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Recipe – Courgette and Parmesan Arancini

I feel like I have been teasing you with this recipe for a while and what better way to celebrate the end of the exam period at school than with a delicious arancini recipe?! These little balls of crunchy, cheesy risotto are one of my favourite things to order at an Italian restaurant and I was pleased to find out that they aren’t too tricky to make either.

In order to recreate this, you will need some leftover risotto and I highly recommend following my recipe here! I have left the amounts for this recipe rather vague as it really depends on how much rice you start with but it’s pretty simple to increase or decrease the amounts.

Ingredients

Leftover risotto

A good helping of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

A few tablespoons of plain flour

One egg, whisked up

A few tablespoons of breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper

A glug of olive oil

How to make it

  • Begin by adding a good sprinkling of Parmesan to the leftover risotto to up the cheese factor

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  • Prepare your three dipping bowls/ saucers with the flour, egg and seasoned breadcrumbs

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  • Wet your hands and roll the risotto into small golf ball-sized shapes

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  • Heat some oil in a pan on a low to medium heat
  • Roll each ball in flour, egg then breadcrumbs
  • Add to the frying pan and gently fry until golden brown – you may need to do this in two batches

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  • Drain on some kitchen paper to absorb any grease
  • Serve with a big salad and enjoy! x

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Recipe – Courgette and Parmesan Risotto

Hello and May the 4th be with you on this sunny Bank Holiday Monday. We’ve had a lovely slow start to the day so far and plan on having a nice, relaxed day at home.

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Ian brought me breakfast in bed (he’s a keeper!), I did some yoga (I’m attempting the 30-day Yoga with Adriene series!) then treated myself to a warming pomegranate face mask before settling down for some blogging and coursework and maybe a little order from the Stila website!

I mentioned last week that I had amazing courgette arancini when we went out for dinner recently and that I was determined to recreate it at home. Well, the first step in that is to make some risotto which essentially forms the filling. However, I didn’t just want to make a big pan of risotto and let it cool down without enjoying a big bowlful of it first so you could think of this as Meal #1 in the task of perfect arancini! This is a delicious dinner, especially with the courgette, chorizo and pine nut toppings.

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The below amount made enough for 4 people (2 bowls of risotto for dinner then a big bowl of arancini the next day!)

Ingredients

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1 tablespoon of butter

6 shallots, chopped (you could just use an onion too)

One garlic clove, crushed

2 courgettes – one and half grated and the remaining half sliced into half circles

Salt and pepper

A pinch of chili flakes (optional if you want a bit of heat)

180g of risotto rice

1.5 litres of good quality stock (I used chicken stock)

50g of Parmesan

One tablespoon of cream cheese

A glug of olive oil

A thumbs length of chorizo, sliced

2 tablespoons of pine nuts

How to make it

  • Begin by melting your butter in a large pan on a medium heat
  • Add the shallots and garlic and gently fry until it softens and turns translucent
  • Now add the grated courgette, season well, add the chili flakes  and cook for another few minutes

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  • Then add the risotto rice and stir well

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  • Begin adding the stock one ladleful at a time, stirring almost constantly until absorbed then repeat

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  • When the rice has softened and taken on a creamy consistency, add about 30g of the Parmesan cheese and the cream cheese then season to taste

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  • Now for the risotto ‘toppings’!
  • In a separate frying pan, heat some olive oil and lightly fry the remaining courgette and chorizo slices until golden brown and starting to crisp

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  • Remove from the pan then lightly toast the pine nuts, making sure not to burn them

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  • Serve the risotto with the courgette, chorizo and pine nuts sprinkled on top

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  • Oh, and don’t forget the rest of that Parmesan!

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Arancini recipe coming later this week! x

Restaurant Review – A Midweek Treat at the Muddy Duck

It feels slightly strange blogging about our village pub as we are up there on a frequent basis (maybe a little too frequent!) but we had such a good meal recently, I felt it merited a post. Rather than trying somewhere new, Ian and I decided to wander up to our local for a midweek dinner.

I started with an Aperol Spritz cocktail which looked like a glass of Iron-Bru but this Italian aperitif has a lovely bitter-sweet taste and is apparently rather popular with the Hackney hipsters.

