Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Orecchiette with Gorgonzola, Bacon and Spinach

200g orecchiette (or other pasta)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled
2-3 rashers bacon, diced, or (even better) a small block pancetta, cubed
Small splash Marsala
2 big handfuls spinach, washed
100ml crème fraîche
100g gorgonzola, cubed

Bring a pan of water to the boil, salt the water and add the pasta. Whilst the pasta cooks, get on with the rest of the dish. Flatten the garlic clove, so that it is still whole, but squashed. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, and add the garlic clove. Let it cook for a few minutes until the garlic is slightly browned and the oil is fragrant. Remove the garlic, and turn up the heat. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook until very slightly crispy- not cremated. Add the marsala, let it bubble for a few seconds and stir in the spinach, letting it wilt. Turn the heat down, and stir in the crème fraîche. Stir in the gorgornzola, and let it melt into a creamy sauce. When the pasta is cooked, drain, mix with the sauce and serve.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Simon Hopkinson's Kipper Pâté

This recipe is from Simon Hopkinson's book Week In, Week Out. Although I have read this book, usually curled up with a cup of something comforting, many times, I haven't made that many recipes from it- something to do with having too many cookery books and only three meals in a day.

The kipper pâté is possibly the easiest recipe in the book, but it is really delicious. I don't usually do starters, but if I did I think this would be a good one to serve.

You take two pack of vacuum pack of kippers, the sort with a flower shaped pat of butter included. Boil them for half the amount of time recommended, for the packs I had this amounted to 7-8 minutes. Leave them to cool, and then open the packets and slide the contents on a plate or tray with a lip, so the buttery liquid doesn't spill. Scrape off the skin and remove the central bone, and put all the fishy flesh into the bowl of a food processor.
Over the bowl of the processor, put a sieve, and tip the fish detritus and butter into the sieve. With the back of a spoon or similar, press down on the mixture to force as much flavour as possible out.  Pulse to break up the kipper, then add 150g melted butter, 125g cream cheese, the juice of one lemon, and a dash of Tabasco.  Now process until very smooth. Spoon the pâté into ramekins, smoothing the surface over with the back of a spoon. Melt some more butter, and pour over to seal. Place in the fridge for at least two hours. Serve with hot toast, or warm baguette.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


I managed to limit myself to only the one impulse purchase on my last trip to K L Oriental, one of my favourite shops to explore in Leamington- a pack of sweet red bean paste. I have seen several recipes from blogs using this, which intrigued me, but had nothing definite in mind.
I was tempted to try out another recipe from Sunflower's Food Galore, but seeing as I have written about so many of her recipes I wanted to try something new.
I came across anpan on my trawls across food blogs. I had never tried them before, but my housemate had, and gave them a good review. After looking at various recipes for them, I came across on that looked particularly nice from the blog Our Adventures in Japan. Other than the long kneading time, this recipe is very easy- it's worth doing on a lazy weekend. I may try making the dough and letting it rise overnight, and then have anpan for a special breakfast.

A few things about the recipe:
  • The kneading time is long, but it is worth it- it really benefits the texture.
  • Folding in the butter makes the dough unpleasantly greasy to handle, but persevere, it turns smooth and elastic after the second knead.
  • I am usually put of by recipes that list half an egg as an ingredient, but you can use the other half to glaze the buns before they go in the oven.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Orange, Almond and Redcurrant Cake

My housemate found an unclaimed redcurrant bush during her exploration of deepest darkest Lillington. This was exciting news for me- free fruit, and lots of cooking opportunities. We went out with a few bags, and came back with far more currants than we thought possible from one small bush.

The first thing I made were little redcurrant tarts, which were a smaller version of Nigel Slater's redcurrant tart. If I owned a large tart tin, I would have made that instead, but I am limited to the ones I own. I may post a recipe for them- however the pastry is extremely fragile, and only 6 of the 12 pastry cases made it out of the tin without crumbling and breaking up. However, those 6 were delicious, and I will make the larger version when I procure a tin- I'll probably have to wait until next July for the next batch of fresh redcurrants though.

I am not sure where the idea for adding the redcurrants to Claudia Roden's rather famous orange and almond cake came from, but it was one I am really pleased with. The cake in it's original form is damp and aromatic, it makes a wonderfully understated but delicious pudding, as well as a nice cake to cut into as and when during the day (being such a moist cake, it keeps well)
It is also very easy, although does require some time- the first stage is to boil oranges for about 90 minutes, so you don't have to do anything, but you do have to wait for the oranges to get soft enough to easily blitz into a paste.

The addition of redcurrants looks really lovely, and adds bursts of tart fruit flavour. I think I prefer it this way, although perhaps it is slightly arrogant to think I have improved on a classic recipe.

The recipe for the cake can be found here. To make this version of the cake, you just need to sprinkle a small punnet of redcurrants over the uncooked cake batter, in the cake tin just before it goes into the oven.

We ate the first slices of the cake warm, with the leftover vanilla cream that never made it into those 6 pastry cased. It was perfect.