2000 Trees Festival, Gloucestershire

2000 Trees Festival, Gloucestershire

So this weekend marked my first experience (at the grand old ages of 27) of camping at a festival. Something I never imagined a couple of years ago I’d be doing. However, D being a music journalist with Already Heard got the opportunity to attend the festival with a press ticket so I went along for the ride. 2000 trees is an alternative music festival in its 9th year and its a lot smaller than the bigger names with a capacity of 5000. I highly recommend it, we felt extremely relaxed sitting in the sun with ciders listening to music in beautiful surroundings. In addition we watching some stand up comedy ranging from painful to hilarious. While festival toilets are pretty grim (especially first thing in the morning), at least we actually saw the portaloos being cleaned (while watching this was unpleasant I feel there are far worse alternatives).

I have experienced festival food at Slam Dunk and Pinky swear festival; and I really liked the setup of the latter. However, the food here was amazing and a must for any foodie who enjoys a healthy amount of live music with their street food. We dined very nicely on delicious burgers, pizza and local cider. In fact, I could almost cry with happiness as D will now eat Pad Thai! It must be said though, apart from our first day we didn’t actually drink that much over the course of the day. I feel this is important to mention anyone who is wary that it might detract from the fun and feel like the odd one out. Just enjoy your day and do what makes you happiest.

Anyway, some festival favourites for me were the following:

Skinny Lister – I loved the energy and how different their sound was

The Lion and the Wolf – beautiful acoustic music and the nicest man ever

Rob Lynch – nothing can stop you singing along with this man

The Subways – listening to their acoustic set gave me a new appreciation of their sound

Bury Tomorrow – while this music isn’t totally what I would normally pick I loved how everyone responded

Sam Russo – Understated and lovely

Also, I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful having a path was after 3 days of waking up in a hot tent and washing with cold water.

Easy sausage meatballs with tomato and rosemary sauce

Easy sausage meatballs with tomato and rosemary sauce

So while it seems like the rest of social media is denouncing pasta in favour of kale, sweet potato and lots and lots of protein shakes. While I’m all for healthy eating and living well; I do think there is definitely a place for pasta as part of a healthy diet. Pasta is lovely, in moderation if makes your stomach happy and keeps you full stopping you reaching for something sweeter in the middle of the evening.

In addition, as well as praising pasta in this post I should mention; sausage meatballs have been something of a revelation in this house. Sausages (especially good quality sausages) need no extra seasoning meaning that you can skin the sausages and reshape them in one easy step. In addition it provides a bit of variety when compared with more traditional meatball recipes. It’s probably also a good recipe for my mother (if she’s reading this) who is allergic to pork in its original state but can manage sausages and bacon and from time to time might prefer a new sausage recipe.

DSC_0640To make this you will need

6 – 8 good quality sausages

2 red onions

1 clove garlic

200g passata

Salt and pepper

1 small glass red wine

Worcester sauce (or Hederson’s relish) – optional

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

100g frozen peas

Olive oil

Splash of soy sauce (to bring out the umami flavour)

Pasta shells (I use approx 3/4 mug per person except with those fancy ones where the shells are massive)

50g goats cheese

Remove the sausages from their skins by squeezing the meat out with the flat of a knife. Shape the meat into small meatball shapes (about 2cm in size). Put these into the fridge to cool for approximately 30 minutes (or longer if you wish).

DSC_0627DSC_0628While the meatballs are chilling prepare your onions by peeling them and cutting them into segments and peel and crush the garlic. Heat these in the olive oil over a moderate heat until soft. Just as the onions soften add the brown sugar and allow the onion to caramelise.

DSC_0629DSC_0630Add the meatballs and heat, stirring gently until the meatballs are starting to brown. To this add the passata, salt and pepper, wine, rosemary, soy sauce, peas and Worcester sauce (if using). Start cooking the pasta as per the instructions on the pack. While the pasta is cooking gently simmer the meatballs.

DSC_0631DSC_0632DSC_0634DSC_0635Once the pasta is cooked take some of the starchy water and add to the pasta sauce to loosen it. Reseason with the salt and pepper as desired. Stir in the cooked pasta and cut up the cheese and melt into the sauce on a lot heat.

DSC_0636DSC_0638Et voila, meatballs!

Harissa roast chicken with pecorino topped salad

Harissa roast chicken with pecorino topped salad

Cooking a whole chicken is way more economical that buying lots of packs of chicken portions and generally you can get more from it that you think; especially if you consider making chicken stock from the bones. That said, having the same roast chicken recipe and serving it the same way could potentially get a bit dull so its nice to have variations on a theme. The harissa coating on this chicken adds just this, the crispy, salty, spicy coating is delicious and when served with a salad is lovely on a warm day.

For the roast chicken you will need

A whole chicken (free range costs a bit more, but its way more ethical and tastes better)

Harissa paste (make your own if you wish, but I used shop bought)

Olive oil

Runny honey

1 lemon

Salt crystals and black pepper

2 garlic cloves

For the salad you will need

2 large handfuls spinach

2 large handfuls of vine tomatoes

1 large red pepper

Olive oil

Pecorino

Salt and pepper

(We also had garlic bread with this but I only heated it up, next time I will make my own).

Preheat your oven to 190°C. While the oven is preheating sort out your chicken – remove any string, cut away the excess skin at the top and bottom, remove any giblets. Half your lemon and shove this into the chicken’s rear end. Crush your garlic and add to the chicken’s bum (I feel very eloquent writing this). Squirt some honey up there then add the remaining lemon half and garlic. Spoon over your harissa paste (I used about 1 tablespoon of it), drizzle over a small amount of olive oil (about 1 teaspoon’s worth) and rub this mixture all over your chicken. Sprinkle some salt crystals all over the chicken and add a sprinkling of pepper. Put this in the oven and roast the chicken for 20 minutes per lb of chicken plus an additional 20 minutes (I use a converter to convert metric to imperial for this). Before the last 20 minutes of cooking liberally spoon over any juice to add to the decliousness and make the chicken all shiny and crispy.

DSC_0622DSC_0623

The salad is simple, half the tomatoes, and cut up the pepper and toss them together in a bowl. Drizzle some olive oil over the salad and season with salt and pepper. Use a grater to shave pecorino over the salad and serve.

DSC_0625When you take the chicken out of the oven leave it for 15-20 minutes before carving to retain the juiciness of the meat. During this time you can heat up any sides (like I said above we had this with garlic bread, but pasta salad or cous cous would work equally well).

DSC_0626The leftovers for this work beautifully in salads, with cold in sandwiches, or in any curries or risottos you wish to make.