HEARTy Pasta

Well, yesterday was the day to use the lamb hearts that I had purchased from a local market. You may remember me blogging about a ragu with chicken livers, and that was a delight, so I was brave and went for the heart. Though similar to the ragu I made previously, the inclusion of lamb and a near novelty pasta – bucatini – made this very different, but equally delicious.
I began by frying the hearts. I put my hands up right now and admit that I am a compete amateur at offal and I was on a voyage of discovery. Though this is when you discover the best dishes! Once browned on all sides, I chopped the hearts into pieces, reserving the more muscly bits to be blitzed and added to the tomato sauce. I am getting pretty good at the basic tomato sauce, just a little tomato purée, passata, a couple of cloves of garlic and salt & pepper. I added some delicious chestnut mushrooms to this sauce, the thinking behind this was that lamb and mushrooms would marry very well.
I added the blitzed heart to the sauce and simmered for around 25/30 minutes. After that, I added the bucatini (long macaroni esque tubes, perfect for collecting a thick tomato sauce) to boiling water and added the heart chunks to the sauce. Around 6 minutes later, the pasta was nice and al dente and the heart was still a little pink in the middle.
Served with some crusty white bread, and a glass of gorgeous Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo this was divine! The heart had the perfect juicy, tender texture and the taste, oh my goodness. Although, surprisingly enough, it tasted like lamb I personally thought there was a slightly gamey tint to it, certainly more flavoursome than the lamb chops.
This was a delicious voyage, and the combo of tomato, garlic, mushroom, intense lamb, bread and red wine, it was, well….. rather special to say the least. If you get the chance to buy hearts please try it. A little odd when you think about it, but extremely delicious and the more of the animals we eat, the less is thrown away and the more respect we show them.




Tonight was no fuss. We popped to the local fishmonger to pick some fish and got some Sprats which we dusted with flour and fried. A spray of lime juice and some parsley and we were good to go.


Check out my good lady’s blog to find out more!

Emily Clarke Food

That’s all folks, we did buy alot of fish so stay tuned….

Happy eating everyone


Vegetable Mosaic

I was a lover of Taste Italia magazine and was devastated when it ceased publishing. I have a scrap book full of recipe cuttings from different issues ranging from slow roasted veal to lavender panna cotta. Another recipe that caught my eye was a Vegetable Mosaic, a mixture of different vegetables combined together with eggs and cream. So this is what I was going to try for tonight’s dinner to go along with a lovely salmon fillet.

I part boiled salad potatoes and carrots and combined with onions, artichokes, celery, kidney beans, mozarella, savoy cabbage and chives. I then added eggs with creme fraiche, salt and pepper and added to the vegetables, coating them evenly. I transferred to a savarin ring and placed into another oven tray filled with boiling water and paced in the oven at 190degrees. Bake for 30 minutes, and then take care to remove it from the savarin ring!

I served this with salmon, deliciously cooked with a crispy skin and bursting with flavour. This was a very filling meal, packed full of flavours, amazing textures and you can’t get much healthier!

Hope your weekends are full of food folks

Happy eating





Video: Turkey with courgettes, chickpeas and kale.

Turkey with courgettes, chickpeas and kale

Here’s a short video of me cooking turkey steaks with courgettes, chickpeas and kale. Delicious, simple, very healthy and very very quick.
Apologies for any problems understanding my Scottish accent hah and for the amateur camera work and editing.

Happy eating everyone


5 minute lunch

So I have put together a delicious dish that I have taken to work and I cannot wait for lunch time. This dish took me 5 minutes to notch up and it is a healthy, hearty and filling dish that will keep me sorted until dinner tonight. I made sweet and sour peppers with polenta. So says you don’t have time to make your own interesting lunch? Keep your small change in your pocket, stay clear f the canteen and the High Street and try this…

1. Put 1 tbsp of olive oil into a saucepan and whilst it heats up cut some peppers into sizeable chunks and half some cherry tomatoes.

