Saturday, 30 September 2017

Pasta Infographic

Everyone loves pasta, the Italian classic and what's not to love about pasta. Versatile, economical and delicious, pasta is a firm favourite in British kitchen. But did you know there are so many different varieties there, much more than the favourites such as spaghetti, taglitelle and fussili. The lovely people at Jamie's Italian have created an infographic which shows the different types of pasta and their origin. 

Image courtesy of Google.

Stuffed pasta that's similar to ravioli but made with just one piece of pasta that's folded in half. This pasta originating Piedmont. 

Small rings of pasta that's mostly used in soups and broths. Apparently it was inspired by African women the Italian military met during WW1. This pasta originates in Siciliy

Long, thick spaghetti-like pasta that's traditionally made with buckwheat flour and duck eggs. This pasta originates from Veneto. 

Pasta that's shaped to resemble a bell-like flower. With a hallow centre it is perfect for capturing sauce, this pasta is usually served in a thick sauce and originates from Puglila. 

Cylindrical pasta stuffed with a filling usually spinach and ricotta or mince. The pasta's popularity took off after Second World War. This pasta originates from Naples.

A relative of tortellini but more elongated and with a different stuffing. It's usually served as a first course at Christmas in northern Italy, this pasta is from Modena

Stuffed pasta that's similar to cannelloni but shaped like a sweet. Caramelle is often served on festive days or as part of Sunday lunch. Caramelle originates from Parma.

Small pasta shells that look like miniature hot dog buns, originating from Puglia.

Large coins of pasta, decorated with a wooden tool. The pattern also helps the pasta hold on to sauce. The pasta originates from Liguria. 

Cuscussu pasta originates from Sicily and is a pasta which is made by sprinkling water on to a bed of semolina which is stirred until tiny balls of flour are formed. 

The popular bow tie pasta originates from Lombardy and is made from a rectangular sheet that's pinched in the middle and trimmed at the ends with pinking scissors. 

Shaped like a corkscrew and originating from Molise is usually served in a vegetable sauce or seafood. 

Egg-based pasta formed by rolling a flat square into a tube and originates from Romagna. 

A popular pasta, these soft doughy balls originates from the Middle East and is made from semolina, flour, egg and potato. 

My favourite Italian pasta, originates from Naples and when layered with sauces and other ingredients makes the famous lasagne. 

My sister's favour, these smooth cylindrical pasta originates from Campania. 

Little square parcels made by pressing two thin layers of fresh pasta together with a filling in the middle, originating from north eastern Italy.

The most popular pasta in the world, the spaghetti consists of all pasta consumption. The famous spaghetti originates from Sicily. 

Originating from Emilia-Romagana, tagliatelle are long flat ribbons of pasta which is thought to have created by a court chef who was inspired by Lucrezia d' Este's hair.

Also originating from Emilia Romagna, this pasta is usually stuffed with meat or cheese. 

In collaboration with Jamie's Italian. 

The Flexible Vegetarian Review and Giveaway.

The Flexible Vegetarian is the fifth cookery book by TV Cook and food editor, Jo Pratt. This is the first cookery book that I have of Jo's, focusing on delicious and practical recipes which can easily be catered for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Jo focuses on recipes that are flavoursome and suitable for vegetarians, for those who absolutely have to eat meat to fish, there a few simple meat and fish options. I think the vegetarian recipes are stunning enough that the meat and fish recipes can be omitted. A big thumbs up for me is that any cookery book  which has a dedicated breakfast chapter is an automatic winner for me and the recipes featured in this section are incredibly tempting. 

I often flick through cookery books and do the "flick test", checking out the finished pictures of recipes. This enables me to see whether there is enough tempting recipes for me to purchase the book. I can say that The Flexible Vegetarian passes the flick test. The finished recipes look tantalising and there are a number of options from quick mid-week meals to lazy weekend suppers. The Flexible Vegetarian is currently on Amazon for £13.60 and is available from all good book stores. 

There were a number of recipes that I've bookmarked to try, but so far I've made the Black Bean Chilli and Maple Cornbread. I omitted the maple from the maple cornbread and the cornbread tasted amazing. 

The cookery book is split into the following chapters:
  • The Flexible Store Cupboard - all the key ingredients that make making easy vegetarian dishes including lentils, grains and eggs. 
  • Breakfast/Brunch - A chapter focusing on recipes to kick start the day: The Green Omlette, Budha Breakfast Bowl, Courgette Fritters and Miso Mushrooms on Toast. 
  • Soups and Broths: recipes to try include Cauliflower Cream Cheese Soup, Roast Beetroot Soup and Cream of Cashew and Mushroom Soup.
  • Small Plates: stand out recipes include: Smashed Bean, Kale and Tomato Toast, Roast Garlic and Lemon Hummus, Pea and Carrot Pakoras, Sweet Potato and Chiptole Bean Tacos and Fried Chickpeas, Tomato and Labneh Flatbread.
  • Big Plates: recipes to try include: Southern Mac N Cheese, Black Bean Chilli and Maple Butter Cornbread, Ultimate Vegetable Burgers, Braised Lentils and Cauliflower Steaks and Roast Fennel and Aubergine Paella.
  • Dips and Bits: stand out recipes include: Sweet Carrot and Harissa Humus, Pea and Sorrel Humus, Roast Tomato and Basil Pesto and Coriander, Peanut and Chilli Pesto.
For the Black Bean Chilli

