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Roasted brussel sprouts with shallots

 

This is one of the many Brussel Sprout recipes that celebrate this much maligned veg. We think that in the right dish and cooked properly they are fab and roasting them with shallots brings out great flavours. A good autumn/winter side dish for roasted or barbecued meats.

Roasted Brussels sprouts with shallots – serves 4

  • 400g Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 350g shallots, peeled and halved
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • several sprigs of thyme
  • a squeeze of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5.

Put the Brussels sprouts and shallots into a large roasting dish, drizzle with the oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat, then tuck in the thyme sprigs.

Roast for approximately 35 minutes, giving the tray a shake half way through, until everything is crispy and caramelised.

Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.

(Original recipe from River Cottage Veg Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Bloomsbury, 2011.)

Chianti Beef

 

The technique used to cook the meat is quite clever as the amount of beef is small and is only quickly, flash fried which keeps the juiciness, adds the caramelisation flavours and gives great depth to the whole dish. It’s an expensive cut but the quantity required is so small that it won’t break the bank. It’s hard to believe a dish with so much flavour takes such a short time to prepare.

Wine Suggestion: we drank one of our favourite Tuscan wines: the Selvapiana Chianti Rufina which is refined and elegant and complements the beef fillet and provides a foil to the rustic black pepper background in this dish.

Rigatoni, tomato, beef and red wine – serves 4

  • 320g rigatoni
  • 200g beef fillet
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 600g top quality tinned tomatoes
  • 350ml Chianti wine
  • 1tbsp ground black pepper
  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Trim the beef fillet and cut across into 5mm slices. Cut the slices into 1cm strips.

Heat the butter in a thick-bottomed pan, add the garlic and fry gently until brown. Add the tomatoes and season. Cook over a high heat for 5 minutes, stirring to break up the tomatoes, then add half the red wine. Continue to cook on quite a high heat, adding more wine as the sauce reduces. Cook for 15 minutes in total, using up all the wine, then stir in the pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan until very hot. Add the beef pieces and fry very briefly, just to brown each piece on both sides. Stir the beef into the sauce with any juices from the pan.

Cook the rigatoni in boiling salted until al dente. Drain and add to the sauce.

Serve with the Parmesan.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy: Simple Recipes from the London River Cafe by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, Random House, 2006.)

Ditaloni, mussels & white wine

A scrumptious and deliciously rich pasta dish that works perfectly as a starter.

Wine Suggestion: A textured white works best here; old-world minerality rather than bright fruit-forward styles. The Casal di Serra Verdicchio from Umani Ronchi in the Marche (central Italy) combines stonefruit flavours, hints of wild-flowers on the nose and a crisp yellow apple finish and goes with the richness and depth of the pasta.

Ditaloni, mussels & white wine – serves 4

  • 1kg small mussels, scrubbed
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin oil
  • 125ml white wine
  • 165ml double cream
  • 300g ditaloni (or similar) pasta

Heat half the butter with the oil, then add the garlic and mussels. Pour in the wine; season, then cover and cook over a high heat until the mussels have opened. Drain the mussels and reserve the cooking liquid. Remove the mussels from the shells; discard the shells and any mussels that haven’t opened.

Heat the rest of the butter in a pan and add the mussel juices and the cream. Cook gently to reduce to a rich and creamy sauce. Then add the mussels and parsley.

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, then drain and add to the sauce. Toss together over a low heat, and serve.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, Clarkson Potter, 2006.)

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We love Tom Kerridge’s food but find his recipes can require a lot of work. Not so with these sticky drumsticks but you will need to find some malt extract to go in the marinade. We got ours in a good deli but health food shops should also stock it. We’re confident you’ll like the drumsticks enough to make them again and use it up.

Beer Suggestion: to complement the malt extract it makes sense to try a malty beer and we suggest searching out one of the many craft beers in your area. Our pick this time was the Five Lamps Dublin Lager which is a pilsner style but with a malty kick.

Sticky drumsticks – serves 4

  • 12 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 3cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted lightly in a dry frying pan
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced (seeds left in)

For the marinade: 

  • 160g runny honey
  • 160ml dark soy sauce
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 120g malt extract

Pour the honey for the marinade into a small stainless steal pan and warm on a medium-high heat. Continue to cook until it starts to turn a deep shade of amber (easier to spot if you have a pot with a light coloured interior), then pour in the soy sauce and chicken stock to stop it cooking further. Bring the mixture to the boil and whisk in the malt extract. Take off the heat and allow to cool.

Put the drumsticks in a bowl and pour over the marinade. Mix in the garlic and ginger, cover the bowl with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2 hours at least or overnight if you can.

Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3.

Put the drumsticks in a roasting tin with their marinade. Cook for 45-50 minutes, basting a few times, until the chicken is cooked through and the meat comes off the bone easily. The drumsticks should be glossy and sticky.

