Baked Sole with Cream and Parmesan

Baked Sole with Cream and Parmesan

 

This is a really delicious fish dish that is easy to prepare and bakes in only 15 minutes. The fish is baked with lemon and cream and topped with Parmesan cheese.

 

Baked Sole with Cream and Parmesan
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 8 small or 4 large sole fillets (or other flat fish), 675g (1 lb 8 oz), skinned
  • 240ml (8 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (1 cup)
  • 85g (3 oz) Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated (¾ cup)
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

  • You will also need a 27 x 20 cm (11 x 8 inches) ovenproof dish.


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F) (gas 7)

  3. Grease the ovenproof dish with butter, then lay the fish in a single layer in the dish with their thin ends tucked under so the fish will cook evenly.

  4. Now spoon the lemon juice over the fish.

  5. In a separate bowl or jug, combine the cream, garlic and parsley. Pour evenly over the fish.

  6. Top with the Parmesan, sprinkling it over so it completely covers the fish and cream.

  7. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until the top is starting to brown and the fish is cooked through.

 

Quick Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream

Quick Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream

 

This makes a lovely refreshing dessert and is very quick to prepare. A thick raspberry sauce, made from frozen raspberries, is carefully swirled through a creamy vanilla ice cream.

 

Quick Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream
Prepares: 8 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes
  • Standing time: 30 minutes
  • Freezing time: 3 hours

  • Ingredients
  • 2 litre container vanilla ice cream
  • 285g (10 oz) frozen raspberries (1¼ cups)
  • 28g (1 oz) caster/superfine sugar (2 tbsp)
  • ½ lemon

  • You will also need dessert glass dishes.


  1. Method
  2. Place the raspberries in a small pan. They don’t have to be thawed but break up any raspberries frozen in a clump. Sprinkle over the sugar and add the zest of the lemon. Then squeeze the juice of the lemon into the pan.

  3. Bring the juice to the boil over a medium heat and then reduce and gently simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened and become syrupy.

  4. Now press the raspberries and juice through a sieve to remove the seeds. This will leave a lovely thick syrup. Then leave to become cold.

  5. While the raspberry purée is cooling, transfer the ice cream from the freezer to the refrigerator so it can soften up, about 30 minutes.

  6. If the ice cream comes in a rectangular container, the raspberry ripple can be created in this container. However if it comes in a tub, scoop the ice cream into a 2 litre rectangular container which has a lid. Now break up the ice cream with a spoon.

  7. Pour half the purée over the ice cream and quickly cut in with a palette knife using a few strokes. (Avoid over working or it will turn into a raspberry mess!!) Now pour over the remaining raspberry purée which will just run through any gaps.

  8. Pop on the lid and return to the freezer. It will take about 3 hours to refreeze.

Updated: October 21, 2018

Salmon Provençale

Salmon Provençale

 

Salmon Provençale is a super tasty dish. Salmon fillet is roasted with baby potatoes, sweet cherry tomatoes, courgettes and olives tossed in olive oil and herbes de Provence.

 

Salmon Provençale
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation and cooking time: 50 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 565g (1 lb 4 oz) salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 4 portions
  • 450g (1 lb) baby potatoes (about 9)
  • 2 courgettes/zucchinis
  • 450g (1 lb) cherry tomatoes (about 16)
  • 20 black olives, pitted (optional)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3½ tsp herbes de Provence
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • You will also need a large heavy based baking tray/sheet.


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).

  3. While the oven is heating up, place the baking tray/sheet in the oven to get hot.

  4. Brush the hot tray/sheet with a little olive oil.

  5. Now toss the potatoes in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a little salt. Then spread on the baking tray/sheet and roast for 15 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile, brush the salmon pieces with a little olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of herbes de Provence. Season.

  7. After the potatoes have been roasting for 15 minutes, turn them, leaving a space in the centre of the tray/sheet to add the salmon pieces, and then return to the oven for 10 minutes.

