Dishes of the World

This is where you will find different cuisines from around the world, Greek, Italian, Chinese, Indian and so on…!

Good Old Fashioned Onion Gravy

Old Fashioned Onion Gravy - perfect with mash!

Old Fashioned Onion Gravy – perfect with mash!

There is nothing better than a good roast beef dinner or pretty much anything involving sausages and mashed potato that will not benefit from a fantastic home made onion gravy, of course you may be a veggie (in which case substitute the beef stock for vegetable stock) who likes a good onion gravy with roasted vegetables, whoever you are though, this recipe should see you right.

Those keen eyed foodies out there will most likely have already noticed that I have already added this recipe to my blog along with a rather tasty Toad in the Hole recipe, as they pretty much go hand in hand, but here it is again anyway for those of  you who just want it for another dish, or who don’t like toads or the holes in which they like to reside.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour (more if you want it thicker)
  • 500ml beef stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Soften the onions with the tablespoon of oil in a large non stick frying pan on a medium/low heat for about 15 mins, stirring often, until they are golden brown.
  2. Sprinkle in the sugar and cook for another 5 mins. Add a tablespoon of plain flour, then simmer, stirring constantly for 2 mins, so the onions are well coated and there is no dry flour left at all. Gradually pour in the stock a bit at a time, stirring well all the time to make a smooth sauce.
  3. Turn the heat up a little and allow the gravy to bubble and thicken for 4-5 mins, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve in a warmed gravy boat with a yummy dish for some ultimate comfort!
Categories: British Dishes, Sauces & Gravies | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Sausage & Chorizo Roll

Sausage & Chorizo Roll - perfect hot or cold!

Sausage & Chorizo Roll – perfect hot or cold!

This is a simple dish that tastes amazing when served up with some lovely roast vegetables and a nice red wine gravy.  It’s a take on the  classic british sausage roll with a touch of class to it, helped along by the chorizo, mushroom and apple stuffing.  Delicious hot or cold this is definitely one dish that will please everybody!

As always I have used a sweet smoked chorizo here, but if you like a kick, then feel free to use spicy if you prefer.  The mushrooms are fine if they are normal white ones, but chestnut are a little nicer in my opinion, if you want a really pungent mushroom flavour then consider using porcini mushrooms. As with any dish using sausages, make sure you have at least 70% pork in there. As for the cheese, well that’s up to you too, I use a smoked cheese, because I like the flavour, but that doesn’t mean you have to! Try different combinations and flavours until you find what you like!

Oh, one more thing, don’t waste time making pastry, shop bought puff pastry is just as good and far less time consuming!

INGREDIENTS

  • Packet of puff pastry
  • 250g pork sausage meat
  • 100g chopped chorizo
  • 100g chopped mushrooms
  • 50g chopped apple
  • 1 celery stick, chopped finely
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped finely
  • 1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • 2-3 slices smoked cheese
  • 5-7 sage leaves, chopped finely
  • 1 egg, mixed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 5.
  2. In a large non stick frying pan heat the oil on a medium heat and add the celery and garlic, followed a minute later by the chorizo, Liquid Smoke, apple and mushrooms.  Stir every 30 seconds or so and add the sage leaves. Take off the heat after about 5 minutes, when everything is soft and well cooked and leave to one side.
  3. Prepare your pastry – if it’s in a block, then roll it out until only 3-4mm thick and in a rectagular shape. If the pastry is ready rolled, all the better because you don’t have to do anything! Lay it out on a lightly floured work surface and move on to the next stage.
  4. Take your packet of sausage meat and cut it in half. Take the first half and flatten it until it is a long rectangular shape, roughly 2-3 inches wide and 6-7 inches long. Place the sausage meat rectangle into the centre of the pastry.
  5. Next take your fried mixture and spoon it generously on top of the sausage meat layer you just placed on the pastry. On top of this, lay all of your cheese followed by the other half of the sausage meat, in the same rectangle shape as the bottom piece. Then, brushing the edge with egg, fold the sides of the pastry up and over, making a sausage roll shape, press the far ends down firmly and place the whole thing, seam side down (so basically what WAS the top should now be the bottom) onto a greased baking tray before brushing all over with more egg mixture and slicing 3 or 4 times in the top to allow steam to escape during cooking.
  6. Pop the tray into the oven and allow to bake for about 35-45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown all over. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before cutting into thick slices and serving.
Categories: British Dishes, Meat Dishes, Pork Dishes | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Toad In The Hole

