Eight Bells

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Chicken Caesar Salad

Serves three. Why? So I can have it again the next day for lunch of course.

1 large skinless chicken breast, sliced
Marinade (any soy based chicken marinade will do)
1 Cos lettuce
6-8 rashers of bacon, chopped into 2-3cm squares
Anchovies (optional)
Parmesan cheese, finely sliced with a potato peeler
2 eggs
Croutons (we used thinly sliced baguette toasted in the oven)
Caesar salad dressing

Slice the chicken and marinate for an hour before starting to prepare the salad.
Cook and lightly brown the chicken in 2 batches in a hot pan with a little oil. At the same time fry the bacon till almost crisp.
When you are ready to eat poach your eggs and assemble.
We gave the anchovies a miss on this one although I did add some for my lunch the next day. With the bacon and the chicken there is a little too much going on for anchovies as well.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Somethings Fishy

We're incredibly lucky in New Zealand when it comes to fish and shellfish. Because everyone is so close to the coast no matter where you are in the country it is very easy to find great seafood, it's just everywhere. We usually bring a few fishy items back from our trips to Coromandel and The Coromandel Smoking Company has some great smoked fish and shellfish. We bought smoked mussels from them. We had also bought some smoked salmon and some scallop paté at the Whitianga Scallop Festival. Tonights dinner is just a tasting platter of all of these really. Julia did some fresh mussels au gratin to go with the platter and we cut up a fresh baguette for the paté. Sour cream and limes make up the rest of the dish.

Baked Spuds With Chili

This is one of my faourite meals and a great one for winter. I can't remember if I've written this up before (I really need some sort of blog search function) so I'll just go ahead and give you the recipe. This will serve four.

4 large potatotes
1 large onion, diced
350g of minced beef
1 can of chili beans
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 packet of Old El Paso Chili seasoning
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh Italian flat leafed parsely, chopped
Black pepper and fresh red chili if you are feeling brave


Put the potatoes in the oven at 160C two hours before you want to eat, make sure to pierce the skins. I use a thin stainless steel wire, about 1mm thick and stab them all over.
1 hour after the potatoes have gone in, start to make your sauce. Cook the onions in a little oil until soft and translucent. Add the tomato paste mix in and cook for about two minutes then add the mince and brown well. When the mince is well browned add the chili seasoning (and the pepper and fresh chili if you wish) and mix it well into the mince. Then add the other ingredients and a little water if necessary, put on the pan lid and simmer very slowly strirring occasionally. After 40 mmins take the lid off so that the sauce can reduce a little and thicken up. Taste the sauce and adjust flavours to suit. Check the spuds and turn them up to 180C if not quite ready. Once sauce and potatoes are ready split the potatoes and put on grated cheese then the meat sauce and then a spoonful of lite sour cream. Serve with coleslaw. It's even better as leftovers the next day.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Whitianga Scallop Festival

Julia and I took a trip up to Coromandel for the weekend to stay with the geezer and the mum-in-law and then over to Whitianga for the annual scallop festival.
As you can imagine there were all kinds of scallop related happenings and food items (scallop sausages, who would have thougt) and a merry old time was had by all. It's always interesting seeing what access to vast quantities of alcohol at 10am in the morning does to a crowd of around 6000. We decided to leave before the 'fun' really started but by about 1pm we had seen everything and tasted most of the food that we really wanted to (the scallop sausages were fantastic). It's a great event and we would return though the venue was too small for the crowd numbers and the marquees to close together. By midday it was getting more than a little claustrophobic.
One of the highlights was definately the scallop band. The music was awful but the enthusiasm and the stamina of the band members was amazing (the temperature in their costumes would have been pretty hard to handle). Here is a short video of them in all their scallopy glory.

Scallop Band

This is a New Zealand 'delicay' Kina (maori) or sea urchins, personally I can't stand the stuff but some people swear by it. The parts that are eaten are the creamy brown bits running down the sides of the shell. Seriously if our alien overlord creators had meant us to eat the stuff would they have made it look like that? I think not.

