Posts Tagged: simple

Sep 09

Simple pleasures


Some of my favourite cooking moments involve using very few ingredients to create something delicious. A handful of this or a splash of that – pure flavours, dealt with simply and easily. Fuss free suppers are the way forward.

There are days when I do happily spend several hours preparing a meal – a labour of love – but often I’ll won’t have a lot of advance warning to whip something up when people arrive. This is a perfect meal for those times – an easy-as-pie dinner using just four ingredients.

Caramelised onion and anchovy tart


  • 1 packet ready rolled puff pastry
  • 100g Grana Padano cheese or parmesan, grated
  • 1 tin of anchovies or half a jar
  • 3 onions


Finely slice the onions and cook them in a pan with a splash of oil on a very, very low heat for around an hour until they are a deep golden colour.

Pre-heat your oven to 220°C.

Score a line around the edge of the pastry about one centimetre in. Spread the onions over the centre of the tart evenly, then scatter the cheese over and place the anchovies on top.

Put the tart into the pre-heated oven and cook for around 15-20 mins until puffed up and golden.

Serve with a green or tomato salad.

May 09

A simple spaghetti supper


Pasta is a dish which features on almost everyone’s cooking repertoire – and rightly so; it’s reliable, delicious and ready in a flash. A few ingredients put thrown together and dinner can be on the table in less than 15 minutes.


However, I must admit to being a bit anti-pasta. I just find it, well, a little dull, if I’m honest. It gets very samey after the first few mouthfuls. So many people swear by it I thought there was something wrong with me at first. Why didn’t I get it?


And then I had a ‘eureka’ moment recently – my great friend Petra (born and raised in Italy, no less) bought me a packet of incredibly good spaghetti and insisted I stop the pasta-hating and give it a whirl. It was delicious, with a good bite and certainly changed my mind!


This is a luxurious recipe with parmesan enriching the sauce. A little goes a long way.


Spaghetti with crème fraiche and mushrooms


Ingerdients (serves 2)


  • 200g dried spaghetti
  • 1 large field mushroom
  • 200ml crème fraiche
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • Half a lemon
  • 50g parmesan, grated
  • Small bunch flatleaf parsley, finely chopped




Preheat a griddle pan on a medium heat. Remove the stalk from the field mushroom and brush with a little olive oil. When the pan is hot place the mushroom onto it with the gills up. Cook for five or so minutes until you see the dark gills of the mushroom start to bubble a little. Turn over and cook for a further couple of minutes. Remove from the heat, cut into long slivers and then cut each one into a few pieces crossways.


Cook your pasta according to the instructions. When the cooking time is almost up heat the crème fraiche in a pan over a medium heat with the mustard, the parmesan and the mushroom. When the crème fraiche has completely become liquid add the juice of the lemon and the parsley. Season well and then toss with the pasta. Serve with a little extra parmesan grated over the top and a sprinkling of parsley.

Mar 09

A special treat to help take the load off on Mother’s Day



A mum’s life is a busy life, so for Mother’s Day I’m suggesting turning the tables and giving her an evening off. The idea is print off this delicious but simple recipe, which is easily within the
preparation skills of even the most culinary challenged, and leave it somewhere around the house as a suggestion for those usually on the receiving end of your cooking efforts.

With any luck you’ll get to put your feet up, relax and have a yummy dinner placed in front of you. A Mother’s Day gift in itself…

Pancetta wrapped salmon with balsamic lentils

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 salmon fillets (approx 200g each)
  • 20 slices of pancetta
  • 2 tbs
    creme fraiche
  • 1 tbs
    horseradish, to taste
  • 200g puy lentils
  • ½ litre chicken stock
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • About
    20 capers
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil


Mix creme fraiche and horseradish. Season with salt and pepper, cover and leave in fridge till needed.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Lie five slices of the pancetta on a chopping board in strips just overlapping each other and place the salmon on top, then wrap the pancetta up and round it to cover the salmon.

Pop lentils in a pan with chicken stock. Put them on a low heat, simmering, for about 15-20 minutes. Try them as they get past the 15 minute mark. When they’re cooked, add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, capers and chopped shallot and stir.

About half way through the lentil-cooking process, put fish in the oven. It will take about ten minutes, and it’s better to under-cook than overcook. Alternatively you could do it in a frying pan – about 3-4 minutes on each side.

To serve, place a large spoonful of lentils in the middle of the plate. Place fish on top of lentils, and spoon some horseradish sauce over the top.

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