Beautiful Parmigiano Reggiano PDO cheese, an Italian inspired caprese salad and lightly seasoned salmon make this Italian style dish ideal for enjoying on these long Summer evenings. Enjoy with a cold glass of crisp Pinot Grigio to balance out the classic salty flavours of the cheese, aroma of basil and sweetness of the plump Vittoria tomatoes.
Exclusively produced in the Northern Italian provinces of Parma, Modena Reggio Emilia, as well as parts of Mantua and Bologna, Parmigiano Reggiano PDO is a much coveted cheese. It hails from the plains, hills and mountains between the rivers Po and Reno, where the long and natural maturation makes for its distinctive fruity, nutty and yet salty taste with the crystallised texture. Cheese masters and inspectors actually say that cheese must pass “two summers”, as the transformations that determine the changes and flavour in Parmigiano Reggiano PDO are more intense in summer because of the heat.
The Parmigiano Reggiano crusted salmon recipe is simple, and would be lovely paired with potatoes, roast vegetables and your choice of salad alike. Here of course it had to be with mozzarella, basil and tomato salad, for that fresh flavour of Italy.
Shopping list. ♥ Two salmon fillets ♥ 25g finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano PDO ♥ 1 tsp dried basil ♥ 25g breadcrumbs ♥ Black pepper to season, no need for salt ♥ A good quality mozzarella ball ♥ 100g good quality tomatoes ♥ A handful of basil ♥ A drizzle of olive oil ♥ Fresh ciabatta, or your favourite Italian bread
Step one. Begin by blitzing together your breadcrumbs, cheese, dried basil and a pinch of pepper. Cover your salmon and cook in a preheated oven on 180 degrees for 20 minutes.
Step two. Meanwhile, make the salad simply by roughly tearing the mozzarella, chopping the tomatoes and adding the fresh basil leaves. Leave some extra leaves to tear on top too.
Step three. When your salmon is cooked, bring together with the salad and ciabatta, toasted or left simply sliced as you wish. Add extra cracked black pepper and Parmigiano Reggiano if you like. Because, why not?
If you prefer red wines, a fuller bodied Syrah or rich Sangiovese would go well with both the cheese and tomatoes. Of course then there's the classic sparkling Lambrusco from the region, which, if you find in red, you should snap up! I loved it when I went to Parma, and here's why you should visit too.
Have you ever created a recipe with Parmigiano Reggiano PDO? What are your favourite food and wine pairings? You can read more Parmigiano Reggiano recipes from me here or on their website here.
HelloFresh has taken the UK by storm with their fresh, flexible and friendly approach to food. Encouraging seasoned cooks to challenge their tastebuds and newbie foodies to try cooking at home, the ingredients are pre-portioned with recipes cards to make midweek meals and weekend treats as easy as they can be. You simply customise your weekly menu and choose your delivery time to cook your favourite seasonal food from scratch.
There's a little story behind this one too. This was inspired by Head Chef Patrick's trips to a little Spanish eatery in Borough Market, where he became best friends with the head chef and started to work in the kitchen at weekends. Like me, his favourite recipes included the beautiful Iberican combination of seafood and chorizo. Who can blame him? In just 25 minutes, here's how you can make it too.
Shopping list. ♥ 2 garlic cloves ♥ 2 tbsp Flat Leaf Parsley ♥ 120g Tiger Prawns ♥ A handful of vine tomatoes ♥ 180g spaghetti ♥ ¼ tsp chilli flakes ♥ 1 medium chorizo sausage ♥ 400g tin of tomato passata
Obviously if you chose this recipe from HelloFresh, there would be no weighing out or leftover ingredients. Smart!
I won't go too much into the recipe because the full method is here. Let's just say, it's a simply as all good Italian and Spanish inspired recipes should be. The pasta cooks whilst the magic happens. The fresh herbs lighten the dish and the sweet, smoky and salty flavours balance in the most perfect way.
Have you ever had a HelloFresh box? Did you know there are loads of recipes online for you to enjoy? That's just how much they love cooking, and they want you to aswell.
If you liked this, you might enjoy reading my other HelloFresh reviews. In collaboration with HelloFresh
It's finally Jerte Picota Cherry season - where the glorious Spanish beauties are ready to be picked and enjoyed simply as they are or as part of a tasty Summer recipe. I've put together five deliciously decadent ways to enjoy cherries from some of my favourite fellow food bloggers. For those who love the mix of sweet and savoury, like to experiment with cocktails or make homemade jam - there's something for everyone!