And now a lot of very cool cars

First person to get all the car makes and models wins a life time supply of Kina.

Eventually I managed to tear Julia away from the cars and it was off back to Coromandel for a spa and a well deserved Carlsberg mmmmm those Danes make a good brew.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Can you say delicious? You have to make this as soon as possible.

1 small salmon fillet per person, around 120g
1/4 of a cup of maple syrup

Marinade the salmon in the maple syrup for an hour before cooking.

240g of soba noodles (4 sticks of noodles)

Cook noodles in boiling water for 5 mins, drain and then run under cold water till cool. Drain and set aside.

100g of mixed mushrooms, Shiitake, Phoenix Tail, Wood Ear and HoneyComb. You can buy ready made packets from Asian supermarkets or specialty shops.
1 large shallot, chopped
1 teaspoon of butter

Cook the chopped shallot in the butter until translucent, add the mushrooms and cook gently.

5 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of lemon infused oilve oil
The juice of a lime
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of runny honey

Mix together in a bowl.

1 100g packet of seasoned seaweed, defrosted. Freezer section in the Asian supermarket.

Mix sauce, seaweed and noodles together in a large bowl. Cook salmon in a hot pan with a little oil. Serve the noodles with salmon, mushrooms and steamed bok choy & oyster sauce.

Potatoes By Request

Especially for Kate here is the scalloped potato recipe and you are right we do try to make it as fat free as possible without losing any flavour.

Scalloped Potatoes
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/4 of a cup of cream/light cream
1 cup of grated cheese
Salt & white pepper

Very finely slice your potatoes, enough for whatever oven dish you are cooking them in. By finely sliced I mean about 3-4mm.
Heat your milk and cream in a pan to a simmer
Put a layer of potatoes in the dish and sprinkle on a third of the cheese and lightly season with salt and pepper and a little nutmeg.
Repeat and once the dish is full pour over hot milk/cream mixture and then the remaining cheese.
Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 190C. Remove foil after 40 mins and turn down to 170C. Continue cooking until golden brown and all liquid has been absorbed. Stand for 10 mins before serving.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


This is the organic free range Cumberland sausage from Soggy Bottom Holdings again, leftover scalloped spuds from last night and greenery. We baked the sausage in the oven for about an hour on 160C. Drain the fat from the oven tray half way through.

Duck Leftovers

Not very exciting tonight just the leftover duck, scalloped potatoes and beans.

New Toy

I can't wait to use this thing. It runs on butane and holds enough for 60 mins torching time. It's the 'I don't really need it but it's too cool not to buy' kitchen appliance.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cheese and Quackers

Oh man that's gold right there, ell oh ell.
I am continuing on in the French theme tonight not because we are eating French food every night but because I didn't finish the last post and last night we had burgers (and you've seen plenty of those already). Oh and by the way I'm going metric. Those of you who live in the olden days will just have to convert the measurements and temperatures (and if I call something a capsicum or a courgette you're just going to have to figure it out yourself).
The two recipes below would suit a dinner for four.

Cheese Souffles
30 grams of butter
2 tablespoons of plain flour
4 eggs, separated
150 grams of Gruyere, grated

Melt butter in a saucepan over a medium-low heat, add flour and mix. Cook stirring continuously for 2-3 minutes or until golden. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the milk. Add egg yolks one at a time, stirring after each addition and then stir in the Gruyere.
In a large bowl whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, add one third of the cheese mixture and fold to combine then fold through the remaining cheese mixture.
Spoon into 4-6 buttered and floured ramekins and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20 mins or until golden and puffed. Serve immediately.

