Hubby’s Wicked Tasty Tomato & Marscapone Pasta

Hubby’s Wicked Tasty Tomato & Marscapone Pasta

Sometimes, you just want to throw something together for supper that’s quick and easy and uncomplicated but without compromising on the tasty.  This is just one of those  dishes, and something that Hubby pretty much made up out of whatever was in the kitchen one night. The big show off…  However, the flavour is that yummy that I can’t hold his genius ability to cook something out of nothing against him 😉 And for a dish that’s pretty cheap to make it actually tastes anything but thanks to the mascarpone.

Along with our somewhat enforced but surprisingly enjoyable dietary diversion into fish, we’re also trying to cut down on red meat and have started doing Meatless Monday, which this dish is perfect for 🙂

The secret ingredient in this is fish sauce, which I know seems like a strange thing to put in a pasta sauce but it adds a cheeky sneaky bit of umami that really works well.  But if fish sauce is just a step too far, or if you’re trying to make this properly vegetarian, porcini mushrooms would also tick the umami box and would go really well with this sauce – rehydrate from dried, chop, finely sieve the water the mushrooms rehydrated in to catch any grit and add a spoon or two to the sauce along with the porcini.

Hubby's Wicked Tasty Tomato & Mascarpone Pasta
Serves 2
Deceptively simple meatless pasta dish that is anything but boring.
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Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 1 large onion, finely diced
  2. 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  3. 1 400g can chopped tomatoes
  4. 1 tbsp tomato puree
  5. 3/4 cup/180 ml water
  6. 1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  7. 2 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  8. 1 tsp sugar
  9. 2-3 tbsp mascarpone
  10. parmesan
  11. basil (optional)
  12. salt and pepper to season
  13. 250-300g pasta
Cook!
  1. Heat 2-3 tsp olive oil in a saucepan over a low flame. Add the diced onions and sweat them for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, without letting them colour.
  2. Once the onions have cooked down, add the minced garlic and stir to mix.
  3. Then add the tomato puree, can of tomatoes, fish sauce, balsamic vinegar, sugar and water. Mix well before turning the heat up to medium and simmer partially covered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally (if the sauce becomes claggy, turn the heat down and add a little bit of water to thin it).
  4. When the sauce is almost done cooking, fill another saucepan with water for the pasta and put it over a high heat until it’s boiling. Pop in your pasta, and then take the lid off the sauce and let it cook uncovered until the pasta is ready which should be about another 10 minutes.
  5. When the pasta is cooked, take 1/4 cup of the cooking water before draining it, and add that to the tomato sauce, mixing well. Add the marscapone to the tomato sauce, stirring until completely blended.
  6. Return your pasta to the cooking pan, top with the tomato marscapone sauce and stir until the pasta is coated. Top with remaining sauce, if desired, and generously grate parmesean cheese all over it. Devour!
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Shepherd’s Pie Traditional Style

Shepherd’s Pie Traditional Style

I’ve always been a fan of Delia when it comes to the classics and her Shepherd’s Pie recipe has never let me down, but I’ve always had a hankering to make it the traditional way from leftover roast. Unfortunately, there never is any leftover roast when my family gets together, and making roast lamb just to turn into Shepherd’s Pie seemed a little extravagent.  This Easter though, neither my brother nor I could make it home but my mum still made my dad his festive lamb roast and surprise surprise (not!), without the presence of two greedy children and their spouses, there were leftovers!  Which were very kindly dropped off as the parentals passed by on their way out for lunch the next day, so that they wouldn’t go to waste.  And waste them we did not…

Hubby is the King of the world slow cooking, his pulled pork is legendary 😉 so I left it to him to figure out how to render down the lovely piece of leftover roast lamb into the perfect filling for a Shepherd’s Pie.  He did not disappoint 🙂 The lamb just fell apart in the pot, and after all that time slow cooking in gravy and stock had soaked up their lovely flavours while maintaining that slightly sweet note that lamb has.  As lovely as Delia’s version using lamb mince is it wasn’t a patch on using leftover roast, and I honestly don’t think I’ll be able to go back to Delia after this, the trad style was just that good.  What a fab last Shepherd’s Pie to end this winter on 🙂

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed a distinct lack of carrots in amongst the lamb… It was the only thing we didn’t have to hand 🙁 Since they wouldn’t survive the slow cooking process I’d probably dice them up and then cook them off vichy style, and then stir them into the pot of lamb  just before you make the pie up.