The Picota Cherry journey starts in the stunning Spanish valley of Jerte, 200km from Madrid. The Picota Cherry blossom follows a completely natural season and harvest, which is why the arrival of the Picota Cherry changes each year. The area is known for the amazing and colourful annual blossom of over million cherry trees. For 2018, you can now get them in Sainsbury's, Morrison's, Tesco and Aldi from July - but be speedy, they may only be around until August!
Without further ado...
Fruity cocktails are a Summer must for me! Make ahead an ice cold Cherry Cava Granita or try this mouthwatering Sour Cherry Gin Slings from Supper in the Suburbs. The mix of Cointreau, gin with sharp lime and juicy cherries just sounds like the perfect refreshing drink for enjoying in your garden.
Sweet and savoury? Are you a fan? This Bulgar Wheat Salad from Foodie Quine combines sweet Jerte Picota Cherries with slightly salty feta and crunchy pistachios. Finished with vibrant edible Nasturtiums from her garden makes it a colourful and inviting dish.
Berries make for the perfect baking ingredient this season. Whether you're a fan of cold desserts (in this weather most likely!) or prefer a tasty homemade cherry pie, they're such a versatile addition. I'm currently in awe of Emma's Black Forest Cake- look at those lovely layers! Or keep it classic with this retro Chocolate Cherry Trifle from Tin and Thyme - always a make-ahead winner! Obviously this could easily be made with Picota cherries, which have a signature stemless appearance.
Add a bit of colour to your breakfast routine with a fresh cherry juice or supercharged smoothie! This Black Forest & Banana Smoothie from Camilla of Fab Food 4 All. Whizzing up fresh cherries, banana and a cheeky spoon of chocolate spread gives that classic Black Forest taste.
Perhaps jam is more your thing - it's certainly mine when combined with a warm scone and clotted cream. With the likes of Classic Cherry Jam from prize jam winner Fab Food 4 All and Black Cherry Conserve from Fuss Free Flavours - perhaps it's time you found your calling?
What are your favourite jam recipes? Have you ever made any recipes with Jerte Picota Cherries?
Delicious, freshly baked cookies with a cuppa. I love white chocolate in cakes, cookies and biscuits and just find it's the perfect accompaniment to raspberries. Bake until golden with a slightly crispy edge and gooey white chocolate - perfection!
Found in Catalonia in the North East of Spain, Costa Brava is a beautiful coastal region that boasts leafy hills, colourful buildings, gorgeous views and an excellent foodie culture. Being by the sea, there are lots of fresh seafood and fish dishes to indulge in. That's not all. Think stunning wine blends, with great pairings, as well as exceptional olive oil and sweets.
I went along as a guest of Jet2holidays to explore what the Catalonia region had to offer. With really reasonable flights from 9 UK destinations, I went from East Midlands to Girona, taking around two hours and costing from about £40pp. It really would make such an easy city break, only using one day holiday to enjoy three full days in the area. But what did I get up to on that long weekend?
Try your hand at a wine pairing workshop
After a tour around the old town of Girona, we enjoyed a wine pairing workshop at Tallers de Cuina. The best thing about this was that (even though we were keen foodies) we didn't have to do any cooking. We helped with the final prep of a few dishes, but largely watched the chefs cook and explain why the menu went so well with wines of the region. A must try for a small group.
Sample the speciality olive oil
We were certainly spoilt for choice when it came to olive oil. From classic blends to rich orange flavours, we enjoyed it just "as it is" with fresh bread and sea salt. Definitely try and bring some back if you can too - I got a huge bottle of great quality for €6!
Visit a local winery
If you don't get to try a wine pairing, a winery might be for you. We were treated to a tour around the Celler Martín Faixó in Cadaqués, a fairly small producers with a real passion that showed. The views were incredibly striking too.
Enjoy dining with a view at Mas Lazuli
One of my favourite meals was at Mas Lazuli in Pau. We enjoyed a fun bread making workshop before indulging in a local tasting menu in the relaxed and utterly cool atmosphere. In particular though, we loved the views at sunset. A serious wishlist hotel destination for me.
Try some authentic aioli
Somehow, and I really can't explain how, our blogger group ended up in an aioli making competition nearby the market. I've never learnt how to make aioli so fast! With locals presenting some seriously intense competition, we made classic aioli with just garlic, salt lemon and olive oil. A pretty fun experience - but you can just try tasting it without the effort.
Satisfy your tastebuds with the local seafood
Oh the seafood, the seafood! I always love when I visit somewhere by the coast as I can't get enough of the delicious fresh fish. Being in the Midlands, it really is a treat. In particular I loved the seafood stews, squid ink risotto and huge prawns served simply steamed with little seasoning.
