Italian Cuisine · Light Lunches · Main Meals · Pasta Recipes · Travel

Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce

Homemade marinara sauce with spaghetti. A delicious dinner recipe served warm with a sprinkling of Parmesan and garnished with basil leaves. Comfort in a bowl! 

marinara sauce recipe

I don’t know why, but it’s taken a little too long to finally get round to sharing my family favourite tomato sauce. This tomato sauce is absolutely perfect to serve and toss into pasta or top pizzas with and it’s also a recipe I’ve been making for many years now. I guarantee, once you’ve tasted this divine sauce you will never reach for a pre-made tomato sauce ever again!

The sauce is rich, sweet and incredibly delicious – this is thanks to the cooking time which allow the flavours to develop and enrich. I think pasta with any kind of sauce is the epitome of comfort food for me. Marinara tossed into the cooked pasta and topped with Parmesan is the best meal and transports me back to summers spent in Italy.

I wanted to share a simple and basic recipe because these types of recipes always great to have in your cooking repertoire. As I said this marinara sauce can be used in mostly any Italian dish. As I mentioned above, I top homemade pizzas with it but you could also replace the pasta and use courgetti (zucchini noodles) and enjoy a low-carb meal. I also love to toss in a few grilled or roasted veggies to the mix. The choices are really endless, this tasty sauce is extremely versatile! If you don’t want to use pasta, just simply dip some good crusty bread into the sauce for a quick and tasty lunch/snack.

(Serves 4)


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 white onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and any other dried herbs you like

A few basil leaves or bay leaves, torn

2 tablespoons tomato purée

Generous couple pinches of sugar

400g (14 ounce) can chopped tomatoes or passata

Juice from 1/2 lemon

1/2 can water (roughly 200ml), add more if needed

Salt and black pepper, to taste

To Serve:

400-500g spaghetti (or any other pasta you like – short pasta like fusilli or penne both work well)

Freshly grated Parmesan or other cheese of your choice, to serve

Fresh basil leaves


1. Gently heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Sauté the diced onion and garlic until soft – about 4-5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

2. Add the tomato purée and cook out for another 1-2 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes/passata, sugar lemon juice and the water and bring the sauce up to the boil. Once boiling, turn down to a low heat and simmer for an hour. It should be thick and glossy by the end of the cooking time.

3. To serve, remove the bay leaves. Boil some water and season well with salt. Cook the pasta until al dente, this is usually a couple of minutes less than the packet instructions suggest. Drain the pasta well, reserving a little extra pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed. Add the tomato sauce and toss together with the cooked spaghetti. Season if it needs and serve up in bowls. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan and garnish with basil leaves.

Best eaten warm, but the sauce is also great packed up for lunch the next day. This sauce will store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

bowlful pasta

I love serving this pasta with a slice of homemade Rosemary Sea Salt Focaccia!



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Chocolate · Italian Cuisine · No-Bake

4-Ingredient No-Churn Nutella Ice Cream

Ever since visiting Italy last Summer I’ve been craving and wanting to make homemade gelato for ages. But since I don’t own an ice cream machine I took my trusty no-churn ice cream recipe, added a load of Nutella a.k.a the best chocolate spread in the entire world and worked my magic! This cheat’s version has exactly the same characteristics as gelato. It’s just as creamy, velvety smooth and is simply delightful to eat. My easy, no-fuss ice-cream recipe is irresistible, once you’ve tried some you will become addicted to the flavour! Scoop into waffle cones or into bowls for a great enjoyable and tempting treat! Enjoy and happy weekend everyone!

nutella ice-cream no machine

Homemade ice-cream/gelato, 4-ingredients + in 3 easy steps. What’s not to like?