Toad In The Hole - the ultimate British comfort food

Toad In The Hole – the ultimate British comfort food

Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned Toad in the Hole, cooked together with creamy mashed potato and a good onion gravy?  It’s the ultimate comfort food, admit it! In this recipe I use a herby yorkshire mix, and plain pork sausages, though you can easily leave out the mustard and herbs and if you want to use different sausages, that’s entirely up to you!  It is a good idea to check with your butcher when buying the sausages to ask what the pork content is, anything less than 70% is not a good sausage, if buying from a supermarket, it will tell you the amount of pork used in the sausage in the ingredients list on the back of the packet. I’ve also included my own recipe for a good onion gravy.

INGREDIENTS

  • 285ml milk
  • 115g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • 3 thyme sprigs, leaves stripped and chopped
  • 1 rosemary sprig, leaves stripped and chopped
  • 8 pork sausages
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
  • 500ml beef stock

METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas Mark 7
  2. Firstly make your yorkshire pudding batter by tipping the flour into a large mixing bowl and stirring in the mustard powder and a good pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture and crack in the eggs and a dribble of the milk.
  3. Stir with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating more and more of the flour, until you have a smooth batter in the well. Add more of the milk and continue stirring until all the milk and flour has been mixed together and is a smooth lump-free batter the consistency of double cream. Tip the batter back into the jug you had your milk in and stir in the chopped thyme and rosemary leaves before leaving to stand either in the fridge or in a cool place for 15 minutes.
  4. Use a sharp knife or a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the links between the sausages if there are any, then throw them into a 20 x 30cm roasting tin.  Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, shaking the tin and coating both the sausages and the base of the tin thoroughly, then roast in the oven for 15 mins.
  5. When the sausages are nicely browned, remove the hot tray carefully from the oven, and quickly pour in the batter.  It will sizzle and bubble a little when it first hits the hot fat but that is exactly what we want here, if it doesn’t do it, then something isn’t right!  Put the tin back into the oven, and bake for 30-40 mins until the batter is cooked through, well risen, golden and crisp. If you poke the tip of a knife into the batter in the middle of the tray it should be set, not sticky or runny, if it is, pop it back in for a while with some tin foil over the top to prevent burning.
  6. While the tin is in the oven use the time to make your gravy, to do this, soften the onions with the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large non stick frying pan on a medium/low heat for about 15 mins, stirring often, until they are golden brown.  Sprinkle in the sugar and cook for another 5 mins. Add a tablespoon of plain flour, then simmer, stirring constantly for 2 mins, so the onions are well coated and there is no dry flour left at all. Gradually pour in the stock a bit at a time, stirring well all the time to make a smooth sauce.
  7. Turn the heat up a little and allow the gravy to bubble and thicken for 4-5 mins, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve everything together with some creamy mashed potato for some ultimate comfort!
Categories: British Dishes, Dishes of the World, Meat Dishes, Pork Dishes | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Strozzapreti

Strozzapreti - made for choking priests

Strozzapreti – made for choking priests

If someone had told me about a year ago that one day I would be making my own pasta and that my whole family would love it I would have laughed at you until I fell over… I always thought that making your own pasta required a massive amount of skill and effort, needing mad crazy tools such as a pasta rolling machine and the like and requiring a ton of space to hang your pasta to dry like an edible indoor laundry but it’s absolutely not! You don’t even need a bowl! Just your ingredients, a bit of time and a rolling pin!

Strozzapreti is a great place to start making your own pasta because it is ridiculously easy to make and form into pieces and when ready, it only take 2-3 minutes to cook.  It tastes great with most sauces and everybody can have a go making it.

The name Strozzapreti is a funny one, it means “priest choker” in Italian and the legends are many, my favourite one though is that in times gone by, the Catholic Church owned much unused land which they used to rent out to families in exchange for food cooked by the wives of the men who worked on the land. The husbands would be so angered by these corruptible and greedy priests that they would wish them to choke whist stuffing their faces with their wives food which in this instance was quick and easy to make for them, hence the name priest choker.  Another is that gluttonous priests would be so enamoured by this type of pasta that they would literally stuff their faces with it, choking themselves, sometimes to death! Geesh, I know I have a good appetite, but please!

