Monday, 11 February 2019

Greek Stuffed Tomatoes

These ‘gemistes’ are an updated version of my previously posted Stuffed Tomatoes from way back in 2015.

This version is a closer substitute to those you might enjoy whilst holidaying in various Greek Isles. But I’ve added a bit of a cheat to make it slightly more accessible and quicker to get to the table, an ideal midweek meal when work, school and extra-curricular commitments can make cooking a bit of a last priority.

These ones are enriched with a quick Greek tomato sauce - but unlike the original recipe (or 100’s of recipes I found) I have used ready-cooked Microwave rice, to speed things up. So instead of the sauce cooking the rice from scratch, it merely enriches and flavours.

The result is stunning. This is a fabulous vegetarian and vegan option and we have enjoyed as a Meatfree Monday meal a few times recently. If you’re making a meze of different dishes you can also make with smaller tomatoes so they’re not quite as filling.

I’ve just used mint as that’s the closest flavouring to those from my beloved Kerkyra (Corfu) and I think it adds a lovely freshness, but you can try dill or parsley too. Also for the sauce, this is a very basic one but if you want to play around and add any further flavourings that would work too - adding celery, olives or dried chilli to the base for example, or a glug of balsamic or red wine vinegar.

I like to serve with just salad.

The below serves 4 adults but if there are just the two, believe me they make a great lunchbox for the following day - hot or cold.


Stuffed Tomatoes



Here’s how;
  • X4 beef tomatoes
  • 1 packet microwave rice
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 red pepper 
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • Handful mint leaves
  • Olive oil 

For the sauce;
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tin chopped tomatoes
  • Pinch dried oregano
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree 
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Now slice off the top off each of the beef tomatoes carefully, as you want this to act as the ‘lid’.

Now carefully use a knife to cut free the internal flesh of the tomato, then use a tablespoon to carefully scoop it all out and set aside in a bowl. Once you are left with four tomato ‘shells’. Add a little salt to help remove some of the retained moisture and turn upside down to drain further while you prepare everything else.

Firstly dice the two onions and add to two separate pans on a medium heat with generous glugs of olive oil.

Mince the garlic cloves and divide between the two pans.

For the tomato sauce, add to one of the pans the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, pinch of salt and sugar, oregano and some black pepper to taste. Allow to cook away for ten minutes then take off of the heat.

In the meantime, dice the courgette and chop the peppers and add to the other pan. Now roughly chop the leftover tomato flesh and also add to the pan. Don’t let this combination dry out - if needed add a little extra olive oil to keep the contents moist - the rice will soak up any oil so don’t worry about it being too wet. Season well at this point.

Give a good stir and then add the microwave rice direct from the packet. Give it a good stir to ensure the rice gets a good coating. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the sauce too and stir well.

Now remove from the heat and turn the tomatoes back up the right way and place into an oven-proof dish.

Load the rice and vegetable mixture into each of the tomatoes until they are quite full.

Now add a generously heaped tablespoon full of the sauce to the top of each of the tomatoes and then place the ‘lid’ on top.

Drizzle each of the tomatoes with a little olive oil on the outside and then finally place a large sheet of foil loosely over the tomatoes and place into the oven for 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and if you require the tomatoes to be slightly more well done, remove the foil and return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes.


Stuffed Tomatoes



Otherwise allow to stand for a couple of minutes and then serve with your choice of salad. Enjoy!

Friday, 8 February 2019

Marsh Farm, Essex

Last weekend, as part of Beatrice's second birthday celebrations, we headed to nearby Marsh Farm, in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex to join them for one of their character days. The day in question was Peppa Pig aka Beatrice's bestie.

Having never ventured here before, we were greatly impressed by the value for money presented here; unfortunately it was bitter cold (sorry Beatrice for your winter birthday) so we only stayed for a few hours but we packed plenty in. In fact we never even made it to a few of the included activities.

Set over a huge piece of land, Marsh Farm has something for all children under ten and mine were enthralled despite the cold weather.

