Category Archives: Speedy

Spaghetti Carbonara

Hello there!

I actually made this recipe last week and completely forgot to write it up.  I’d spent the day shopping for clothes and wandering around IKEA, and by the time I got home I just could not be bothered to cook anything elaborate.  Luckily we had some excellent quality bacon, courtesy of one of A Man’s dad’s pigs in our freezer.  This bacon has around an inch of fat on it and had an incredibly rich flavour – it was perfect for this recipe.  I also happened to have just bought some pasta bowls which I was eager to use, so this seemed as good an excuse as any.

Carbonara should be silky, glossy and rich.  The key is to only cook the egg with the residual heat from the pasta, or you’ll end up scrambling it.  You can add onion, chillis, herbs etc if you fancy but I didn’t bother.

Much love

Gemma xx

Spaghetti Carbonara

75-100g spaghetti per person (fresh or dried is fine)
Good quality back bacon with a decent layer of fat
3 or 4 smoked garlic cloves
One medium sized egg per person
A good chunk of parmesan
Black pepper

  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions.  Separate the fat from the meat of the bacon, and chop both into chunks.  Fry the fat in a pan on a medium-low heat to render it down.
  2. Smash the garlic cloves with the flat of a knife and add to the bacon fat with the chopped bacon.  Fry for several minutes until cooked and slightly crispy (but take care not to burn it).
  3. Beat the eggs together.  Grate the parmesan and add most to the beaten eggs with a little black pepper.
  4. Drain the pasta and put it back in the pan.  Add the egg mixture and stir well.  Add the bacon, garlic and a little of the bacon fat and stir until all the ingredients are well combined.  Serve immediately, sprinkled with the remaining parmesan, more black pepper and a side salad.  I saved the bacon fat and used on the Bunny Ballotines I made the other day.

Aubergine and Mushroom in Fragrant Peanut Sauce

Hi there

I went a bit nuts on the veg front when I went shopping this week – there was so much different stuff I fancied buying, so last night it seemed to make a lot of sense to have a vegetarian dinner.  What I made was a mish-mash of stuff, but actually turned out to be pretty tasty.  Despite the long list of ingredients, it was also really quick to prepare, which can only be a bonus in my book.

My one piece of advice would be: don’t forget to put the rice on.  We ended up having disappointing cous cous, because it’s quicker to cook than rice.  Tonight we’re having the leftovers with added chicken and rice.  Or at least, that’s the plan.

Much love

Gemma xx

Aubergine and Mushroom in Fragrant Peanut Sauce

Y’know, imagine rice instead of cous cous…

Red pepper
Root ginger
1-2 cloves garlic
Kaffir lime leaves
Ground coriander
Ground ginger
Toasted sesame oil
Crunchy peanut butter
Coconut milk
Some kind of sweetener – honey, brown sugar or agave syrup
Soy sauce
Fish sauce (omit if vegetarian)
Nuts (I used soy nuts)

  1. Chop all the veg into chunky pieces and place in a bowl.  Peel the root ginger and garlic, grate on a microplane and add to the veg.  Bruise the lemongrass, chop finely and add to the veg.  Crumble in a couple of kaffir lime leaves, and sprinkle on a generous amount of cumin, coriander and ginger.  Add a couple of spoons of sesame oil and stir really well to ensure everything is evenly distributed.  Leave to marinade for a couple of hours.
  2. Heat a wok until it is really hot.  Throw the veg into the pan and immediately turn down to a medium/low temperature.  Stir fry for several minutes, until the aubergine is cooked in the middle.  Cover the wok.
  3. In the marinade bowl, stir together a couple of heaped spoons of peanut butter with enough coconut milk to form a fairly thick sauce consistency.  Add a teaspoon of your preferred sweetener and a good dash each of soy and fish sauce.
  4. Add the sauce to the veg and stir well.  Once hot, adjust the sauce as required by adding more soy sauce, fish sauce or sugar.  Cook for a few minutes for the sauce to reduce slightly.
  5. Stir through the nuts at the last minute, and serve on a bed of rice.

Quick and easy stir fried fishies


I came home from work completely knackered and did nothing this afternoon.  Seriously, I have no idea how 3 1/2 hours went by between me getting home and A Man getting home, but somehow they did.  I wanted to cook something super-easy, and it was between this and chilli, which I decided would be better tomorrow as that’s the evening I do karate and A Man kicks boxes.

As I’ve said before, A Man doesn’t really like fish, but he will eat salmon.  That and the sardines I had were short date and highly reduced, so I stuck them in the freezer after we bought them and defrosted them in the fridge.  It takes longer, but it’s technically safer, and less moisture leaks out of the flesh.  They were only in there 24 hours, anyway.

