Food: Baked Spaghetti squash with lentil ragù

Having seen them be an Autumnal regular on many American food blogger’s Instagram feeds, I was pleasantly surprised when I found a spaghetti squash at Möllan Market, here in Malmö. I bought a good sized one, for myself and the Mr to share for dinner for 22kr (£1.87), but now was the challenge, what the hell do I do with it?! The solution came in the unlikely form of Instagram, one of my friend’s here in Malmö, Nourish With Julie (IG), also a food and travel blogger, had done spaghetti squash ‘pasta’ the previous night and a little guide to how to cook a spaghetti squash in her stories. So, fired up I decided to put a twist on it, using my lentil ragù recipe to fill the big orange vessels. However, instead of using green lentils I used red ones to have it all meld together to the colour of an Autumn leaf. To make my take on it, you’ll need:

(Feeds 2 (generously))

  • 1 spaghetti squash, de- seeded and cut in half
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100g of red lentils
  • 200ml of water
  • Splash of rapeseed oil/vegetable oil
  • 1 tbp of tomato puree
  • 1 tbp of sundried tomatoes/sundried tomato paste (optional)
  • Splash of red wine (optional)
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • ½ tsp of black pepper (or more!)
  • 1 tsp dried basil (or a generous handful of fresh if you can get it)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2-3 bay Leaves

Herbed breadcrumbs:

  •  100g (usually 3-5 slices) of stale bread
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Sprinkle of salt ( I used Halen Môn Anglesey sea saly)
  • Pepper

Garnish:

  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • Drizzle of garlic-infused oil

 

Start with the spaghetti squash, on a chopping board, cut it through the middle (be careful at this step, as the knife may not go through the flesh easily, depending on the individual squash) and scoop out all of the seeds. The seeds you can use as a snack, by seasoning them with spices and a little oil and oven baking them so don’t throw them away! Once you have two halves of squash, now with empty cavities, brush a little oil on them, followed by a crack of salt and pepper. Place them face down on a baking tray and place them into a pre-heated oven at 180°c for roughly 40-50 minutes (depending on the size of the squash).

Whilst the squash cooks you can sort out the ragù.

Fry the onions and garlic in the oil over a medium heat until soft. Stir in the tomato paste and the tin of tomatoes. Season with the herbs, the salt and the black pepper and add the splash of wine if you have it.

Pour in the lentils and add ¾ of the water to the mix. The lentils will suck up the water as they cook. give it a good stir – add more water if it’s looking a bit thick. Simmer on the back ring on a medium heat until the lentils are soft. Take out the bay leaves and set aside.

Once the squash halves are done, take them out of the oven and rough the flesh up a bit with a fork. Next, fill with the ragù and top with some herby breadcrumbs. You can easily make these by taking some stale bread and the dried herbs and blending them up with a food processor. Once broken down into seasoned breadcrumbs, top the ragù, as you would with some Parmesan, drizzle with some garlic oil, a sprinkle of the salt and place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

When the top is all golden, garnish with some basil leaves and serve with a side salad with a punchy dressing and some bread. As the squash are quite substantial on their own, you wont need a lot to go with them.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

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Food & Design: Uncommon Delights

-Sponsored post-

As you may or may not be aware the last few months have been a tad turbulent, to say the least! But now things are starting to settle into a rhythm here in Malmö and there are exciting things on the horizon. With that in mind I’ve decided to do a Top Ten list of some design and food products that are essential for a new home. I’ve curated my list from UncommonGoods.com who have an extensive range of gift ideas for men, women and the home, to name but a few. I don’t know what your priorities are for feeling at home after you’ve moved in somewhere new, but mine centre around food, wine and home decor so check out these links for more great ideas!

Sustainability is at the heart of Uncommon Goods’ mission as well as providing environmentally friendly and socially responsible products. They work with a wide range of producers and companies, both large and small. I particularly admire their mission to become as paper free as possible, moving the majority of their business to online. In addition to that they’re keen to promote handmade, recycled and organic products wherever possible and this is all to the good. There are plenty of big companies out there that offer amazing products but there are also plenty of smaller producers struggling to make their mark.

 

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1 – Infused Oil & Vinegar Trio

Anyone who knows me (or has read the rest of my blog) knows I’m a sucker for flavoured oils and vinegars. Doesn’t matter what you’re cooking, sweet or savoury, they add a flavour kick that can knock your cooking into overdrive. Consisting of Blood Orange, Lavender and Basil flavours consider this your new home starter kit for transforming your salads, desserts, side dishes and even your breakfasts (if don’t believe me then try some of the Blood Orange Oil in porridge with a dollop of marmalade and some vegan crème fraîche!).

