I couldn’t let the Jubilee go by without making a comment, especially given how much of an emphasis there was on celebrating with food – or maybe that’s just a reflection of the media channels I focus on 😉 And I’m quite unashamed to admit that this weekend has left me feeling surprisingly patriotic, and waving my wee plastic flag that was hidden in a bouquet I bought last week to brighten up the mantlepiece…
But well as celebrating, and thanking, Her Maj for all the hard work she’s done, the extra day off was a lovely excuse to get together with family. Hubby and I put together a cheeky finger buffet (mostly during the 3 hour Jubilee concert which made for a great soundtrack to cook to!) and carried it all up to my parents’ place today, where we were joined by my brother, his wife, and their beautiful 3 week old son.
Hubby’s EPIC sausage rolls and my Champagne chicken and tarragon vol au vents deserve a blog post of their own, but for now, I managed to snap a quick pic of the whole spread before my family of locusts descended on everything (I really should have taken an “after” picture… LOL!)
It’s National Vegetarian Week, so in its honour we had a meat free lunch today which was anything but a hardship when lunch was as tasty as this! The flavour combo is mediterraneanish, but more by accident than by design, and was really a result of what was available at the deli counter that struck my fancy. The saltiness of the feta is a fantastic counterbalance to the sweetness of the hummus especially if, like me, you like caramelised onion hummus rather than plain. If you don’t like feta then something like a ricotta does just as well, and if you can find any wee red peppers at the deli counter that are already stuffed with your cheese of choice (like the ones in the picture), even better! And much as I like to make my own couscous sometimes I just can’t be arsed, like today, in which case may I recommend M&S’s roasted vegetable couscous as a perfectly good lazy alternative to homemade.
Lastly, the griddle pan bit is purely decorative and entirely optional. I just like the way it makes those pretty brown lines on my wrap 🙂
Mediterranean-Style Deli Wraps
Easy vegetarian wraps that you can toss together in minutes using all store-bought ingredients.
Or, in English, Pasta in a Spicy Tomato Sauce! The original version of this recipe came from one of those cooking-pasta-for-dummies type cookbooks, not that I’m mocking it because it elevated my old student cheapy staple of “bacon and tomato pasta” into this, which is just as easy but a wee bit more sophisticated (especially if you go with pancetta) and a lot more tasty.
I also remember the book saying that this dish’s name literally means “angry” pasta because of it’s spicy heat. I promise that “angry” will be the last thing you feel after eating this though 🙂 Despite the fairly economical ingredients, it’s a really tasty little dish. It’s also extremely generous with the olive oil and quite rich as a result.
One last thing, I sincerely believe that lashings and lashings of parmesan make this dish, so don’t be afraid to grate more than what the recipe says – I usually grate about double!
A tangy tomato pasta with lovely kick of spice, and rich with bacon and good olive oil.
1 packet of pancetta/streaky bacon, cut into thin strips
1 can chopped tomatoes
1/8 tsp crushed chillies (or more if you like the spicy)
salt for seasoning
6 medium-sized fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
2 tbsp freshly grated pecorino romano/parmessan
If you're planning to be sociable after eating this then 1 clove is probably enough. And if you don't have a handy herb garden or even herb box to pick your basil from, dried basil or frozen will do just fine. If you don't have any basil at all, you won't miss it overly. Honest.
Finely dice your onion, mince your garlic and cut your pancetta/streaky bacon into thin strips.
Put all but 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the onion and garlic in the pan over a medium high heat, and cook until the onion starts looking transparent.
Then add the pancetta/bacon strips and cook until they are well browned but not crisp.
Next, add the tinned tomatoes, the crushed chillies, a little salt (the pancetta/bacon is already salty so seriously, just a little salt for seasoning will do) and a slosh of balsamic vinegar just to take off that tinny edge that canned tomatoes often have (fifi's top tip... if you don't have any balsamic vinegar handy, a generous pinch of sugar will also work).
Turn the heat right up until the sauce starts bubbling away and then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 20 minutes without a lid.
Once the 20 minutes is up, taste and season as needed, and add more chillies if the sauce isn’t quite “angry” enough for you. Leave it to simmer away while you cook the pasta, so another 10-20 minutes depending on how much puttering around you do while getting the pasta ready.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, salt generously and add a slug of oil, then tip in your pasta and give it a stir.
Cook per the packet instructions until the pasta is al dente, then drain before tossing the pasta into the tomato sauce in its pan.
Stir in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the cheese (I save a little to sprinkle over the top just before serving) and stir everything together. Serve asap. Simples!
Adapted from a "How to Cook Pasta" book found in my student days.
Adapted from a "How to Cook Pasta" book found in my student days.
Apologies for the recent radio silence but life got very stupidly busy all at once, as Hubby started a new job (in the Scottish food industry, no less!) and my gorgeous scrumptious beautiful nephew arrived into the world! So yes, much distraction has abounded of late, but hopefully this is me back in the blogging swing of things 🙂
And to ease me gently back in, a mind-boggling easy recipe that a work chum shared with me years ago and became an instant favourite with Hubby . Bear with the randomness of the ingredients, because thrown together they are quite simply, if somewhat surprisingly, delicious – the sweetness of the apricots go really well with the saltiness of the onion soup mix. And the ingredients really are literally thrown together and then thrown into the oven! Seriously. The most work you’ll have to do on the night is the washing up…
Serve it up with some lovely fluffy boiled rice for the best ever lazy (but no less tasty for it!) dinner.
Tender chicken in a lush, savoury onion-cream sauce with sweet bites of apricot keeping things interesting.
1 can of apricots in juice or light syrup (only get full on syrup if that’s all there is)
1 packet of Knorr Onion Soup powder or Lipton’s Onion Soup & Dip Mix
300ml single cream
Throw together!: (I’m too embarrassed to use my usual “Cook!” for this!)
First things first, get the oven on and preheat to 200 C.
While you’re waiting for the oven to warm up, grab the oven dish and in it strain the apricot juice (keep the fruit in the can for now) before adding the single cream and then the onion soup powder (fifi’s top tip – this order is much less messy than if you put the soup powder in first, trust me…).
Whisk it together with a small fork or small whisk until the powder isn’t lumpy anymore.
Gently place the chicken breasts into the mixture, and either spoon the mixture over them or give them a quick roll over in the mixture, before adding the pieces of apricot. I generally use the apricot to fill in any gaps, giving them a gentle poke to submerge them.
Put in the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes.
The chicken should be lovely and tender at this point. I usually pluck them out (shoogle all the sauce off because you don’t want to waste a delicious drop!) and slice them into bite sized pieces, then put them back into the sauce, give everything a good stir, and then serve the lot over rice.
Sadly, our local supermarkets have all stopped stocking packet onion soup powder, but there are substitutes. I’ve been assured that Ainsley’s Onion Cup Of Soup mix works just as well – use a whole box worth and be sure to pick the croutons out first – but I haven’t tried it myself as we found Lipton’s Onion Soup & Dip Mix that is a perfect match. We get ours from Lupe Pinto’s, a local Mexican deli that also imports lots of tasty things from the USA including the. Luckily for us they are local, but they also deliver if you’re not.
Foodie mags aren’t just for recipes, they’re for lovely quirky things to fill your kitchen with like these fabulous tea towels (and yes, I just called a tea towel fabulous!). I was flicking through the Great British Food mag last night and saw the English version of these tea towels available at www.victoriaeggs.co.uk and would have been happy enough with those, but then I saw THESE on their website… What a fab way to celebrate Scottish food! Although deep fried mars bars seems to be missing from the list… 😉
Scottish Tea Towels! Soon to be decorating my kitchen!