Making this also gave me a chance to try out my new sweet chilli jelly and the verdict is success!  But it’s pretty pungent so I really didn’t have to use very much (which is good to know, and also means it’ll last longer).  Most of the stir fried veg was actually some leftover salad which had been stuck in the fridge and wasn’t ideal to eat raw any more, but was fine for cooking.  It had been dressed in some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and wholegrain mustard, but I don’t think that added much to the final flavour.

Love love

Gemma xx

Stir Fried Fish

Fish of your choice (A Man had a salmon fillet and I had 3 sardines)
Toasted sesame oil
Red gem lettuce
Root ginger
Sesame seeds
Sweet chilli jelly (or shop-bought sweet chilli sauce would do the trick if you’re not a crazy person like me and have home-made stuff)

A Man’s salmon, with its crispy crispy skin. He likes it a bit more well done than I do!

  1. Place the noodles in a bowl with a lid and cover with boiling water.
  2. Heat some sesame oil in a wok.  Chop the veg into bite-sized chunks and the ginger into matchsticks and stir fry for a few minutes.  Add some sesame seeds.
  3. Add the zest of the lime to the veg, and a spoon or two of sweet chilli jelly.  Stir through the juice of half the lime and a small teaspoon of honey.  Taste the sauce and adjust as necessary, adding a spoonful or two of the noodle water to loosen it.  Remove the veg from the heat.
  4. Heat a little oil in a frying pan.  Add the fish, skin side down, once the oil is hot and cook for a couple of minutes, until cooked to your liking, turning half-way through.
  5. Plate up the noodles and veg, and place the fish on top.  Cut the remaining lime into wedges to squeeze over the top, and season with soy sauce to taste.

And my sardines, which are somewhat less attractive.

Hijacking A Man’s New Griddle

Well hello there.  Long time no post.

I’d like to have a good excuse for having not written up any new recipes, but truth be told I’ve been pretty lazy.  I’ve not felt inspired to cook recently and have been rehashing old recipes which I can assure you wouldn’t have been especially inspiring.

Yesterday was A Man’s first day in his new (permanent!) job and I had intended to cook him something exotic, exciting and celebratory for tea.  That never quite occurred, but what I cooked instead was I think a resounding success.  It was a slightly different take on an old favourite of ours – pork topped with cheese and apple.  The apple came from my parents’ garden (more on that in a later post) and the cheese was a tomato chutney cheddar, which added something a little unusual to the proceedings.

The griddle is A Man’s latest kitchen toy, but as I cook more often than he does I pinched it to use for this recipe.  It was a leaving gift from his former colleagues, and is cast iron and purple and brilliant.  I love the excuse to use it on the hob and under the grill 🙂

Love love

Gemma xx

Griddled cheesy pork chop

1 bulb fennel
Handful of mushrooms
Pork chops or steaks
1 apple
Olive oil

  1. Warm plates in a fairly low oven.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in the griddle on a medium-high hob.  Slice the fennel into 8(ish) pieces, leaving the core intact to keep the leaves together.  Trim the stems from the mushrooms.
  3. Place the fennel and mushrooms in the griddle and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and turn regularly, until they have started to brown nicely.
  4. Once the veg is cooked through, either push it to the sides (if the griddle is large enough) or transfer to a warm plate.  Place the pork on the griddle to start cooking.
  5. Peel and core the apple and grate with the cheese, mixing together well.  Turn the pork after a couple of minutes and add some butter to the pan.  Top the pork with the cheese mix and pop under the grill to brown.
  6. Transfer the pork to the warm plate and return the griddle to the hob.  Once the juices have started to foam, add a generous slug of cider.  Reduce by around half.
  7. Plate up the pork and veg.  Swirl the griddle to ensure the sauce is well mixed and pour over the top.  Serve immediately.

Yet another example of my poor presentational skills…

This is a tasty burger


Yesterday, A Man and I went to have a look at how our wedding rings are coming along, and was that ever exciting!  This meant that we were out of the house half of the afternoon, and didn’t want anything too labour-intensive for dinner.  This wasn’t too time consuming (especially for me as I didn’t make it!) but absolutely delicious.

Earlier on, I had caught the scent of a BBQ blowing on the breeze, and realised just how long it’s been since I had a homemade burger.  A Man was put in charge and the result was amazing.  Honestly, I’m seriously considering having another one for breakfast.  It was goooood.

I leave you with the recipe, and the wise words of Samuel L Jackson (aka Jules Winnfield).