First up we enjoyed the Peppa Pig meet and greet - the staff and Peppa herself, were very friendly and happy for the children to have a photo alone with Peppa and then one with all the family. They even had a member of staff designated to take family snaps, which I thought was a nice touch. Beatrice was utterly delighted meeting her hero, and whilst Bridget is four and considers herself a little too grown up for Peppa Pig, she was excited too.

Bridget and Beatrice meeting Peppa Pig at Marsh Farm
Peppa Pig at Marsh Farm
Bridget and Beatrice waiting to see Peppa Pig at Marsh Farm


Straight from here we went to the fairground rides, of which there was a just a couple geared towards small children; the classic cups and saucers ride and a carousel. Both Bridget and Beatrice love the rides and so were very happy as you can see. I thought it was great that these were inclusive of the entrance price too - not like some other places I've visited, such as The Hop Farm in Kent, where everything is an additional cost.

My baby Beatrice enjoying her 2nd birthday at Marsh Farm
Bridget at Marsh Farm


Next on our agenda was a visit to the indoor barn animals and we were thrilled to see some baby lambs and piglets cuddled up to their mummas. Super cute. 

Piglets at Marsh Farm
Baby lamb at Marsh Farm


There was also some interestingly attired Shetland ponies with multi-coloured hair - Bridget was impressed and said it reminded her of Shimmer & Shine. Indoors there were also ferrets, guinea pigs and some rabbits. Each keeping the girls more than interested.

Shetland pony, Sparkle at Marsh Farm


The adventure playground is of excellent quality and there really is a section for all ages covered, it's set over a wide area with lots of different climbing apparatus and slides etc. 

By the time we'd done all of this, we were freezing and so headed to the Indoor Soft Play Barn which handily has a restaurant and coffee shop attached. This was a great opportunity for the girls to run around and warm up, with Glen following hot on their heels, whilst I enjoyed a lovely hot chocolate.

We went for the tractor ride next; which seems to be a standard at these types of places, and whilst it was good, it was a very short ride compared to Barleylands (also in Essex) or Willows Activity Farm (in nearby Hertfordshire) which we visited at Christmas time. We did get to ride swiftly through muddy puddles, spot some interesting birds and look out for other wildlife whilst waving at various dog-walkers but we we just on the tractor ride for less than five minutes.

We then had a walk around the Animal Trail spotting some giant rabbits, a number of birds, poultry and ducks and even alpacas and llamas. Apparently in the summer you can do llama walking which sounds fun (although not for me!). It did mention on the website about an Animal Trail book where you collect stickers throughout the trail, but we never got given one, so maybe this is just in the summer too. Nevertheless the girls really enjoyed spotting all of the animals.

The girls had a go on the mini tractor park and the bouncy pillows - massive bouncy castle-esque creations and were just delighted with everything. 

We also enjoyed the jewel hunting which we did on the way out. It's a huge sandy area with colourful glass jewels which the children collect. Equipped with buckets and spades, I can imagine spending hours here with my two as they love any kind of treasure hunt, but by this point we really were freezing and so it was a quick ten minute dash.

Beatrice Jewel Hunting at Marsh Farm
Bridget Jewel Hunting at March Farm


Unfortunately, the cold prevented us having a game of crazy golf, or attempting the huge chicken and egg maze and we didn't even find the aviary or the den-building area. Again, it looks like in the summer months there is a huge array of additional activities, from goat-racing, educational pet shows and interactive entertainment; so we'll definitely be looking to do a return visit in the summer months - we had a great time with what was available anyway. Family time is so precious and especially celebrating Beatrice's birthday just the four of us.

Happy family time for Beatrice's second birthday at Marsh Farm

The price of tickets if you purchase in advance of visiting is £12.50 for the character event, and everything mentioned is included in that price, which I think is excellent value for money. Under two's go free but we just missed out on that. 


Marsh Farm is an ideal day out with toddlers and pre-schoolers as there is so much to do and I'd advise bringing a picnic once the weather warms up if you're planning a visit and making a real day of it. We'll definitely be back soon.