2. Add to the pan immediately adding 3 tbsps of passata (sieved tomatoes) 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar and 1 1tsp of sugar. Leave to boil away whilst you prepare the polenta.

3. Heat a small saucepan whilst you boil the kettle and add the water as soon as its boiled, filling the pan abut half way. Add a pinch of salt and add a few handfuls of polenta.

4. Stir both your sauce and your polenta until the water has evaporated from the polenta. Take both off the heat.

5. Add a small knob of butter to your polenta and then serve.

There you have it, a lovely sweet and sour sauce with some lightly cooked peps, and some lovely rustic polenta to go with it. All of this in the time it takes you to make a sandwich!

Happy eating everyone


Slow cooking after slow travel!

No post yesterday, but for a very good reason. We were hit with crazy snow and blizzards, so our ‘quick’ flight over to Belfast was delayed by over 2 hours. Combine that with waiting in the freezing cold, with the wind battering our faces, waiting for a taxi for 30 minutes, there was only time for a nice glass of wine then off to bed.

Yesterday I tried baking Panforte di Siena. This is similar to a fruit cake and, although it is often made during the festive period, is most commonly associated with the famous Palio di Siena – a bareback horse race between the numerous contrade (wards) of the city. This is an amazing spectacle that I will hopefully have the honour of witnessing first hand.
Panforte is delicious, a nice combo of fruit, sweetness and a little bit of spice. I know that Italians do not like venturing too far away from traditional recipes, but I used what I had. I replaced orange zest with lemon zest, candied peel with dried cherries and made without any nuts. I will be trying the 100% authentic recipe soon, but this creation was very tasty indeed. I particularly enjoyed the kick of lemon!


I am very excited for tonight. Emily and I are cooking dinner for Emily’s family. I just love cooking for a big crowd, especially family. We are arranging an antipasti platter for starters, a mixture of cured meats and preserved vegetables. For main course I am cooking perhaps the recipe most deeply ingrained in my memory: braised beef in red wine. This is a Genaro Contaldo recipe that I seen during his Two Greedy Italians programme with Antonio Carluccio. It is a topside of beef cooked in a bottle of red wine over several hours with vegetables and herbs. When watching the programme, I can remember my mouth just filling with saliva and I cannot wait to give it a go. As I write, it is soaking in wine with rosemary, bay leaves, onion, garlic, carrots, celery a bottle of vino rosso. Here is a picture for now and make sure you pop back later tonight to see the result!

Happy eating folks and watch this space……


A what burger?

On the day that I hear horse meat has been found in a supermarket burger, what else could I have for dinner tonight than a tasty burger. Fear not, no horses were harmed in the making of these burgers, only lambs. I love making burgers from scratch and mainly use lamb mince. I also like adding in a great deal of herbs for maximum flavour, a rake in the fridge reaped some coriander. I am very fond of coriander so I am looking forward to this new combo: lamb and coriander.

A homemade burger is a mixture of whatever you fancy, traditionally a meat mixed in with onions, herbs, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and an egg to hold the mixture together. However, as mentioned you can add whatever you like. I do love adding chillies, but I have none to hand this evening. I also want to try a Spicy bean burger, a mixture of puréed beans and chillies. Wow, delicious!

Today, it’s lamb, coriander, onions, some lime zest, and instead of the egg some lime juice. Simply shape the mixture into your burger, and grill for 10-15 minutes. Emily mixed some creme fraiche with lime to accompany the burger and we used some crunchy rolls from the local bakers. Fantastico!

My fiance Emily and I are always arguing over who cooks, she has an excellent blog up and running as well, check it out at: http://www.emilyclarkefood.wordpress.com. Last night she created the most delicious lemon tarts, they were just wonderfully Devine. I go crazy for lemon, so look forward to many lemon inspired creations later on in the year! Emily and I just love our food so who knows what the future holds. We dream of opening our own cafe in the future, but for the meantime we are just keen home cooks. One thing is for certain, we need a bigger kitchen!