Anyway, this pasta is a little different from most in that it isn’t made just with flour, eggs and salt. I actually replace most of the eggs with chopped tomatoes and their juices which give the pasta a lovely flavour.  Of course you can make Strozzapreti with eggs but I prefer it this way. Try using ’00 flour instead of plain, it’s made with a finer grain specifically for pastas.

This recipe gives you a heck of a lot of pasta, 6-8 servings in fact and be warned… it is VERY filling, so if you want to freeze some for another day, then do it in a ball and defrost it when you want to make more.

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g ’00 flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 large tinned plum tomatoes and their juices, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste

METHOD

  1. Here comes the fun part… Begin by putting a large pan of salted water on the boil.
  2. Tip the four onto your work surface and make a well in the middle, kind of like a flour volcano on your kitchen worktop.
  3. Pour the egg and tomatoes into the  well and slowly start to bring it all together until you have a dough, much like a bread dough.  You might find it becomes either a bit dry or wet, in which case you either add a bit more tomato juice or a bit more flour depending on which it is.
  4. Take about 1/4 of the dough and place it onto a lightly floured surface. Place a cloth over the remaining pasta dough to prevent it drying out while you work.
  5. Roll the dough you have on your work surface until it is about 3-5mm thick. Them using a sharp knife, cut it into strips about 3/4 inches wide.
  6. Take a strip of pasta and using your thumb and forefinger, pinch it together until you can roll it, sort of like a sausage, this will form a long twisted tubes which you then need to cut into 2 inch pieces. Don’t worry about being precise, it’s not about maths!
  7. Place your cut pasta onto a floured board so that none of the pieces are touching, and when you have as much pasta as you need ready (a board full feeds 2 of us happily), tip it gently into the boiling water.
  8. Give the pasta a good but gentle stir straight after it all goes into the water to prevent it from sticking together.
  9. Once the pasta floats to the top of the surface, give it another minutes and add it to whichever sauce you are using (I use my Crazy Simple Rosemary & Garlic Pasta Sauce) along with a splash or three of the starchy pasta water.
  10. Serve in the pan with crusty bread and salad.
Categories: Italian Dishes, Meat Dishes, Pizza & Pasta, Vegetarian Dishes | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crazy Simple Rosemary & Garlic Pasta Sauce

I love a basic bowl of pasta, it’s the one thing that if I am starving but can’t be bothered to spend ages preparing and cooking a meal that I can throw together and eat knowing that I’ll be satisfied. It doesn’t matter if you are a vegetarian or a meat eater there is a pasta sauce out there that will suit everyone, including this one which can be made with with, or without meat. You can also substitute the oil for a large chunk of butter but you’re talking heart attack city! Stir it into spaghetti or a bowl of my home made Strozzapreti for a wicked fast, wonderful and filling supper dish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • large sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • 100g Chorizo (either spicy or smoky is fine or you can leave it out completely)

METHOD

  1. Chop your garlic finely and remove the leaves from the rosemary stalks and chop them.
  2. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the garlic, rosemary and Chorizo if you are using. Stir fry for about 2 minutes then add the parmesan.
  3. Add your pasta and stir it all together.
  4. Serve with some crusty bread.
Categories: Italian Dishes, Light Lunch, Pizza & Pasta, Sauces & Gravies | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Spice Quesadillas

Five Spice Quesadillas - delicious with or without meat!

Five Spice Quesadillas – delicious with or without meat!

What the heck is a quesadilla? I hear you cry, or not, you probably already know and if you do, then you will know that a quesadilla is a Mexican snack consisting of a flour tortilla (or wrap as we call them over here), filled with various ingredients and fried until crispy on the outside.  They are SO quick and easy to put together and cook and take just 15-20 minutes from prep to the table.  They are light and not overly filling and you can fill them with whatever you have in the fridge that takes your fancy.

Traditionally, they are filled with Mexican goodies such as cheese and refried beans, along with chilli, avocado and other vegetables and they are fried, but me being me, I like to mix things up a little bit and although I have some great recipes for more traditional quesadillas, this particular one is for a delicious Chinese inspired one.  I use cooked chicken pieces in mine and I also cheat with the Hoisin sauce (a delicious five spice Chinese sticky sauce), using the bottled version.

