Buttery bacon & basil gnocchi

Sometimes you just gotta eat bacon in a buttery form. I’m sure there are scientific studies out there that link bacon directly to happiness. Gnocchi is quick and easy to cook especially on a school night. 

  • One packet of gnocchi
  • Chopped up garlic clove
  • A few rashers of bacon
  • Chopped up mushrooms
  • Sweet tomatoes (I used Sugardrop)
  • Lots of basil leaves
  • Olive oil 
  • Parmasan 

Cook off the bacon , mushrooms and tomatoes in a little oil. Add the chopped garlic until cooked (careful not to burn it!). Boil the gnocchi in salted water until it starts to float to the top of the pan and drain. Mix the gnocchi together with the cooked off ingredients then stir some basil, oil and Parmesan. Season and eat! Feel free to add a good knob of butter to make it extra tasty. By god I love gnocchi. Gnocchi is easy to make as well, I think I’ll leave that for a weekend activity…. 


Pasta con pancetta

Ever in the mood for fusilli ? Well this meal is a quick one with bags of flavour. I pan fried the following ingredients together whilst the pasta was boiling away.

  • 1 chopped up garlic clove
  • Handful of mushrooms
  • Half a courgette
  • 3 rashers of chopped pancetta 
  • A few ripe tomatoes

After the pasta had boiled and still had a good bite, I stirred the drained pasta into all of the vegetables and mixed in some Parmesan and chopped up fresh coriander leaves. Drizzle of olive oil and black pepper & finito! Un delizioso pranzo. The trick to good Italian food is having is only using a few ingredients that have bold flavours.

Pancetta pizza!

It’s been a while since I made pizza but the results were awesome tonight. I turned up my oven to 300 degrees and got cracking! 

  • 250g strong bread flour
  • 1 yeast sachet
  • Good pinch of salt
  • Tsp sugar
  • 150-200ml warm water 

I mixed the above ingredients together and let it rise in a warm place for 25 minutes. I rolled it dead thin (the dough makes two pizzas and a batch of dough balls) onto semolina covered worktop. I made a sweet tomato base from fresh yellow and red tomatoes. Yum! Dead easy, boil some water and soak the tomatoes in it for a few minutes and peel off the skin. Chuck them in a pan chopped up with some oil and garlic. Reduce down until it looks thicker and sweeten with sugar if needed. I plopped the sauce on, mozzarella, capers and pancetta. Bake in the oven for about five minutes and sprinkle with rocket and basil leaves. Done! Took no time at all.

Pizza needs good wine. FACT!

Fruity beef tagine

Tagines are so easy, you chop everything up, pop it in oven and forget about it for a few hours. The secret to making a good tagine is time and sultanas. My tagine was full of :

  • 1 can of green lentils
  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 diced red onion
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 red chilli left whole with a slit in it
  • Big handful of sultanas
  • Chopped fresh mint and flat leaf parsley
  • 1 small potato
  • Beef strips
  • Shake of cinnamon & nutmeg
  • Seasoning 

Always put your tagine into the oven whilst it’s cold so the pot doesn’t crack. I cooked the tagine on a low heat for 3 hours. I gave it a good mix every hour or so. The tagine is ready when all the ingredients have reduced down into a sweet stew and the meat is all tender and lovely.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and pomegranate seeds to finish. NOM! Best served with tabouleh.

Peanut & prawn noodles

This prawny dish is delicious and puts me in an excellent mood when I make it. It’s very simple. Enjoy!

  • Blitz together a red chilli, garlic, a dash of fish sauce, a big blob of peanut butter, some sugar and a good bunch of fresh coriander 
  • Cook off some sliced courgettes, edamame (from frozen) and carrot slices stir-fry style in a little oil 
  • Cook a portion of rice noodles and add to the vegetables with the blitzed sauce
  • Add a packet of cooked prawns
  • Crack an an egg into the mixture until the sauce thickens 
  • Sprinkle some black sesame seeds and sesame oil on top

Griddled tuna & salad

Fancy a fishy steak? Then tuna may be the answer.. I lightly drizzled the steak in a little olive oil and pepper and griddled it for. a few minutes. I like it pink inside so I took it off the heat quite quickly. If you push the steak around the pan you don’t get nice lines on it. Be patient! 

