Pear and stilton gnocchi

This recipe sounds ultra-fancy, but it can be knocked up in fifteen minutes, making it a very sociable dish for guests. And it’s cheap – a couple of pears, an onion, garlic, cheese, and some gnocchi comes to about £2 per serving. Pear and stilton is such a complimentary combination – don’t feel alarmed. Here’s some rare pictures of me cooking in my gorgeous student kitchen, curtesy of my wonderful photographer (and friend), James.

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Pear and stilton gnocchi (serves 2; vegetarian)

 Ingredients: 

  • 1 onion (I find brown works best, but shallots would also be banging)
  • 2 ripe pears, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 100g stilton
  • 500g gnocchi

Method:

  1. Heat a saucepan with a tablespoon of olive, then fry off the onions for 5 minutes on a gentle heat. Add the sliced pear, followed by garlic and rosemary. Cook for about 10 minutes, while the gnocchi is cooking, stirring occasionally.
  2. Boil a pan of water, add the gnocchi and cook for 3 minutes – be careful to not over cook.
  3. Take the saucepan off the heat, and stir in the drained gnocchi. While still very hot, crumble the stilton over, and mix gently until creamy.

4. Season with pepper, and sprinkle over some nuts for added texture – pine nuts, cashews or walnuts work well.

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happy guests

Dry cider and tarragon prawn linguine

Dry cider and tarragon prawn linguine pescatarian; serves 2

marinating prawns in traditional pub flavours, cider and mustard, works surprisingly well…

Ingredients:

  • 150g fresh king prawns
  • 100ml dry cider
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp creme fresh
  • 100g long stem broccoli
  • 200g linguine

Method:

  1. In a bowl, pour in 100ml dry cider, dijon mustard and tarragon and stir well. Add in the fresh prawns, and allow to marinate in the fridge for an hour.
  2. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, and cook the linguine. While this is cooking, drain the marinade from the prawns into a saucepan and reduce on a low heat for 8 minutes.
  3. Heat a frying pan with a glug of olive oil and stir fry the long stem broccoli for 5 minutes. Add the prawns, and continue to fry for a further 2 minutes.
  4. Once the cider marinade is reduced by half its size, stir in 2 tbsp of creme fresh. Stir this sauce into the linguine, topping with the broccoli and prawns.

Pear and stilton rustic flatbreads

Pear and stilton rustic flatbreads vegetarian; serves 2

inspired by a BBC recipe for pear and stilton creamy pasta, I’ve caramelised them and popped them on a flatbread. With added extras, of course. 

Ingredients:

For the flatbread bases: 

  • 175g strong white flour
  • 120ml lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For the toppings: 

  • 2 tbsp red pesto
  • 1 medium sized red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 pear
  • 100g stilton, crumbled
  • Handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • 8 fresh basil leaves
  • 10 walnuts, chopped

Method:

  1. Begin by caramelising the onion. Heat a saucepan with 1 tbsp olive oil, and drop in the finely sliced onions and a clove of crushed garlic. Cover the pan with a lid, and leave to stew for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. While the onions are caramelising, pre-heat the oven to 190ºc and make the bases.
  3. Sift the flour into a bowl with the salt and yeast. Make a well in the middle of the bowl, and then pour in 120ml lukewarm water, followed by 1 tbsp olive oil. Mix with a wooden spoon until it forms a smooth dough. On a floured surface, knead the dough for 5 minutes. Pop the dough back in the bowl and leave to rise for 25 minutes in a warm place.
  4. Slice the pear in 2cm thick pieces, and add them to the strewing onions to caramelise. If more moisture is needed, spoon in a tbsp of butter. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then take the pan off the heat.
  5. Roll out the risen dough into circular bases, and place on baking paper and onto oven trays.
  6. Assemble with the toppings! Begin by spreading a spoonful of red pesto onto the bases, followed by the caramelised onions and pears. Finish with the stilton, walnuts, parsley and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Cook in the oven for 16 minutes.

Cashew pesto and asparagus tagliatelle

Cashew pesto and asparagus tagliatelle serves 2; vegetarian 

the pesto experiments continue! To prove pesto does not strictly have to be made from pine nuts…I have thrown an avocado in there for a creamy pasta sauce base

Ingredients:

  • 8 asparagus spears
  • 50g cashew nuts, toasted
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 15g fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 avocado, roughly chopped
  • 30g finely grated parmesan
  • 200g tagliatelle

 Method:

  1. Roast the asparagus spears on a baking tray in the oven at 180°C for 15 minutes, coated in a little olive oil.
  2. While the asparagus is roasting, make the cashew pesto. Toast the cashew nuts in a frying pan on a high heat. Blend together the crushed cashew nuts, garlic and basil in the food processor for 3 minutes. Add the olive oil, avocado and parmesan and pulse until the pesto becomes smooth. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside in the fridge.
  3. Cook the tagliatelle in salted water for 12 minutes, drain and combine with the cashew pesto. Serve with the roasted asparagus and extra grated parmesan.Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Walnut pesto and mushroom pasta

Walnut pesto and mushroom pasta serves 2

pesto does not have to be exclusively made with pine nuts

Ingredients:image1[39].jpg

  • 60g walnuts, broken into pieces
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 20g fresh basil
  • 30g parmesan cheese, thinly shaved
  • 200g pasta of your choice
  • 1 tsp oil with truffle extract
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 4 chestnut mushrooms, sliced

Method:

  1. Boil the pasta in salted water. While this is cooking, blend the broken walnut pieces, olive oil, basil and parmesan in a food processor. Pulse into it combines into a relatively smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Fry sliced chestnut mushrooms in truffle oil and garlic.
  3. Drain the pasta, and combine with the pesto and mushrooms.

Anchovy and caramelised onion rustic pizza

Anchovy and caramelised onion rustic pizza serves 2; makes 2 individual pizzas 

all the favourite, albeit acquired, Italian flavours rolled into a single pizza

Ingredients

For the pizza bases:

  • 175g strong white flour
  • 120ml lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For the toppings: 

  • 1 medium sized brown onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 8 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tin of anchovy fillets in olive oil
  • Capers
  • Olives
  • 100g mozzarella, torn into 10 pieces

Method

  1. Begin by caramelising the onions. Heat a saucepan with 1 tbsp olive oil, and drop in the finely sliced onions. Add a clove of crushed garlic and a bay leaf. Cover the pan with a lid, and leave to stew for 45 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. While the onions are caramelising, pre-heat the oven to 190ºc and make the pizza bases.
  3. Sift the flour into a bowl with the salt and yeast. Make a well in the middle of the bowl, and then pour in 120ml lukewarm water, followed by 1 tbsp olive oil. Mix with a wooden spoon until it forms a smooth dough. On a floured surface, knead the dough for 5 minutes. Pop the dough back in the bowl and leave to rise for 25 minutes in a warm place.
  4. While the dough is rising, make a basic tomato sauce for the bases. In a saucepan, cook 2 chopped tomatoes with 1 tbsp tomato puree on a low heat. Add the basil and chilli flakes at the end.
  5. Once increased in size, roll out the dough and shape into two individual pizza bases. Place on baking paper on a tray, ready for the oven.
  6. Assemble the pizzas! Coat the bases in tomato sauce, then spread over the caramelised onions. Drain the anchovies, and line them in a criss cross pattern. Add the capers, mozzarella, and olives – alternating to form an aesthetically pleasing pattern.
  7. Bake in the oven for 18 minutes.