Saturday, 23 July 2011

Build your own bruschettas

This was something I could get along with!

Simple and easy enough to make, although I always dislike washing up blenders. The toppings were delicious, although I think I used a little too much lemon. The amounts were fairly decent, but I could have used a bit more of the ricotta and walnut.

I also used a jar of roasted pepper meze instead of the tomatoes, and this helped extend the meal a bit. I found it just enough to fill, with room for ice cream afterwards.

This recipe makes a colourful, light, and visually impressive meal which I will defnitely make again. It is, however, heavy on the purse and the arms when you carry it from the shops. Oh well, can't have everything.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Fennel and lemon risotto & easy pasta bake

First up is the fennel and lemon risotto.

Now, I'm not a big risotto fan (overexposure as the veggie option in restaurants), but I have to admit this was delicious. The wine gave it a very strong tang; if you omit it you will have to really make the effort to add more flavour elsewhere. The fennel was lovely and buttery and imparted a flavour that synergised well with the lemon; that scented, fresh flavour that makes this a very summery dish.

I served it as recommended with shaves of parmesan, which I think is a must. My gripe is that without any sides, this wasn't a very big dish. I compensated a bit the second time by adding more rice and stock, and luckily my second fennel bulb was a bit bigger. Oh and I can't stand zesting lemons, but there's really no way around it; it's the zest that adds the real lemony hit.

Overall a very good recipe, one that I would make again if I can be bothered to zest!

Secondly, the cheesy broccoli pasta bake.

I messed around quite a bit with the recipe, making it with the white sauce I usually make and adding some sweetcorn because I didn't think just the broccoli was enough veg. There's nothing much else to say about it really, it's a standard pasta bake. It can be rather bland if the sauce isn't tasty enough, so really make sure there's plenty of garlic, mustard and herbs in there. I even chucked in some old parmesan I had.

I put in the broccoli raw and it cooked just about enough but still a bit crunchy. I like it like that, but if you don't then boil it first. I also added herby breadcrumbs under the cheese topping.

It was ok, but I prefer making my pasta bakes with tomato based sauces.Link

Monday, 4 July 2011

Roasted chestnut and herb pesto pasta with mushrooms

Recipe found here

I used linguine as the pasta for this, which is one of my favourites.

Usually I dislike getting out the food processor, as it means a lot of fiddling and washing up to do, and usually a lot of mess, but making my own pesto was oddly satisfying. And having it taste like pesto in the end was a real boon! Having said that, it lacked the tang and punch of shop-bought pesto, which is probably to do with A) my parmesan being rather weak and B) the presence of the chestnuts.

Chestnuts are sweet, and the pesto very smooth tasting with a nutty sweetness not usually present. Also I didn't have quite enough olive oil, so the texture overall with the chestnuts was rather firm. It tasted good though, and I think benefitted from the addition of extra herbs. It was just different to what you would be used to.

I love mushrooms in any form, so not much to say there. I don't think I made any changes to this recipe, except being more generous with the basil than the other herbs. All in all it was enjoyed and I would make it again.

BBC Good Food challenge

I'm rather busy at the moment, and in the summer I feel like spending less time planning meals and more time doing, well, anything else. It's nice to know that your meals for the next few weeks are planned ahead to give the old noggin a bit of a rest (and to channel creativity elsewhere) so I decided to give the recipes on the BBC Good Food website. I've often used their recipes for desserts and I noticed they have a fair amount of vegetarian options, including salads, mains, BBQ stuff and dinner party bits.

I'm doing these more-or-less in order, although I'll shift it around a bit if needed and leave out the rare few I really wouldn't get along with (the Japanese pancakes come to mind). I won't type out the recipes again, but I'll link to the recipe and use my own pictures where possible when I haven't scoffed the lot before I remember. I'll also do more of a review for the recipe and how it turned out.

I also hope to gain some more inspiration doing this, and try things I wouldn't usually include on the menu, such as risotto (not a favourite) or bean enchiladas (ewww, beans).