You might also notice that I cook my quesadillas in the oven not in the frying pan, you can do either, I just prefer the crisp you get from the oven… Don’t be tempted to brush oil or butter on the wraps, it won’t need them to crisp up and will only make them soggy and quite frankly rather unhealthy…!

Also, you can make it with or without the chicken so I’ve also included it in the Vegetarian Section.  And for those of you out there who like a bit of heat, simply add some chopped chilli to the mix…

So, here we go, this recipe will serve 1 person, to serve more, double the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 flour tortillas (use white or grain)
  • 100g cooked chicken
  • 3 stalks baby corn
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 mushrooms (oyster if you can)
  • 1/2 sweet pointed red pepper
  • 50g bean sprouts
  • Fresh ginger (a piece about the size of your index fingernail)
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

METHOD

  1. Heat your oven to Fan 180C/200C/Gas Mark 5.
  2. Chop your vegetables into small pieces (apart from the bean sprouts, you can leave these whole), pop them all together into a small mixing bowl and add the soy sauce. Chop the chicken and leave it separate from the vegetables in another bowl and sprinkle the five spice powder over the top.
  3. In a frying pan, heat the oil and add the vegetables. Stir fry for 3-5 minutes until soft and add the chicken. Keep stirring and add the Hoisin sauce.
  4. When the whole mixture is thoroughly heated through, take it off of the heat and spread half the mixture onto half a wrap and fold it over, doing this twice and laying both folded tortillas side by side on the baking sheet. I twill look like you have 2 half moon wraps on your sheet.
  5. Pop the baking sheet into the oven and leave to cook for 5 minutes, watching carefully to ensure the wraps don’t burn, as soon as they turn golden brown, remove them from the oven, flip them over and do the same thing on the other side.
  6. Remove from the oven and cut into slices.
  7. Serve with a rice salad or on it’s own – yum!
Categories: Chicken Dishes, Chinese Dishes, Dishes of the World, Light Lunch, Meat Dishes, Mexican Dishes, Vegetarian Dishes | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chorizo & Pancetta Deep Pan Pizza

Choritzo & Panchetta Pizza

Choritzo & Panchetta Pizza - When the moon hits your eyes....

In our house we like nothing more on a rainy Saturday afternoon than to curl up on the couch, all three of us, watching a movie and stuffing our faces with this meaty, cheesy, deep crust pizza covered in delicious meats and cheeses and fresh basil leaves… It’s ridiculously easy to put together and even easier to scoff in one sitting!

It’s here that I hold up my hands, I am a cheater, yes, I admit it, I rarely make my own pastry and I rarely make my own pizza dough… I am a sucker for Hovis bread mix… there I said it.

There are no added preservatives in Hovis breads, which there are in most white breads unless they are organic, for me these preservatives can be a problem as I am allergic to them and I wake up the morning after eating them feeling like I have a hangover, which is particularly annoying if I haven’t had the debauched night before to go with it. I could of course make up my pizza dough with a nice organic bread flour… but the Hovis range of bread mixes include a white one for a very reasonable price (under £1 in most supermarkets), it’s so quick to throw together, rises nicely and hasn’t yet made me a horrible dry or soggy pizza base! So there you go, you don’t need to be a master baker to make pizza dough!

When it comes to toppings, this Mediterranean meat feast is my absolute favourite, but of course, the world is your oyster, you can bung on whatever you like, vegetables, mixed cheese, ham and mushroom, ham and pineapple, pepperoni, meat feast, chicken, leftover pulled pork (that’s a good one together with some of that BBQ sauce) and more, bung olives, peppers and anchovies on there, it’s entirely up to you!  This recipe as I said is for my personal favourite pizza though, chorizo and pancetta!

Because you don’t have to have meat on your pizza, I am throwing this one into the Veggie Dish section as well for all your vegetarians out there!

This recipe makes 2 large pizzas with pretty thick bases, if you want them thinner then cut the dough into thirds or even quarters.

