Something between a pasta and a risotto Orzotto is a fab summertime comfort dish when it’s still raining in June!
With baby peas, fresh parsley and pesto it’s light, quick and simple to make and stores well for packed lunches or even picnics (if it ever stops pouring down).
I found this great supper in this month’s Delicious Magazine. It uses store cupboard items, although granted Orzo pasta is not a super common pasta but larger supermarkets have it, but not always in the pasta aisle. I found this brand at Asda and it was pretty good quality (not that I’m an Orzo expert btw).
To make it vegetarian just omit the pancetta and use veggy stock. You could also make a try it with dried porcini and chestnut mushrooms which would be equally delicious.
You will need:
A largish heavy bottomed pan
2tbsp Olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
I clove garlic (optional)
260g Orzo pasta
500ml Chicken or Vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lemon
200g frozen Petit Pois
2 tbsp Classic pesto (either make your own see previous posts or shop bought)
Plenty of flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion (and garlic if including) till soft add the pancetta and fry till it has taken on some colour.
- Stir in the orzo as you would rice in a risotto and coat with the oil in the pan. After a couple of minutes pour in the stock.
- Stir and simmer on a lowish heat, keep stirring occasionally. Test regularly until it is just tender (around 8 mins).
- Add the lemon juice and the frozen peas and simmer a little longer.
- Remove from the heat and stir through the pesto and most of the parsley.
- Serve with an extra sprinkle of parsley, parmesan shavings and a grind of black pepper.
This is a super easy standby chicken curry from one of Hugh FW’s books. Its a quick whizz of ingredients followed by a slow bake in the oven to create a deliciously rich and fragrant chicken curry. I’ve used chicken thighs as they carry the spice flavours really well and they’re also pretty cheap. The curry has creamy coconut milk which tempers the spices and makes it family friendly too.
You will need:
2 heaped tsp cumin seeds
2 heaped tsp coriander seeds
1 heaped tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground ginger or 1inch piece of fresh ginger roughly chopped
1 lge onion roughly chopped
3 lge cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 lge green chilli roughly chopped (remove seeds if you want to take down the heat)
3-4 tbsp rapeseed or groundnut oil
1.2kg chicken boneless chicken thighs
400g tin chopped tomatoes
400g tin coconut milk
Salt & pepper
Ok so the longest part of this is organising your spices but it’s definitely worth it.
- First grind the seeds in a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder then roast them in a dry frying pan. Tip them out.
- Next quickly season then sear your chicken thighs in the frying pan. Lay the chicken in an ovenproof dish and lets move on to the sauce.
- Tip all your spices into the frying pan and cook for a few minutes.
- While this is happening put your onion, ginger (if using fresh), garlic and chilli in to a food processor and whizz away till they form a rough paste. If it looks a bit cludgy add a small amount of water.
- Next tip the onion mixture into the pan with the spices combine and cook for a few more minutes the mixture will start to look dryer and come together so it’s more like a traditional curry paste.
- Now give the tomatoes a whizz in the same food processor pour onto the spice paste and then pour in the coconut milk mix together. Season with a tsp salt and a pinch of black pepper.
- You should now have a rich creamy sauce ready to pour over your chicken and get baking.
- Pop in the oven for about 45mins on 180C. Sprinkle on some fresh coriander leaves and serve with fluffy basmati.
It’s been a funny day. What started with deep-sea fog hanging over the village and loosing me my dog whilst out on a walk, ended with glorious sunshine and a heat normally associated with April or May. With the outbreak of spring weather I was inspired to get cooking. Today’s recipe selection was fairly eclectic including a fruity chilli courtesy of Thommi Miers, Madeira cake and homemade bread, but most importantly focaccia. This recipe will give you less of the cake-style focaccia you buy in the supermarket and more of a doughy bread studded with rosemary and steeped in fruity extra virgin olive oil.
To make your basic dough follow this recipe, feel free to embellish your focaccia with any topping or additions you like. Sundried tomatoes, feta cheese, olives and pine nuts are all fantastic individually or combined. My focaccia is your starting point with just rosemary sprigs pushed deep into the dough and a sprinkle of sea salt.
You will need:
- 500g strong white bread flour
- Half pint of tepid water
- 1.5 sachets of dried yeast
- 1tbsp sugar
- Half tbsp salt
- Extra virgin olive oilFor the top
- Rosemary sprigs
- Sea salt
Preheat your oven to 180C/Gas mark 4.
Grease a 20cm square brownie tin or a baking sheet if you prefer a round focaccia.
Place all your dry ingredients together in a large bowl, you can make your dough by hand or using a mixer with a dough hook. Slowly add your warm water to the centre gradually bringing your dry ingredients together. Keep combining until you have a sticky dough mixture. This is where some elbow grease is required. Take your dough out of the bowl and on to a lightly floured surface. (Don’t introduce too much extra flour though) keep pushing, turning and kneading the dough until it becomes springy, smooth and elastic. If you use a mixer this will be pretty easy but don’t get smug at some point you will need to get your hands dirty! Shape the dough into round ball and place in bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place to prove. This will take about an hour.