We ate our few share of gelato whilst in Tuscany. We ate gelato (almost- even though I’m ashamed to admit it!) every single night, our favourite place to grab a few scoops was from Gelateria Dondoli in my beloved San Gimignano. If you’re visiting Tuscany this gelateria should definitely be down on your list to try out! They’re the gelato world champion for a reason, my personal favourites were a combo of pistachio and chocolate, and I loved the mascarpone Ferrero Rocher flavour AND the Nutella gelato. SO GOOD, you guys know how much I just love chocolate hazelnut so this recipe today was to be expected…

This no-churn base is simple if you leave the Nutella out you have the very best delicious vanilla bean ice-cream to serve with chocolate sauce and sweets or any other of your favourites. But with this recipe you get a very light Nutella flavour in the background. It’s great with homemade chocolate and hazelnut coated waffle cones- I made those but the pictures didn’t look so great!

ice-cream scoopinh

Not a recipe for those on diet…This is pure Nutella temptation. You can see how creamy and like gelato this Nutella ice cream is, it can be scooped as soon as it comes out of the freezer. Smooth, creamy, Nutella-y and dreamy. If you LOVE Nutella then this is 100% the recipe you need to try! 

I also learnt from my mistakes since my last ice-cream photo shoot. Rule No.1: Never try or attempt to photograph ice cream or popsicles in the middle of the day during the hottest day of year. It’s not going to end well. Of which you guessed it didn’t end well, my ice-cream started to melt quicker than I could photograph- I took two photos, then headed inside and devoured the lot with my family.


Ice Cream Recipe- 

1 x 400g can of sweetened condensed milk

500ml of double cream

1/2 tsp of vanilla bean paste

180g of Nutella


1. In a large mixing bowl mix together the condensed milk, vanilla and Nutella until well incorporated and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft peaks- the cream should just fold back on itself.

3. Add the cream to the Nutella condensed milk mixture and fold in. Keep mixing until it’s smooth.

4. Pour into a medium deep baking dish or regular loaf tin. Cover with cling film or a lid and leave to freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight- I personally prefer to leave the ice-cream overnight as you get better scooping consistency when you’re ready to serve.

Once set, scoop the ice-cream into cones and serve! You can also just serve the ice cream in bowls sprinkled with extra chocolate and chopped hazelnuts! ENJOY!


Enjoy the recipe! Have a great weekend!


© 2015 What Jessica Baked Next All Rights Reserved

Baking · Italian Cuisine · Travel

Damson Crostata {Italian-style Jam Tart}

Since being home I’ve missed the Italian lifestyle and most importantly the food. There’s one classic recipe in particular I’ve always wanted to bake and subsequently eat, the classic Crostata. If you were wondering, a Crostata is a delicious jam tart. It’s simple, but so good and possibly one of my most favourite desserts now. I have fond memories of eating jam tarts from my childhood, I remember my favourites were blackberry and lemon curd and I would always pester my Mum to buy me some- she always gave in! Traditional British jam tarts are so similar to the classic Crostata you can buy in Italy, the pastry is just as light, buttery and zesty and the filling, perfectly sweet and oozing full of jammy goodness. I was really pleased with the finished result, not bad for my very first attempt!

crostata slices

This Crostata recipe uses the very best pastry, it’s light, sweet and short and the addition of lemon and vanilla gives it that unique Italian flavour. I’ve used a rotella- which I bought home from Italy. It’s perfect for Italian jam tarts, because it gives the authentic and beautiful lattice design.

Perfect to slice up for that afternoon-pick-me-up, but I also have to admit I very much enjoy a slice for breakfast.  If you make this recipe, you will find it’s sweet, zingy and the absolute reminder of Summer days.

tiptree jam

I found a taste of home (quite literally) whilst I was visiting Volterra. I grew up eating Wilkin & Son Tiptree Jam and the actual factory is not that far away from where I live, so I made sure this recipe was a fusion between Italian and British produce. This Crostata wouldn’t be as special if it didn’t use British jam! And as you can tell from this photo there are so many different flavours and varieties of jam, but I love Damson jam so that was my choice.

homemade lattice crostata

Love how the pastry is speckled with lemon zest and vanilla bean

crostata icing

jam tart fork

Ingredients (Makes 1 Crostata)

Recipe adpated from italyonmymind

125g of unsalted butter, softened 

20g of icing sugar, sifted

240g of plain flour, sifted

1/2 tsp of vanilla bean paste

Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

Pinch of salt

1 large free-range egg

1/2 jar of good-jam- I used Damson (use any of your favourite jams, this recipe is very versatile)

To serve-

Clotted cream, lightly whipped cream or vanilla bean ice-cream


1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C Fan (350F). To make the pastry, in a stand mixer beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt and beat until crumbs form. Add the eggs and just mix until it’s comes together- try not to over mix at this point. Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes or until a little firm.