INGREDIENTS

DOUGH

  • 1 pack Hovis White Bread Mix (or your own mix if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon oilve oil

TOMATO SAUCE

  • 8-10 nice fresh tomatoes (plum tomatoes are great, but if you don’t want to use fresh then use 2 tins of chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

TOPPING (PER PIZZA)

  • 1 mozzarella ball
  • 100g grated four cheese mix (available ready grated from most supermarkets)
  • 1 50g sliced chorizo (smoky not spicy – unless you want spicy that is!)
  • 1 50g pack pancetta
  • Handful of large fresh basil leaves

METHOD

  1. Firstly you need to make your tomato base so that it can sit in the fridge and develop a flavour while the dough is rising.  If you are using tinned tomatoes, sieve away the juice by pouring them into a tin and allowing the juice to pour away either down the drain of your sink or into a jug for making Bloody Marys later. Once they are pretty well strained, you can tip them into a mixing bowl. If you are using fresh tomatoes, things are a tiny bit different. You need to chop each tomato into small cubes, less than 1cm in width and length, try and get rid of all the seeds and juice inside as this will just make your pizza soggy (the same reason you got rid of the tinned tomato juice).  Pad the tomatoes with a wad of kitchen towels to ensure most if not all of the liquid is gone, then pop them into a mixing bowl.
  2. Finely chop your garlic and add it, along with the olive oil, oregano, Liquid Smoke and a grinding of salt and pepper, into the bowl with the tomatoes and stir.  Have a little taste, if you want more seasoning, then add it now. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge until you are ready with your risen and kneaded dough.
  3. Make up your dough by mixing the bread mix according to the packet instructions, including the tablespoon of olive oil and the tablespoon of oregano, once your dough is in a ball, turn it out onto a floured surface and give it a good kneading for about 5 minutes. Then wash and oil your bowl and place the dough inside, leaving it to rise in a warm place (by a radiator, hot oven or in an airing cupboard) for 45-60 minutes.  When you come back to the dough it will have doubled in size and will now need to be kneaded once again and cut into two pieces (one for each of two pizzas).
  4. Turn your oven on as high as it will go, placing one shelf a third of the way down and a second tray another third of the way down, so your oven is cut into three basically. Leave the oven to preheat and be careful when you open it, I got a heck of a suntan on my face the first time I did this!
  5. Take each of your dough pieces and using a rolling pin and your hands on a floured surface, begin to make your pizza base, there’s no hard and fast rule here that says it has to be round, I have two large chopping boards at home, one round and one rectangular so I always make one of each shaped pizza so I have something to slice and serve them on.  When you have your shaped base ready place it carefully onto a piece of tinfoil which has been oiled to prevent sticking.  I usually then pop the whole base and tin foil onto it’s relative board in order to use the board as a sort of pizza shovel when taking the  pizzas in and out of the oven.
  6. Rip the mozzarella ball into pieces, dabbing with a wad of kitchen roll as you go (mozzarella balls are supplied in a brine and you want no trace of this all over your nice crispy bases!
  7. Next, remove the tomato mix from the fridge and spoon it over the bases, spreading it out with your (clean please) hands.  Then add your meats, followed by the ripped mozzarella, grated cheese and the basil leaves on, in and around the meat.
  8. Turn your oven down a tiny bit, about 20 degrees should do it, and then slide the whole lot into the oven in one swift move using the chopping board as a tool so you don’t spill the pizza or burn your hands. Obviously don’t leave the boards in the oven! Place one pizza on the top shelf and the other on the bottom and cook for 5-8 minutes before taking the pizzas out of the oven, removing the tinfoil from the bottoms to crisp up the base and swapping the two pizzas back in the oven (so the one that was on the bottom is now on the top and vice versa) for a further 5-8 minutes.
  9. Remove the pizzas from the oven, leave for a couple of minutes to settle and slice and serve!
Categories: Italian Dishes, Pizza & Pasta, Vegetarian Dishes | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chunky Minestrone Soup

Chunky Minestrone Soup

Chunky Minestrone Soup - It's a big soup!

In Italian, Minestrone literally means ‘big soup’ and this lovely thick hearty winter warmer is anything but small! Really more of a meal than a soup it has everything you need from a meal in one single bowlful.  Even if you aren’t a fan of soups, give it a try, my girls don’t like soup as a rule but scoffed this when I first made it!

Chock full of pasta, simple vegetables and some other lovely garden goodies, my version of Minestrone Soup is not only healthy, but it also truly a ‘store cupboard soup’ i.e. most of you will already have all or most of the ingredients in your kitchen so if it’s cold out or you want something warming and comforting, then this is one to try!