  8. While the salmon and potatoes are in the oven, slice the courgettes/zucchinis into 1.25cm (½ inch) rounds and put in a bowl. Add the tomatoes, olives (if using), the remaining olive oil, and herbes de Provence. Season. Now toss to coat.

  9. After the salmon has been baking for 10 minutes, remove the tray/sheet from the oven, turn the potatoes again and spread all the vegetables around the salmon. Return to the oven and continue cooking for a further 10–12 minutes until the tomatoes are just starting to burst but still holding their shape and the salmon is cooked through.

  10. Serve.

Updated: October 21, 2018

Coffee Walnut Cakes

Coffee Walnut Cakes

 

This recipe makes 20 individual cakes of a light coffee sponge filled with finely chopped walnuts. They are sandwiched with a creamy coffee filling which is also used to coat the top. Each cake is then decorated with a half walnut. Scrumptious!

 

Coffee Walnut Cakes
Prepares: 20 cakes
 
  • Preparation time: 45 minutes
  • Cooking time: 35–40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the sponge
  • 225g (8 oz) butter, softened (1 cup, or 2 sticks)
  • 225g (8 oz) light muscovado sugar/light brown soft sugar (1 cup)
  • 4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), lightly beaten
  • 225g (8 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour (1¾ cups), sifted
  • 85g (3 oz) walnuts, finely chopped (⅔ cup)
  • 2 tsp coffee extract
  • 2 tbsp milk

  • For the decoration
  • 200g (7 oz) butter, softened (⅞ cup, or 1¾ sticks)
  • 450g (1 lb) icing/powdered sugar (4 cups), sifted
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ tsp coffee extract
  • 20 walnut halves

  • You will also need a tin/pan 20 × 30 × 5cm (8 × 12 × 2 inches) base lined. The right-sized roasting tin/pan will work.


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).

  3. Using a food mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.

  4. Now gradually add the beaten eggs. If the mixture begins to curdle, just add 1 tablespoon flour.

  5. Using a large spoon, fold in the flour and then the coffee extract, milk, and chopped walnuts until combined.

  6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin/pan and level the surface. Bake for 35–40 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

  7. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning out of the tin/pan to cool completely. Because of its size, the easiest way to do this is to place a wire rack over the top of the tin/pan, turn the rack over, lift off the tin/pan, and peel away the lining from the cake. Then place a second wire rack over the bottom of the cake and set the cake the right way up on the wire rack.

  8. Meanwhile, to make the butter icing. Beat together the butter, icing/powdered sugar, vanilla and coffee extracts, together with 1½ tablespoons of hot water, until smooth.

  9. To make it easier to decorate, cut the cake into two once it has completely cooled. Now slice each half horizontally through the middle and then sandwich back together using half the butter icing. Spread the remaining icing over the top of the cakes.

  10. Cut each cake into 10 equal pieces and decorate each piece with a walnut half.

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Oats and chocolate chips added to a basic cookie recipe have made these one of our favourite cookies for many years.

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Prepares: 42 cookies
 
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10–12 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 225g (8 oz) butter, softened (1 cup, or 2 sticks)
  • 225g (8 oz) caster/superfine sugar (1 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence/extract
  • 225g (8 oz) plain flour/all-purpose flour (1½ cups + 1 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda/baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 340g (12 oz) plain chocolate chips/semi-sweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
  • 85g (3 oz) porridge oats/quick cooking rolled oats (1¼ cups)

  • You will also need large baking trays/cookie sheets, ungreased.


  1. Method
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5)

  3. In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar for 2–3 minutes until really creamy, Then beat in the eggs and the vanilla.

  4. Sift the flour into a separate bowl and add the soda, salt, and cinnamon. Then gradually stir into the creamed mixture until completely combined.

  5. Next, stir in the oats and then carefully stir in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

  6. Drop by tablespoons onto the baking trays/cookie trays, spacing well apart, and bake for 10–12 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave for 1 minute. Then, using a palette knife, place on wire racks to cool.

  7. You may need to bake the cookies in two batches if you don't have enough baking trays/cookie sheets to use all the mixture. Leave the trays/sheets to cool down before spooning on the remaining mixture.