For my starter, I went for a salad which included two of my favourite ingredients: beetroot and goats cheese. Containing golden yellow and deep purple beetroot, which had been both pickled and roasted, this salad had a rich sweetness from the beets matched by the sharpness of the goats cheese, some of which had been whipped with lemon to add another texture and flavour. I thoroughly enjoyed this and I think the only thing missing was a crunch of some nuts or crispy bread.

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Ian had a twist on ham, pea and mint in the form of this rustic ham terrine, served with a pea puree, mint and griddled new potatoes.  This was a hearty little starter and I was glad we opted to share them!

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For my main, I went for another veggie option in the form of courgette arancini. Arancini, for those of you who are yet to discover this Italian delight, are little deep fried balls of risotto and one of those things I have to order when I see it on a menu! These ones were courgette arancini, with a cheesy, rich filling and served with marinated mozzarella, griddled vegetables and courgette and radish ribbons. The combination of these ingredients were spot on and I have my own take on these rice balls coming soon!

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Ian went for the lamb served two ways but I have to admit I was enjoying my own dinner so much (and trying to pick apart the recipe so I could cook it myself at home!) that I don’t think I even tried any!

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Ordering two veggie courses left me with some room for pudding and I could not resist the sticky toffee pudding, served with honeycomb and clotted cream ice-cream. This was a lovely end to the evening and no doubt we will be back soon x

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Recipe – Courgette Chips

Another day, another courgette recipe! I am seriously obsessed with this vegetable at the moment and it is making its way into almost everything I cook.

This time I wanted a tasty and slightly healthier alternative to chips to serve with burgers and I thought I would try making ‘courgette chips’. Still not completely sin-free but one of your five-a-day and absolutely delicious!

Ingredients

One courgette

A couple of teaspoons of plain flour

A generous pinch of smoked paprika

Salt and pepper

A glug of milk

A glug of olive oil

A sprinkling of Parmesan cheese

How to make it

  • Prepare your courgette by slicing them into batons – I discard the soft, seedy centre as they just don’t keep their shape

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  • Next, grab two saucers or small bowls and add the flour, paprika and some salt and pepper to one and a glug of milk to the other

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  • Heat some oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat
  • Dip your courgette chips into the milk then coat in the flour

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  • Add to the pan and lightly fry until golden brown

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  • Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese

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Recipe – Courgette Pasta and Spinach Balls (aka My Favourite Carluccio’s Dish!)

Apologies for the long title but it pretty much sums up today’s post! I think most people have a restaurant dish that they just love and for me, it is the Penne Giardiniera at Carluccio’s. I really like these restaurants and every time I go, I tell myself that I really should try something new but gravitate towards this dish without fail. It is so delicious and I have converted friends too who now order this without fail when they go!

I had a real craving for this pasta dish recently and decided to try and recreate it using my memory of how it looked and tasted, plus a bit of Google as well! There were two main components I had to master. Firstly, there is the pasta in a rich cheesy sauce with courgettes and flecks of heat coming from chilli flakes. This is tasty enough but there are also these beautiful crispy spinach and Parmesan balls which add another texture.

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I am pleased to report that I was triumphant! It tasted just as good as I remember although Carluccio’s use giant penne pasta whereas I just had the normal stuff. I also think my spinach balls weren’t quite as crispy but on the whole it was a really tasty dinner and one I will recreate often.

Ingredients (for 2)

For the spinach balls:

300g of fresh spinach leaves

1 egg, beaten

A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 garlic clove, minced

2 Weetabix biscuits (or about 50g of breadcrumbs)

30g of grated Parmesan

Salt and pepper

A glug of olive oil

About 200g of penne pasta (or enough for two people)

For the pasta:

Olive oil

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

A pinch of chilli flakes

1 courgette, grated

30g of Parmesan (and a little extra to sprinkle on top)

Salt and pepper

How to make it

  • Begin by making the spinach balls then keep them warm on a low heat in the oven. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the spinach leaves for 3 minutes

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  • Drain well then put the leaves into a pan of ice cold water to stop them cooking

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  • Using your hands, squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as you can until you are left with a small ball of leaves

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  • Use a sharp knife to shred the spinach as finely as you can
  • Put the spinach in a bowl and add the egg, nutmeg, garlic, Weetabix, parmesan and a generous amount of salt and pepper

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  • Using your hands, mix well until everything is combined

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  • Roll the mixture into small balls

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  • In a frying pan, add a good glug of oil and heat gently on a low to medium setting
  • Fry the spinach balls in batches until crisp and golden and keep warm