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2 – Flavoured Simple Syrup Set

In a similar vein this little set of syrups can be used equally creatively to up-level your cooking or indeed form the basis of some delicious cocktails. Featuring some really interesting flavour combinations including cucumber habanero and grapefruit basil, combine with a flavourless oil to impress your friends and family with some daring dressings for your salads.

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3 – Salts of the World Test Tube Set

Salts can be used in a variety of ways and not only to simply sprinkle on top of your dishes before serving (although that’s also totally legit!). Try the Himalayan Crystal Pink Fine Grain salt on the rim of a cocktail glass for a touch of class or combine the Spanish Saffron Salt with some classic rice pudding for an extra dimension.

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4 – Wine Aerating Tool

We all enjoy a good bottle of wine but sometimes you can forget to give it time to breathe before you serve. Every kitchen drawer should contain one of these little beauties for those moments when you’ve been rushed off your feet but still demand that your wine tastes its absolute best.

 

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5 – Wine Pairing Towel Set

Now this one is basically a cheat sheet for anyone who doesn’t know their chablis from their chiantis! We can’t all pretend to be Jilly Goolden but these towels will give you a bit of a head start, if nothing else you’ll definitively know whether to serve a red, white or a rosé with your food. No one wants a creamy risotto with a rich, full bodied red so make sure you’re clued up. Alternatively, this could be a great present for that friend or relative who needs a little revision!

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6 – Oval Oak Salt and Pepper Shakers

These classy shakers from Sagaform will definitely add a dimension of class to your dinner table. Scandinavian design classics, these will flexibly fit in with country kitchen or sleek and minimalist styled decor. And as I own the matching wine carafe, these would suit my interior to a tee.

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7 – Boxcar Planter Set

These delightful little planters are a great addition to any modern interior. Handmade in Portland, Oregon, from gorgeous deep walnut, these are the best way to show off your succulent/cacti collection. Plus, artist and designer, Joe Gibson was inspired by the classic American boxcar design, so these moveable planters, look good alone or next to one-another.

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8 – Sea Spell Doormat

This cute doormat would go perfectly in our new apartment in Malmö! Not only is it in my favourite colour, teal, but look at the cat-mermaid. I repeat, CAT MERMAID. That is all 😉

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9 – Kitchen Utensil and Tablet Holder 

How much of a cool product is this?! It’s so useful for someone who, like myself, loves cooking in the kitchen. This handmade stoneware utensil pot, gives you an easy way to follow a recipe on your tablet. Or if you find cooking to be an arduous task that needs to be endured rather than enjoyed then you can put your tablet in the holder to listen to music/watch videos whilst you get on with the job!

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10 – White Earthenware Bowl with Stand

This cute bowl is totally Mid-Century inspired, with it’s copper legs giving you that atomic vibe. Channel that Don-Draper (or for that matter Peggy Olson) vibe into your place and be the hippest cat in town!

 

 

Food: Kale & walnut pesto

Here’s a fuss free recipe for a fresh pesto that’s incredibly flavoursome and an interesting twist on a traditional pesto.

I had some basil left in the fridge, so I added that, but it’s purely optional because the kale & walnut can stand on their own with out it. It’s easy to make a big batch up and freeze, so you constantly have a supply of tasty pesto, that’s also vegan friendly too, as an added bonus!

 

You’ll need:

  •  1/2 bag of kale (roughly 100g)
  • Handful of walnuts (roughly 20g), chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 (heaped)tbs Nooch (Nutritional yeast)
  • 100ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Handful of basil, chopped (optional)

 

Start by blanching the kale, as it can be a bit tough on blenders. Keep your eye on it though, as it you want it still vibrant green and full of its nutrients. Once its done, drain and set aside. Place the walnuts into a pan on a medium heat and toast them until they release their nutty aroma and burnish. Another one to keep an eye on as they can scorch easily. Again, once done, set aside.

Here’s where the fun part comes in!

Traditionally, in Italy, they would use a pestle and mortar to make pesto, laboriously grinding the leaves and nuts, until they form into a tasty green sauce.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Yes, it would be idillic if we could, but in our time stressed lives, we need food that’s quick and easy to prepare! All of this hard work can be done in a jiffy with a food processor.

Plug it in, and start by adding the ingredients, minus the oil. Place the lid on and whizz until they form a green mixture. As it’s whizzing, trickle the oil bit by bit to the sauce. Remember to stop half way, scrape the sides down with a spatula and go again, this will ensure a smoother, more even pesto.

