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.

spaghetti pic

tomatoes bowl

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium white onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

A large pinch of dried oregano and any other dried herbs you like (approx. 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon)

2 bay leaves, torn

2 tablespoons tomato purée

Pinch sugar

Juice from 1/2 lemon

400g (14 ounce) can chopped tomatoes

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

To serve –

400g 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

Method:

1. Gently heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Sauté the diced onion until soft – about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and herbs and continue to cook until fragrant (another minute or so). Season to taste.

2. Add the tomato purée and a pinch of sugar and cook out for another minute. Add the canned tomatoes, lemon juice and half can of water and bring the sauce up to the boil. Once boiling, turn down to a low heat and simmer for 1 and 1/2 hours. 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 1 week.

bowlful pasta

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

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Double Cheese, Prosciutto and Sage Scones

For me there’s nothing better than a freshly baked scone. Whether it’s sweet and slathered in clotted cream and the very best jam or simply savoury I will go out my way to bake homemade scones. Whilst I absolutely LOVE sweet scones, I do also really enjoy a good Cheddar cheese scone. There’s something about a piping hot, freshly baked scone straight from the oven and slathered in lots of salted butter that I adore. But like most of my recipes, I like to put my own twist and take on the classic. My scone recipe is packed full of two cheeses, sage leaves and salty cured prosciutto for a little twist. The recipe combines my love of traditional British food and Italian cuisine – two of my favourites.

scones recipe

When I first baked these scones I wasn’t entirely sure how they would go down with my family. I knew I would love the flavours because I’m a big fan of cheese scones or any savoury scones and the recipe combines some of my favourite baking ingredients. But I was completely shocked by my sister (who is the hardest to please!) who enjoyed the flavour and asked me to bake another batch! This time I decided to swap the prosciutto for cooked smoked pancetta. It was just as amazingly tasty as the original scone made with prosciutto.

scones easy recipe

These are simply, the cheesiest, tastiest, crumbliest, butteriest and delicious savoury scones I have ever eaten.

I just know I’m going to be baking more and more batches of these scones during the Autumn to serve alongside many delicious bowls of soup. They would also make a brilliant breakfast recipe for a lazy Sunday morning!

(Makes 8)

Ingredients:

225g self-raising flour, sifted

50g cold unsalted butter, cubed 

50g Cheddar

90g prosciutto or cooked pancetta, cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh sage leaves

1 large free-range egg

100ml buttermilk

Topping:

1-2 tbsp buttermilk or milk

25g parmesan

25g Cheddar

Method:

1. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the flour and cold butter. Mix on low speed for a few minutes or until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs – you can also do this by hand without using a mixer.

2. Then add the Cheddar, proscuitto (or bacon) and finely chopped sage. Mix through, then add the egg and buttermilk, using a butter knife, mix through until you have a soft dough – be careful not to overwork the dough at this point!

3. Line a large baking tray with non-stick paper. Tip the scone dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Spread out into a rectangle about 3cm in depth. Cut into 8 squares and then place on the baking tray. Brush the tops with the buttermilk, then sprinkle over the extra grated Cheddar and Parmesan.

4. Bake the scones at 220°C / 200°C Fan / 400°F / Gas Mark 6 for 12-14 minutes or until golden and slightly risen. Leave to cool on tray for a few minutes.

5. Serve the scones warm and toasted with butter, they can also be served at room temperature. Scones will store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Enjoy!

jess

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.

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Ingredients:

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

Toppings:

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

Method:

  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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Enjoy!

jess

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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)

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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.

Enjoy!

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Greek Orzo Salad

This orzo combines all my favourite Greek flavours into a tasty pasta salad perfect for summer. I love making this orzo ready to take out for picnics or to serve as a side dish at BBQ’s. The best thing about this recipe is you can make it the night before and leave it in the fridge ready for the next days lunch or dinner. Each bowlful of this divine pasta salad is packed full of fresh sweet cherry tomatoes, tangy red onion, refreshing cucumber and salty crumbled feta. Serve alongside lemon chicken or souvlaki for an amazing Greek feast!

