Bank Holiday blowout food

This weekend was the last Bank Holiday weekend before Christmas, and I managed to wangle a shift off from work to enable me to enjoy the whole three days off. In classic British Bank Holiday fashion, the weather forecast was for rain all weekend. “There goes my nice long bike ride in the sun,” I thought. However, yesterday was lovely and sunny and while we didn’t cycle the longer route I’d originally planned, we did have a nice cycle around the park in the sunshine (sitting down to enjoy a cheeky Calippo under a tree along the way). As I’d thought the weather was going to be rubbish all weekend, I was feeling a bit indulgent and planned a menu of tasty treats for our three days off together.

We started off on Saturday with a nice lay in (interrupted by needing to answer the door, bleary eyed and Russell Brand-haired, to the postman to take delivery of some packages from Amazon). We then enjoyed a pot of coffee and some pain au chocolat while still in our dressing gowns, watching re-runs of Time Team on the telly. Lovely. I won’t bore you with this level of detail about the rest of the weekend but it’s worth mentioning how much I appreciate not having to set an alarm and having a home filled with the smell of fresh coffee first thing in the morning.

I decided to make cream teas on Saturday, the original plan being to cycle to the park and enjoy them in the sun. As it was pissing down with rain, we enjoyed them in the comfort of our own home instead. The scone recipe I used was this one (don’t do what I did and absent-mindedly use plain flour instead of self-raising- I had to chuck out the first batch and start again when I realised they weren’t rising in the oven). We had our usual debate about whether to put the jam on first or the clotted cream- I always put my cream on first with the strawberry jam on top because I think it’s more aesthetically pleasing (which is the Devon way of doing it). However, Owen spent a large portion of his childhood and teens in Cornwall, and he and his mum will argue until they’re blue in the face that the Cornish way (jam first, cream on top) is the only correct way to serve a cream tea.

Cream teas (the Devon way). I got a bit carried away and decided to put them on my extra chintzy bone china plates.

Yesterday’s breakfast was pancakes with bacon and maple syrup- one of my favourite weekend breakfasts when I can be bothered to make it. I use the following ingredients for the two of us, adjusted from this Jamie Oliver recipe.

  • 2 eggs
  • 80g plain flour
  • 95ml milk
  • Half a teaspoon of baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

Breakfast pancakes with bacon and maple syrup.

Owen did a roast for dinner last night. I’m not very good at roasts, but I do always contribute by making the stuffing balls (chopped onion, grated apple, sage and breadcrumbs bound with an egg) and Yorkshire puds. A roast is one of those meals, like a full English breakfast, which always tastes that much better when someone else cooks it for you. Owen happens to be very good at making a roast dinner (his roast potatoes in particular are excellent), which works out well for me…

Owen’s yummy roast potatoes.

I made tomato soup for lunch today using this Felicity Cloake recipe (which is my standard ‘go to’ tomato soup recipe- the balsamic vinegar lifts the flavours perfectly). I quite often make soup for lunch on a weekend, especially if the weather’s a bit miserable- I find it quite comforting with a nice bit of crusty bread for dippage.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of these before they went in the oven- I just thought they looked pretty…

Tomato soup

One of the aforementioned Amazon deliveries was Lorraine Pascale’s latest book, which provided the inspiration for tonight’s dinner- prawn linguine with chorizo and cabernet tomato sauce (the recipe wasn’t on her usual BBC page so the link is to the Mail Online- sorry about that). The only adjustments I made were to use one tin of tomatoes instead of two and enough linguine for two people instead of four. There are loads of recipes in this book that I want to try, so you’ll no doubt be hearing more about them soon…

Lorraine Pascale’s prawn linguine with chorizo and cabernet tomato sauce

So, we’re back to work tomorrow. After all this culinary naughtiness (I’ve not even mentioned the Tesco’s jumbo chocolate croissants and copious amounts of beer and wine we washed everything down with until now), I think I’ll need to get on the exercise bike and cook a few healthy meals this week to restore the balance…

Roasted red pepper and tomato rigatoni

This recipe is loosely based on the ‘Trapani-style rigatoni’ in Jamie Oliver’s 30-Minute Meals book (which doesn’t seem to be on his website for some reason, hence the absence of a hyperlink). It’s become a bit of a firm favourite in our household so I thought I’d share it here. The chillies give it a nice kick, so a cold beer is an ideal accompaniment (although a cold beer is an ideal accompaniment to most things…)

This is really easy to make- it’s one of those meals that’s a good standby for those moments when you can’t be bothered to properly plan what to have for dinner. You may even find you have the ingredients loitering in your fridge already.

Ingredients

  • A red pepper
  • 250g cherry or baby plum tomatoes (you could probably use normal sized tomatoes to be honest)
  • 2 red chillies (or 1 red chilli if you prefer less of a kick).
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Dried oregano
  • Fennel seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Ground almonds
  • Parmesan
  • 200g dried pasta of your choice (I tend to use rigatoni)
  • Rocket leaves

Deseed the red pepper and chop it into chunks. Halve the tomatoes and halve and deseed the chillies. Chop the tips off the garlic cloves, keeping the skin on, and crush them with the side of a knife. Add all these ingredients to a roasting tin and sprinkle with dried oregano and about a tablespoonful of fennel seeds. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle on a good glug of olive oil. Use clean hands to make sure everything’s nicely coated in oil, then pop in the middle of the oven at gas mark 5 for about 45 minutes, giving it a bit of a shake half way through. Take the roasting tin out of the oven and let everything cool for a bit.

Put your pan of salted water on ready for the pasta. While that’s coming to the boil, squeeze your roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and add these, along with the rest of your roasted vegetables, into a food processor (use a spatula to ensure you get all the oil in as well). Add a good sprinkling of ground almonds (I don’t really measure this but 25g is about right) and about 15g of parmesan. Whizz everything up until it’s smooth, adding more olive oil as you go to make it the right consistency to coat the pasta without being too oily or too thick.

Once the pasta water is boiling, add the pasta and cook it however you normally would. Drain the pasta, retaining some of the cooking water (about a couple of tablespoons worth). Add the pesto/ sauce to the pasta and stir to coat it over a low heat to warm everything through. Divide between bowls and sprinkle with a couple of handfuls of rocket leaves and parmesan.

To make this strictly vegetarian, you’d need to substitute the parmesan with a vegetarian cheese.

Serves two (as do pretty much all of my recipes).