Now, even for the seasoned professionals, there’s no use in having a top of the range oven if you’re not going to be putting properly prepared food into it. And where adding and subtracting ingredients is obviously the essence of good cookery, making sure those ingredients are cut, chopped and sliced properly can be just as important.
With that in mind, you’re going to have to choose and maintain your kitchen weapons properly and here to help, with a couple of recipes of course, is Catherine Fulvio…
Tagliatelle with Walnut Pesto and Spinach
This one is for those of you who want to improve their chopping skills! You can also use an old faithful in the kitchen – the blender. The pesto in this recipe is not like your usual one – it has less oil added and so is a little chunky but that adds a good texture. It is a very easy mid week meal.
For the pesto
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
3 tbsp walnuts, roughly chopped
A small bunch of mint leaves, roughly chopped
A small bunch of parsley, toughly chopped
1 lemon, zest and juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g baby spinach, washed and trimmed
1 roasted red pepper, thinly sliced
1 tbsp chopped parsley, to garnish
To make the pesto, place the sliced garlic, walnuts, mint, parsley and lemon zest and juice and oil into a food processor and blend to a rough paste.Cook the tagliatelle according to the manufacturer’s instructions on the package. When the pasta is cooked, drain, retaining 2 tbsp of cooking liquid, stir in the baby spinach leaves until it has wilted.Spoon in the walnut pesto, as well as the roasted red peppers and toss well. You may need to add a little cooking liquid if you think it is too dry.Sprinkle over the chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Tip: Stir strips of chargrilled lemon chicken into the pasta.
Parsnip, Leek and Thyme Tarte Tatin
This is delicious served with roast beef for Sunday lunch. Add a few cherry tomatoes as well into the topping and serve for lunch.
For the pastry
260g plain flour
130g chilled butter, diced
1 tsp chopped thyme
Pinch of salt
1 egg and 1 yolk, beaten
For the topping
2 large parsnips, peeled and sliced into chunks
2 leeks, thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1 egg, beaten
Thyme sprigs, to garnish
For the pastry, place the flour in a large mixing bowl, rub in the butter to resemble fine breadcrumbs. Add the thyme and a little salt. Stir in some of the egg to form a soft pastry. Wrap in parchment and place in the fridge to rest for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Generously brush a round gratin dish with butter.Place the parsnips in a medium saucepan with lightly salted water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until just tender. Drain.Heat a medium frying pan with a little butter and olive oil over a medium to low heat, add the leeks and sauté for 8 minutes.In the meanwhile, heat another frying pan with a little butter and olive oil over a medium heat and add the cooked parsnips, caramelize until just golden.Arrange the parsnips in the base of the gratin dish, drizzle over some honey and a little thyme. Spoon the leeks in and sprinkle over a little chopped thyme. Dust a work surface with flour and roll out the pastry to fit the gratin dish leaving an extra 2cm edge for tucking in.Lift the pastry onto the vegetables, neatly tuck in the edges. Brush with beaten egg and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. Leave to stand for 3 to 4 minutes. Slide a flat bladed knife around the edge to loosen the pastry. Place a plate on top of the gratin dish and turn out. Sprinkle with thyme sprigs and serve.
Tip: Parsnips are not only for savoury tarts and pies so add a few plum halves with the parsnips, omit the leeks and drizzle with maple syrup instead of honey and serve with orange mascarpone.