My ‘everything’ tomato sauce

Before I started tinkering with tinned tomatoes and ‘finding my own way’ with recipes, I tried loads of different tomato pasta sauce recipes, but I’ve pretty much sworn by this one for a couple of years.

It’s quick, cheap and easy, goes with anything and can be adapted to your tastes. It’s also easily doubled and doesn’t require puree or vegetable stock like some recipes I’ve previously tried.

Chuck in some chopped pepper (frozen or fresh), courgettes or mushrooms after your onions are softened but before adding the chopped tomatoes and heat for a couple of minutes as an extra way of getting your five a day.

I have this with pasta (brilliant for a packed lunch) or on top of fish – particularly those frozen fillets you can get. If you’re not going with the fresh ingredients, this can be made entirely from store cupboard essentials

Frankie’s simple tomato sauce (makes two generous portions)

You will need…

  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Dried basil or mixed herbs (if you’ve got fresh, go for it)
  • One small red onion (chopped finely)
  • A few fat cloves of garlic, crushed (adjust to taste – I’m a garlic fiend)
  • Chilli powder or half a chopped red chilli (it’s properly spicey if you go fresh, so I tend to use powder – so convenient!)
  • A generous handful of sliced black olives
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Red wine (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Large pinch of sugar
  • A couple tablespoons olive oil

Method…

  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When it’s warmed through, add the onion and the garlic. Heat until softened. Add the fresh chilli if you’re using it.
  • If you have red wine to hand, pour a generous slug of it into the pan and then heat until absorbed. Repeat with the balsamic vinegar.
  • Add chilli powder if using it and heat for a further minute.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, olives, sugar, salt and herbs. Heat for five minutes or until excess water from the tomatoes has reduced.
  • Serve with fresh basil and feta (depending on what you’re having it with)

I’ll be releasing a Touchcast video about this soon – for more recipe ideas, check out my Touchcast channel

 

Touchcast

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (hint, hint) may have noticed that I’ve been steadily developing an addiction to video blogging with Touchcast.

Touchcast is a video-based app that you can use on iPad, Mac and PCs to create shortform videos featuring ‘web within the video’ content, such as images, webpages, ‘click-to-buy’ links, Instagram and Twitter feeds. You can record video by cueing up this content (known as Vapps) before recording, or film first and add Vapps later – in other words, you could do a pristine, polished multi camera edit, upload it into the app and add the extra layer of vapp-based content before publishing.

Currently I’m using the former method and fairly sparingly still – I think the key to a good Touchcast is to not throw everything at your viewers but to acknowledge each vapp you’ve included. Hopefully one day I’ll also have a reason to use some of the other features, such as switching between front and back cameras on my iPad during recording and using the whiteboard to draw on the screen.

My first two Touchcast efforts were food-based, the first also serving as a review of Jack Monroe’s ‘A Girl Called Jack’ book  and the second using one of my favourite online recipes; salted caramel millionaire’s shortbread. They mostly feature images so you can actually see what you should expect when actually making the recipes.

With more link-heavy Touchcasts, it’s advisable to let your viewers know that they should save exploring the extra content until after they’ve watched the video once through (or they can put it on pause).

I’m hoping that in future I’ll be able to produce interview-based features. At the moment, Touchcast lets you record to up to five minutes at a time, but you can merge projects together to create a longer edit, so it might mean recording outside of the app, which I’ve not done yet.

Naturally Touchcast is great for shameless self-promotion, so I’ve recently uploaded a video about the interactive Writing for BBC Radio Comedy iBook I produced. If you haven’t already downloaded it for free from the iTunes Store, you can get it here or find an online version over at the BBC Academy of Production website.

Visit my Touchcast channel here and let me know if you give it a go!

The ‘what I want for Christmas’ post

“When are you doing your Christmas wish list this year?”

This is what my sister asked me last month. She claims to have found this post from two years ago rather hilarious (but also useful, seeing as she got me one of the items mentioned – thanks Charlotte)!