Duck with Cherries
1 tablespoon of butter
4 pieces of duck (we used 2 breasts and 2 legs)
125ml/1/2 a cup of light bodied red wine (we used Kim Crawford Pinot Noir mainly so we could drink the lovely stuff during the cooking)
500 grams of whole cherries (you can use tinned or bottled cherries just make sure you drain them)
1 1/2 tablespoon of cornflour

Melt the butter in a large casserole dish over medium heat, add duck and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until well browned. Add wine and season with salt & freshly ground black pepper. Cover and simmer over a very low heat for 1 hour. Skim excess fat off, add cherries, cover and cook for another 30 mins.
Combine the cornflour with 1 teaspoon of water and mix till smooth. Remove duck and cherries from the pan then bring the juices to the boil over medium heat and add the cornflour. Whisk continuously for about a minute or until thickened. Strain.
Divide the duck and cherries on your plates, spoon the sauce over and serve with steamed asparagus.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Our planned French themed dinner party is now not far off and tonight we are cooking two or three recipes to see if we like them enough to include them and also for a little practice.

There are a few ways to serve snails and often we see them served in their own shells on television and in movies. When I lived in London my local was a french bar and restaurant called 'Jean de Florette' in Shepherds Bush (Hi Matthew and Valerie thanks for putting up with my bad behaviour). The French chef there preferred to serve them without shells in a small dish in what seemed to be a white wine, onion and stock gravy. I don't know his recipe but I have tried to come up with something similar. The first attempt tonight turned out pretty well and the snails were very tender and the dish well flavoured. I may make adjustments the next time but this recipe works well. This is to serve 2 and takes about 1 hour and 20 mins.

2 dozen snails, drained (buy them in a can from your local French shop, in Hamilton you will find them at La Cave)
4 whole anchovies (not the very salted filleted anchovies we are used to, again they are available at La Cave)
3 shallots, very finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh flat leafed parsely, chopped
1/4 of a cup of beef stock
1/4 of a cup of white wine
Salt & pepper
2 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of flour

Put a small frying pan on to a medium heat, add the butter, shallots and garlic. Cook until soft and translucent. Add the anchovies and mash with a fork and cook until incorporated into the onion and butter (1 or 2 minutes). Add the rest of the ingredients except the flour and simmer very slowly for 30 minutes, add a little more stock if the sauce reduces to quickly (you want the snails to cook for at least 1 hour). After 45 mins taste and adjust flavour with salt and freshly ground black pepper. After an hour thicken the sauce by adding the flour and fully incorporating it into your sauce. Cook until you have the right consistency and serve in small bowls.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Tomato Sauce With Fish And Chips

Another Friday night 'can't be arsed' meal. These are Weight Watchers oven chips (yes there really is such a thing) which are the best oven chips we have tasted, Sealord light dory fillets, and lettuce, tomato and red capsicum salad. The only thing I actually made was a vinaigrette for the salad.

1 tablespoon of extra virgin oilve oil
1/2 a tablespoon of raspberry vinegar
A little minced garlic

Shake and serve (finely chopped fresh thyme is a great addition to this vinaigrette).

Rigatoni and Meat Sauce

Rigatoni is one of the most versatile pastas you can cook with and the dried pasta should be a staple in any pantry.
While many people would call this a bolognese sauce, it is not. Bolognese sauce has far less tomato in it (sometimes none at all). What we in New Zealand often refer to as bolognese is really just a tomato based meat sauce like this one. The following will make enough sauce for 5-6 servings.

2 tins of tomatoes
1 small tin of tomato paste
White wine
400g/14 OZ of minced beef
1 medium sized onion, diced
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 can of water (tomato can)
1 red capsicum (bell pepper) diced
1/2 a packet of frozen spinach
8 mushrooms chopped into large chunks
1 heaped teaspoon each of thyme, basil, oregano and parsely
Salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of chicken stock powder

Heat the oil in a large deep saucepan. Cook the onion till soft and then the mince till well browned. Add mushrooms and capsicum and cook till the liquid comes out of the mushrooms. Add a 1/3 of a cup of water or white wine at this stage to deglaze the base of the pan and stir.
Add the rest of the ingredients except the salt & pepper. Cook for 20 minutes or so then taste. Add salt & pepper and continue to simmer for 40 mins stirring occasionally until you have the desired depth of flavour and consistency (adding chicken stock if required).
Serve with rigatoni and fresh grated parmesan cheese.
There is no garlic in this particular recipe but feel free to add a little or a lot. This sauce is great frozen and served later so don't worry if you have leftovers.


