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We got the Indian vegetarian cookbook, Prashad, some time ago but haven’t used it much, something that needs to be remedied as the recipes are delicious. The balance of spices has a real depth but be careful with the asafetida as it can easily overwhelm the dish. We served this with a home-made dhal and naan breads from the Indian takeaway.

Pea & Cauliflower Curry – serves 4

  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp asafetida
  • 1 medium cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 400g frozen petits pois
  • 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 large handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 3-6 fresh green chillies, seeds in
  • 5cm root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

Crush the chillies and ginger together with a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar (or a blender) to make a fine masala paste.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat, then add the cumin and mustard seeds. When the seeds start to pop, turn the heat to low and stir in the asafetida.

Add the cauliflower, then turn the heat back to medium and stir in the masala paste, turmeric, ground coriander, salt and sugar. Cover and leave to cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Stir in the peas and tomato, cover the pan again and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with the chopped coriander, then leave to rest, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from Prashad: Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Kaushy Patel, Saltyard Books, 2012.)

Chicken & Mushroom Pie

This is a lovely pie for a frosty day. Serve with lots of mashed potato and peas.

Wine Suggestion: this dish needs a white wine with a medium body as there is some subtlety at play with the flavours and weight. Classically we’d pair a sensitively oaked chardonnay with an earthiness and minerality so a better Maçon or Côte Chalonnais would be great. To step outside the box though look to a Vin Jaune from the Jura which adds a layer of nutty, yeasty characters, a lovely freshness of acidity and a rustic earthiness. Don’t go too sophisticated as this is a wholesome, honest pie.

Chicken & Mushroom Pie – serves 4-6

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8 skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 8 rashers streaky bacon, cut into large pieces
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 250g baby button mushrooms
  • handful thyme sprigs
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 200ml milk
  • 500g pack puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan.

Season the chicken and fry in batches until golden brown.

Remove the chicken from the pan and add the bacon. Fry for about 5 minutes or until crisp.

Add the onions, mushrooms and thyme, then fry on a high heat for about 3 minutes or until the onions start to colour.

Add the flour to the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Take the pan off the heat and gradually whisk in the stock, followed by the milk, then return the chicken to the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Spoon the filling into a large pie or baking dish (approx. 20 x 30 cm) with a lip and leave to cool.

Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7.

Roll the pastry out onto a floured surface. Cut a long strip as wide as the rim of the dish and, using a little of the egg, fix to the edge of the pie dish. Brush with egg, then lift the rest of the pastry onto the pie. Press the edges together with your fingers and  trim with a sharp knife. Brush lightly with egg to glaze and bake for 30 minutes or until risen and golden brown.

Serve with mashed potatoes and peas.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Hot & sour fish soup

This is a quick and very low-calorie but very tasty soup. Buy some really fresh fish – we used hake. Hot & Sour Fish Soup – Serves 2

  • 2tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 dried red chilli (or use a small tsp of chilli flakes)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 stem lemongrass, lightly bashed
  • 700ml chicken or fish stock
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 400g skinless white fish fillets, cut into big chunks
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • cooked noodles

Put the ginger, chilli, scallions, lemongrass and stock in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the soy sauce, vinegar and fish, and simmer for a couple of minutes. Stir in the spinach and season with the fish sauce. Adjust the vinegar and soy sauce to your own taste. Put the cooked noodles into soup bowls, discard the lemongrass and dried chilli from the soup, then pour over the noodles and serve. (Original recipe by Lulu Grimes and Janine Ratcliffe in BBC Olive February 2015.)

Prawn & clam linguine

 

We recently got a new cookbook by Lorraine Pascale and have been impressed by the recipes so far. This one we made for Valentines Day, just the two of us with a bottle of vintage Champagne from the cellar. A very nice evening.

Linguine with prawns, clams, garlic & chilli – serves 4

  • 350g dried linguine
  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large banana shallots, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, finely chopped
  • 400g raw peeled tiger prawns, de-veined
  • 400g clams, washed (soak in cold water for an hour to get rid of any sand then discard any that stay open when sharply tapped)
  • 150-200ml white wine
  • 3 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
  • 70g rocket
  • 1 small lemon, cut into wedges

Cook the pasta according to the packet until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan, with a tight-fitting lid, over a medium heat. Add the shallots and sweat for about 10 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for another couple of minutes.