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(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

80ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic granules (optional)

225g (8 ounces) dried orzo

250g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 medium cucumber, sliced

1/2 red onion, diced

110g (4 ounces/1 cup) Greek feta, crumbled – add more if you like

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Method:

1. Cook the orzo according to the packet instructions (mine took 8 minutes). Once cooked, drain and cool with cold running water. Set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and garlic granules (if using). Add the tomato, cucumber, red onion and cooked orzo. Crumble in the feta and season. Gently mix being careful not to break the feta up too much.

3. This pasta is best served chilled, I like to rest it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving, but the longer time it can sit the better the flavour.

Note: If not serving straight away, store the pasta salad in an airtight container and place in the fridge until ready to serve. It will stay fresh in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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Enjoy!

jess

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Classic Quiche Lorraine

Today’s recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks. For me quiche Lorraine is one of those timeless classics and makes a great dinner recipe. I love this recipe from TV chef  and cookbook author Rachel Khoo. Rachel’s recipe is really simple to prepare and uses just a handful of ingredients. I love serving the quiche with some fresh, crunchy salad which has been mixed together with dijon vinaigrette. If you want to master perfect shortcrust pastry and the perfect quiche lorraine then you need to try this recipe!

classic quiche

quiche lorraine recipe

quiche

Recipe inspiration from The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo 

Ingredients:

Shortcrust Pastry – 

90g softened unsalted butter

1 teaspoon sugar

Large pinch of salt

180g plain flour, sifted

2 large free-range egg yolks

2-4 tablespoons ice cold water

Quiche Lorraine Filling –

300ml double cream

150g good-quality bacon lardons or pancetta

4 eggs plus two egg yolks

Salt and white pepper, to taste

Method- 

1. To make the pastry: Start by creaming the butter, sugar and salt together until light and just combined. Add flour, egg yolks and the ice cold water and combine together using a spoon. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight if you can. Take out of fridge half an hour before you want to use it – this will make it easier to roll! Roll the pastry out to fit a 23cm fluted tart/quiche tin and gently press into the tin. Then trim away any excess pastry, brush the base with some egg white and chill in the fridge whilst you make the filling.

2. To make the filling: Fry the bacon in a frying pan or bake until crispy in the oven. Scatter evenly in the pastry case. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, cream and season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the pastry case and bake at 170 degrees Fan/190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 4 for 40-45 minutes or until golden on top.

3.Serve the quiche hot or cold. It’s really enjoyable served with a dressed salad.

quiche easy recipe

Enjoy!

jess

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Cheddar Chive Soda Bread

Want to make homemade bread in under an hour and without any kneading/rising involved or a bread machine in sight? If so, you’re in for a treat because I’m sharing my recipe for a super easy and tasty savoury quick bread. I love making homemade bread, but it always takes so long and I tend to get quite impatient waiting for the dough to rise. This is why I thought I would share this amazing recipe I recently found which doesn’t require any kneading, rising or proving. Simply add all the ingredients into a bowl, mix, bake and then dig in whilst the bread is still gloriously warm and toasted!

cheddar chive bread

Soda bread filled with creamy, mature Cheddar cheese and fragrant chives. This is one of the easiest and quickest bread recipes you’ll ever bake!

My taste testers loved the mix of flavours in this bread. This tasty bread combines oozy mature Cheddar cheese in each bite with a mellow hint of flavour from fresh chives. I can’t wait to make this bread again and I will definitely be making and packing it up for picnics in the summer but I am sure it would be fantastic toasted and served with a bowl of soup in the winter months.

Ingredients:

400g plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

125g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

Bunch/large handful of fresh chives, finely chopped

300ml buttermilk (instead of buttermilk you can use 200g of yoghurt mixed with 100ml of milk)

Topping:

1 tablespoon milk, for glazing

50g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / 400°F / Gas Mark 6. Lightly dust a large baking tray with flour and set aside.

2. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl.  Now mix in the cayenne pepper, grated cheese and chopped chives. Make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk (or yoghurt/milk mixture) and bring the ingredients together into a clean ball – add little extra milk if needed.

3. Shape the dough into an 18cm round and put on the prepared baking tray. Mark the dough into quarters, cutting almost all the way through. Brush the top with a tablespoon of milk and sprinkle with the additional grated cheese.

4. Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes until the bread is crisp and sounds hollow. Cool the bread on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

5. Bread will store at room temperature in a bread bag or airtight container for up to 3 days.

cheddar chive quick bread

This bread is best eaten on the day of baking spread with butter

Enjoy!

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