Tag Archives: mushrooms

Chicken Pasta Bake

23 Sep

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

350 g pasta (Penne, shells or similar)

380 g chicken (cooked or raw)

200 g  mushrooms (cut into quarters)

4 blocks (technical term) of frozen spinach/ half a bag of fresh

250 ml of cream

60 g cream cheese

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

3 cloves of garlic (crushed)



This recipe was the product of a few factors last weekend. Leftover cooked chicken, a very cold evening and a desire to cook something incredibly straightforward. Bonus about this recipe is that it doesn’t create mountains of washing up.


Firstly heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.


In a large pot, bring salted water to the boil.  Add the pasta and cook until very al dente. If you are using frozen spinach, start thawing this out in a small pot with a tiny drop of water. When the spinach is cooked- drain all liquid from the pot.


I had to supplement the cooked chicken I had, so heat some olive oil in a pan and add the raw chicken, cut into small cubes/strips. After the chicken has sealed, add in the mushrooms and fry until the chicken is golden and cooked.


To the same pan add the cream, cream cheese, thawed/fresh spinach, garlic and mustard along with the leftover cooked chicken if you have any. Heat until it bubbles and is well combined. When the pasta is cooked sufficiently, drain it and return it to the pot. Add the sauce mixture to it and stir well until all is combined.

Spread into an oven dish and cover with a generous grating of cheddar. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden.




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Mushroom, Asparagus and Spinach Risotto

9 Sep

Ingredients: Serves 2:

1 tablespoon of olive oil

25g butter

1 small onion (finely chopped)

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

150 g of Arborio rice

150ml white wine

500ml stock

4 x asparagus stalks (chopped)

8-10 x button mushrooms (chopped)

1/2 bag of washed spinach

Parmesan to serve.

Risotto is one of my favourite comfort foods, and can be adapted for any season by varying the ingredients. The basic recipe is the same no matter what you put in, so if you wanted to change it, you would substitute your preferences in for the vegetables I have listed.

I would like to deal with the hype about how risotto is insanely difficult to make or it can go wrong easily.  It is an easy dish to make, but I feel there are three success factors.  First, have all your ingredients, stock etc, measured and ready to go, so that you can concentrate on the cooking. As many of my friends will testify, this is not my normal style of cooking- but I feel it pays dividends here.

Of course by cooking I meant stirring. You need to constantly stir the risotto. Do this gently, but make sure you are scraping the bottom of the pan and mixing thoroughly. Thirdly, have the risotto at a constant low heat so that when the liquid is added it is just bubbling gently.


First heat the olive oil and the butter in a deep pan. After they have heated add the onion and sweat it off, until it softens a little. At this stage add the garlic and fry for another while. Before the garlic gets too coloured, throw in the chopped mushrooms and asparagus and toss in the mixture. I recommend chopping these into bite-size pieces. Fry for a minute and then add the rice. Make sure everything is well mixed. Continue to cook for another minute while the rice lightly toasts, but make sure that you stir constantly so that it doesn’t stick.

Next add the white wine. I would advise buying a whole bottle- not a small one- this way you get to pour yourself a glass while cooking and have one with your meal.

Stir until the wine has been absorbed by the rice. If it smells a little acrid, don’t worry, the alcohol will burn off leaving a great flavour in the rice.

At this point add in the first third of the stock- I would recommend vegetable or chicken. Keep the risotto barely bubbling and stir until all the stock has been absorbed and the mixture is thick and slightly heavy to stir.

Add in another third of the stock and repeat the process until the stock is absorbed. Add in the final remainder of the stock and repeat.

As the final third of the stock is close to being absorbed- add in the spinach and stir in. Once the mixture has thickened sufficiently, turn off the heat and serve into heated bowls immediately. Serve with some grated parmesan and that glass of wine.

For the carnivores amongst us, you can serve this risotto alongside some grilled meat. I recently enjoyed it with some steak. Another option is to shred some cooked chicken in at the spinach stage- and just heat the chicken through.



Baked hake in a parcel

21 Jul

This is a really simple dish which you can adapt for practically any fish you like. I went for Hake- because that’s what was fresh on the day.  I find it is best to go to your fishmongers and ask what’s good- rather than setting out with a particular fish in mind. The reason for this is two-fold- firstly you’ll get chatting to them and this will build up a relationship with your fish monger (I used to work as one during college), which means you are more likely to get the freshest fish going.  Secondly you might get to try something new, which wouldn’t have entered your mind otherwise!


200g of Hake per person

Mushrooms (whatever variety you like)

Cherry tomatoes

Juice of half a lemon

Drizzle of olive oil

50g  Samphire per person

Firstly you lay the fish, skin side down on tin-foil. Then drizzle the fish with olive oil. Season well. This recipe is incredibly versatile,  but this time I decided that I would cook the Hake with mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. I chopped both up into rough chunks and spread them out around the fish.  The final touch is to drizzle them with the juice of half a lemon.

As I have said this dish is very versatile, so feel free to use whatever vegetables or herbs you have lying about.

When you have thrown everything you want into the parcel, bring the two long sides of the tin foil together, fold them tightly so that all the juices will be sealed in during cooking. As you fold along the tin-foil, twist the ends, so that the parcel is completely sealed. Place in an oven-tray to ensure that any possible leakage will be contained!

Place in a pre-heated oven, set to 180 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes.

While the fish is cooking wash the samphire, and have water boiling. Just before plating up, dunk the samphire in the boiling water for about a minute. That’s all it needs.  It is a delicious accompaniment to fish. For those who haven’t tried it, it is like a salty asparagus.

As you can see the fish and the vegetables produce delicious juices all of their own, I often spoon some of this over the fish after serving. I served the Hake with some steamed new potatoes, and the samphire.

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