Sunday, 6 May 2012

Alice's Spinach, Butternut Squash and Cheese Pasta Bake

This was a great university staple of ours, Alice was the one who came up with the recipe and every time she cooked it we'd crowd around the living room eagerly awaiting it's arrival. Speaking from experience, everyone will go back for second helpings, so it's advised to make lots, and lots of this.

Ingredients to feed about 4 (these quantity are suggestions, add more or less if you'd like.)
Pasta - 1 packet
Grated parmesan cheese - a generous handful
1 pack of St Agur cheese, another soft cheese such as brie will also work.
Creme fraiche- about 2 tbsps
1 packet / bunch of spinach
1 butternut squash
1 generous handful of bread crumbs.

Start by roasting the butternut squash so that it's really soft, this will take about 30 minutes at 180 in the oven.
Cook the pasta until al dente and drain it, this should take about 10 minutes.
Add all of the other ingredients to the pasta - cut the cheese into small chunks and toss it in, along with the parmesan, creme fraiche, spinach, and butternut squash. Add a good grating of nutmeg and transfer to an oven proof dish. Sprinkle the brad crumbs on top and cook for about 20 minutes at 160, or until the crumbs have gone golden brown.
*Our photo wasn't up to scratch, this one is from

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Chocolate and Orange Loaf Cake

This is a Nigella recipe and I have found myself making it for the past two weekends in a row. I have gotten into the habit of making a loaf cake at the weekend and looking forward to a slither of it everyday after work.
This is a very dense cake, it's a bit gooey, but as Nigella exclaims, that's part of it's charm. And it is delicious.

150g butter
30ml golden syrup (2 tablespoons)
175g brown sugar
150 plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
25g cocoa
2 eggs
juice & zest of one orange

- Preheat the oven to 170 / gas mark 3 and grease and line your loaf tin.
- Beat the butter, sugar and golden syrup together
- Mix the dry ingredients together
- Add one spoon of the dry ingredients to the syrup, sugar and butter mix before adding one egg.
- Beat together and add the dry ingredients one spoon at a time.
- Add the second egg and beat in the remaining dry ingredients.
- Beat in the zest. Then, add the orange juice a little at a time and continue beating the mixture.
- Transfer into your loaf tin and cook for 45 mins.
- Check five minutes before it's cooked and be prepared to leave it 5 minutes longer than stated.
- Your cake tester won't come out clean but the top should be firm. Don't be too timid, this cake works well with it's relatively dry edges and gooey centre.
- Leave to cool for a while in it's tin before transferring to a wire rack.

Enjoy it's life affirming qualities on cold dark evenings in front of the television.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Winter's Night Mushrooms on Toast

Perfect for a dark night when you want something quick and delicious. This is a Nigel Slater recipe, and it is fabulous.

A generous handful or two of sliced mushrooms
Lots of olive oil
2 cloves of crushed garlic
Chopped parsley
Some good bread - sliced into thick rounds

To cook:
Fry the sliced mushrooms in lots of olive oil over a medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add the crushed garlic and good for a further 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour a little olive oil over the bread and toast under the grill.
Add the chopped parsley and season the mushrooms at the last minute.
Heap the mushrooms over bread and accompany with a glass of cold beer.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Winter's Day Muffins

These are actually Nigella's Christmas morning muffins, (with a few small alterations.) But, when it's icy outside it seems a shame to bypass Cinnamon and cranberries just because it's not Christmas; these cosy flavours which are still very much needed at this time of year!

250g Plain Flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarb
100g caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
Grating of nutmeg
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 Orange
125ml full fat milk
75ml vegetable oil
1 egg
175g dried cranberries
A little demerara sugar for the top

1. Preheat the oven to 200 / gas mark 6. Line a baking sheet with muffin cases
2. Mix all of the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the zest of the orange last.
3. Squeeze the orange juice into a measuring jug and add the milk until it comes up to the 200ml mark. Add the egg, and oil and whisk. Add this to the dry ingredients and fold in (you may need a little more milk, a wet, lumpy batter is what you want.)
4. Fold in the cranberries.
5. Transfer the mixture to the muffin cases, sprinkle over the demerara and bake in the oven for about 20mins.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Buttery Bulgur Wheat with Almonds

Such a simple dish which is great for a lunch time when you want nourishment without being weighted down. Perfect for a Monday lunch after a weekend of excess..

Ingredients (for one)
one spilling handful of bulgur wheat
one sizable knob of butter
salt & pepper
one good handful of flaked almonds

To cook:
Cook the bulgur wheat according to the pack instructions, which usually involves covering with water and bringing to the boil and simmering for about 8 - 10 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed..
Separate the grains with a fork and season, add the butter and stir through. Set aside for 5 minutes and allow the butter to soak in.
Add your flaked almonds and eat greedily from a large bowl.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Leek and Potato Soup

An oldie, but a goody. This soup ticks almost every soup box going; it's soothing, nourishing, frugal and delicious. It's beauty lies within it's simplicity, highly, highly recommended cooking and eating.
3 large potatoes, peeled and sliced
4 leeks, thinly sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
50ml chicken
Salt and pepper.

To cook:
Sweat the leeks in olive oil or butter over a low heat for 5 mins. Add the onion and continue cooking until very soft, slow cooking is best for this.
Add the chicken stock and potato, bring to the boil and reduce down to a simmer for about 20 mins.
Check that the potatoes are thoroughly cooked, then, whizz everything together away from the heat. Season to taste and serve with good bread and butter.