Love love

Gemma xx

A Man’s Tasty Burgers

Good quality beef mince
Fresh breadcrumbs
Fresh basil leaves
Half an onion
One fat clove of garlic
Salt and pepper
1 egg

  1. Finely dice the onion and garlic.  Place all of the ingredients in a bowl together.
  2. Mix everything together really well with your hands.  Add more breadcrumbs or egg until the meat stays together well.
  3. Shape into burgers and leave to rest until ready to cook.  Cook under a medium grill or on a BBQ for a few minutes on each side.  You can leave it slightly pink in the middle if you like.  I melted some mild cheddar on top of my burger just prior to serving.
  4. Serve with your preferred side dishes.  We had toasted ciabatta bread, homemade baked chips, corn on the cob, tomato, lettuce and thinly sliced red onion.  My favourite way to eat my burgers was with a scrape of mayonnaise and a dollop of sweet chilli sauce.  Om nom nom nom nom nom nom.

There’s also a rather attractive photo of me attempting to stuff this in my gob. For some reason I don’t seem to have uploaded that one…

Creamy Trout Fusilli


Yesterday I planned a quick dinner because I figured it would be more relaxing than spending hours in the kitchen.  As it happened, I spent hours in the kitchen anyway as water was streaming through the ceiling and flooding the place.  Not impressed.  It’s just as well dinner was quick because I definitely didn’t have the energy to do something time consuming after so much mopping!  Had I not already thawed the fish you can absolutely bet we’d have had takeaway.

As I’ve already mentioned, this meal is quick (it only takes as long as the pasta takes to cook) and tasty.  You can add different veg to it, take the fish out if you don’t fancy, use salmon or ham instead, grate some cheese on top etc.  Play around with the ingredients depending on what you’ve got in.

Love love

Gemma xx

Creamy Trout Fusilli

Fusilli (or any pasta will do)
Spring onions
Courgette (we used a huge one from A Man’s mum’s allotment 🙂 )
Juice of half a lemon
Trout fillet, skinned and boned

I realise this photo is super uninspiring, but I’m not going to apologise for that 🙂

  1. Put the pasta on to cook as per the instructions
  2. Chop the spring onions and fry in a little olive oil.  Chop the courgette (and, if it’s anything like as big as ours was, peel it too!) and add to the spring onions.  Stir well and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add some cream to the veg and stir well.  Add a couple of heaped teaspoons of pesto and the lemon juice and turn the heat down to low.  Continue to stir to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Once the pasta is cooked, drain most of the water from it, keeping a couple of tablespoons.  Add to the sauce and stir well.
  5. Just before serving, chop the trout into bitesized chunks and stir through the pasta.  The heat from the pasta and sauce will cook the fish, so serve immediately to prevent it from overcooking.  Serve with lots of fresh black pepper.

Fully Loaded Duck Tacos with Blueberry Salsa


It’s been a beautiful day in deepest Wiltshire, and has involved A Man using his bow for the first time in over a year (which inevitably led to A Happyfaced Man) and a relaxing couple of hours reading by the lake.  Mmmm.  This called for something summery for dinner, which inevitably had to involve using up some leftover duck which was lurking in the bottom of the fridge.

We went with tacos, and I cheated by using the packet of spices which came with the taco shells – simply marinated the roasted duck meat in the spices for a while, fried some sliced red onions, added the meat and a tin of black eyed beans (with the water) and left it to reduce a bit.  I served the tacos with guacamole, grated cheese, shredded red cabbage dressed in lemon juice, carrot ribbons with coriander, the salsa which came with the tacos and a blueberry salsa which I improvised after managing to buy some blueberries for 19p.

All of the taco ingredients, plus bonus vintage sewing machine in the background 🙂

As we ended up with 10 taco shells (far too much for two people!), I decided to make extra of all of the side dishes, and we’ll have them tomorrow with leftover pulled pork cheek which has been sitting in my freezer.  Perfect as neither of us will be in to make dinner tomorrow.  I can hardly wait!

Love love

Gemma xx

Blueberry Salsa

1 small punnet blueberries
Half a small glass of red wine
1 red chilli, deseeded
Around 2 dessert spoons caster sugar

‘Make me one with everything because I’m going to become a Buddhist’. A Man’s taco, filled with everything he could lay his hands on.

  1. Place the blueberries and wine in a pan and set on a medium heat.
  2. Thinly slice the chilli and add to the blueberry mix, along with a spoon full of sugar.  Stir well.
  3. Turn the heat down and leave to simmer until the blueberries are very soft.  Squash them with the spoon and leave the salsa to reduce.
  4. Taste the salsa and season with more sugar if necessary.  Remove from the heat and leave to cool.  Yes, I realise this is very similar to the chilli-cherry sauce I made the other week.  Hush!