smoked tuna with pasta…

smoked tuna with pasta…

Almost with the flick of a switch, summer seemed to end yesterday, and autumn arrived. The temperature dropped and grey skies replaced the bright blue sky we seem to have had for weeks and weeks. Although we’re still hopefully weeks away from having to light the woodburners, we definitely craved something a bit more substantial and comforting for dinner. Our local Lidl store has been rotating, on a weekly basis, foods from different European countries – Greek week is always a winner in our house, and we’ve been stocking up on Eridanous range of smoked tuna. It is utterly delicious, with a real woody, smoky flavour and when a tin of tuna is called upon in future, I don’t think I’ll be able to have any other kind.

We’ve used this through the summer in salads and wraps but decided something more warming was needed – and our pasta dish was just perfect. It was quick and easy to make and very delicious. Hopefully, if you try it too, you can get your hands on some smoked tuna – it does make all the difference…


  • Penne pasta
  • Red onion, finely sliced
  • A couple of cloves of garlic, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Medium jar of passata or a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 small tins of smoked or regular tuna
  • Dried chilli flakes
  • Strong cheese, for the topping
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves

The recipe is as you would expect. Boil the pasta until al dente (it will cook further in the oven). When cooking, fry the onion and garlic until soft, in the olive oil. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes. Add the passata (or tomatoes) and stir until heated through, then add the tuna (chopped up into largish chunks) and a handful of basil leaves. Season according to taste.

Drain the pasta and mix into the tuna & tomato sauce, then turn into an oven proof dish. Cover with the grated cheese and cook for about 30 minutes in a medium oven.


spaghetti with anchovies & onions…

spaghetti with anchovies & onions…

This is another perfect lockdown larder recipe. If you love anchovies, you’ll definitely have a tin or a jar or two of these in your cupboard, and everything else is pretty standard stuff standard stuff which most people will have in. It’s a Nigella Lawson recipe, which I did adapt slightly as I didn;’t have absolutely everything, but it turned out fine.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4-6 so adapt accordingly)

  • 2 large onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon soft light brown sugar
  • 12 anchovies (or 1 x 60g / 2oz can in olive oil)
  • 15 grams butter
  • tiniest pinch of ground cloves – didn’t have cloves so omitted these
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 125 millilitres full fat milk
  • 500 grams linguine (bigoli, bucatini, perciatelli or other robust pasta) – just normal, bog-standard dried spaghetti
  • 1 bunch freshly chopped fresh flatleaf parsley – no fresh parsley, unfortunately, the one thing I think it could have benefitted from
  • Salt & pepper

It’s another very easy recipe. We did follow it to the letter, but I’m sure you could do it even quicker by just mixing the onions, garlic and anchovies into the cooked spaghetti, but the creamy sauce did make all of the difference and elevated it a little from just a pasta dish, to one with a bit of a wow.


  • Finely chop the onions & garlic and cook, in a little oil until soft, then add the brown sugar and cook for a further 10 minutes
  • Chop the anchovies into very small pieces and add to the onion/garlic mix, until they start to disintegrate, then stir in the butter (and the pinch of ground cloves at this stage), followed by a tablespoonful of water
  • When it is all combined, gradually stir in the milk, and when it is a puree, take the pan off the heat
  • Cook the spaghetti and when done drain, then tip the anchovy & onion sauce into the pasta, mixing it round so that the strands are coated
  • Season according to taste
  • Mix the roughly chopped parsley into the pasta, keeping some aside
  • Serve in warm bowls and sprinkle the remaining parsley over the top


lockdown larder : oaty apple & cinnamon crumble…

lockdown larder : oaty apple & cinnamon crumble…

I am not a baker. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I can cook. I can follow a recipe, sometimes go a bit off-piste, and I’m definitely OK with one-pot stews and soups and casseroles. But, baking. As in cakes that go in the oven – I prefer to leave these to these experts, as they always just seem so complicated and so full of ingredients, which, in their raw state, leave me a bit puzzled. Too many kinds of flour and sugar and too many ways to mix mixtures. Especially when you are trying to buy in either an Italian or a Croatian supermarket and re reliant on translation apps for the ingredients.

But that was until we were given this as a present…

…a book, full of recipes, all of which are done in one tin. One roasting tin. Utterly genius! A fair few have been tried and tested but I’ve tended to avoid the back section – the cakes and desserts. These pages in any recipe book I own, rarely have splogdes of cooking evidence on them as I don’t venture near the back of the books. But I decided to be brave and tackle what looked looked like a fairly easy recipe – an apple crumble. With all ingredients sourced – and not easy, I can tell you, when buying in a Croatian or an Italian supermarket – I set about Operation Crumble.