Patatas Bravas - Roast Potato with Spicy Tomato Sauce

This is a tapas staple and relies on a fiery heat in the sauce and I can guarantee once you try it, you'll want to make it again. 

I've experimented with a few variations but this is the best received and is mostly based on the recipe from Rick Stein's Spain book but with the addition of roasted red peppers which also gives a sweetness to balance out the heat. It's incredibly moreish.

As part of a group of tapas dishes, the below will serve 4-6 people. The sauce freezes well so make a big batch and keep it as a stand by dish.

After our recent trip to Madrid, we have a hankering for Spanish food so expect a few more Spanish inspired recipes coming up. This is a completely vegetarian recipe and just omit the aioli or garlic mayonnaise to keep it vegan. 

Patatas Bravas


Here's how:

For the roast potatoes

  • 1/2kg white potatoes
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves


For the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 2 roasted red peppers (from a jar)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 3 tbsp water


Firstly pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees and peel and wash the potatoes. Cut them into approximately 1.5-2 cm cubes and ensure you dry them off. 

Now pour the olive oil into a baking tin or dish and throw into the oven to heat through for a few minutes. 

Now pour in the potatoes, scatter about to cover in the oil, season generously and throw in the garlic cloves and cook for 25-30 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.

While the potatoes roast, this is plenty of time to make the sauce.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan, drizzle in the oil and add the dried chilli and paprika first.

Now finely dice the onion and mince the garlic and add to the pan to gently saute. 

Roughly chop the pepper and add to the pan with the tomatoes, red wine vinegar, Tabasco, water and bay leaf. 

Stir well and season to taste, with a pinch of sugar too. 

Allow to cook for at least fifteen minutes, until it's bubbling away. Then remove from the heat and allow to cool a little before blitzing it with whatever tool you have (I use a Nutribullet so always have to cool a bit). 

Now once the potatoes are cooked through and the sauce is blended, return the sauce to the pan to gently back through and arrange the potatoes in a ceramic tapas dish, or your choice of serving dish. Then spoon over the sauce - this doesn't need to look precise, it's a very rustic dish. Finish with a spoonful of aioli and serve. 

Tip: If you haven't time to make aioli and are unable to buy any; simply mince a garlic clove and stir through 3 tbsp of mayonnaise with 1/3 tsp paprika instead.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Northern Sardinia on an Agritusimo – a different type of family holiday

Bridget in the vineyard at Agriturismo I Vignetti


THE ACCOMMODATION

In August we enjoyed a fantastic family holiday to Olbia in Sardinia to celebrate my brother Dan, turning 30 and for Glen and I, it really opened our eyes to a different style of family holiday.

Dan and his partner had stayed on an ‘agriturismo’ - a working farm with accommodation - the previous year in Sicily and they absolutely raved about it. Dan booked this holiday as a treat for us all, and we were originally staying in a villa in Olbia, the other side of Northern Sardinia, which annoyingly got cancelled by the owner just a few weeks before we were due to go. After some frantic research we found the Agriturismo I Vignetti in Olmedo, just a fifteen minute drive from Alghero and what a beautiful base it proved to be.

Agriturismo I Vignetti is set in stunningly well-kept grounds in the countryside, and the accommodation amounted to comfortable and spotlessly clean stone apartments. Our room, a family room, had a separate bedroom, en suite and a living area with an extra bed, as well as a travel cot for Beatrice. The living area had a bed that doubled as a sofa for Bridget, a coffee table and a kitchen area, with a fridge, and tea and coffee making facilities. Everything was well presented, fresh and clean. 


Accommodation at Agriturismo I Vignetti


With beautiful flowers and greenery dotted around, and being in the countryside and a little off the beaten track, it was a very peaceful base, which made for a welcome change from our usual style of holiday. 


