Pasta with Anchovies

Spaghetti with Anchovy, Capers, Chilli and Garlic

This is a really easy pasta dish which can literally be made in under 15minutes. An important note however – never, ever underestimate how under salted pasta can impact negatively on the final flavour of a dish. It is often said that the water you cook pasta in should be as salty as the Mediterranean Sea!! I cook my pasta in a pot with approximately 5 litres of water. I use 3 heaped tablespoons of table salt, and this produces pasta with the right amount of saltiness. Alternatively, if you live close enough to the beach, you can always pop across to the water’s edge and fill your pot with sea water!!

Ingredients

  • 1 small tin (or 50g) anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 medium brown onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 – 2 chillies finely chopped (you can use as hot, or as mild as you wish – I prefer hotter for this dish)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons capers, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large handful Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • Zest of one lemon finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 1 packet spaghetti

Method

  • Heat a pot of well salted water until boiling and cook the spaghetti until done – “Al Dente”.
  • Whilst cooking the pasta you can make the sauce.
  • On a low – medium heat, gently sauté the onion in a good splash of olive oil until softened – about 6 -7 minutes.
  • Add the chillies and gently fry for about another minute or two.
  • Add the garlic and gently fry for about 1 minute.
  • Add the chopped anchovies and stir through.
  • Add the capers and stir through.
  • Gently cook for about another minute adding another splash of olive oil if the sauce seems a little dry.
  • Remove from the heat and stir through the parsley and lemon zest.
  • Drain the pasta.
  • Serve the sauce over the spaghetti adding some cracked black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

    Nice! and Tasty – Chris

 

Mushroom, Spinach and Gruyere Tart

This is a great vegetarian dish and incredibly tasty. You can use any wild                                mushrooms.

Ingredients

  •    800g mushrooms thinly sliced
  •    200g gruyere, grated
  •    2 bags baby spinach
  •    3 cloves garlic crushed
  •    2 small shallots finely diced
  •    2-3 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  •    Puff pastry
  •    Olive oil
  •    Salt and pepper
  •    200 g wild mushrooms – enoki, shimeji, chanterelles, oyster

Method

  • Turn the oven on to 180.
  • Butter and line a tart tin.
  • Roll out your pastry and lay into the tart tin, gently pressing into the sides.
  • Prick the base of the pastry and bake blind for about 15 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven.

Filling

  • Blanch the spinach in boiling water until wilted.
  • Remove from the pot, drain and roughly chop.
  • In a pan, sauté the shallots in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until softened – +/- 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and mushrooms and thyme, and gently cook until the mushrooms have softened +/- 5-8 minutes.
  • Add the spinach and stir through.
  • Remove from the heat and stir through the gruyere.
  • Taste and season as required.

Finishing

  • Transfer the filling to the cooked tart base and cook in the oven for 8-10 minutes.
  • Whilst the tart is cooking, sauté the wild mushroom on high heat in 1 tablespoon butter.
  • Remove the tart, scatter the wild mushrooms over the top.
  • Allow to stand for a few minutes, remove from the tart tin and serve.

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

 

Change

CHANGE

Just when it seems we’re in control
And we’re living life on an even keel
Along comes change like a gale force wind-
The proverbial spoke in a well oiled wheel.

Change is inevitable, it has to come.
But how do we keep ourselves on track?
Look for the positives that change will bring
Look straight ahead – do not look back.

If things stayed for ever just as they are
How could we learn, how could we grow?
Only by change are we forced to become
People whom others are happy to know.

Judy Binns Nemeth

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Fragrant Prawn Curry

This prawn curry is really simple to make and takes no time at all., however care should be taken not to overcook the prawns.

Ingredients

  • 750g – 1Kg raw peeled prawns, tails left on
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 heaped Tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tsp castor sugar
  • 1 Tbsps. tomato paste
  • 300ml fish stock
  • 1 tin coconut milk 400ml
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Basmati rice to serve

Method

  • Add the turmeric and lime juice to the raw prawns. Gently mix to ensure all prawns are well coated and marinade for 20 minutes.
  • Heat a good splash of olive oil in a pan and when hot, fry the prawns in batches making sure not to crowd the pan, until coloured but not cooked all the way through
  • Remove prawns and set aside, covered with a dish towel whilst you make the sauce.
  • Heat 2 Tblsps. of olive oil in a heavy based pan and gently fry the cumin, fenugreek and mustard seeds until the mustard seeds start popping and spices are fragrant
  • Add the chilli and curry leaves and fry until curry leaves are wilted
  • Add ginger and garlic gently fry for about a minute or two, taking care not to burn the garlic
  • Add the tomato paste and fry for a minute
  • Add the fish stock, coconut milk and sugar to the pan. Bring to a gentle simmer and continue to simmer the sauce uncovered for about 15-20 minutes
  • Add the prawns back to the sauce and very gently simmer until the prawns are just cooked through – about 3-5 minutes
  • Season with salt and pepper according to taste
  • Serve in bowls with basmati rice

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

Update and Comments: March 26 2019

Once again time is running away with me. Don’t they say that time flies when you are having fun?

I think it would be true to say that it actually seems to fly faster when you are working hard! Anyway, I just want to mention that I am constantly toying with ideas for my blog, which I hope will appeal to many of you. My latest contribution is a new category which I have called The Armchair Travelogue.

There are so many amazing places on this planet which one can visit, and for those of you who are considering a really different kind of holiday, the choices these days are innumerable. That being said, I would like to think that I might be able to tempt you to visit spots which you may never have considered. On the other hand, if for whatever reason you prefer to be an armchair traveller, then this is just as much for you. Only time (that controversial word yet again!) will tell whether or not this new category is interesting enough to tempt you to follow future posts in a similar vein. I really do hope so!