Never a traditionalist, I like to ‘faff’ (as my Dad would say) with the ingredients and also add a bit of meat to my Minestrone in the form of smoked bacon and chorizo, but you obviously don’t have to use meat, so this one is included in the veggie section of the blog too! You can also add to it as you please, try adding different vegetables, like parsnip or turnip or the traditional Savoy cabbage or if you don’t like it chunky, then give it a good blending before adding the pasta.  Don’t like chunky pasta either? Simple, just snap a few strands of spaghetti into the soup!

Don’t forget the extra touches either, a good grating of parmesan and a sprig of parsley to serve atop your soup, alongside a beautiful chunk of fresh crusty bread and butter! So simple and sooooo good…

This little lot will feed 3-4 with large bowls… keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days in an airtight container, in fact, it tastes better reheated!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 celery sticks
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 900 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Liquid Smoke
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano (fresh is great but dried has a better flavour)
  • Handful of fresh thyme leaves (I use a mixture of common and lemon both from my garden)
  • Handful of pasta shells (if you like your soup to keep a lot of liquid then use small shells, if you like it thick, then use large like lumaconi)
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Grated parmesan cheese and fresh parsley to serve

(THE FOLLOWING IS OPTIONAL)

  • 100g smoked bacon
  • 75g chorizo (as always I use sweet and smoky, but feel free to use spicy)

METHOD

  1. Grab yourself a large and deep saucepan and a frying pan.
  2. If using the meat, fry it off for a few minutes in the frying pan until browned. While the meat is browning, dice your potatoes, carrots and onion into 1cm cubes, slice your celery and finely chop your garlic.
  3. Heat the olive oil in the large saucepan and then, using a slotted spoon to drain off the meat fat, transfer the meat from the frying pan into the saucepan.
  4. Throw the vegetables on top of the meat and stir, leaving them all to cook together over a medium high heat for about 5 minutes until they are all softened.
  5. Stir in the Liquid Smoke, tomatoes, tomato puree, stock, thyme leaves and oregano and bring to the boil.  Turn the heat down and simmer the soup for 10 minutes.
  6. Give the soup a stir and add the pasta shells and allow to simmer for a further 10 minutes.  Season to taste and either serve or allow to cool and reheat later (recommended).
Categories: Italian Dishes, Soups, Vegetarian Dishes | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sausage Polpetti Spaghetti

Sausage Polpetti Spaghetti

Sausage Polpetti Spaghetti – just add cheese!

Sausage Polpetti Spaghetti (Sausage meatballs and spaghetti for want of a boring title) is really one of the easiest meals to cook, the yummiest to taste and the messiest to eat! It’s a great meal for the kids and adults in the house alike and they are a big midweek favourite in our house because they are so quick and easy to prepare and cook when you have so many other things to do.

Some like to use plain pork or beef sausages but I prefer flavoured gourmet sausages, all of the major supermarkets have their own range and among others I find that Parmesan and Panchetta, Pork and Apple and Pork and Caramelised Onion work best in this recipe but it’s entirely up to you! Chorizo sausage also adds a certain pep to the dish, as well as my best friend in a bottle, Liquid Smoke. Basil adds to the aroma and I always have at least 1 plant on my windowsill, you pay a couple of pound for your first plant, then keep it trimmed and watered and it will keep you in fresh basil for an absolute age. More in my Herb Garden piece later.

Don’t worry about cheating when it comes to the sauce either, I can and sometimes so make my own as with my Quick Tomato Sauce, but 9 times out of 10 when cooking a spaghetti sauce meal I use a good old jar of Dolmio, it has no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and when something ain’t broke why replace it? Making your own sauce is time consuming and sometimes, quite frankly, not as nice… Anyway, there are plenty of varieties out there, Dolmio is my sauce of choice but you may have another, or you might prefer to use your own, not a problem!

There are so many recipes for Sausage Meatballs out there, but this one is mine… it serves 3-4 so go ahead and give it a try why dontchya?

