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Obica: Linguine with Yellowfin Tuna

 

A simple but delicious dish from a cool restaurant called Obicà that we found on our last trip to Florence. They insist that it’s best made with fresh tuna (and they’re probably right) but we made it with top quality tinned tuna and it worked for us.

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 Yellowfish Tuna – serves 4-6

  • 2 tins top quality plum tomatoes (the Italian brands are good)
  • 500g 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. 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.)

 

Rack of Pork, apple & cider butter

A delicious pork dish from our favourite book about pigs – Pork & Sons by Stéphane Reynaud. The apple and cider butter would be a great addition to any pork dish.

Wine Suggestion: We drank a regular favourite: the Secateurs Chenin Blanc from Swartland in South Africa. Adie Badenhorst manages to coax depth, personality, minerality and freshness from this bargain. It has enough richness and weight to match the pork and cider butter and a wonderful complimentary yellow apple flavour. Well worth seeking out.

Rack of Pork with Cider & Apple Butter – serves 6

  • 1 rack of pork with 6 chops
  • 500ml dry cider
  • 6 Granny Smith apples
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • a pinch of ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of ground ginger
  • 100g unsalted butter, chilled

Cook the rack in a flameproof casserole, over a medium heat, until well browned all over. Baste with a little of the cider, lower the heat, then cover and cook for an hour, basting often.

Peel, core and quarter the apples. Add them to the casserole with the onions, the rest of the cider and the spices and cook over a low heat for another 10 minutes or so or until the apples and onions have softened.

Remove the rack from the casserole, tent with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Add the butter and beat into the apple mixture. Cut the rack into chops and serve with the cider and apple butter.

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

 

Sunshine Fish Curry

Sunshine Haddock Curry

 

This has a delicate flavour and is more about the fish than the curry – in a good way. Great fresh flavours and excellent served with the Sesame Pak Choi.

Sunshine Fish Curry – serves 6

  • 6 white fish fillets e.g. cod, haddock, whiting, pollack or ling
  • 1tsp cumin seeds, toasted and finely ground
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and finely ground
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk, whisked to remove any lumps
  • 1/2-1 fresh red chilli, deseeded (or not if preferred) and finely sliced
  • squeeze of lemon juice

Place the fish on a plate. Mix the ground seeds with the turmeric and salt, then scatter over the fish to coat.

Place a wide saucepan or large frying pan on a medium heat and pour in the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté for 7-10 minutes or until very soft and colouring at the edges.

Lay the fish on top of the onion and scrape in any seeds and spices from the plate. Cook the fish for 2-3 minutes on each side or until light golden.

Pour in the coconut milk and add the chilli. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. To finish, add a squeeze of lemon and more salt if needed.

Serve immediately with steamed rice and the pak choi below.

Sesame Pak Choi – serves 4 as a side dish

  • 500g pak choi
  • salt
  • 25g sesame seeds, toasted
  • 15ml sesame oil

Remove the stems from the pak choi and cut into similar-sized lengths.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the stems and cook for a minute or two or until just tender, then stir in the leaves and drain immediately.

Place in a dish, sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds and sesame oil and serve.

(Both recipes originally from Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen by Rachel Allen, HarperCollins, 2013.)

Chicken & Ham Pie

This is a great way to use up leftover roast chicken (or dare we say turkey?) and ham. Almost as good as the roast chicken dinner itself and we are definitely considering this as a dish to use Christmas leftovers.

Wine Suggestion: This dish works well with a rich white wine. We tried it with an oaked Semillon, which on it’s own was delicious but with the pie the crisp acidity made it fall a bit flat. We’d suggest a good, oaked chardonnay instead which has much better weight in the mid-palate to work with the rich creamy chicken and ham. Yum.

Leftover Chicken & Ham Pie – serves 6-8

  • 25g butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 400g broccoli florets
  • 25g plain flour
  • 225ml cream
  • 225ml chicken stock
  • 675g cooked chicken and ham, cut into 2cm chunks
  • 1 tbsp chopped tarragon or marjoram
  • mashed potato (made from 1kg of potatoes)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC, Gas mark 4.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and fry gently for 8-10 minutes or until completely soft.

Put a saucepan of water over a high heat and add a good pinch of salt. When the water boils, add the broccoli florets and cover until the water comes back to the boil. Remove the lid as soon as the water boils and cook the broccoli for 2-4 minutes or until just tender.

Add the flour to the onion and whisk for 1 minutes, then pour in the cream and stock, whisking all the time. Bring to the boil, then simmer for a minute or two until slightly thickened.

Stir the chicken, ham, herbs and broccoli in to the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Pour into an ovenproof dish (approx. 20 x 30 cm) and top with mashed potato.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.

(Original recipe from Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen by Rachel Allen, Harper Collins, 2013.)

 

Tomato Party!

