Nduja is a salami like paste from Calabria in the south of Italy. Made from the same cuts as slicing salami pork belly and shoulder. It contains local chillies and lots of spices making it very hot. The type I get comes in a sausage like log that you can squeeze out into a pan or spread on grilled bread for an almost instant crostini. When you cook with Nduja it’s a bit like anchovies in that it starts off in quite a solid form but as heat is applied it softens into more of a paste.
At Christmas this year I made Nduja sausage rolls and lots of them as I discovered that although delicious hot, they were even more delicious cold. It was a bit like a hot salami sausage roll. I haven’t stopped cooking with it since I made those sausage rolls at Christmas. I’ve been making pasta sauces, pizza toppings and even baking it into bread. One of my favourite uses for it though at the moment is in meatballs it gives them near instant fiery flavour and the sauce there cooked in to. Below is a recipe for Nduja meatballs and they are great for feeding a crowd as this particular recipe yields 40 meatballs.
Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruit cake that is eaten in the lead up to Halloween. It consists of dried fruits that are soaked in tea until plump and juicy. Barmbrack come in two varietys one is a yeasted bread the other a rich tea loaf. An item is traditionally baked into the Barmbrack. Traditionally this was a ring, a coin, and a piece of cloth. Whom ever got the ring was to be wed within the year, the coin would come into money and the cloth would have bad luck. These days it usually come with only one item the ring.
This chocolate cake is a chocolate lovers dream. A rich tender moist sponge sandwiched together with raspberry jam and covered in a lush shiny chocolate ganache icing. This cake is a particular joy for those who struggle with icing cakes, and I do include myself in that category, due to its easy icing. The icing is just a matter of warming together a little cream and golden syrup and stirring in chopped chocolate and allowing it to melt into the cream and pouring over the cake. Check out the recipe below.
February 14th Valentine’s day; a celebration of love and romance. St. Valentine’s days romantic connection originated from the festival of Luprecalia, held in mid-February. The festivals celebrations included the pairing off of men and women hence it’s romantic connection. The day got its name from a priest that was martyred by emperor Claudius II Gothicus and his body buried close to the Ponte Milvio, to the north of Rome, on February 14th. The feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelaius Ad 469. It is believed that the colour red became associated with Valentine’s day to represent the blood of the martyred St. Valentine.
Let talk food and drink
What makes a recipe romantic? Is it the mood enhancing chocolate, the aphrodisiac qualities of oysters or perhaps some celebratory bubbles? For me someone who is completely food obsessed it’s quite hard to narrow down. I think whatever the dish maybe it must be easy on the washing up and dessert should be a make ahead one. I’m sure a kitchen strewn with dirty pots and pans does not make for a romantic setting. Below I have made a few suggestions as to dishes that I feel may help with the romances.
Steak tagliata , is a steak that is simply cut into thin strips, in fact it gets its name from the Italian word tagliare meaning to cut. I use a big juicy sirloin steak and can easily feed two of us with the one steak, and we aren’t light eaters. If this sound like the dish for you check out the recipe below.
Pasta alla Carbonara
What’s not to love about this classic Italian dish? It has some of the best flavour combinations eggs, bacon, pasta and cheese. This is another very quick dish, by the time the pasta has cooked everything else will be ready to go and only needs tossing together. Of course should the mood take you, you and your significant other can always have your Lady and the Tramp moment with this dish.
Sesame Duck & Orange salad
Again, another quick-fire recipe after all who is going to be in the mood if they have been slaving away in the kitchen all day and what a quacking recipe it is too. By the time the duck breasts have rendered out their fat and become golden brown and crispy skinned and had a few minutes resting everything else should be ready.
Let there be sweet
My go to dessert for Valentine’s day would without question be my quivering prosecco jellies with strawberries. These grown-up jellies still have a little tongue tingling fizz from the prosecco. It is an absolute requirement for me to have some double cream to pour into the crater left after every spoonful.
No Churn Nutella Ice Cream
Would any Valetine’s day be complete without chocolate? This is one of my favourite ice-cream recipes it only requires 3 ingredients and a quick whisk together and then pop it into the freezer until frozen.
Raspberry Ripple & White Chocolate Mousse
I feel a little ambivalent about white chocolate or at least I used to until I discovered good white chocolate the kind that comes flecked with vanilla seeds. Again, another simple dessert that requires very little cooking a few minutes in fact to make the raspberry sauce and melt the white chocolate. Then just just pop them into the fridge until ready to eat.
You may also like to check out some of these delicious cocktails here
Chorizo often creeps its way into my comfort food and go to recipe for a couple of reason one is its long shelf life I always have a couple stashed in the fridge and the other is because I simply adore its flavour and the flavour it imparts on any dish it is cooked with. For example, the flavour it can bring to a simple pan-fried chicken breast is phenomenal. Simply chop the chorizo warm it through in a dry pan until it releases those flavoursome orange tinted oils, remove from the pan then fry a butterflied chicken breast seasoned simply with salt & pepper in the oil until cooked through. Top with cheddar cheese and pop under a hot grill to melt the cheese. Yum!
This brings me to my chicken & chorizo orzo which is the type of bolstering comfort food I love. The orzo gets all sticky and gives the whole dish a velvety texture, the chorizo gives bright bold flavour and the chicken cooks in the steam released from the whole dish and the skin in the final 15 minutes in the oven with the lid off makes the skin really crisp up and bronze. Truely comfort food at its best. It also helps that it is very easy on the washing up. Check out the recipe below.
Summer may be coming to a rapid end. The weather has changed, the evening began to draw in. Whilst I do welcome the thought of cosy and comforting meals that will ensue, I am not quite ready to give up on the brightness and freshness that summer eats provide. Below are a few of the latest recipe editions to the site during August. You may notice that some of that cold grey skied weather has prompted a few dishes that help bolster and warm the soul. I do hope they can bring a little summery brightness to your eating.