My Break-Through-In-The-UK dish

This is the dish that made me realise how much I enjoy cooking for other people and putting a smile on their faces ūüôā

I was 23 ¬†years old and full of dreams when I decided it was time to change my life. I moved to the UK in 1999 all by myself, leaving all my family and friends behind, without knowing where I would have stayed and whom I would have met ( my English at that time was ok-ish for me to get by, let alone for me to even start thinking that it would have become a second language for me!!!) …..I did not know I would have had the most amazing time with some special people who are now friends for life.

The passion for food has¬†always been there but it really became visible during my years at Uni and my (Spanish) flatmates helped my passion to become a real “THING”……….. ……simple ingredients made a dish that still today is one of my fortes.

Gracias ¬†Amigas! Merce, Virgi y todas las cumpa√Īeras de piso de Greenstead! Eso es para vosotras ūüôā

TAH-LLYA-TEH-LLEH (Tagliatelle) ai Funghi e Pancetta

Pancetta and Mushroom Tagliatelle

I would normally make my own tagliatelle but it’s just as tasty (and quicker) using the pre-packed one. Any local supermarket would sell it! Follow the cooking time on the packet and make sure you add some course salt in the water as it starts to boil. Instead of the pancetta you can use cooked ham (finely chopped). Or if you want to make this dish vegetarian you can completely miss out the pancetta and replace it with some asparagus……it’s still extremely tasty and simple.

Serving 4 people

Ingredients

350g fresh tagliatelle (roughly 2 nests per person)

150g closed up mushrooms, finely chopped

150ml double cream (single cream for less fat content)

1 glove of garlic, finely chopped

1 handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

130g smoked Italian pancetta (cubes)

olive oil 2tbsp

salt, a pinch

Preparation

In a large saucepan pour some water (1/1.5 l) and bring it to the boil. Add a large tablespoon of coarse salt and put the pasta in.

Put the olive oil on a pan, add the pancetta and cook for a couple of minutes until the pancetta is crispy. Add the mushrooms and gently mix together. Add a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes on a low heat. Add the garlic and the parsley keep stirring and cook for a minute. Pour the cream and cook with the lid on for a couple of minutes.

The tagliatelle should be cooked by now! Drain the pasta, put it onto a large serving dish, pour the sauce and mix together. Add some parmesan cheese…..Pronto!¬†

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Insalata di Patate

When I was invited to share my cookery skills at the Women’s Day event on the 8th March ¬†I was asked to make something easy, tasty and versatile.

My potato salad, “Insalata di Patate” is the dish that I chose and it’s also inspired to my #BringNonnaBack campaign. My Nan who is now 94 years old, has taught me that good food is made with simple ingredients, the fresher they are the better your dish is going to be. She is right and I realised that using a few simple ingredients is the secret of a balanced diet. On the 8th March whilst celebrating the milestones, the achievements and grand gestures ¬†of Women from around the World I had to celebrate the food philosophy of ONE of the two inspiring Women in my life (my Mum is the other Woman!!!)

Serving 8/10

You will need a pestle and mortar (an electric blender can be used instead), a chopping board, a chopping knife, a large serving bowl, a large saucepan, a lemon squeezer

Ingredients

1.5 kilos of new potatoes (preferably organic)

1 handful of fresh mint

1 handful of fresh basil

4 large lemons (unwaxed), zest and juice

2 medium cloves of garlic

fine salt, a good pinch

extra virgin olive oil, 6 large tablespoons

Preparation

In a large saucepan, pour 1/1.5l of water and put the potatoes in (you don’t need to peel or cut them but make sure you thoroughly wash them before). Bring the water to the boil, add a table spoon of salt and cook for 20 minutes or until soften.

Drain the potatoes and place the on a large serving bowl. Whilst the potatoes are cooling down, take all the basil and mint leaves (chop the stems off) and place the leaves into a pestle and mortar. ¬†Peel the garlic, put the garlic in with the leaves, add a pinch of salt and start pounding. You may need to add the leaves in batches if your mortar isn’t big enough Gradually add the lemon zest, lemon juice and the olive oil. Keep mashing and continue until the ingredients are combining together. Pound¬†until you’ve reached the right texture. You should have an oozy consistency. Have a taste and if needed season with more salt. Mix in with the potatoes…Pronto! Buon Appetito!

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CHICKEN STANOTTE

After a great summer ( most of us enjoyed the sunshine somewhere hot ) we are now back in the full swing of our busy lives (….and that not so warm weather), and probably we are all thinking about a nice warm dish we can cook for dinner.

One of the dishes that comes into my head and is also inspired by the latest documentary from Jamie Oliver (#SugarRush), is my Chicken Stanotte (title taken from a well known supermarket brand…), just to show that is as easy to prepare your own sauce instead of buying it ready made. Don’t forget that making your own dish is a simple and healthier option and despite our busy schedules we always need to find some time to cook fresh meals. Stock up your pantry and your fridge with fresh vegetables and fruit! Fresh fruit is an healthier option to sweets, crisps and chocolate bars, most of all after children come back from school. Besides there are so many great dishes we can create with fresh produce.

“Pollo” (POH-LLOOH) ¬†is the Italian for Chicken and Stanotte (STAH-NOH-TTEH) ¬†is “Tonight” or “This Evening” in English ūüėČ

My Nonna would cook chicken as a back up plan on days when there was so much homemade bread left over that you needed a good earthy dish to mop the sauce up!!! #BringNonnaBack

So have all your ingredients ready and let’s start!