Thank you to all for visiting and please spread the word to any foodies you know!

Thank you and happy eating


Tuscan Soup

Soup is so underrated. For some reason when one puts in a lot of effort they are wanting more of an impressive end result than a bowl of soup. And let’s face it, it is just so easy to buy a tin of soup for pittance to throw in a microwave and you have a satisfying meal in minutes.

However, just like yesterday’s pork (see yesterdays post) this meal was notched up and enjoyed within half an hour. The soup I cooked was Minestra Garfagnina di Farro (or in English, soup from the mountainous Garfagnana region of Lucca, Tuscany with Farro, an Italian pearl barley).

The soup is a blending together of vegetables: carrot, celery, onion, garlic (which are to be found in most italian dishes)sage and a tin of borlotti beans. I’m all for fresh ingredients, but buying tinned beans saves me a great deal of time! First of all, bring a pan of water to the boil, add salt, pepper and 2 tbsps white wine vinegar and then a good handful of farro, or pearl barley. Fry the vegetables in olive oil until sweating, then add the borlotti beans and a ladle full of hot water. Cook for several minutes, then transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.

Once smooth, return to the pan, add some chopped smoked sausage and cook off for another minute whilst you drain off the water from your Farro. Farro, which is really high in protein and rich in vitamins, takes 10 minutes to cook, it should be al denti: soft on the outside and a bit if bite in the inside like risotto rice. Ooh, whilst on the subject, I am a huge lover of risotto so expect one on here in the very near future!

Pour the soup into a bowl, top with a few tbsps of farro. Scatter on some chopped rosemary and add a drizzle of olive oil. This is a thick soup so is very hearty, perfect to combat the cold outside. The smoked sausage is heavenly, and reminds me of my mums mushroom soup, the best soup on the planet! I will blog about it at some point, but I first need to gain the courage as I fear I will never be able to do it justice! Failing that I will just ask mum to cook some and i can just enjoy it, then blog about it. The rosemary gives this a little freshness, and we enjoyed this with some of Emily’s Oat and Linseed bread. A perfect dinner, and the best soup I think I have ever produced. Wow I am getting used to cucina povera (food of the poor)!

That’s it for today folks, happy eating!




Pork with White Wine

Well I am not long back from work and I have already cooked and eaten a delicious dish. Who said you need time to cook and eat well? My dish was chopped pork with vegetables cooked in white wine.
I heat up some olive oil (4 tbsps to be exact) and move on to my vegetables. I chopped carrots, celery, onion and garlic and added to the pan along with the pork. One of the joys of cooking is the sound of ingredients hitting the hot olive oil, the sizzle is just fantastic, music to my ears. Seconds later your hit with all these smells, the freshness of the celery, the magic of the garlic and you just know that this is going to be special.
Once the pork has a bit of colour, add the wine. I recently watched an episode of Two Greedy Italians and Genaro Contaldo cooked braised beef in red wine. Now he didn’t just add a bit of cooking wine, he used a bottle of good quality wine. When it comes to food and also to wine, don’t take shortcuts. With this fresh in my mind, I add a bottle of Pinot Grigio to the pan and also add some cavolo nero and chopped oregano.
I was in 2 minds whether or not to make this with pasta, my idea was to add the pasta into the wine and cook it all together for maximum flavour, but this will wait for another day as I decided to use up some leftover pear barley that I cooked over the weekend. I have been reading about the cuisine of Tuscany and was introduced to the notion of la cucina povera, the food of the poor. What better way to use up leftover pearl barley than to add it to this creation?
Once the barley was added I check the dish for seasoning, and added a pinch of salt and black pepper. And at this point I jus couldn’t wait any longer, the smells are just incredible and I really am hungry! I lay some of Emily’s leftover home made Oat & Linseed bread at the bottom of each bowl and scoop up a few ladel fulls from the pan. A quick sprinkle of pepper and a shower of gran padano cheese and done!