There is probably no meal more 'kiwi' than the lamb roast. It is a dish that is really at the heart of New Zealand life. It doesn't matter where you are from or how much money you have in the bank, this meal crosses all social boundaries. It is forever tied up with sport, hard work and family life and it doesn't matter who you are, if you live in New Zealand you have probably (definately) sat down to a few of these. What can I say? I love it.

Here are the basic ingredients
Lamb, this was a tunnel boned leg of lamb
Mint sauce
Kumara, a kind of sweet potato
Something green

Cauliflower Puree Is The New Mashed Potatoes

Ok so that was a lot of pie and there are only two of us, you were definately going to see it again. Pie and mash is a pretty good combo but this is no ordinary mashed potatoes. It's something you have seen before but it's so good here is the recipe again.

Cauliflower Puree
Take half a cauliflower and 3 potatoes.
Cut the cauliflower up into pieces and do the same with the peeled potatoes.
Boil potatoes and cauliflower together in unsalted water until soft.
Heat 1/2 a cup of low fat cream in a pan (no need to even bring it to a simmer, just heat it).
When ready to serve the meal, drain the cauliflower and potatoes and mash finely or pass through a potato ricer (this will cool the puree down somewhat though). Add hot cream and plenty of ground sea salt and white pepper.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


New Zealand's meat pie tradition seems to be second to no other country in the world. We have even progressed to the dizzying realms of the 'pie sandwich' which is a meat pie in between two slices of thick white toast bread, carbohydrates anyone?! This pie is a beauty and should serve at least 6 unless you have a couple of kiwis at your place for dinner and then all bets are off. Just make sure you have plenty of Watties tomato sauce and cold beer and you'll never get rid of them. Warning this is a man sized pie you will need a large pie dish.

Supermarket pie pastry in sheets (usually bought frozen and then defrosted)
700g/1 1/2 lbs of steak, blade, rump etc cut into cubes 1-2cm big
350g/12 OZ of minced beef
1 large onion diced
1 425g tin of mushrooms in butter sauce
3 220g tins of mushrooms in brine, drained and brine reserved
1 250g box of real chicken gravy
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried parsely
4 teaspoons of cornflour mixed with 2 tablespoons of the mushroom brine
Lots of freshly ground black pepper and salt if required

Heat oil in a large pan and brown the meat well. Add onion and when cooked add the mushrooms and gravy and mix. Add herbs, tomato paste and worcestershire sauce. Let simmer for 5 minutes and add lots of black pepper and salt if necessary. Add cornflour mixture and let the mixture cook and thicken for 20-30 mins or until ready to go into the pie crust (the mix musn't be too wet when it goes in).
Pour filling into a large pie dish that has been greased and lined with pastry. Top with more pastry for the lid, apply egg wash and decorate with whatever pastry cutter shapes you have (mini gingerbread men in this case). Make 3 slits in the pastry to allow steam to vent. Bake in a preheated oven at 200C/390F for 30-40 mins. If the top browns too quickly place a sheet of tin foil over the pie. Stand for 10 miutes before serving. Oh man, I know I've said it before about previous dishes but seriously I could eat this a couple of times a week.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Chicken Parmigiana and Garlic Bread

Fot the garlic bread simply choose a good loaf, this is sour dough (please don't make it with a baguette, ugghhh). Mix 2/3 of a cup of butter or olivio with 5 cloves of garlic (minced not chopped) and a little chopped fresh parsely and chopped fresh chives. Slice the loaf to about 1-2 cm from the bottom and slather (gotta love that word) your butter/garlic mixture generously between the slices. Wrap the loaf in foil and put in a preheated oven at about 160C/320F for about 20 mins.

