There is something rather joyful about covering the kitchen in flour and making pizza. Granted it’s a terribly messy task, but that’s where the fun is right? We love making pizzas on a Friday night when we have Rich’s children Max and Daisy. It’s a great family activity – everyone gets stuck in. The children go mad for them and love rolling out the dough and choosing their own toppings.
Rich makes a huge load of dough and I knock up a big batch of tomato sauce. Or we swap jobs, but Rich is rather good at kneading dough so I tend to let him do the hard work. We have everything laid out ready for the kids, dough, rolling pins, aprons, tomato sauce and as many different toppings as we can find. We like to see who can make the nicest looking, the biggest or most flavourful pizza. Max won in the ‘best looking’ category hands down… here is his little chorizo masterpiece. Yes, it did taste as good as it looked.
Miss Friday’s Pizza
Mine was rather a funny shape and size, but for me it’s ALL about the flavour and that crunchy texture on the crust – delicious. And a pizza is simply not worth eating unless it has anchovies and olives on it. Of course, the kids would totally disagree – it’s all about cheese and pepperoni.
Making it at home is not going to compare to that stone baked taste you get from making it in a traditional pizza oven, but it’s still pretty darn tasty. I’ve posted about my uncle’s pizza oven before and shared the dough recipe that I use.
Jemima (my 10 month old) even had her very own pizza – future Miss Friday right there!
Do you have a perfect topping combination? Feel free to share it in the comments!
Tuscan fish stew; the ultimate favourite in our house, well amongst everyone except Max (Richard’s son, the fussy eater) who opted for sausage and chips over this delicious feast… I despair I really do. We also had a rather heated 20 minute debate about him not wanting a vegetable with his sausage and chips, he was given the option of beans or peas – “neither” he stubbornly exclaimed. Now this just doesn’t wash in Miss Friday’s house, everyone has to have vegetables and that’s that! Daisy (Richard’s daughter), on the other hand, well she devoured the fish stew.
You may recall that I have posted this recipe before, but as it’s so popular I’ve tweaked it a few times and thought there was no harm in sharing it once more. I honestly think that each time I cook this dish Richard falls in love with me a little bit more. I joke. But he does love it, and he always comments and makes sure I know how much he enjoyed it – then again they do say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. In this case, I think it’s true. Few things make me happier than pleasing Richard with food. Given that he’s an excellent cook, there is often stiff competition – but he will never cook this one as well as I do. Note: that’s confidence, rather than arrogance.
What I love most is the lightness of the dish, it has such a fresh delicate flavour. It’s really not the sort of meal that sits on your stomach for hours after, which is a welcome relief after all the heavy festive foods that we’ve experienced over the past couple of months. Let’s face it, we all have leftover Christmas cake – and it has to be eaten right?
I’d advise you to buy the freshest fish you can afford, the flavours in the stew are so simple because it’s really all about letting the fish shine through. We bought the fish from a local market in Saffron Walden. Known for being a market town and famous for it’s rich heritage of buildings dating back to the medieval times, Saffron Walden is well worth a visit if your in the area. The market is held every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the year and hosts a wonderful array of stalls for foodies, everything from olives, meats, breads, fish and a huge fruit and vegetable stall (if you can bear the noisy del-boy esque market trader).
Fresh fish (such as haddock, mussels, clams and king prawns)
1 tbsp olive oil
Small red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200ml white wine
400g chopped tomatoes
500ml fish stock
2 medium red chillies, finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon
Parsley to garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ciabatta loaf, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped in half
A handful of grated parmesan cheese
Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Fry the onion until softened – around 5 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and pepper, fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the wine and let it reduce for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes, fish stock and chillies and cook for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile lightly toast the Ciabatta slices on both sides, rub them with a clove of garlic, pressing down firmly on the bread to flavour it with garlic. Top each slice with a little parmesan and return to the grill to melt.
Meanwhile, add the seafood starting with the white fish, followed by the shellfish, lemon and parsley. Place the lid firmly on the casserole dish and allow to cook until the mussels and clams have fully opened and the fish is cooked through (this doesn't take long). Serve in warmed bowls with the cheesy garlic croutons.
