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Monday, 5 August 2019

Simple Tomato Pasta

Pasta is love. Pasta is life.

You know by now that I love pasta so much. This is one of my favourite pasta recipes because it's quick and easy to make, but also very delicious!

I love an adaptable recipe, so you can substitute the cherry tomatoes for one large tomato if that's what's available to you. Maybe the corner shop near you only has tomato paste, a few teaspoons of that should work well if that's the case. If you can't get fresh herbs, then dried will do just fine (a teaspoon each should do the trick). If you don't have spaghetti or linguine, then any other pasta shape will do. If you like you can even use the sauce as a base for prawns, clams, fish, or chicken. Mix it up, and make it your own.

You can even go a bit fancy and use some multi-coloured tomatoes! I found these in the reduced section.
Ingredients (serves one)
  • 80g of dried spaghetti or linguine (or more if you're ravenous!)
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes
  • Handful of fresh basil and parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic*
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • Black pepper to taste
  • *optional* Chilli flakes to taste
  • *optional* Grated Parmesan, pecorino, or a vegetarian/vegan equivalent
*I normally use four cloves because I'm a garlic fiend, but I've toned it down for this recipe!

Method

Crush, peel, and chop the cloves of garlic.

Gently heat the oil in a frying pan, and cook the garlic until softened. Add the chilli flakes now, if using. I just use a pinch to add some heat, but if you like it spicy then feel free to add more!

Meanwhile, boil some salted water in a large pan. While the garlic and chilli are cooking, start boiling the pasta. Be careful not to brown or burn the garlic, keep the heat nice and low.

Next, chop the tomatoes and add them to the pan, cook until softened.

An obligatory picture of garlic and chilli sizzling away...
When the pasta is still a little hard, take a small cupful of the pasta water and set it to one side. Drain the pasta and save for later. To prevent it sticking together, add a little oil and mix through.

To the tomatoes, garlic and chilli, add the pasta water, sugar, a generous pinch of salt, black pepper, and the herbs. Simmer until most of the water has evaporated, then add the pasta into the mix. It will finish cooking in the sauce.

Serve up, and enjoy! If you're an omnivore like me, you can add a generous amount of parmesan/pecorino before serving. If you're vegan or veggie, you can eat it as it is or use a vegan cheese/one without rennet.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Crispy Baked Chickpeas

Chickpeas are awesome, but do you know what's better? Baked chickpeas.

You can put these on salads, mix them into stews, put them in wraps, or just eat them by themselves. They make a great snack after exercising, or just to snack on during an afternoon slump!

Cue some close-ups on my fancy DSLR camera...



This is the spice mix I use, but you can mix and match and experiment and make your own if you like!

Ingredients
  • 400g can of chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of chilli powder
  • Ground sea salt
Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (see the handy conversion chart for other types of ovens). Line a medium baking tray with baking parchment.

Drain the chickpeas and in a large bowl, coat the chickpeas with the oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder, pepper, and chilli powder.

Spread out the chickpeas onto the baking tray, and sprinkle salt to taste. Next, bake them in the oven. If you want softer chickpeas to use in wraps or sandwiches, bake for 20 minutes. If you want really crispy chickpeas, bake for around 30-40 minutes. Make sure to check on them every 10 minutes and flip them over with a spatula if you're keeping them in for longer.

If you're eating straightaway, you can toss the chickpeas with dried parsley or chives for some extra flavour.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Quick Tips: Oven Temperature Conversation Table (Celsius, Fan, Fahrenheit, and Gas Mark)

Just a quick post today with a conversion chart for different oven temperatures. I generally use °C for non-fan ovens in my recipes, but I know some of you will be using fan ovens, gas ovens, and Fahrenheit ovens if you live in the US. If you're ever stuck, here's a quick guide. I'll try and remember to link it in any future recipes!

Here is a conversion table for Celsius, Fahrenheit, gas ovens, and fan ovens:

Gas Oven
Celsius
Fan Oven (Celsius)
Fahrenheit
1
140°C
130°C
275°F
2
150°C
140°C
300°F
3
160°C - 170°C
150°C
325°F
4
180°C
160°C
350°F
5
190°C
170°C
375°F
6
200°C
180°C
400°F
7
220°C
200°C
425°F
8
230°C
210°C
450°F
9
240°C
220°C
475°F
10
250°C
230°C
500°F


Friday, 26 July 2019

Moroccan-inspired Stew

I use the word 'inspired' for this recipe, because this is certainly not an authentic tagine! However, it takes influence from Moroccan flavours and spice mixes and makes a really hearty lunch or dinner. You can heat it up the next day for breakfast also, I won't judge.

This is also a really flexible recipe, you can use whatever vegetables you have spare or nearing their sell-by date. I've made this with courgette, spinach, and broad beans, but have also used peppers and carrots too. I generally make this recipe vegetarian or vegan, but you can add chicken, fish or lamb to this dish. If you are going to add meat, I would recommend cooking it separately then adding it at the end, either stirring it in to the stew or placing it on top of a serving.

You can also have it with whatever carbohydrate you like (you should know by now that I'm a strong advocate of carbohydrates). Rice or couscous are lovely, but flatbreads and pitta are amazing too.

