Category Archives: parmesan

bbt tortilla

bacon broccoli tomato tortilla

What a great year it’s been for tomatoes. The plants in my garden have been raving with fruit, and they’ve been bursting with sweetness. A really bumper crop. Most of them have ended up in pasta sauce and pizza topping but these ones were deserving of a little more.

And so I happened across a recipe for a “BLT tortilla” in the SORTED cookbook but didn’t fancy rocket in mine, so some frozen broccoli jumped in instead. Coupled with refreshing, sweet tomatoes what you get is a portable and tasty lunch that’d be great in a picnic or easily upgraded to main meal status with a decent salad.

BBT tortilla (serves 4 – 6):

6 rashers smoked bacon, diced

About 12 frozen broccoli florets

8 eggs

A couple of handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

A handful of grated parmesan

  1. Get a frying pan over a high heat and preheat the oven to 180°C. Add a dash of oil to the pan and fry the bacon briskly until coloured, and then add the broccoli. Stir fry until the broccoli has started to soften.
  2. Mix the eggs in a bowl with the parmesan, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Pour this and the tomatoes into the pan, and take this opportunity to space the veg around the pan evenly. When that’s done transfer to the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the wobble has just gone. Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out and serving.

spaghetti with truffles

spaghetti with truffles

Some good friends gave me some Carluccio’s black truffles as a gift; the least I could do was serve it back to them. I thought this recipe would be one that Carluccio himself would be pleased with as it has minimal ingredients and ready in under 10 minutes. Mof-mof indeed.

Spaghetti with truffles (serves 4):

250g spaghetti (fancy bronze-die cut stuff if you can get it)

30g butter

30g parmesan, grated

1 black truffle

  1. Cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Like, proper toothy.
  2. As the spaghetti is nearly cooked, gently melt the butter. When the pasta is ready add it to the butter at the same time as the parmesan. Toss like crazy and add a real big punch of black pepper. Serve immediately, grating over black truffle to taste.

braised dexter veal with roasted red potatoes

braised dexter veal with roasted red potatoes


I really, really love veal. I sigh in despair when I raise the subject of veal and people suck air through their teeth with a “oooh, but it’s so cruel” expression. Veal has a major PR disaster to recover from in this country before it gets welcomed back into kitchens.

So when Farmison sent me some topside veal to cook with, I punched the air. Any excuse to use it works for me. Farmison is a great idea; sourcing excellent food from smaller producers around the country (and beyond) to put together meat boxes and seasonal packs.

They sent me a whole bunch of things to try: porchetta, pineapples and more, some of which I’ll blog about later. But I have to mention the black potatoes: truly nasty things devoid of flavour. I couldn’t find them on their site to link to, but you’re not missing anything.

The Dexter veal however was great. This recipe is a gutsy braise, ensuring the meat stays moist. I’ve paired it with some unusual parmesan-roasted red potatoes to bounce off the sweet-tomatoey gravy.

Braised Dexter Veal with Roasted Red Potatoes (serves 4 – 6):

For the veal:

800g Dexter veal roasting joint

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 celery stick, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon tomato puree

1 glass red wine

500ml beef stock

For the potatoes:

5 – 6 red potatoes, diced

1 onion, peeled and diced

A large handful grated parmesan

4 garlic cloves, squashed

Pinch of dried thyme

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C, and get a large casserole dish on a very high hob. Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan. Season the veal all over with salt and pepper and when the dish is hot add to the pan. Brown on all sides and put to one side.
  2. Add the diced vegetables, bay and tomato and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the wine and scrape at the bottom of the pan to free the sticky bits. Keep stirring until the wine has almost completely reduced and add the stock. Bring up to the boil, put the veal back in the pan and put a lid on it. Transfer to the oven and cook until the veal reaches 65°C when checked with a meat thermometer.
  3. While the veal cooks prepare the potatoes. Toss the diced potato with the other ingredients along with a tablespoon of oil and salt and pepper. Put in the oven to bake and stir occasionally.
  4. When the veal is ready, turn the oven up to 200°C to brown the potatoes. Remove the veal to a carving board and cover with foil to keep warm. With a sieve over a bowl ladle in all the diced veg and strain off the juices. Discard the veg and put the gravy back in pan over a high heat and reduce rapidly until it thickens to the desired consistency. Carve the veal, serve with the potatoes and seasonal vegetables with the gravy on the side.

summer veg lasagne

summer veg lasagne

I always mean to try interesting lasagna recipes – ones that aren’t classic lasagne al forno that is – but when I come to cook it I can’t resist meaty, tomatoey rich ragu topped with creamy bechamel. It takes Jamie Oliver to convince me to try it another way.

This Summer veg lasagne is inspired by one from his 30 Minute Meals book. It’s perfect for the Summer months and ideal for clearing out the fridge! I grabbed a bunch of things that needed using up for here and it came out lovely.

Summer veg lasagne (serves 4):

A bunch of spring onions

3 cloves of garlic

300g asparagus

Large handful frozen peas

Large handful spring greens

Large bunch of basil

150ml single cream

150ml veg stock

250g cottage cheese

250g fresh lasagne sheets


  1. Get the kettle on to boil, get a large frying pan on a high heat and add a splash of oil. Put the oven on 180°C.
  2. Slice up the spring onions and add to the pan. Crush in the garlic and toss well to prevent sticking. Snap off the woody bits of the asparagus then slice up the stems, but leave the tips intact and keep to one side for now. Add the chopped stems to the pan with a splash of boiled water.
  3. Add the peas and greens and keep stirring. Chop the basil and add to the pan with the cream and add plenty of seasoning. Cover with stock and bring to the boil.
  4. Get a roasting tray and start to layer up lasagne sheets and veg mix until you have used everything up. Finish with pasta. Add a splash of boiled water to the cottage cheese to slacken and then spread over your pasta. Scatter the asparagus on top of the cottage cheese and grate over plenty of parmesan. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden and crunchy. Serve with panzanella.

chestnut gnocchi

gnocchi and mushrooms in chestnut marsala sauce

I absolutely love Two Greedy Italians. Not only are Gennaro Contaldo and Antonio Carluccio the most avuncular and affable guys on TV, joshing and fondly trading insults, they also serve up some jaw-droppingly good Italian food. In the series where they tour Italy, revisiting places of their youth and being tourists everywhere else the former colleagues eat their way through just about every culinary region of the Old Boot.

