Tag Archives: cooking

Nigel Slater’s sausage meatballs with leek tagliatelle recipe | Life and style | The Guardian

A new variation on a spaghetti and meatball theme. By Nigel Slater

Source: Nigel Slater’s sausage meatballs with leek tagliatelle recipe | Life and style | The Guardian

The recipe
Slit about 600g of butcher’s sausages – something herby – along their length, then peel the skin from the meat. Put the meat in a mixing bowl and add 2 level tsp of dried chilli flakes, and 2 heaped tbsp of chopped fresh dill. Mix the meat and flavourings lightly together, then break into 6 equal pieces and roll each into a ball.

Slice a leek into thin discs, about 1cm in thickness, then wash thoroughly. Warm 2 tbsp of olive oil in a shallow pan. Brown the balls, rolling them occasionally to colour evenly. Leave over a moderate heat, covered, until cooked right through – a good 10 minutes. Remove the balls, then add the leeks to the pan and let them cook in the pan juices for 7 or 8 minutes until soft and tender.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook 150g of tagliatelle until tender, then drain.

Stir 250ml of double cream into the leeks, season with a little salt and pepper and a handful of chopped parsley then add the drained pasta to the leeks. Return the sausage balls to the pan. Let everything bubble for a minute or so, then serve. Enough for 2.

The trick
The quality of the sausage is crucial, which is why I use tried and trusted butcher’s sausages. If you are using plain sausagemeat, consider seasoning it first: a pinch of mace, finely chopped parsley, thyme and rosemary, and perhaps a little garlic, will all help.

The twist
Tarragon leaves, chopped if large, are good with leeks and cream. Add a tablespoonful to the sauce when you pour in the cream. In place of the leeks, use large, sweet onions, cooked down for a good 20 minutes in a little butter and oil till sweet and sticky.

Seven simple ways to get your seven-a-day | Life and style | theguardian.com

Seven simple ways to get your seven-a-day | Life and style | theguardian.com.

Onions are incredibly nutritious, and complimentary to so many dishes. I prepare big batches and keep them, in two forms, in my fridge. They both add zing to any number of dishes:

Pink citrus onions: Peel and finely slice two red onions, add a pinch of salt and toss well. Squeeze a whole lemon in – they will slowly cook in the acidity and go the most beautiful pink, and are then ready to eat. When they are very soft I pop them in a jar. They’re great in salads, with boiled new potatoes, on top of grilled fish or chicken or any kind of spiced dish from a simple daal to a spiced beef casserole. Add any number of herbs, chilli and a little oil, and you have a salsa or dressing. These beauties keep refrigerated for up to five days.

Melted onions: Peel and finely slice four medium onions (brown or red, or shallots). Heat a tablespoon of oil in a heavy-based pan with a lid, add the onions and stir to coat. Add some salt to let out water, stir, add a tablespoon of apple juice and some thyme and bayleaf, heat through on a medium heat, then reduce to lowest heat and leave the onions to soften and break down for a good 30-45 minutes (stir occasionally to avoid sticking). They are cooked when a strand of onion squeezed between the finger and thumb disintegrates with no give at all. Keep this sweet mass of onions in a jar or tupperware in the fridge for at least a week and use in vegetable salads, gratins, as the beginning of a casserole or sauce, in an omelette or as the basis of a tart, bruschetta or dressing.


Another trick is to replace or supplement potatoes with different vegetables. If I’m craving roast spuds, I’ll add lots of other colourful things (beetroot, for example). And for mash I’ll use a variety of roots – celeriac, parsnip, carrot, squash, sweet potato, turnip are all brilliant. I try to work out what will go well with the dish I’m doing and then make a mix. The English classic, clapshot – roughly mashed carrot and swede with butter and a good grating of nutmeg, is great. The substitution trick works brilliantly in gratins and on pies.


It’s easy to add tasty nuggets to a green salad: some grated carrot; apple; a few pumpkins seeds; a small segmented orange; a few radishes; finely sliced celery and fennel with a couple of spring onions; a few slices of avocado; a bit of cooked or grated beetroot. It doesn’t have to be all vegetables. Blobs of goats’ cheese, a piece of ham, nuts, seed or croutons help turn it into a real treat. Dressings are another oasis for extra bits and bobs – a crushed clove of garlic and or any number of herbs will complement what you have in the salad bowl (I often roughly chop mint straight in). In the summer when tomatoes are plentiful, make a great dressing by whizzing up an overripe tomato with some olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. The same goes for a cucumber. You’ll soon find your groove.


Frozen vegetables get a clean bill of health, and they can be an absolute godsend. Even the tiniest icebox can hold a bag of frozen peas – and squeeze a bag of frozen spinach in too. Both are brilliant for throwing into a casserole just before you serve it up. Peas and spinach cooked down with some lardons and a poached egg top also make a fantastic breakfast, especially with a few melted onions thrown in.


Although fruit juice seems like an appealing part of healthy lifestyle choices it isn’t. I often use a splash of apple juice to sweeten a dressing, a sauce or a marinade but that’s about it. Eating fruit raw is best; a lot of the great classic salads mix fruit with vegetables: apples, celery and walnut; pear, chicory and blue cheese, beetroot and orange; melon, cucumber and parma ham – all of these would have been found on a 1970s buffet. And with good reason.

How to Keep Cast-Iron Cookware Naturally Nonstick – Improvised Life

How to Keep Cast-Iron Cookware Naturally Nonstick – Improvised Life.

If properly cared for, cast-iron will build up a naturally nonstick surface that can take the place of commerical nonstick cookware, about which there are health concerns. Here’s our tried-and-true method for restoring and maintaing cast iron, tested over 40 or so years of serious cooking:

How to Season and Maintain Cast-Iron

Seasoning is the process by which the surface of the skillet is cleaned of impurities and then heated with a small amount of oil which seals the iron and creates a smooth, black surface that prevents food from sticking to it. You will need a stainless steel spongy scrubber like this, which is basically a springy ball of curled stainless still (a teflon scrubber WON’T do the job):

Although some new cast-iron comes “pre-seasoned”, we still apply this method. If your skillet is new, scrub it with soapy water to remove factory oil and dry completely (this is the ONLY time you’ll ever use soap on it.) If it is old and rusty, scrub vigorously metal scrubber and water until all the rust has come off and the surface feels smooth.

  1. Place the skillet on a burner over medium heat. Cover the bottom of the pan completely with a thin layer of household salt (we use Kosher salt). Heat several minutes until the salt begins to darken. Remove the pan from the heat and using paper towel, scrub the pan with the salt; discard and continue to any burnt on food or rust adhering to the pan is removed.

  2. Rub the inside of the pan liberally with vegetable oil and set aside to cool and absorb the oil. Sometimes we put the oil-slicked cookware in the oven warmed by the pilot light for a few hours. Wipe out any excess oil, leaving a fine slick.

After cooking in cast iron, never use any soaps or abrasives to wash it. Simply use warm water and a brush or metal scrubber, and dry immediately to prevent rusting; you can simply pat it dry or put it on a hot burner for 30 seconds until all water has evaporated.

Initially after seasoning, you might want to lightly recoat the pan with oil after each use. Gradually a patina will begin to build up in the pan, becoming a smooth, black surface. If the pan ever begins to stick, re-eason as directed above.


Otherwise, we recommend Lodge cast-iron, which these days, comes already pre-seasoned and nicely blackened.