I sit for what can only be described as a rare moment in time. I am alone in the house. No boyfriend, no baby and no boyfriends children – and I don’t even feel guilty that I am utterly enjoying my own company. Something very strange has happened to me since becoming a mother. My camera roll on my phone is filled with baby pictures, rather than foodie ones. I’ve found it impossible to find time to blog lately – something any new mother will surely understand. But I’ve missed it. Once Jemima is asleep I begin the long task of washing and sterilising her bottles, tidying away her toys and bath things, washing her clothes, making my dinner, clearing and washing up – there is just no time. Giving up my blog isn’t an option. It’s my one hobby that’s wholly mine – something I can get lost in, and really it’s an excuse to eat just about anything that takes my fancy. That’s not something I’m prepared to give up just yet.
Speaking of eating anything you like. I am probably in the minority as I’ve decided that starting a healthy eating regime in January just doesn’t make any logical sense. You’re already feeling blue, given that the glistening lights of the festive season are a distant memory and the bank balance is looking somewhat dire. Not to mention the fact that the cupboards are stacked with indulgent unhealthy leftovers. What’s a girl to do? Struggle through the entire month trying to resist the last few Quality Street or that delicious cheese that calls my name every time I open the fridge? No!
Rich and I decided that we’d eat our way through what’s left of Christmas and start our health kick when I return to work (after five months of maternity leave) on the 1st of February. So, I have about two weeks left to enjoy being that smug person that isn’t having a ‘dry’ January and eating salad every night of the week.
Today I wanted to share with you a recipe that I happened upon because of leftovers. This week I made a huge batch of my favourite pasta dish – spaghetti puttanseca and used the left over sauce with mussels. It was utterly delicious. Puttanseca is a wonderfully pungent tomato based sauce – with ingredients like anchovies, chillies and capers it really packs a punch.
This recipe will serve two as a main meal with bread and butter, or four as a starter.
50ml dry white wine
75ml Scrumpy cider
2 shallots, finely shopped
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp of chilli flakes
1 medium heat red chilli, roughly chopped
5-6 canned anchovies in oil (reserve the oil)
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tsp of capers, drained
10 black olives, roughly chopped
400g chopped tomatoes
Start by cleaning and de-bearding the mussels in cold water. Discard any mussels that don't fully close when tapped. Place the mussels aside in a bowl.
For the puttanseca sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the garlic, fresh and dried chilli and and anchovies (along with the oil from the anchovies). Allow to cook for a couple of minutes until the anchovies have melted away. Add the parsley, capers, olives and chopped tomatoes, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook the sauce for about 20 minutes allowing the flavours to infuse.
Place a separate large saucepan (with a lid) over a medium heat, add a little oil and fry the shallots until translucent. Add the mussels, wine and cider. Spoon in about 150ml of the puttanseca sauce and pop the lid on. Cook until all of the mussels have fully opened.
Serve straight from the steaming pot with a stack of buttered bread and a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley.
If shellfish isn’t your thing, you could always use up your leftover puttanseca sauce with grilled chicken and salad – that’s also great. And perfect if you’re watching your weight.
For me it has to be spaghetti carbonara, I simply love it. The delicious richness of the dish and the salty pancetta makes me very happy – okay it’s not the most adventurous dish, but it is without a doubt the best comfort food going. There is something so wonderful about sitting down with a big bowl of pasta and digging in. I recently made my carbonara recipe for my brother and he loved it too. Even Richard, who is not fussed with pasta dishes, admitted that it really is a tasty dish.
I’ve made the recipe so many times over the years that I really have perfected it – but sometimes I like to mix things up a little. I had some smoked salmon in the fridge that needed using, so I decided to try it in a carbonara recipe. It was wonderful -totally different from a traditional one of course, but very nearly equally as good.
I didn’t use it, but I think next time I’ll try adding a little lemon zest, I think it will really bring it to another level and give a good lift of freshness to the dish.
Ordinarily I’d scoff at anyone using cream in a carbonara recipe, but given that this isn’t your typical authentic recipe I’m not going to feel shameful about it.
Boil the pasta in a large pan of salted water until cooked al dente (firm to the bite).
Meanwhile, pour the cream into a large bowl, break in the eggs and whisk well. Add the parmesan, chives, smoked salmon and salt and pepper stir. At this point you can add the lemon zest if using.
Drain the pasta and return to the saucepan (off the heat), pour over the sauce and stir, ensuring the sauce fully coats the pasta. The residual heat from the pasta will cook the sauce but ensure the egg doesn’t scramble.
Divide between two warmed bowls and scatter with a few snipped chives to garnish – and a little grated lemon zest if using.
I’m back! Now, you may, or may not, have been wondering what happened to me. Hopefully some of you have missed me anyway. The truth be told, I’ve been on Slimming World for some time now, obviously I had a break over Christmas (who in their right mind would diet over Christmas?). Not me!