3 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed
2 star anise
1 cinnamon sick, broken in half
250ml cup of red wine
4 x 400g tins black beans, drained
2 x 400g chopped tomatoes
2tbsp tomato puree
3 red peppers from a jar, finely chopped
2 1/2 tbsp chipotle paste
2 tbsp coco powder
pinch of dried chilli flakes
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Maple Butter cornbread
Time taken 25 minutes, Serves 8
200g cornmeal or fine polenta
150g plain flour
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
300ml buttermilk
175ml cup milk
75g butter, plus an extra knob
75ml maple syrup

Method for the Black Bean Chilli
Time Taken 1 hour Serves 6-8
Heat the oil in a large casserole or saucepan . Add the onion, garlic, cumin seeds, star anise and cinnamon stick and gently sauté for 10 minutes until the onion is softened and becoming nicely golden.

Increase the heat and add the red wine. Boil for 1 minute to reduce, then add the black beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, red peppers, chipolote paste and cocoa powder, and sea on with salt and pepper. If you know you want a really chilli, add a pinch of chili flakes. You can add this nearer to the end of the time after you've had a taste.

Bring to the simmer, cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for 35-45 minutes, stirring every so often, until rich and thickened.

While the chili is cooking, mix together the sour cream and paprika. Place in a serving bowl and mop up the chili juices with a wedge of cornbread.

Method for the cornbread
Heat the oven to 200F/400F/gas mark 6

Place the cornmeal or polenta in a large bowl with the flour, bicarbonate of soda, onion and salt.

Break the egg into a jug and mix with the buttermilk and milk. Pour into the dry ingredients then mix until just combined, making sure you don't over mix otherwise you will make the cornbread tough.

Place a 23cm-25cm 9/10 inch non-stick ovenproof frying pan over a high heat and add the knob of butter. Swirl around to coat the inside of the pan. Pour in the bread batter and level the surface. Transfer to the oven and cook for 15 minutes, until golden and just firm.

Whilst the cornbread is cooking,  melt together the measured butter and the maple syrup to give you a golden sweet liquid.

As soon as the cornbread is cooked, immediately pour over the maple butter, covering the whole surface. Return to the oven for 1 minute allowing the maple butter to bubble around the edges of the pan.

Remove from the heat and serve hot, cut into wedges or simply spooned straight of the pan.

The lovely publishers are giving one lucky ready a copy of The Flexible Vegetarian. To be in with a chance of winning this cookery book, follow these instructions.

  • Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget
  • Join my blog and leave a comment (click on the left corner of the right side of the website using Google Friend Connector) this is an ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENT.
  • For additional entries like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus. 
  • All entered will be checked and verified.
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random.
  • The competition will run from 30.9.17 - 5.11.17
  • Winner will need to respond within 5 working days of being contacted. 
  • The competition is open to UK residents, aged 18 or over. 
  • Frances Lincoln will send a copy of the cookery book.
  • Please feel free to share the giveaway.

Many thanks to Frances Lincoln for a copy of this book. 

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Green Shakshuka

Cook Love Share is the debut cookery book by the Instagram phenomenon Michael Zee. Although released last August, this blog post is the first recipe that I have shared on my blog from this fantastic book dedicated to breakfasts from around the world. I have actually made many recipes from this cookery book such as the Baghdad Eggs, M'smmen, Dutch Puff and Magic Grits. As an avid breakfast lover, there are so many great breakfast ideas from the UK, to the Far East and South America. This recipe is a twist of the classic Middle Eastern classic Shakshuka. However, instead of using the traditional tomato, this is replaced with green goodness: spinach, kale, mint and leek. If you are familiar with Shakshuka the rich tomato base is replaced with a vibrant, refreshing base of goodness.

200g frozen peas
100g trimmed beans
50ml oil
1 tsp caraway seed
1 tsp cayenne or hot chilli powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 leek, finely sliced
200g kale or spinach
juice of 1 lemon
40g fresh mint
100g hummus
4 eggs
100g feta.

To serve
Olive oil
Chilli flakes

Add the peas and green peas to a bowl of boiling water with some salt. You don't want to cook them too much, just defrost them.
Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, put in the oil and caraway seed, cayenne, nutmeg and a pinch of salt, then cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the sliced leek and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes or until salt.
Preheat the oven to 200C
Add the kale or spinach and cover with a lid for 2-3 minutes so that it wilts. Drain the peas and beans and add them to the blender. Add the lemon juice and fresh mint. Blitz until smooth. Put this back in the pan with the rest of the mix and stir well. It needs to be almost like a thick soup. Adjust with water if it's too thick.
Smear the humus on the bottom of your ovenproof serving dish in a thin layer. Spoon in the green mix - it should like a swamp or lagoon. Crack in the eggs, cover with a piece of aluminium foil and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the eggs are set.
Crumble feta and chilli flakes over the eggs and serve with a small side dish of olive oil with za-atar and toasted bread.


