fusilli pasta with a creamy mushroom sauce


a couple of weeks back I attended a Sainsbury’s blogger event… i’ve never done anything like this before and to be honest I don’t think I was quite the target market… the event was to promote their new ‘feed your family of 4 for a week for £50’ meal planner… it’s a great idea, which promotes not only healthy eating but cuts down on wastage too… anyway, the fact that The Viking and I don’t quite make up a family of 4 didn’t seem to matter to them and the bonus for attending the event was the gift of a fabulous Sony Bloggy Cam (expect some videos soon…) and a no-strings-attached, delivery of shopping based on a week-long meal plan… and lsst night half a tonne of food stuff arrived… I mean I quite literally have never seen so much food in my kitchen…

… now, they’ve given me the meal planner for next month as a guide to try out the meals but to be honest, they’re just not my thing … however there was a whole bunch of food that needs eating and tonights meal was un-planned, so using some stuff from home and some stuff from the delivery i’ve created my own meals… here we go…

fusilli pasta with a creamy mushroom sauce
this is one of The Vikings favourite sauces as he loves the creamy richness, something that sometimes lacks in vegetarian cooking especially when it comes to pasta which usually involves tomato based sauce which he’s not so keen on.  I have added the extra rocket here to lift the heaviness of the sauce.

2 portions of fusilli pasta (i’m not going to tell you how much pasta to eat!)
about 10 medium mushrooms
1 large onion – finel chopped
2 cloves of garlic – crushed
1 glass of white wine
2 table spoons of cream cheese
1 small pot of single cream (100ml)
1 small bunch of rocket leaves
salt and pepper / fresh herbs

– fill a large pan with salted water and bring to the boil

– meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic, along with some rosemary in a heavy pan, once translucent add the mushrooms and saute gently for 10 minutes until soft and packed with flavour

– add the pasta to the water a boil until you like it (I like a full 8 minutes for dry pasta)

– take the mushroom pan off the heat, pour in the cream and wine then return to a low heat and let the wine bubble for a further 5 minutes, then off the heat again and add the cream cheese.

– drain the pasta, pour on the mushroom sauce, stir in a bunch of rocket and serve.

eat and of course, enjoy!

>The Observer Food Monthly Awards 2011


… so now that i’m an international radio star and in my on-going efforts towards world domination I thought I’d better enter my blog into the Observer Food Monthly Awards for this year…
… as many of you know, the Observer is the Sunday edition of The Guardian Newspaper, one of the UK’s most established and longest running, left-leaning newspapers and also one of my favourites because it has such a brilliant art and culture section… it is also probably the best newspaper when it comes to food, with it’s excellent monthly OFM Magazine and brilliantly informative Word of Mouth food blog… The OFM Magazine have been running the OFM Awards for 10 years now and it is, I think, one of the most highly regarded food awards in the UK.  The ‘best blog’ category is new.
… so i’d love you to vote for me, should you feel so inclined… simply click here to vote… you don’t even have to fill in all the categories, you can just go straight to ‘best blog’ and fill that in…
… it’s for UK only (unless you fancy making up a UK address or using the address of someone you know here?)
… and obviously when I win I will thank you all in my acceptance speech!
I thank you x

a white loaf

i’ve been having a bit of a non-sourdough moment of late… I made some delightful Hot Cross Buns a few weeks ago which were soft and doughy and they made me yearn for that in a loaf… don’t get me wrong, I do love Lucretia and all she brings to my world of bread but sometimes, what you really want is a classic, soft dough, crunchy crust, white loaf… and so I refer you to my WI book of bread by Liz Herbert… I don’t think I could get any more classic than their Farmhouse Loaf… and it’s remarkably easy to make too, perfect for a first time bread maker…

>a white loaf


i’ve been having a bit of a non-sourdough moment of late… I made some delightful Hot Cross Buns a few weeks ago which were soft and doughy and they made me yearn for that in a loaf… don’t get me wrong, I do love Lucretia and all she brings to my world of bread but sometimes, what you really want is a classic, soft dough, crunchy crust, white loaf… and so I refer you to my WI book of bread by Liz Herbert… I don’t think I could get any more classic than their Farmhouse Loaf… and it’s remarkably easy to make too, perfect for a first time bread maker…
… I also just found out that a ‘white loaf’ will be one of the categories in this years Aby Village Show, so it’s a good thing i’m getting my practice in early eh?
Farmhouse Loaf
450g strong white bread flour
25g butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fast action dried yeast
200ml hand-hot water (the recipe called for 300ml water but i’ve reduced this slightly and added milk)
100ml milk
– put the flour into a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter then stir in the sugar, salt and yeast.
– pour over the water/milk and gently bring together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.  You should end up with a really soft silky dough.
– place the dough in a large bowl, cover with cling film and let it prove in a warm place for at least and hour or two until it has doubled in size
– knock back the dough for 2-3 minutes, then shape it into a rough oblong and place it into a greased bread tin, cover with a tea-towel and let it rise again for a further 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
– preheat the oven to 230c, score the top of the loaf with a sharp knife and dust with a little flour, bake for 30-35 minutes until golden.  
If you want a really crispy crust, take the bread out of the tin and place it back onto the oven shelf for a further 5 minutes.
eat and of course, enjoy!

