Posted in Comfort Food, Quick Eats, Vegetarian

Spinach and Mascarpone Pasta

For those of you London foodies who have been to Flour and Grape in Bermondsey, it is likely you will relate when I say their Spinach & Mascarpone pasta dish is out of this world. It’s proof that the best dishes are the simplest. And whilst we’re in lockdown and unable to get our hands on it – I thought I’d share the recipe for my version. Ever since we visited their restaurant at the beginning of the year I’ve been desperately trying to recreate the dish and whilst it will never quite live up to their standards, it really does hit the spot.

Before lockdown, this became a weekday evening staple for us – it can be ready in less than 10 minutes with very little effort, limited washing up and usually leftovers for lunch the next day. That to me, is perfect in itself. Using frozen spinach also means it’s a great one to make last minute – it’s our go to when one of us is unexpectedly stuck at work late.

Serves 2 with leftovers

Ingredients:

500g fresh pappardelle

12 cubes of frozen chopped spinach

2 cloves of garlic (peeled & finely sliced)

1/2 tsp nutmeg

500g mascarpone

Squeeze of lemon juice

Lots of s&p

Garlic bread – not essential but highly recommended, preferably with cheese

Method:

  1. To start put the spinach in a microwaveable bowl and give a quick zap in the microwave for 2 minutes.
  2. Then, heat a little olive oil in a pan and fry the garlic for a couple of minutes and then add the spinach to the pan
  3. Add in the nutmeg and season with s&p
  4. Boil your pasta in salted boiling water as per instructions on the pack
  5. Add the mascarpone to the spinach and leave to simmer on a low heat
  6. Drain your pasta and add to the spinach (set aside some pasta water in case you need it later – it’ll help the sauce combine with the pasta) and stir through some parmesan and squeeze of lemon!
  7. Serve with another sprinkling of parmesan and touch of nutmeg!

How quick & easy was that?!

Posted in Comfort Food, Pork, Sunday roasts

Roast Pork Belly

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Pork Belly is underrated. If you go out for a Sunday roast, it’s usually the cheapest option on the menu but I personally think it makes THE BEST Sunday roast. I mean, look at that crackling.

You’ll need a few hours of patience, but the end result; pork that falls apart, crispy crackling and gravy that is out of this world.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

500gish Pork Belly Joint

400ml chicken stock

1 onion halved

3 celery sticks chopped into large chunks

Bunch of fresh herbs – I use sage, thyme & rosemary

Generous serving of salt & pepper

Drizzle of olive oil

Method:

1) Start with the pork – ideally you want to leave it uncovered in the fridge overnight to help dry out the skin. Too much moisture & you won’t get the crispy crackling you’re dreaming of!

2) About an hour before you’re ready to cook it, remove from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Give the skin a generous coating of salt & if your butcher hasn’t already score the pork skin (be careful not to slice down into the meat). At this stage, the salt should help draw out any remaining moisture.

3) Pre-heat the oven to 230 degrees C & then get the pork ready. Using a piece of kitchen towel pat the pork skin to try and remove any moisture and excess salt & add some pepper.

4) Lay the pork in a baking tray (it’ll need to be able to withstand a HIGH heat in the oven – I’ve done this before with a very cheap tray and non-stick completely peeled off!), on top of the onions, celery and herbs. Give the skin a small (I mean small!) drizzle of oil and pop in the oven for 45 minutes.

5) Then, lower the oven to 160 degrees & pour in the stock around the pork (be careful to not get any on the pork skin – it needs to sit just below) and leave to tenderise for 2 1/2 hours!

6) When the times up – remove the meat from the pan and leave to rest. Depending on your hob, place the tray on the hob and add water (if not, you can try and scrap as much out into a separate pan) – the flavour is in all those sticky bits of the pan so make sure you try and get all of it! Leave to reduce for 10 mins – if still watery you can add a tsp of flour / gravy granules. Drain and you’re ready!

7) To serve the pork, I simply cut it half (maybe we’re greedy having half the pork joint each but it’s too good not to be greedy…), serve with crispy roasties, Yorkshire puddings and veg!

Posted in Comfort Food, Fakeaways, Pork

Sticky Crispy Pork Belly

Pork belly is one of the most underrated cuts of meat. It’s cheap. It’s versatile. And it’s super tasty. What’s not to love? When cooked right, pork belly is INSANE! And in my opinion, this is one of the best ways to cook it. I serve it with egg fried rice and stir fried greens, but we’ve also had it in bao buns and with noodles. I might be bias, but this is brilliant.

This one needs a little bit of love and time – but honestly it’s worth it! Once you’ve bought all the ingredients for the sauce you’re good to go again, and again and again. And I assure you, you’ll be back for seconds.