Once your dough has puffed up nicely get your baking tray or tin ready, grease lightly with oil then place your dough on top. Push and spread your dough out across the tray, stretching it out. When you are happy with the shape pour several glugs of oil onto the top of the dough. Push the oil into the bread with your fingers and then stud the top of the focaccia with your chosen topping or rosemary sprigs.
Bake in the centre of your preheated oven for about 30 mins keep an eye on the top so it doesn’t burn. Don’t worry if your focaccia looks a bit knobbly that’s part of the charm. I add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt at the end to boost the finished flavour.
This needs a little forethought but it’s actually pretty simple. It’s a slow cook well worth waiting for, cacciatora transforms the humble chicken thigh into a rich, hearty meal packed with deep flavours that will satisfy the coldest soul this February. This Jamie recipe from Jamie’s Italy works brilliantly with cannellini or butter bean mash, and is an excellent supper party staple.
You will need
- 2kg Chicken pieces ( thighs and legs work well)
- 8 Bay leaves
- A couple of sprigs of Rosemary
- 3 cloves of garlic ( crush one, slice two)
- Half a bottle of Chianti
- Some flour
- Olive oil
- 6 Anchovy fillets
- A handful of green or black stoned olives
- 2 tins of plum tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
Season the chicken with salt and pepper place in a large bowl cover with the red wine . Add the bay leaves, rosemary and crushed garlic. Cover and leave to marinate at least overnight (This marinating is the key to your end result having a rich intense flavour, so if time is short do this the night before so it ready to cook the next evening.) The next day you chicken will be deep purple in colour this is what we want.
Preheat your oven to 180c ( gas mark 4). Drain your marinated chicken keeping the liquid. Dry the chicken with kitchen paper then dust each piece with some seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pan. Fry each pice so the outside begins to brown and crisp up. Remove the chicken pieces and put to one side.
Now cook your sliced garlic in the same pan. As soon as it starts to turn colour put in the anchovies, tomatoes and olives. Stir to break up the tomatoes and then slide the chicken pieces back into the sauce.
Once bubbling nicely cover with a well fitting lid and then leave to bake in your warm oven for about one and a half hours. You may find a layer of oil on the top after cooking. Skim this off before serving. The cannellini bean mash couldn’t be simpler. Drain and rinse a tin of cannelini beans. In a small saucepan heat some olive oil with a bruised clove of garlic. Pour this flavoured oil over your beans and mash roughly. This recipe will feed a hungry six just make sure you supply copious amounts of Chianti to make this a true Italian experience.
There’s something about the scent of Elderflower that delivers up summer sunshine even when it’s raining. The heady perfume is divine, quite literally bottled, as a cordial. Dilute for your small ones with sparkling water and for your big ones, dilute with Cava. This cordial is great for drinking outdoors with lots of barbecued chicken and thirsty friends. Alternatively, as we live in Blighty with the most unpredictable weather, serve indoors with grilled chicken Caesar salad and aforementioned friends!
Gather your flower heads, away from smelly roadsides if possible. This is a great excuse for some family foraging but hurry, because the flowers don’t hang around for long, especially with the very wet and windy weather we’ve had over the last few days. Once picked tap the heads gently as Elderflower is a favourite with creepy crawlies. (Do not do as I did, and shake the heads indoors, as I spent the rest of my evening gathering up spiders, beetles and some weird midgy things from all over my kitchen.)
You will need:
25-35 elderflower heads, strip off the large stems
1kg Caster sugar
50g Acetic acid (ask your pharmacist for this)
3/4 Lemons sliced
1.5 litres water
A large bowl to put everything in
- Add your sugar to 1.5 litres boiling water, stir to dissolve thoroughly
- Once this is cooled stir in the acetic acid
- Add your elderflower heads, pushing into the syrup mix
- Add your sliced lemons and again push ingredients down into the liquid so they are submerged.
- Cover with a tea towel and leave in a cool dark place for at least 2 days. If you can wait longer do as the flavour will intensify
- When it’s ready strain the mixture through a fine tea towel or piece of muslin. Cover until you are ready to use
- Prepare your bottles for the cordial by sterilizing
- Heat oven to 100C/0.5 Gas mark
- Wash bottles and rinse thoroughly, pour in boiling water, tip away and then lie on their side in oven
- Leave in oven for 15mins.
- Turn off oven and leave bottles until cold
- Using a funnel pour the cordial into the bottles, seal, and ideally store in the fridge.
The other day I had the opportunity to do my bit for Wales. Granted this was not too arduous a task as it involved eating lots and lots of delicious food all day long.
As a judge for the celebrated True Taste Food and Drink Awards I sampled some of the very best food Wales has to offer. Some truly superb entries in all categories, it illustrated just how far Wales has come as a producer of top quality foodstuffs. With the odd bizarre exception, the entries were well prepared and of a very high standard. From salami to sirloins, and pies to preserves, it was a complete gastro-feast. These awards are an excellent opportunity for producers to showcase their talents and gain the recognition they deserve both locally, and UK wide.
This was a great experience with some very knowledgeable foodies and chefs making up the the judging panel. My entire day was spent smelling, savouring, indulging and discussing…heaven!