The good news is that I’ve lost a total of nine pounds, and only have five more to go until I reach my goal of loosing a whole stone. Woo hoo me! This being a food blogger thing doesn’t half make you gain a bit of weight. It’s not rocket science, we all know it’s impossible to remain slim and eat all of the foods you like. If only hey! But enough was enough, I realised that it was impossible for me to stick to my regular blogging schedule and not keep gaining weight at the alarming rate that I have been.
I’m not about to embark on sharing a million Slimming World recipes with you, that’s there thing. This is a dish I made a while back, but I just had to share with you, the flavours are so fresh and vibrant, and just look at the wonderful sunny colour of the puffed up lemon infused rice. It will certainly brighten up any cold January night. So just to clarify, this is definitely a non Slimming World friendly recipe. Having said that, if you swapped the oil and butter for low calorie cooking spray, omitted the wine and parmesan you’d be good to go.
Making risotto doesn’t need to be hard work, yes okay there is a fair bit of stirring involved, but otherwise it’s actually not that difficult, more time consuming really, having said that it only takes about 20 minutes.
It’s not often that I use ingredients that are hard to get hold of. I don’t like the idea that someone wouldn’t be able to re-create the dish at home, or have a nightmare trying to find where to buy them, but then sometimes things are just too delicious not to share. I bought this lemon risotto rice in Sorrento when I visited back in November and have been dying to use it. I’m sure you could find some online, I’ll certainly be looking out for some more. I wish I’d bought more home, but then again we all know how difficult it can be with one tiny piece of hand luggage, trying to stuff all of your things into it, let alone bringing back various foodie bits and bobs.
The flavours in this risotto are wonderful, they remind me so much of the busy afternoons I spent in Sorrento and Naples, dashing about all afternoon before sitting down to some delicious, lovingly prepared Italian cuisine.
Richard doesn’t like risotto. I know, weirdo right? He says that it’s pudding rice and shouldn’t be used in a savoury recipe, but I’m sure the 59 million strong population of Italy would wholeheartedly disagree with him! I just adore risotto, so if you have a delicious recipe leave the link in the comments below. I’d love some new recipes to try out.
I am possibly the most flippant person I know; I change my mind like the wind. I’ve decided to quit Slimming World after just 8 weeks – I admit I felt too deprived! To be fair, I had lost half a stone, which is half the weight I really wanted to, but I’ve resided to the fact that I’d rather be fat and satisfied.
Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, I’m not exactly fat, at 9 stone 9 pounds I’m perhaps a few pounds off my ideal. It’s quite possible that if you don’t have the type of relationship I do with food you’d be okay with Slimming World, but I’m a food blogger and limiting myself to certain types of foods was never going to work. What is it they say, “It’s better to have tried” and all that…?
I have times when I feel like being super healthy and I admit I’m one of those people who feels smug with myself when I decide to have a salad for dinner or go for an impromptu run. But with the festive season pretty much upon us getting into shape and fitting into my summer clothes isn’t on my agenda right now.
So, keeping in theme with my ‘eating what I god damn like’ attitude, I made the most delicious supper tonight. It was inspired by a dish I had at Frankie and Benny’s of all places; I went for lunch with my colleague Jade the other day and had a delicious black and blue pasta dish. It’s a dish they only have on the lunch menu for some bazaar reason, it’s delicious and definitely deserves a place on their regular menu. So I decided to copy the dish, as best I could anyway. I’m sure that those in the know would argue it’s nothing like the real dish, but it really hit the spot and tasted just as good, if not better. That’s right, better!
Start by placing the chicken strips onto a baking sheet and sprinkling evenly with the cajun spice mix, place into a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees.
Heat the butter oil in a pan over a high heat and fry the shallots and garlic until translucent, add the flour and stir well. Then immediately add the wine and simmer for a few minutes before adding the cream. At this point you will need to whisk the sauce well to ensure the flour is well combined and not lumpy.
Meanwhile, boil the pasta - this will need about 12 minutes, or 11 for al dente.
Crumble the blue cheese into the pan and allow to simmer until the pasta is cooked.
Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the water (about 60ml), add this pasta water and the pasta to the sauce and stir well to combine.
By this time the chicken will be cooked through, remove from the oven and stir into the pasta.
Serve immediately in warmed bowls with a little parmesan if required.
