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Charentais Melon Salad

We’re just back from a camping trip to the Loire Valley and this is one of the many delicious things we prepared at our tent. We brought Rick Stein’s French Odyssey along for inspiration and have him to thank for this fabulous summer salad. Make it for a starter or light lunch with some French bread to mop the plate.  A glass of white wine is also obligatory.

Wine Suggestion: We’d found a gem of a wine in the Chateau Moncontour Vouvray Sec which hit the spot with this dish. A lively and dry Chenin Blanc which had fresh appley fruit, and a crispness and minerality that worked with the Chèvre and sweetness of the melon. Summer in a glass as well as on the plate.

Charentais Melon Salad – serves 4

  • 1/2 a ripe, orange-fleshed melon (Charentais or Cantaloup)
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 225g vine ripened tomatoes (skinned if you like – we didn’t bother)
  • 100g firm, crumbly goat’s cheese
  • 1 tbsp finely shredded mint

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Pinch caster sugar

Whisk the oil, vinegar, sugar and some salt and pepper together to make the dressing (a fork in a mug will do the trick if you’re short on utensils).

Cut the melon into four wedges and scoop out the seeds. Remove the skin and slice each wedge into long thin slices.

Peel the cucumber and slice into 3mm thick wedges. Slice the tomatoes.

Arrange the sliced melon on a large serving platter and cover with the cucumber and tomatoes. Crumble the goat’s cheese over the top and scatter over the mint. Spoon over the dressing and serve.

(Original recipe from Rick Steins’s French Odyssey, BBC Books, 2005).

Kofte kebab

This Turkish kebab dish, from Claudia Roden’s wonderful book Arabesque, is very simple to make but you need to be organised and assemble the dish at the last minute so the layer of crunchy pitta bread at the bottom of the dish stays crisp. Claudia’s tips are to serve the tomato sauce and meat very hot but the yoghurt at room temperature.

Yogurtlu Köfte Kebabi or Turkish Kofte Kebab with Tomato Sauce & Yoghurt – serves 4

  • 2 pitta breads
  • 750g minced beef or lamb
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 50g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sumac plus an extra pinch
  • 500g full-fat natural yogurt
  • 2 tbsp butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp pine nuts

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 chilli pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 750g tomatoes, peeled and chopped (if it’s not tomato season use the equivalent of good quality tinned tomatoes instead)
  • 1-2 tsp sugar

Start with the tomato sauce. Fry the onion in the oil until soft. Add the garlic and chilli pepper, and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes, season with salt, pepper and sugar, and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes until they soften.

Open out the pitta breads, toast until crisp, then break into small pieces with your hands.

Next make the kofte kebabs. Season the mince with salt and pepper, and use your hands to work into a soft dough. Add the onion and parsley and work into the meat. Shape into sausages, about 2cm thick and 7cm long. Arrange on an oiled sheet of foil on a baking sheet and cook for about 8 minutes under a pre-heated grill, turning once, until well browned but still pink and moist on the inside. Or if you prefer (as we do) you can grill on a barbecue.

Spread the toasted pitta pieces over the bottom of your serving dish and sprinkle over a pinch of sumac. Pour the hot tomato sauce all over and top with a layer of yoghurt beaten with a fork.

Heat the butter or oil with the pine nuts and stir in the teaspoon of sumac. When the butter or oil sizzles, sprinkle all over the yoghurt, arrange the meat on top and serve immediately.

(Original recipe from Claudia Roden’s Arabesque, Michael Joseph, 2005.)

River Café tomato sauce

 

We have two tomato sauces in our repertoire that we rely on; both are delicious but have a slightly different character. This is the one we have adopted from the River Café in London which is quicker (though we wouldn’t describe it as quick exactly) and incorporates a rich onion base. We keep a stack of takeaway tubs full of tomato sauce in the freezer for whenever pizza, pasta, or any other tomato-flavoured dish calls. Top quality tinned tomatoes are essential and we find the Italian brands are best.

Sugo di Pomodoro a Fuoco Lento or Slow-Cooked Tomato Sauce

  • 2 x 800g tins plum tomatoes, drained of their juices
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 medium red onions, peeled and sliced very thinly
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into slivers

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the onions. Reduce the heat and cook until very soft, at least 40 minutes. Add the garlic about 5 minutes before the end.

Add the tomatoes and stir to break up. Season with salt and pepper and cook slowly for at least 90 minutes, giving it a stir every now and again. The oil will eventually come to the surface and the sauce will be dark red and very thick with no remaining juice.

(Original recipe from The River Cafe Cookbook by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, Ebury Press, 1995.)

Jerk Pork with rice & peas

A great guy called Alistan is a regular in one of our favourite lunch spots, Ukiyo, and we were tipped off that he had his own Jerk marinade, Munroes. We put it on some pork chops and added a Jamaican classic, Rice & Peas (Rice and Beans), which worked brilliantly and we will be definitely giving this marinade a go again. We have subsequently tried it with a few other meats like chicken and lamb and it proved itself very versatile.