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  • Now for the pasta! Cook the penne until al dente
  • In a large frying pan, heat some oil on a medium heat
  • Add your garlic and chilli and fry for a few minutes

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  • Now add the courgettes and cook for about 5 minutes

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  • Next, add the Parmesan and some salt and pepper
  • Finally, add the pasta with about half a ladleful of the cooking liquid to create a bit of a sauce

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  • Serve with the spinach balls on top and another sprinkling of Parmesan cheese

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One of my favourite pasta dishes I’ve ever made! x

Recipe – Courgette Brownies

I go through food obsessions where I get really into one type of food, use it almost daily in different recipes and then all of a sudden have enough of it – does anyone else do this?!

Recently, it was courgettes. My favourite way of serving them was lightly sautéed in garlic as a side dish but these veggies made their way into pasta, soup and other recipes until suddenly I’d had enough of them. However I still had several to use up so I had a go at these Chocolate Courgette Brownies.

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These two ingredients may not sound like natural partners but they produce a lovely, moist cake. I sold mine at our village fete and I am pleased to say every last one was snapped up! (My Mum even spotted a guy eating one and went up to ask him what he thought! Hehe)

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Ingredients

300g of caster sugar

125ml of vegetable oil

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

250g of plain flour

50g of cocoa

1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda

A pinch of salt

250g of grated courgettes

50 of milk chocolate, roughly chopped

How to make it

  • Begin by preheating your oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4 and grease a brownie tray
  • In a mixing bowl, add the sugar, oil and vanilla extract and mix well
  • Now add the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and the salt
  • Finally add the courgette and then the chocolate chunkscourgette2
  • Spread the cake mixture into your tincourgette4
  • Bake for 25 minutes (so the brownies are still soft and gooey inside – cook for 30 minutes if you prefer them a little firmer)courgette5

Recipe – Stuffed Butternut Squash

Another recipe for you today, this time a little bit healthier than all the cakes I have made lately…although as I type this there is an amaretto and raspberry cake baking in the oven! Haha

I imagine some of you, like me, are starting to look forward to the change in seasons and the new fruit and vegetables that will be available. Hopefully you aren’t too sick of the heartier winter vegetables but if you are then this is a fresh way of serving a butternut squash.

This vegetable can be a bit of a pain to prepare and I can rarely be bothered with the peeling, deseeding and chopping involved – actually, I quite often have to call Ian in for some extra muscle when battling with one of these! However, chopping it in half and stuffing it with something delicious is a whole different kettle of fish and keeps things nice and simple!

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This is another recipe that can be adapted to suit what you have in your vegetable basket and likewise if you aren’t too keen on goat’s cheese (I’m thinking of you Cat!) then simply substitute it for Parmesan, feta, cheddar or stilton…it’s up to you!

As a side note, I am currently following the Weight Watcher’s programme again which is a ‘diet’ I keep coming back to when I start to notice the pounds creeping on. I’m not sticking to it religiously but I do use it to help me be good through the week to allow for the occasional foodie weekend of takeaways and restaurant visits! Anyway, I was very pleased to see that the butternut squash is a vegetable which is one of my ‘free points’ foods meaning I can have as much of it as I want! Therefore, this dish is becoming a staple in our house through the week!

Right, onto the details…

Ingredients

1 butternut squash

Good quality olive oil

A pinch of chilli flakes

A pinch of dried mixed herbs

1 clove of garlic, crushed

Salt and pepper

Half an onion, chopped

1 courgette, chopped

A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

About 100g of goats cheese

How to make it

  • Begin by preheating your oven to 200°C, Gas Mark 5/6
  • Cut your butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds
  • With a sharp knife, score the squash in a criss-cross patternbns5
  • Drizzle over a good glug of olive oil then add the chilli flakes, mixed herbs, garlic and season wellbns7
  • Bake for about half an hour until the flesh is tender – for bigger squashes, you may need another 10-15 minutesbns8
  • Meanwhile, pop your onion, courgette and cherry tomatoes in an ovenproof dish, drizzle over some oil and season well. Roast these alongside the butternut squash for about half an hourbns3
  • When the butternut squash is tender, place the roasted vegetables over the top and scatter pieces of goats cheese over it allbns9
  • Roast for another 10 minutes until the cheese is goldenbns1

I found that this was filling enough as a main course with some salad, but it would make a delicious side dish too!

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