Indulge in a memorable meal at Divinum
This was our first meal of the holiday and it really set the bar. If you have budget for just one amazing foodie experience during your stay, this needs to be it. Bird cages, savoury lollipops, delicate details... and a stunning wine flight to match. Found in the pretty town of Girona, this charming restaurant has a special, find dining feel with knowledgeable local staff. It wasn't just because we were press and bloggers either, the rest of the restaurant were thrilled at each amazing course that passed through in perfect symmetry.
Order a Xuixo de Girona from a pastry shop
Something sweet? These pastries are for you. Different cream fillings, as well as the traditional, made up this crisp, buttery dessert. The Crema Catalana was also a popular choice, as well as of course a cheeky cone of gelato.
Take in the scenery at Cap de Creus
This was a breathtaking yet brief trip, to a destination we found on the back of a postcard in nearby Roses. We had less than half an hour here, as the park was closing (we got stuck at 6pm and needed to be let out but that's an even longer story), but just those few minutes showed some memorable views. It was raining too, so I can't imagine what it would be like in the sunshine.
Have you been to Costa Brava? What are your travel trips or favourite foodie places, restaurants or cookery classes?
Although the weather can't make it's mind up, Spring is finally in full swing. And that means one of my favourite ingredients is in season... asparagus. Perfect with seafood and fish, the colourful asparagus adds an extra something to this smoked salmon and ricotta puff pastry tart. It's super quick and easy to make too; you can have it for a light lunch, make ahead for picnics or for dinner with a side salad. Tulips optional.
♥ A block of puff pastry (thawed if required) ♥ Two free range eggs ♥ 200ml double cream ♥ A bundle of asparagus ♥ Smoked salmon ♥ A dollop of ricotta ♥ Black pepper to serve
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.
Step one. Roll out your puff pastry on a lined baking tray and fold in the edges. Bake for ten minutes.
Step two. Meanwhile, grill or pan fry your asparagus with a little oil for 3-5 minutes until charred and golden.
Step three. Mix your eggs and double cream together. Save a little egg yolk to brush on the pastry later.
Step four. Take your tart out of the oven and pour in the cream and egg mix. Top with the asparagus, a little black pepper and egg wash, then bake for a further ten minutes until cooked through and golden.
Step five. Finish with a scattering of torn smoked salmon and crumbled ricotta cheese.
Have you been looking forward to Spring recipes? What is your favourite thing to make with asparagus?
It's starting to show signs of... dare I say Summer... and that can only mean one thing. Picnic food, BBQs and cocktails in the sun. Of course it was going to be food. My first picnic recipe of the year happens to be these delicious chorizo and smoked cheddar tarts. Great to make-ahead for picnics, on the go or for a light lunch (I did all three with these). And guess what, they're super simple too.
Shopping list. ♥ 250g shortcrust pastry, room temperature ♥ One large egg ♥ 75ml milk ♥ 100g smoked cheddar cheese, such as Applewood, grated ♥ 80g diced chorizo ♥ Black pepper to season
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Step one. On a floured surface, roll out the shortcrust pastry and cut out circles slightly large than your tart tins. Prick the base with a fork and bake blind for 5 minutes.
Step two. Beat the eggs and milk together, season with black pepper and add half the cheese.
Step three. Pour the mix into the pastry case. Scatter the chorizo and sprinkle on the remaining cheese.
Bake for 15 minutes until golden. Serve warm or save in an air tight container for up to three days.
Have you made mini tarts before? What flavour combination would you go for?
A healthy take on pure comfort food. There's nothing like a piping hot bowl of pasta with lashings of Parmesan cheese. In this recipe, the roasted cauliflower, tomatoes and peppers bring together varying textures and flavours. What's more, it goes towards your five a day.
Shopping list. (Serves two) ♥ A small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets ♥ 100g vine, cherry or baby plum tomatoes, halved ♥ One red pepper, de-seeded and sliced ♥ 150g linguine ♥ 1 tbsp red pesto (vegetarian, if required) ♥ 1 tsp dried tarragon ♥ Salt and pepper to season ♥ Parmesan cheese to season (vegetarian, if required) ♥ Good quality olive oil
Step one. Roast together the cauliflower, tomatoes and red peppers with seasoningon a baking tray for 25-30 minutes.
Step two. Meanwhile, cook your linguine to the packet instructions (usually around 10-12 minutes).
Step three. Drain but keep around 1 tsbp of pasta water in the saucepan. Stir in the vegetables, pesto and tarragon.