If you live in Dublin you can buy Munroes Jamaican Jerk Marinade in Fallon & Byrne. For a full list of stockists see munroes.net.

Jerk Pork with Rice & Peas – serves 6

  • 6 pork chops
  • Monroes Jamaican Jerk marinade

FOR THE RICE & PEAS: 

  • 200g basmati rice
  • 400g can of coconut milk
  • 1 bunch of scallions, sliced
  • 2 large thyme sprigs
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 x 410g cans kidney beans, drained

Pour a generous amount of the Jamaican Jerk marinade over the pork chops and turn a few times to make sure they are well coated. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least a couple of hours.

Light your barbecue a good half hour before you’re ready to cook and cook the pork when the coals are white hot. Meanwhile, prepare the rice and peas.

Rinse the rice in plenty of cold water and tip into a saucepan with all the remaining ingredients, except the kidney beans. Season with salt, add 300ml cold water and set over a high heat. When the rice begins to boil, turn the heat down to medium, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the beans to the rice, then cover with a lid and leave off the heat for 5 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Serve the rice with the Jerk pork off the barbecue.

(Recipe for Rice & Peas by John Torode for BBC Good Food)

Munroes jerk marinade

Piquillo pepper crostini

These are very simple to assemble and make delicious canapés. We highly recommend that you seek out Spanish canned piquillo peppers, they have much more flavour than regular jarred roasted peppers. They will cost you a bit more but we reckon it’s worth it in this instance.

Bayonne ham with pine nuts and piquillo peppers – makes 10

  • 50g pine nuts
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 slices of baguette
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander
  • 10 canned piquillo peppers
  • 5 thin slices of Bayonne (or other dry-cured ham), halved

Dry fry the pine nuts in a small frying pan , stirring often, for about 2 minutes or until golden, then transfer to a plate.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the slices of baguette, in batches, and fry on both sides until golden. Sprinkle with half the coriander leaves.

Stuff the piquillo peppers with the pine nuts and the remaining coriander.

Put a piquillo pepper onto each slice of fried bread, cover with half a slice of ham and sprinkle with the remaining coriander.

(Original recipe from Pork & Sons by Stéphane Reynaud, Phaidon, 2007.)

Pork, chorizo & spinach paella

A delicious paella recipe by Tamazin Day-Lewis (inspired by Sam & Sam Clark of Moro). This is easy to cook and uses relatively cheap ingredients. It has already appeared on our table a few times since this picture was taken.

Wine Suggestion: This dish is full of flavour so you will need a similarly flavoursome wine. A Spanish red from Ribera del Duero would make a great match.

Paella with Pork, Chorizo and Spinach – serves 4 

  • 7 tbsp olive oil
  • 340g pork fillet, halved lengthways and sliced into strips
  • 110g mild chorizo, cut into small pieces
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 225g calasparra rice
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 4 piquillo peppers (we like the tinned Spanish ones)
  • 850ml hot chicken stock
  • 500g spinach, washed and drained
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat the oil over a high heat in a paella or large frying pan, then stir-fry the pork strips for a few seconds so they are still undercooked. Season with salt and pepper, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.

Lower the heat and fry the chorizo for a minute. Add the onion and green pepper and cook for 20 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes. Stir the rice into the pan and toss for about a minute until coated with oil. Season with salt and pepper, then add the paprika and peppers followed by the hot stock. Simmer for 15 minutes or until there is just a thin layer of liquid around the rice.

Meanwhile, wilt the spinach briefly in a pan, then drain and remove it. Scatter the pork over the rice followed by the spinach and gently push them partly into the oily liquid using the back of a spoon. Turn the heat off, then cover the pan tightly with foil and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve with the lemon wedges.

(Original recipe from Tamasin’s Kitchen Bible by Tamasin Day-Lewis, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005.)

Moong dal

Moong dal

This is Madhur Jaffrey’s “everyday moong dal”, the one she serves regularly to her family and friends alike. It is quite a wet style which we really liked. Serve alongside your favourite curry; it was particularly good with the pea & cauliflower one below.

Moong dal – serves 4-6

  • 200g moong dal (skinned and split mung beans), washed and drained
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or ghee
  • 1/8 tsp ground asafoetida
  • ½ tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1-2 whole hot, dried red chillies (we used 1 tsp dried chilli flakes)
  • 1 medium shallot, peeled and cut into fine slivers

Put the moong dal in a medium saucepan, add 800ml water and bring to the boil.

Skim off the white froth and stir in the turmeric.

Cover partially, reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Stir in the salt, then turn off the heat.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium-high heat, then quickly add the asafoetida, cumin seeds and chillies in that order. As soon as the chillies start to darken (a few seconds), quickly pour the contents of the pan over the cooked dal. Stir to mix through.

(Original recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Easy, Ebury Press, 2010.)

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