Food: Vegan Carbonara

Last week in the ICA store in Möllevången, here in Malmö,  I saw these awesome new soya bacon pieces. Well, I just had to buy them and make myself a vegan spaghetti carbonara didn’t I 😉

Here’s a recipe for an equally creamy sauce as the original, but 100% plant based.

To make, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 pack soy bacon (87g)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1tsp vegan butter,
  • 100ml Oatly cream (or any other plant based cream)
  • Glug of garlic infused oil
  • 1tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1tbs vegan mayo
  • Lots of black pepper, around 8-9 cracks

To serve:

  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley,
  • Lots of vegan Parmesan ( I used Astrid och Aporna’s Riv-iera)

 

Start by putting on the spaghetti, the dish isn’t going to take long to make! Once the spaghetti is starting to simmer in it’s salty water, start by melting the butter in the pan and adding in the vegan bacon. I used ones from ICA here in Sweden, but I’m sure there are definitely nice bacon alternatives you could use, like smoked tofu, or tempeh bacon etc. Fry off until it starts going crisp, then add in the garlic. Fry until it cooks out its raw bite. Now, add in the Oatly cream, black pepper, nooch and garlic oil. Turn the heat down to low and stir. When they have thoroughly mixed together take the pan off the heat. By this time, the pasta should be nice and al-dente. Strain into a colander. As the sauce has started to cool down, you can add in the vegan mayo. This will give the same unctuous taste and feeling as using eggs in a traditional carbonara. Stir through the pasta evenly, so that each strand of spaghetti is enrobed in the sauce.  Serve with the chopped parsley and a generous helping of vegan Parmesan.

Enjoy!

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Food: Lentil ragù

Here’s a great cheap & healthy recipe for a ragù, that has that same rich taste, but uses green lentils, instead of meat.This is another one of those recipes where time is the most important ingredient, not only to allow the lentils to properly cook but also to allow the rest of the flavours to come together. To make you’ll need:

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100g of green 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

 

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 with suck up the water as they cook. Bring to a good simmer and then put in the oven for at least 45 minutes at 140°c (fan). Take out and give it a good stir – add more water if it’s looking a bit thick. Put back in the oven for another 30 minutes and the lentils should have lost all of their “bitty” ness.

Serve with tagliatelle or spaghetti, fresh bread and a nice glass of red wine.

 

 

Food: Roasted Vegetable Fusilli

Here’s a simple recipe you can knock up with very little effort in around 30 minutes! I used courgette, tomatoes and pepper, but feel free to use any Mediterranean veg you can get your hands on. Aubergine would be great, but if using aubergine, remember to salt & wash it first!

You’ll need:

  • Handful of cherry tomatoes,
  • 1 Courgette, sliced
  • 1 Pointed pepper, deseeded & sliced
  • 1tbs Balsamic vinegar
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • Handful of basil, ripped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 100g Fusilli pasta (per person)

Turn your oven on to 140°C and let it come up to speed. Whilst this is doing, in a roasting tray, add the chopped veg, oil, balsamic vinegar and salt. Toss it around until the sweet, oily, vinegary mixture has coated each vegetable piece. Place in the oven and leave for 20 minutes, only checking halfway through. This is the time you can get on with the pasta.

Weigh 100g of pasta per person, I used 200g as it’s for myself and my partner, Tom. Boil around 1 litre of water in a kettle. Once boiled, add the water to the pan and salt liberally. Nigella famously said (albeit it a Anna Del Conte quote 😉 ) that the water should be as salty as the Med Sea. Add the pasta and cook until al-dente.

Once done, drain and add back to the pan. The roasted vegetables should be ready by now. Take them out of the oven and stir through the pasta. Add in around half of the ripped basil and stir again. It is now ready to serve.

Add to a bowl and finish with a crack or two of black pepper and the other half of the basil.

I paired this rustic yet tasty evening meal with half a loaf of focaccia I had got from Wright’s Food Emporium (an amazing bistro/deli in Llanartne, Wales.) and a chilled Peroni doppio malto.  They paired beautifully with the pasta!

Buon appetito!

Food: Cauliflower paprikash

Here’s a cheap, satisfying & hearty recipe that is perfect for those cold Winter nights coming in!