2. Once the dough is fully chilled, lightly dust a work surface with a little icing sugar, roll the pastry until it’s slightly larger than the tin. If your pastry reaches more than half-way up the case, trim away gently using a knife. Roll the excess pastry into a ball and place in the fridge for the time being.

3. Spoon the jam onto the pastry base. Take the remaining pastry, roll out and then cut strips with a zig-zag cutter- the lattices should be long enough that the strips touch the edges of the crostata.  Brush with beaten egg yolk. 

4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, remove from the oven when the the tart is nice and lightly golden on top- if it’s colouring too quickly, just cover with foil. Cool in the tin, then carefully remove, cool completely to room temp. Dust lightly with icing sugar, then slice up!


Happy Weekend!


Baking · Bread · Dips and Sides · Italian Cuisine · Light Lunches

Tomato Parmesan Focaccia

I love making homemade focaccia. What’s not to like about delicious olive oil bread, crispy on the base, soft and airy in the middle and topped with sweet, aromatic tomatoes and Parmesan. I think breads like this one should be celebrated, they’re packed full of flavour, bright colours, are super simple to make and taste amazing! This focaccia recipe is the taste of summer but can equally be enjoyed with a big bowl of homemade minestrone soup when the cold weather arrives. Every single flavour works hand in hand, the sweet tomatoes with the fruity Parmesan and delicious herbs really create an authentic Italian taste.

tomato focaccia

The recipe was inspired by my time in Tuscany this summer. We tried this focaccia from a local panetteria near to where we we’re staying. We’d just got off our flight and were pretty hungry after an early wake up that morning (2 a.m and NO breakfast!). So by lunch time I was completely and utterly ravenous to say the least! But this focaccia caught my eye straight away. We continued to buy it for our lunch most days it was that good. So I knew as soon as I got back into my kitchen, I needed to recreate it!

This focaccia from my kitchen has exactly the same characteristics. Unbelievably soft and airy inside, with a subtle crispiness from the fragrant olive oil. A thin layer of Parmigiano-Reggiano, a layer of the sweetest tomatoes and then finished off with a good sprinkling of herbs.



500g (3 and 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon) strong white bread flour

7g (1 packet) fast action dried yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

50ml (3 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

300ml (1/2 pint) warm water – make sure it isn’t boiling


25g grated Parmesan (or another vegetarian alternative)

200g cherry tomatoes, halved

Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

1-2 teaspoons dried oregano

A few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary


  1. In a large mixing bowl add the flour. Add the yeast to one side and the salt to the other. Add the sugar and then mix to combine.
  2. Mix together the water and oil and then add the flour. Using a wooden spoon mix together until a soft and sticky dough comes together. Then lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough by hand until smooth and elastic for 10 minutes. You can also knead the dough in an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment for 5 minutes.
  3. Once kneaded, lightly oil a bowl and add the dough. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size – this will take around an hour.
  4. When doubled in size lightly grease a baking tin (approx. 22cm x 32cm) with olive oil (1-2 tablespoons). Add the dough and press out into the tin until even – it doesn’t need to look perfect! Cover the tray and again leave in a warm place until doubled in size. (45-60 minutes approx.)
  5. Preheat your oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / 400°F / Gas Mark 6. Sprinkle the focaccia with the grated Parmesan and then poke the tomatoes into the dough. Sprinkle with the oregano and sea salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes then scatter over the thyme leaves and rosemary. Finish baking the focaccia for a further 5-10 minutes until it’s well risen and lightly coloured. Once the bread sounds hollow, remove from tin and cool on a wire rack. Cut up into squares and enjoy!





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Italian Cuisine · Travel

Tuscany, Italy

I’ve just got back from 2 weeks holidaying in beautiful Tuscany, Italy! Here I thought I would share a little bit about my holiday and travels with some (or quite a few!) of my favourite pictures.

