Walnut, Gorgonzola and Pancetta Fusilli.

My family and I love travelling (money and time permitting, of course). So when Ingham Lakes and Mountains asked me if I would like to create a recipe inspired by one of their holiday destinations for their #InghamsFoodieFinds campaign, I jumped at the chance.

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Nearly five years ago Mr SmartCookieSam took me to Italy for my 40th birthday.  He kept the trip a surprise until a week or so before the trip. We went to Venice, Lake Garda, Lake Como and up into the Italian Alps. One day we had a memorable and breathtaking road trip up along the Stelvio Pass and stopped for lunch at a roadside hotel called La Fontanella. It was near the town of Madonna de Campiglio.  In the winter it was a ski resort but as this was July we sat outside on the terrace enjoying the stunning views of the Dolomites.  Our lunch was delicious and I remember the starter we had to this day.  I’ve recreated it and adapted it at home many times and is a perfect summer weekend lunch. Preferably sat outside with a huge glass of wine on the side (here’s hoping!)

The starter was a very filling Walnut and Gorgonzola Fusilli.  Mr SmartCookieSam is not a big pasta fan but he loves this.  I sometimes add pancetta to mine at home to appease the carnivores in my house. It is very quick to make and makes a perfect weekday supper if time is short.  Not an everyday treat though as there is a lot of butter, cream and cheese in the recipe!

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a starter.

WALNUT, GORGONZOLA AND PANCETTA FUSILLI

Ingredients:

200g fusilli fresh or dried (whatever you prefer)

125g creamy Gorzonzola

100g walnut halves

50g butter

150ml single cream

1 packet of cubed pancetta

First you  need to cook the pancetta in a frying pan.  I dry fry it as it contains enough fat.  Preheat your oven to 180oC/ Gas 4 ready for toasting the walnuts.

While you have the pancetta frying, cook the fusilli in a large saucepan of boiling water according to the packet instructions.  Or if you are like me who was in a rush, you’ll end up chucking the pasta in the cold water and hoping for the best!

When the pancetta is crisp, remove from the frying pan and put to one side.  Chop the walnuts up into bite size pieces and lay on a baking tray.  Toast them in the oven for about 5-8 minutes checking them regularly so they don’t burn.

Next, melt the butter in the frying pan.

Then add the cubed Gorgonzola to the melted butter.

Add the pancetta and the toasted walnuts into the pan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  When the pasta is ready, drain carefully and toss with the sauce.  Serve immediately.

My family love this dish with chunks of toasted ciabatta bread to dip in olive oil and balsamic vinegar or with a side of mixed salad leaves.

 

TasteCollectiv- Fresh Romesco and Pesto Sauces.

Last Tuesday afternoon another lovely treat arrived from the BBC Good Food Show by courier.  I was so excited to get samples of a brand new product that would be launching a few days later at the Good Food Show in Harrogate, which was a Pesto sauce and a Romesco sauce.  Mark and Victoria will be launching these delicious sauces through their company TasteCollectiv.

My lovely samples of fresh Pesto Sauce and Romesco Sauce from Taste Collectiv.

 I couldn’t wait to try them out on my family. It was going to be a real Mediterranean themed week for dinner in our house as that very night I had planned Spaghetti Bolognese. But what could I do with the sauces I was given?

The Romesco sauce was the first we tried last Thursday night.  Containing piquillo peppers, extra virgin olive oil, ground almonds, paprika, sherry vinegar, roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic and sea salt it was a perfect kick to add to any pasta or even to a chicken dish.  I had not come across Romesco sauce before and found out that it originates from Catalonia.  In my ignorance I thought it was Italian.  I loved the sauce and will definitely be buying more of it.

I chose to make some Romesco and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken breasts. This is a recipe I make at home a lot but with pesto sauce as once you’ve stuffed the chicken it just cooks itself.  Apart from the sauce getting a bit runny when mixed in with the meat juices and the cheese it tasted fantastic and went down well with Rosemary roasted new potatoes and salad.

A teaspoonful of Romeso sauce and a slice of  mozzarella went inside the chicken breast and then the rest went on top of it. It then went in the oven for about 30 minutes.


The finished Mozarella and Romesco Chicken. The sauce went a bit runny but it tasted fantastic.

 I used the Pesto Sauce last Saturday night in a recipe which is in Mary Berry’s latest book Foolproof Cooking.  It’s called Express Bacon and Pesto Pasta, only I didn’t use bacon. I used chopped ham and instead of tomatoes, I chopped up two peppers.  This was a fantastic way of using up storecupboard ingredients and tasted delicious. 

An adaptation of Mary Berry’s Bacon and Pesto Pasta, only mine had ham in it instead!

 The pesto was the best I had ever tasted and was packed full of Pecorino Sardo cheese, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, pine nuts, roasted garlic and sea salt.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of TasteCollectiv in the future.

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TasteCollectiv’s bold and impressive packaging for their Romesco and Pesto sauces which were launched at the Good Food Show in Harrogate.

 I was given the samples to try for free. All opinions are my own.

Family Mealtimes with Dr Oetker Pizzas

I was really looking forward to my pizza tea.

One pizza for each of my family minus hubby who was away working
 This is a blog post I was meant to write about last month and due to all my crazy commitments it never got written. Now half term is here I’m beginning to catch up with myself again. Blogging ends up being pushed to the back of the queue when I’m trying to get everything else sorted.
Anyway, I was contacted by Brazen PR who asked me if I would like some vouchers to try out Dr Oetker’s new product, their Calzone Speciale. I said yes, all my family love Calzone if we go out for an Italian meal. We also love the Dr Oetker Ristorante Pizzas which to me are very useful if you are having a busy week and don’t have much time to cook.
Dr Oetker Calzones are only available in Asda at the moment. I don’t often go to Asda, as both local Asdas are about 12 miles away from me and I find them far too crowded. I can never get a parking space when I go to Asda!  I do like Asda though, don’t get me wrong. It’s just I have other supermarkets nearer to me. The vouchers could also  be used with the Ristorante Pizzas so that’s what I decided to do as they were more widely available.  I found these in my local supermarket which is Morrisons.

I chose three different flavour pizzas, two of which my children had already tried and loved. According to Dr Oetker’s website they are “the nation’s favourite thin and crispy pizza” which cooks “to perfection in  about 10 minutes” I must admit I don’t buy pizzas that often, they’re usually something I enjoy when eating out. But I was keen to try the Pollo flavour, which had chicken and sweet corn on the top. I knew my kids would scoff down their favourite, the Pizza Mozzarella which is like a Margarita pizza with basil on top. Another winner in our house is the Pepperoni Salami one.

One busy Thursday night last month I had just the opportunity to use the pizzas. Hubby had been in London working for the day and had eaten out. I had been at work all day and as soon as hubby got back I was on the road to my mum’s overnight about 2 hours away. So a quick but tasty dinner was needed. Usually I try to share out the flavours but my kids said “Ugh no!” to the chicken one. So I ended up with it.

I would give my pizza 3 stars out of 5. Even though it had been in the oven for the recommended time and temperature it tasted doughy to me. I don’t like deep pan pizzas and much prefer thin and crispy bases. The topping was ok, but I’m not really a fan of chicken on pizza. My kids enjoyed their pizzas and they loved the bases. They also thought there were plenty of toppings. 

pollo, pepperoni and Mozzarella pizzas from Dr Oetker Rstorante range

Thankyou so much again to Brazen PR who very kindly sent me the Dr Oetker vouchers. I’m hoping to try the Calzones in the fur when I can get to my nearest Asda.

Love Sam xx