Stuffed peppers with tuna and borlotti beans (which also works as a pasta sauce)

I always love it when I manage to make leftovers into something equally as good as the original, and in this case actually better! I originally made the filling as a quick pasta sauce then realised I had a red pepper that could do with using, so…

The picture is awful, it looked nicer in real life, I promise! But I felt a bit odd taking a photo of my dinner… The yellow things are sweet potato wedges (possibly my new favourite thing: peel a sweet potato and cut into 8 pieces or so, coat in olive oil and bake next to the pepper – about 30 mins at 180c).

This recipe makes 2 portions of sauce, which will either do for 2 portions of pasta, the stuffing of 2 peppers, or one of each.

Ingredients:

Oil

1 small-ish onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1 can chopped tomatoes

Half can borlotti beans, drained and rinsed

Half can tuna, drained

2 medium-sized red peppers

– Fry the onion in a little oil until it has softened – about 10-15 mins over a medium heat, or 4-5 if you are as impatient as me and turn the heat right up (and stir constantly if you do this). Add the garlic when the onion is almost done.

– Add the tomatoes and beans, put the lid on and bring to the boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes. I normally simmer with the lid on for the first 10 mins then take it off at the end if it hasn’t reduced enough. (If you make this as pasta sauce, put the pasta on now and let the sauce simmer for as long as the pasta takes to cook, probably with the lid off for the whole time.)

– For the peppers – preheat the oven to 180c. Chop the stalk out of the peppers and get rid of the seeds. I tried to cut away some of the white inside the pepper as well, though it was a bit fiddly.

– Fill the pepper with the tuna/bean/tomato mixture as full as possible. Chop the seeds away from the pepper stalk and use it as a lid. Lie the peppers in a greased roasting dish (or anything that will go in the oven, I ended up using a pyrex casserole dish as it was all I had to hand…).

– Cook for around 40 minutes. Check halfway through: I had to turn the pepper over to avoid it burning, though as the photo shows I may have been a little late on that front!

Dropped scones

To me, Be-Ro was the name of a cookbook before it was a brand of flour. My grandma has 2 editions, my mum 3, and I got my first one a few years ago (a proud moment!), so it’s a bit of a family tradition. Its recipes aren’t exactly groundbreaking; it is, after all, essentially a piece of marketing. But it has basic, traditional (they don’t change much between editions…) recipes for almost anything involving flour and I associate it with my childhood, as most of the recipes are ones that I’m sure I ‘helped’ with as a child…! One of my favourite recipes is dropped scones (also called Scotch pancakes), small thick pancakes which are great to make with everyone sitting in the kitchen, chatting and eating them as soon as they come out of the pan…

Ingredients:

100g self-raising flour

50g caster sugar

1 egg

4tbsp milk

Butter (to grease the pan)

– Mix the flour and sugar, add the egg and beat it in along with most of the milk – start with 3tbsp and keep adding until you have a fairly thick batter: if you take a spoonful and turn it over the bowl there should be a very brief pause before it falls back.

– Heat up a large frying pan (traditionally a griddle, but I don’t have one and it doesn’t seem to matter!) and melt a little butter to grease it.

– Cook 3-4 at a time, depending on the size of your pan: each should have about a tablespoon of mixture. Cook until the underneath is golden, then turn to brown the other side. Depending how hot the pan it, they take about 4 minutes each.

They’re good plain, but I often eat them with jam or syrup. Also I like to make a thicker batter and cook on quite a high heat so the middle stays gooey, but this is probably just me…!

Chocolate espresso cupcakes

These are one of my favourite things to make when I’m at home – really easy, everything just goes in the blender, and really yummy too. They’re not so suited for uni baking (how many students have espresso powder lying around? Or a blender for that matter?) but every holidays I bake a batch or two of these. Incidentally, they’re also the only cupcakes my dad will admit to liking – perhaps the espresso and dark chocolate are manly enough to cancel out their cuteness?! Anyhow this is the recipe I use – adapted slightly from one of Nigella Lawson’s in How to be a Domestic Goddess. It makes about 15 fairy cakes (I think our tins are a bit smaller than reguar cupcake tins):

Ingredients:

125g butter or margarine

125g dark muscovado sugar

2 eggs

125g self-raising flour

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

50g dark (70% cocoa) chocolate, melted (but don’t melt it too early or else it will start to solidify the mixture when you add it)

1-2 tablespoons milk

For the icing (these are my own quantities; the original is twice this but I find that is too much):

150g dark (70%) chocolate

25g butter

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1.Oven to 200c

2. Cream the butter/margarine and sugar in a blender – I normally whizz the sugar by itself first to try to get rid of some lumps, though in all honesty I’m not sure if it helps or matters.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, whizzing between.

4. Add the flour, cocoa and espresso powder and beat some more.

5. Add the melted chocolate and milk and whizz until you have a smooth batter.

6. Divide into cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes, then cool on a wire cooling rack

7. To make the icing, melt the chocolate, butter and espresso powder all together – takes 1-2 minutes in the microwave at 600W, but check and stir regularly.

8. Spread some icing over each cake – I find these quantities make enough for a little over 1 desertspoon per cake.

9. Eat!

First post! And a recipe…

Hello! So this is my new blog, how exciting! As the name suggests, I’m planning to write mostly about linguistics (which I study at uni) and cake, as well as food more generally. Any linguistics will be strictly amateur, based around what I happen to read at any given moment, and food will tend towards the cheap, quick and easy variety. To start with, here is a recipe for bacon and mushroom pasta which I made last term when I discovered I had some bacon and some mushrooms left over:

Ingredients (per person):

A portion of pasta (75-100g)

2 rashers bacon

5 or 6 mushrooms

A (small) clove of garlic

A bit of butter or olive oil

  1. Boil some water and put the pasta on to cook; start heating a small frying pan.
  2. Meanwhile, slice the bacon into strips about an inch wide (I trimmed some of the fat as well, though you wouldn’t need to) and fry them over a medium heat, adding a drop of oil if you have removed all the fat.
  3. Wipe and slice the mushrooms, and add them to the pan with the bacon when the pasta has 4-5 minutes to go. Crush or slice the garlic and add that, too.
  4. When the pasta is done, drain it, return it to the pan, add the bacon, mushrooms and garlic along with the butter or olive oil and shake it around a bit.

Tip for cooking cheap pasta: it never takes as long as the pack says! I tend to time it for 8 minutes, and after that check every minute. If the bacon and mushrooms are done before the pasta, it won’t hurt for them to sit off the heat for a couple of minutes.