Hot & Sour Aubergine

This photo is a bit dark in colour but the flavours are vibrant and delicious and we’re now converts to soaking aubergine in brine before stir-frying to give a soft, velvety texture.

Hot & Sour Aubergine – serves 2

  • 1 large or 2 medium aubergines, cut into long batons
  • 100g green beans, halved
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced


  • 2 tbsp light soy sace
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour dissolved in 2 tbsp water
  • cooked rice, to serve

Put the aubergine slices into a bowl of lightly salted water and leave to soak for 30 minutes, then drain and pat dry.

Blanch the green beans in boiling water for a minute, then rinse in cold water and drain.

Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium-high heat, then cook the aubergine until well browned on all sides. When the aubergine is starting to take on a good colour, add the onion and chilli and continue to stir-fry for 4 minutes or until soft.

Add the sauce and green beans, cover with a lid, then turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes or until the aubergine is soft. Serve with rice.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Honey-roasted cherry tomatoes

From our own tomato plants that were torturing us with green fruit to the point we were thinking we’d only make green tomato chutney this year and are now flooding us with ripe red tomatoes every day; famine or flood.

Honey Roasted Cherry Tomatoes – serves 4 as a starter

  • 500g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • flaky sea salt

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/Gas Mark 5. Lightly oil a medium-sized roasting dish.

Halve the tomatoes and put them, cut side up, in the dish so they fit snugly.

Crush the garlic with a pinch of salt, then beat it with the honey, olive oil and a generous grinding of black pepper. Spoon this sticky mixture over the tomatoes, then roast for about 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Serve piled on toast with a sprinkling of sea salt flakes on the top.

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

Haloumi with spiced chickpeas & spinach

This is a super simple and fresh weeknight meal for two. Halloumi cheese always feels like a bit of a treat.

Spiced Chickpeas with Halloumi – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped or ½tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 200g bag baby spinach
  • 3 roasted red peppers from a jar
  • half a 250g pack of halloumi cheese, drained
  • juice of 1 lemon

Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the chilli and ginger for 1 minute. Stir in the chickpeas, spinach and peppers, then season. Cover and cook gently for a few minutes, stirring not and then, until the spinach has wilted and the chickpeas are warmed through.

Meanwhile, heat a non-stick frying pan until very hot. Cut the halloumi into 6 slices and fry quickly for a minute or 2 on each side. Stir the lemon juice into the chickpeas and divide between 2 plates. Top with the halloumi and serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Lamb, squash and apricot tagine

This dish couldn’t be easier and the sauce is delicious. It can be made in an authentic tagine if you have one, or alternately in a large casserole dish like we used here, both work well. Serve with couscous and natural yogurt.

Wine suggestion: With all the spice and richness in this dish the best wines to match the tagine are medium to full-bodied reds with a juicier fruit like a Ribera del Duero. Our pick of the moment is the Condado de Haza Crianza  2011 which has a lovely, open and approachable nature whilst hiding a core of real depth, texture and personality. We’re sure this wine will age really well if you like but suspect most will be consumed soon after purchase; very moreish!

Lamb, squash & apricot tagine – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ras el hanout
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 600g-800g lamb leg, diced into 2cm cubes, excess fat removed
  • 200g butternut squash
  • 200g soft dried apricots
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml lamb or beef stock
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • small bunch of coriander

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole, add the onion & cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and spices, and cook, stirring, for another couple of minutes.

Stir in the lamb, squash and apricots, then add the tomatoes and stock and season well. Bring to the boil, put the lid on and transfer to the oven.

Stir after 1 hr and return to the oven, uncovered, for another 30 minutes.

Check the seasoning and sprinkle over the lemon zest and coriander to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Chicken Forestière

Chicken Forestiere

Our first autumnal dish of the season. We can suffer the colder weather when it means mushrooms, pumpkin, squash, game birds, mussels… we could go on!

Wine Suggestion: Rich, creamy and earthy … we picked a German Pinot Noir, the Salwey Reserve “RS”Spätburgunder 2012 which balanced perfectly with the chicken, complimented the mushrooms and had enough freshness and earthy spice for the creamy madeira sauce. We’ve become converts to German wines over the past decade and think that the best, like Salwey from Baden, provide a great alternative to Burgundian Pinot and would recommend giving them a try.

