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Basmati rice with orzo

Such an impressive and versatile rice dish. Great with Middle Eastern-style food or indeed anything you deem rice an appropriate side for. We served with these delicious meatballs.

Basmati rice & orzo – serves 6

  • 250g basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp melted ghee or unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 85g orzo
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 1 tsp salt

Wash the rice well, then put in a large bowl and cover with lots of cold water. Soak for 30 minutes, then drain.

Heat the ghee or butter and oil on a medium-high heat in a medium heavy-based saucepan. Add the orzo and sauté for a few minutes, or until the grains turn dark golden. Add the stock, bring to the boil and cook for 3 minutes. Add the drained rice and salt, bring to a gentle boil, stir gently, then cover the pan and simmer on a very low heat for 15 minutes. Don’t lift the lid during this time!

Take the rice off the heat, remove the lid and quickly cover with a clean tea towel. Put the lid back on over the towel and leave for 10 minutes. Fluff up with a fork before serving.

(Original recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi, Ebury Press, 2012.)

Sicilian fusilli with tomato, garlic & almond

We love the combination of anchovies and almonds in this pasta sauce – a Sicilian-style pesto. It also reinforces our desire to go to Sicily.

Wine Suggestion: A fresh and dry Italian white is a must for this dish with numerous choices working well. If you can find one match it with a white from the slopes of Mt Etna which will be minerally and savoury, or if not a dry Vermentino from the Tuscan coast. We drink a glass of the Morisfarms Vermentino which was both minerally and nutty with fresh citrus flavours. Morisfarms add 10% Viognier to this wine which gives it an added exotic lift and roundness to the wine. With the complex savoury notes of the dish the savoury and nutty wine worked a treat.

Sicilian pasta with tomatoes, garlic & almonds – serves 6

  • 500g fusilli lunghi (long spiral pasta) or other pasta – we used regular fusilli
  • 250g cherry tomatoes
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 25g golden sultanas
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 x 15ml tbsp capers, drained
  • 50g blanched almonds
  • 60ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • leaves from a small bunch of basil (about 20g) to serve

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water according to the pack instructions.

Make the sauce as the pasta cooks by putting all the ingredients, except the basil, into a processor and blitzing until you have a textured sauce.

Drain the pasta, reserving a mugful of the cooking water and add 2 tbsp of the water to the processor as you pulse the sauce.

Tip the drained pasta into a warmed serving bowl. Pour over the sauce and toss to coat – add a bit more pasta cooking water if needed and scatter with basil leaves.

(Original recipe from Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson, Chattos & Windus, 2012.)

Eastern Mess

 

Eastern Mess

Still an Eton Mess really but the rosewater, pistachio, raspberry and basil combination is delicious!

Eastern Mess – serves 6

  • 600ml double cream
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • the seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 tbsp rosewater
  • 6 ready-made meringue nests, broken into large pieces
  • 450g raspberries
  • handful of basil leaves, torn
  • 75g pistachio nuts, chopped

For the raspberry sauce: 

  • 225g raspberries
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar (or more if your raspberries are very tart)
  • 1 tbsp rosewater
  • squeeze of lemon juice

Whip the double cream, icing sugar, vanilla seeds and rosewater together in a mixing bowl until you have soft peaks (about 3 minutes but watch it carefully).

To make the sauce, mash the raspberries to a purée with the icing sugar, rose water and lemon juice in a bowl until the mixture is totally smooth. Pass through a sieve to remove the seeds.

Layer the cream, meringues and raspberries on a large serving plate, drizzling the sauce and scattering over the basil and pistachios as you go. Decorate the top with a drizzle of sauce, and a final scatter of basil and pistachios. Serve immediately.

(Original recipe from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2014.)

 

Courgette Pasta

This dish is so simple, and yet completely satisfying and delicious. It features regularly on our table during the summer months and has also become our daughter, Orlaith’s, favourite dish alongside Moussaka.

Wine Suggestion: A lovely and fresh wine but with depth and reasonable body works well with tis; something like a very good Verdicchio – try Sartarelli’s Talivio or Umani Ronchi’s Casal di Sera. If you feel like a red try a Cabernet Franc from the Loire, like the thoughtful and expressive Chinon’s by Charles Joguet.

Courgette Sauce for Pasta – serves 4

  • 1kg courgettes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp of cream
  • 50g freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra to serve
  • pasta of your choice (long or short works), 75-100g per person

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the garlic and courgettes, and a pinch of salt.Cook gently to soften without browning. Continue to cook until the courgettes are completely soft and almost all of their water has evaporated (20-30 minutes). Then bash the courgette mixture to a rough purée with a wooden spoon or masher.

Stir in the cream and Parmesan and allow to bubble for a minute or so until the cream has reduced a bit.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water until al dente.

Serve with extra Parmesan.

