Chorizo, manchego and pepper muffin tin fritattas

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Muffin tin fritattas are as the name suggests- mini fritattas that are made in muffin tins! They are great for picnics, lunchboxes for work or school and even breakfast. Fritattas are an ideal go to spring or summer recipe and they can be useful to use up any vegetables or cheese that is in the fridge but has started to see better days. For this recipe I used a combination of chorizo, manchego and roasted red pepper so pack them with flavour but also to give them appealing colour. They are delicious warm from the oven or at room temperature. They can keep in a well sealed container in the fridge for a couple of days- if they’re not all devoured before then!

Ingredients- makes 12 fritattas
7 large free range eggs
1 large red onion
100g chorizo
2 large jarred roasted red peppers- chopped
130g manchego cheese
Fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 190c/ 170 fan. Prepare the muffin tin by lightly brushing each hole with vegetable oil using a pastry brush.

2. Peel and slice the chorizo into slices and then quarter each slice. Heat a dry frying pan and fry over a medium- high heat; fry the chorizo until golden and remove from the pan. Add the red onion in and fry until it has softened. Set aside and allow to cool.

3. Take a large bowl and crack all the eggs into it. Lightly beat them with a fork. Add the sliced red pepper and grate 100g of the manchego into the egg. Tear in some fresh basil and add the onion and chorizo. Season well with pepper and a small amount of salt.

4. Carefully use a ladle and divide the mixture between the 12 muffin tin holes. Do not fill them to the brim as they will naturally rise during cooking. Grate a little more manchego on the top of each hole and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes or until the egg has set and the fritattas are golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. When cool remove the fritattas from the tin; you may need to loosen them a little by carefully running the blade of a small, flexible knife around the edge of the tin holes. Serve by themselves or with a simple salad.

Muffin tin fritattas- your answer to breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Scallop and cherry tomato tagliatelle

Sometimes ingredients are so fresh and delicious that very little needs doing with them in order to make a memorable dish that you will cook time and time again- this is one of those dishes! if you regularly read my recipes you will have worked out that I love seafood in its many guises and scallops are no exception. Sweet, tender and succulent scallops need to be paired with simple, clean flavours so you can appreciate their beauty. I have paired a classic base of garlic, a little chilli and sweet tomatoes to allow each flavour to sing.

To make this even more accessible, I have used bay scallops which tend to be easy to find and a little cheaper than their larger sea scallop counterparts. If, however, you do want to use the larger ones then go ahead. This is also quick to do so there is no excuse to pick up the takeaway menu after a day at work so read on and get cooking!

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Ingredients- serves 2
200g bay scallops
Glug of olive oil
1 garlic clove- crushed or finely chopped
1 red chilli- deseeded and finely chopped
200g cherry tomatoes- halved
60ml dry white wine
Handful of fresh basil leaves- roughly torn
30g unsalted butter
150g tagliatelle

1. Kick off by getting your pans at the ready- you will need a pan for the pasta so boil a kettle and bring the water to the boil. You will also need a pan that the sauce can simmer away in and one for pan frying the scallops. To make the sauce, simply heat a glug of oil over a medium heat and cook the garlic and chilli until softening, but make sure the garlic does not catch colour.

2. Throw in the halved cherry tomatoes and the white wine; simmer until the wine is reduced by half. Keep the tomatoes cooking away until the they reduce and the juice starts to make a sauce. Keep this on low. Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the packet instructions; drain well and set aside.

3. As the pasta cooks, take the remaining pan and heat the butter and a splash of oil over a medium to high heat. Pan fry the scallops until they are golden on the outside which usually takes a couple of minutes on each side but do keep an eye on them so they don’t overcook. As the sauce is finishing, add in the torn basil before tossing the pan fried scallops through so they are lightly coated in the sauce. Add in the drained pasta and serve!

 

Tuscan panzanella salad

From time to time most households have leftover bread that it heading past its best but there’s no need to waste it- that’s where panzanella comes in! Panzanella is a traditional Italian tomato and bread salad that’s full of fresh, seasonal flavours. There is no one panzanella recipe so this is my take on it. I included fried capers to give an added dimension and texture. Anchovies are also added to ramp up the savouriness but you can omit these if you prefer.