Remove the tray from the oven and immediately drizzle with the sesame oil and toss in the sesame seeds. Throw in the scallions and the chilli. Roll the drumsticks around in the dish to make sure they are evenly coated.

Serve hot or cold.

(Original recipe from Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes, Absolute Press, 2014.)

Petit pots au chocolat

We find Rick Stein exceptionally reliable and when we needed a dessert for entertaining thought we’d give his recipe a go. Unsurprisingly they worked a treat and the result was a silkly, rich, and indulgent pot of chocolate to finish a meal with friends.

Wine Suggestion: Chocolate is notoriously difficult to pair with wine so we’d probably skip the wine altogether and go for a liqueur to complement this dish – Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Whiskey… choose your poison.

Petit pots au chocolate – makes 6

  • 225g plain chocolate, minimum 60% coco solids
  • 15g soft butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 150ml double cream
  • 150ml full-cream milk
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 6 tsp crème fraîche and a little cocoa powder, to decorate

Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and melt over a pan of just-simmering water. Remove and stir until smooth, then stir in the softened butter and egg yolks.

Put the cream, milk and sugar into a small pan, bring to the boil and then stir into the chocolate.

Pour the mix into six 100ml receptacles (we used small glasses but you could also use espresso cups or ramekins) and leave somewhere cold to set, but don’t refrigerate.

Decorate the pots with a little quenelle of crème fraîche and dust with cocoa powder to serve.

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

Pork & Pineapple

 

A classic sweet and sour combination but with a few modern twists. The pork ends up meltingly tender and there is no ketchup required!

Wine Suggestion: This was a hard match given the spices, sweetness and sourness which really fights the components of many wines but the solution is a good, dry Riesling which will cut through the fat, complement the spices and balance the sweetness of pineapple. The aromatics in Riesling also add new layers of flavour to the meal. We drank a superb Dönnhoff QbA dry Riesling (their entry level dry wine) which just hit the mark in terms of weight, poise and flavour.

Sticky Pork & Pineapple – serves 8

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1½ kg pork shoulder steaks, each cut into 4 thick strips
  • 3 onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • small bunch coriander, stalks finely chopped and leaves reserved
  • 3 Thai red chillies, 2 sliced, 1 left whole and pricked
  • 3 star anise
  • 100g dark soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 350g fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3.

Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole. Season the pork and brown in batches for about 5 minutes or until golden. Set aside.

Stir the onions into the remaining fat, then cover and allow to soften for 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, coriander stalks, chillies and star anise to the dish, sizzle for 1 minute, stirring often, then mix in the sugar and tomato puree. When they have melted, return the pork and any juices to the dish and add the fish sauce and stock. Tuck the pineapple chunks in.

Bring to a simmer, then cover the pot but leave a small gap for steam to escape, and put in the oven for 2 hours. When there is 30 minutes to go, skim some of the fat off the top and return to the oven.

If you want to thicken the sauce a bit you can remove the pork to a warm dish and simmer the sauce on the hob until slightly thickened. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then season to taste and pour over the pork.

Garnish with the coriander leaves and serve with rice.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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From the geniuses at River Café is this deeply delicious and flavoursome pasta which keeps on reprising itself on our menus. We love that the ingredients list is simple and short and yet the dish is packed full of flavour and style. Don’t shy away from the generous quantity of butter – it’s what gives the dish its richness.

We’ve given a separate recipe for the tomato sauce. You will have too much for this recipe but it’s good served as it is with some tagliatelle and freezes well.

Wine suggestion: earthy, medium bodied red wines work well with this and we returned to an old favourite, the very smooth Selvapiana Chianti Rufina which is pure elegance in a glass. Really fine and supple tannins make this sing with a freshness that adds depth to the food.

Penne, tomato and dried porcini – serves 4 

  • 320g penne
  • 40g dried porcini
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • 5 tbsp tomato sauce (see below)
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • extra virgin olive oil

Soak the porcini in 200ml boiling water for 10 minutes.

Drain the porcini, straining the liquid through muslin or a paper towel, reserving the water. Rinse the porcini and chop coarsely.

In a thick-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and add the garlic. Add the porcini and fry until soft. Add a little of the porcini liquid and simmer until absorbed. Stir in the parsley. Add the tomato sauce and season.

Cook the penne in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and stir into the pasta sauce.

Drizzle with olive oil and serve with the Parmesan

Tomato sauce – serves 4

  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 x 400g tinned tomatoes

Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed pan and fry the garlic until soft but not coloured. Add the tomatoes and season. Cook over a medium heat for 20-30 minutes or, until the sauce is very thick and the oil comes to the top.

(Original recipes from Italian Two Easy: Simple Recipes from the London River Cafe by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, Random House, 2006.)

 

 

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