Donna Hay’s Classic Spaghetti & Meatballs

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.

Donna Hay Meatballs

Click here for Donna Hay’s Classic Meatballs recipe!



Eggs Benedict (Hollandaise Sauce)

How do you like your eggs in the morning?

I call myself a foodie, yet it struck me that I’d never attempted to make hollandaise, which quite frankly is absurd. I remember watching a series of MasterChef where one of the initial challenges was for the chefs to make a hollandaise sauce, many of them failed miserably, yet they were able to create stunning dishes that I wouldn’t even dream of being able to recreate. So, it seems that however much of a culinary expert you are the basics can sometimes get lost in the hype of creating new recipes and being all too innovative with food. Let’s face it; the basics are as important as the fancy stuff.

In all honesty, I’m slightly embarrassed to say that the technique of making hollandaise (the thought of it splitting) has always put me off, but I decided it was about time I stopped shying away from such thoughts and had a go. I’m amazed at how easy it was – and it didn’t split (pats self on back in congratulatory manner). Harrah me!
Whisking together the eggs yolks, vinegar and water is certainly the easy part, whisking only until light and frothy, it’s when you add heat to the equation that you seem to think it’s going to explode before your very eyes. Okay, that is a slight exaggeration, but my point is the thought is scarier than actually getting stuck in and having a go. You slowly whisk in the butter until you have a thick pale yellow sauce – et voila hollandaise! It really is that simple.
Ordinarily, when Saturday morning comes around I think of one thing only – eggs, normally boiled with soldiers, sometimes scrambled or poached, but never with hollandaise. From now on though, I’ll be found in the kitchen lording it up with my eggs Benedict – well, every now and then anyway. It’s the perfect breakfast in so many ways, not least because it really sets you up for the day, all that protein keeps you going for hours before feeling hungry again – perfect if you’ve a busy day lined up. Granted, it’s not exactly a healthy breakfast with all the butter, but let’s be honest, weekends were invented for indulgence, especially around the breakfast table.
I didn’t make Rich breakfast as he was sleeping off a hangover and I didn’t imagine hollandaise would sit well in his stomach. But, having seen the photos I took, he was in fact quite jealous of my delicious breakfast and has requested I have another bash at making it again soon. I guess this one is going to become a weekend staple in my household. This recipe serves two.
What have you shied away from making before, only to find it was so much simpler than you’d imagined?
2 eggs
Small packet of smoked ham
1 English muffin, halved
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tbsp freshly snipped chives
For the Hollandaise:
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp water
125g softened butter, cubed
Lemon juice, to taste
Salt and ground black pepper
To make the hollandaise sauce, add the egg yolks to a heat proof glass bowl and whisk until light and frothy. Place the white wine vinegar and water into a small saucepan and reduce by half, allow to cool slightly.
Place the glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering eater and add the reduced vinegar. Ensure that the simmering water does not touch the bottom of the glass bowl. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is light and airy. Gradually add the butter a cube at a time, whisking the whole time. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice and keep warm.
Poach the eggs for 3-4 minutes and toast the muffin halves.

To serve, butter the muffins, place a couple of slices of ham on each, followed by the poached egg. Season with salt and pepper then pour over the sauce and garnish with the snipped chives. 

Prawn, Crab and Nduja Spaghetti

I made an exciting discovery at my local farmer’s market a couple of weeks ago, an ingredient that I’d never heard of, or tasted before, Nduja. The label suggested using it to perk up casseroles, soups and pizzas, all of which I’m sure would be great. But, I knew there were far more exciting recipes to be conjured up with this spicy little gem, so even though I had no idea what I’d do with it, it came home with me.

For those of you that (like me) are unfamiliar with Nduja its Italian very soft pork salami with a liberal amount of chillies, and it really does pack a punch. So, seeing as its Italian, what better to pair it with than spaghetti? Well, having done my research I actually discovered, that surprisingly, it is the perfect accompaniment to crab.
I was so impressed with this spicy salami, especially with its melting quality when heated, it produces a wonderful fiery red sticky base for a sauce, to which I added a little, and I mean a little, water to thin it out, followed by half a tin of chopped tomatoes.
The best part about this delicious discovery was the price. It’s remarkably cheap for something so tasty and a little really does go a long way. Which, in its self is great, it means I have some left to enjoy like the Italians do, by spreading it on toasted bread with a big slab of cheese… I am actually salivating at the thought.  In fact, I’d slice it off and eat it solo it’s so delicious.
You may be lucky enough to find Nduja at your local farmer’s market or deli. Failing that, it is widely available online. However you find it, I really do suggest you spend a little time pursuing it, its amazing stuff. The Guardian describes it as the “wonder ingredient of the moment” and I couldn’t agree more. My internet sources lead me to believe it is sold on Borough Market, so if you happen to be in London make sure getting your hands on this ingredient is a priority. I’m just itching to see what other recipes I can come up with. But for now I give you prawn, crab and Nduja spaghetti.