Pork and vegetables in white wine. Took me 20 minutes to think up, prepare, cook and eat! Cooking for yourself is a huge step towards a healthier lifestyle, and it can be done quicker than it takes to order a take away. This dish was screaming with healthiness and also flavour. I will keep this recipe for another time, I just love taking aspects of many different dishes and combining them to create something very special.

That’s all for today folks, happy cooking, and of course happy eating!




Food or Science?

I was always in 2 minds about molecular gastronomy. Heston Blumenthal’s food was always impressive looking but I thought it more science than food. I am also more fond of rustic cooking over the modern day fine dining where you am need to bring your magnifying glass to find your food. Nonetheless I seen a beginners molecular gastronomy set and put it on my Christmas List. Alas, I was one happy guy when I indeed got the set for Christmas and I immediately looked into how I could add some fancy aspects to my rustic cooking.
The set cost around £50 and contains a mixture of different compounds that can be used to create foams, spheres, jellies etc. Today I had my first shot at it: to create a homemade ketchup ‘foam’. I have made my own ketchup for some time as I refer to know what is in my food rather than buying from shops. I add tbsp tomato purée, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, tsp sugar and salt & pepper.I recommend you try making your own ketchup, you can make a larger batch, just make sure you keep the above quantities and you will get a lovely tomato sauce. To this mixture I planned to add the compound Soy Lecithin which is a natural emulsifier extracted from soy bean which creates a foam. The set does give several recipes but I tried my own.
I added a good deal of water to the mixture and added the sachet of Soy Lecithin, allowing it to dissolve before blending. I takes a bit of time, but sure enough the mixture immediately starts to foam up. I was hoping offer a bowl full of a reddish foam, instead I got a whitish froth forming on the top of my ketchup. Also, because I had to add a good deal of water to the mix before adding the compound I lost a good deal of acidity and sweetness. Not to worry, I did get some foam so I will take my first attempt as a success, a small success, but a success nonetheless.

To go with my foam I cooked the Italian sausages I had in the freezer and some of the leftover pear barley from last nights pork belly. With the foam to show off I tried to plate up with style. An ok first attempt but I look forward to mastering this compound and to using the other techniques.

Tonight, Emily is cooking so I can relax, look through more cook books and look forward to more food.

Happy eating everyone







My love of peppers

One of my favourite vegetables are peppers. I adore how versatile they are and I use them very regularly. Whether chopping and adding to paella’s and other pasta sauces, or stuffing them with a mixture of other vegetables and couscous or even slicing and adding to a sandwich, peppers are awesome. One of my very special memories of going to Slovakia (my mothers homeland)in 2000 besides the wonderful scenery and people were the white peppers we bought from a market in Bratislava. It is difficult to get hold of these peppers in Britain although I was delighted to discover them recently in a local large supermarket. These are a very pale greenish colour and they are very distinctive in terms of flavour. We added them to ham sandwiches for our long return journey back to Scotland, and ironically these beautiful peppers became one of the highlights of the holiday!

One of the best things about the weekend is that it gives me more time at home and in the kitchen. I have already blogged about omelettes, but I think the frittata I had for lunch is worth a mention: sweet and sour pepper frittata. A frittata is an more Mediterranean take on the classic omlette, it is fried for a few minutes and then baked. For this omelette I used sweet peppers!
For this I simply caramelised some chopped sweet peppers with a tbsp of sugar and olive oil until they were softened. I then added these sweeties into my mix of eggs, cream, salt and pepper and for this recipe, 3 tbsps of white wine vinegar which will give the egg it’s acidity. I added the peppers to the mix and fried gently for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a per-heated oven at 180degrees and bake for 10 minutes. So simple and quick too, a perfect light lunch. Tonight I will be cooking pork belly, so watch this space…….

Happy eating