The last two weeks have been absolute bliss for me, I LOVE everything about Italy, it’s one of my top travel destinations- not only for the amazing food, but also the stunning scenery and cities. I’ve come home, with my case packed-full of delicious culinary treats (too many packets of pan di stelle- those biscotto are TOO addictive!!) and some kitchen untensil’s ready to get back to baking and sharing some amazing recipes for you all. So enjoy my photos guys- I’ve decided to take you through all the places we visited whilst on holiday!

You’re going to fall in LOVE with Italy and this beautiful region!


Firenze (Florence) 

Florence is one of Italy’s most beautiful and stunning cities. Full of artwork, cathedrals, history and amazing food, it’s a city not to be missed on your Tuscan adventure.


italy flag

Italian flag flying high above the Arno river 


Panino is one of my favourite foods to enjoy in Italy. I eat these all the time for lunch back at home- they’re so good especially filled with spicy and salty salami or some of the famous Porchetta (pronounced por’ketta). But I also love my panino filled with the best fresh, Italian mozzarella, sliced tomato and dried origano. So good to eat whilst enjoying the sights of Florence!

produce florence

The most amazing and colourful fresh fruit and vegetables on street corners 

florence pomodoro

cat picture


Siena, another one of the my favourite places to visit. We enjoyed some of the best Pizza we’d ever eaten whilst sitting in the famous Piazza del campo (square)- one of Europe’s greatest Medieval square’s. Though Florence supposedly makes the ‘best’ gelato in Tuscany, I thought the ice-creams we tried in Siena were very good competition- definitely worth the price! Full again of lots beautiful historic buildings- this city is another tourist paradise.

siena duomo

Siena Duomo (Cathedral)


fresh fruit stall siena

pizza siena

siena gelato

(Not the best looking ice-cream, but strawberry (fragola) and chocolate is one of the best combo’s!)


We visited Pisa for my 18th birthday. I enjoyed a great day, packed full of sightseeing and happily devoured an amazingly good margherita pizza, which was HEAVEN! Though the weather wasn’t too great that day, the fact I got to eat pizza made up for that for sure! The evening was enjoyed back at our private villa with many glasses of proscecco!

leaning tower of pisa

pisa pics

Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square)

pizza in pisa

As you can tell we ate quite a bit of pizza on this holiday! In this photo, me and my Sister ate classic Margherita, Mum enjoyed Marinara and my Dad ordered proscuitto e funghi. All were divine- but I couldn’t manage the whole thing! 

becky pizza

Becky enjoying her Pizza!

Also, if you have room for ice-cream, do visit De’Colelli for amazing gelato!

San Gimignano 

We stayed just outside of the medieval town, San Gimignano. The town is lovely and idyllic and is home to one of the world’s best ice-cream shops, Gelateria Dondoli– of which we enjoyed our fair share (probably a little too many ice-creams per trip!). I definitely preferred the smaller towns, to the the more well-known or more visited cities, there was something about wandering off the beaten track or down quiet little streets that I love.

san gimi black n white

san gimi st lucia

View of San Gimigiano from St Lucia 

san gimi night sky

san gimi

The famous towers in San Gimignano 

pizza san gimi


Gelato from Gelateria Dondoli (the gelato world champion)- my favourite flavours cioccolato and pistachio 


pottery in san gimi

leather bags


A beautiful windy, hilltop town, well worth a visit if you’re in Tuscany. Explore wandering off to the many quiet streets. Best known for it’s alabaster (marble) and also the famous Twilight films (and of course Assassin’s Creed!!).

volterra streets


Palazzo del Priori


volterra tower

ampit volterra

tiptree jam

I found a little taste of home in Volterra!



