Tomato, mozzarella and bacon baked gnocchi

For once I pretty much stuck to a recipe which you can find here. Whilst I’ve cooked several pasta bakes, I’d not thought about doing a baked gnocchi dish until I stumbled across the idea on Pinterest.

I think shop bought gnocchi probably works best in this dish as the original article also says, one day I’d love to have a go at making my own gnocchi but I’ve not been brave enough yet, either way I always get the feeling that purchased gnocchi is a little more sturdy than the home made stuff.

This recipe was delicious and, other than maybe trying chorizo instead of bacon, there is very little I would change. I’m normally a recipe tinkerer so this is most unusual for me.


320g gnocchi (more won’t hurt, that’s just the size pack we were able to get)
Pack of bacon, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tin chopped tomato
75g (ish) halved cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp crème fraiche
100g mozzarella

Pre heat oven to Gas Mark 6.

Fry the bacon on a high heat until brown, turn down the heat and add the garlic, stir for 30 seconds or so then add the paprika and make sure everything is well coated. Add the tinned and halved tomatoes. Here the recipe calls for sugar (which does help with tinned tomatoes) but I didn’t add it here, sometimes I will throw in a teaspoon of golden syrup but I didn’t think this recipe needs it due to the fresh tomatoes and the cream.


Simmer the sauce until it starts to thicken, this was more like 10 minutes for me and so this was a good time to bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the gnocchi. Drain the gnocchi and put to one side.

Once the tomato sauce has thickened, stir in the cream then add the cooked gnocchi. If you are not using a hob to oven casserole, transfer the sauce and gnocchi to an oven proof dish. Place sliced mozzarella on top and put into the oven until the cheese is melted and browned.

By this point we were fairly hungry, even though this is a relatively quick tea, so we went with melted rather than browned cheese. It was definitely a tasty tea!


The great thing about cold weather is slow cooked, homely food. As the Other Half’s parents were cooking on Sunday evening, I decided to use the weekend to make something with slow cooked beef. Originally I had planned on doing boeuf bourguignon but that somehow changed to beef goulash.

I don’t have a slow cooker but I do have a cast iron pot and a wood burner so I duly lit the fire, started cooking and then left the goulash to do its stuff for about 6 hours, stirring occasionally when I hurled an extra log on the fire. The house smelt amazing and was nicely warm, despite the inclement weather outside.


2 onion, sliced
2 peppers, one orange, one yellow, finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced or minced
500g diced beef
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp. tomato puree
400g tin of tomatoes
Beef stock cube
1 tub sour cream or crème fraiche

First of all fry the onion and peppers gently in some oil for about 10 minutes until softened then add the garlic and stir.

Add the beef and continue stirring until the meat is browned before mixing in the paprika, making sure everything is coated. Add the tomatoes and rinse the tin with a little hot water, stir in the water and a crumbled stock cube, then squeeze in the tomato puree. Bring to the boil, then cover and either cook on a low heat for 2 hours or slow cook for 6 hours.

Before serving, add the sour cream and mix well. We had the Goulash with mashed potato but you could serve with rice or spatzle.
slow cooked beef goulash


I think I first found this Shakshouka recipe when looking for ideas for a spicy tomato sauce. Shakshouka appears to be a North African dish primarily but is also popular in Jewish cuisine. This was an accidental discovery and the original recipe is here. We hadn’t eaten it for a while and then I found this blog post by pwpantry, this inspired me to try it yet again but with chorizo this time. It was even nicer than last time we had it and definitely one to try again.


Olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds (I used fenugreek seeds this time)
1 onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 peppers, one each of red and yellow
Handful of chorizo, chopped (I used half a link)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 egg per person

Heat the oil in a oven proof pan and lightly roast the spice seeds without allowing them to burn. Add the onion and fry until softened and starting to colour. Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Turn the heat right down and add the peppers, stir regularly and add the chorizo after 15 minutes. Continue to cook on a low heat until the chorizo starts to brown, add the tomatoes and paprika, stir well and simmer gently for 10 minutes.


Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 4. Make a hollow in the tomato stew and crack in an egg. Repeat as necessary! Put into the oven for about 10 minutes until the eggs are cooked but the yolks are runny.

This is lovely with fresh bread and we’ve also had it with rice before, the chorizo was a really good addition and is likely to become permanent fixture!

It’s all (meat)balls!

The Other Half is out so a relatively quick and definitely easy dinner is required for me and the small person. Meatballs it is then! This is the same recipe I use to make burgers (fry 4 minutes each side) which are also super quick.


For the meatballs:
500g minced beef
1 mushroom
1 rasher bacon
1 tbsp crème fraiche
1 tbsp red onion marmalade
1 dash Soy Sauce
1 dash Worcestershire Sauce
Black pepper

For the sauce:
1 chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp golden syrup
1 tbsp double cream (optional)
100ml red wine

Fry and chop the rasher of bacon then mix all of the meatball ingredients, how many you make depends on the size of the ball, I got 14 out of the mix this time. I also prefer to get my hands in as I find mixing by hand incorporates everything together better.


Put this to one side to rest and start on the sauce. Fry the onion until soft, add the garlic and after a minute add the red wine. Once this has reduced (by at least half) throw in the chopped tomatoes. As I wanted extra sauce I used a large onion and 2 tins of tomato, otherwise 1 is more than enough. Allow to warm through. As tomatoes can be a little bitter, I usually add a splodge of Golden Syrup, but if I don’t have any a teaspoon of sugar will do. If you want the extra sauce, you could even use tomato soup in place of the second tin of tomatoes.

Decant this into a bowl, clean the frying pan and blend the sauce. You could brown off the meatballs before the wine and tomatoes are added and not bother with this step, but I prefer the look and texture of the blended sauce.


Brown the meatballs (gently turning once as they fall apart fairly easily) then add the sauce back in and simmer for around 10 minutes until done. Serve with pasta of your choice, we have linguine rather than spaghetti.


If you use this mix to make burgers rather than meatballs, forming the burger around a ball of cheese like mozzarella keeps the burger nice and moist. If you’ve used good, fresh mince don’t be afraid to serve the burger medium rare either, it’s usually a nicer flavour!