Fusilli with Mandarins and Basil

Mandarin and Yoghurt Fusilli (9088)

Before coming across this recipe in Jack Monroe‘s book, I would never have thought of pairing pasta with mandarins. (There’s no need to tell you again how much I like Jack’s book. You can read all about it in a previous post.) I was almost about to say that I never had anything sweet with pasta. Then I remembered I actually did! I’m getting older…

Mandarin and Yoghurt Fusilli (9081)

Apart from not spending too many of your precious pennies, this recipe is ideal for those balmy summer months when everyone, including myself, would rather be relaxing than spending hours in the kitchen. There is some cooking involved of course, but nothing too major. All you need are some simple ingredients, a few minutes of your time and you’ll have have summer on a plate.

Mandarin and Yoghurt Fusilli (9086)

You can find tinned mandarins in supermarkets, but if you prefer you could chop up the equivalent amount of peeled fresh oranges. Though you’ll have to promise to keep me posted if you try it with fresh fruit. Come on, give it a go!

Mandarin and Yoghurt Fusilli (9087)

**Before I leave please note there will be no posts for the month of August. It’s going to get really hectic around here, plus I also need a recharge. Please bear with me for now, but I’ll be back in September with some new photos and recipes. In the meantime, I’ll be on Twitter and Facebook if you need to message me. Thanks to all and have a wonderful summer!**

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
  • 250g fusilli
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, roughly chopped, and more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, and some more for serving
  • 250g drained weight tinned mandarins
  • 200ml natural yoghurt
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of white pepper
  • grated pecorino

Bring a pan of water to boil, adding a little salt to the water, and cook the fusilli or any other pasta of your choice as per packet instructions.

Heat up a shallow pan on medium and pour in the oil. Add the chopped onions to the pan. Add the drained mandarins, basil and parsley. Stir and let the onions cook for a few minutes. When the onions turn soft, remove the pan from the heat.

Pour in the yoghurt and give everything a whirl with a wooden spoon. Taste for seasoning. Add a pinch of salt and white pepper if necessary.

Drain the pasta, but reserve some of the pasta water. You may need it to thicken the sauce slightly if you prefer. Tip the pasta into the sauce and toss.

Serve immediately with some grated pecorino and more basil and parsley. For 2 hungry people.

A great summer lunch. Enjoy!

One year ago: Blueberry Muffins

Two years ago: Some more good reads…

Three years ago: Easy Cupcakes

Enjoy the rest of your summer and see you in September! (Please refer to my previous posts for updates.)

Rob x

(Recipe adapted from A Girl Called Jack, Penguin Books/Michael Joseph, 2014.)

Cinnamony French Toast

French Toast (8080)

I don’t know about you but I find that weekend mornings are great for a more relaxed breakfast. One of my very favourite breakfast treats is pancakes, absolutely winning hands down. That said, sometimes I dread doing the prep, even though there’s nothing complicated about it. So when I wake up with a pancake crave but don’t want the extra work I make French toast. There’s still some whisking involved but it’s much easier on the nerves I think! Nothing is more peaceful than waking up a little early and pottering around in the kitchen doing minimal work while everyone is still fast asleep.

French Toast (8086)

In general, I don’t do leisurely breakfasts. My mind goes into overdrive in the morning and I don’t have the patience to sit down except for coffee. Having said that, when the opportunity arises for a good meal I take it all in my stride. Even if it means taking some extra time to faff around. When there is actually time to do so, that is! But for me there’s something so attractive and simple about this recipe that makes the easy prep all worth while. And I love the way the sugar caramelizes around the bread and almost makes it crispy. Thinking about it makes me want it now.

I don’t have this every weekend, far from it! So please spare me the usual this-is-not-good-for-you speeches that I’m getting these days. All the recipes you see here are rarely repeated – it’s not because they’re not good, it’s because food blogging is what I do and it’s almost impossible for me to cook the same things over and over again after I’ve written about them. I would drown in my books if I did so. I do make this over and over again though, not every weekend, but close enough!

French Toast (8089)

The quantities given in this basic recipe are for 2 to 3 people, and you will have no problems in scaling it up. Having said that, I would advise you not to cook this when you have a large group of people coming over. You will be by the stove all morning if you do and instead of enjoying your friends as you should, you will only feel frustrated by the time they leave!

Don’t let this sway you away. A bit of solitary indulgence is good for you once in a while and in my book this also makes a perfect romantic breakfast for two.

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk*
  • 6 slices white bread (day-old bread is even better)
  • knob unsalted butter
  • maple syrup, to serve**

Place a flat non-stick griddle or pan on the hob and wait for it to heat up. In the meantime, whisk the cinnamon, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and milk in a shallow bowl.