Serving

4 people

Ingredients

6/8 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped in chunks

2 celery sticks, chopped in chunks

half red onion, diced

half white onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

handful of rosemary

1 tin of plum tomatoes

2 peppers, chopped in chunks

1 small tub of olives, preferably green

300ml of chicken stock or vegetable stock

salt, a good pinch

olive oil, 4 tablespoons

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Preparation

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees.

In a large bowl marinate the chicken thighs with the garlic, rosemary , salt and olive oil. Leave it to rest for 5 minutes.

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In a large pan (make sure it’s oven proof) put a little olive oil, put the pan on a medium heat and add the vegetables (celery, carrots, peppers red and white onion). Simmer until golden.

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Take a nonstick pan and put it on the heat until warm and add the chicken thighs. Cook them on one side and turn them over once golden. The juice from the marinate will prevent them sticking to the pan. If you wish, add a pinch of salt. Cook with the lid off until both sides are cooked. Put them to one side.

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Add the tin of tomatoes and the stock into the pan with the vegetables, stir and cook with the lid on for 10 minutes.


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Place the chicken thighs into the pan with the vegetables, add the olives. Make sure the sauce covers the meat so it won’t dry up in the oven. Place the pan in the oven and cook for another 10 minutes…..Pronto!¬†

To give a touch of freshness to your dish you can sprinkle some finely chopped basil. Enjoy your chicken with some warm bread or some rice. Buon Appettito !!!

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Please, please, pretty please!!! Be aware of the added sugar in your food and drinks, cook sensibly and ditch heavy ready sauces!

Benfleet FRD pic

My Uni Tagliatelle

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This is the dish that made me realise how much I enjoy cooking for other people. The passion for food has¬†always been there but my (Spanish) flatmates at “Uni” ¬†helped my passion to become a real “THING”…….simple ingredients made a dish that still today is one of my fortes. Gracias Merce, Virgi y todas las cumpa√Īeras de piso de Greenstead!

TAH-LLYA-TEH-LLEH (Tagliatelle) ai Funghi e Pancetta

Pancetta and Mushroom Tagliatelle

I would normally make my own tagliatelle but it’s just as tasty (and quicker) using the pre-packed one. Any local supermarket would sell it! Follow the cooking time on the packet and make sure you add some course salt in the water as it starts to boil. Instead of the pancetta you can use cooked ham (finely chopped). Or if you want to make this dish vegetarian you can completely miss out the pancetta……it’s still extremely tasty and simple.

Serving 4 people

Ingredients

350g fresh tagliatelle (roughly 2 nests per person)

150g closed up mushrooms, finely chopped

150ml double cream (single cream for less fat content)

1 glove of garlic, finely chopped

1 handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

130g smoked Italian pancetta (cubes)

olive oil 2tbsp

salt, a pinch

Preparation

In a large saucepan pour some water (1/1.5 l) and bring it to the boil. Add a large tablespoon of coarse salt and put the pasta in.

Put the olive oil on a pan, add the pancetta and cook for a couple of minutes until the pancetta is crispy. Add the mushrooms and gently mix together. Add a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes on a low heat. Add the garlic and the parsley keep stirring and cook for a minute. Pour the cream and cook with the lid on for a couple of minutes.

The tagliatelle should be cooked by now! Drain the pasta, put it onto a large serving dish, pour the sauce and mix together. Add some parmesan cheese…..Pronto!¬†

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Spaghetti al Sugo Semplice (Simple Sauce)

Easy peasy…….. super quick!

One of the quickest meals ever, ideal for dinner on a school day where we become taxi drivers driving backward and forward from school to the after school clubs. Where we get home realising that we have no dinner ready…. There is just not enough time in a parent’s day and this is my saving dish, my last resort, the one that all kids love (even the other people’s kids!!!). ¬†It takes 15 minutes to make the sauce while the pasta is cooking in boiling water. ¬†15 “very important ” minutes of your evening……after that you can put your feet up or try to! Parola di mamma e di Nonna x

This is another #BringNonnaBack recipe! Simple, tasty, wholesome.. just like how my Nonna would do! Like many Italians she would use the tomatoes from her vegetable garden.

In Italian we say  POMODORI FRESCHI  /POH-MOH-DOH-REE  FREH-SKEE/ Fresh Tomatoes

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Serving 4 people

Ingredients 

Half of a medium white onion, finely chopped

500g of plain tomato Passata (You can find passata in any good supermarket, it’s in a carton or in a bottle)

A handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped

Olive oil, 2 tbs

Salt, a pinch

Sugar, a pinch (to lower the acidity of the tomatoes)

How to cook the perfect pasta
350gr of pasta / serving 4 people
Bring 1lt water to the boil and add a table spoon of course salt.
Put the pasta in and cook it following the time on the packet (be careful though, taste the pasta first and then drain it). Make sure your pasta is ‚Äúal dente‚ÄĚ not too hard, not too soft.

Preparation

Heat a large pan, add the olive oil and the onion. Simmer the onion only for a few minutes till golden, don’t cook it for too long as it can easily burn.
Add the passata, the salt and sugar and cover with a lid.

PLAN B: if you haven’t got any passata 2 tins of chopped or plum tomatoes will do! Blend them first if possible and pour them into the oil, follow the instructions as before.

To make it even more authentic and fresh you can use fresh tomatoes, the more ripe tomatoes the better! 300g/400g is just the right amount, wash them and  simply blitz them (with the skin on). Follow the instruction as before.

Turn the heat down and let it cook for 10 minutes, stirring it every now and again.

Finally add you basil and let the sauce embrace the leaves… your sauce is ready, you can pour it on your pasta. Grate some parmesan and enjoy. Pronto!

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