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Mrs D’s Roasted Veggie And Parmesan Pasta

 

Feeling very ravenous one lunchtime, I thought I’d make myself a bowl of pasta in tomato sauce; super easy and super lazy – especially as the sauce was coming out of a jar! But then I realised that I had all the ingredients for a roasted vegetable pasta – a dish I had made a few times before. Sure it would take more time and effort than just opening a jar of pasta sauce but it would be so worth it!

Just to make it clear, this may contain pasta but it is not authentic Italian – it’s just authentic Mrs. D! The chilli that’s included in here contains just the right amount of heat without it being too spicy but you can leave it out if you want to. Whenever I make this recipe, I always throw in whatever veggies and pasta I have to hand so this dish does vary whenever I make it but it is still very yum! The recipe below includes the vegetables and pasta I used on the day, but you can use whatever you like. If I was making this for Mr. D I would add some chicken or bacon as Mr. D simply will not do veggie!

I also decided to top this dish off with a poached egg. I’m no professional chef and I’m sure anyone who’s reading this will beg to differ but I actually feel that for the first time ever, the egg was poached really well – I didn’t even have to make to look presentable like they do in the cooking shows. So yeah, for Mrs. D it was a good effort!

ROASTED VEGETABLE AND PARMESAN PASTA

Serves: 2-4

INGREDIENTS:

250g penne pasta, cooked and drained

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 tbsp of dried mixed herbs

1/2 a large green chilli, finely chopped (optional)

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

1 medium tomato, diced

100g button mushrooms

100g sweetcorn

100g spinach

50g shaved or grated Parmesan

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

Salt and pepper

1 poached egg per serving

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

  2. Place chilli, garlic, herbs and vegetables, except spinach, in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle over olive oil, add butter and season well.

  3. Put in oven and roast for 15-20 minutes.

  4. Take vegetables out of oven and add spinach. Once spinach has wilted, add Parmesan and mix well.

  5. Dish out onto plates and top with a poached egg.

  6. Enjoy!

 

All photos taken by Mrs. D – in case you couldn’t tell!

 

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Pineapple Coconut Fizz

 

Pineapple and coconut make a great partnership, and this mocktail is perfect as a refreshing summer drink.

Prep: 5-10 minutes

Total: 5-10 minutes

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS:

  1. ½ x medium pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped, reserving 1 skin-on slice, cut into wedges, to decorate
  2. 200ml pineapple and coconut juice drink
  3. ½ x 28g pack fresh mint, washed and chopped, reserving a few sprigs to decorate
  4. Crushed ice
  5. Soda water to top up

METHOD:

  1. Put the pineapple in a bowl and crush using the end of a rolling pin.
  2. Tip into a jug and add the pineapple and coconut juice and the chopped mint.
  3. Fill 4 glasses with crushed ice, then pour over the pineapple mixture.
  4. Stir with a cocktail stick, then top with soda water
  5. Decorate with the reserved pineapple wedges and mint to serve.

 

The Coolest Ice Cubes Ever!

 

I can’t believe how hot it is. I swear I’m melting away. I know England cries out for hot weather but seriously this is just too much. I feel like I’ve been locked in a sauna. People may pray for the sun but in my opinion, hot weather is so overrated – and that’s coming from a summer baby! Beach babes are able to look effortlessly hot as the temperature soars, and I’m no different. I’m able to look like a hot, sweaty mess with no effort at all!

 

So in this heat, it’s no wonder my thoughts have turned to keeping super cool. For me it’s cold drinks – and I’m knocking them back like there’s no tomorrow. And cold drinks mean ice, which right now is a necessity. The summer season means parties, weddings, barbeques etc where ice and drinks will go hand in hand. But the problem with ice cubes is that they can be pretty boring to look out and as great as they are at keeping your drinks cool, they’re also great at watering them down (which is only OK if you’re drinking water!) I did a post a while back about creating an ice-bucket – made from ice. It proved to be very popular and inspired this post about livening up the humble ice-cube in terms of appearance (presentation is important, you know!) and taste!

1. GOT TO BE HOT TO BE COOL!

Everyone knows that if you freeze cold water, you get cloudy ice. But freeze boiling water and you get crystal-clear ice. And that’s really important if you’re going to add other ingredients to your ice cubes.

2. THE HERB GARDEN

 

Add washed sprigs or leaves to the water before freezing. Mint ice-cubes are great in iced-tea (Mr. D’s fave) or fruit punch; rosemary or thyme are perfect with home-made lemonade; basil works well with gin, vodka or rum based cocktails,  and lemongrass ice-cubes in pineapple or apple juice – WOW!

3. CITRUS FRESH

Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges are a very obvious choice as slices are often served with cold beverages. But you could also try experimenting with pieces of grapefruit, pomelo, blood or ruby orange. These will work with still or sparkling water; as well as a variety of sodas, cocktails and juices.

4. BERRY NICE 

If you want pretty as a picture ice-cubes, berries are the way to go. They give a fantastic burst of colour and a fruity flavour to drinks. Raspberries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackberries etc. could go in whole, although strawberries would probably have to be sliced. They would be perfect with iced tea, lemonade, sodas, berry, cherry, pomegranate or cranberry cocktails or juices, and raspberry would also work well with orange or peach juices.

5. TROPICAL PARADISE

 

Try pieces of pineapple, kiwi fruit, lychee or dragon fruit for a touch of the exotic. These would be a welcome addition to coconut water, a multitude of cocktails and tropical fruit juices.

