This weekend I had my good friend Emma over to help cook a 3 course meal for us and the Mr’s. It was a new experience for me cooking with someone else in my kitchen. I must say though, I thoroughly enjoyed it! It was much more relaxed and therapeutic than I had imagined and we got so much more done with there being two pairs of hands. We were on the vino much quicker than I thought we would be, result!
So here goes, to kick start the meal we chose a starter of Bruschetta Pizza. Sounds like an awesome combo right? Well it was! Here is what you will need to serve 4 people. (Original recipe can be found Here.)
- 1 x 400g tin Chopped Tomatoes
- 2tbsp Pesto
- 1/2 French Stick OR Baguette
- approx 125g Mozarella, grated
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
First up, cut 8 slices about 1cm thick out of the french stick/baguette. Lay them on a baking sheet that has been brushed with oil.
Next, drain the liquid from the chopped tomatoes by emptying the contents of the tin into a sieve and leaving for about 10-15 minutes. When you have drained as much of the liquid as possible, chop the tomatoes slightly then tip them into a bowl, add the pesto and season well with salt & pepper.
Spoon the tomato mix onto the french stick/baguette slices and then top each one with grated mozzarella.
Put under the grill for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Meanwhile, mix the olive oil & balsamic vinegar together and spoon in stripes or swirls on each plate. Top with 2 slices of bruschetta pizza and commence stuffing your face!!
I was really pleased with this dish, it was as tasty as it promised to be and went down a treat with all the guests. Definitely a big hit and so simple to make!
For the main course we decided to aim high. Home made parsley pasta with a tomato & chorizo sauce. But it didn’t stop there, oh no! Two flavours of home made focaccia bread to go with it, NOM NOM!
Let’s get cracking then folks! Here is what you will need to make the main course for 4 people.
- 2 Eggs & 1 Extra Yolk
- 300g Plain Flour
- Large bunch Parsley
- 135g Chorizo, chopped
- 170g Thick Cut Bacon, chopped
- 1 Red Onion, finely chopped
- 2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
- 200g Cherry Tomatoes, halved
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 2 tbsp Parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 Pack Feta Cheese, crumbled
- 2 Chicken Stock Ice Cubes (or about 100ml chicken stock)
Now I have always wondered why you rarely come across any “flavoured” pastas. I have been curious about it for a long time now so decided to Google it. I came across this incredibly helpful post from the Tasting Notes NYC blog which goes into great detail on how to perfect and flavour your home made pasta. So here is how to make your very own home made Parsley Pasta.
Blanch a large bunch of parsley in boiling water for about a minute then dunk straight into an ice bath (to help retain the vibrancy of the colour.) Squeeze as much water out as possible then blitz in a food processor with a little salt & pepper until it forms a paste/really finely chopped. It should make about 2tbsp full.
Sieve the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Break the two eggs into the well, add another yolk for richness & add the parsley paste. Start mixing with a fork and gradually incorporating the flour until it starts to form a dough. Knead for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elasticated. Cover with cling film, press into a disc and put in the fridge to rest for at least an hour. Remove from the fridge half an hour before using.
Warm the pasta (to make it easier to handle) by kneading a little. Then using a pasta machine, roll out the dough to the desired thickness, add flour occasionally to stop it from sticking. Then run through a tagliatelle attachment to cut to shape or cut carefully using a knife. Hang the pasta until you need it. I didn’t really have anything to hang it on so just made do with a chopping board stood on it’s end. (Although it’s not really ideal as the pasta can stick to itself a little.)
Cook by boiling in salted water for about 2-3 minutes.
To make the sauce, fry the chorizo and bacon in a heavy non stick pan until crispy. (Your house will smell unbelievably amazing at this point by the way!!) Remove from the pan and keep to one side.
Add the red onion & garlic and fry in the chorizo oil until softened. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, 1 tsp sugar & the 2x chicken stock ice cubes/chicken stock. Allow to reduce for about 10-15 minutes. Then add the chorizo and bacon back in the pan and stir through the parsley. Season well with salt & pepper.
Divide the pasta between four plates, top with the sauce and then crumble on some feta cheese.
