I often make macaroni cheese, or some variation of it. I like to play around with adding vegetables, different cheeses or flavours in the sauce. This three cheese and cauliflower macaroni cheese is one of the most delicious I’ve made. The combination of Emmental (for sweetness and stringiness), Cheddar (for bite and cheesiness) and Parmesan (for savouriness) means you get the best of all the cheeses! And don’t worry, there’s a cauliflower in there too; to add a little vegetable healthiness amongst all that indulgence.
I love a straightforward dinner. However being straightforward doesn’t mean there’s any skimping on flavour. Grabbing a few ingredients out of the fridge and cupboards, chucking them in a roasting tray and miraculously taking the finished dish out of the oven at the end is the weeknight dream. My Greek chicken tray bake is a two tray affair (I know, slightly more involved than one tray) and really delivers on flavour. The flavours of Greece; oregano, tomatoes, olives make this a wonderful dish for this time of year.
The food in Italy was everything I wanted it to be and Tuscany in particular was filled with incredible locations to eat amazing food. We went to a restaurant in Montepulciano on our first night in Tuscany; it was in an old wine cellar and the food was sensational. I ordered the Tuscan Sausage Ragu and along with a glass of local red wine and Italian hospitality it was such a memorable meal. I wanted to try and recreate the flavours, if not the ambiance, at home and my version of this sausage ragu has been through a few different variations until I’ve reached the recipe below. It’s not exactly the same but it’s wonderfully delicious in its own right.
There’s always something leftover at this time of year; some sort of ingredient hanging around in the fridge that needs using up. I’d bought some baby onions for making a boeuf bourguignon and had half the pack left. I thought about slicing them and lightly pickling them but I then realised I also had some leftover cheese. You can never go wrong with cheese and onion so half an hour later we were tucking into roasted baby onions with cheese on toast.
You will need (for two):
- 12 (ish) baby onions, peeled
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4 slices white bread, the crustier the better
- Leftover cheese, grated
Put the onions and rosemary into a baking dish and drizzle over a little oil and salt and pepper. Roll the onions round in the dish so they get well coated in the oil and seasoning.
There’s ragu, and then there’s proper ragu. You know the two kinds I mean; the quick one that we Brits chuck on top of a pile of spaghetti and the one that takes time, effort, care and attention to make. Don’t get me wrong, the former has its place but this recipe is for the latter; which incidentally freezes very well meaning it is perfect for cooking up a big batch and then reaping the rewards in the weeks to come. It has taken a long time to get this recipe to be my version of a perfect ragu so I hope you enjoy it.
Say the word halloumi around other people and pretty much all of them will say, “I love halloumi” and then lick their lips. Well, I count myself as one of those people and I’ve got news for you. Rosemary and garlic butter halloumi takes your squeaky cheese to a whole other glorious level. Let’s be frank, shove some garlic butter on anything and it’s instantly better. Note – ‘anything’ does not include bruises or grazes, missing wall or floor grout or use as shampoo and face cream; shoving garlic butter in any of those places will be of no help to you whatsoever. Delicious, full fat, dripping in butter, full of flavour is what we’re looking for here, those of a healthy disposition look away now.
I think this is a perfect meal in many ways: firstly, it’s just the right size for two people; secondly, it’s really simple to make; thirdly, it’s deliciously vegetarian and full of veg and lastly, it’s really versatile. My tomato and mascarpone gnocchi bake is made from a few ingredients which I often have in the kitchen anyway. Just the thing for a busy Monday night when you want something quick and tasty. You could add anything to it that you had hanging around in your cupboards, maybe some olives, sundried tomatoes, leftover chicken or roasted veg or you could pop some cheese on top.
I’ll stick a herb in pretty much anything and adding or infusing herbs in drinks or cocktails is always delicious. My Orange and Rosemary Martini is particularly excellent for two reasons: first, it uses those fantastic big oranges that you can get at this time of year and second, that faint hint of rosemary is so distinctive it makes for a really refreshing martini. It looks inviting, it’s easy to make and the flavours take the edge of a plain martini (which I can find a bit harsh). This would work really well with leftover rosemary in the back of the fridge, or those sprigs you popped in the freezer. However you make it, and you should, make sure you’ve got a nice comfy chair and a book ready and waiting.
I won’t lie to you. This is not a dish that’s light on calories. But my word it is worth every one of them. My fennel and sausage ragu is exactly what the doctor ordered for mid-February. It’s full of good, hearty ingredients and it can’t fail to cheer you up from the inside out on a chilly evening. This dish is all about the sausages; the better the sausages you can get your hands on, the better the finished dish. Head to your local farmers’ market, butcher or farm shop to get hold of something spicy and Italian, they may be a little more expensive but trust me, you won’t regret it.
I do like a tin of food. There’s something very humble about tinned fruit and vegetables particularly; and I am not one to overlook anything that comes in a can. My favourite canned good of all is the artichoke. That’s how this recipe for Chicken, Olive and Artichoke Stew with Risotto came about. Artichokes are very expensive, covered in oil (normally sunflower rather than nice olive oil) and quite small if you buy them chilled or in a jar; but in a can they can be half the price, bigger and once drained you get more for your money. So I wanted to make something comforting, filling and delicious and make the most of the wonderful artichoke.