For the perfect panzanella the tomatoes you choose are important as you want the freshest available. I have used a combination of smaller heirloom varieties which have become easier to find and add a range of colour. Panzanella makes a great light lunch or it can also be served with simple grilled meats for a more substantial meal. if you have any leftovers, you can simply baked the remaining pieces of bread on a tray in the oven until crisped and then serve with the salad- delicious!

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Ingredients- serves 4
200g open textured bread such as sourdough or ciabatta
500g assorted tomatoes- chopped
1 red onion- sliced
Jarred or fresh red and yellow peppers- finely sliced
6-8 anchovy fillets- finely chopped
2 tbsp capers- drained
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
Salt
Fresh basil

1. Take your bread of choice and roughly tear it into pieces. Place on a tray and leave for around 20-30 minutes to help dry it out a little. Meanwhile pop the chopped tomatoes, peppers and onion in a colander with a bowl underneath and add salt and pepper. Leave to sit so it draws some moisture out of the tomatoes and softens the peppers.

2. Take a small frying pan and add a small amount of oil over a medium heat. Fry the capers until crispy. Tip the bread, tomatoes and onion into a bowl along with the peppers, anchovies and capers. Drizzle over the vinegar and oil; taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Finish with some freshly torn basil and serve immediately with some simple grilled meat such as chicken if you like.

Panzanella- a sunshine dish to brighten up even a rainy summer’s day!

 

Tomato and ricotta puff pastry tart

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At this time of year tomatoes are bursting with juice and packed full of flavour so it’s the ideal season to make the most of them. Great tasting tomatoes need little done to them in order to bring out their best so this tomato and ricotta tart is a perfect way to enjoy them. I also have it on good authority that any leftovers are ideal for an easy lunch the next day!

Supermarkets and farmer’s markets are making it easier and easier to get hold of heirloom (heritage) varieties so get shopping and choose your favourites. I have used yellow and red tomatoes in order to add extra colour to the tart but use whatever tomatoes you can find and like.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
1 sheet of ready made puff pastry
Selection of tomatoes- approx. 300g
200g ricotta
Fresh basil and oregano
Salt and pepper
1 egg- beaten

1. Preheat the oven according to the instructions on the pastry packet as these can sometimes differ. About ten minutes before you want to make the tart, remove the pastry from the fridge and then roll out. Take a small dining plate and place it upside down on the pastry. Carefully cut around it. Take a small knife and lightly run the blade about 1cm from the edge of the sheet to form a border.

2. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, torn fresh basil and oregano (if you can find it) and season well. If you can’t find fresh oregano then you can use a little dried oregano instead but go easy on it. Spoon the ricotta mix on the pastry sheet and spread evenly using the back of a spoon; leave the border clear of the cheese otherwise it won’t puff up.

3. Cut the tomatoes into rounds and arrange on the tart base. When ready to cook, carefully brush a little beaten egg on the border of the tart and bake for around 20 minutes until golden and crisp. Serve with a side salad and buttered new potatoes.

Tomato and ricotta tart- a perfect way to enjoy the best of the season’s produce!

 

Nduja and cherry tomato vongole

Now if you’re expecting a traditional spaghetti vongole then think again! Vongole is a classic Venetian clam pasta dish but this is a twist on it. I have used a touch of nduja which is a Calabrian spreadable salami to add a chilli hit along with some vine cherry tomatoes which give the pasta a wonderfully light, summery feel to it. It is also a perfect way to try clams in pasta if you haven’t had them before. I also used linguine instead of spaghetti for a change and the sauce clings perfectly to it.

Clams can be bought fresh or you can also get them jarred in good Italian delicatessens. I was recently bought a jar so used this and I was pleasantly surprised! They needed very little preparation apart from a quick drain and I then removed any that were already open and any pieces of broken shell and away I went!

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Ingredients- serves 2
200g linguine
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves- finely chopped
1/2 tbsp nduja
50ml dry white wine
100g vine cherry tomatoes
250g clams or one jar of clams- washed and drained
Fresh basil- chopped

1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil for the pasta and cook according to packet instructions. The pasta will be finished off in the sauce so aim for al dente; drain and set aside whilst you crack on with the sauce.