>another salad day – beetroot slaw


the sky has grumbled… does this mean it’s hungry?

the weather here has gone from crazy to bonkers as the temperature rises and it’s now really muggy outside… but you can smell the thunderstorm… it’s as though everything and everyone is waiting with it’s collective breath held, until the sky opens and down comes the rain… it’s raining in London as I write this, so no doubt it will start raining here in an hour or so… and about time, we really need the rain… i’m not kidding when I say it’s been over 30 days since there’s been any rain, the driest April since records began… that’s some April folks!

… in the meantime my salad has been growing beautifully… check out these radish… aren’t they stunners?… plus the lettuce and carrots are well on their way… the beetroot may have a while to go yet but whilst i’m waiting I made this fabulously pink beetroot, cabbage and fennel slaw, which has the perfect amount of crunch for this funny, muggy Spring day.

Beetroot, Cabbage and Fennel slaw

2 large beetroots
1 small white cabbage
1 fennel
a bunch of spring onions
2 tablespoons flaked almonds – lightly toasted
a handful of saltanas or raisins
4 tablespoons of mayonnaise (hand-made if you’re all over that way inclined)
1 tablespoon salad cream (option but let’s be honest…)

– place the almonds in a hot dry frying pan and toast until they turn golden (usually takes 3-5 minutes but watch them!)

– shred the beetroot, cabbage and fennel – I used my magimix large grater for the beetroot and large shredder for the cabbage and fennel but I finely sliced the spring onions by hand.

– place in a large bowl, sprinkle in the flaked almonds and saltanas and dollop on the mayo and the salad cream… this adds a nice vinegar touch but you could simply add a splash of white wine vinegar and olive oil.

– mix it all up and serve

eat and of course, enjoy!

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>Forever Nigella #5 – Salad Days


i am beyond proud to be hosting this months Forever Nigella challenge for the delightful Sarah at Maison Cupcake… I was a little worried that hosting two challenges this month may be a little over-kill but they’re so completely on either end of the culinary spectrum I believe we have room for them both…

… over here in the UK we’ve had some incredible weather of late, so much so it’s been hard to remember that it’s still very much Spring… this much sunshine turns ones thoughts to hot Mediterranean beaches, BBQ’s in the garden, pic-nics in the countryside, struggling to squeeze into last years swimming trunks and at last being able to walk around barefoot without people thinking you’re bonkers.

It’s also the time when food can finally become less heavy and stodgy; light soups replace stews, the grilled chicken replaces the roast and that vegetable side dish is replaced by a fabulous fresh salad… so let’s turn to Nigella and be inspired by her salad recipes.

I’ve gone for an absolute classic, the Pea, Mint and Avocado Salad, taken from Nigellas brilliant How to Eat and can also be found on her website.

Here’s a reminder of the rules: Forever Nigella #5 “Salad Days”
Challenge: To prepare and blog any Nigella salad recipe
Deadline: Sunday, May 29 at midnight wherever you are.
 Round up: By the next weekend.

There are: 

No rules about how often you must take part
No rules about stuff being secret until certain dates
No rules that everyone cook exactly the same thing
No rules about not being able to submit to any other blog events – but do check it doesn’t contravene any rules the other guys may have.

But there are 3 rules: 

1. We want everyone to keep buying lots and lots of Nigella books so that she keeps writing them so you must NOT reproduce recipes verbatim as shown in Nigella’s publications. If you are sticking exactly to the original recipe, just tell us which book it was from and if available, provide a link to it on Nigella.com http://www.nigella.com which publishes a lot (but not all) of her recipes. (You may also find some recipes on sites for some TV stations and newspapers).  Alternatively, you may blog an adapted Nigella recipe so long as you have changed at least two ingredients and write the directions in your own words. Tell us what you changed and why.
2. Publish your Forever Nigella blog post (in English) by the closing date including the latest Forever Nigella graphic and giving a link to this post and the Forever Nigella home page
http://blog.maisoncupcake.com/forever-nigella .  Your entry must have been published since the announcement post. You may only re-blog something from your archives if you republish it with the badge and links to this post before the deadline.
3.Email the details to me at Dom@thepersuaders.co.uk  and please c.c. sarahATmaisoncupcakeDOTcom – I need your name, your blog name, a link to your post and a photo no more than 300 pixels wide. No billboard sized images please.

That’s it!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Don’t forget to tweet your post with the hashtag #forevernigella