Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Spaghetti with Crab and Tomatoes

Dinners for us are usually are a simple affair and any pasta dish will prove to be a hit with the family.

This dish came about when MrD accidentally opened a can of crab meat instead of the tuna I told him to open to make the Potato salad.
Anyhoo, it was a good mistake as the family thoroughly enjoyed this dish although Elsa had to overcome her initial aversion to crab meat.

Spaghetti with Crab and Tomatoes

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp chilli flakes
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
10 sun-dried cherry tomatoes in oil, diced
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
300g crab meat
2 tsp capers, drained
anchovies fillet in oil, drained
1 tbsp dried basil
salt and black pepper, to taste

In a large frying pan, heat a little oil and add anchovies, garlic, capers and chilli flakes.
Add the sun-dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes and dried basil.
Cook on medium heat until the tomatoes start to break down a little.
Add the sherry vinegar.

In the meantime, boil the pasta in a large pan of salted water follwing the pack instructions.
Mix the pasta into the frying pan along with a ladle-ful of pasta water.
Stir in the crab but not too much or it will break up.
Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Strawberry and Sparkling Elderflower Pannacotta

Strawberry and Sparkling Elderflower Pannacotta

2 sachet gelatine powder
5 oz small strawberries
350 ml elderflower sparkling juice
3 oz sugar
300 ml double cream
vanilla extract
200 ml milk

Line a small loaf tin with clingfilm. Arrange strawberries in the base of tin.

Pour the sparkling juice into a medium pan and sprinkle a sachet of the gelatin into the cold liquid.
Stir until the gelatin dissolves. Heat gently until the liquid starts to boil. Turn off heat and pour into the base of prepared loaf tin. The liquid should just cover the strawberries.
Chill until set.

Meanwhile, rinse pan out and add cream, milk, vanilla, sugar and remaining gelatin.
Heat gently, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar and gelatin.
Once dissolve, take off heat and leave it to cool.

Take the loaf tin out of the fridge and carefully pour in the cooled cream mixture. Chill overnight until set.

To serve, invert the tin onto a serving plate. Lift off tin and peel off clingfilm.
Serve pannacotta in slices.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Chicken Quesadillas

Quesadillas are essentially the Central American toasted cheese sandwich.
They make perfect snacks or a quick lunch, or in our case, a perfect tv dinner!

Chicken Quesadillas

300g shredded cooked chicken
8 ready-made corn tortillas
300 g cheese - mixture of cheddar and Gruyere, grated
A handful of spring onions, trimmed and sliced
A bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
1 sweet red chili, chopped
2 tbsp pickled Jalapenos, chopped
1/2 cup canned sweetcorn, drained

In a large bowl, mix shredded chicken with red chillies, jalapenos, spring onions, coriander and sweetcorn. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Heat a griddle pan slightly. Place one tortilla in the pan and sprinkle with the grated cheese.
Then add the chicken mixture.
Cover with the other tortilla and press down with a spatula.
The cheese will have started melting by this stage and the tortilla at the bottom should be golden brown.
When it is, carefully turn it over and then cook the other side for another couple of minutes until it is also golden and all the cheese has melted. Remove from the pan and set aside to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining quesadillas.

Cut quesadillas into wedges and serve immediately on its own or with guacamole or sour cream.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Game On

The long anticipated summer games is finally here!

image courtesy of keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

The Queen made her acting debut (in a James Bond scene, no less), Mary Poppins outdueled Lord Voldemort’s evil magic, the flame was lit in truly unique fashion – by seven unknowns, no less – and the 2012 Olympic Games were open.
 Even the rain stayed away except for the briefest of showers as London, the first city to host an Olympics on three occasions, set off 17 days of sporting celebration Friday on what can only be described as a resounding victory. 
It wasn't Beijing and it didn't try to be.
Four yours ago we saw one of history's biggest displays of national pride, but London beat its own chest in a more pleasantly understated way.
Producer Danny Boyle, of "Slumdog Millionaire" directorial fame, pieced together a lavish, epic and masterful show that blended humor with history, music with majesty, and was met with almost universal approval.
Boyle wanted to portray a graceful boast, showing off the best of Britain with pride but without a trace of stuffiness or arrogance.
The iconic moment when the cauldron burst into flame was lit by the hands of a group of young athletes nominated by sporting legends rather than a member of athletic royalty - It was a symbolic, if unsubtle, passing of the torch.

Summer Blooms

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Salmon and Dill Spaghetti

Hot smoked salmon
Salmon is often smoked by one of two methods: hot-smoking or cold-smoking. Hot-smoking effectively 'cooks' the fish, because it's smoked over heat of nearly 140C for six to 12 hours depending on the size of the fish.
This means the fish loses its delicate texture, moisture and it becomes firmer yet delicate with a creamy, almost mousse-like consistency.

Salmon and Dill Spaghetti

200g slab of boneless hot smoked salmon
150g frozen petits pois
a small bunch fresh dill
1/2 cup  crème fraîche
juice and grated rind from 1 lemon 
salt and pepper


Flake the salmon into mouthful-sized chunks in a bowl. Discard the skin, if any.
In a large pan, cook the pasta according to its pack. When the pasta is almost done, throw in the peas.
Remove any tough stalks from the dill, then chop the fronds fairly roughly.
Reserve about 4 tablespoons of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and peas and return them to the pan with the reserved water.
Set over a very low heat, then toss in the salmon, dill, crème fraîche, lemon juice and rind, salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Toss everything together lightly and heat through briefly, then serve. 


Parterre Garden

 A beautiful formal garden in Pitmedden

Heard about the fearsome troll who lived under the bridge in De tre bukkene Bruse?
Meet his dreadful sister; although it has been well documented that her barks are worse than her bite....

Later in the evening we were entertained yet again with another edition of Illyria's outdoor theatre production of Gilbert and Sullivan's musical HMS Pinafore.

The story....

Josephine the captain's daughter is in love with Ralph a common sailor, but her father wants her to marry Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty.
The couple are caught as they elope from the ship and Ralph is locked in the ship's dungeon.
Only when certain revelations are made by Buttercup, a dockside vendor, can everyone end up freely marrying their true hearts' loves