Restaurant area at Agriturismo I Vignetti



The working farm had an array of chickens, goats and a few horses; and the children loved visiting them each day and offering food. The huge area for growing vegetables was fantastic and the owners were happy for you to wander through taking an interest and we certainly did. It was great to show the girls where all of the vegetables we eat of an evening were coming from – Bridget was fascinated by how many different types of tomatoes they were growing – I was quite enthralled myself. Opposite the sprawling vegetable patch was a vineyard growing both red and white grapes, which was beautiful. We enjoyed some fantastic nature walks daily - it felt like we had got back to nature, but in very comfortable lodgings.

Feeding the chickens at Agriturismo I Vignetti


The vegetable gardens at Agritusimo I Vignetti


Agriturismo I Vignetti had a lovely swimming pool area with plenty of sun loungers, and it being August and stiflingly hot, we all took full advantage of it. There were a number of other guests of varying ages and a couple of families we overlapped with, but the pool was generally quite quiet during the day, until we arrived with Bridget and Beatrice of course. 


Pool area at Agriturismo I Vignette



Beatrice enjoying the pool at Agriturismo I Vignetti


The dining area was stunningly rustic; open air, with flowers and greenery dangling down, it was very pretty. Breakfast which was included was a very-much continental affair, with pastries, cured meats and cheeses, breads and yoghurts and a few cereals as well as boiled eggs. It was fairly basic, but plentiful and we enjoyed a lighter start to the day – it made room for the many delicious things we would encounter daily in Sardinia. Their version of a type or Grana Padana which they made on the farm was really delicious, much creamier and nuttier than those I’ve had before and their cured meats, which I would never normally have around breakfast time were lovely too, especially the saucisson.

Over breakfast, the charming host, Gianfranca, would inform of us of that evening’s dinner menu; with everything prepared coming from the land of the agriturismo. We enjoyed two excellent meals here during our week long stay. One, a lasagne – an absolute triumph, and one a ‘meat in the oven’ dish – which turned out to be roast suckling pig with village potatoes and roasted vegetables – absolutely divine. So fresh, so simple but so, so good.

Also each meal came with some small plates of appetisers – a fragrant little open tart of dressed tomatoes with basil leaves running through. Everyone knows how good tomatoes taste in the Med and these were no exception! We had the most delightful little stuffed aubergines topped with cheese; as well as more plates of cheese and cured meats. Desserts included a lemon ricotta concoction – which was like a sweet stuffed and fried pasta dish, and my favourite – tiramisu. Really great food. There was also pasta courses which was always gnocchetti – tiny little shells with a grooved edge in a simple but stunning tomato sauce and topped with lashings of cheese. Gnocchetti is the pasta of choice for children it seemed in Sardinia as the girls enjoyed it all over the place. 


Tomato Tart at Agriturismo I Vignetti
Roast suckling pig at Agriturismo I Vignetti
Incredible lasagne at Agriturismo I Vignetti
Gnocchetti at Agriturismo I Vignetti
Enjoying a meal at Agriturismo I Vignetti
The rest of the gang


Whilst we had a couple of days of just relaxing around the agriturismo and then heading into Alghero, we found that we’d go out most days, and then return late afternoon to Agriturismo I Vignetti and enjoy the last hour or so of sunshine around the pool.

Our apartments each had a little table outside to enjoy a morning coffee or an evening beverage and were our meeting spot each night before heading out into Alghero or over to our own restaurant.


Happy 30th memories Dan!



Having a car is a necessity here, as you really are off of the beaten track and it gives you the access to discover some of the delightful wonders of north Sardinia.

BEACHES

There are absolutely tons of beaches and coves in this area of Sardinia, and we visited a fair few. Each have their own individual character and charm; and are ensconced by the crystal clear, bluey green waters which are hugely welcoming in the summer heat.

Most are incredibly busy in August but of the bunch we managed to visit, our favourites were Mugoni – slightly more commercialised, with a huge stretch of sandy beach, completely covered by revellers, families, couples, and solo sun worshippers and Porto Palmas which was much smaller, but perfectly formed.

The locals have the right idea, bringing with them everything you could want at the beach; their own umbrellas, pop up sun-loungers or chairs, blankets and towels, plus a cool bag filled with delicious looking picnic fodder and beverages. Much as we would do in the UK, but if I’m honest, slightly better.