Shepherd's Pie Traditional Style
Leftover roast lamb, slow cooked in gravy and baked under a thick layer of fluffy mashed potato.
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Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 500-600g leftover lamb roast (ours was leg but shoulder would be just as good)
  2. 2 red onions
  3. 2-3 cloves garlic, mashed but whole
  4. Enough lamb gravy and/or lamb stock to cover
  5. Any leftover drippings from roasting (optional)
  6. Splash of red wine (optional)
  7. 2-3 tsp Balsalmic vinegar
  8. 1/2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  9. 2-3 tbsp tomato puree
  10. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  11. 1 tsp dried thyme
  12. 1 tsp sugar
  13. small can of petit pois
And for the mash…
  1. 2lb (900 g) potatoes (Desirée or King Edward, or anything that is good for mashing)
  2. 2oz (50 g) butter
  3. salt and freshly milled black pepper
Instructions
  1. (Slow) Cook!
  2. Cut the lamb into bite size pieces and put in a large saucepan or stew pot.
  3. Roughly cut the ends off the onions, quarter and add to the pot with the lamb. Peel and mash the garlic and pop those in too.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, making sure that the lamb is covered by about 1 inch / 2.5 cm of liquid. Cover and simmer for two hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so.
  5. After two hours remove the lid, and continue to reduce the liquid on a low simmer, stirring occassionally, until it’s a rich sauce. This may take another few hours.
  6. Make the mashed potato topping when you’re in that last phase of reduction – Cut the potatoes into even sized pieces before placing in a pan of boiling salted water. Cook until they’re tender and then drain. Return the cooked potatoes to the hot pan, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to steam for about five minutes. Add the butter and mash, season to taste. Don’t be tempted to add milk like you would a normal mash because you want this mash to be firm on top of the pie. Set aside until you’re ready to put the pie together.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F, gas mark 6.
  8. When the lamb is ready, drain the can of petit pois before tipping into the pan. Give it all a good stir before spooning the lamb and petit pois into your baking dish. Level the mixture out with the back of the spoon without packing it down.
  9. Lastly, spread the mashed potato on top of the lamb. The best way I’ve found to do this is to use a spatula and spread large blobs of mash around the inside of the dish until you’ve got a ring of mash, leaving a gap in the middle for you to dollop the last bit on to cover – this method gives you an even spread of mash without dragging mash and lamb all over the place. I like to roughly fork the mash topping, it encourages the forked up bits to go all lovely golden and crispy.
  10. Pop in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the mash is crusty and golden. Share and scoff!
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/
“Boozy” Mac & Cheese

“Boozy” Mac & Cheese

I used to dislike mac and cheese with an unholy passion.  It was at the top of my “things you couldn’t pay me to eat” list, together with fish pie and recognisable offal *boke!*  To be fair, I’m not a cheese fan at the best of times (and yet the stinky cheese board always ends up next to me at dinner parties >.<) but I blame my almost obsessive contempt for the cheesy pasta on school dinners whose mac and cheese was utter utter utter foulness!  It must have been made from a powder mix because it was always oddly gritty and a little watery.  I don’t think I ever touched it again after leaving school, not even in a poshed up Italian restaurant “four cheese pasta” style.  But you can’t be married to an American and avoid the stuff forever… So it was with huge trepidation that I agreed to let Hubby reintroduce me to this dish last year, and thank God I did because it is, quite honestly, one of my favourite things that he cooks for me now, much to his disbelief and amusement.