This is probably the most tasty pasta dish I have ever eaten! Such great flavour combinations and ingredients. Chorizo, bacon, red onion, feta, parsley, beautiful silky smooth home made pasta. Mmmm I’m practically drooling at the thought of eating it again.
Onwards and upwards, lets make the bread!
Here is what you will need for the focaccia. (Recipe adapted from Veggie num num)
- 2tsp Yeast
- 1tsp Golden Caster Sugar
- 330ml Warm Water
- 1tbs Olive Oil
- 480g Plain Flour
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Herbes de Provence
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Granules
- 1/2 Red Onion, sliced
- 2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
- 1 Tomato, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp Dried Basil
- approx 50g Grated Mozzarella
Put the yeast and sugar in a jug then add 125ml of the warm water. Stir to combine then add the rest of the water and add the oil. Leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes until the yeast is activated. (It will be obvious as the mixture will start bubbling on the top.)
Sieve the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Mix in the salt, herbes de provence & garlic granules. Once the yeast has activated, pour the liquid into the well and mix with a wooden spoon. The mix will quickly come together to form one big lump of dough. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour/until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C and brush a large baking sheet with oil.
Halve the mixture and gently flatten into shape. No kneading is required. (How awesome is that?!)
Place both loaves onto the prepared baking sheet and top one with the sliced red onion and garlic. Top the other with the sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with the dried basil.
Top both with grated mozzarella and put into the oven for about 10-15 minutes until firm & golden on top.
I was surprised at how easy this was to make. It’s so simple and yet so delicious! The perfect partner for the parsley pasta. It disappeared insanely quickly from the bread board! There’s really nothing quite like the joy of home made bread filling your belly. Amazing.
Onto the dessert! I came across this brilliant take on an American Smore’s pud over at My Baking Addiction. (A great food blog, you should check it out!) As soon as I saw it I knew we had to make our own version of it. So here is what you will need to make mine and Emma’s take on this indulgent dessert:
- 150g Chocolate Digestive Biscuits
- 200g Dark Chocolate
- 120ml Warm Water
- 3 Eggs (Separated)
- 40g Golden Caster Sugar
- 1/2 – 3/4 Jar Marshmallow Fluff
- 3 x Mini Hersheys Chocolate Bars
Blitz the biscuits in a food processor and place in a bowl to one side.
Break the chocolate into a large glass bowl and add the warm water. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt slowly, stirring occasionally. When it’s all melted, remove from the heat and stir until smooth and glossy.
Leave to cool for 2-3 minutes then stir in the 3 egg yolks. Leave to one side.
In another bowl, whisk up the egg whites with an electric hand mix until at the soft peak stage. Then add in the golden caster sugar a third at a time and continue to whisk until all the sugar is used up and stiff peaks are formed.
Very carefully, using a metal spoon, fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Add in spoonfuls, not all at once. Patience is needed in abundance here but it’s worth taking your time so you get a light mousse.
Now you have all the components, assemble your puds. You will need 6 glasses. The original recipe said to put one layer of biscuit in the bottom but me & Emma decided to put 2 layers in. So just do what you want basically!
Once you’ve used up all the mousse & biscuits, put in the fridge to set for about 2 hours.
Once set, remove from the fridge & top with Marshmallow fluff. Me and Emma thought it was easier to do this with a piping bag.
Then if, like me, you have a Dad who has a blow torch, borrow it! (Thanks Dad.) Torch the top of the Marshmallow Fluff (the smell that this makes is unbelievable by the way!) being careful to not set it on fire, as it can catch pretty easily. Then break the mini Hersheys chocolate bars in half and stick one in the top of each pud. Et vous voila. Smores Mousse Pots.
The mousse in these pots is absolutely divine! One of the best recipes I have come across to date. Thanks Delia! And come on, lets face it, who doesn’t like the combo of biscuit, chocolate and marshmallow? If you said “I don’t” to that question, I believe the men in white coats are on their way.
So there you have it guys n gals. Probably one of the best dinner party menus to grace my home. HUGE thanks to my great friend Emma for helping make it a great day. Couldn’t have done this menu without you!
Hope you all enjoyed the post.
May the Smores be with you!