If you want to know more about the True Taste Food and Drink Awards please take a look at their site www.truetaste.tv
The winners of the True Taste Food and Drink Awards 2011-2012 will be announced later this year.
When a quick fix Sunday lunch is required this pork fillet is the easy way to make a special roast without fuss. The sage and juniper add great flavour and the sauce can be taken two ways. Either follow tradition with a quick reduction for gravy or add a little cream to make something more sophisticated. Serve with lots of scuffed roast potatoes and some steamed greens tossed in butter.
Pork fillet with sage and cider
You will need:
Pork fillet (allow 3 medallions per person)
Celery, Carrots, Onions roughly diced
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
50g Unsalted butter, cut intosmall cubes
3 rashers of Smoked bacon, cut into 1″ pieces
2 Cox’s apples sliced
1 tbsp Juniper berries
I can Dry Cider
- Preheat your oven to 180c
- Arrange your carots, celery, onions and garlic in the bottom of a roasting tin
- Place the pork medallions on top of the veg
- Put a piece of bacon onto each medallion
- Top with the butter and a sage leaf
- Season the whole tin and sprinkle over your juniper berries
- Pour your cider over the top
- Cook for 25-30 mins
- Once cooked place your medallions onto a serving dish and keep warm
- Heat the remaining cooking liquor
- Strain your liquor, return to a clean pan
- Reduce to create a delicious gravy or if you want to go posh add a splash of cream.
Perhaps one of the quickest, and most popular, things I make is pesto. Once you have a batch whizzed up the possibilities are endless.The peppery basil combined with roasted pine nuts, pungent garlic and nutty parmesan, married with some great olive oil. It’s a combination made in heaven and one which can elevate your store cupboard essentials to something stunning.
You will need:
2 large bunches of basil
1 large handful of pine nuts
I large handful of coarsely grated parmesan
1/2 or 1 clove of garlic
A generous glug of olive oil
Salt and pepper
- Lightly toast your pine nuts in a dry frying pan, leave to cool
- Bash your garlic and pine nuts in a pestle and mortar or if you prefer use a food processer
- Add your basil and bash/blend
- Add the parmesan
- Finally pour in the olive oil until you have rough sauce
- Season with salt and pepper to taste then give it a final mix and taste
- If not using immediately put the pesto into a jar and cover top with a thin layer of oil. This will keep in the fridge for at least a week if covered with oil.
Now you have your excellent homemade pesto here are a just a few ideas of what you can create.
Number one favourite with kids and adults alike, it is pesto in it’s most simple form. Stirred through hot pasta, loosened with a little olive oil and garnished with a few parmesan shavings, this is fast food at it’s best. If you feel the need, add some pan-fried smoked bacon, or a handful of fresh spinach leaves which will wilt with your hot pasta. This is excellent comfort food and perfect for those days when you want something quick but satisfying.
This is a complete cheat but I love it, and so does everyone who eats it. It is quick, simple and you can adapt the toppings to suit any occasion. I have made one large tart here but you can divide the pastry into six or more to create individual tarts if you’re having a party for New Year.
You will need:
I block puff pastry
3-4 tbsps of your very scrummy pesto
A handful of cherry or plum tomatoes halved
I ball of mozzarella
A few basil leaves
A drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 200c/Gas mark 6
- Grease a baking tray
- Roll out your puff pastry on a floured board to about 4mm thick and rectangular in shape
- Place your rolled out pastry on the tray
- Spoon on your precious pesto and spread out leaving a one inch edge
- Scatter your tomatoes evenly
- Tear your mozzarella into chunks and place across tart
- Take your basil leaves and rip into shreds and scatter
- Drizzle the olive oil over the tart and season well.
- Brush the edges of your pastry with a beaten egg or milk
- Place in your oven for approx. 20 minutes or until edges are risen and golden and the cheese is bubbling
- Serve as a starter or with green salad for a superb lunch or supper
- Feeds 6 as a starter or four as main
Okay, I’ll admit I have never been a huge fan of fish. Give me prawns, langoustines, mussels, oysters, clams or any other crawly from the sea and I’m there. Langoustine marinated and grilled on the barbecue, meaty mussels nestling with spaghetti, fresh tomatoes and basil, shucked oysters with a tart lemon dressing, delicious every one. However…cod, plaice, salmon, haddock etc. have always left me a bit cold in the fish sense. But I am determined to rectify this as I know (or at least people keep telling me) there is great joy to be had from eating truly fresh and fabulous fish.
So last night I tried a quick and easy fish supper. Some great haddock fillets from the excellent, Ashton’s Fishmongers in Cardiff market. This is super simple. Preheat your oven to 190C/Gas mark 5. Just arrange your fillets on an oiled baking tray, season well, then scatter fresh mozzarella, parmesan, cherry tomatoes and basil over the fish. A squeeze of fresh lemon over the top and a generous swirl of olive oil and it’s ready for the oven. 20mins is all you need. So grab some salad, dress it, and your supper is served. The verdict… these fish lovers might just have a point, next step salmon folks!