A small, but pretty Medieval walled town. Views overlooking Siena and great place to indulge in some interesting history. Definitely worth a look!

monte pic


Piazza Roma 

sunflower fields

Beautiful sunflower fields on the car journey home 

Chianti (Radda & Castellina)

We visited these two small, quaint towns which lie within the famous Chianti region of Tuscany. I definitely recommend you visit the medieval town of Radda, the town itself is so quiet and peaceful, not your typical ‘touristy’ town, so perfect to walk around and get lost in your thoughts. Walking further through the narrow streets,  you will come across the amazingly stunning and peaceful Church of San Niccolò. The church is famous for it’s Romanesque origins and wooden crucifix from the 15th century. Also, I found lots of amazing pastas and foods whilst walking through Castellina- which reignited my passion for cooking again.

 church chianti

Church of San Niccolò, Radda, Chianti

chianti shops

chianti food


Risotto ai funghi is a Tuscan classic 


Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino (garlic, oil and chilli flakes) seasonings. These are great tossed into fresh pasta for a filling dinner!

flowers chianti

chianti art

Inspiring artwork in Castellina 


Colle di Val d’Elsa 

This is the town we visited quite a lot and spent many evenings walking through the peaceful streets, completely away from the tourist trails. It was so beautiful, many amazing viewpoints and you actually get the chance to go down a lift and walk through the underground tunnels, then treat yourself to a gelato, sit by the fountain and watch the sun set. So cool and a perfect end to the day.

colle val di elsa streets

colle val d'elsa pics

colle di val d'elsa

Also, I like to thank the lovely Margherita who writes one of my favourite food blogs, La Petite Casserole. Margherita is from Florence, but currently lives in Montreal. She very kindly sent me an email sharing with me all the best places to eat in and around Tuscany, which I thought I would share with you all too as well.

Gelato: Rivareno ( borgo albizi)
Easy lunch: Macelleria Falorni ( avevo di San pierino)
Easy lunch or easy dinner: 5&5 ( piazza della Passera)
Mercato di San Lorenzo ( they’ve just renewed it, is full of small restaurants and local food productors)
For an aperitivo: Easy Living ( the open bar along Arno river, close to San Niccolo)
Dinner with amazing view (Fiesole): terrazza 45 or Pensione Bencistà!

Ristorante il Pozzo (Montereggioni)


Baking · Bread · Italian Cuisine · Light Lunches

Garlic Rosemary Butter Rolls

Take your classic white bread roll to the next level by serving it with homemade garlic rosemary butter. 


These delicious bread rolls are great for anyone new or at a beginner stage of bread making. This recipe consists of a batch of white bread rolls served with garlic and rosemary butter. The homemade butter is brushed over the freshly baked bread rolls as soon as they leave the oven and as they cool the warm butter soaks into each roll and flavours enrich throughout the dough.

I firmly believe that there’s nothing quite comparable to bread homemade in your kitchen, it looks more rustic which is definitely a good thing and tastes so much better than anything you can buy. I used the recipe for tear ‘n’ share bread to make these rolls. The addition of olive oil in the dough not only makes these authentically Italian but it makes them super soft and delicious and taste like a focaccia or Italian-style bread.

Homemade garlic herb butter is really simple to make. You can add really herbs or flavours you like, for this recipe I’m using a combination of chopped garlic and fresh rosemary. If you’re not a fan of rosemary you can swap the rosemary for parsley or leave it out entirely and just make garlic butter for your rolls.

I don’t add any chopped garlic or rosemary to my bread dough. I just prefer to brush the tops with the garlic rosemary butter once they’re baked. However, if you want you can definitely add 1-2 tablespoons of chopped rosemary to the bread dough. I definitely recommend using real garlic opposed to using garlic powder, which I find doesn’t produce the same flavour that the fresh ingredients do.

You can make these rolls with half wholemeal flour and half strong white flour – follow my other recipe for 50/50 Bread Rolls. You could also even top each roll with a grated cheese like Parmesan or a vegetarian hard cheese alternative, but to be honest they taste so great just with the herby butter I don’t think any cheese is needed!

My favourite way of serving these bread rolls is with either pizza or pasta. They really are a fantastic addition to any mealtime, I am confident you’re going to really enjoy these!

(Makes 12)


550g strong white bread flour

1 and 1/4 teaspoons fast-action dried yeast

2 teaspoons sugar

1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (substitute with another oil or alternatively use melted butter)

310ml warm water

Garlic Rosemary Butter:

60g (1/4 cup) butter

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1-2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped


1. To make the dough: In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt and mix together (remember to make sure the yeast and salt are on opposite corners of the bowl). Add the olive oil and warm water and mix until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes by hand or with an electric hand or stand mixer fitted with the dough hook for 5-7 minutes until the dough is soft and elasticated.

