Sunday, 25 April 2010

Sainsbury's fresh taglionini with rocket pesto

Shop bought pasta parcels in all shapes and sizes are often my fallback option for a quick dinner. But I think this is pretty much my only experience of fresh non-filled pasta, and I've never thought to buy a fresh alternative to my long lasting packets of dried spaghetti and linguine.
But in the spirit of trying something a bit new I picked up a bag of tagliolini from the refrigerated shelves of Sainsbury the other week. As the name seems to indicate these ribbons are a bit thinner than tagliatelle, and are enriched with egg giving the pasta a lovely yellow tinge. It's also made in Italy which probably helps those concerned with authenticity (surely our Italian brethren wouldn't send over duff pasta?).

It just needs a couple of minutes in boiling water to cook, and I served it with a simple rocket pesto. The pesto was made with this recipe, but substituting two big handfuls of rocket (around 50g) for the basil and also adding in a small chunk of grana padano or Parmesan cheese. The mellow richness of the pasta was a lovely match to the sharper flavours of the pesto. In fact I think I could have made things even simpler, and could quite easily have eaten this pasta with just a little butter or olive oil and salt and pepper.
I've never made my own pasta from scratch, and until I do I think this version from Sainsbury makes a seriously good substitute.

Sainsbury's fresh tagliolini
I rate it 8.5/10
Cost: Around £1.55 for a 500g bag

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Sweet treats- Chocolate refridgerator cake and mini carrot cake

I've always thought that tiffin was something very occasionally mentioned by older relatives when they meant a packed lunch, or alternatively a term to elicit sniggers in a Carry On film. It was only quite recently that I've learnt it's also used as a synonym for refridgerator cake. And it was as I gazed on a box of Gu tiffin in the supermarket that I thought I could actually make this myself.
I used this recipe from the BBC Food site, with a couple of minor variations. I swapped the dried apricots for glace cherries (as I prefer them) and used 100g of plain and 200g of milk chocolate (as there was an offer on in Tesco). I don't know anyone who weighs golden syrup so I put in around 4 generous tablespoons and tasted. This was sweet enough for me but you may want to add more if you are using dark chocolate. Once everything was pressed into my tin I left it in the fridge to set for a couple of hours. The recipe states this makes 12 squares, but once turned out I obviously cut mine much smaller as I had around 20 little squares. I think these were the perfect size though as anything bigger would probably have resulted in an immediate sugar coma.

So to balance out all the chocolate in the above I thought I'd better eat some vegetables, ideally in cake form too. A quick bit of searching threw up this excellent recipe on Jules' Butcher, Baker blog. My only variations were omitting the mixed spice (as I didn't have any) and using my own version of the cream cheese icing. This simply combines half a pack of cream cheese (around 125g) with a teaspoon of vanilla extract and enough icing sugar to sweeten (around 3 tablespoons).

The little carrot cupcakes were incredibly moist and fruity but not too sweet. And the topping added just a little bit of richness. I was very taken by how something that was chocolate-free could be so moreish.
Either of these cakes are ideal with a cup of tea while enjoying some spring sunshine.