With courgettes, peppers, celery, and large grain couscous stirred in.
As a side note, I've always struggled with making stew look aesthetically pleasing in photos. As delicious as the stew is, it just doesn't photograph as well as tofu pieces or guacamole...

Ingredients (serves 4)


Spice Mix
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder*
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
*As always, use more or less according to your taste.

Main Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Small handful of fresh mint leaves
  • Two stock cubes (I use vegetable stock, but you can use chicken stock if you prefer!)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100g-200g dried lentils
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 6 cloves garlic**
  • One large onion
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • *optional* whatever vegetables you wish to add
  • *optional* 400g can chickpeas
**Same applies, I use a lot of garlic so please adjust to your own preference!

Method

First, finely chop your onion and mince the garlic. Gently heat the vegetable oil in a wide, deep pan (a wok is perfect), and cook the onions and garlic until soft.

When they're softened, add your spice mix and stir. Add any 'harder' vegetables now (for example celery and carrots) and stir until softened slightly.

Add the tomatoes, lentils, and crumbled stock cubes, then add enough water to cover the mixture and stir well.

Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently until the sauce has thickened. This should take around half an hour. Add any 'softer' vegetables (like courgettes and peppers) while simmering, they will soften and absorb the flavour, but still have a nice bite.

Optional: lightly coat the chickpeas in vegetable oil, and season with salt and pepper if you wish. Bake at 180° degrees (160° fan, gas mark 4) for around 20-30 minutes (depending on how crispy you like them). Stir these in to the stew before serving and it will add a really nice texture.

Have a taste of the stew while it's simmering. If you feel as though it needs more salt, or needs any more of the spices, then add these now.

When the sauce has thickened, take the stew off the heat. Tear the mint leaves and stir them into the stew, then add the lemon juice. If you are using spinach or other leafy greens, you can add it along with the mint leaves and stir them in until wilted.

Serve with couscous, rice, or flatbreads, and enjoy!

Monday, 22 July 2019

Eating everything I could get my greedy mitts on in Yorkshire

Smak! Deli

Delicious pierogi with red cabbage and mushroom filling, and the best potato salad I've ever tasted...

Poco Sicilian Street Food

Mushroom pizza al taglio and a mushroom arancini ball. They also make sweet nutella arancini!

Let's Sushi

Salmon Katsu Curry with rice. They also serve chicken, king prawn, and pork katsu!

Crispy tuna rolls.

Avocado maki rolls. My favourite. The only thing I will never share when I eat out.


A very pretty matcha latte.

A vegan 'Full English' breakfast.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Foodie Curiosities: Medlars

I found out about medlars by accident. Back in the Autumn, I was in a lovely little shop called Haworth Wholefoods with my sister when I saw these funny looking fruits in a box by the till. The lovely shop assistant explained that these were medlars, and gave me some information about them. I bought a bag full, and took them home to try them out!


Medlars have been cultivated in Britain since the Roman period, and they fell out of popularity in the 17th century. Medlar shrubs are really hardy, and can grow throughout the year. Interestingly enough, their nickname in Middle English was 'openarses'... o_o

Medlars are not that readily available, but keep an eye out for them in farm shops and independent natural food stores. If you have a garden or an allotment, you can even try growing them yourself! I found a good RHS guide for growing medlar shrubs which you can find here.

You have to wait for medlars to 'blet' before you can eat them, meaning that you effectively have to leave them to rot for a few weeks! You'll know when they're fully bletted by their mushy brown flesh.

Bletted medlars with ripe brown flesh (left) and unripe medlars with white flesh (right).
Perfectly ripe!
Once they're 'bletted' and brown, they're ready to eat! I recommend having medlars with cheese on crackers. You can just scoop it out like a ready made chutney, and it has a really nice nutty taste. 

You can also make jam out of medlars, and I found a cool James Martin recipe for roasted medlars here

Friday, 12 July 2019

Quick Recipes: Spaghetti Alio e Olio

Pasta is effing wonderful. It's joyful, it's comforting, it's beautiful. One of my favourite pasta recipes is the classic alio e olio. I love it so much that I once ate it for breakfast. No regrets.

Cue some pics!



Ingredients

(Makes two portions)

  • 200g spaghetti*
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic**
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (or more if you like it spicier) 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • A handful of fresh parsley***
  • Grated parmesan or pecorino cheese****

*You can also use tagliatelle or linguine if you like
**I use a lot of garlic in my cooking and I always try and tone it down for recipes, so use more or less depending on your preference
***If using dried parsley, use about 1-2 tsp
****Fun fact: more traditional recipes forgo the parmesan or pecorino altogether, this is because these kinds of cheeses were very expensive and poorer families would often substitute in breadcrumbs!

Method

Peel and chop the cloves of garlic into even slices. Heat the oil and cook the garlic until softened, make sure the oil doesn't get too hot otherwise the garlic will burn! When the garlic has softened, add the chilli flakes and lemon juice and lower the heat.

At the same time, boil a pan of salted water and cook the pasta until it's softened, but still has some hardness to it. Retain some of the pasta water (about a ladle full), and drain the rest.

Add the pasta water to the garlic, oil, chilli and lemon juice (trust me, it works really well), then add the cooked pasta and stir for a few minutes. When all the liquid has been absorbed, add the parsley, salt and pepper and mix well.

Serve up, and add as much grated parmesan/pecorino as you like. Life's too short to scrimp on parmesan.