6. SALAD DAYS

Cucumber, celery, red, yellow and green peppers might be more at home in a salad bowl but these can be really refreshing served with still or sparkling water or in a Pimm’s (my absolute fave – summer just isn’t summer without it!)

7. EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSES

Add some washed, fresh rose petals to water before freezing. I adore the delicate flavouring and aroma of rose as an addition to food and drinks, and it is amazing with pomegranate, raspberry and other berry based drinks.

8. IF THE SUMMER HEAT ISN’T ENOUGH…

 

… then try adding cut pieces of chilli to your ice cubes. This will give a light heat to drinks and complements citrus, pineapple, papaya and mango based drinks. Just remove some of the seeds in order to reduce the level of spiciness.

9. GLITTERING COLOURS

Add some edible glitter for sparkle or food colouring for a marbled effect. These obviously won’t do anything in terms of flavour but they will make the ice-cubes in your drink look so pretty, so it might be good for those who want to keep the taste of their drinks pure.

10. DITCH THE H20

Who says that ice-cubes can only made with water. It can be annoying when ice-cubes water down our drinks. So freeze cola for cola-flavoured ice-cubes; pineapple juice for pineapple-flavoured cubes; iced tea for iced tea cubes… you see where I’m going with this.

And of course you can combine any of the above and freeze them in water if you really want to be creative with your cubes. Try rose with raspberry; pineapple with lemongrass and ginger; cucumber with mint… the possibilities are endless!

Let’s hope the only thing that melts in the heat wave is the ice in your drinks! Stay cool.

 

 

Spicy Salsa With Everything!

 

One special memory about my very first time in the States many years ago was that I learned how to make salsa. My Aunt P. who’s Mexican taught me how to make an authentic Mexican salsa and for a long time afterwards I was making it all the time and serving it up with everything: crisps, tortilla chips, wraps, sandwiches, rice, chips, salads… you name it, salsa was served with it. If ever there was an event or get together I’d whip up a tub of Aunt P.’s special salsa.

For reasons I’m not totally sure of, I gradually stopped making it over the years which I regret as I eventually forgot the recipe. Until, I came across a recipe in a magazine for salsa and realized it was almost identical to the one Aunt P. taught me to make – except this one contained garlic. I’m so thrilled that salsa making days are back. Perhaps you’d like to try this recipe too.

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

4 tomatoes

1 green chilli

1/2 red onion

1 garlic clove

2 tbsp. coriander

Juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

  1. Roughly chop the tomatoes into small chunks.
  2. Crush the garlic.
  3. Finely chop all the other ingredients.
  4. Combine all chopped  ingredients in a bowl.
  5. Add lime juice, salt and pepper.
  6. Enjoy!

 

The Perfect Easter Lunch: Jerk Lamb With Guava Sauce

 

Easter’s here! Amid all the chocolate we’ll be scoffing, we’ll most definitely be sitting down to a special Easter meal of roast lamb like millions of other families up and down the country.

But this year I fancied an Easter lunch with a bit a twist. Rather than the usual minted roast lamb, I thought about serving a roast lamb with a jerk seasoning and served with roasted sweet potatoes. I remember watching Jamaican chef Virginia Burke on a food programme where she cooked a delicious looking jerk lamb; a contemporary take on the classic jerk chicken. I remember Burke saying at the time: “We have the best food in the Caribbean but nobody knows about it.”

And she’s absolutely right! I have been a big fan of Jamaican food – in fact all Caribbean – for years and I’m really surprised that it’s not more well known because I’m sure it would really take off in a big way – in quite the same way that Indian or Thai food has.

If you’ve never tried Caribbean food, you really don’t know what you’re missing. Try Virginia Burke’s recipe for jerk lamb with a yummy guava sauce. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

JERKED LAMB WITH GUAVA SAUCE

Ingredients

For the jerk seasoning
•6 spring onions
•2 scotch bonnet peppers
•1 tsp ground allspice
•1 tbsp thyme, chopped
•2 tsp ground cinnamon
•1 tsp nutmeg, grated
•1 tsp brown sugar
•1.5 tsp salt
•1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
•75 ml white malt vinegar, distilled
•1 tbsp oil

For the guava dipping sauce
•1 heads garlic
•1 tsp olive oil
•175 g guava jelly, or redcurrant jelly
•2 tbsp white wine vinegar
•1 tsp hot pepper sauce, (optional, for added heat)

For the lamb

•3 tbsp jerk seasoning
•2.5 kg leg of lamb, boned
•2 cloves garlic, crushed

To serve
•1 tsp parsley, fresh, chopped
•1 tsp coriander, fresh, chopped

Method

1. Place the ingredients for the jerk seasoning into a blender and whiz to a thick paste.

2. Rub the jerk seasoning and salt thoroughly into the lamb. Cover and marinate in the fridge overnight.

3. Set the oven to 180C/gas 4.

4. Rub the crushed garlic on the inside of the lamb leg. Roll up the leg and tie in three places to secure. Roast for 45 minutes for medium rare – add about 15 minutes cooking time for well-done lamb.

5. To make the dipping sauce, cut off the top of a whole head of garlic. Pour over the olive oil, wrap it in foil and roast for about 15-20 minutes, until soft.

6. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and crush them in a saucepan. Add the guava jelly and white wine vinegar. Stir until the guava jelly has dissolved, add the hot pepper sauce (if using) and bring to a simmer. Cook for five minutes.

7. Allow the lamb to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Just before serving, stir the parsley and coriander into the sauce. Slice the lamb and serve immediately with the warm sauce.

 

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