As I dashed across the zebra crossing weaving in and out of scooters and cars that clearly had no intention of slowing down or stopping, I tripped over rubbish in the street, and felt somewhat intimidated by the stares of passersby and the almost constant sound of sirens, it was then that I realised that I’d arrived in Naples – and that it perhaps wasn’t quite as I had expected.
I’ve said it before, autumn is without doubt my favourite time of the year, the crisp golden leaves that litter the ground and all the promise of the Christmas festivities to come. There are many things that make this season so special, the first appearance of your winter woollies, misty mornings, duvet days and the heating going on for the first time. But, perhaps one of the best things about this time of year is the comfort food, it’s all about pies, pastries, casseroles and stews and I’ve been busy scanning the archives to bring you my favourite autumnal recipes.
Some dishes just seem to warm you from the inside out and the three recipes above will do just that. Each is special for it’s own merit, the steak and ale is one of my old favourites, a perfect combination of buttery pastry and rich gravy. Those of you who read my blog regularly (I’m hoping that’s a few of you) will know that the Tuscan Fish Stew is probably my best recipe to date and my boyfriend loves it, we make it all the time! And last but certainly not least is one of my newest recipes, but it gets a big thumbs up for seasonality and it was so delicious I couldn’t help but include it in my top three.
Spaghetti and meatballs have got to be the ultimate comfort food. I love them, the boyfriend on the other hand has never been convinced – that was until he tried this recipe. I’ve tried plenty of recipes before, but never have I found one as good as this. It’s a Donna Hay recipe, she uses a combination of pork and beef mince which is definitely the secret. The bold fragrant aroma of sage and fresh basil work beautifully in unison in this dish – a real palate pleaser. The sauce is so fresh tasting, I’ve made it twice now and both times it was delicious. This recipe simply wouldn’t be complete though without a large glass of read wine.
I urge you to try this recipe, it makes a large batch (far too many meatballs for two, about 30 if I remember rightly) which is great as they freeze so well in batches ready for a speedy week-night supper when you are in a hurry; the sauce also freezes well.
Given all the changes to my blog recently I’ve been cooking from recipes and books for a while, rather than being adventurous myself, it saves time and produces a fool proof delicious meal every time, so I bring you this one from the wonderful Donna Hay.
All that is about to change though as I embark on what is likely to be a labour intensive festive cooking extravaganza, meaning I’ll be putting my creative culinary skills to the test. I’m helping out at my cousin’s Christmas open day (he owns a Butchers and Delicatessen) and has asked me to provide an array of festive baked goods for people to sample and order ahead of Christmas. I guess that means I’ll have a busy December lined up, I’ll be sick of the sight of mince pies. It also means I’ve been running about like a headless chicken in search of hamper baskets, cellophane and various other wrapping items at a reasonable price.
Being an avid foodie, it’s almost impossible for me to pick a favourite dish, but there are a few that are certainly up there and this pasta dish certainly deserves a place in my top 5 meals. My friend Emily and I just adore this dish, mainly for its pungent delicious flavour, but also because there are few things more comforting that a big bowl of pasta. I’ve posted a puttanesca recipe before, but this is a variation on the last recipe, I wanted to create a super quick version of my favourite pasta dish that is just as delicious.
If you’ve never tried puttanesca, I’ll warn you, it’s instantly addictive, and will most likely become a real go to meal when you’re having a busy week. You can almost make the entire meal from your store cupboard ingredients, all except the lemon juice, parsley and red chilli. Of course you could use chilli flakes, and bottled lemon juice, but the fresh parsley is a must. A word of warning, don’t add any salt to the dish, the anchovies provide all the saltiness you need.
Traditionally, you would use spaghetti in this dish, but any pasta you have knocking about is fine, and to be honest fusilli worked really well here, and for a speedy supper it’s easier to eat – that is simply my inner greed. My boyfriend always comments on how quickly I eat my meals. Ingredients:
250g fusilli pasta
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 can of anchovies
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 red chilli roughly chopped
2 tbsp capers
Juice of half a lemon
Handful of freshly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
Start by cooking the pasta according to the packet instructions.
Meanwhile, add the anchovies to a hot pan, with the oil that they are in, using a wooden spoon break them up; the heat will turn them into a paste. Add the garlic and chilli, cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes, capers and half of the parsley to the pan. Squeeze over the juice of half a lemon and mix well to combine, allow this to simmer over a medium heat until the pasta is cooked.
Drain the pasta; add to the pan with a good pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Serve in warmed bowls with a sprinkling of parsley and parmesan.