Mugoni stretches for nearly 2km and has a pine forest behind – offering a welcome retreat from the sun. We visited in Italian holiday time in August, so it was particularly busy, in fact every beach was packed solid, so it’s actually worth arriving early or booking ahead if you want sun loungers – which incidentally are priced between 20-30 Euros for a pair with an umbrella so be sure to bring cash, or be prepared to bed down on your towel in the sand. Mugoni has a selection of cafes, restaurants and bars along the whole stretch so is great for a full day. 


Mugoni Beach, Sardinia
Beatrice enjoying the beach at Mugoni, Sardinia


We absolutely loved the Porto Palmas beach; it’s an absolute gem, a small sandy cove surrounded by rocks and caves and completely uncommercialized, with just a tiny drinks shack. As you walked into the crystal blue waters, it become quite deep, quite quickly and I had a delightful time cooling down with my two girls here, as well as a swim over to the caves. It was idyllic here – still busy, but less so than others. My type of picturesque beach and less crowded. 

Me, Bridget and Beatrice enjoying the cooling water at Porto Palmas Beach, Sardinia


We also visited the likes of Lido, Porto Ferro and La Bombarde on the Algero side and had a peek at the Pittulongo beach on the Olbia side on our way to the airport..

FOOD


Italian food is an all round favourite for our family – pizza and pasta feature in my children’s top five foods for sure, and Glen and I are very partial to them too, but Sardinia has so much more to offer than this.

I didn’t mark down the names of every restaurants particularly as we didn’t really have a bad bite to eat anywhere – food is just done so well across Italy and Sardinia is no exception.

We enjoyed melt-in-the-mouth tagliata (beautiful steak cooked in a dressing of lemon and garlic and topped with grated Grana Padana and sea salt), roast suckling pig that was to die for, a seafood stew so exquisite in flavour I wanted to bottle it up forever, and of course a whole load of different pastas and pizzas which were all exceptional.

A particular highlight for me was a Linguine Vongole at Al Refettorio in Alghero and the pizzas and pastas at Restaurante Il Pagura in the little town of Fertilia; the only place we couldn’t resist returning to. 


Linguine Vongole at El Refettoria, Alghero, Sardinia
That sumptuous seafood stew, Alghero, Sardinia
Beautiful pizza at Il Pagura, Fertilia, Sardinia



Also the food at the Agriturismo I Vignetti needs special mention here too as was also excellent and felt very traditional – for a family with two small children too, the hosts were very accommodating, and it’s great to holiday knowing you can have an informal and relaxed evening with the kids, not going further than a couple of hundred yards from your door, but still enjoying exceptional food. 


Also wine is particularly good in Sardinia and it's fairly cheap too - we enjoyed plenty, and were always pretty happy with the house dry white.

Enjoying some Sardinian wine in the sunshine at Porto Torres



CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES

Butterfly House

We visited the Butterfly House which was only a fifteen minute drive away from Agriturismo I Vignetti. As well as playing host to an abundance of unusual butterflies, Butterfly House is also home to a number of tropical birds, insects and other wildlife and for 10 Euros per person, it was well worth the trip. Under 3’s are free of charge too – so it’s well worth it if you have small children.

What’s more, and what we didn’t know until we arrived, the Butterfly House also has a lovely swimming pool and jacuzzi area, a spa and a fantastic wooden play area for children. It’s a great choice for a full day’s outing and as we were nearing lunchtime but the adults weren’t quite ready to eat, we picked up a homemade margherita pizza for the girls to share which was freshly made, utterly delicious (as we couldn’t resist trying) and cost €5! 


Beatrice having a play at Butterfly House, Sardinia
Bridget looking rightfully smug at her delicious 5 euro pizza



The Alghero Funfair

Each time we ventured into Alghero by night, we let the girls enjoy an hour on the fun fair at the port. Bustling full of families with young children up to teenagers, and in typically Mediterranean fashion this was jam packed way into the night in August. Each ride was priced between 2-3 Euros and the kindly staff were happy for the parents to join the little ones free of charge – the Sardinians are very sweet towards the bambinos.

