Brussels Sprouts, Blue Cheese and Chestnut Pasta

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Brussels sprouts often get a bad rap. They're the villain of the Christmas table. Poor, over cooked, farty specimens are pushed to the side of plates nationwide. I was the only person who would devour my sprouts round our table. My brothers wouldn't even entertain the thought of having them on their plate, and even my vegetarian mother would sneakily hide hers under leftover mashed potato.  People, we need to give sprouts a second chance. Wipe that mushy memory from your minds and instead think of delicious, garlicky sprouts, caramelised in bubbling butter and tossed with blue cheese and chestnuts. Doesn't that sound devine?!

Brussels Sprout, Blue Cheese and Chestnut Pasta, my new favourite pasta dish.

I found this recipe in an amazing cookbook I picked up a few days ago, Pasta Secrets by Laura Santtini. I've poured over the pages of the book so many times since I bought it, there are mountains delightful sounding pasta dishes, as well as tips on how to make your own pasta or how to get the best from the dried variety. I absolutely adore it and would recommend this one to any pasta lovers out there!

Brussels Sprout, Blue Cheese and Chestnut Pasta, my new favourite pasta dish.


Up until I made this pasta, I had no idea that sprouts were named brussels sprouts and not just brussel sprouts. Maybe it's because of the words running in to each other that I've never noticed this glaring gap in my knowledge of the English language. My long suffering other half often complains of this problem. The last letter of his first name is the same as the first letter of his surname resulting in a snakelike hiss whenever you pronounce it in full. I think this is the perfect reason for him to adopt my surname should we ever get married, but I doubt I'll win that fight ;)




Brussels Sprout, Blue Cheese and Chestnut Pasta


Ingredients:
  • 60g butter
  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1/2tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 180g pack of cooked chestnuts, halved
  • 200g dried pasta
  • 150g blue cheese, crumbled
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cooking Directions:
  1. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil.
  2. Heat the butter in a large, heavy bottomed frying pan, add the crushed garlic cloves then place the brussels sprouts in the pan, flat side down, in a single layer. Throw in some salt, pepper and the dried chilli flakes and allow to cook until the sprouts start to caramelise. Add in the chestnuts and sauté with the sprouts for a few minutes until the sprouts are cooked through and not too soft. Remove from the heat.
  3. When the water is at a rolling boil add in the dried pasta and cook according to the packet instructions.
  4. Reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining. Tip the pasta into the sprouts and add the crumbled blue cheese. Toss together over a high heat, adding in a little of the pasta water to loosen.
  5. Serve immediately with plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
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Newcastle Eats: Fuego Review

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Fuego has been a part of the Fenwick Foodhall in the center of Newcastle for the past few years now and I can honestly say it's one of my favorite places to grab a bite to eat.  Offering up mediteranian style tapas and hand stretched pizzas it's the perfect place to while away an afternoon. One thing that takes this place to the next level is the Enomatic system they've installed, this clever little machine allows you to sample super fancy wines, normally sold by the bottle (with an eyewatering price tag) by the glass allowing you to sample some pretty nifty wines without breaking the bank.

Fuego, meditrranean style tapas restaurant in the center of Newcastle

Fuego, meditrranean style tapas restaurant in the center of Newcastle

Fuego, meditrranean style tapas restaurant in the center of Newcastle

After a good long while studying the menu we decided to go for a handful of dishes to share rather than a pizza. I mean, why get pizza when there's tapas on offer.  We settled on a portion of padron peppers (minus the balsamic drizzle, I just think they're better with a simple sprinkle of salt), pan con tomate (a staple of any self respecting tapas establishment), patatas bravas, gnocchi al forno, polenta chips with a romesco sauce and finally butterbeans with chorizo.  Phew, now there's a mouthful!

Fuego, meditrranean style tapas restaurant in the center of Newcastle

Fuego, meditrranean style tapas restaurant in the center of Newcastle

Fuego, meditrranean style tapas restaurant in the center of Newcastle

Fuego, meditrranean style tapas restaurant in the center of Newcastle

Fuego, meditrranean style tapas restaurant in the center of Newcastle

Everything was delicious, my only gripe is the patatas bravas need a little something extra.  A thicker, spicier sauce or a drizzle of aoli. Just something to make them pop beyond crispy potatoes and tomato. 

