Another year another Jamie – Sausage Gnocchi with a Warm Kale Salad

Last year was the year of Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals.  This year it’s the year of Jamie’s 15 minute meals.  I’m still not convinced that the meals can be put together in their suggested time, but the meals do come together fairly quickly and are quite flavourful.  This recipe for Sausage Gnocchi and warm Kale salad is easy to pull together and with a few additions, is pretty healthy.  

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal, covered by the Guardian has found that many recipes from famous chefs such as Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, and even Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstal, contained more calories and fat than ready-made meals available in supermarkets.  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has since published a response.  I have to admit, I think that ultimately, it comes down to balance.  I can’t imagine that eating nothing but ready-meals from the supermarket would lead to a long term, healthy outcome.  I also can’t imagine that eating nothing but Jamie’s courgette carbonara, Nigella’s guinness cake, or even Hugh’s wild mushroom croquette’s would lead to long term, healthy outcomes either.  While we don’t eat many ready-meals, I do try to pay attention to what I’m putting into our meals, using more vegetables, smaller protein portions, and foods that are as close to their natural state as possible (back away from the spam people).  

That brings me to kale.  How often do you eat kale?  It wasn’t something that I ate very often growing up, but have since come to love.  It’s a healthy winter green that holds up to a quick steam or boil and makes for a quick and easy warm salad.  


Sausage Gnocchi with a Warm Bean and Kale Salad – from Jamie’s 15 minute meals

4 sausages, removed from their casing
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp rosemary
125 ml red wine (chianti is recommended but I went with a pinot noir we had on hand)
200 g sprouting broccoli, stems sliced into 2cm chunks
1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed, drained OR 3-4 handful of fresh spinach
700 g passata
400 g gnocchi – frequently found in the fresh pasta section of your grocery store

2 slices of bacon
40 g hazelnuts
1 tsp maple syrup
200 g green beans
400 g kale (or other hearty winter green)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to the boil.  In a small frying pan, cook the bacon and hazelnuts together, adding a tsp of maple syrup as it cooks together.  Set aside.  Add the beans to the boiling water, cooking for 1-2 minutes before adding the kale.  Boil for an additional minute or two before straining.  Keep the boiling water!!!  

Cook the sausage meat over medium heat in a large frying pan, adding the fennel and rosemary.  Break the meat apart and stir as the sausage cooks.  Pour the wine over the sausage and allow to reduce.  Once the wine has reduced and the pan is a bit more dry, add in the broccoli tips and sliced broccoli stems, spinach, and passata.  Allow to bubble away together.  

Cook the gnocchi in the boiling water leftover from cooking the beans and kale – the gnocchi take only 1-2 minutes and are finished when they rise to the top of the water.  Drain the gnocchi and add to the sausage mixture, tossing to coat.  

Add the olive oil and cider vinegar to a large bowl.  Toss the beans and kale in the dressing, season with salt and pepper and top with the bacon, hazelnut and maple syrup mixture.  Serve alongside the sausage gnocchi.  


Guinness Cake

It’s starting to seem as though all we’re eating is cake.  Truth is, that’s not terribly off the mark.  Between the Christmas parties, leaving do’s, and baby parties, there is a lot of cake and sweet eating going on at the moment.  I can promise though, some more savoury recipes are coming.  I’ve started watching Jamie’s 15 minute meals and doing a bit of experimenting with his recipes.  More to come.  

This Guinness Cake recipe was given to me by some fantastic Australians who have since left London for sunnier (and much warmer) shores of Australia.  This cake is moist and chocolatey without being too rich or cloying.  The original instructions bake the cake in a 9″ springform pan however I find a 9×13″ sheet pan more practical for sharing purposes.


Guinness Cake – Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe

250 ml guinness
250 g unsalted butter
75 g cocoa powder
400 g plain sugar
142 ml sour cream (I used plain yoghurt plus 1tsp of baking soda)
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla 
275 g all purpose flour
2.5 tsp baking soda

300 g cream cheese
150 g icing sugar
125 ml whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and line the 9×13″ pan with parchment paper.  Combine the guinness and butter in a large saucepan and heat until the butter is melted.  Whisk in the cocoa and sugar.  

Beat together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla.  Pour the mixture into the saucepan, whisking together.  Whisk in the flour and baking soda.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.  Cool in the pan.  

Whip the cream cheese until smooth, sifting in the icing sugar and then beating together (use a low speed or risk coating your kitchen in a fine layer of icing sugar).  Add the whipping cream and mix until it is a spreadable consistency.  

Ice the cake and serve.

Ottolenghi Love

Yotam Ottolenghi published a new cookbook entitled Jerusalem, with Sami Tamimi, this autumn.  Ottolenghi is an Israeli-born chef and restaurant owner, well known for beautifully presented dishes and stunning flavour combinations.  He writes a weekly column in the Guardianand has recently begun contributing to the monthly Waitrose magazine.

This recipe was featured in the Waitrose magazine and I’ve got to say, I really like it.  The fact is, I’ve now picked up the Waitrose magazine 3 months in a row, and while I love the recipes, it’s doubtful that in our tiny apartment, I’ll sacrifice space to hold on to old issues.  I figure by blogging the recipes I’ll stand a chance of making them again one day!  This galette comes together quickly with items that I usually have in the cupboard.  A definite winner in my books.