Serve up immediately with extra salt and pepper to taste, plus shavings of Parmesan.
What are your favourite vegetarian pasta recipes? What is your go to cauliflower recipe?
A warm, vegetarian salad made up of crispy roast broccoli, charred tomatoes, red pesto Quorn pieces and crumbled feta. Packed with goodness, this filling dish works as a midweek main, side dish or lunch box favourite. I roasted ahead the broccoli, tomatoes and Quorn with a drizzle of good quality oil, cracked black pepper and sea salt, and then tossed together the other ingredients right before eating. Super quick, super easy.
Shopping list. ♥ 100g broccoli florets ♥ 50g cherry tomatoes, halved ♥ Olive oil ♥ 50g Quorn pieces, defrosted ♥ 1 tbsp red pesto ♥ 30g feta cheese ♥ Salt and pepper to taste Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Step one. Boil the broccoli for five minutes, drain and scatter on a baking tray with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes.
Step two. Meanwhile, toss the Quorn pieces in the pesto.
Step three. Ten minutes before the broccoli is done, add the tomatoes and Quorn to the baking tray and continue to roast. You can set this aside for the next day to make a quick meal, or eat it right away.
Step four. When you're ready to serve, crumble in the feta cheese and season to taste.
Have you ever roasted cauliflower or broccoli? What are your favourite salad recipes with Quorn?
Found in the Leicestershire countryside, The Queen's Head is a cosy pub and restaurant that boasts five refurbished rooms. The Belton based establishment pride themselves on using the best ingredients and local producers to create seasonal menus mostly inspired by British and European cuisine. The bar area is dog friendly, whilst the restaurant has a more modern and refined feel for birthday meals, special occasions and date nights alike.
Entering the restaurant, you're met with a snug seating area lit up with fairy lights and candles. Although we were waiting a while to the staff's attention, it was a warming and welcoming area that gave off a great atmosphere.
Since we're finally seeing the beginnings of Spring, it was a nice touch to see fresh daffodils on the tables alongside the candles. Upholstered pews were a nice touch, set back with leather seating, wooden tables and quaint heart chalkboard for reserved signs.
To begin, we went for Crispy duck egg, cannellini beans, chorizo and spinach (£8) and Mussels steamed in a Thai red coconut broth (£8), which both arrived promptly with our wine. Although quite pricey for starters, they were both elegantly presented and full of inviting, fresh colours.
On an earthy bed of pulses and smoky chorizo, the mouthwatering runny egg yolk and crispy outer shell was just delicious. A starter I'd definitely recommend, regardless of the price tag. There were a generous amount of mussels, with fresh herbs and chilli to set off the spicy and fragrant broth. It was a shame it didn't come with bread, a spoon or lemon bowl though, as it meant you couldn't lap up the delicious sauce or clean your hands afterwards.
For mains we opted for Queen’s Head Cheese and Bacon Burger (£14) and the 6oz Fillet Steak (£24). Both coming with triple cooked chips, the double burger was served in a homemade bun with in house ketchup, topped with a gherkin and a pickled onion. It was tricky to eat, but that was expected. The burger patty itself was satisfyingly pink and flavoursome, with great seasoning. It was a shame the brioche bun was a little dry to really set the burger off.
The steak was a great cut of meat, which was cooked to medium/rare and well rested. With an extensive wine list, we enjoyed a couple of glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to marry perfectly with red meat. The peppercorn sauce was evidentially homemade, with a great kick and smooth texture.
And the chips. Oh, the chips. Too often these are overlooked when accompanying burger and steak dishes, but these are the best I've had in a restaurant in a long while. As you can see, really crispy, golden and rustic with plenty of cracked black pepper and sea salt.
To finish, we went for a Stem ginger and pineapple pudding and Chocolate fondant with peanut ice cream. Not something I would go for, the steamed pudding was a generous portion and well enjoyed with classic custard. I went for the chocolate dessert, with a seriously indulgent ice cream with great textures.
Overall I'd definitely recommend The Queen's Head as a countryside, foodie destination. It was a really busy Friday night and with minimal waiting staff they were rushed off their feet. However when we did get their attention, the staff were friendly and eager-to-please. It seemed like large groups, families and double dates were enjoying themselves, with a musical act planned that evening to entertain the crowds.
Have you been to The Queen's Head in Belton? What are your favourite pub restaurants in Leicestershire?
The Queen's Head2 Long StBeltonLoughboroughLE12 9TP We dined as guests of the restaurant. All opinions are honest and my own.