The polenta chips were crispy little slices of heaven, blanketed by shavings of parmesan and acpompanied with a superbly garlicy romesco. I could have devoured portion after portion.  
 
Fuego, meditrranean style tapas restaurant in the center of Newcastle

Even though we were both full to bursting I just couldn't resist a glance at the desert menu. Kris noticed the churros the second we sat down so I knew there was no way we'd be able to leave without ordering a portion. Not to be left out, and neither of us is too keen on sharing a dessert, I ordered the baklava. It was tasty, but by no means the best I've ever had. It was a little too solid and not the sticky, crumbly mouthful I love. If I could go back in time I would have ordered the crema catalana which sounds unbelievable. Oh well, there's always next time.

Fuego, Fenwick Food Hall, 39 Northumberland St, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 7AS
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Cookies and Cream Cookies

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No, you're not reading that title wrong, these are indeed cookies and cream cookies. Or, inception cookies as Kris likes to refer to them.

Cookies and cream cookies, that's right, a cookie studded with more cookies!

By now you all know my feelings about cookies, I've always got to have a stash hiding away in my freezer for when you just have to have a warm, melty cookie in your life. These moments seem to happen an awful lot in my house and there's no problem that a warm cookie won't fix.  These babies are my current favorite emergency cookies, I've had to resort to hiding them behind the frozen peas to ensure Kris doesn't spot them and gobble them all up. The lengths I have to go to, right?!

Cookies and cream cookies, that's right, a cookie studded with more cookies!

Milk powder might sound like a weird ingredient to use in cookies but they add an unbelievable richness and a chew to die for. You can find it in most supermarkets by the UHT milk (but there's no demand for that because it's shite! (holla to all my Father Ted fans))

If you love cookies as much as me, check out these babes: Nutella Swirl Cookies / Peanut Butter Stuffed Cookies / Levain Bakery Copycat Cookies / Nutella Melting Middle Cookies / Kick Ass Chocolate Chunk CookiesDairy Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies and cream cookies, that's right, a cookie studded with more cookies!


Cookies and Cream Cookies


Ingredients:
  • 150g full fat cream cheese
  • 125g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 1 large, free range egg
  • 1tsp vanilla paste
  • 180g plain flour
  • 60g milk powder
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 20 oreo cookies, chopped up small
  • 100g milk chocolate chips
Cooking Directions:
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the cream cheese and butter until light, fluffy and fully mixed together. Around 1-2minutes mixing at a medium speed. Add the brown sugar, egg and vanilla and mix until pale and fluffy.
  2. In a medium bowl sift the flour, milk powder, baking soda and baking powder together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour in the oreos and chocolate chips and mix until everything is evenly distributed. Cover the bowl in cling film and chill for two hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 175C and line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Roll heaping tablespooons of the chilled cookie dough into balls and place on the baking sheet, giving each cookie room to spread.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until just starting to colour around the edges. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking try before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Or, you know, eat them warm, who am I to tell you how to eat cookies?!
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Travel: Las Vegas - Photo Diary

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I can't believe it's been a whole month since I packed my bags and headed out to sunny Las Vegas. The holiday blues have hit me hard this past week so I thought I'd share some photos of my trip with you guys and attempt to relive some of the fun times. I hope you don't mind.

Our holiday began with a trip to Las Vegas to see my best friend in the world marry the love of her life. I can tell you, Vegas is just the best city in the world to visit with a group of your nearest and dearest. Windowless casinos leaving you wondering if it's even night or day, drunken shopping in Sephora, visiting haunted museums, this trip had it all; and this was only the begining. 





Never in my life have I felt the need to do a round of jello shots before draining six bottles of champagne for breakfast (no joke, we actually did this) but in Vegas, it just felt like the norm.  If you ever find yourself in that part of the world I can wholeheartedly recommend the Wicked Spoon Breakfast Buffet, do yourself a favour and add on the unlimited booze option. It's $15 well spent!