He also can’t leave well enough alone so it’s gone through several iterations, from a roux based sauce to a now wine based one (Hubby says – Thanks Heston!).  Not that it tastes remotely boozy, the alcohol is well cooked off to leave just the delicious flavour of the wine behind which sets the mixture of cheeses up perfectly.  Try it this way and I promise you’ll never do this with a roux again 🙂

"Boozy" Mac & Cheese
Serves 4
A classic American dish, updated with a wine based cheese sauce.
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Ingredients
  1. Stuff you’ll need…
  2. 160g block of strong/sharp cheddar (Isle of Mull extra mature is our current fave)
  3. 60-100g block of Taleggio (or any full fat semi hard non-cheddar cheese, emmental or brie would also work)
  4. 100g Philadelphia cream cheese, full fat
  5. 250-350g fusilli or penne
  6. 500ml white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio work well)
  7. 500ml hot chicken stock
  8. 1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
  9. 1 tbsp corn flour (1.5 tbsp at a push)
Instructions
  1. Cook!
  2. 1. Pour the white wine into the medium saucepan and place over a medium to high heat for about 10-15 minutes, until the wine has reduced right down to approx 50ml/quarter cup.
  3. 2. While the wine is reducing, roughly grate your blocks of cheese into a mixing bowl – if the non-cheddar is a softish cheese it might be easier to just tear it into small pieces. (Hubby says – This really can’t be too cheesey so don’t be stingy with the cheese, and if you have leftover bits of different cheddars taking up space in the fridge then mix them all in too). Sprinkle the corn flour over the grated cheeses and mix with your fingers until it’s thoroughly coated the cheese
  4. 3. Fill the large saucepan with water and place over a high heat until its boiling. Salt liberally before adding the pasta – you want to time this with When the wine looks to have reduced right down. Cook the pasta for 10 mins, or according to the packet instructions.
  5. 4. While the pasta is cooking, add the chicken stock to the wine reduction. Whisk gently and return to the boil. Once it’s bubbling away, add the grated cheese and cornflour to the wine/stock mix and stir slowly with the whisk until the cheese has melted right in. Add the Cayenne pepper too. Leave on a low heat while the pasta cooks.
  6. 5. Just before the pasta is ready, add the cream cheese to the wine/stock/cheese mixture and gently mix with the whisk until it’s all incorporated and looking like a happy cheese sauce. If the sauce doesn’t look thick enough at this point, mix a bit of cornflour with water and add to the cheese mix. A minute or two cooking should thicken the sauce nicely. Remove from heat.
  7. 6. When the pasta is ready (you’re aiming for al dente), drain, and then return the pasta to the saucepan it was cooked in. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and mix well (if a film has appeared on the cheese mix while it was off the heat just whisk it back into the sauce first). Season with black pepper and mix again, and then transfer it all to your baking dish.
  8. 7. Cover the pasta with a bit more shredded cheese and put in the oven under the grill until the cheese is melted and nicely gratinated.
Notes
  1. Also nice with a bit of shredded ham hock stirred through it if you don’t want something meatless.
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/

 

Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!

Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!

Hubby and I do not need an excuse to break out the haggis and will happily devour it in most any of its incredibly versatile size shapes or forms.  Not content with its traditional chums of neeps and tatties, I’ve tried it Chinese style in spring rolls, Indian style in samosas, Mexican style in quesedillas, poshed up in filo pastry parcels with a sweet plum sauce, deep fried out the chippie, not to mention as an unmissable part of a “full Scottish” breakfast fry up!  I’ve even recently been sent a recipe for haggis lasagne which I’m very very intrigued by… (watch this space!).  But on Burns Night it really has to be eaten traditional style, which means the ‘holy trinity’ of haggis, neeps and tatties.