Drop the butter in the pan, let it melt and dip the bread into the eggy mixture and coat it on both sides. Leave the bread in the liquid a few moments. Eyeball it depending on the type of bread you’re using.

Place the bread on the griddle and cook until the bread turns a golden brown.

If you start running out of liquid, add some milk to the egg mixture.*
Repeat the process until all the bread is cooked.

I like to eat mine with maple or golden syrup, but you can serve them with honey, fruit and/or yoghurt.**

What a wonderful thing to wake up to! Enjoy!

One year ago: Blueberry Muffins

Two years ago: Stir-fry

Three years ago: Penne with Chorizo

Rob x

Greek Salad Revisited

Greek Salad Revisited (7367)

There are many versions of this out in the blogosphere, which of course includes the one found here on C&T. I’m a big fan of feta; its creaminess and texture is great for any salad. When I don’t have it I use halloumi, but for me, that just doesn’t make the cut. It’s too chewy and tough, though mind you, it still has it’s uses. It grills well, for example.

The following recipe will not be much different than the one I posted before. However I love it and it makes such a good main meal during the summer months, and it is something special when sharing during a BBQ with friends and family. Here is what you need for 2 hungry people. Scale up the quantities for bigger crowds.

  • 1 large cucumber, washed, partly peeled and cut into slices
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 150g feta cheese, cut into cubes
  • 250g baby plum or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 50g kalamata olives
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 5 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
  • around ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • a handful of fresh parsley, washed and chopped

Mix all the ingredients in a large salad bowl and you’re good to go. Eat in good company as a main, or eat as part of a meze and/or a BBQ with a crisp glass of white. Enjoy!

One year ago: Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta and Chilli

Two years ago: Chicken Marinade

Three years ago: Easy Cupcakes

Rob x

London: until we meet again

London Eye (9443)

I’m flying back to Malta this afternoon. You might be reading this while I am on my way to the airport. One thing’s for sure: I will be sad to leave. J and I lived in Surrey for these past seven years, but London was, is and always will be one of my favourite places to visit. J doesn’t totally get it I think; London is expensive, dirty, and brimming with people. I love the brimming-with-people part. Surrey is beautiful and J thrived there, especially while taking walks in the countryside. One one hand I loved it too, while on the other hand many times it just got too quiet. Thank goodness for Guildford town centre. Now that’s lovely, and it’s another place I will greatly miss.

Parliament Square (9466)

The shots you see here were taken on a beautiful sunny day in the capital. We were with one of J’s friends and his wife, who were great company. I love meeting new people. We had a great day with them. We had lunch at Borough Market and then walked along the South Bank. After that we met up with bro-in-law a.k.a. J2.

Bridge on Bridge (9437)

I still have a few sets of photos from other places outside London; in the meantime I’m leaving you with these memories. London, I will miss you. Until we see each other again….

Hope to meet up with my lovely readers in Malta. I’ll be in the land of sundried tomatoes and lemons.

1 year ago: Banana Milkshake 

2 years ago: KitchenAid prices in Malta

3 years ago: Moving Day

Rob x

*A little reminder: I will be posting on here until the end of July, with a month-long hiatus during August.*

Photo: Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs (8182)

This is a simple photo taken while I was sadly parting with my Greek basil plant. It was the picture of health for months and months. Then suddenly parts of it started to dry up on me. I didn’t want it to go to waste, and instead of trying to save it and knowing that I would fail miserably, I decided that the best thing here was for me to keep the majority of it by cutting it, washing it, using some up and freezing what was left. I took the photo as a sort of souvenir. Those tiny baby leaves are too cute! And I couldn’t get over the basil-y smell on my hands. Ahh.

One year ago: Smitten Kitchen’s Strawberry Fools

Two years ago: A little Nostalgia and Fun…

Three year ago: Tea Time Cakes Continued: Banana Bread

Rob x

Polenta Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

Corn Muffins with a Cheese Frosting (9668)

I am coming to you with another recipe. About time, I hear you say, and you’re absolutely right. I love posting pictures of places we’ve been to, but there’s no doubt that food gives me more enjoyment – and I don’t necessarily mean just the eating bit. I love the process, the gathering of ingredients from the pantry, the assembling, the mixing, the looking-in-the-oven-to-watch-the-baking, and how lovely the kitchen smells during the baking, unless it’s the smell of burning. It’s the washing up that gets to me, but that will be solved very soon with the help of a dishwasher, or so I hope. I digress, as usual.