Updated: October 13, 2018

Apple Soufflé Crêpes

Apple Soufflé Crêpes

 

Preparing the apples as a purée and then mixing with meringue make these filled crêpes very light. They are finished off in the oven where they will puff up and look quite impressive. Then a dusting of cinnamon – this a very different type of crêpe.

 

Apple Soufflé Crêpes
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 40 minutes plus (the crêpes can be made while the filling is cooking)
  • Standing time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 40–45 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the crêpes
  • 115g (4 oz) strong plain/all-purpose flour (⅔ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) semi-skimmed milk (1¼ cups), OR
  • 240ml (8 fl oz) full fat/whole milk (1 cup) and 60ml (2 fl oz) water (¼ cup)

  • For the filling
  • 565g (1¼ lb) dessert apples (4 medium)
  • 120ml (4 fl oz) water (½ cup)
  • 3½ tbsp caster/superfine sugar
  • 20g (¾ oz) butter, softened (1½ tbsp)
  • 3 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), whites only
  • ground cinnamon for dusting

  • You will also need a shallow-rimmed, lightweight pan, 20–23cm (8–9inch) in diameter with rounded sides for the crêpes and four shallow, ovenproof dishes, each large enough to take two folded and filled 15cm (6 inch) crêpes.


  1. Method
  2. First make up the batter for the crêpes. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Break the egg into the well and, using half the milk, gradually whisk the egg and milk into the flour, using a balloon whisk. Once a smooth consistency is reached and lots of bubbles rise to the surface, add the rest of the milk quickly. Do not over-mix.

  3. Or use an electric mixer. First mix the egg and milk together then mix in the sifted flour and salt until the batter is smooth and lots of bubbles rise to the surface. Be careful not to over-mix.

  4. Let batter rest for 20 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, peel, quarter and core the apples and place in a large pan. Add the water, cover the pan, and cook over a low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced to a pulp.

  6. Now to cook the crêpes. Get the pan really hot and then reduce to a moderate heat – about the temperature needed for frying an egg. Use oil or butter to grease the pan. If using oil, use groundnut or another flavourless oil (not olive oil) and pour a little in a small bowl. If using butter, melt a large knob of butter in the pan and then pour into a small bowl. Add a little oil or butter to the pan and tilt the pan to cover the base. It should just glisten, not run with oil or butter.

  7. Stir the batter, then pour about 45ml (3 tablespoons) of batter in the centre of the pan for each crêpe. Immediately lift and tilt the pan in all directions to spread the batter. You are aiming to make a 15cm (6 inch) crêpe.

  8. Turn when the batter starts to curl away from the sides of the pan, the mixture begins to bubble and the underside is golden. It should take about a minute. If it seems a bit sticky, give it a couple of seconds more. Loosen the edge of the crêpe from the pan, then flip it over with a palette knife and cook until the underside is golden. Slip each cooked crêpe from the pan directly onto a piece of kitchen paper which will absorb any grease and keep it light and dry. Repeat the process with the rest of the batter, greasing the pan each time, until you have 8 crêpes.

  9. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).

  10. Now once the apples have been reduced to a pulp, turn up the heat and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes until thick. Stir continuously to prevent the apple catching on the bottom of the pan.

  11. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and stir to melt the sugar.

  12. Now to make the meringue. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff.

  13. Add the remaining sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking well between each addition, until the meringue is glossy.

  14. Stir a quarter of the meringue into the apple to loosen it a little, then fold in the rest.

  15. Spoon 2–3 tablespoons of the meringue mixture over half of each crêpe. Then fold the other half of the crêpe over the meringue mixture.

  16. Grease the ovenproof dishes with butter and place two crêpes in each dish, a little apart so they are not touching. Bake for 10–12 minutes until puffed up and hot.

  17. Dust with cinnamon and serve immediately before the soufflé has a chance to sink.

 

Basic Sponge Sandwich

Basic Sponge Sandwich

 

A simple light sponge recipe that is the basis of many kinds of sponge cakes, the famous one being the Victoria Sponge Sandwich. This basic sandwich sponge can be filled with a conserve or creamy filling and the top iced, usually with a soft icing, or simply covered with caster or icing sugar/powdered sugar.