A couple more whizzes and your done!

Use like you would pre-made pesto, on pasta, as a marinade etc.

 

Enjoy!

Food: My tomato soup

Nothing is more classic than a tomato soup, often one of the recipes you’ll start with when learning to cook, it’s even been immortalised by the likes of Warhol. This is mine. My recipe for a soup that is comforting and luxuriously silky, but simple to make and cheap on the wallet!

you’ll need:

  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 (heaped) tbs of sundried tomato paste
  • 1tbs of dried oregano
  • 1ltr of water
  • Vegetable stock pot
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 Bay leaves (fresh or dried)
  • Glug of Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

To serve:

  • A swirl of cream- Vegan or Dairy, you decide! ( I use Oatly)

Start by roasting the cherry tomatoes, in a dish covered with foil. A sprinkle of salt & a glug of oil is all they need. Cook for about 20 mins with foil on & for 10-15 mins with the foil off.

Fry an onion & 2 the minced cloves of garlic until translucent, then add in a big tablespoon of sundried tomato paste, a tbs of dried oregano and two tins of chopped tomatoes.

Fill up a tin with water and add to the mix, getting out all the tomatoey goodness.

Add a vegetable stock pot and some freshly chopped basil and a couple of fresh/dried bay leaves. Season & stir.

Cook low & slow for up to 2 hours (this is in my Le Creuset Dutch Oven in at 140°C-  for Slow cookers, I’d try it possibly for a bit longer as the heat isn’t as harsh – but I’d add in a bit more water to stop it drying out.

Once it’s finished doing its magical thing fish out the bay leaves, pour into a mixing bowl and whizz the soup up with a stick blender until it’s velvety & smooth.

Fill up a bowl, drizzle with some cream & enjoy!

I served mine with a great beer from Omission, which also happens to be gluten-free for those with Coeliacs/ Gluten Intolerance.

Food: Creamy aubergine pesto pasta

I had an extra aubergine in my fridge and I didn’t know what to do with it – well this a perfect for a midweek evening meal!

Feeds 2/3

To make you’ll need:

For the pesto:

  • A big handful of spinach
  • A handful of watercress
  • A handful of basil
  • 20g blanched almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 10g nutritional yest, ground
  • Some Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

For the dish:

  • 1 aubergine
  • 4 tbs of the pesto
  • 180g dried tagliatelle
  • 1tbs dried rosemary
  • Handful of wild rocket
  • Juice & zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of Vegan cream cheese- I used Oatly
  • Splash of Non-dairy milk- I used Oatly
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1tbs garlic infused oil

 

To start, all you have to do is blend up the leaves, nuts and garlic with a stick blender until smooth. Pour in the oil bit by bit until it’s a runny paste and then set aside. Next, add the nutritional yeast and season with salt & pepper then blend again. Done!

Prepare the aubergine by cutting it into coins and place them into a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and leave for 30 minutes until the juices have extracted. When this happens, pat them down with a wet cloth, sprinkle them with the rosemary and place on a chopping board. Chop the coins of aubergine into thick strips. Once this is done you can start cooking.

Set a shallow pan on a low heat with a glug of garlic oil. When the pan heats up, add in the aubergine and fry until it starts to soften. When this happens, squeeze the juice of half a lemon in and place the lid on for it to steam in the juices. Leave the lid on for a good 6-7 minutes or so. This is the time you can start the pasta. Cook the pasta in a pot of salted & oiled boiling water until sufficiently ‘al-dente’.

When you’re ready to take the lid off, the aubergine should be soft and the skin should have become a bright fuchsia. Now add in the pesto and allow it to cook down. Splash in some oat milk and a generous nob of cream cheese. Drain the pasta and stir through with a big handful of wild rocket. Make sure the sauce clings to everything – the heat of the dish will wake the rocket up. Heap into bowls and season with freshly ground black pepper.

I served mine with a large, crisp glass of white.

Buon Appetito!

 

Food: Pancetta, mushroom & pesto pasta

Here’s a recipe perfect for a quick meal on a weeknight and it gives you a variation on the famous Italian pesto.

You’ll need:

for the pesto:

  • A big handful of spinach
  • A handful of watercress
  • A handful of basil
  • 20g blanched almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 10g Parmesan, grated
  • Some Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • salt & pepper

 

For the meal:

  • A small pack of pancetta
  • 20g chestnut mushrooms
  • 200g penne pasta ( I usually work on 100g per person, so this serves 2)
  • Half a packet of Italian salad leaves/ wild rocket
  • salt & pepper

Before you start the meal I’d make the pesto, albeit not a traditional pesto, which includes pine nuts that can be expensive, any creamy nut will work and its fun to experiment with different leaves and nuts. To do this, all you have to do is use blender ( I use a stick blender) and  blend up the leaves, nuts and garlic until smooth, pouring in the oil little by little until its a runny paste. Next, add the Parmesan and season with salt & pepper and blend again. Keep aside. You can also freeze the pesto if you’ve made too much.