2. To knead and rise the dough: Once the dough is kneaded, lightly oil another large mixing bowl. Add the dough to the bowl and lightly coat in the oil. Cover the bowl with clingfilm or a kitchen towel and leave somewhere dry and warm for at least an hour or until doubled in size. This should take around 60-90 minutes.

3. Once the dough has risen fully divide it into 12 equally sized pieces. I weigh the dough to be accurate then shape each piece of dough into rolls. Place the rolls onto a large baking tray that’s either been lightly oiled or lined with a silicone baking mat. Space the rolls apart by a 1-2 inches so they have enough room to rise and spread slightly. Cover with clingfilm or a kitchen towel and leave somewhere warm for further 45-60 minutes or until the rolls have joined up and doubled in size.

4. To bake the rolls: Preheat oven to 220°C / 200 degrees Fan / 425°F / Gas Mark 7. Bake the rolls for 18-20 minutes or until crisp and golden in colour. You can check the rolls are completely baked by tapping the bottom of one, if it sounds hollow then they will be cooked all the way through.

5. To make the garlic and rosemary butter: Whilst the bread rolls are baking, in a small saucepan gently heat together the butter, chopped garlic and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper to taste and heat until it smells fragrant and the garlic has softened slightly but not coloured – this should take about a 2-3 minutes on a low to medium heat. Once the bread rolls are completely baked, brush the butter over and leave the rolls a few minutes to cool before serving. These rolls are best served warm, but they’ll keep in a bread bag or airtight container for up to 2 days.

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Italian Cuisine · Main Meals · Pasta Recipes

Spaghetti with Courgettes, Chilli, Garlic and Lemon

I will take any excuse to eat pasta for dinner every night of the week. When I was on holiday in Sardinia we ate pasta every single night! I think pasta is amazing and it’s extremely versatile as you can combine so many different amazing flavours into one dish. This pasta dish is a firm favourite of mine and my family. We love eating it in the spring or summer because it’s super fresh, incredibly quick to make and tastes delicious! In 3 easy steps, you’ll have a flavourful pasta dish on your table in under 15 minutes!


400g spaghetti (you can use whatever pasta you like, penne works really well too)

2 large courgettes, chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

2-3 large cloves of garlic, finely minced

Zest of 1 large unwaxed lemon

65g unsalted butter

Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Put your pasta onto boil and cook according to the packet instructions – I like my pasta served al dente.

2. Heat a drizzle of olive oil into a large frying pan, sauté the chopped courgette for 5 minutes on medium heat, then turn up the heat and cook for a further 3-4 more minutes. Now add the garlic, chilli and lemon and cook for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Finish by adding the butter and cook until all the butter has melted. Season and then toss in the cooked and drained pasta.

3. Mix the pasta through the sauce, then mix through a generous amount of Parmesan. Serve in pasta bowls and finish with an extra grating of Parmesan. you can never have enough in my opinion!

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Italian Cuisine · Main Meals · Pasta Recipes

Creamy Porcini Mushroom Pasta

Spaghetti with porcini mushroom cream sauce. A great dinner recipe that takes only 15 minutes to prepare. 


I’m sharing an easy and quick recipe that would be brilliant for dinner any night of the week. This creamy porcini mushroom pasta is one of my family’s favourite savoury recipes. I love using porcini mushrooms because they have a unique earthy and slightly nutty flavour. A small amount of porcini goes a very long way and just a couple of small handfuls transform this simple cream sauce into something extra special! Porcini are delicious in all kinds of Italian recipes, such as risotto, broths and soups and sauces.

I love making this dish on busy weeknights when I don’t have the energy or time to cook something extravagant for dinner because it takes hardly any time at all to prepare.

The recipe serves 4 very hungry people or 6 for a lighter meal or starter portion. It’s rich, comforting and perfect meal for all seasons! Just make sure you cook your pasta until it’s al dente (it should have bite and be slightly firm) and don’t forget to serve the dish with lots of freshly grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.