So we couldn’t let Burns Night go by without honouring Rabbie with a plateful of the good stuff, and the good stuff is hands down Macsweens!  Much easier to pop into the supermarket and buy one of theirs than chasing down one of the damn beasties in the wilds yourself 😉

I won’t lie and say that the ingredients aren’t a little offputting… In fact, I had quite the fight to get Hubby to try it at all but once he did he was quite smitten and probably has it more than me these days!  And if you can eat a hot dog then you can eat haggis, and at least the offputting in haggis is quality offputting…

But once you get past what’s in it, it really is properly delicious.  All peppery and spicy with an earthy and grainy and chewy texture that I’m really not doing justice to! Just trust me and try it, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised 🙂

Back to Burns Night 2013!  Here’s the before picture…

Haggis, Neeps & Tatties | fifigoesnom

Haggis, Neeps & Tatties | fifigoesnom

 

 

 

And here’s the after picture, with a requisite shot of whisky in the glass as well as in the cream sauce (delicious recipe courtesy of The Macsween Haggis Bible).

Haggis, Neeps & Tatties | fifigoesnom

Haggis, Neeps & Tatties | fifigoesnom

 

 And the after after picture 🙂  Haggis all gone…

Haggis, Neeps & Tatties, the empty plate version | fifigoesnom

Haggis, Neeps & Tatties, the empty plate version | fifigoesnom

 

And for desert, who could resist these cute “Babbie Haggies” jelly belly beans which, much as I love Scotland’s national dish, are only haggis coloured and not haggis flavoured!

Haggis, savoury and sweet | fifigoesnom

Haggis, savoury and sweet | fifigoesnom

 

Happy Birthday, Rabbie!

Gnommy Gnocchi in a basil & tomato sauce

Gnommy Gnocchi in a basil & tomato sauce

I found this recipe yeeeeeeeeeeears ago in one of those supplements that Sainsburys magazine used to do.  There’s no date on it that I can find, but given that it talks about gnocchi being a “recent arrival on the supermarket shelves” (!!) I guess I’ve been making it for a while… 😉  I credit the recipe’s survival on my bookshelf to it being a truly wonderful comfort food dish, all carby and silky and unctuous (what a fab word!) thanks to all that oozy melted gruyere.  It’s quite rich so probably isn’t something you’ll make often, but you’ll enjoy the arse off it when you do!

Some random thoughts – Four cloves of garlic might sound a bit much, but I do think the dish needs it to balance the strong cheese, but you might want to tone it down if you’re planning on being sociable afterwards.  Speaking of strong cheese, if gruyere is too much for you then fontina or comte would make a good substitute.  And if you want to show off then you could make your own tomato sauce from scratch – Hubby does this just to put me to shame, I must “ask” him to blog it for me now that I think about it…

PS

Gnocchi in a Tomato & Basil Sauce
Serves 4
A delicious pasta dish with a silky, unctuous tomato and cheese sauce that is perfectly comforting.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
40 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 500g pack gnocchi die patate
  2. 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  3. 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  4. 4 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
  5. 30g fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
  6. 1 heaped tsp tomato puree
  7. 142ml whipping cream
  8. 100g gruyere cheese, grated
  9. olive oil
  10. salt and black pepper
Cook!
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the medium saucepan over a medium-high heat, then add the onions and sautee for about five minutes until they’re soft and the edges are browning. Add the garlic and sautee for another 2-3 minutes before adding the tomatoes (tin and puree). Season well with salt and black pepper and then pop the lid on to cover and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.
  2. Next, add the cream and about 3/4s of the basil, and give everything a good stir. Turn the heat up a little and cook for another 15 minutes, giving it a stir every now and then. No lid this time, you want the sauce to reduce and thicken slightly.
  3. About five minutes before the sauce will be done put the kettle on and pour the hot water into the large saucepan and set it over a high heat. When the water is properly boiling, salt the then place the gnocchi in the water.
  4. Put the grill on high so that it can preheat while the gnocchi cooks, which should only take a minute or two before they start bobbing up to float on top of the water, at which point scoop them out using a draining spoon and place them straight into the ovenproof dish (about 1.5 litre/2.5 pints capacity).
  5. Once all the gnocchi is in the dish, pour the tomato sauce all over them and then gently turn the gnocchi over in the sauce so that they’ve all got a good coating of the stuff. Next, sprinkle the cheese over the top before popping it under the grill to get the cheese bubbling. It should only take 2-3 minutes but leave it under for longer if you prefer your cheese brown in bits. Finally, scatter the rest of the basil over the top and serve! I can highly recommend having some crusty bread on hand to scoop up the dregs of the tomato sauce, it’s too tasty to waste 🙂
Adapted from Sainsburys Magazine
Adapted from Sainsburys Magazine
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/

