk chocolate bunny
Pre-heat the oven to 175C, butter and two springforms and line the bottoms with baking parchment. Mix sugar, flour, cocoa and baking powder in a large bowl. Add melted butter, vanilla, egg and water and combine. Divide the batter between the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave to cool completely.
100 g dark chocolate, chopped
300 g softened salted butter
400 ml icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp cocoa, sifted
1 tsp vanilla
approx 2 tsp lemon juice
Melt 2/3 of the chocolate in a Bain Marie until melted. Add the remaining chocolate and stir until melted. Set aside.
Make sure the butter is really soft. Add it to a large mixing bowl and add the sifted icing sugar. Beat together with an electric whisk until well incorporated. Add the cocoa and vanilla and incorporate. Add the melted chocolate and beat well until well incorporated. Season to taste with lemon juice to cut through the richness.
Remove the cakes from the tins and remove the baking parchment. Place one cake round upside down on the cake plate and cover with half the buttercream. Place the next cake round on top and cover with the rest of the buttercream. Decorate with mini eggs and chocolate bunny.
We only managed one baked Vacherin night this Mont d’Or season but it was a good one! I didn’t have any opened white wine so used a dry sherry instead and it worked so well, I wanted to share it here. I skipped the garlic as I don’t think it’s needed so it’s super simple to make.
Last year we learnt how amazing the baked cheese was together with cold (not fridge-cold, but cooled after cooking) new potatoes (a bit like raclette) so those were a must have. We also had bread which is a given, and I like something crusty like a baguette to give a bit of a contrast to the soft melted cheese texture wise. (I love it the most when it’s starting to cool down slightly and coats the bread or potatoes with a thick layer of cheese.) Charcuterie is also a must for me and I wan’t something with acidity as well so cleanse the palate in between. We had radishes and cornichons, but crispy apple slices or small pickled onions work well too.
I’m salivating as I’m writing this, and am already looking forward to the next Vacherin season (December-March) but I’m also very ready for spring and summer right now. It’s already wild garlic season and I cannot WAIT for the British asparagus to come up!
Baked Vacherin Mont d’Or, serves 2
1 Vacherin Mont d’Or cheese 450-500 g, at room temperature
60 ml dry sherry
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Unwrap the cheese from any plastic and place on a baking sheet. Make a few slits in the top and pour in the sherry. Bake until melted and hot, approximately 30-45 minutes. Serve with a platter of nice things to dip into the cheese such as cooked cooled new potatoes, sliced baguette, charcuterie, radishes and cornichons.
One of my go-to dishes of 2020 was this easy and delicious tarragon chicken. Initially inspired by Nigella’s recipe but I have now made so many changes to her version that I need to write down my own recipe.
The biggest difference between her recipe and mine is the cut of chicken we use. I know chicken breast is the traditional option here, but I prefer chicken thigh fillets and they become so juicy and delicious I wouldn’t make this any other way!
What I love about this dish is that it’s quick to make (like 15-20 minutes with no prep) but still feels elevated. It would be perfect for date night or even a dinner party (remember those?). Or why not a summer’s lunch with cold rosé and a green salad or asparagus instead of the broccoli?!
Tarragon chicken, serves 2
4-5 chicken thigh fillets
2 tbsp mild olive oil
1 tsp dried tarragon
100 ml dry white wine
1/2 tsp salt
120 ml double cream
2 tsp dried tarragon
salt and pepper
Pour the oil into a medium saucepan. Heat to medium temperature and add 1 tsp tarragon. Cook for a minute then add the chicken thigh fillets, smooth side down on top of the tarragon. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn the chicken and add the wine and salt. Lower the temperature to a simmer and put a lid on the pan. Cook for another 10 minutes. Check with a knife to see that the thicken is cooked through, then remove to a plate and let rest while you finish the sauce. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the cream and 2 tsp tarragon to the pan. Let it thicken slightly and adjust the seasoning. Serve with buttery rice and broccoli.