One evening we had a nightmare parking (over two hours to find a spot – the less said about it the better) and had promised the girls a go on the fun fair, but were more concerned about getting some dinner into them, so said we’d take them afterwards – expecting it to be shut, but no, even at midnight it was absolutely packed.

Horse and Cart Ride Around Alghero

A little tourist activity to take you round the bigger tourist spots of the city – from the Cathedral, to the port. Priced at 10 euros per person and free for the baby. 


Bridget with Uncle Dan, enjoying the trip around Alghero by horse and cart



The Beach

Honestly for my children – enjoying a day on the beach is such an adventure – whether it’s building sand castles or creations, paddling in the sea, digging a big hole or seeing what ‘treasure’ they can find from a crab, a pretty shell, or even seaweed. This continues to be an important factor in almost all of our summer holidays.

The Pool

Equally a day at the pool at Agriturismo I Vignetti with a lunchtime picnic was as enjoyable for Bridget and Beatrice as it was for us. We ventured to the supermarket in nearby Sassari where we were able to pick up lovely salad items and some freshly cooked porchetta – unlike anything you could pick up in a UK supermarket, as well as fresh cream cakes. Bliss.


ALGHERO


By day, Alghero is an interesting city - we found an amazing fresh fish market, plenty of cafe culture, and an amazing restaurant scene not to mention some incredible architecture and some cute shops. In August though, it was a little unbearable to walk the hills and cobbled streets, in the heat if I’m honest, especially with the children.

By night, Alghero is an electric place to be. Row upon row of shops adorn the streets, which are lit by pretty lanterns, and around every corner is a little trattoria, bar or restaurant with the welcome sight of tons of guests sipping their Aperol Spritz or other trendy beverage, watching the world go by.

We are not great planners when on holiday, preferring to be spontaneous, but unfortunately in Sardinia, or at least Alghero, in August, not booking a table when there are eight guests including two small children, can prove problematic. We learnt from our mistake the first night and booked ahead in advance.

We didn’t indulge in the nightlife in Alghero – having the children with us and it being a much more laid back holiday, but were told it was there for the taking for sure. 


Alghero by day
The Port of Alghero, Sardinia


This really was a completely different type of holiday to what we’re used to with the children and we thoroughly enjoyed and would be open to another stay on an agriturismo elsewhere in the future. The cost per night differs in the different rooms, but for ours in August 2019 it is priced from £141.00 including breakfast for the four of us.

We loved Sardinia – it was a great family holiday full of fabulous memories and is well worth considering as a summer holiday destination with children.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Smoky Sausage and Bean One Pot

This is a great weekend breakfast or brunch recipe with some buttered bread or toast and makes a nice change from a greasier fry up, pancakes or whatever your usual fodder is.

I've experimented with this recipe and here I have used Heck Chicken Chipolatas which are 99 calories for two, but have also used with ordinary pork chipolatas (delicious) and if you're vegetarian or even vegan you could make this with some Quorn or other veggie sausages too - a great all rounder.

A portion of the below comes in at 416 calories and the below serves three adult portions (or in our case two adults and two small people).

I use chipotle paste to inject a lovely smoky flavour here as well as a fresh green chilli for some heat - omit the chilli if you're not keen on spice.

Smoky Sausage and Bean One Pot


Here's how:

  • 12 Heck Chicken Chipolatas
  • 1/2 tin baked beans (I use Heinz)
  • 1 tin red kidney beans
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 green chilli
  • Spray of fry light spray


You can grill the sausages if you prefer - but I throw them into the pan, skillet or wok I'm using first to cook through, then remove from the pan.

Whilst the sausages are cooking I prepare everything else. Firstly mince the garlic, finely dice the onion and slice the chilli. Peel and grate the carrot (this is to give the sauce an extra veggie goodness without small people realising!). 