The parmgiana is a repeat so here is the link

Chicken Parmigiana

This is what it looks like after it's been savaged by four ravenous parmigiana lovers.

Steak Salad

Beef eye fillet steak
Artichoke hearts
Salad leaves

Oven roast your tomatoes, capsicum and artichoke hearts for an hour with a little olive oil and black pepper sprinkled over them.
Cook your steak rare (or whatever you prefer) and rest before slicing.
Serve with salad leaves, avacado and a little balsamic based dressing.

Pork Chops

Pork Chops
Apple sauce

All I'm going to say is yum.


I'm going to really go out on a limb here and say that you're not going to need a recipe for this one.


This will serve at least 4

500g of beef mince
Lasagne sheets
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1/2 a cup of white wine
4 large field mushrooms and 4-5 button mushrooms sliced
1 bag of frozen spinach
Cheese sauce
Salt & pepper

In a large pot or frying pan cook your onions in a little oil till soft, add the garlic and cook for a further 2-3 mins. Add tomato paste and cook for a further 3-4 mins until the tomato paste has reduced and darkened slightly. Add the mince and brown well driving off the moisture and then add white wine which will deglaze the pan. Cook again until wine has cooked off.
While you are doing this cook your mushrooms in butter until they have given up most of their moisture and you have cooked it off. Add to the mince along with the tomatoes and salt to taste and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Cook until your sauce has the desired consistency, you don't want it to be to wet for lasagne.
Make you cheese sauce, either your own bechamel or in this case just packet stuff from the supermarket.

Spread half of the meat sauce on the bottom of a large ovenproof dish followed by half of the frozen spinach and a layer of lasagne sheets. On this spread about a cup of cheese sauce and sprinkle a little grated cheese over. Repeat with the rest of the meat sauce, spinach, pasta sheets and cheese sauce. Cover loosely with foil and put in a preheated oven at 180C/355F for approximately 1 hour. Check the lasagne after 30 mins and ensure the top layer of pasta still has liquid on it. Take the foil off about 10 mins before removing from the oven and once removed leave to rest for 15 mins before serving. The picture below doesn't make it look like much unfortunately (blame the camera man) but it is a delicious recipe.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Catch Up

How to catch up on what has become a couple of weeks blogging in one afternoon. Lucky me I'm sick at home today after getting another cold, sigh.
I think the answer is to give you some very quick meal descriptions and a brief run down of the Auckland trip and then get back into the daily blogging again so here goes.

Wednesday 2nd.
We left Hamilton for Auckland via the cat hotel 'Cats 'N Clover' in Osborne Rd to drop off HRH Isis Bull-Beresford. Last time she stayed there she sulked for 2 weeks and lost 500g! We were hoping for better behaviour this time around. Cats 'N Clover is a great cattery and at $9 per night very reasonable.
We arrived in Auckland around midday and checked into the Heritage on Nelson St. We have had very good luck at the Heritage as far as customer service etc goes and it is now our regular hotel for Auckland trips. Unfortunately this time around we had some utterly crap service and our entusiasm for the hotel is somewhat diminished. 4 star hotel? Not this time I'm afraid. Thanks Ricky, you are the worst front of house hotel staff member I have ever encountered. I hope 5 bus loads of American tourists descend upon your desk 10 minutes before you are due to clock off on a friday night. Mind you I wouldn't be surprised if you just buggered off and left the remaining staff to cope by themselves. You are an ass.
Once we were finally in our room we dumped the bags and headed to Papkura where Julia wanted to visit a particular shop 'The Kitchen'. We had a good look around and then it was back to the hotel for a swim, sauna and general lie around until dinner.
Very close to the Heritage is one of the finest restaurants in New Zealand The Grove. Take some time to check out the site and if you can visit at least once in your life. The Grove is truly exceptional.

Roasted crayfish tail w cauliflower purée, pomegranate molasses, lemon salad & curry oil.
Roasted free range pork fillet w confit belly, apple puree & roasted fennel, jus of quince.

Tian of blue swimmer crab and avocado w fennel sorbet & vine ripened tomato couli.
Hare loin w pancetta, parsnip and baby cabbage, roasted chestnut w chocolate & coffee.

We shared
Rhubarb and fromage blanc tart, lemon & chèvre sorbet.

I won't tell you what we had to drink but I will tell you it wasn't a lot, it was very expensive and it was worth every penny.

Thursday 3rd.
We started the day with breakfast at Zarbo which is always lovely. They have a very good selection of products that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else (hibiscus flowers in syrup?! Needless to say we bought some.) and the house brand condiments are great lots of infused olive oils and such like.
Centrepoint fabrics is right next door so that was next and then it was off to Global Fabrics and then Trelise Coopers outlet shop in Grey Lynn for her sale. Julia didn't find anything today though, very sad, yeah really.
The main reason for our trip was to visit the Food Show and it was time to head to the Auckland Show Grounds. We had purchased the slightly more expensive limited release Thursday tickets to try and avoid the heaving masses that would no doubt descend upon the show on Friday and Saturday. It was the right decision. We wandered around for a couple of hours taking it all in, we bought a few essentials (saffron extract, vanilla sugar, you know, those kinds of essentials). We talked with a few of the stand holders and managed to end up with a huge amount of free samples most of which were in some way chocolate related (which is a real shame because I just can't abide chocolate).

Then it was back to the hotel for another swim and a sauna (it's a tough life) and tacos for dinner and V for Vendetta on the idiot box. V was good but unfortunately the hotel television was utter shite so we're going to have to rent the movie again at some stage. Boooooo Heritage hotel you lost more points for this.

Friday 4th
We're regular Yum Cha goers in Hamilton and there is an excellent chinese restaurant that does a great Yum Cha in Market Place on the viaduct. Sunshine Chinese Restaurant. It was a great experience, the staff were fantastic and the food just as good as we had hoped, shark fin dumplings and chicken feet anyone?
From there we walked along the waterfront where superyacht Kokomo was berthed and then up Queen St to Karangahape 'K' Road visiting various shops along the way.
We were back on K Road later that night for a special performance. We went to Finale to see the show and visit a good friend of ours who just happened to be in the show. The show was fanatstic as always and a great part of the entertainment for me is seeing the reaction of first timers. The restaurant is usually booked solid by hens nights, office functions etc and it has to one of the most entertaining nights out available in Auckland. Great fun thanks Fonda, see you next time.

Saturday 5th
Mt Eden to Cook the Books where I finally bought a copy of The Silver Spoon which I have been lusting after for months. Then to Sabato which is pretty much heaven for anyone interested in cooking.
The highlight of the trip for me was our visit to the zoo. It was absolutely pissing down the whole time we were there and there were probably only 20 people in the whole place. It was magic. I've never been to the zoo in the rain and it is completely different. The animals smell a lot when they are wet, some animals don't come out at all and others like these cheetahs find shelter right up against the glass of their enclosure so you get a view of them that you would never normally get. I could have watched them for hours.

And this guy was very cool

After the zoo we went back to the hotel, had the obligatory swim and sauna and then it was room service steak (more points off for the Heritage, rare does not mean blue and when I pay $30 for a steak I want meat not fat and gristle thankyou) and Saffies Vs Wallabies Tri Nations rugby. The poor South Africans must have been absolutely gutted when Mortlock's kick in the last minutes went over for an Australian victory 20-18 but they must also have taken a lot of pride from the match after being beaten 49-0 by the same team only 2 weeks ago.