Tomato party

This dish celebrates all the juicy tomatoes we’re picking in our garden at the moment. We only had red ones when we made this but a week before we had a glut of yellow toms too. It doesn’t matter which you use, they’ll all taste great.

Wine suggestions: We have tried a couple of very successful wines with this dish, but the trick is to make sure the wine has a slightly higher acidity and good minerality; try smaller, quality winemakers and this will be a good guide. Successful wine matches have been Umani Ronchi’s Vellodoro Pecorino and Casal di Sera Verdicchio – both great matches, Joguet’s Chinon Cuvée Terroir (delicious Cabernet Franc), and the Gulfi Cerasuolo from Sicily.

Tomato Couscous – serves 4

  • 125g couscous
  • olive oil
  • 150ml boiling water
  • 150g fregola (giant couscous)
  • 300g medium vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered
  • ¾ tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 150g yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped oregano
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped mint
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 small green tomato, cut into thin wedges
  • 100g tomberries or halved cherry tomatoes
  • salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas Mark 3.

Put the couscous in a bowl with a pinch of salt and drizzle of oil. Pour over the boiling water, stir and cover the bowl with cling film. Set aside for 12 minutes, then remove the cling film, separate with a fork and leave to cool.

Put the fregola in a pan of boiling salted water and simmer for 18 minutes, or until al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water. Leave to dry completely.

Meanwhile, spread the quartered vine tomatoes over half of a large baking tin and sprinkle with the sugar and some salt and pepper. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar and some oil over the top. Place in the oven. After about 20 minutes take the tomatoes out of the oven and increase the temperature to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Spread the yellow tomatoes over the empty side of the baking tin. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Return the tin to the oven and roast for 12 minutes, then remove and allow to cool.

Mix the couscous and fregola in a large bowl. Add the herbs, garlic, cooked tomatoes with all their juices, the green tomato and tomberries. Very gently mix everything with your hands. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper and olive oil as needed.

(Original recipe from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury Press, 2010.)

Burnt Aubergine salad

Not quite a Baba Ghanoush, but you can drizzle on some tahini paste to make it one. This was really delicious and we loved the freshness from the lemons and the burst of fruity pomegranate. You need to start this many hours in advance but the process is very straightforward and the result is worth it.

Burnt aubergine with garlic, lemon & pomegranate seeds – serves 4 as a meze plate

  • 4 large aubergines (about 1.5kg before cooking)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • grated zest of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • 80g of pomegranate seeds (about ½ a large pomegranate)

If using a gas hob, line the base with foil and keep only the burners exposed. Put the aubergines on 4 separate moderate flames and roast for about 15-18 minutes or until the skin is burnt and flaky and the flesh is soft. Use metal tongs to turn them now and then.

Alternatively, score the aubergines with a knife in a few places, a couple of centimetres deep, and place on a baking tray under a hot grill for about an hour (we do ours on a gas barbecue). Turn them every 20 minutes or so and continue to cook even if they burst.

Allow the aubergines to cool slightly, then cut along each one and scoop out the flesh and divide it into long strips with your hands. Throw away the skin. Drain the flesh in a colander for at least an hour or longer if possible to get rid of as much water as possible.

Put the aubergine in a medium bowl and add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, ½ a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Stir and allow the aubergine to marinate at room temperature for at least an hour.

When ready to serve, mix in most of the herbs and adjust the seasoning. Pile onto a serving plate, scatter on the pomegranate seeds and garnish with the rest of the herbs.

We served ours with some barbecued flatbreads.

(Original recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem, Ebury Press, 2012.)

Marinated Tuna with Cherry tomato salsa

Tuna steaks are definitely at their best when seared on a hot barbecue. The marinade would also work well with other firm fish fillets such as swordfish or kingfish.

Wine suggestion: we think a light bodied red would be a treat here which goes against traditional pairings. The trick is to get a lighter body and lower tannins. We drank a Beaujolais-Villages from Domaine Rochette, a delightful wine which balances it’s lightness with an obvious care from the winemaker and good fruit from the vineyards; polished and elegant as well as joyfully youthful.

Paprika- and Oregano-Marinated Tuna with Cherry Tomato Salsa – serves 4

  • 4 x 150g fillets of fresh tuna
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for cooking
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked spanish paprika
  • lemon wedges, to serve

For the Cherry Tomato Salsa: 

  • 250g cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 long red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and black pepper

Put the fish in a shallow non-metallic dish. Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano and paprika. Pour this over the fish, cover with cling-film and refrigerate for half an hour.

Preheat the barbecue to high and brush lightly with olive oil. Barbecue the fish for a couple of minutes on each side (longer if you prefer the fish well done).

Toss all of the ingredients for the cherry tomato salsa together and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve the fish with some salsa over the top and a lemon wedge.

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