“Roasted Broccoli & Bacon Conchiglie Bake” from “The Quick Roasting Tin”

To give this recipe its full due, it’s actually, “Roasted Broccoli and Bacon Conchiglie Bake with Lemon Creme Fraiche” , or, as I described it to Nicholas when he arrived in the kitchen and asked what was for dinner, “A Broccoli, Bacon and Pasta Bake.”

I chose this recipe not only because this family loves roasted broccoli, but also because we still had some leftover holiday stilton and unused pancetta sitting in the refrigerator, and this was the perfect vehicle for them both. (An aside: The quandary of using leftover holiday stilton is not limited to just our family, since I was discussing this very recipe with a friend who had the same problem. Ah, January.)

The eagle-eyed among you may notice that I did not actually use conchiglie here. I decided to use this fun swirly shape instead (apologies for not noting the technical name) because this pasta is much better than Sainsbury’s own-brand, which has an overwhelming tang of nutmeg that none of us are fond of. Given the pasta was such a main component of the dish, we pushed the boat out and got the fancy kind.

Like many recipes in this book, this is very straightforward. Roast the broccoli and the pancetta while the pasta is cooking on the stovetop. Once the pasta is done, mix it in, along with a few handfuls of spinach and the lemon creme fraiche. Finish the whole thing off with some breadcrumbs and the aforementioned stilton on the top.

The recipe calls for parmesan but she says in the notes that stilton and cheddar would work equally well. But I’m here to argue that I think using stilton is actually a little better, because it makes the whole thing more interesting that bog-standard parmesan. (Sorry, parmesan, but it’s true. Ya Basic.)

We all loved this. It was the perfect cheery meal for a grey January night. The fact that it was so easy was a brilliant bonus.

“Roasted Broccoli & Bacon Conchiglie Bake” from “The Quick Roasting Tin”

“Pizza with Broccoli Rabe, Ricotta and Olives” from “Dinner”

Kirstin: We love pizza. We have it every weekend and having played around with the dough recipes, we’ve decided the best one is the Roberta’s recipe from the New York Times. But then that leaves the question of the toppings!

Tom: Nduja know what my favourite topping is?

Kirstin: I knew you were going to say that.

Tom: I’m just trying to do Nduja right thing. Anyway, you were saying…

Kirstin: So I liked the look of this recipe with broccoli, ricotta and olives. Normally we don’t cook the toppings — we just use olives, prosciutto, passata, garlic…

Tom: And Nduja!

Kirstin: Yes, and that. Anyway, this recipe involves cooking the broccoli, garlic and chilli flakes, and then you chop it up and add the olives.

Tom: And then bung that on the pizza, plus ricotta and olive oil. And salt. And a few more chilli flakes. It was fab!

Kirstin: I loved it. I would do that again. Would you?

Tom: Amazingly, yes. Normally I don’t like pizzas without meat, but this was great!

Kirstin: I think I would add some jalapeño. I’m surprised she didn’t.

Tom: Everything is better with more jalapeño!

“Pizza with Broccoli Rabe, Ricotta and Olives” from “Dinner”

“Roasted Broccolini” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”


Barefoot Contessa calls it broccolini, but I took a punt and thought that she meant Tenderstem Broccoli, because that’s what it looked like in the pictures. [Pause to check Google to see if I was right. I was! Apparently Tenderstem Broccoli is the brand name for broccolini in the U.K. and Ireland. It even has its own website! ]

I loved this recipe because it gives me yet another way to prepare Tenderstem Broccoli, which I love and we eat all the time. In the past, I’ve only ever steamed it. But roasting it also works. It’s delicious.

This one hardly is a recipe, given that all you do is toss the tenderstem in olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and then roast it, but that’s OK. To give credit where credit is due, I’m fairly certain that the Barefoot Contessa is responsible for my fail-safe way to roast cauliflower, which I always used to burn, until I followed her advice to cover it with foil. Looking at it now, it’s obvious that foil was what was needed, but I needed her to point it out to me.

I will definitely be making this again. I just won’t need the recipe next time.

“Roasted Broccolini” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

“Spiced and Fried Haddock with Broccoli Puree” from “Simply Nigella”

IMG_7940Nicholas (12): Why are we having fish? It’s not Friday.

Maureen: I’m sorry. I hope this doesn’t disturb you too much, but Dad and I are going out tomorrow night, so Fish Friday has been moved to Thursday. We can have fish on days other than Friday you know. What do you think?

Nicholas: What is it?

Maureen: It should be haddock, but the fishmonger didn’t have any, so it’s hake dredged in spiced flour with a side of mushy broccoli. It’s a variation on mushy peas.

Andrew (16): The fish is delicious. I’m not so sure about the broccoli.

Nicholas: I agree with Andrew.

Tim: I don’t mind the broccoli, but I feel it could benefit greatly by the addition of some cheese, like cheddar or parmesan, or maybe some cream.

Maureen: I think this is Nigella trying to be healthy. The recipe called for either coconut oil or olive oil or butter, and I went for the butter. Everything is better with butter. But then I kept tasting it and I added twice as much butter as the recipe called for and I still think it’s a bit bland.

Tim: Cheese would definitely make it better.

Maureen: I think perhaps the problem is we all love the original posh mushy peas recipe from Nigella’s very first book, which called for lashings of double cream and butter. Yum. Bring back the old Nigella!

Tim: Maybe the next time you make this for Fish Friday you could make the fish as it is and make the mushy peas that we all love.

