Thursday, 20 November 2014

Fusilli Pasta with Sausages and Bruschetta

Cheesy fusilli pasta, tomato sauce and cocktail sausages with bruschetta

If spag bol and macaroni cheese are the limits of your experiences with pasta, there can be little doubt that you are missing out on many of the endless, tasty possibilities afforded by this incredibly versatile foodstuff. While plain pasta and nothing else would of course represent a pretty bland meal, the number of other ingredients that go with pasta to form quick, easy, often healthy meals is limited only by our own imaginations and levels of inventiveness. It can also be a great accompaniment for using up leftovers, as was the case here with the mini cocktail sausages. I hope you'll give this dish - or something like it - a try.

Measuring out fusilli pasta

Ingredients per Person

1 coffee mug of dried fusilli pasta
10 mini cocktail sausages
Vegetable oil for frying
8 ounce can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
2 garlic cloves - 1 peeled and grated for sauce, 1 peeled and crushed for bruschetta
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling on bruschetta
Generous pinch dried oregano
Generous pinch dried basil
Black pepper
2 ounces cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
1 sun dried tomato ciabatta bread roll, halved horizontally
Rolled and sliced basil leaves to garnish

Fusilli pasta added to boiling, salted water

When cooking pasta, there is a common myth that adding olive oil to the water will stop the pasta sticking together. In fact, it does nothing of the sort - the oil simply floats on top of the water and represents nothing more than a waste of oil. In order to stop pasta sticking together, the key is to have plenty of water in the pan to dilute the starch. The water should also be very heavily salted. Add the pasta to rapidly boiling water, reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes.

Frying mini cocktail sausages in oil

Gently fry the cocktail sausages in a little vegetable oil for seven or eight minutes until done, while the pasta is simmering.

Fusilli pasta is thoroughly drained

Drain the pasta through a colander or sieve and add temporarily to a small bowl or deep plate.

Drained fusilli pasta and cocktail sausages are set aside

Drain the cocktail sausages on kitchen paper and set aside with the pasta.

Grated garlic clove and olive oil

Pour the olive oil in to a saucepan and add the grated garlic. Fry very gently for thirty seconds or so.

Canned tomatoes and herbs are added to garlic infused oil

Pour the tomatoes in to the saucepan and season with the basil, oregano and black pepper. Bring to a simmer for about five minutes, stirring frequently.

Fusilli pasta and cocktail sausages are added to tomato sauce

Add the pasta and sausages to the sauce, carefully fold through and simmer for a couple of minutes until fully reheated. Put your grill/broiler on to preheat to maximum.

Fusili pasta and cocktail sausages in tomato sauce added to serving dish

Pour the pasta and sauce mix in to a suitable dish and scatter with the grated cheese.

Grated cheese scattered over tomato pasta and sausages

Put the dish under your grill to melt the cheese.

Sun dried tomato ciabatta roll

Lightly toast the cut ciabatta roll under the grill when you have removed and plated the pasta dish (be sure to lift the dish using oven gloves!)

Cheese melted over tomato pasta and sausages

Rub the cut sides of the toast with the crushed garlic clove, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Toasted ciabatta ready to be rubbed with garlic and oiled

Cut each slice of bread in half diagonally.

Sun dried tomato ciabatta bruschetta

Garnish the pasta with the chopped basil leaves.

Basil is scattered over the cheesy tomato fusilli and sausages

Plate the bruschetta with the pasta and tuck in.

Tucking in to fusilli pasta with sausages and bruschetta

Friday, 7 November 2014

Roast Turkey Drumstick Meat with Sweet and Sour Stir Fried Vegetables

Thick slices of turkey leg meat served on a bed of sweet and sour stir fried veg

Turkey season is fast approaching again in many parts of the world and while this dish is probably not one many people would consider serving as their main Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, it is a delicious option for using up turkey leftovers in the days that follow. I've used the meat from a turkey drumstick (cooked especially for the purpose) but you could really use meat from any part of the bird, with turkey thigh meat also likely to work especially well.

As I am using freshly cooked turkey, the meat is of course still warm. If you are using leftovers, you could simply chop the pieces of meat up in to smaller pieces and incorporate them in the stir fry.

Turkey leg ready for roasting

Ingredients (Serves Two)

1 whole turkey leg (drumstick)
Oil for roasting tray plus two tablespoons for stir frying
3/4 pound mixed stir frying vegetables
Black pepper
*3 tablespoons of sweet and sour stir fry sauce
Chopped basil leaves to garnish (optional)

*I used sweet and sour sauce from a glass jar but you could also use one of the small sachets available from supermarkets. In such instances, use the whole 5 ounce approximately sachet.

