Before I begin tonight, I'd like to invite you to put yourself forward to write me a little round-up. It's been a while since I had a guest poster for this little feature, and I always enjoy reading other people's picks so much. Plus, at the moment, all the recipes featuring mushrooms, aubergines, olives, fennel, coffee, etc are being instantly eliminated. Yes, for a food blogger I have a fairly long list of dislikes, as my friends never tire of informing me. My justification is that I have very refined taste buds, and therefore tastes are stronger in my mouth, or something. Not sure there's any scientific basis to that, but I'm working on saying it with such quiet authority that no one will question me. Anyway, if you do fancy doing a round-up, email me at norathesplorer at gmail dot com and we can talk details.
And now, to the food! First into the round-up bucket this week was this Beef Ragu Papardelle with Gremolata from Food Stories, a slow cooked sauce made with beef shin, sprinkled with a mix of parsley, garlic and lemon zest to add a bit of zing. Yum! But if you're after a slightly simpler pasta dish, can I send you off in the direction of Bucatini all'amatriciana from The Pink Peppercorn? It's a sauce made with just bacon, onions, tomatoes and chilli - simplicity at its best. And for a spot of Spanish pasta (for the Spanish speakers among you), head over to La Cocina de Lechuza for Fideos con almejas - a Spanish version of Spaghetti alle vongole.
Bread is something that I'm always intending to make, but very rarely do. And sourdough bread is one of the best, but also one of the most intimidating. So I was delighted to see Sourdough for Dummies at Just Cook It, with day by day instructions for making your starter and all. With that level of detail, I think even I could become a bread making queen. Though in the meantime, I might just 'settle' for Wholemeal banana bread from Cooking at Marystow. What?! It's still bread, isn't it? Oh, and while we're on bread, check out this round-up of the Monthly Mingle at Life's a feast - the theme was chocolate and bread and there is A LOT of good stuff in there.
Moving on, I spotted this Cauliflower and caramelised onion tart at Smitten Kitchen, which looks absolutely scrumptious, minus the mustard layer (yes, add that to the list of my dislikes!). These Egg Baked Potatoes from The Daily Spud combine two of my favourite ingredients, and it's such a great why-didn't-I-think-of-that idea. Another great combination is this Broccoli Cheese Soup from The Urban Spork. And while we're still in the savoury arena, I also rather liked the look of both this Honey seared salmon with sesame noodles from The Goddess's Kitchen and this Chicken and 3-rice salad from What Rachel Ate, which both look like tasty, nutritious dinner options. And I'll be saving up this recipe for Grilled Zucchini Rolls from Apples and Butter for the summertime - can't you just see yourself sitting in the park with a swanky picnic, popping one of these babies into your mouth, while the sun beats down on your face....? (Can you tell I'm officially sick of winter?)
But, perhaps the way to appreciate winter is to stuff your face with cake, safe in the knowledge that no one's going to see your wobbly bits for a while. And if that's your policy, I have a few recommendations for you. Just within the realms of cake, there was a host of triumphs this week: Brown sugar bundt cake from Let Her Bake Cake, an Apple cake which is almost a pie from The English Kitchen, Almond, orange and lemon cake from Not Another Food Blog, Lemon curd and blueberry loaf cake from Chocolate Teapot and the most gorgeous Lemon cupcakes from The Red Deer. But that's not it for sweet stuff, oh no. For a start, there are these lovely Tozzetti, or Italian hazelnut biscuits from Broxholm Road, which look all crunchy and nutty. These Carrot and cardamom muffins from Gin and Crumpets look so spicy and soft. And I can't finish without mentioning these Black Sesame dessert dumplings from Hollow Legs - very exciting and delicious-looking!
And before I sign off, I must just thank Sarah of Simply Cooked for her Happy 101 award - thank you so much Sarah! My 10 things I love and my nominees are in my post here, and if you haven't checked out my nominations, I highly recommend you have a look.