Next, Heat a shallow pan on low and fry the pancetta, until all of its smokey oil has been rendered. Now, add the mushrooms and fry them until soft. Whilst this is cooking you can boil the pasta in some salted water. When the mushrooms are done, add a big heaped spoonful (or two) of the pesto, to cook the raw garlic out. The pan by this point should be a vibrant green. Next, drain and add the pasta and stir. Then, add half a packet of Italian salad leaves and stir until the green oily sauce has covered everything. Serve and top with plenty of black pepper and freshly grated Parmesan. We served ours with some homemade garlic bread and a couple of crisp larger.

Buon Appetito!

Food: Last night’s Vegan Mexican Fiesta

Our friend Jen came over last night, and like me, she often eats meatless, so I fancied making a favourite of mine, Vegan burritos (you can Veggie them up too with cheese & sour cream if you want!)

Taking advice from one of my foodie heroes, Nigella, I got super organised so I wouldn’t have to do much on the day itself. The day before we had made the two batches of molé for the burrito filling. One was a fried chili tofu molé, the other, a roasted butternut squash molé, with the ‘meat’ being different, but the sauce the same.

It’s an easy one to knock up, and open to adaptations.

You’ll need:

  • 1-2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 chopped onion (large)
  • 1 dried poblano chilli (chilli Ancho)
  • 1 chopped red chilli
  • 1 tin of kidney beans (drained)
  • 2tbs of ground cumin
  • 1 tbs of paprika (pimentón)
  • 3 carrots (chopped)
  • 1tbs Tomato purée
  • a small glass ful of red wine
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • a sprig of coriander
  • 1 tbs chilli powder
  • 10-20g of good quality high cacao percent chocolate (I used some 100% cacao from Willie’s Cacao)

Fry off the mirepoix of onion, celery and carrot in a little oil until tender, then add the tomato puree until it has made a rich, thick mix. Pulp down with a stick blender, now bring back to the pot and add in the chopped tomatoes, the red wine and the spices. Next chop the chili up and add to the pot, also, at this point you add in the Ancho chili, with its smoky/sweet raisin like flesh. Cook it out for 10 minutes then add the kidney beans, simmer for an hour and add a splash of water to loosen. Then, add in the chopped sprig of coriander and grate the cacao in, this should make the sauce richer and deeper.Taste and season accordingly.

The ‘meat’ that went into the sauce was some tofu I had fried with some hot chili powder and sweet smoky ancho chili powder, and half a butternut squash I had roasted with 1 tbs of ground cumin, rapeseed oil, salt and pepper.

On the day itself I only had to prepare the guac and the salsa for the burritos. To make the guac (easy as!)

Just scoop out the flesh from 2 ripe avocados, add quarter a chopped onion, zest and juice of 1 lime, half a chopped green chilli, a big handful of corander (cilantro) and a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil. Blitz up until a lumpy yet mostly smooth dip, season. Done!

The salsa was just as easy!

3 chopped tomatoes, 2 roasted peppers, half a green chilli, half a chopped onion, the juice and zest of a lemon, 2 tsp of paprika (pimentón), a fistful of coriander and 2 tbs of good quality extra virgin olive oil. Blitz until chunky. Done.

To start we had the mid century classic of chips ‘n dips majorly chanelling Pete Cambell.

We just had nacho chips with the homemade dips (above)

For mains, then, were the burritos. Using the molé, dips, some cooked rice made for a hearty, delicious vegan burrito!

We served it with a crisp, reshreshing white that Jen had brought over (thanks Jen!)

To finish we needed something refreshing and light, which is exactly what we got (plus I had an abundance of basil I wanted to use up).

The day before I had made an apple, mint and basil granita, simply and generally fuss-free, perfect for what I needed.

To make:

De-core and peel 2-3 Granny Smith apples, chop up and place into a bowl. Add in 250ml of fresh apple juice, the juice of 1 lemon, a fist full of mint and the same of basil leaves. Blitz up with a stick blender until it turns into a fluffy purée. Strain then add some sugar syrup (to taste) and top up with sparkling water. Transfer into a box, and place in the deep freeze. Roughing it up with a fork every few hours, or so.

Enjoy!