Add the prawns and cook for 1 minutes, stirring. Then add the clams and white wine, bring to the boil and cover with the lid. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until all the clam shells have opened (discard any that don’t) and the prawns have turned pink.

Drain the pasta well and tip onto the cooked shellfish and toss together. Add the chopped parsley and season.

Pile into bowls, drizzle with your best extra-virgin olive oil, scatter with rocket and serve with a lemon wedge.

(Original recipe from How to be a Better Cook by Lorraine Pascale, HarperCollins, 2014.)

Bœuf à la Gardiane

 

Another classic from Elizabeth David, this stew originates in the Gard region of France and is very simple but full of flavour. Elizabeth suggests serving it with rice (a la Camargue) but it also worked well with roast potatoes and rosemary. There won’t be a lot of sauce as it is almost all absorbed by the meat as it cooks but this part of the charm; intensely flavoured, tender beef.

Wine suggestion: This dish would go well with any of the local red wines of the Gard and surrounding southern-French regions (Rhone, Languedoc, etc). Any combination of Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Syrah will work, particularly if they come from older, lower yielding vines and a sensitive hand in the winery. We drank a VdP La Clape from Domaine de Boède, Le Pavillon which is a great value combination of Cinsault and Syrah and which stood up to the flavours and adding it’s own character.

Bœuf à la gardiane – serves 4-5

  • 1kg top rump of beef, cut into small neat cubes approximately 2.5cm square
  • butter and olive oil
  • 4 tbsp brandy
  • 1 large glass of full-bodied red wine
  • bouquet garni of thyme, parsley, a little strip of orange peel and a whole garlic clove crushed with the back of a knife but left whole (tie together with thread)
  • 175g stoned black olives

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy based casserole dish and brown the beef in batches.

Warm the brandy in a soup ladle, pour over the meat, then carefully set alight. Shake the pan carefully until the flames go out.

Add the red wine and bubble for 30 seconds before seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Add the bouquet garni, turn the heat down as low as possible and cover the pan with at least two layers of greaseproof paper or foil and the lid.

Cook as gently as possible for about 3½ hours. Ten minutes before the end, remove the bouquet garni and add the olives.

Season to taste and serve.

(Original recipe from At Elizabeth David’s Table: Her very best everyday recipes, compiled by Jill Norman, Penguin, 2010.)

Crab Linguine

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Crab with fennel & chilli is a winning combination. Another perfect pasta dish by Ruth & Rose of the River Café.

Wine Suggestion: We find a great match for crab is a top quality Garganega and we highly recommend the Pra Soave “Staforte” which is made from low-yielding, 100% Garganega, old vines. Utterly pure and delicious.

Crab linguine – serves 4

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 2 dried hot chillies, crumbled
  • 1 lemon, grate the zest and squeeze out the juice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g crabmeat
  • 320g linguine

Remove the tough outer part and stem from the fennel. Slice the bulb across the grain very finely (use a mandolin if you have one). Reserve the green tops.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a heavy-based pan, add the garlic, fennel seeds, and chilli and cook to soften. Add the crab, lemon zest, and juice, then season. Stir just to heat the crab through.

Cook the linguine in boiling water for 5 minutes, then add the fennel slices and cook together until al dente. Reserve a little of the cooking water when you drain the pasta.

Add the drained pasta to the crab mixture and toss together until well combined. You can add a little of the reserved cooking water at this stage to loosen if necessary.

Serve with your best olive oil.

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

Ragú Bolognese

Bolognese

This is our go-to recipe when we want a Bolognese ragú to go with pasta like penne (as opposed to in a lasagne). We’ve done many variations over the years and even though this isn’t entirely traditional it’s ease and relative speed, alongside a great flavour, mean that we make this more often than any other.

Pasta Bolognese – serves 6

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 100g pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g beef mince
  • 250g pork mince
  • 1 spring of fresh thyme
  • 100ml red wine
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 250ml milk
  • salt and black pepper
  • 400g dried pasta
  • Grated Parmesan to serve

Cook the onion, carrot, celery and pancetta in the oil and butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute before turning up the heat and adding the mince and thyme.

Brown the meat for a few minutes until it loses its raw appearance, then add the wine. Stir and reduce for a few minutes.

Add the other ingredients and season well. Bring to the boil, then simmer for an hour.

Cook the pasta according to the pack and toss with the hot sauce and parmesan.

(Original recipe by Jane Baxter in The Guardian, 31st May 2014.)

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