Once the sausages are out of the pan; add the shallots, chilli and garlic and saute until soft. 

Now add the tomatoes and carrot and season. Allow to cook out for five minutes.

Now add all of the beans, and the chipotle paste and cook for a further few minutes. 

Return the sausages to the pan and cook for a further ten minutes until the sauce is bubbling away and smells beautifully smoky.

Serve with sliced bread and butter. Enjoy!

Tomato and Feta Baked Eggs

This is like an easy, milder introduction to Shakshuka for children, fusspots or spice novices and is a wonderful breakfast or brunch recipe. 

You can play around with the sauce to get it just how you like your tomato sauce - add rosemary, balsamic vinegar, a drop of red wine, or pump up the heat with cayenne pepper, fresh chilli or flakes or even a generous helping of sriracha.

My children absolutely adore this with some toast soldiers and if you are adhering to any kind of calorie control (as I am) then a half portion of this with one slice of buttered toast will bring you in at 199 calories - not a bad start to a weekend day.

Tomato and Feta Baked Eggs


Here's how:


  • 1 shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Smidge of cumin
  • Smidge of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 15g feta cheese


Pop the oven on at 180 degrees and heat the olive oil in a pan.

Finely dice the shallot and mince the garlic and add to the pan on a low heat.

Once softened add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, paprika, cumin and oregano, stir and cook for a few minutes on a high heat. Season to your taste - go easy on the salt if preparing for the children.

Pour into a small oven-proof dish.

Now crack in two eggs spaced apart without breaking them.

Crumble the feta and scatter it all around.

Place into the oven and cook until the eggs are done to your preference - we do about 4-5 minutes until just cooked, so the centres are still soft. 

Enjoy with buttered toast. 

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Smoked Salmon Carbonara

Once again, I find myself undertaking a health and fitness overhaul - and whilst I am trying to lose a little weight, it's more a case of adjusting lifestyle and nutrition for the whole family, without compromising on the delicious food that we all love.

I've made a version of this Smoked Salmon Carbonara for a few years - firstly taking inspiration from this BBC Good Food recipe. 

However, I have tinkered and tweaked, as I generally do to make it my own, and just recently have overhauled the cream element to use fat free Greek yoghurt to help with the sauce - it works marvellously. I also use dill rather than chives, as it's a beautiful complementary herb with salmon and the addition of spinach just gives it some veggie goodness.

It's a super speedy meal and can be on the table in under fifteen minutes including preparation so is perfect for midweek when time is short.

The below makes three adult portions - with each portion coming in at around 512 calories.

Smoked Salmon Carbonara


Here's how:

  • 100g smoked salmon
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 heaped tbsp Fat Free Greek Yoghurt
  • 200g dried spaghetti
  • 100g spinach
  • 50g Grana Padana or other hard cheese
  • Black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Handful dill leaves


Firstly fill and boil the kettle and pour the boiled water over the dried spaghetti in a large pot, season with a pinch of salt and place onto a medium heat. Use a fork to gently tease the spaghetti down into the water as it softens and cook for 9 minutes (or according to the packet instructions).

In the meantime add the olive oil to a pan or wok and place onto a low heat. 

Now mince the garlic and add to the pan to gently soften and flavour the oil. Add the spinach leaves to the pan and allow to cook gently, then carefully remove the spinach and set aside.

Slice the salmon into thin slithers and set aside. Chop the dill finely. 

Now in a jug or bowl crack in the two eggs, add the Greek yoghurt and the cheese; season generously and mix well. Now add the salmon and half of the dill.

Once the pasta has cooked through, use tongs to remove it and place directly into the pan with the oil and garlic, still on a low heat. 

Toss the past using the tongs, to ensure it all gets a slight coat of the garlicy oil, and then add the yoghurt and egg mixture over the pasta and mix well to ensure all of the pasta becomes coated with the creamy sauce. 

Return the spinach to the pan and mix through and then remove from the heat and dish up, sprinkling over the remaining dill leaves onto each portion to serve.

For more family pasta recipe inspiration I've included a few of our favourites below: