Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

So. How to politely describe this dish then? Let’s say that the name links this quick, tangy, salty and robust dish, to ladies of the night.. Whether it’s purely in name, or factually linked to the stories passed down over the decades, this dish certainly gets the blood pumping.

It’s my chosen twist on Jamie Oliver’s Classic Tomato Spaghetti – if you can master that one, this is merely a minor deviation that will boost your repertoire and get your taste buds dancing to a new tune.

Essentially, it’s a tomato spaghetti which is elevated to the next level with black olives, anchovies and capers. I also like to add a touch of chilli for good measure.

 

Ingredients:

(serves 4)

  • 400g spaghetti
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 anchovies, chopped
  • 2 tbsp capers, rinsed
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 100g black olives, pitted & torn
  • 1 x 400g tin tomatoes or  large handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Parmesan
  • Olive Oil

For me, this is a dish I like to throw together when I come in late and the fridge is bare; it’s a classic ‘store-cupboard dinner’. To be terribly honest, I can’t say I’ve ever actually measured the ingredients out before now. Recipes are after all, merely guides.

ingredients for store cupboard puttanesca

Method:

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and season with salt. Cook the pasta as per the packet instructions.

About 5 minutes before the pasta is ready, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and add the garlic, anchovies and chilli flakes. As the garlic begins to turn golden and the anchovies start to melt away, add the capers and olives, followed by the tomatoes. If you’re using fresh tomatoes, a dash of passata can help. Cook for a few minutes and then add the drained pasta together with a dash of the starchy cooking water to bring it all together.

Serve topped with fresh basil leaves and a little parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Whore's Pasta

Omelette Twist

As Jamie launches his ‘10 recipes to save your life’ for this year’s Food Revolution, here’s my twist on the basic omelette for you: Baked Mini Omelettes!

Super-simple fayre, these little treats are a fun take on the humble and nutritious egg, and can be served hot or cold.

The fillings are up to you – I like to have a bit of variation so here’s some ideas:

Fresh chives, chillies, bell peppers, ham, tomato, cheese, smoked salmon; perhaps some pre-cooked ingredients: bacon, mushrooms, black pudding, sausage, broccoli.. the list goes on, so feel free to experiment.

The most important factor is to use the freshest and highest quality eggs you can find – the hens deserve it, and it’ll make such a difference to your cooking.

You’ll need roughly 1 egg for each omelette.

 

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C degrees (160°C fan).

Grease a muffin/cupcake tray with butter or a drop of oil.

Beat the eggs and season them with salt and pepper.

Pour the egg mixture into the muffin tray and sprinkle in your choice of ingredients.

Bake for 12 minutes.

It’s as easy as that.

Enjoy!

mini omelettes

Risotto for Little M

Little M’s Legacy supports Severn Freewheelers (Blood Bikes) and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research charities. Madison, a colleague’s granddaughter, was just 2 years old when she tragically lost her fight against Leukaemia.

My contribution to Little M’s Legacy was to donate a risotto cooking class and dinner to their charity auction. I hope to also raise awareness; there’s fantastic work being done out there to support present-day treatments, and incredible research to help combat blood cancer in the future.

I want to say a big thank you to the generous couple with the winning bid, I hope you enjoyed your dining experience!

Here’s my recipe for making a beautiful Pea & Mint Risotto for future reference:

Risotto ingredients

 

Ingredients:

(4 people)

  • 60g Butter
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 stick Celery, finely diced
  • 1 Onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely diced
  • 400g Risotto rice (Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
  • 1 glass White Wine – optional
  • 1.5L Stock (Chicken or Vegetable), hot
  • 100g Peas (fresh or frozen)
  • Fresh Mint, small bunch, finely sliced
  • 100g Parmesan, finely grated, plus extra for garnish
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Lemon
  • Pangrattato (crispy breadcrumbs) – optional
  • Pea shoots/micro herbs/rocket – optional

Method:

I’m going to start by stressing that making a good risotto is all about understanding the look, feel and taste as you cook it; recipes are merely guides and risotto is probably the exemplar of that fact.

Generally, you can make a basic white risotto (risotto bianco) and then flavour it in numerous ways towards the end. The quality of your stock will make a big difference to this recipe.