You’ll need:

  •  ½ Head of cauliflower, cut into chunks,
  • 1 tbs Tomato puree
  • 1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100ml Water
  • 1 Onion, chopped finely
  • 2 Cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • Splash of flavourless oil
  • 2 Peppers, chopped •
  • 1 Pack of vegan cream ( I used 1 pack of 250ml Oatly cream)
  • Splash of white wine (Vermouth will also work!)
  • 2-3tbs Of paprika
  • 1tsp Mixed spice
  • 1tsp Ground cinnamon
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped •
  • Salt & pepper

Serve with:

  •  100g Tagliatelle or rice (per person)

This is a ‘one-pan dish’, I use my Dutch Oven to make this – shove it in the oven, and as it cooks slowly I can get on with my day, then eat it!

To make, start by frying off the onions & garlic until they become soft & translucent. Next, add in the tomato puree and mix it with the onion until it has cooked out. Then, the tin of tomatoes goes in. After you’ve tipped the tomatoes out, add the water to the tin and add it to the pan- this way it gets all the tomatoey goodness. Next, add in your paprika & spices. Cook it out for a couple of minutes. Once this is done, add in the cauliflower, stir and season. Add half of the chopped parsley and with the lid on, add to the oven (pre heated to 140°c). Leave it to do its own thing for at least 40 minutes, 1 hour maybe even an hour and a half. That is the magic of slow cooking!

Once you’re ready to eat, salt a boiling pan of water generously and add in your pasta/rice. Cook until done.

To serve layer the luscious & hearty paprikash on top of the pasta/rice and garnish with the rest of the parsley!

Et voilà!

Food: Ionian vegetable penne

Here’s a recipe for a Mediterranean meal that’s bursting with flavour, vitamins and nutrients that will help you beat the Winter blues and take you to the shores of the Med.

Serves 4

You’ll need:

  • 1 medium aubergine,
  • 3 cloves of garlic,
  • Minced 1/4 head of broccoli,
  • Handful of mushrooms, sliced,
  • 200g penne pasta,
  • Handful of fresh spinach,
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved,
  • 1 tbs of sundried tomato paste,
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes,
  • 1 large brown onion, chopped finely,
  • Small glass of white wine,
  • 1 tbs dried oregano,
  • 1 tbs dried rosemary,
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped,
  • Salt & pepper,
  • Squeeze of lemon juice,
  • Glug of garlic infused oil,

Start by chopping the aubergine into coins and place them in to a colander (over a bowl). Sprinkle salt over them and wait until it starts extracting it’s juices (this stops it becoming bitter). This should take 30 minutes or so.

Once the juice has been extracted wipe with a paper towel and fry off into a shallow Dutch oven on high with a drizzle of garlic oil. Once coloured in both sides, take them out and chop them into bite sized chunks. Squeeze some lemon juice over the aubergine and add another glug of oil to the pan. Next, add the chopped onions and garlic and fry off until translucent. Add in the sundried tomato paste and chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. Next, add the sliced mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and the dried herbs. Cook until the mushrooms have started to soften. Next, add the white wine and basil. Cook for a further 5 minutes, then place (lid on) into a preheated oven at 140 for 45 minutes- an hour.

While it’s cooking you can prepare the broccoli. To do this, chop the head into florets and parboil the florets in salted water. Once sufficiently ‘al-dente’, remove and pat with a paper towel. Next, place a cast iron skillet on your hob’s highest setting. Once scorching hot, char the broccoli using some tongs (constantly turning them as they can easily burn rather than char). When ready, place them in a bowl, squeeze some lemon juice and place a saucepan lid on top (it will slightly steam them).

Once the hour’s up take out the Dutch oven, add the broccoli and stir. Place on the hob on low, to keep it warm. This is the time to cook the pasta. Boil some penne (dried or fresh) in some salted and oiled water. Cook until sufficiently ‘al-dente’. Strain the pasta, then add it to the sauce. Finally take a handful of fresh spinach and place into the pan. It will begin to wilt as it hits the pan. Stir everything together and serve. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped fresh basil. We served ours with a couple of glasses of ice cold lemon water and some amazing Rosemary focaccia from Wright’s Food Emporium.

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: Our Dinner party with Dan and Dan

– It’s taken me almost a week to write this :/ but, oh well –

Last Saturday, after work our dear friend, Dan Philips (Director, Author and all round cuddly thesp) and his awesome boyf Dan came over for a catch-up and some grub before they both headed back to London.