Sunday 6th
The Auckland trip is over so it was off back to Hamilton. But not before a visit to Dress-Smart which for those of you who don't know is a huge outlet store mall in Auckland. We really went to look for shoes for Julia but hey is it my fault if we happened to come back with 9 items of clothing for me and nothing for Julia, no, I knew you would agree. It's not everyday you can get $1100 worth of shirts for $250 now is it.
We picked up the cat on the way back, who actually seemed to have gained weight while there, thanks Cats 'N Clover we will be back. And finally here is Sundays dinner. We picked up these square pizza bases from Sabato. Yum!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Easy and Awesome Fettucini

Pasta has got to be the perfect 'instant' meal and this one is a beauty and almost completely idiot proof. This is to serve two and takes about as long as it takes the pasta water to boil and the pasta to cook, roughly 20 minutes.

2 chorizo sausages (or other small spicy sausage)
4 slices of prosciutto
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 courgette finely diced
1 tin of whole tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of capers
Salt & pepper

Put the salted pasta water on to boil in a large pot and once boiling add your spaghetti or fettucini.
Slice the chorizo and the prosciutto and fry in a pan until slighly browned and set aside.
Meanwhile fry the onion until soft then add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes more.
Add the tomato paste and mix into the onion and garlic and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and season using salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Break up the tomatoes in the pot and heat until reduced a little and the pasta is ready.
Drain the pasta and serve in bowls with the chorizo and prosiutto on top and then the tomato sauce and plenty of fresh grated parmesan or romano cheese. Primo!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Normal blogging will resume on Monday 7th August.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Risotto Redux

Scallops are relatively cheap at the moment so it's time to revisit seafood risotto only this time it's a la Julian not a la Julia.

Seafood Risotto
1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice
1 dozen fresh scallops
2 dozen smallish frozen or fresh prawns
2 cups of frozen or fresh broad beans
1 large onion finely diced
4 cups of stock (in this case 2 cups of vegetable and 2 cups of chicken)
1 cup of white wine (again we used sauvignon blanc)
A handful of parsely, chopped
1 1/2 cups of fresh grated parmigiano reggiano cheese (romano is a good substitute)
1 250 ml box of UHT reduced fat cream
Salt & pepper
1 tablespoon of oil

Prepare by thawing your prawns if frozen and devein them. Put your scallops and prawns into a bowl and squeeze the juice of a medium sized lemon over them. Marinate in the lemon juice for 30 mins turning over a few times to ensure all the seafood is coated.
Put all the stock and wine into a pan and heat on a low heat (it needs to be hot when going into the rice).
Blanch your broad beans by placing in boiling water for around 2 mins and then draining and putting into cold water to stop them cooking. Hull the beans by holding between thumb and forefinger and pinching a small hole in the other end of the bean with your other thumbnail. Squeeze the bean out of the hole and discard the tough bitter skin. If you don't like broad beans you have no doubt only eaten them with the skin still on, this is what they should look like.

Grate your parmesan into a bowl and put aside. Chop the onion and the parsely. Put the cream into a small saucepan and heat gently on a low heat.

Cook the onion in the oil in a large pot or frying pan (I find a large high sided pot a little easier to work with) for around 5 mins until soft (do not brown it). Add the rice and cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes stirring all the time.
Begin to add the heated stock and wine mixture around a cup at a time stirring regularly and making sure that the liquid has been absorbed before adding the next cup. Continue doing this until all the stock is gone, this should take around 30 mins. Taste the rice, it is ready when the grains are soft but still retain a little bite (you don't want to end up with a risotto that is too soft and stodgy). At this stage add around half the heated cream and mix in. Add salt & plenty of freshly ground black pepper and taste again and adjust if necessary. Finally add the parsely, 1 cup of the parmesan, the beans and the seafood after draining the lemon juice off (discard the lemon juice). Mix thoroughly but gently so as not to break up the scallops. If the risotto is too thick at this stage add a little more of the cream to loosen it up.
Serve with the rest of the parmesan and of course the rest of the sauvignon blanc!