 

Basic Sponge Sandwich
Prepares: 6–8 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20–25 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 115g (4 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour (⅔ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 115g (4 oz) butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 115g (4 oz) caster/white sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

  • You will also need 2 x 18cm (7 inch) sandwich tins, greased and base-lined.


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) (gas 3)

  3. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer makes this cake very quick to prepare.

  4. First, sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl to introduce as much air as possible.

  5. Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix for 1 minute until the mixture is creamy.

  6. Divide evenly between the two pans and level the tops.

  7. Bake towards the top of the oven on the same shelf for 20–25 minutes until firm to the touch. The sponge should spring back when gently tapped with a fingertip.

  8. Leave in the tins for 1–2 minutes then carefully remove, peel off the linings and cool on a wire cooling rack.

  9. For a deeper sponge
  10. This is known as a two-egg cake, for a deeper sponge use 3 eggs and increase the rest of the ingredients accordingly, and bake for 30–35 minutes.

  11. This mixture will also make
  12. This quantity of mixture will also be sufficient for 18 cup cakes, a 18cm (7 inch) square cake, a 20cm (8 inch) round cake or a 23cm (9 inch) ring cake.

  13. For flavourings
  14. Chocolate
  15. Add 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder blended with 1 tablespoon of boiling water.

  16. Coffee
  17. Add 2 teaspoons of coffee extract or 2 teaspoons of instant coffee blended with 1 teaspoon of boiling water.

  18. Citrus
  19. Add 1 teaspoon of grated orange, lemon or lime rind.

  20. Tips
  21. Always line the base of the tin even if it is non-stick. When greasing, brush butter on evenly. The cake will still stick if it is greased unevenly.

  22. Have everything weighed or measured before beginning to mix.

  23. No self raising flour? Add 1 level teaspoon baking powder to every 115g (4 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour. Sift the flour twice to incorporate as much air as possible and mix the two ingredients together thoroughly.

  24. Butter should be at room temperature for baking. If you’ve forgotten to take it out of the fridge, it can be microwaved on defrost for 20–30 seconds, until the butter is soft but still holds its shape.

  25. Leave at least 1 inch space all round tins so that the heat can circulate freely.

  26. Give the sponges the baking time suggested in the recipe but use this as a guide. Ovens vary – some are hotter and so cakes will take less time to cook and vice versa. It is better to start checking a few minutes before the allotted time. and if the cake is cooked in less time take it out of the oven. Conversely, if it is not ready at the allotted time allow a couple more minutes and check again. Also, when a cake is ready you can smell it. So your sight and smell are good allies.
  27. To tell when they are ready, gently touch in the centre with the fingertips and, if the mixture feels springy and no imprints remain, the cakes are baked. They should also shrink away from around the sides of the tin.

  28. For more tips, here's a link to my page on Baking Cakes.

Updated: October 3, 2018

Peppered Steak with a Merlot Sauce

Peppered Steak with a Merlot Sauce

 

Succulent steaks coated with crushed peppercorns and served with a syrupy wine sauce.

 

Peppered Steak with a Merlot Sauce
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 15–20 minutes
  • Cooking time:: 6–18 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 4 good quality steaks, 3cm (1¼ inches thick)
  • 1½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 170ml (6 fl oz) Merlot wine (¾ cup)
  • ½ tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 14g (½ oz) butter (1 tbsp)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • To serve
  • mashed potatoes

  • You will also need a heavy based frying pan/skillet


  1. Method
  2. Warm a plate in the oven.

  3. Trim any excess fat from the steaks. Crush the peppercorns coarsely using a pestle and mortar, or with a flat-ended rolling pin, and spread them out onto a plate. Press both sides of the steaks down onto the crushed peppercorns, shaking off any loose bits as you lift them off.