Serves: 2
Takes: 10 minutes
250g of spaghetti
150g cooked and peeled king prawns
150g of white crab meat
½ tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp of Nduja
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Bunch of basil, Julienne (finely chopped)
2 tbsp parmesan
Red chilli, finely chopped
Place the pasta on to boil, this should take 10 minutes.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan and add the garlic, fry for 2 minutes. Add the Nduja and allow to soften for a few minutes as it heats in the pan. Add 50mls of water and half a tin of chopped tomatoes, stir until combined. Continue cooking for 5 minutes.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the pan with the parmesan, basil, crab and prawns. Stir well just long enough to allow the prawns and crab meat to heat through.
Serve immediately, garnished with chopped basil and finely sliced red chilli.  

Homemade Sausage Rolls

I’m going to start today by doing something I’d hoped I would never have to, apologising for my lack of blog posts this month. 
I know what you’re thinking: bad blogger, right? The truth is work as been hectic; I work in a client services role, which means we are manic one week and dead the next. The run up to Christmas is always busy though, which is a little frustrating when you just want to wind down and blog about all the delicious things you’ve been making. Especially when there’s been an abundance of culinary treats coming out of my kitchen of late. I just haven’t had the time to share them all, so hopefully the Christmas break will give me that opportunity to catch up, and be that committed, frequent blogger I set out to be.
There is another reason I haven’t been able to give my posts and recipe write ups as much focus as I would have liked, an exciting one too. Miss Friday’s Feast is currently undergoing a well needed visual make over. And, I just can’t wait to reveal the new look; all in good time.
So, today I give you my sausage roll recipe, just in time for making a batch to stash in the freezer for Christmas. Perfect for those Christmas drinks parties, when hosting a full blown dinner party is just out of the question. After all, Christmas is such a busy time for everyone, especially if your juggling a busy job with present buying, wrapping, planning and cooking – it can be exhausting, who wants to add extra stress by hosting a dinner party? Not me, I’d rather flop on the sofa with a glass of mulled wine and a plate of delicious warm sausage rolls I had the insight to make a month ahead. Yes, a whole plate.  Sounds a little Bridget Jones doesn’t it? The funny thing is, I actually have those pajamas, and will most likely spend the best part of December wearing them.

This recipe really couldn’t be simpler, which is what makes it so great, it makes about 16 bite sized sausage rolls, or 4 four larger ones. Just double the ingredients for a larger stash. I buy the puffy pastry in a ready rolled sheet, because all you need to do is cut it length ways down the middle and you’re ready to get cracking. Make sure you take the pastry out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to use it to allow it to soften slightly. Not too much though, you don’t want it gooey or stringy.

8 pork and herb sausages (or 500g of sausage meat)
Puff pastry sheet (375g)
1 egg yolk, whisked
½ white onion, finely chopped
2 coves garlic, minced
1 tbsp parsley, freshly chopped
1 tsp crushed chilli flakes
1 tsp crushed fennel seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
If using individual sausages, remove the skin by piercing them with a sharp knife, place the sausage meat into a large bowl and season well.
Fry the onion and garlic in a little oil and add to the sausage meat whilst still warm, this helps to bind everything together. Add the parsley, chilli and fennel seeds and mix well. I find clean hands are best.
Roll out the pasty onto a lightly floured work surface and cut in half length ways. Place the mixture in the middle of each piece, ensuring you leave enough pastry each side to fold over and close. Once you have rolled up your sausage rolls, pinch the fold together using a folk and brush with the egg yolk.
Cut the sausage rolls to the desired size before baking (otherwise you’ll have pastry everywhere) and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Place in the centre of a pre-heated oven (200⁰C) for 14 minutes.
Allow to cool on a wire rack, or gobble them down whilst warm, which I highly recommend.

Mustard & White Wine Sauce for Pork or Chicken

Pork chops have never been my favourite cut of meat, especially from the supermarket, they are always far too small, and to be honest can be a little tasteless. However, I bought some really decent sized ones from the butcher a couple of weeks ago and was determined to find a recipe that would change my opinion of the humble pork chop.

I wanted to cook them in a mustard sauce, but that boyfriend of mine was adamant he didn’t want the sauce with his chops. “I just want them plain” he groaned; it can be a struggle to get him to try something he isn’t sure about. So having moaned that he didn’t want sauce, I decided I’d serve it with his meat in a ramekin so that he could at least try it. Once he had scoffed his way through most of the chops and a whole ramekin of sauce he looked at me a rather wistfully and said “Is there any more of this sauce”… need I say more.

The sauce has a beautiful creaminess and the mustard seeds pop in your mouth creating little bursts of flavour. It works wonderfully with pork chops, but equally as well with chicken breasts (as in the pictures), and I dare say there are many other ways to enjoy it. But do try it, like Kieren, you might just be surprised.  

120ml white wine
60ml chicken stock
120ml double cream
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a saucepan combine the white wine and chicken stock and bring to a boil; allow to reduce by half. Add the mustard and black pepper stirring continuously. Whisk in the butter and cream, heat through for a further 5 minutes. You want the cream to thicken the sauce, but not to boil.

Serve with your chosen meat. For a thicker sauce (as shown with the chicken above) just add a little more cream.