2. Take a wide pan and heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic cloves and cook for a couple of minutes until starting to soften. Stir in the nduja so it starts to break and melt into the oil before pouring in the wine. Simmer until reduced by half. Take the cherry tomatoes and quarter them. Add the tomatoes in and simmer until the tomatoes start to reduce and thicken. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

3. When the tomatoes are nearly ready, add the drained linguine into the pan and combine with the sauce so it is well coated. Carefully tip the clams into the pan, cover for a couple of minutes and steam until the shells open. Discard any that do not open. Finish with the basil and serve in warmed bowls immediately.

Nduja and cherry tomato vongole- a summery version of an Italian classic that is perfect for dining al fresco!

 

Mediterranean sea bass tray bake

Sea bass is a wonderful, readily available fish that deserves a place on all good dinner tables across the land. Cooking fish can be a daunting prospect if it is not something that you are used to and a tray bake is a brilliant introduction to it so read on and give it a try. I have taken inspiration from the Med and used sweet cherry tomatoes, olives, capers and peppers to ramp up the flavours. The ingredients are so fabulous that very little needs doing to them. I used Jersey Royal potatoes which are currently in season in the UK but new potatoes work well if you cannot find these.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 boneless sea bass fillets
1 tbsp vegetable oil
200g Jersey Royal potatoes or new potatoes
1 red onion- cut into small wedges
150g cherry tomatoes- halved
50g pitted black olives- halved
1 tbsp capers
2 jarred roasted red peppers- sliced
Squeeze of lemon juice
Torn basil leaves to finish

1. Start by making sure that the sea bass fillets are boneless as nobody likes to find one of those. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan and think about what you are going to bake this in; a normal baking tray or roasting tray is perfect but I used a cast iron roasting pan. As the oven is heating, pop your tray of choice in there to heat too with a glug of vegetable oil.

2. Meanwhile slice the potatoes so they are 5mm thick. Remove the heated tray from the oven and place the potato slices in. Leave to bake for 20 minutes or until starting to turn golden and soften.

3. Remove the tray and add in the onion wedges, halved tomatoes, olives, capers and peppers and cook for a further 10 minutes. When the potatoes look like they are nearly ready and the onion is nicely softened pop on the sea bass fillets to finish off for 5-7 minutes depending on the size of the fillet. Use your judgement with your oven, if you think the fish skin won’t quite crisp up to how you like it then you can always cheat a bit and pan fry the fillet skin side down for a couple of minutes before finishing in the oven for another 2-3 minutes. When the sea bass is ready the fish will be translucent- do not overcook. Finish off with a squeeze of lemon juice to bring all the flavours together and a few torn basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Mediterranean inspired sea bass tray bake- a colourful addition to your culinary repertoire and a summertime winner!

 

Prawn, courgette and tomato penne

During the autumn and winter months our dinner tables are full of rich, decadent dishes but sometimes a break from this is needed so this prawn and courgette pasta does the trick. The idea behind this came following a recent trip to Italy where they served a similar pasta dish which was light and oh so moreish. Take a leaf from the Italian’s book and keep the sauce as light as possible. I used raw king prawns to make sure they stay juicy when cooked; you can use a combination of king prawns and smaller prawns if you like but throw in the smaller prawns later in cooking so they don’t dry out.

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Ingredients- serves 2
200g penne
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped or crushed
1 banana shallot- finely chopped
60ml dry white wine
1 small courgette- deseeded and chopped
100g baby plum tomatoes- halved or quartered depending on size
200g raw king prawns- deveined
2-3 tbsp. low fat crème fraiche
Fresh lemon
Handful of fresh basil

1. Get going by bringing a large pan of water to the boil and cook the penne according to packet instructions; aim for an al dente finish. Drain well and set aside whilst you make the sauce.

2. Take a frying pan and add a glug of olive oil. Cook the garlic and shallot until it is softening but make sure it does not turn golden. Add the courgette and tomatoes and cook for a further minute or so. Pour in the white wine and reduce by half. Reduce the heat to low and stir through the crème fraiche before adding in the prawns. Simmer until the prawns turn a gorgeous blush pink before finishing off with a sprinkling of fresh torn basil and a squeeze of lemon juice to lift the flavours. Remember you can adjust the creaminess of the sauce by adding more crème fraiche or loosening up the sauce with a splash of water if you find it becomes too thick.

Prawn and courgette penne- quick, light and a cinch to make!