  4. Heat the pan until it is really hot then add the oil. Place the steaks in the pan and cook them for 3–4 minutes on each side for rare or 8–9 for medium to well done. Transfer to the warmed plate, cover loosely with foil, and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, pour the wine into the pan and let it bubble up and reduce until it makes a thick, syrupy sauce. Add the balsamic vinegar and butter and then stir in any juices that have run off the steaks. Season to taste.

  6. Serve with the sauce poured over the steaks and the mashed potato alongside to soak up the juices.

Updated: October 3, 2018

Lemon Surprise Pudding

This week we’ve had a couple of nights where it feels quite cool – it seems as though the time has come to say goodbye to summer and all those lovely berry desserts.

The coming of fall, although a beautiful but short season here in Ontario, will mean that winter is just around the corner. Now being a summer person, that is not my favourite time of year. It means there is often a very reluctant dog (our yellow labrador) and us to venture out on walks. The bright sunny, even snowy days, are a delight – it’s the ice and wind I could do without!

So – where I was going – it seems that it’s now time to start bringing out the fall recipes with that bit of comfort food about them. The first one we had again for supper last evening – a Lemon Surprise Pudding – which has just been added to the blog. I hope that you will want to try it.

 

Lemon Surprise Pudding

 

This Lemon Surprise Pudding makes a lovely, citrus dessert. The mixture creates a thick, very lemony sauce that is covered with a really light and airy sponge.

 

Lemon Surprise Pudding
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 35 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 2 large lemons
  • 55g (2 oz) butter, softened (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 115g (4 oz) caster/superfine sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 55g (2 oz) plain/cake and pastry flour (⅓ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 150ml (5 fl oz) full fat/whole milk (⅔ cup)

  • To serve
  • Double/whipping or heavy cream

  • You will also need a 1 litre (1¾ pint) (4 cups) ovenproof dish.


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)

  3. First, zest one of the lemons and then squeeze out the juice from both of them. The juice should yield 150 ml (5 fl oz) (⅔ cup).

  4. Cream the butter and lemon zest together in a large bowl. Then, a spoonful at a time, add the sugar, beating well between each addition, until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.

  5. Separate the eggs, putting the whites into a bowl to whip later and adding the yolks to the mixture.

  6. Sieve the flour into a separate bowl. Now add a tablespoon of flour followed by a tablespoon of milk, beating well between each addition, until all the flour and milk have been incorporated.

  7. Slowly add the lemon juice. It may start to curdle but that will not be a problem.

  8. Finally, whip the egg whites until they are just stiff and then lightly fold in.

  9. Generously butter the ovenproof dish and then pour in the mixture.

  10. Bring a kettle of water to the boil. Place the ovenproof dish in a roasting tin/pan and then add the boiling water to the tin/pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ovenproof dish.

  11. Bake for 35 minutes until the top is beginning to brown and the sponge springs back when lightly pressed with the tip of a finger.

  12. Serve immediately along with a jug of cream. You will find there will be a lovely, thick lemon sauce at the bottom of the dish covered with a very light and airy sponge.

Updated: October 2, 2018

Individual Shepherd’s Pie

Individual Shepherd's Pie

 

These tasty little shepherd’s pies are made in a small gratin dish and are quick to prepare. The lamb is mixed with beans and a minted tomato sauce, and then covered with a creamy mash potato and topped with cheese and cherry tomatoes.

 

Individual Shepherd's Pie
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 900g (2 lb) potatoes, peeled and cut into even sized chunks (about 6 medium)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 450g (1 lb) lamb mince/ground lamb
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) lamb or beef stock (1¼ cups)
  • 415g tin (398ml can) baked beans
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée/paste
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • knob of butter
  • a little milk
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 55g (2 oz) cheddar cheese, grated (½ cup)

  • You will also need 4 individual serving ovenproof dishes for this recipe


  1. Method
  2. Add the potatoes to a pan of boiling salted water and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender.