Chicken Forestière – serves 4

  • 20g dried wild mushrooms
  • 8 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small onions, halved and sliced
  • 75ml Madeira (or dry sherry)
  • 215g carrots, peeled and cut into batons
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 150ml double cream
  • 150g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • 1tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour over 50ml of boiling water, leave to soak for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, season the chicken thighs and heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Brown the chicken thighs well on both sides (don’t be tempted to turn them early or the skin will tear). When the chicken is well-browned remove it from the pan and set aside. Pour off all but 1tbsp of the chicken fat from the pan into a bowl but don’t throw it away.

Heat the fat left in the pan and sauté the onions until soft and golden. Deglaze the pan with the Madeira.

Add the carrots and the stock, plus the wild mushroom and their soaking liquid. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Return the chicken to the pan, along with any juices, and keep it skin-side up. Cover and cook gently for 20 minutes.

Remove the lid, stir in the cream, return to a simmer again and cook for an additional 10 minutes with the lid off.

In a separate pan, heat 1 tbsp of the reserved chicken fat and sauté the mushrooms until golden brown and the liquid has evaporated. Season the mushrooms and stir into the chicken. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon at this point.

Scatter over the parsley and serve with potatoes and green veg.

(Original recipe from A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry, Hachette, 2015.)

Haloumi kebabs

Here’s a nice veggie kebab recipe for the barbecue. The cheese makes these a bit more substantial than just lots of grilled veg. Serve with some nice salads and pitta bread. The kebabs and baste can be prepped in advance.

Wine Suggestion: A nice fresh white with good texture works well with this, so try a crisper grape grown in a warmer region. We went for a Fiano from Puglia in the south of Italy made by Michele Biancardi. It was thirst quenching and pure with a peachy stonefruit flavour and a citrus twist followed by a touch of honey and hints of warm middle-eastern spices. A great balance to the slightly salty cheese, zesty lemon, herbs and mustard.

Halloumi Kebabs with Thyme Lemon Baste – serves 4

  • 2 medium courgettes, halved lengthways and thickly sliced
  • 1 large red onion, cut into wedges and separated into pieces
  • 250g halloumi cheese, cut into 16 chunks
  • 16 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme or lemon thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

Thread the halloumi, cherry tomatoes, courgettes and onion onto 8 skewers (if using wooden skewers you need to soak them in water for about 20 minutes first).

To make the baste mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, mustard and some seasoning.

Put the kebabs onto a preheated barbecue. Give the baste a good stir and then brush the kebabs with it. Cook the kebabs for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has turned golden and the vegetables are just tender.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)


Fresh tuna spaghetti

We’ve made this recipe before using good-quality tinned tuna, which was delicious, but this time we’ve used fresh tuna and it really sings.

Wine Suggestion: Classic Italian matches for tuna depend on the region. If you are in Sicily a great match is their native Grillo grape, a textural, slightly salty and mineral wine with good body but not weighty. For this dish though we drank a Vermentino, made by Morisfarms, from the Tuscan coast. It has a great vinous texture and savoury character which combined with fresh fruit and minerality matches this Tuscan combination of tuna, tomatoes and olives.

Linguine with Fresh Tuna – serves 4-6

  • 2 tins top quality plum tomatoes (the Italian brands are good)
  • 500g fresh yellowfin tuna
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus a bit extra
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 80ml white wine
  • 30g salted capers, soaked and drained
  • 100g pitted black olives (Gaeta or Kalamata)
  • 500g linguine
  • chopped fresh parsley to serve

Drain the tinned tomatoes and cut into strips.

Cut the tuna into 2cm cubes. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté with 1 sprig of rosemary and the chilli flakes.

Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates, then add the capers.

Add the olives and tomatoes and cook over a high heat for 15 minutes.

Cook the linguine until al dente, then drain and add to the pan of tuna sauce. Toss gently.

Sprinkle on the parsley, drizzle with some more olive oil, and garnish with the remaining rosemary.

(Original recipe from Obicà: Mozzerella Bar, Pizza e Cucina, Rizzoli, 2014.)


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