Corn Muffins with a Cheese Frosting (9664)

Back to the recipe. So as of now I cannot bake anymore, till I settle down again during the summer. I have stopped shopping for baking stuff, of course. I just can’t believe I’m moving again next week. It is bittersweet but I won’t be sorry to leave this kitchen behind. I am looking forward to better things in that department. That being said I do have a few baking things lined up for this blog – I just couldn’t resist. I came across these beautiful little cakes on one of James Tanner’s books. They just jumped out at me. Lately I have been having a breakfast food itch, the one where I want to eat pancakes all day, every day. We know that’s not good so I spent my time trying out different options, which are not necessarily healthy, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have any salad with this. (That could be an excellent brunch option.)

Corn Muffins with a Cheese Frosting (9667)

Muffins in general are easy enough to make. The only problem for me is that I have rarely succeeded in turning out with a really fluffly batch. I do tend to overmix generally, most probably because for me, stirring and whisking is such good therapy! That is one thing I always try to watch out for. These polenta muffins, as every muffin recipe, will turn out as hard as a rock if you do that. So fold in your ingredients slowly and remember that a lumpy batter is what you want to end up with. One of my favourite things about them is the perfect combination of sweet and savoury. And you can always omit the frosting and have them with some ketchup or homemade salsa. Amazing taste, right there.

Corn Muffins with a Cheese Frosting (9670)

Send me your feedback if and when you make them. I love to hear what you think. I ended up with 14 muffins but it will definitely give you a good batch of 12.

For the muffins:

  • 300g polenta
  • 80g plain flour
  • 198g can sweetcorn, drained
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 150ml milk
  • 100g cheddar, grated
  • ¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes*
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 400ml buttermilk**

For the frosting:

  • 30g icing sugar
  • 100g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 50g soft unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • poppy seeds, for sprinkling on the top

Preheat the oven to 200ºC, and line a 12-hole muffin or cupcake tray with muffin cases. I wouldn’t recommend using a silicone one here.

Take one of the largest bowls you have and mix the polenta, flour, sweetcorn, baking powder, salt and pepper together.

In another large bowl or jug, whisk in the egg, milk, cheese, chilli, smoked paprika and buttermilk.

Fold in the wet ingredients in the jug with the dry ones and gently mix them together until just combined. As always, do not overmix, because the more you mix, the denser the batter will become. We want the exact opposite.

Pour the mixture into the muffin cases, trying to distribute this as equally as possible. (This mixture gave me a yield of 14, but it’s always an approximation.) Bake the muffins for around 20 to 22 minutes. If you’re not sure, insert a thin skewer to check. If it comes out clean, you’re done. Take the muffins out of the tray and let them cool.

To make the frosting, tip all the ingredients in a small bowl and combine. When the muffins are cool enough, spread a little frosting on each one and sprinkle with some poppy seeds for extra decoration. I left a couple without frosting and had them with a little bit of ketchup! Trust me, they were good!

*I am in the process of emptying my food cupboard so I used some dried spices. You can always use fresh chilli, which will definitely be and taste better.

**With regards to the buttermilk, you can substitute this with natural yoghurt. If you don’t have any, then take the same amount of milk and squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice.

Enjoy and have a great week!

Rob x

(Recipe adapted from Old Favourites, New Twists, by James Tanner, Kyle Books, 2013.)

Beautiful Rye, East Sussex.

Mummy (9655)

This is a photo of my beautiful Mum. I call her my lovely Mummy. Or simply Ma. On one of her few visits here J drove us down to Rye and on to Rye Harbour, a charming little town in East Sussex. The weather was on our side, and we took a short two-mile walk along part of the coast and around some of the nature reserve. The first order of business though when we arrived was a fish and chip lunch – it was just what we needed. J has a photo of it somewhere, which he promised to give me, if and when he remembers. Apparently we both forgot about it!

Harbour (9647)

I wasn’t really in the mood for photos, to be totally honest, and this was even clearer when I uploaded the ones I took to be edited. The ones I have of the red-roofed hut are a disaster. The only decent ones are in this post. A real shame because the place was just stunning. The boat in the harbour was going too fast to be able to apply the Rule of Thirds, but J thinks it’s a good photo anyway. I tried to crop it but somehow the best way was to keep everything as is. On the other hand, I did have to crop Mum’s one. She will be amused by her photo, if she gets to see it that is. She doesn’t use the computer at all. I’ll make sure to show it to her when I get back to Malta. After all it’s the only one I have of her. Like me, she hates having her picture taken. Good thing she didn’t notice me pointing my camera at her. Bless!

Rob x

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