Sunday, 24 August 2014

Spaghetti Carbonara


Today's recipe is one taken from an ancient Marks & Spencer Pasta Recipe Book and tweaked over the years.  It's great comfort food and I often make it if I have a glut of eggs.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves 3


1 tbs olive oil
200g smoked bacon lardons
250g chestnut mushrooms, prepared and finely sliced
250g dried spaghetti
2 eggs
150ml double cream
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated parmesan to serve

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, cook the bacon for around 5 mins until well coloured and starting to go crisp.  Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for approx 5 more minutes.  Put to one side.  Beat together the eggs and cream and season well.

Meanwhile, add the spaghetti to a large pan of boiling, salted water then cook according to packet instructions until al dente (approx 8-10 mins).  When the pasta has almost finished cooking reheat the bacon and mushrooms.  Drain the pasta and add to the frying pan.  Toss everything together then quickly add the egg mixture stirring all the time until the pasta is well coated and the eggs are cooked.  If you don't stir enough at this stage or cook for too long it will turn like scrambled eggs.  Personally, I like it quite well cooked at this stage rather than just runny with the eggs lightly cooked.

Serve immediately with more black pepper and parmesan cheese sprinkled over.

Shona xx

Monday, 18 August 2014

Blueberry & White Chocolate Muffins

Good Evening,

Tonight's recipe is one I cut out of a local newspaper recently and was keen to try.  The recipe is by one of the chefs from the renowned Three Chimneys Restaurant on the Isle of Skye and uses blaeberries (also known as bilberries) which grow wild around the countryside.  Here I've used some of our own blueberries from the garden which are a very close relation.

Blueberry & White Chocolate Muffins

Makes 12

10oz self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
6oz caster sugar
200ml milk
1 large egg
3oz melted butter
3oz white chocolate, chopped, plus 1oz
200g blueberries

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and white chocolate in a large pan.  Beat the egg and milk together, add slightly cooled melted butter.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients.  Mix very lightly for about 30 seconds.  Do not over-mix.

Half fill muffin cases then place 5 or 6 blueberries in each then add more mixture to 3/4 fill the cases.  Add a few more blueberries and some of the remaining white chocolate to each.

Bake at 200C/190C fan assisted for approx 25 mins.  Sprinkle with vanilla sugar or icing sugar as I have done here.

Broccoli & Smoked Cheese Soup

Hello again,

I'm back with another soup recipe today.  This one originated as a recipe in a vegetarian cookbook I got as a present many years ago.  The original recipe used stilton but I'm not a big fan of blue cheeses so I adapted it by using mature cheddar.  Making it with smoked cheese has been a recent variation but I really like it.

Broccoli & Smoked Cheese Soup

Serves 4

10 ml spoon olive oil
knob of butter
1 onion, chopped
1 head of broccoli (approx 300g), cut into small florets
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 litre veg stock
100g smoked cheese (I used Applewood), grated or crumbled
3 tbsp double cream
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil and butter in a large pan, add the onion and cook for a few mins until softened.  Add the broccoli and garlic and continue to cook for a few mins more, stirring regularly.  Add the thyme and stock.  Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 mins or until the vegetables are tender.  Blend the soup then reheat in the pan with the cheese until melted.  Add the cream and heat through.  Check the seasoning you will probably not need to add salt with using the smoked cheese but you'll need a good grind of pepper.

This is just as good made with mature cheddar or stilton if you like it.

Shona x

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

My Bolognese Sauce

Good evening,

Tonight's recipe is one of my own, well it probably started life as a recipe from somewhere long ago but I've added to it and adapted it to suit our tastes.  It's great with the old staple spaghetti but just as good with a baked potato.

Bolognese Sauce

Serves 4-5

450g minced beef steak
2 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
200g mushrooms, peeled and sliced,
1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
100ml white or red wine
500g carton passata
1 tbsp tomato puree
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp dried oregano
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a large saute or frying pan with a lid.  Add the mince, bacon, onion, carrot and celery and cook without fat, stirring regularly, until the vegetables have softened and the mince is starting to brown.  Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for 2-3 mins more.  Add the wine and bubble over a high heat until it has almost evaporated.  Add the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for around 20 mins.  Check the seasoning then serve with spaghetti or a baked potato and freshly grated parmesan.

Monday, 11 August 2014

English Onion Soup

Hello again,

Here's a recipe I tried a few weeks back - English Onion Soup!  Just like French Onion but made with cider instead of wine!  Again, I made it using the onions hubby grew in our garden.  The recipe is from the Asda website.

English Onion Soup

Serves 6

  • 15g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 500g large brown onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 15g plain flour
  • 500ml reduced-salt beef stock
  • 500ml cider
  • 1 small baguette
  • 75g mature Cheddar

  1. Melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and stir until they're well coated. Cook over a low heat, stirring often, until soft.
  2. Stir in the sugar and continue to cook over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until they're a deep golden brown. As you stir, make sure you take the spoon right into the base of the pan to ensure the onions don't catch in places.
  3. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring all the time, for a further 1 minute. Gradually stir in the stock and then the cider. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes.
  4. Preheat the grill. Slice the baguette and put in a single layer on a grill pan. Grill until toasted on one side. Turn over and sprinkle with the cheese, then grill until it melts.
  5. Divide the soup between 6 bowls and top each one with slices of bread. Sprinkle with black pepper, to serve.

That's all for tonight, see you again soon.

Shona xx

Raspberry & Blueberry Cake

Hi there,

Welcome to my very first post on my new cooking and baking blog.  Tonight's recipe is one I found in the current (August 2014) Asda Magazine.  I thought it would be a perfect recipe to use some of the blueberries my husband has been growing in the garden.  The raspberries were grown locally at Wester Hardmuir and the eggs are also from a local farm.  I love using local produce when it's available.

Raspberry & Blueberry Cake

Serves 10 approx 

175g butter
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs
225g self raising flour
Finely grated zest 1 orange
75g fresh raspberries
75g fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.  Line a 2lb  loaf tin with baking paper.  Beat the butter and sugar until soft and creamy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and adding a little flour if the mixture begins to split.  Fold in remaining flour and the orange zest.  Wash and pat dry the fruit with kitchen towel to absorb as much moisture as possible.  Gently fold in the berries.  Turn into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.  This will keep for a few days in an airtight tin.

Please come back and visit soon, I hope to keep adding to my blog as I make and photograph some of my favourite recipes.

Shona xx