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Mr Rigg and I have had a lovely weekend with my family. Yesterday before we left my mom and I made a delicious pasta dinner using green spring inspired vegetables. Simply dreamt up with the ingredients we had. Here’s how we made it…
Spring vegetable pasta
2 small to medium leeks
Half a bunch of asparagus
Small bowlful of frozen peas
2 handfuls of shelled broad beans
2 spring onions
Long thin pasta for two
2 rashers of bacon (optional)
Parmesan to serve
Butter, olive oil, salt and pepper
Melt a generous knob of butter in a saucepan. Finely slice the leeks and saute in the butter until soft. You can also add a couple of teaspoonfuls of the pasta cooking water. Season with salt and pepper.
If you are having bacon, cut it into small pieces and fry until crispy.
Put on a pan of boiling salted water and cook the pasta accordingly. About 3-5 minutes before the pasta is ready, add the broad beans and peas. Slice the asparagus diagonally into small slithers and add them to the pasta, peas and beans to cook for a few minutes.
Slice up the spring onions and add to the leeks.
When the pasta and vegetables are cooked, drain the water and tip the pasta into the pan with the leeks. Stir well, add a little olive oil and season to taste if needed. Add a little more butter if the pasta is a little dry.
Eat the pasta topped with crispy bacon and shards of Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Better looking photos thanks to the little sister’s camera!
Some lovely friends of ours invited us round for tea last night – a scrumptious Jamie Oliver recipe from his Italy book of Sausages and Green Lentils with Tomato Salsa. It’s one I’ve been meaning to try for a while…and now we’ve tasted it I’ll definitely be making it myself.
It’s always nice to take a little gift when you go out for dinner, so with the sun shining I headed down the garden to gather a small edible bunch of herbs.
I collected mint, golden marjoram, rosemary, fennel fronds, flat leaf parsley and some jolly purple chive flowers. All tied up with some purple raffia it was a simple but pretty gift that not only looked nice but could be used in cooking as well.
We are off this weekend to visit my family and do some more wedding planning – this weekend ‘food’ is on the agenda. We want a seasonal May wedding next year so the idea is to go to Stroud Farmer’s Market to see what’s available at the moment and dream up delicious dishes for our wedding feast.
Last night, with the weather still balmy, we ate outside. I made a simple dinner from a recipe posted by The Pioneer Woman which was her Mexican Layer Dip.
Yes…this was our dinner, not a snack. It was easy to prepare, delicious to eat, and not a lot of washing up involved. The recipe is here – the only tweaks I made were making my own salsa rather than The Pioneer Woman’s pico de gallo recipe. I used tomatoes, red onion, lime juice, coriander and some seasoning.
It looked pretty and tasted delicious, so if you’re tempted do try it out! The photos also feature my newly acquired vintage tablecloth that I found at the carboot on the weekend.
I took these photos about a week ago but haven’t got around to posting them yet. Up until this year, the only type of radishes I’ve grown (and my favourite) are French Breakfast – those gorgeous elongated pink bulbs which fade to white around their middle.
This year, I was tempted by a packet of Rainbow radishes and here’s the first harvest. So far we have pulled up pink ones, red ones, purple ones, yellow ones and white ones. They are all very fiery – especially the yellow and white kind. However, they are so pretty I can’t complain.
We have nearly finished with the first lot I planted, and the next lot are nearly mature. Other than herbs and the odd baby leaf, these are the first harvest from our garden.
Mr Rigg rustled up some homemade pizzas last night to enjoy in the garden for dinner. This incredible heatwave we’re experiencing in England this weekend has rendered us useless – the heat is just too heavy to do much of anything.
We used our tried and tested Jamie Oliver pizza dough recipe which can be found here. I made a simple tomato sauce: some sliced garlic cooked gently in olive oil, a sprinkle of dried wild oregano, add a tin of blitzed up cherry tomatoes, and season with salt, pepper and Agave syrup or honey if a little extra sweetness wanted/needed.
After the pizzas were cooked in a hot oven topped with the homemade tomato sauce and grated mozzarella we wandered down to the bottom of the garden in search of some extras.
We garnished our pizzas with some baby salad leaves, a sprinkle of chive flowers and some shreds of proscuitto. Sliced into wedges on a wooden board to share – no cutlery needed.
I wish the weekend would never end.
I can’t believe that I never finished my food memories of Italy. Last September we were there! And now we’re almost into June. Terrible. I shall try to pick up where I left off and share more of the lovely food we found and ate in Italy.
After our first night in Naples (see Part 1) we made our way by bus to the Amalfi Coast. The journey by bus along the coastal roads was hair-raising! Suddenly we went over the top and there was the sea far far below…
Every journey by bus after this I discovered that I had to eat in order not to feel sick as we wound backwards and forwards along the coast – bags of airy cheesy flavoured Wotsit-type crisps were my life saver.
We stayed at an agriturismo called Sant Alfonso in Furore. It was all the way at the end of a very long road, down which we dragged our luggage in the heat.
Our room was cool with a stunning view over the coastal hillsides and sea beyond. Twice a day, every day, we would hear these bells, gently clanging across the valley. A herd of goats would head up into the hills and back down again at night. Blissful.
For breakfast there was a generous spread of pastries and cakes. I always find breakfast in other countries fascinating and unfamiliar. I always seem to try to make a familiar breakfast out of what there is available, and sometimes it doesn’t quite work!
Cute heart-shaped sugared buns.