(Original recipe from The River Cottage Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Collins, 2001.)

 

 

Warm asparagus & new potato salad

We made this back in June when local asparagus was available, but have been very lax getting posts up on the blog (must do better!). We really enjoyed the combination here and  the addition of our own, home-grown mint, dill and chives really made the dish sing.

Warm Asparagus & New Potato Salad – serves 4

  • 350g small Jersey potatoes, scrubbed or peeled if you prefer
  • salt
  • 2 large mint sprigs
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 250g asparagus tips
  • hearts of 2 round lettuces, leaves separated, washed and dried
  • Maldon salt
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, shelled
  • handful of chervil sprigs – we used dill

FOR THE BUTTER SAUCE: 

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pinch of caster sugar
  • 75g cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp snipped chives

Simmer the potatoes in lightly salted water, with the mint, until tender. Drain over a bowl and reserve the cooking water. Return the potatoes to the pan with the butter, stir together and keep warm.

For the sauce, use a large shallow stainless steel or enamel saucepan and squeeze in the lemon juice. Add 6 tbsp of the potato cooking water and the sugar, then simmer until reduced by half. Slowly incorporate the butter, a chunk at a time, whisking over a very low heat until homogenous (you’re aiming for a light butter sauce). Season with white pepper and keep warm.

Peel the asparagus tips from just below the bud and slice in half lengthways. Add to a pan of boiling well-salted water and boil for about 1-2 minutes – you want them just tender but not raw, then drain.

Slice the warm potatoes and add them, along with the asparagus, to the butter sauce. Turn gently with the chives, until everything is nicely coated.

Arrange the lettuce on 4 plates and divide the asparagus and potatoes between them. Sprinkle with Maldon salt and grate over the egg. Generously scatter with the chervil or dill.

(Original recipe from The Vegetarian Option by Simon Hopkinson, Quadrille, 2009.)

Chipotle roast pork with black bean salsa

We often pick up a pork fillet at the butcher’s as they are cheap and versatile.  Make the salsa before you start cooking the pork so the flavours have time to develop.

Chipotle Roasted Pork with Avocado & Black Bean Salsa – serves 4

  • 2 pork tenderloins/fillets, about 250-350g each
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp chipotle paste
  • ½ tsp olive oil

FOR THE SALSA: 

  • ½ small red onion
  • 2 limes
  • 1 red chilli
  • few coriander sprigs
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ripe but firm avocado
  • ½ x 400g tin black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 spring onion

Prepare the pork by removing the sinew from the surface. Cut each fillet in half.

Mix the salt, chipotle paste, olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl. Rub the marinade all over the pork pieces. Leave in the fridge to marinate for at least half an hour, or up to a few hours.

Heat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3.

Put a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, brown the pork evenly all over. Transfer to a roasting tin and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until cooked but still juicy. Test by inserting a skewer into the thickest part for 10 seconds, then rest it on your inner wrist; it should feel hot.

Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes before carving on the diagonal into 7-8mm thick slices. Spoon the salsa onto a platter and top with the pork.

TO MAKE THE SALSA: 

Peel and finely dice the red onion and put into a bowl. Finely grate the zest from one of the limes and squeeze the juice from both. Add the lime zest and half the juice to the onion, saving the rest for seasoning at the end.

Cut the avocado into even dice and thinly slice the spring onion. Coarsely chop the coriander leaves.

Stir the avocado, black beans, spring onion, and coriander into the onion and lime mixture. Stir in the olive oil and season well with salt and more lime juice if needed. Leave to stand for 30 minute for the flavours to develop.

(Original recipe from Leith’s How to Cook, Quadrille Publishing, 2013.)

Saffron & cardamom poached pears

This is a touch of luxury, truly delicious, impressive, and yet very simple to do. Eat with a spoon of crème fraîche. The perfect ending to a Middle Eastern inspired meal.

Poached pears in white wine & cardamom – serves 4

  • 500ml dry white wine
  • 1½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 15 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • ½ tsp saffron threads
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 firm pears, peeled
  • crème fraîche or thick double cream to serve

Pour the wine and lemon juice into a medium saucepan and add the sugar, cardamom, saffron and salt. Bring to a light simmer and place the pears in the liquid. Make sure the pears are immersed by adding a bit of water if necessary. Cover the surface with a disc of greaseproof paper and simmer until the pears are cooked through but not mushy, about 15-25 minutes. Turn the pears around every now and again as they cook. When a knife goes into the flesh smoothly, the pears are done.

Remove from the liquid and transfer into four dishes. Increase the heat and reduce the liquid by about two-thirds, or until thick and syrupy. Pour over the pears and leave to cool. Serve cold or at room temperature with the crème fraîche.

(Original recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottololenghi and Sami Tamimi, Ebury Press, 2012.)

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