  3. Meanwhile heat the oil in a frying pan/skillet, then add the lamb and brown over a medium heat, about 5 minutes.

  4. Reduce the heat a little and stir through the flour, then add the stock, stirring until it thickens, about 2 minutes.

  5. Next, add the baked beans, tomato purée/paste, Worcestershire sauce and mint. Season. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Divide amongst the four dishes.

  6. Preheat the grill/broiler while finishing the pies.

  7. Drain the potatoes once they are tender, then mash adding a good knob of butter and just enough milk to produce a creamy mash. Spread the mash evenly over the meat mixture.

  8. Place six tomato halves, cut sides up, on top of each pie, pressing them down a little into the mash.Then sprinkle the cheese over top.

  9. Put the dishes on a heavy-based baking sheet, place under the grill/broiler and cook for about 6–8 minutes until the tops are golden and juices are bubbling round the edges.


  10. Individual Shepherd's Pie

Updated: October 2, 2018

Pasta al Forno Siciliana

Pasta al forno Siciliana Pasta al forno Siciliana

 

Layers of ragù, rigatoni, ham, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses make pasta al forno Siciliana a truly flavourful Italian dish.

 

Pasta al Forno Siciliana
Prepares: 8 servings
 
  • Preparation time: About 45 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 hour on hob, 25 minutes in oven

  • Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 900g (2 lb) minced/ground beef
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 240ml (8 fl oz)red wine (1 cup)
  • 540ml (18 fl oz) passata (2¼ cups)
  • 225g (8 oz) frozen peas (1½ cups)
  • 450g (1 lb) rigatoni pasta (7½ cups)
  • 170g (6 oz) sliced ham, cut into strips (about 6 slices)
  • 225g (8 oz) mozzarella cheese, chopped
  • 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra to serve

  • To serve
  • A green salad or caesar salad

  • You will also need a deep ovenproof dish measuring 22cm x 30.5cm (8½ ins x 12 ins) and 6.5cm (2½ ins) deep.


  1. Method
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.

  3. Now turn up the heat to moderate, add the meat and brown, stirring often to break up any lumps, about 5 minutes.

  4. Stir in the oregano, thyme, wine, and plenty of seasoning. Continue to cook until the wine has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.

  5. Next, stir in the passata, 240ml (8 fl oz) (1 cup) water, and add the bay leaf. Cover the pan and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. At the end of the cooking time the consistency should be that of a loose ragù. Add a little more water if it is getting too thick.

  6. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F)( gas 5).

  7. minutes before the ragù has finished cooking, start cooking the pasta. Add the pasta to a large pan of boiling salted water and let it cook for 2 minutes less than the recommended time on the packet. Drain.

  8. Add the peas to the ragù and then remove the pan from the heat. Discard the bay leaf.

  9. Now to layer the dish. Spoon a thin layer of the ragù over the base of the ovenproof dish. Add half the pasta and then spoon over half the remaining ragù. Top with all the ham. Now scatter over half the mozzarella plus 2 tbsp of the Parmesan. Add the rest of the pasta then spoon over the rest of the ragù. Finally scatter over the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

  10. Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for a further 10 minutes until piping hot and golden.

  11. Serve with extra Parmesan sprinkled on the top and a salad.

Updated: October 1, 2018

Country Vegetable Soup

Country Vegetable Soup

 

This is a lovely smooth, thick vegetable soup. It’s quick to make and great for a winter’s day accompanied with soda bread.

 

Country Vegetable Soup
Prepares: 6 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 45 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 55g (2 oz) butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 large potato, chopped
  • 600ml (20 fl oz) good beef stock (2½ cups)
  • 1 tsp tomato purée/paste
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • To serve
  • Chopped chives or celery leaves to garnish


  1. Method
  2. Melt the butter in a large pan, add the vegetables and toss to coat with the butter. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

  3. Stir in the stock, and then add the tomatoes and tomato purée/paste. Season to taste. Now bring to the boil, cover the pan, and simmer for 30 minutes.

  4. Remove from the heat, leave to cool slightly and then purée in a blender.

  5. Pour into a clean saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes.

  6. Check seasoning and serve garnished with chives or celery leaves.

Updated: October 1, 2018