It occurred to me yesterday, as I admired the resulted of my admittedly pathetic wrapping piled up in the hallway of the ‘Get Flat’ (ahem, that’s my flat to the uninitiated) . I then got a Facebook message from my mother asking what I want, which made me realise that firstly, my Mother has moved on from the humble text message (phone calls were so over a few years ago) and has now decided that social media is the way to go for quick questions – Xmas requests and home visits being the most common – it’s also easier for her and her partner to both question me at the same time. Secondly, it reminded me that perhaps this Xmas wishlist lark is frivolous but useful for those lovely, wonderful people who are going to indulge me this year (my 24th birthday is December 27th… eek).

So now I’m doing a rushed browse around the web, wondering what on earth I could want. I’m going very minimal with my flat in case anyone is ever foolish/grown up enough to move in with me (yes I know that’s years away) and I’m scared of building up clutter. However, one’s sofa can never be cluttered, only squishy and comfy or glacial cool. So, I’ve got the er… ‘hunger’ for some of these amazing biscuit cushions from Nikki McWilliams.

Cushion by Nikki McWilliams

Cushion by Nikki McWilliams

My living room is very ‘masculine’ with loads of greys and black tones with a colour pop provided by an orange sofabed from Made.com so the custard creams might work nicely in the living room, with the party rings or love heart jammy dodgers going down better in the ‘girly’ bedroom.

Jammy dodger cushion

Cushion by Nikki McWilliams

It’s not quite as cute or glamorous as the cushions, but I’m also seeking these shelves to pop in the hallway from Ikea. I’ve got a grey one in the living room, but the white version is perfect for books and more and they’re a snip at £14. I also need some grey machine dye to dye some curtains I’ve been given and a long curtain pole for my living room…. so er, maybe a voucher then!?

Finally house-wise, I’m seeking double bedding donations, contributions to aid my DVD and CD collections (I’ve only got Alt-J and Jessie Ware’s albums from the Mercurys shortlist and there’s a few more nominated I’d love to own, plus – ahem again – the Little Mix and Nicola Roberts albums). There’s also the desperate desire to own a floor lamp for the living room – either the Arche floor lamp or Studio tripod model from Made.com.

I’m still mad on baking – cupcakes are my latest fad (two years later than the rest of the world). I love that they’re so easy to transport to work/friends/places so I don’t end up keeping them all to myself. All baking paraphernalia welcome as far as I’m concerned!

Frankie holds cupcakes

Vanilla cupcakes by Frankie (photo and help from Adam)

You can never go wrong with the gift of a Mac makeover (or one of their awesome eye shadows). You book a slot and then you get to try loads of products and the cost of the makeover covers products of the same value (you can buy more if you like, of course!) Plus, there’s the ever-reliable Topshop voucher to keep you in jumpers for the rest of Winter…

Step-by-step: Frankie’s chocolate raisin cheesecake

I’m obsessed with chocolate raisins…

I had intended on making a reliably delicious double chocolate cheesecake for Sunday dinner  but disaster struck when the dark chocolate burned in the microwave… I decided to ‘change things up’ a bit by adding a couple of handfuls of raisins and giving the cake an extra chocolate kick with a layer of cocoa dusting.

So here’s some easy step-by-step instructions incase you fancy treating yourself sometime soon! You will need a packet of digestive biscuits, 300g chocolate, cocoa powder (for dusting), a couple of handfuls of raisins, 200g mascapone cheese, 300g cream cheese and butter.

Take one happy assistant and ask him to crush 175g of digestive biccies

Melt 50g of butter and mix with the finely crushed biscuit crumbs

Push the biscuit and butter mix into a loose-bottomed cake tin

Mix 300g cream cheese with 200g mascapone cheese

Gently melt 300g milk chocolate over a pan of simmering water

Mix the melted chocolate with the creamy cheese mixture

Add a couple of handfulls of raisins

Top the biscuit base with the chocolate mixture

Lightly dust the cheesecake with cocoa powder and pop the cheesecake in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours to set, or chill overnight

Enjoy your chocolate raisin cheesecake!

I think I might be making this again, don’t you?