Using the above ingredients list as your guide, start by gently sweating down your ‘Soffritto’ of finely diced onion, celery and garlic over a low heat for a few minutes with 30g of butter and a swig of olive oil. The vegetables want to be softened, but not coloured.

Add the rice and stir it around for a few minutes until all of the grains are nicely coated and starting to turn translucent.

Add the wine, increase the heat to medium and allow it to cook away before adding your first ladle of hot stock.

As each ladleful of stock is absorbed by the rice, add another, stirring as you go to help the grains cook evenly and release their starch.

Notice how the rice moves in the pan when you stir it and the volume increases. After you’ve added about two thirds of your stock (about 20 minutes), taste the rice; you want the rice to still have some bite to it but not be chalky. Your judgement is critical from this point on, so keep tasting a little rice every few minutes and observing how it looks and moves. You may not use all the stock, and if you run out, just add a little hot water.

You don’t want to overcook the peas, so add them and the fresh mint just before the rice is ready. Once you’re happy with the texture, stir in the Parmesan cheese and 30g of butter. Place a lid over the pan, take it off the heat and allow your risotto to rest for a few minutes.

Serve your risotto with your favourite flourishes such as a sprinkle of Pangrattato, shavings of Parmesan, a squeeze of lemon, twists of Black Pepper, a drizzle of Olive Oil, Fresh Pea shoots, Rocket or Micro Herbs etc.

This dish would also work wonderfully adorned with a little crispy bacon or Pancetta.

Pea & Mint Risotto

I know what I’m having for dinner..

Elizabeth’s Footprint

Last week my wife and I joined Natalia Spencer on her Walk of Love. We’re linked through St James’ Primary School in Cheltenham. Natalia has given herself an enormous challenge; She’s walking the entire 6,000 mile coastline of the UK…

Since starting back in February, she’s completed over 1,000 miles, walking relentlessly with just one day of rest each week.

She has merely her rucksack, and the kindness of others to support her.

It may sound hard, but to her, it’s nothing compared to dealing with the raw grief of losing her 5-year-old daughter Elizabeth.

I’ve never met a more determined and truly inspirational person in my life. As I struggled to drag my body up the last hill on our 7 hour walk from Pendine to Tenby, she explained that she doesn’t walk with her legs, she walks with her mind.

Natalia is aiming to raise £100,000 for the Bristol Children’s Hospital, who’s doctors battled in vein to save Elizabeth for 18 long days last December. She’s bringing something positive from her loss, and moving forward one step at a time.

I applaud her mighty efforts to help the lives of others, and wish her godspeed on her year-long venture.

Please read her story, follow her progress on Facebook and Twitter, raise awareness and help in any way that you can.

Supporting her in the best way I know how to, we had the pleasure of providing sustenance in the form of a few square meals. We hope to join you again soon Natalia. X

 

To donate to go https://www.justgiving.com/Natalia-Spencer/ or text  ELIF55 £2/£5/£10 to 70070

Countdown To Food Revolution Day 2016

On Friday May 20th, Jamie will be asking people across the world to join him, and sign up to the Food Revolution.

FOOD.REV54833%201_preview

This is our annual day of action that brings people together from around the world in thousands of events that celebrate good, fresh, real food. The ongoing global campaign provokes debate and aims to inspire meaningful change in the way our children access, consume and understand food.

This year is a step-change in our approach; it’s not just a day, it’s a revolution!

We’re in the middle of a global health crisis. Right now an astounding 41 million children under five are overweight, while another 159 million are too undernourished to grow properly. We’re failing both our children and future generations by not empowering them with the right food and skills they need to grow healthily and happily.

If you need any further inspiration, here’s Jamie’s 2010 TED talk.

Everyone should have the opportunity to lead happier, healthier lives by learning how to cook nutritious and delicious food from scratch.

The theme for 2016 revolves around not one, but ten basic recipes that act as a ‘Starter Pack of Cooking‘; ten recipes to save your life. These recipes are nutritionally balanced and each one covers a different skill and technique. We’re passionate about creating a movement that can deliver real change and help the world feed the future. These recipes can help to build confidence in the kitchen so that anyone can cook healthy, real food for themselves, and their families.

All the resources for planning local events are now available to download here.

Get involved, and help us to fight obesity and diet-related diseases.

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