Roast turkey leg is left to rest


Your oven should be preheated to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6. Lightly oil a roasting tray and season the turkey drumstick well with salt. Lay it on the tray and put it in to the oven for one hour to one and a quarter hours, depending upon the size of the drumstick.

When you take the drumstick from the oven, stick a skewer deep in to the thickest part until it hits the bone. Press down gently over the hole with the edge of the skewer and ensure the juices run clear. If not, cook for ten more minutes and test again. Lift the drumstick to a suitable dish with a carving fork and large spatula and leave for twenty minutes to rest.

Preparing to carve roast turkey leg

Lift the drumstick on to a chopping board and carve off as much of the meat as you can. The rest should be removed by hand.

Meat is carved/plucked from turkey leg bone

You could buy your stir frying vegetables individually if you wish, allowing you to select exactly what you include. Buying a pack like this is not only easier, however, it's likely to be a lot less expensive!

Assorted Chinese style stir frying vegetables

Bring your wok up to a high heat before adding the oil. When the oil is equally hot, add the vegetables and stir fry for two minutes.

Starting to stir fry the Chinese vegetables

Add the sauce to the vegetables and stir fry for about another minute to ensure the sauce is both well combined and heated through.

Sweet and sour sauce is added to stir fried veg

Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Sweet and sour sauce is stirred through vegetables

Divide the stir fried vegetables between two serving plates, arrange the turkey on top and garnish with the basil.

Sweet and sour stir fried Chinese vegetables

Monday, 3 November 2014

Meatless Monday Recipe: Leftover Vegetarian Chilli with Cheesy Toast

Reheated, leftover vegetarian chilli was cheddar cheese toast

As regular readers of this blog will have noticed, I'm not really the type of person who normally takes much notice of the concept that is Meatless Monday. This does not mean, however, that I cannot enjoy a meat free meal from time to time. When, therefore, I was presented with an ideal opportunity in the form of leftovers to enjoy a meatless Monday meal, I decided to give the idea a go.

Last night, I prepared a dish which I called Chicken Wings Chilli Con Carne (pictured below) for my dinner. This involved making a chilli without meat but otherwise in exactly the same way as normal before serving the meat from roast chicken wings on top. As I had enough chilli for two, half of it was leftover and used in the preparation of this simple meal which I really enjoyed for lunch today. It would of course have served equally well as a dinner...

Chicken wing meat was served on top of the chilli on this occasion

Ingredients (Serves One)

Portion of leftover vegetarian chilli (or similar - such as bolognese sauce)
2 thick slices from speciality wholemeal bread
Cheddar cheese slices as required
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly chopped coriander/cilantro to garnish

Reheating leftover vegetarian chilli


Put the chilli in to a suitable pot or saucepan and on to a gentle heat to heat through. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon.

Artisan boule fresh bread loaf

Put your grill/broiler on to preheat to maximum and cut two thick slices of bread from your loaf.

Inch thick slices are cut from artisan boule loaf

Toast the bread on one side only before laying the cheese on the untoasted side and placing back under the grill until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Slices of cheddar cheese are arranged on part toasted bread

When the chilli is piping hot, spoon it on to a deep plate.

Vegetarian chilli is plated

Season the cheesy bread with black pepper before cutting each slice in half.

Black pepper is ground over cheesy toast

Lay the cheesy bread around the chilli as shown and finish off with the chopped coriander/cilantro.

Cheesy toast is plated with vegetarian chilli

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Roast Turkey Thigh Salad

Roast turkey thigh slices are served with a simple salad and a granary roll

We're approaching that time of year when turkeys will be bought and consumed in their millions - be it at Thanksgiving or at Christmas - but I always wonder why so many of us confine the enjoyment of turkey to just one special time of year. I buy turkey year round but rarely if ever in the form of a whole bird. I buy breast steaks for frying, diced breast meat for stir frying and perhaps most often of all, turkey legs and thighs for roasting. I bought this turkey leg and thigh last week and stuck the leg for the moment in my deep freeze. On what was an unseasonably warm Autumnal day, I roasted the thigh and served it cold as part of a simple but really delicious salad.

Turkey drumstick and thigh

Ingredients (Serves Two)

1 whole turkey thigh (bone in)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 generous handfuls of mixed salad (or as required)
2 granary bread rolls
Butter for the rolls (optional)
Homemade rowan and apple jelly to serve (or jelly of choice)

Elasticated webbing removed from turkey thigh


If your turkey thigh comes with elasticated webbing like this one, you should remove this prior to cooking. This will allow you to open up the thigh and season the flesh side with salt and pepper.