That is all for now and I think I will refrain from posting anything on 1 April as it might not be taken seriously!!

That’s all for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

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The Bourdain Burger

For years, I have been trying to cook and assemble the perfect burger. I’d experiment with different seasonings in the patty, adding finely diced onion, chilli, herbs and even blue cheese on occasion. The number and combinations of toppings, and sauces, are endless, and everyone has their own favourite. Often, my experiments resulted in interesting and great tasting burgers, sometimes the combinations were not so great. However, the more “creative” I got, the more I felt I was moving away from the basic simplicity and flavour of what a burger should be. I then came across a video of the late (and great) Anthony Bourdain where he shares his views on what makes a great burger (you can watch it here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZwyLVUAS5Y ). My burger recipe below includes a lot of his suggestions (and I include his name in my version, as a small tribute to the great man). I prefer to use cubed beef chuck for the patty, and grind it myself, as I find the meat to fat ratio perfect for a burger. Of course, you are entirely free to include whatever toppings and sauces you wish. Personally, I think the simplicity of the toppings and sauces I use in my version, allow for the full beefy flavour of the patty to really shine through. But ultimately, the choice is yours. Whilst many people label the burger as  “junk food”, I prefer the term “fun food”, as one really should enjoy the process of cooking, building and eating this iconic food.

Ingredients

  • 720g Beef Chuck, cubed
  • 4 large round burger buns. I use sesame seed covered ones but again, this is your choice
  • Pickled Gherkins – sliced lengthways or into rounds
  • 4 processed cheese slices
  • Tomato sauce
  • Mayonnaise
  • Lettuce
  • Olive oil

Method

  • Grind the meat using the course grinding wheel. If you don’t have your own meat grinder, simply ask your butcher to do this for you.
  • Divide the meat into four 180g portions
  • Shape each portion into a burger patty, taking care not to compress the meat too much. The patty should resemble an ice hockey puck.
  • Season the patty’s well with good sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • Heat a good splash of olive oil in a pan, over a high heat, until just starting to smoke
  • Add the burger patty’s making sure not to crowd the pan. You can cook them in two batches if necessary.
  • Fry the burger patty’s for approximately 3 minutes on one side, turn over and fry for a further 2 minutes on the other side. This timing will produce a burger which is med-rare to medium. However, you can cook longer if you prefer yours more well-done.
  • You are looking for the burger patty to have a nice crust on the outside but take care not to burn.
  • Remove burger patties from the pan, lay a slice of processed cheese on each, and set aside, resting whilst you prepare the buns. The cheese will melt from the residual heat
  • Cut each bun in half, and lightly toast.
  • Put a thin layer of mayonnaise on the base of a bun.
  • Add the sliced pickled gherkin
  • If you like extra cheese (as I do) you can add another slice on top of the gherkins
  • Add a burger patty, topped with some lettuce and tomato sauce.
  • Top with the other half of the bun and get stuck in!!!

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

The Human Touch

“At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.” – Plato

Babies who area left unattended and unloved at birth do not thrive and that has been a fact which has been verified over and over again through research and long term studies. The modern way of thinking is that, even prior to birth, the unborn child can benefit by the mother talking to the baby, playing soothing music to it and generally trying to keep a calm and positive frame of mind during her pregnancy. This is proving to be a big challenge in a world where many mothers are leaving the reproduction process until their career is well established.

It would appear that in many instances, the higher the achiever, the more stress their career usually generates. We land up with a catch 22 situation with a highly motivated mother to be who is bombarded with masses of available data informing her of how to handle her pregnancy in order to have as healthy a new-born as possible. Sometimes one has to wonder whether the saying “while ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise” doesn’t actually have some merit. The more information which is available, the more the poor future mothers have to worry about.  It’s don’t do this, don’t eat that, avoid the following but, make sure you take the time to enjoy your 9 months gestation period!Print

The reality is that many new mothers have to work almost up to their due date, so the luxury of taking things easy is often only enjoyed by a privileged few. However, once the baby arrives it is the love and nurturing that is of utmost importance for the future well-being of the baby. This is not always easy to achieve when you find yourself with a niggley, colicky baby who doesn’t feed well, and cries a lot. Then the feelings of guilt may kick in whereby a new mother starts worrying that it is due to her having pushed herself so hard at work to meet all her deadlines before commencing her maternity leave.  This is when the support of a friend or a family member is so important as it is easy to become depressed and riddled with anxiety. The lack of sleep after having a baby is absolutely horrendous and has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. Being zombie like for weeks on end doesn’t make bonding with your baby any easier either. This is the time for a special kind of human touch.

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A partner who is understanding of the new mother’s need for emotional support can make all the difference.  Modern fathers in many cases are way more hands on when it comes to helping with a newborn than men were in years gone by. However, a female friend, sister or mother can be invaluable in helping in the early weeks after the baby’s arrival. Once a woman feels that she is coping with her new role it becomes far easier to give the baby the loving attention which it so badly needs to thrive.

The upside of the above is that, in most instances, a new mother has had the best part of 9 months to prepare for the baby’s birth. How much more difficult is it when, often quite out of the blue, a phone call comes in saying that you are now at the top of the adoption list and your longed for child has arrived, and can be fetched very soon! There have been none of those irritating trips to the toilet during the night for the past few months, to prepare you for broken sleep. It’s now a case of sink or swim and your nights are no longer your own.

When all is said and done, the human touch prevails in most cases and millions of children benefit from being nurtured and cared for despite the concerns and worries of their over-worked, over ambitious but extremely loving mothers.

“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure
love, are dogs and infants.” – Johnny Depp