Green Pasta

Pesto is a dish that I had never heard of until a friend served up a bowl of green tagliateli to me back in my student days. Up until then my knowledge of Italian food was limited to Pizza, Spagetti Bolognese and lasagne. So a green pasta dish raised an eyebrow and the inevitable “what is this?”

Basil leaves (Ocimum basilicum).

After a brief explanation of what it was made from and assurances that it wasn’t going to kill me, I took my first tentative taste and was pleasantly surprised by the flavours. From then on a jar of store bought pesto and dried pasta could nearly always be found in the kitchen, as it was a virtually effortless meal i.e. boil and drain the pasta, stir in a few spoons of pesto, eat.

My pesto recipe is very much off the cuff, there is very little in the way of exact measures and the final product is completely dependent on tasting as I make it, adding a little parmesan or oil and tasting again until I am happy with both the taste and consistency.

Also this is fun to make, you get to bash stuff up in a pestle and mortar and the sense of satisfaction that you get from tasting and blending the flavour until it’s exactly what you want, is well worth the effort.

Pesto is a great all-rounder, just stir some into some hot fresh pasta and you’ve got lunch or dinner, spread some on a savoury sandwich, a few splashes across a pizza… the list goes on and on.

It’s also worth noting that this recipe will keep for a week or more once stored in an airtight container in your fridge, which means you can make your pesto at the weekend and have it any night of the week.

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Recipe: Yee-Haw Yankee Breakfast Pancakes

Dripping with Maple Syrup

Ingredients:

3 large eggs
115g plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
140ml milk
a pinch of salt
a knob of butter
a handful of blueberries
maple syrup

Serves 2 people.

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This recipe makes thick American-style pancakes, which are very light and fluffy – so you can easily eat a whole “stack”.

Separate the yolks from the whites of the eggs and hold on to both parts.

Add the flour, baking powder, and milk to the yolks and whisk to a smooth, thick batter.

Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt, until they form stiff peaks, then fold this gently into the batter.

Heat a non stick frying pan on a medium heat, melt some butter into it and pour in some batter, enough to make the size pancake you require.

Then sprinkle on your blueberries (you can use almost any berry or mashed banana as an alternative if you prefer). When the pancake starts to look like it’s drying out on top, turn it over and give it roughly the same time on the other side.

Then serve in a stack of about 4, drizzled heavily with maple syrup and enjoy!

Everyone loves Pancakes

It’s true, I’ve never met a person who doesn’t love pancakes, be they plain with a wee bit of sugar and lemon, thin French crepes or the thick American style, there is a pancake for everyone.

My love of the American style began on a visit to the US in 2001. My brother, some friends and myself went to ‘On the Road’ an off-roading event in Moab, Utah. After a days travel from Dublin, via Atlanta and Salt Lake city we ended up in Grand Junction for the first night.

Moab, Utah

At Breakfast the following morning all seven of us met in a diner very close to our hotel. We ordered and as the first meal arrived we were given complimentary pancakes, a plate stacked high of them and a jug of maple syrup.

“Nice one!” we all thought – a pancake or two would be a nice addition to our meals and then the second meal arrived with it’s own plate of complimentary pancakes and then third one and so on, you get the idea. From that moment on I was hooked.

The first time I saw them being made was a few days later, after ‘On the Road’ had finished and we were having a trail breakfast in the middle of the Desert.

With a magnificent sunrise as his backdrop, the rising sun bouncing off the red rock mesa behind our camp, our trail guide (none other than Bill Burke a former Camel Trophy participant) whipped together a batter and started cooking pancakes on a large camping griddle he had somehow fitted into his Land Rover along with tents, spare parts, a tool-kit, first aid kits, bedding, a small collection of firearms, ammo and a fridge!

We were picking them off the griddle with our bare hands, they were just so good. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get Bill to part with his recipe, but I’ve finally managed a good imitation/variation at least.

Recipe: Scrambled eggs on toast

Scrummy!

Ingredients;

2 fresh eggs
1 knob of butter
salt
pepper
2 slices of toast

Serves 1

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Take a small Frying Pan and crack the eggs into it before heating the pan. Add the butter (you can use a herb butter for extra flavour) and season well with salt and pepper.

Put the pan onto a medium heat, next take a whisk and start beating the eggs, don’t let them sit still. This gets air into the eggs and makes the finished product ‘fluffier’.

After a minute or two the eggs will start to scramble and you should switch to using a spatula to keep the eggs moving and turn the heat down a bit. At this point put your bread in the toaster.

Once the eggs have scrambled to your preferred consistency, simply serve half on each slice of warm buttered toast and garnish with some chopped chives or a sprinkle of dried oregano.

The First Recipe

Yup we’re gonna start with the first recipe shortly. This is something that I had to think about very carefully, I wanted something that can be done quickly, easily, is really tasty and that even the pickiest of eaters will eat.

Free Range Chickens being fed

What makes this dish truly exceptional is that even without using the absolute best of ingredients it still tastes great however if you do have free-range or organic ingredients available it lifts this breakfast/snack out of the everyday and into the exceptional.

So what is this wonder dish? One of my all time favourites… Scrambled eggs on toast.

A good non-stick frying pan makes life much easier for this recipe, one that changes temperature along with the heat level rather than holding on to it and is easy to clean is my preference. We own a number of different size frying pans but I prefer to use as small a pan as possible for this as the eggs seem to shrink as they scramble.

A good frying pan is essential to any kitchen and the best that we’ve found over the years is the Jamie Oliver series from Tefal – we’ll have a full product review on these in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, enjoy the recipe.

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Tasty, easy recipes

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