I chopped up a rough salad of cucumber, radishes, yellow pepper, parsley and fennel. I mixed it with some boiled multigrain mix which had buckwheat, rice and all those sorts of things in it. Squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of oil and NOM! Pop the tuna on and a wonderful dinner was born in less than twenty minutes. 

Chilli & ginger bean burger 

Want to give meat a miss for the night? Why not try making delicious bean burgers. They’re cheap to make and great to serve with salad, wedges or whatever really! I’ve chosen to make a warm salad made from Spring greens, beetroot, radishes and figs. I think the best way to make an exciting salad is to ditch the ice berg lettuce and use interesting leaves, lots of seasoning and good olive oil. 

Here’s my bean burger recipe:

  • 1 can butter beans
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • Bunch of chopped parsley and mint 
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1 puréed red chilli 
  • Stub of ginger puréed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 spring onions chopped
  • 1 egg

Basically you mash all of the above together and then shape them into burgers. Dip them in egg and roll them in bread crumbs. Shallow fry in a pan until golden brown and pop them in a warm oven to stay hot whilst you can prepare the rest of the dinner. 

Interested in making an awesome salad? Here you go…

  • Lots of Spring greens chopped finely
  • 2 figs
  • Handful of mini beetroots
  • Bunch of chopped parsley 
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning
  • Handful of radishes
  • Handful of Spring onions

Sauté the Spring greens lightly until dark green and then add the other ingredients once taken off the heat. Drizzle with oil and seasoning. 

Pop your burgers on top and enjoy all that fibre. NOM!!! 

Bacon & broccoli quiche

For the pastry :

  • 8 0z plain flour
  • 5oz unsalted butter
  • 2-3 tbsp water

For the filling:

  • Handful of chopped up broccoli
  • Packet of bacon chopped up
  • 50ml double cream
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • Splash of milk
  • 1 big chopped onion 
  • Chunk of mature cheddar cheese grated 
  • Salt and pepper

Making quiche is dead easy and much nicer than the soggy supermarket bought ones. They’re a bit like scotch eggs really, better home made!

Rub the butter into the pastry to make breadcrumbs and then mix in the water until it forms a coherent pastry dough. Chill in the fridge.

Sweat off the onion and bacon until caramelised and then add the broccoli. Take off the heat when the broccoli turns bright green.

Roll out the chilled pastry and blind bake on gas mark 4 for 10 minutes. Fill the pastry case with the onions, broccoli and bacon. Sprinkle lots of cheese over the filling. Make the egg mixture by beating the eggs, milk and cream together, season and then pour over the quiche filling. Pop in the oven for half an hour until the filling doesn’t wobble when gently shaken. Best served hot from the oven!

Sausage & carrot mess

This is one of my all time favourite pasta dishes that my boyfriend taught me to make in my first year at university. It’s dead simple and takes half an hour.

  • Chop an onion and fry off in a little oil
  • Take a pack of sausages and remove the meat from the skins
  • Add sausage meat to the onions
  • Cook the sausage meat through
  • Grate two large carrots and add to the pan
  • Add a tin of tomatoes, some fresh parsley, a sprinkle of sugar and some Italian herb mix
  • Simmer for 10 minutes 
  • Get some spaghetti on the boil and cook al dente 
  • Dish up together, add fresh parsley and some cheese if you desire

I usually make this with tagliatelle but spaghetti works nicely too. I have made this with packaged sausage meat and it was quite fatty so I tend to think it’s worth getting messy peeling the sausages!

Roasted chestnut & mushroom lasagne

Tonight I put some festive nuts into my dinner. To make this delight you….

  • Roast off some chestnuts in the oven (220°C for 20 minutes)
  • Peel the chestnuts and put them to one side (this takes ages by the way so put some tunes on)
  • Sauté some garlic with some groundnut oil and mix in a handful of chopped parsley
  • Add the peeled chestnuts
  • Boil some lasagne sheets in a large pan until almost cooked-this can be tricky as they tend to stick together
  • Pour some double cream into the mushrooms and chestnuts. Cook through for a few minutes and season to taste
  • Layer the pasta sheets and mixture in a dish. Grate some mature cheese on top (I used grana padana)
  • Cook in the oven at 180°C for 20 minutes
  • Serve with chopped up basil & parsley and add some sweet chopped tomatoes 

It’s nice sometimes to have a change from your usual meaty lasagne .