The famous Flamingo Hotel was our base for the 3 days we spent in Vegas and  that pink flashing monolyth served us well.  The hotel had everything you need and more, fancy a diamante Elton John cap, they got that!  The rooms were spacious and functional, certainly not flashy but hey you're not in Vegas to spend time sitting alone in your room, am I right?!  Staying at The Flamingo? Get yourself down to the pool for an afternoon of sunning yourself surrounded by people that wouldn't be amiss in an episode of Jersey Shore, a real fun experience. Just make sure you don't buy the $30 margarita...











Stay tuned for my New Orleans and Memphis photo diaries. Have you been to Las Vegas? What was your opinion on the real city that never sleeps?
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Recipes: Cornflake Tart

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When people talk about the 80's I still think it was only about 10 years ago, and don't even get me started on the 90's.  It seems like only yesterday I was whizzing around on a little skateboard, pretending to be Marty McFly. Where does the time go?  One of the memories I hold dearest was going to school, I went to primary school in Sunderland and boy was it a beautiful building. A huge red brick Victorian number which still had the segregated boys and girls entrances, though we didn't use them.  I'm not that old.  Sadly it was pulled down to make way for a new modern school, a travesty if you ask me.  

Cornflake tart, a school dinner favourite.

One of my favourite things about school was the school dinners, well the desserts more than the dinners. You can't really look back on liver and onions with much fondness.  The anticipation as we entered the dining hall was always high. Would there be any strawberry milk left, what sweet treats awaited our eager selves or would we be stuck with a crappy portion of spotted dick?  There was one pudding that we always crossed our fingers for, the magestic cornflake tart. Always served in squares cut from a huge silver tray and drenched in thick creamy custard, it was the king of the school dinner. 

Cornflake tart, a school dinner favourite.

I completely forgot about this childhood treat until a few weeks ago my bestie brought up the subject of school dinners at work. We started discussing our favourite meals with childish nostalgia, and the ones that left a bad taste in our mouth. There was one thing we both agreed on, cornflake tart was the best.  Somehow she convinced me to whip one up and bring it into work for us to enjoy over a cup of tea, I mean it didn't really take much persuarion if I'm honest. I went home and made it that very night. What a great friend I am!

Cornflake tart, a school dinner favourite.

If, like me, you look back on this tart with fondness, or if you've never had it. Maybe you were a packed lunch kid? I can highly recommend reliving a little bit of your childhood and spending an afternoon in the kitchen recreating a little bit of your school days. 


Cornflake Tart

Ingredients:
  • For the pastry :
  • 125g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 100g butter, cold from the fridge and cut into cubes
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 1 small lemon, zested

  • For the tart :
  • 75g butter
  • 150g golden syrup
  • 50g caster sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 150g cornflakes
  • 25g desicated coconut
  • 100g good quality raspberry jam
Cooking Directions:
  1. To make the pastry, put the flour, ground almonds and salt into the bowl of a food processor, sprinkle in the butter and pulse until you get a breadbrumb like consistency. Add in the sugar, lemon and the egg yolk and pulse again until the pastry comes together in a ball. If it isn't quite coming together add a tsp of cold water until you realy the right consistency.
  2. Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured workbench and bring it together into a flat disc. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 1hr minimum or up to 12hrs.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan. Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured work surface to about 3mm thick. Line a 23cm tart tin with the pastry, trim any excess, prick the base with a fork and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Line your chilled pastry base with greasproof paper and fill with baking beans. Blind bake the case for 20 minutes, remove the paper and beans and bake for another 10 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool.
  5. For the filling combine the butter, syrup, sugar and salt in a saucepan set over a lowheat and melt, stirring slowly. Remove from the heat, then tip in the cornflakes and coconut and mix in gently ensuring to give everything a good coating of syrup.
  6. Spread the raspberry jam over the bottom of the cooked pastry case and top with the cornflake mixture. Pop back into the oven for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving warm with lashings of vanilla custard.
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