In this episode traversing the Alps, they went to a region where they historically couldn’t grow wheat so used chestnuts for all their flour. Gennaro then used this to make a delicious chestnut gnocchi with mushrooms. I had to give it a go myself, but all my previous attempts to make gnocchi have been messy, hideous and not worth the effort. The recipe also isn’t listed on the site. So I bought shop-made gnocchi and improvised a sauce. This was fab, I’m definitely doing it again and I hope I’ve paid enough tribute to Gennaro’s original recipe. Watch the sweetness, you will probably need a good dose of salt to balance it out.

The recipe is probably in Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy, but I don’t have it so no guarantees!

Chestnut gnocchi (serves 2):

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

100ml Marsala

300ml beef stock

200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon chestnut puree

1 pack of potato gnocchi

Handful of parsley, roughly chopped

Parmesan shavings to serve

  1. In a small saucepan heat some oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic, Worcestershire sauce, a pinch each of salt and sugar and cover the pan. Cook for 3-4 mins, stirring regularly until the garlic is starting to brown. Add the Marsala and allow to reduce by half. Then add the beef stock and reduce this by half. Add the chestnut puree and check for seasoning. Keep warm while you do everything else.
  2. Into a frying pan add a knob of butter and the mushrooms. Fry for 8-10 mins until the mushrooms are browning, then add a good whack of black pepper. While the mushrooms sizzle, cook the gnocchi for 2-3mins in salted boiling water until floating at the top. Drain until needed.
  3. When the mushrooms are ready, add the sauce and gnocchi to the pan and toss vigorously to combine. Give it a final check for seasoning and top with parsley and parmesan for serving.

heston blumenthal’s macaroni cheese

heston blumenthal's macaroni cheese

Yes eagle-eyes, you’re right: that’s not macaroni in the picture. But this recipe is full of substitutions. What it tells me is this recipe has a great base from which to build on.

This is Heston’s recipe for macaroni cheese from How To Cook Like Heston, and is predictably very, very tasty. Like most people I usually kick cheese sauces off with a roux, but this approach melts cheese into reduced wine and stock. I’m amazed it works. I think I let the cheese cook a tiny bit too long and it started to split on me, but just about caught it in time. I also veered off from the recipe as I didn’t have a posh cheddar, nor cream cheese in the house but instead let it down with pasta water. That’s another bonkers bit – in the original recipe the pasta is cooked in a very shallow amount of water but I didn’t quite have the attention to monitor that one today. I boiled it in the usual way and it worked just fine.

I’ll definitely be making cheese sauces from this base in future – no more floury rouxs for me.

The original recipe is here, and you can find it in Heston Blumenthal At Home (as “truffle macaroni”) as well.

Heston Blumenthal’s macaroni cheese (serves 4):

300g fusilli

300ml white wine

300ml chicken stock

140g cheddar, grated

1 heaped teaspoon cornflour

A few drops of truffle oil

A little grated parmesan

  1. Get the pasta on to boil in a large saucepan of salted water and cook according to the packet instructions.
  2. In a separate pan reduce the wine down to “30ml” (I have no idea how you can easily tell what level you’re down to without a lot of faff so eyeball it and trust your gut). Add the stock to this wine reduction.
  3. Preheat the grill. Toss the cheese with the cornflour and add to the winey stock. Turn the heat right down low, add some black pepper and stir until thoroughly combined. As soon as it’s smooth turn the heat off.
  4. Drain the pasta and reserve some of the water. Trickle over a tiny amount of truffle oil, toss and add to the sauce, then transfer to a baking dish. Top with the parmesan and pop under the grill until bubbling.

sausage and broccoli penne

penne with sausage and broccoli

This is one that swilled around my head for a while until coming together. It’s a hybrid of ideas from a recent appearance of Theo Randall on Saturday Kitchen and a Jamie Oliver 30 minute meal.

The most satisfying part of this is using the part of the broccoli you usually throw away, the stalk. Whizzed up and fried it’s as tasty as it’s flowery florets. Mixed with sausage and cream it’s almost rich. Whouda thunk it, broccoli being rich?! Make sure you’re generous with the chilli to balance it all out.

While I ate it I thought pine nuts would be great with this – must try it next time.

Sausage & broccoli penne (serves 2):

2 rashers bacon, sliced

1 head of broccoli

4 sausages, skinned

1 anchovy

Big pinch of chilli flakes

2 cloves garlic

200g penne

50ml double cream

Handful of parmesan

  1. Heat a little oil in a pan and add the bacon. Get a large pot of water on to boil.
  2. In a food processor blitz the broccoli to crumbs with the anchovy. Drop in the sausages and add a trickle of olive oil to make a paste.
  3. Add the paste to the bacon in the pan and stir fry for a few minutes. Crush in the garlic and get the pasta on to boil.
  4. After the pasta has cooked for about 5 minutes, add the broccoli florets and cook for 5 minutes more.
  5. Turn the heat down low and add the cream and parmesan, stirring well to combine. Add the drained pasta and broccoli and if necessary let it down with a little of the pasta water. When mixed nicely and all slick and creamy, check seasoning and serve with more parmesan.