Turkey thigh ready for roasting

Your oven should be preheated to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6.

Lightly oil a roasting tray and lay the thigh on it, seasoned flesh side down. Rub the skin with more oil and season with salt.

Turkey thigh is pierced at thickest part

Put the turkey thigh in to your oven for one hour. Unless the thigh is exceptionally large, this should be long enough to fully cook it but it is vital to ensure this is the case in every instance. The way I do this is by sticking a metal skewer deep in to the thickest part of the thigh, right through to the bone.

Checking turkey juices run clear

Remove the skewer and use it to lightly press down right next to the hole you have made and check the escaping juices are running completely clear. Any trace of red or pink whatsoever and you should put it back in to the oven for ten more minutes before testing again in the same way.

Roast turkey thigh

When you have ensured the thigh it fully cooked, lift it with a large spatula and carving fork to a deep plate.

Roast turkey thigh is covered and left to rest

Cover the turkey thigh and leave it for at least fifteen minutes to rest.

Carving roast turkey thigh

The turkey thigh should be carved on a board. It can then be served immediately if you wish but I re-covered the sliced meat and left it to cool completely.

Roast turkey thigh slices are plated

Divide the turkey slices between two serving plates before adding the salad and roll (buttered if desired). The jelly I served with this meal is homemade rowan and apple jelly which is more commonly served with beef or wild game but I think it worked very well with the turkey.

Granary rroll and salad are plated with roast turkey thigh slices

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Chicken Wings Chop Suey

Chicken wings meat with noodles and Chinese chop suey sauce

I recently started a brand new food blogging project devoted entirely to chicken wings recipes and hopefully devising new ways to prepare, serve and enjoy what is the favourite fast food of millions. I thought therefore I would share here just one idea to show the types of dishes I have been and will be creating. I know that the idea of chicken wings chop suey may sound strange to many as it may sound as though it will be difficult and messy to eat - but as you'll hopefully see below, that's definitely not the case.

Chicken wings and chop suey sauce

Ingredients per Person

4 whole raw chicken wings
6 ounce sachet Chinese chow mein stir frying sauce
1 individual nest serving of dried egg noodles
1/2 medium white onion
2 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil for stir frying

Tips are cut from chicken wings


On a suitable chopping board, chop the bony tips off the wings and discard. Note that occasionally, supermarket wings will already have had the tips removed in this way.

Chicken wings are marinated in chop suey sauce

Pour the chop suey sauce in to a large glass or stone bowl, add the wings and stir to ensure even coating. Cover with clingfilm and leave to marinade for half an hour but do not put them in the fridge as they should be cooked from room temperature.

Chicken wings are lifted to an oven tray for roasting

Preheat your oven to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6. Lift the wings to a non-stick roasting tray and reserve the remaining sauce. Cook the wings in the oven for half an hour.

Roasted chicken wings are rested and cooled

Take the wings from the oven, lift them to your (washed) chopping board or a plate, cover and leave to rest and cool for at least fifteen minutes. (Slightly longer is fine as the meat is going to be reheated anyway)

Dried noodles nest is added to a pot of boiling water

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil then carefully lift it from the heat. Add the egg noodles to steep and rehydrate for five minutes. Do however check the pack for possibly different instructions.

Noodles are carefully stirred in the water to ensure they separate

Stir the noodles carefully but regularly as they rehydrate to ensure they are separating.

Chicken wings meat and skin is plucked from the bones

With your hands, pluck the meat and skin from the bones of the wings. It's entirely up to yourself whether you wish to include the skin in the dish but it should be nice and crisp, so as most people would normally eat it anyway, I did include it on this occasion.

Onion half is chopped in to wedges

Cut your onion half in to three segments. This will allow you to separate each of them in to small leaves.

Noodles are thoroughly drained through a colander

Drain the noodles well through a colander.

Starting to stir fry onion leaves

Bring your wok up to a high heat and add the oil, followed soon after by the onion.

Reserved chop suey sauce is added to wok with onions

Remember the chop suey sauce has been in contact with raw chicken meat. It is imperative therefore that it be brought up to a very high heat to eliminate the risk of food poisoning. Pour it in to the wok with the onion and stir fry briefly until it is bubbling.

Chicken wings meat is added to wok with chop suey sauce and onions

The chicken meat and skin goes in to the wok next to be stir fried and reheated for thirty seconds or so.

Drained noodles are added to wok

When you add the noodles to the wok, use tongs to lift and mix them through the chicken and sauce to ensure everything is evenly combined. You are then ready to plate up and enjoy your dish.

Cooking tongs are used to lift and mix noodles through chicken and sauce