(Serves 4-6)


400-500g dried spaghetti or any other pasta shape

Knob of butter

Good drizzle of olive oil

1 small shallot or onion, finely diced

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

25g dried porcini mushrooms

300ml double cream

Salt and black pepper, to taste


  1. Place the dried porcini in a small bowl and pour over 200ml of boiling water. Allow them to rehydrate for 5 minutes.
  2. Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions.
  3. Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan or saucepan. Sauté the diced shallot/onion and garlic until it’s soft and has become transparent.
  4. Drain the porcini from the mushroom stock and set the liquid aside. Finely chop the drained porcini and add to the pan. Add the mushroom stock and simmer for 1-2 minutes until the stock has slightly reduced.
  5. Turn the heat down to low and add the cream. Allow the cream to simmer for a few minutes until it has thickened. Finally, add the drained pasta to sauce and toss to coat. At this point I like to toss through a nice handful of grated Parmesan. It adds gorgeous salty flavour! Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes:

  • For my original recipe posted in March 2014 I used homemade pasta, however dried or fresh pasta can be used.
  • I recommend cooking the pasta until it’s al dente, so a few minutes less than the packet instructions advise.




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Baking · Chocolate · Ice Cream · Italian Cuisine

Ice Cream Filled Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce

These profiteroles use a classic French choux pastry recipe but I decided to bring some Italian influence to the recipe and I’ve filled them with gelato instead of the traditional Chantilly cream. I love to serve these ice cream choux buns with homemade chocolate sauce which is so easy to make and tastes amazing. I’ve been experimenting with choux pastry and last week I shared with you my recipe for Gougères which are great hors d’oeuvres to serve for the upcoming party season. These sweet profiteroles are the perfect treat and are make a pretty indulgent dessert perfect for simply any occasion!

ice cream profi copy

(Makes 8 large choux buns)


Choux Pastry –

100g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

125ml water

125ml milk

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

170g strong white bread flour

Filling –

8 scoops vanilla ice cream

Chocolate Sauce –

100g good quality dark chocolate

100g good quality milk chocolate

150ml double cream

2 tablespoons golden syrup


1. To make the choux pastry: Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Fan/180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Before you start making the choux pastry make sure you have all your ingredients weighed out ready. Place the butter, milk, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan and melt the butter on a high heat.

2. Once the butter has melted, turn the heat down to low and add all the flour. Using a wooden spoon, beat really well until the mixture ‘clumps’ together and starts to come away from the sides of the pan.

3. Now tip the dough into a mixing bowl (this will cool it down a lot quicker) and using the wooden spoon beat the dough until it’s cool to touch.

4. Now add the eggs one by one and beat until the mixture is stiff and all the beaten egg is well combined. Now take a heaped tablespoon of the choux and place it down on the baking tray. Bake for 25 minutes and then allow to cool completely.

5. To make the sauce: Place the chocolate, double cream and golden syrup in a large saucepan, stir continuously on a medium heat until all the chocolate has melted and you have a smooth, glossy sauce. Once the choux buns are cool, dust with icing sugar and cut in halve width ways. Fill with a scoop of ice cream and pour over the warm chocolate sauce.



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Italian Cuisine · Main Meals · Pasta Recipes

Spaghetti Gamberi

I came up with this recipe when I was on holiday in Sardinia last year where the majority of our meals were based around the fresh seafood on offer. This dish is perfect to eat anytime of year. My family loves the dish this time of year because it’s a delicious reminder of the summer and the al fresco meals we enjoyed whilst on holiday. I love this recipe because it tastes so fresh and flavourful and takes less than 15 minutes to make!

Spaghetti Gamberi- Simple Italian food but extremely tasty

(Serves 4)


500g dried spaghetti

225g raw tiger prawns, cleaned and de-veined

75g butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

1 tablespoon chopped parsley


1. Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water according to the packets instructions.

2. Once the pasta is near enough cooked (al dente), add the olive oil to a large frying pan. Cook the prawns along with the garlic, chilli and lemon zest for about 3 minutes or until they start to turn pink in colour.

3. Then add the butter and cook for another 3 minutes on a low-medium heat to warm the prawns completely through and melt the butter. Serve the prawns and butter sauce on top of the cooked and drained pasta in a bowl and before serving add a good squeeze of fresh lemon.



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