Ingredients:

500g pork belly strips

3 cloves of garlic

2 inches of ginger (peeled)

5 spring onions

1 red chilli

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp rice vinegar

1 tsp Chinese five spice

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tsp of sesame seeds

Method:

  1. Start by slicing the pork into 1 inch chunks. Crush the garlic cloves with a knife and add to a pan of boiling water, roughly chop the ginger and two spring onions into large chunks and also add in, along with the chilli, whole. Once boiling, add in the pork and leave to poach for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the pork, keeping the poaching liquid, ginger, garlic, spring onions and chilli and set aside. Leave the pork for a few minutes to dry whilst heating up some oil in a pan (go easy on the oil, the pork will release fat as it cooks and using too much will give your sauce an oily layer later on).
  3. Fry the pork chunks until crispy all over – at this stage, you want to render down all the fat. Keep turning the pork to ensure all of it goes crispy! Be careful at this stage – it’ll splatter a LOT.
  4. Once crispy turn down the heat slightly, add in the sugar and stir through ensuring it coats all the pork and leave to caramelise for a couple of minutes
  5. Mix together the soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, five spice & sesame oil and then add to the pork. Add back in the chilli, garlic, ginger and spring onions and ladle in 1-2 spoons of the poaching liquid. The pork needs to be just covered.
  6. Leave to simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until reduced
  7. When almost ready – remove the chilli, garlic, spring onion and ginger and slice up the remaining spring onion – add half in now
  8. When ready, serve topped with spring onion and sesame seeds!
Posted in Beef, Comfort Food, Fakeaways

Beef Massaman Curry

Another takeaway favourite. I LOVE Massaman curry & for me it always has to be slow cooked beef. I love the way the the meat ends up falling apart and the potatoes absorb all that yummy flavour. Lovely and creamy, you can control the spice depending on your taste and even if you’re not a fan of chilli, it’s still packed with flavour!

This is a perfect Friday night dinner for us – super simple to make; all it needs is a nice low slow cook and a little patience and then BAM. Who needs a takeaway when you can cook something this great at home?

Ingredients:

4 tbsp Massaman Curry Paste – (you can find a pretty tasty paste in the supermarket which will work a treat but it’s also quick to make your own!)

1kg Beef Shin diced

500g white potatoes (sliced into big chunks, skin left on)

3 Kaffir Lime leaves

400ml beef stock 

1 piece of Cinnamon Bark 

1 tin of coconut milk 

1tsp of brown sugar 

2 tbsp of tamarind paste 

2 carrots (peeled and sliced)

Juice of 1 lime 

2 tbsp Cornflour

Method:

  1. Start by coating the beef shin in cornflour and fry in a little oil until browned 

2. Coat the beef in the curry paste and add in the sugar, cinnamon, tamarind and bay leaves. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add in the coconut milk & beef stock

3. Bring up to the boil and then turn down to simmer for a minimum of 2 hours, but the longer you can leave it for, the better!

4. 45 mins before you’re ready to eat, add in the potatoes, carrots and lime juice and leave on a steady heat until the potatoes are cooked through & you’re done! 

5. Serve with rice / noodles and enjoy!!

Simple. As. That.

Posted in Chicken, Comfort Food, Fakeaways

Chicken Satay

Looking for a weekend treat without reaching for the takeout menus? This will hit the spot! Whenever we get a Thai or Chinese takeaway, Mike ALWAYS insists on getting the sharing platter as a starter – just for the satay. And being truthful, I’ve never been big fan – don’t kill me for admitting this, but I actually HATE peanut butter. I’m pretty strange, right?

So it’s strange that this has become on of my favourite dishes! If that’s not proof that it’s bloody tasty, then I don’t know what is!

The best bit? It’s super easy! The marinade takes 5 minutes and then it’s in the fridge overnight to suck up all those flavours, then when you’re ready, it’s under the grill for 20mins whilst you whip up the sauce and that’s it! So why not give it a go instead of reaching for that takeaway menu?

Serves 2 (3 if you’re not greedy like us!)

Ingredients:

For the marinade:

1/2 tin of coconut milk

2 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp ginger paste

1 1.2 tsp garlic

1 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

500g mini chicken fillets / sliced chicken breasts

For the dipping sauce:

3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter

1 clove of garlic

1 inch chunk of ginger (peeled)

2 tbsp light soy sauce

Juice of a lime

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp ground coriander

1 small red chilli

1 tsp honey

1 tsp sesame oil

1/3 – 1/2 tin coconut milk depending on preference

To serve:

Sliced red chilli, cucumber, crushed peanuts, fresh coriander

Method:

  1. Start by making the marinade – mix together all the ingredients in one bowl before adding the chicken and covering well. Clingfilm and pop in the fridge to marinade. (Ideally overnight for maximum flavour, but for as long as you can spare!)
  2. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, get your skewers at the ready (if you’re using wooden skewers you’ll need to soak them in water for 20ish minutes to stop them burning!), pre-heat the grill to 200C and get your grill try at the ready; I’m a sucker for anything that minimises the clearing up time so always cover mine in tin foil. Then, pop the chicken on the skewers. I go for two on each and thread them through, trying to keep the skewer centred in the middle of the fillet to help them cook evenly.
  3. Then, pop them under the grill for 20-25mins – turning occasionally. Make sure they’re fully cooked through, and juices run clear! (My favourite cooking utensil is my meat thermometer!)
  4. Whilst they’re cooking you can put together the sauce – start by making a paste with the chilli, garlic & ginger – I use a pestle and mortar but you can use a blender or chop finely!
  5. Then mix in the remaining ingredients & you’re done! I usually start with 1/3 tin of coconut milk and then add more depending on flavour – it really depends how strong you like the peanut flavour!
  6. Pop the sauce in a bowl, take the chicken off the grill and top with fresh coriander, chilli and crushed peanuts and a side of cucumber!

This is great as a side or starter – but also great with stir fried noodles or egg fried rice!

We always have lots of sauce left over and tend to use it for Crispy Chicken Satay Burgers – YUM!! Recipe coming soon!!

ENJOY!! xoxox