Thursday, 14 September 2017


I have fond memories of walking past W H Smith circa 2010-2011 at Birmingham New Street when the train station was undergoing refurbishment. Back then, I was studying my Masters degree and would pass time before train transfers to flick through Readers Digest baking book for recipe inspiration. The brownies featured in this book are probably the easiest baking recipe in this book, however when you want a quick chocolate fix, these brownies serve the purpose; they are incredibly easy to make. What's better is these brownies taste amazing, rich and moerish. I added some white chocolate (which is of course optional)  in the brownie mixture which gave it a further chocolate hit. 

125g buter at room temperature
200g dark chocolate, chopped
2 eggs
230g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
60g plain flour
2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
100g walnuts

Use a 20cm (8in) square tin. Grease and line with baking parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F Gas Mark 4) . Melt the butter and 115g go the chocolate in a bowl and set over gently simmering water; remove from heat and leave to cool. 
Whisk the eggs in a bowl with electric beaters. Gradually add the sugar; beat continuously until the mixture is thick and foamy and leaves a ribbon - like trail when the beaters are lifted. Add the vanilla essence and the chocolate mixture and blend in thoroughly. Sift flour and cocoa powder over the mixture and scatter in walnuts and the rest of the chocolate. Fold the mixture together with a large spoon. 
Pour the batter into the tin and bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is a rich brown. place a piece of foil over the top if it looks to be in danger of burning. Cool brownies briefly in the tin cut into squares. Cool brownies completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight conner; they will keep 3-4 days. 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Made in Vietnam Review

I only very recently discovered the delights of Far Eastern cooking. This was by chance, during a trip to New York in April this year. I was tired of all the heavy carb based dishes and fancied a light Thai meal. After eating a fiery, light and flavoursome Thai dish in New York, I made it my mission to explore this cuisine and other cuisines in the Far East. I know very little about Vietnam or Vietnamese cuisine, but as a hungry foodie, I am always eager to learn.

This cookery book Made In Vietnam enables me to go on a culinary cooking tour for Vietnamese cooking virgin, such as me, the authors Tracey Lister and Andreas Pohl, give a short introduction to Vietnamese Cuisine and the cornerstones to the cuisine: rice, fish and herbs. Also, the authors share the influences to this cuisine such as Chinese and French influences. The recipes in this book are dishes the authors have collected over the years and been living and travelling in this country. There are some harder to find ingredients in the cookery book, however if you live near a city featuring a Far Eastern community, you will be able to easily access such ingredients, or use substitutes. 
Made In Vietnam is currently on sale for £14.99, many recipes have photos, recipes are in English and Vietnamese which offers another unusual touch.

The chapters in this book are:
  • Rice and Bread - lots of luscious side dishes including: Broken Rice, Fried Sticky Rice and Vietnamese Baguette.
  • Vegetables and Salads - recipes to try include: Cabbage and Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Mint, Choko and Barbecued Pork Salad, Crispy Noodle Cake, With Sauteed Prawns and Vegetables and Green Mango and Sun Dried Squid Salad and Squid Pomelo Salad. 
  • Barbecued Prawns with Lemongrass, Fish Cakes in Young Green Rice, Prawn Tails Cooked in Coconut Milk and Salted Fish and Fried Rice.
  • Poultry - standout recipes include: Baby Chicken with Char grilled with Kaffir Lime Leaves, Crispy Chicken Wings with Fish Sauce, Soy Poached Chicken and Hoi An Chicken and Rice.
  • Pork, Beef and Goat: standout recipes include: Sticky Rice From The Countryside with Pork and Mung Beans, Pork Ribs Braised with Peanut and Lemongrass and Goat Curry.
  • Condiments: recipes include: Hoisin Dipping Sauce and Lime Chili Dipping Salt.
  • Sweets: standout recipes include: Coconut Ice-cream, Sticky Rice with Red Beans, Coconut and Sesame Seeds and Salty Peanut and Sesame Cookies. 

Recipe for Cabbage and Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Mint
Serves 6
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cabbage, thinly sliced
2 carrots, cut into long thin strips
3 red Asian shallots, thinly sliced
1 handful Vietnamese mint
1 long chilli, cut into rings
2 tablespoon roasted unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped, plus 1 teaspoon extra, to serve

120g sugar
100ml lime juice
60ml fish sauce
2 garlic cloves, chopped

Bring a small saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the chicken, reduce the heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until just cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a chopping board, leave to cool, then cut or shred the chicken into thin strips. Place in a large bowl.
To make the dressing, whisk together the sugar and lime juice until the sugar has completely dissolved. Stir in the fish sauce and garlic.
Add the vegetables, min, chili and peanuts to the chicken. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss to combine. 
Serve on a large platter, sprinkled with the remaining peanuts. 

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