As I had to go to work we Nigella’d the fuck out of it, and prepped the dessert, so we wouldn’t have to do anything complicated when they came round, even the dinner was un-complicated. We chose a rustic, weekly favourite of ours:

Funghi e Pancetta Tagliatelle.

You’ll need (serves 4 big portions 😉 )

  • 1 onion
  • 1 big tbs of garlic cream cheese
  • half a punnet of chestnut mushrooms
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tbs of dried thyme
  • 200g pancetta
  • sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1tsb of Dijon mustard
  • a glass full of sherry
  • dash of Worcester sauce
  • splash of milk/single cream
  • 400g tagliatelle
  • handful of rocket
  • salt & pepper
  • some parmesan
  • 20g soaked porcini mushrooms

Whilst I was in work, Tom had chopped roughly half a pack of chestnut mushrooms and 20g of soaked dried porcini mushrooms and a whole onion (chopped finely).

When I got back in, a quick change, and they were here, with two bottles of good quality Chardonnay to go with the dish (Thanks boys!)

We put the oven on to heat up the Ciabatta to accompany it, and we started cooking.

In my heavy,shallow 70s mustard Descoware pan I fried off 200g of chopped pancetta up and rendered it down until crispy, then the onions went in, cook until translucent in the bacon fat. Now add the dried thyme and the mushrooms and the sherry.  place Fry off the alcohol then place the lid on to let it steam for a couple of minutes with the bacon-y thyme sherry juices.  Now put the pasta on, salt liberally (as the Goddess Nigella says ‘as salty as the Med’) and cook until aldente. Now to finish the sauce, spoon in the cream cheese the mustard, the porcini liquor, dash of Worcestershire sauce and fresh thyme, and a splash of milk to thin. Once the pasta is done, strain and place in the pan with the sauce, season with plenty of black pepper, and stir through some fresh, peppery rocket until it wilts slightly. And Serve, with some shavings of Parmasan on top!

We paired this with some crispy, warm, fresh ciabatta and some homemade rosemary and garlic butter (I had made the previous night). It was sublime!

As a palate cleanser, we had a shot glass full of my apple, basil and mint granita (recipe here!) to get us ready for the tower of rich, cloying goodness that was my ultimate brownie served with vanilla ice cream and raspberry and white pepper coulis.

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(The said brownies)

To make these you’ll need:

  • 200g good quality dark chocolate
  • 185g unsalted butter
  • 100g (or near abouts I ate some of it xD ) of good white chocolate
  • 50g good milk chocolate
  • 80g frozen raspberries
  • 40g cacao powder
  • 10ml amaretto
  • 85g plain flour
  • 20g ground almonds
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275g caster sugar

Method:

Cube the butter and snap the plain chocolate into pieces – melt gently over a bain-marie. When it’s combined into a glossy mess, leave to cool (so that it doesn’t cook the eggs later on). Sieve the flour, almonds and the cocoa powder into a medium bowl. Separately, prepare your milk and white chocolate by chopping into roughly even pieces.  Using a hand blender, mix the eggs and the sugar together on high speed, until the mixture starts to double in size. This can take anywhere from three minutes plus (depending on the power of your blender). Fold the eggs into the chocolate mixture gently, making sure you don’t batter the air out of the mixture. After that, fold in the dry ingredients THEN the wet ingredients (fruit and chocolate pieces). Your mixture should be thick and gooey. Pour and spatula into a 20cm square tin (complete with greased sides and a baking paper base) and cook on 180 degrees C for 25 minutes. After that, give it a shake. If it’s too sloppy it’ll wobble like jelly. Return to the oven and cook for a further five to ten minutes – you’re looking for a papery crust and just a slight wobble. When you’re satisfied, take it out and let it cool. Cut it into cubes and sprinkle with icing sugar. And Serve it GURL!

The coulis we had with it was made in advance for a cheesecake I had made, and was out of the freezer. It’s a simple mix of 90g raspberries, 40g icing sugar and a heaped tsp of ground white pepper. Mix with a stick blender, and strain.

We accompanied it with glasses of rich, syrupy Pedro Ximénez. Mmm. All in all it was an amazing night!

As I’m writing this I’m waiting for Brother Lloyd to pick me up, to go to Cardiff and queue for Record Store Day (yay queueing -_-)

-Trust me, try those brownies, they are divine as the drag queen herself x