Over the next few days we often had lunch and dinner at Sant Alfonso. Dinner I must say was unmemorable and often quite heavy going as we felt we should eat four courses every night – a starter, pasta course, main course and dessert! Phew! Whether we were supposed to eat all four courses or whether the Italians thought us all very strange for eating so much I shall never know!
The lunches however, under the shade of the terrace with a cool sea breeze were lovely. Delicious platters of antipasto - salami, ham, mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, grilled artichokes, pasta, melon, bruschetta, and delicious pickled aubergine with olives.
All served with crusty bread. If only we could eat like this every day.
The farm grew grapes, their vines stretching out along the terraces which were cut into the steep hillside all around. They also had some friendly goats and a fig tree that dropped sticky ripe fruits everywhere.
We also discovered a number of wild herbs growing naturally. I think this was thyme sprouting from cracks in a wall…
And wild fennel along the road to the farm – this was used in quite a number of dishes we saw on menus.
And on our first night on the Amalfi Coast, in a quiet corner of the softly lit garden, looking out across the black sea and twinkly lights below, Mr Rigg got down on one knee and asked if I’d marry him.
Simple but so, so tasty! Part of my attempt to eat as much seasonal asparagus as possible!
Asparagus and scrambled egg on bagel
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and pop in an oven proof dish. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook for between 7-10 minutes until tender. My asparagus came from Kenyon Hall Farm.
Cook the scrambled eggs your own way, or you could try ‘my perfect scrambled eggs‘ just omit the chives. Be sure to use the best eggs you can get hold of – organic, free range, woodland, home laid – this will make all the difference to the taste of your scrambled eggs. Mine came from Abbey Leys and were corkers!
If your bagel is super fresh from a deli or bakery (mine came from the Barbakan) you could just eat it fresh, sliced in half and lightly buttered. If not, toast it before buttering.
Pop the buttered bagel on a plate. Spoon over the scrambled egg. Top with the grilled asparagus.
Mr Rigg ate his asparagus with a fried egg and crisp streaky bacon instead. So many options! All delicious!
As I mentioned previously, on Tuesday it was my birthday and Mr Rigg and I had lunch at The Victoria pub in Altrincham. We have wanted to go and eat there for as long as we’ve known about it, but for whatever reason never been until this week.
We weren’t disappointed. The pub serves dishes with a strong emphasis on seasonal and local ingredients. We chose three starters/light dishes and sat listening to the Pipettes.
What we ate…
Local Asparagus Muffin ~ grilled Cheshire/Lancashire asparagus served on a toasted muffin, topped with a poached egg and creamy hollandaise sauce.
Gorgeous fluffy muffin, tasty asparagus, a runny golden yolk and buttery hollandaise sauce. I could have eaten this dish over and over again.
Sarsaparilla Glazed Belly Pork Ribs ~ Meaty pork ribs glazed in an orange and sarsaparilla sauce served with chunks of bread for mopping.
This was more Mr Rigg’s choice than mine – I did try a mouthful and the glaze was delicious. Any menu that includes ‘bread for mopping’ is five star in my opinion!
Seared Mackerel Pikelet ~ Pan fried mackerel fillet, served on a toasted pikelet with a pickled walnut and rocket salad, with herb dressing.
A real surprise – I wasn’t sure about this dish when I first saw it, but the flavours were heavenly. A toasted pikelet and soft mackerel with herby dressing and pickled walnuts. I’d never had pickled walnuts before but they were scrumptious with the rest of this dish.
I was also equally tempted by their battered fish butty with tartare sauce and chunky chips. We will be going back for one of these. My only complaint? Too much parsley.
If you live near to Altrincham or are visiting I would highly recommend a visit to The Victoria. A lovely atmosphere, delicious and inventive dishes and ‘bread for mopping’! Oh, and you can’t miss it – the whole building is painted mint green!
Tuesday was my birthday. Mr Rigg and I took a day off work and had a lovely relaxing day pottering in Knutsford, drinking thick hot chocolate with a spoon at an Italian cafe, and eating cake for supper.
We also had a delicious lunch at The Victoria pub in Altrincham – but I’m going to save that for a separate post as it was so good!
Mr Rigg made my birthday cake – a Victoria sponge with raspberry jam and butter cream icing. Yum. It was our first attempt, we bought new sandwich cake tins in Knutsford and set about making Hugh’s recipe from his Everyday book. It turned out pretty good. We certainly aren’t complaining!
It is asparagus season and I’m planning on eating as much of it as possible!
Last night we made a sort of carbonara with asparagus and streaky bacon. I say ‘sort of’ because we aimed to use eggs…and then discovered we had none.
Instead, dinner was salvaged by a combination of creme fraiche and tallegio cheese. Together with oven baked asparagus and crisp shards of streaky bacon it was a match made in heaven. The tallegio provided a wonderful silky texture which was like that of egg yolk.
Asparagus and streaky bacon spaghetti
Bunch of fresh asparagus
3-4 rashers of streaky bacon
Spaghetti for 2
2 tbsp creme fraiche
Piece of tallegio cheese, cut into small cubes
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Snap the woody ends of the asparagus – they will break naturally. Pop them into an oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil, scatter over some salt and pepper and if you’d like some lemon thyme leaves. Put them in the oven for between 5 and 10 minutes – remove when tender.
Meanwhile, put the spaghetti on to cook in boiling salted water.
Snip the rashers of streaky bacon into small pieces and fry in a hot pan until crispy.
Once the asparagus is cooked, remove and slice into smaller pieces.
Drain the spaghetti, mix in the creme fraiche and stir well. Add in the asparagus and crispy bacon, followed by the cubes of tallegio. Mix well and eat right away.