Apple, Plum, and Blackberry Galette


Apple, plum and blackberry Galette – adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Dish of the Month in Waitrose Magazine

1 pkg puff pastry
2 granny smith apples, cored, peeled and sliced into wedges
3 plums, stoned, cut into wedges
100 g fresh or frozen blackberries
1 tsp sugar
10 g unsalted butter

Spiced Almond Frangipane (don’t let the name scare you)
1/4 tsp fennel seeds, dry toasted and ground
1/2 star anise, ground
60g unsalted butter, cold from the fridge, diced
60g sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
60g ground almonds
1 tbsp all purpose flour

Crumble topping
20g sugar
30g all purpose flour
40g unsalted butter, cold from the fridge, diced
40g walnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Put your baking sheet (or baking stone if you’ve got one) in the oven.

Frangipane: Blend together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the egg, almonds, flour, and spices.  Combine until just incorporated.  Cover and chill until needed.

Roll out the puff pastry until approximately 20cmx30cm.  Place on a piece of parchment.  Fold the edges of the pastry over to make a 1.5cm border.  Brush with beaten egg.  Chill until crumble is made.

Crumble: Combine the sugar and flour in a small bowl.  Rub the butter into the mixture until chunky crumbs form.  Mix in the walnuts and set aside.

Assembly: Spread the frangipane over the pastry, staying within your border.  Spread the apples and plums over the frangipane.  Spread the crumble over the fruit.  Tossing the blackberries with the 1tsp of sugar, spread them over the galette.

Sliding the galette on the parchment onto the now very hot baking sheet or stone, bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp.

Serve warm with ice cream.

Make ahead Side Dishes and Smart Leftovers

This past weekend we had some of our friends over for a Christmas dinner.  That day our friends were coming over at 2pm and we had an antenatal class that wrapped up at 12:30.  That didn’t give us much time to get ready before our friends arrived.  In order to try and be as relaxed and organised as possible, I tried to prepare as much as possible the day before.

I found this recipe again, in the Waitrose Christmas magazine.  It involves preparing and parboiling the vegetables ahead of time, then finishing them off the day of.  I was really impressed by how well this recipe worked.  I thought the vegetables would end up soggy – not the case!

This recipe also makes an excellent contribution to bubble and squeak.  Bubble and Squeak is an English dish using leftover Christmas vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts, and onions.  It’s a hearty leftover and with the flavours involved in the recipe below, offers a bit of variety to a hot turkey sandwich.

Medley of Green Vegetables – adapted from the Waitrose Christmas Magazine

250 g brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
2 leeks, washed and cut on the diagonal into 1 1/2 cm slices
150 g green beens, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
70 g diced pancetta

Bring a large sauce pan of water to the boil.  Add the vegetables to the boiling water, return to the boil and boil for 1 minute.  Drain the vegetables and rinse with cold running water.  Drain again and dry well on paper towels.  Chill until required.

When you’re ready to serve the vegetables, heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok, add the pancetta and cook until just brown.  Add the vegetables and toss gently in the oil to heat through.  Serve immediately.

Bubble and Squeak – Adapted from the Waitrose Christmas Magazine

1 tbsp olive oil
15 g unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
1 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, halved, deseeded and chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
270 g cooked medley of vegetables (from above, plus any other leftover vegetables such as carrots)
400 g cooked mashed potato
chopped coriander (optional)

Heat the oil and butter in a non-stick frying pan or cast iron pan.  Add the onion and saute over a medium heat until golden.  Add the garlic, ginger, chilli, and cumin and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the green vegetables and let them colour slightly, coating them in the spices.

Add the potato and coriander and mix together.  Season with salt and pepper and spread the mixture out to cover the base of the pan.  Cook over a medium heat allowing the mixture to colour on the bottom.  Break the mixture up, flipping bits over to allow other bits to brown on the bottom of the pan.  Eventually you should end up with a nicely browned cake.  Serve from the pan, cutting it into wedges.

Serve on its own (or with a turkey sandwich), or with chutney, cucumber raita or wedges of lime.

Clementine Cake

I wish I had pictures of this cake.  It was a tall, buttercream frosted, citrus dream.  Sadly there are no pictures.  The cake was eaten in its entirety in one sitting by a wonderful group of friends.  

The Clementine Cake came from the Waitrose Magazine Christmas edition and also from Anna Olson‘s Another Cup of Sugar.  It was moist and very full of almond and citrus flavour.  I highly recommend.

Clementine Cake – adapted from the Waitrose Christmas magazine

6 eggs
225g white sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1tsp mixed spice (I used a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves)
300g ground almonds
zest and juice of 3 clementines
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp icing sugar

75ml butter
875ml icing sugar
15ml clementine zest
30ml clementine juice

Cake: Preheat your oven to 180C (350F).  Line a 9×13″ baking pan with parchment paper.  Beat eggs until creamy.  Mix together the dry ingredients (sugar, baking powder, mixed spice, and almonds).  Stir into the eggs.  Reserving 15ml of clementine juice, stir the remainder into the cake mixture along with the clementine zest, lemon zest and juice.

Mix together the remaining tangerine juice and icing sugar.  This will be the clementine drizzle.  Set aside for assembly.

Pour the batter into the baking tin, spreading evenly.  Bake for 25 minutes, watching closely towards the end.  Let cool.  

Frosting: Beat butter until fluffy.  Beat in icing sugar until smooth (on LOW speed).  Beat in zest and tangerine juice.  

Assembly: Cut the cake into four equal pieces.  You now have the makings of a four layer cake.  You can (I did) cut each piece in half (as you would a sandwich bun to fill it with sandwich goodies) to make an 8 layer cake, but that’s taking things a bit far.  

Brush the first layer with a layer of clementine drizzle.  Ice with buttercream icing.  Put the next layer on, brushing with a layer of clementine drizzle, then icing.  Repeat until you’ve used all your layers and have iced the entire cake.

Enjoy with a cup of tea and good friends.