Maureen: Great idea.

If you would like to make the fish for yourself, and maybe give the mushy broccoli a try, click through this sentence to find the recipe on Google Books.

“Spiced and Fried Haddock with Broccoli Puree” from “Simply Nigella”

“Wholewheat Spaghetti Sprouting Broccoli, Chilli and Lemon” from “Everyday Super Food”


Tom: Is this Jamie?

Kirstin: Yes it is.

Ella: Looks like pasta.

Kirstin: It is pasta! Can you eat some please?

Ella: I was just thinking about something. Latin.

Kirstin: Well can you eat and think at the same time?

Miles: I like it!

Tom: I’m not really convinced about this. It feels like lots of separate ingredients in a bowl. They don’t make sense together.

Miles: Yes, that’s what I’m thinking too.

Kirstin: I could have mixed it up more in the bowl.

Tom: I don’t think it would have made any difference. You would still have had to pick out the broccoli to eat it. And is the cottage cheese supposed to have melted?

Kirstin: It’s interesting, isn’t it because we’ve had a friend in Italy show us how to cook broccoli pasta in Italy and it was so much better than this. I would prefer not to eat healthily if it’s going to taste like this. I like the full fat Italian version of this recipe soooo much more.

Tom: This is like having tree trunks in your spaghetti. The brown pasta is alright. But it’s all too worthy.

Kirstin: This is going to be an interesting month.

“Wholewheat Spaghetti Sprouting Broccoli, Chilli and Lemon” from “Everyday Super Food”

“Chicken Adobo with Broccoli Rice” from “The Art of Eating Well”


Anna: I can’t post a picture. There isn’t a way I can take it without it looking like a plate of prison food.

Peter: It doesn’t taste like prison food. As far as I know.

Anna: No, the chicken is really very delicious. I wasn’t sure about this recipe. It looked like there would be too much broth. Or ‘gravy’ as they call it. And there certainly is a lot of it but it tastes like a yummy chicken soup.

Peter: The broccoli rice is very novel. I could see how it might appeal to kids.

Anna: Do you think this is a nice way to eat broccoli?

Peter: It’s a different way to eat broccoli. It’s a bit worthy though.

Anna: Yes, I can see that. I actually quite like it. It’s incredibly simple and gets round the problem of ending up with soggy broccoli by accident. I will need to give it another go to work out if it’s genius or not.


“Chicken Adobo with Broccoli Rice” from “The Art of Eating Well”

“Orecchiette, Sprouting broccoli and Chilli” from “Bill’s Italian Food”


Tom: What’s all this crunchy stuff? I love it!

Kirstin: It’s toasted breadcrumbs.

Miles: I don’t like it.

Kirstin: I wasn’t expecting you too, but it’s always good to try new things, eh Miles?

Tom: I love the breadcrumbs!

Kirstin: Me too. Yes. Definitely will make this one again! I’ve tried so many broccoli and pasta recipes, but the breadcrumbs really add something new and delicious!

“Orecchiette, Sprouting broccoli and Chilli” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

“Orecchiette with Broccoli, Garlic and Chilli” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

Kirstin: I was taught how to make a version of broccoli pasta from an Italian. She used orecchiette too but dried chilli and the broccoli was mashed.

Tom: I remember that recipe!

Kirstin: I used to make it all the time. But I could easily make this one all the time instead!

Tom: The chilli is really good with the broccoli.

Kirstin: And unfortunately I mentioned that there was tomato in it (just 6 small cherry tomatoes, quartered) so the kids aren’t being very interested in this.

Tom: Their loss.

Kirstin: Indeed!


“Orecchiette with Broccoli, Garlic and Chilli” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

“Mustard Chicken Salad” from “How Easy is That?”

Peter: I like this. What’s in the dressing, apart from mustard?

Anna: Well there’s tarragon in it. And it’s supposed to have tarragon vinegar, but I couldn’t find that. So I used cider vinegar instead.

2013-02-07 21.09.29

Peter: There’s a lot of this. I’ll be having the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Anna: I liked her tip for doing the chicken, roasting it on the bone and then shredding rather than poaching. But this did mean that it took quite a while to make dinner which isn’t so cool on a school night.

Peter: This would be good as a salad at a barbeque or a party.

Anna: You’re right. Honestly I find it a bit boring. So I don’t think I’ll be going out of my way to make it again. Sorry.

“Mustard Chicken Salad” from “How Easy is That?”

“Broccoli and Cheese Soup” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table”

Maureen: It’s a new year, a new month and a new cookbook. This is the Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook that Anne gave me for Christmas. What do you think of this? I like it.

Andrew (13): Yes, it’s good.

Nicholas (9): It’s OK (unenthusiastically).


Tim: Is there cheddar in this?

Maureen: Yes, but very little. You’re only supposed to add 60 grams, but I used 80 grams, which still seemed very little to me.

Nicholas: You can hardly taste the cheddar.

Maureen: Since we all love broccoli and cheddar pizza, I thought we would all like this.

Tim: Yes, I really like it. It’s certainly a lot healthier than the other vegetable-cheddar soup you make.

Maureen: Are you talking about Potato-Ceddar Soup? That’s heresy to say there’s something better than that. You’re just weary of it because I first started making it 18 years ago. Would you like me to make this one again?

Continue reading ““Broccoli and Cheese Soup” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table””

“Broccoli and Cheese Soup” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table”