 – sorry for the awful pun in the title, I just couldn’t resist 😉

 

Orange Chicken in a Chinese Stylee

Orange Chicken in a Chinese Stylee

Another great foodgawker find!  This recipe is from a blog called Picture The Recipe which is spot on because the picture of it totally lured me in.  And then I read the ingredients… I have to be honest, the idea of cooking with mayo didn’t inspire me, but this looked too good not to give it the benefit of the doubt. And I’m sure I’ve seen Hellmann’s promoting recipes that heat up mayo so I figured I’d give it a go and trust in the blog.

 

Don’t let the mayo put you off, there was not a clean plate in the house!!  It was quite rich but a little sauce goes a long way, which is just as well because this isn’t a dish that comes with loads of jup.  Next time I’ll serve it with some stir fried brocolli, or bak choi, the green will really temper that richness the mayo brings.  The other thing that really recommends this is how easy it was to put together, the whole egg wash flouring thing really sounds more flaff than it actually is.  And baking the chicken still gives you that lovely velvetting texture from the egg/flour coating but in a much more healthy way than frying it.   I’m off now to check out the other recipes on that blog 🙂

Orange Chicken in a Chinese Stylee
Mayo is the surprise ingredient in this delicious asian inspired orange chicken.
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Stuff you’ll need for the chicken…
  1. 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 1 cup plain flour
  4. 2 tsp garlic salt
  5. 1/2 tsp hot sauce (Sirachi or Tobasco)
  6. 1/2 tsp black pepper
Stuff you’ll need for the sauce…
  1. Zest of 1 orange
  2. 1/2 cup orange juice
  3. 1/2 cup of mayonnaise (trust me, this works!)
  4. 5 tbsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
  5. Salt for seasoning
  6. Chives or spring onions for garnish
  7. Boiled rice
Cook!
  1. Get your rice on an pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F.
  2. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, hot sauce and 1 tsp of the garlic salt. Add the chicken to the egg mix and stir well so that every piece is coated.
  3. In a medium sized shallowish bowl mix together the flour, the other 1 tsp of garlic salt and the pepper.
  4. This is where I snap on the CSI vinyl gloves! Take 3 or 4 pieces of the eggy chicken and roll them around the seasoned flour until they’re coated all over. Space them out on a baking sheet.
  5. Pop in the oven and bake for 15 minutes which should cook the pieces through.
  6. While the chicken is cooking get the sauce ready by mixing together the mayonnaise, orange juice, orange zest, sweet chilli sauce and salt to season. It won’t look pretty at first (understatement!), all lumpy and sort of curdled, but once you get whisking those lumps should disappear, although you might need to persevere a bit to get rid of all of them.
  7. Pour the sauce into a wok, or similar sized pan, and set aside until the chicken is cooked. The chicken pieces will still look quite floury in places but don’t worry, we have plans for that flour later! Then, change your setting from oven to grill and put the chicken pieces under for about 5 minutes, or until there are some lovely brown bits on the chicken.
  8. While you’re grilling the chicken pieces, put the sauce on a medium-high heat until it’s gently boiling and then turn it down to simmer. When the chicken is ready to come out from under the grill, put the pieces into the sauce and coat well. The floury bits of the chicken will come loose and thicken the sauce, which should start to look glossy.
  9. Give it a couple of minutes and once you’re happy with the thickness of the sauce add some snipped chives, mix through, plate up, scatter a few more snipped chives on top for show, and serve!
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/