INGREDIENTS

  • Pack of 6-8 sausages (whatever flavour you wish)
  • 1 stick celery
  • 150g chopped Chorizo sausage (you can use spicy but I use sweet and smoky)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Handful fresh basil leaves
  • Jar of tomato sauce or your own batch ready made
  • 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-4 servings of spaghetti
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve

METHOD

  1. Firstly get a pan of salted water on the go for your spaghetti to cook while you are sorting our your meatballs – don’t skimp on the salt, for years I only sprinkled salt in the pan until I realised that a decent pinch of sea salt made the pasta taste all the better.
  2. Warm the oil in a decent sized deep non stick frying pan and then take your sausages and with a sharp knife, slice down the length of the sausage, only a shallow cut, in order to be able to peel of the skin, which you then discard.
  3. Cut each sausage into 5 pieces and with wet hands, roll each piece into a ball, don’t worry if you use pork and apple and a few bits of apple fall out.
  4. Dice the celery and Chorizo (if whole) and pop into a bowl on one side, then chop the garlic finely and place into another bowl with the basil leaves, which you need to tear or chop into smaller pieces.
  5. Pop the little balls of sausage into the pan to begin to fry on a medium high heat for about 8 minutes, shaking the pan every couple of minutes to allow the heat to distribute throughout nice and evenly.
  6. When the sausages are beginning to brown nicely, then add the chopped celery, Chorizo and the Liquid Smoke and stir.
  7. After a couple of minutes, you will see that the juices in the pan are turning red, this is from the Chorizo, this is also when you add your garlic and basil to prevent them burning and turning bitter.
  8. Another couple of minutes later and you now need to turn your heat right down to medium low and add your sauce, stirring it in and leaving it to heat through.
  9. While the sauce is finishing off the main dish, sort out your spaghetti which should now be cooked through, when draining, try and keep an eggcup full of the starchy water from the pasta to help prevent the pasta from sticking together, and making it easier to mix with the sauce.
  10. Pour everything from the meatball pan into the spaghetti pan – or vice versa if you prefer – stirring until everything is nicely mixed together.
  11. Grate plenty of parmesan cheese (I use Italian Pecorino Romano which is nice and nutty and not overly strong) over the top of the dish and serve along with crusty bread and a salad.

Magnifico!

Categories: Dishes of the World, Italian Dishes, Meat Dishes, Pizza & Pasta, Pork Dishes | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Honey Jack BBQ Sauce

Honey Jack BBQ Sauce

Honey Jack BBQ Sauce - perfect with pork or chicken!

This Honey Jack BBQ Sauce is a gorgeous addition to any pork based BBQ meal, and it is SO easy to make and it keeps well in the fridge in a lidded jar or bottle or an airtight container for about a week. You can use it as a dip or a topping – I like to warm it in the microwave for a few seconds before pouring it over pulled pork or chops and you can also add it to chicken breasts as you griddle them in a pan for a delicious and quick BBQ chicken meal.

You can make your own BBQ sauce base, but I prefer to  use Paul Newman’s Hickory BBQ Sauce, and YES! It IS ok to cheat a little here and there in the kitchen, I don’t usually make my own pastry either!  There are some great brands of sauce out there available both online and in supermarkets, I would avoid using BBQ ketchup though, this isn’t the same as BBQ marinade sauce, you’ll find the right stuff in the aisle with the other marinades in the supermarket. Nandos do a good one too, but it has a bit of a hot kick to it which I prefer not to have. I also avoid using supermarket own brands as they tend to be very vinegary.

Try and get Jack Daniels for the bourbon part of the sauce, it really is superior as far as bourbon goes, Canadian Club is ok as is Jim Beam, but neither really holds a candle to old Jack, if you don’t want to invest in a big bottle (for further use… ahem I have no idea what you mean, one for the sauce, one for me…) then get a small bottle or even a couple of those little aeroplane sized bottles!

Anyway, this is ridiculously easy to make and just as easy and versatile to use so here goes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bottle good BBQ marinade sauce (I use Paul Newman’s Hickory, but you can use any as long as it is good, or you can make your own!)
  • 2 tablespoons runny honey
  • 50ml fresh pineapple juice
  • A good dash of Jack Daniels 50ml at least (or any other brand of bourbon is ok if you don’t have Jack)

METHOD

  1. Into a small saucepan, pour 3/4 of the bottle of BBQ sauce, add the honey, pineapple juice and the Jack Daniels and mix thoroughly.
  2. Bring the sauce to the boil over a medium heat for about 5 minutes then remove from the heat and serve however you need it.

Categories: American Dishes, Dishes of the World, Sauces & Gravies | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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