Pre-heat oven to 180 (fan) / 200 / gas mark 6

Ingredients for the cake:

3 apples core and sliced
Juice of half a lemon
225g softened, unsalted butter
225g soft, light brown sugar
4 free range eggs
225g self-raising flour
half teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of ground all-spice
1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon (or, if you’re like me, a very heaped tsp)

Ingredients for the crumble topping:

25g demerara sugar (soft brown sugar can be used as an alternative)
25g unsalted softened butter
25g plain flour
25g oats

I find it easier to get all of the ingredients measured out first, so that I’m not continually stopping and starting and so that I can keep the work top – which isn’t massive in size – as clutter free as possible. The process is pretty simple and straightforward – I use an electric whisk too, to mix everything, as even with softened butter, it is a bit tedious doing it all by hand. So, whisk the butter and sugar until smooth and then whisk in the eggs one by one. Gradually stir in the flour, spices and baking powder until all combined.

Line the tin with greaseproof baking paper and spoon in the mixture. I leave coring and slicing the apples until this point so that they don’t start to turn to brown and overlap them on top of the mixture, adding the dash of lemon juice to again prevent browning.

Now beat the demerara (or soft light brown) sugar and butter together, then stir in the flour and oats and work together with your fingertips into a rough crumble. Scatter over the apples.

Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Leave it to cool on a wire rack and the serve as you prefer – with a cup of tea, a dollop of cream or creme fraiche, or as we did because we had it in the freezer, a nice big spoonful of Bailey’s ice-cream.


lockdown larder : coconut and lentil dahl…

lockdown larder : coconut and lentil dahl…

We’re currently in proper lockdown here in Istria. As of last week, a permit has to be applied for if you want to travel to a different municipality. Borders are closed so we can’t – and at the moment, definitely don’t want to – hop across to Italy to stock up on our favourite parmesan and proscuitto and so we’re driving over to Umag, on the coast, to shop at Lidl and Spar. Although obtaining a permit is relatively easy – we have residency here and so just need to email the appropriate office – we’re much happier not being out and about, preferring to live a much more self-sufficient lifestyle, at the moment. Rather than multiple weekly trips to a supermarket, we’ve decided that once a week, at most – less, if we can be very organised – is the best way forward. This also means we are finally getting to the back of our kitchen cupboards and rationalising the many packets and tins and bags of foodstuff we’ve accumulated. Rice, pasta, pulses – all there, and because a lot of it is at the back, and we can’t see it, more of the same stuff has been bought over time. So, now seems to be the right time, to actually start using it.

Coconut & Lentil Dahl

With a glut of tins of lentils, it was decided that a dahl was on the cards. I found this recipe from Deliciously Ella and liked it because a) most of the ingredients were available and b) a bit of coconut flavour is always welcome. It also looked easy -peasy – which it was – and appealed to my liking of chuck-everything-in-the-one-pot kind of cooking.

  • 400g green lentils, washed and drained
  • 2x 400g cans coconut milk
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon hot chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, optional

In the end, I only used one tin of coconut milk, because I used a jar of passata instead of chopped tomatoes and so there was quite a lot of excess liquid to cook off. I also used more of the spices, than in the recipe – probably double the quantities as we like our food to be flavoursome and spicy. The onions, when first sauteed in oilve oil, were also quite heavily seasoned with black pepper from the grinder.

It really is the easiest thing to make – taking the recipe from Deliciously Ella (linked to above), I did adapt things slightly. I added a packet of black puy lentils to give it a bit more texture, and with hindsight, I maybe used too much passata, so that the final colour was more orangey than the usual yellowy-mustard colour of dahl. The chopped tomatoes, as suggested in the original recipe, would probably be better if you didn’t want it to be over-tomatoey. Last night’s was served with roasted new potatoes, which were cooked in a mixture of olive oil, spicy paprika and chilli flakes. We also had some cooling natural yoghurt on the side, although our herbs haven’t been planted up yet, and so sadly, no coriander as a garnish. That’s our next project – an old IKEA CD cabinet, which has been sprayed anthracite, and which is about to be planted up with herb seeds. Perfect compartments to keep them organised.

Because there is so much left over, it’s going to be the base of tonight’s dinner. In the fridge, there is a lovely Italian chorizo which will be fried off with a bit more spice and added to the dahl – and this time, I’m going to add a fair few sprinkles of turmeric to try and achieve that yellow colour. Nice to see the kitchen cupboard staples actually finally being used…