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A simple fish supper for two, but with plenty of flavour; both delicate, fresh and rich.

Wine Suggestion: The higher acidity, fuller body and citrus-minerality of a good Albariño make this a match worth trying. Tonight Quinta Soalheiro’s Primeiras Vinhas Alvarinho from their oldest vineyards and partially made in oak really makes a statement. A velvety texture, deep and soulful, long, serious and elegant in the same breath. This wine makes a case for this grape to be considered “noble” and makes a good partner to the fattier fish and vibrant asian acidity, umami flavours.

Grilled trout with Asian Dressing – serves 2

  • 300g Charlotte potatoes
  • 2 skinless fillets of trout
  • a few basil leaves, Thai would be nice but regular will do

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, remove the woody outer leaves and finely chop
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped

Boil the potatoes in salty water until tender, then drain and slice thickly, lengthways.

Season the trout, then grill for a few minutes.

Arrange the potatoes over two plates, then top each with a piece of fish.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and sppon over the fish, and finish with a few basil leaves.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe, Olive Magazine, November 2014.)

A nice bright side dish from Ottolenghi Simple, though we swapped out the dolcelatte for gorgonzola.

Roasted squash with lentils and gorgonzola – serves 6 as a side

  • 1 large butternut squash, cut in half lengthways, deseed and cut into 1cm thick wedges, no need to peel
  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 10g sage leaves
  • 100g Puy lentils
  • 1 large lemon, zest grated to give 1½ tsp, then juiced to give 2 tbsp
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 5g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 5g mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 10g tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
  • 100g dolcelatte (we used gorgonzola), torn into small pieces

Heat the oven to 220C fan.

Put the squash and onions into a large bowl with 2 tbsp of the oil, the sage leaves, ¾ tsp of salt and lots of black pepper.

Toss well, then spread out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until golden-brown. Remove and rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, half fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add the lentils and simmer for 20 minutes, until cooked. Drain, then set aside to cool slightly, then put into a large bowl. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, herbs and 1 tbsp of oil and ¼ tsp of salt.

Add the roasted squash and onion to the bowl of lentils and gently mix. Transfer to a serving dish, dot with the cheese, drizzle with oil and serve.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi & Tara Wigley, Ebury Press, 2018.)

Sausage Cassoulet

This is a much simplified version of the French classic but very tasty and popular with kids.

Wine Suggestion: something red, juicy and honest, like a good southern French GSM blend, like Roc des Anges Effet Papillon rouge.

Sausage Cassoulet – serves 6

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 sausages
  • 4 large onions, sliced
  • 50g chorizo, very finely chopped
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 x 400g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • a small handful of flatleaf parsley, chopped, to garnish (optional)

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan or casserole dish over a high heat, then brown the sausages on all sides, then remove and set aside. You will probably need to do this in a couple of batches.

Add the rest of the oil and fry the onions for a few minutes until turning golden. Stir in the chorizo, tomatoes, tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and black pepper, then simmer over a gentle heat for 20-25 minutes or until the onions are softened.

Stir in the butter beans, then lay the sausages on top and cover with a lid. Cook for 20 minutes or unitl the sausages are cooked through.

Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with some greens on the side.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry Cooks up a Feast with Lucy Young, DK: Penguin Random House, 2019.)

This is great for using up leftover cooked rice. We also had some leftover char siu pork which was delicious chopped up and stirred through.

Wine Suggestion: This calls for an easy style of Grüner Veltliner, like Forrest Estate’s version from Marlborough NZ. Maybe not quite the same as Austrian versions but very pleasurable nonetheless.

Chinese-style fried rice – serves 4 (easily halved)

  • 225g shelled raw prawns
  • 120ml groundnut oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 large eggs
  • 800g cooked rice, it needs to be cooked at least a few hours in advance
  • 4 scallions, finely sliced, separate the green and white parts
  • 225g cooked ham or pork, diced
  • 225g frozen peas
  • 1½ tbsp thick soy sauce
  • 30-45ml stock

FOR THE PRAWN MARINADE:

  • a pinch of salt
  • 1½ tsp cornflour
  • ½ egg white

Devein the prawns and cut into 2cm pieces. Pat dry with kitchen paper and put into a bowl.

Make the marinade for the prawns by mixing the salt, cornflour and egg white together. Stir into the prawns to coat evenly, then leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Heat a wok until smoking. Add 2 tbsp of the oil, give it a swirl, then add the garlic. As soon as it starts to colour, add the prawns, stirring to separate with a metal spoon for about 30 seconds or until almost cooked and turning pink. Add the Shaoxing wine and as soon as the sizzling calms down, scoop out the prawns and set aside. You will now need to wash and dry your wok.

Lightly beat the eggs with 1 tbsp of the oil and a pinch of salt. Heat a large frying pan until hot, add 1 tbsp of the oil and tip the pan to coat the surface. Pour in half the beaten egg and tip the spread to the edges. When set, turn over and fry for a few seconds on the other side. Remove to a plate and slice into thin strips.

Break up any lumps in the cooked rice. Blanch the peas in boiling salty water for a few minutes, then drain well.

Reheat the wok over a high heat until smoking. Add the remaining 4 tbsp of oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the white parts of the scallions, pour in the rest of the beaten egg, then immediately add the rice. Turn and toss the rice with a metal spoon scooping up the raw egg from the bottom of the wok.

When the rice is hot, add the ham or pork, then stir in the peas and prawns. Finally add the soy sauce and stock, stirring all the time.

Add the green parts of the scallions, then tip out onto a platter and garnish with the strips of egg.

(Original recipe from Yan-Kit’s Classic Chinese Cookbook, by Yan-Kit So, DK, 1984.)

A traditional Galician broth from Claudia Roden’s superb book on Spanish food. Make it after you boil a ham as you will have lots of ham stock to use.

Caldo Gallego – Potato, cabbage & bean soup – serves 6

  • 2 litres ham stock (you can also use chicken stock)
  • 150g smoked streaky bacon rashers, cut into pieces
  • 400g potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 250g green cabbage leaves (pointed cabbage or spring greens), cut into thick strips
  • 1 x 400g tin haricot beans, drained

Put the stock into a large saucepan with the bacon, potatoes and cabbage leaves. Bring to the boil,then season. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Add the beans and warm through for 5 minutes, then serve.

(Original recipe from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden, Michael Joseph, 2012.)

It’s definitely a bit more like soup weather in Dublin and this one’s good and hearty!

Puy lentil and pearl barley soup – serves 6

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 100g dried Puy lentils
  • 100g pearl barley
  • 680g jar passata
  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Heat the olive oil in a large pot, add the onion and carrots and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until softened and starting to colour.

Add the garlic, Puy lentils and pearl barley and stir for a minute, then add the passata and vegetable stock. Season with salt and black pepper.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 40-45 minutes or until everything is tender.

Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar, season again if needed, and serve.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry Cooks up a Feast with Lucy Young, DK Penguin House, 2019.)

This is really two separate recipes but they go so well together that we strongly suggest making both. As this is essentially a dry dish, rice on the side is good but the fresh salad really makes it.

Wine Suggestion: We think this goes really well with a velvety Pinot Noir like Andre Dezat’s Sancerre Rouge, or Cline’s Sonoma Coast Pinot. The juicy fruit and lightness of expression plays wonderfully with the layers of spice, sourness, sweetness and charred flavours these dishes offer without overwhelming them, and without too many dry tannins which could fight the dish.

Char siu pork with a chilli, coriander & mint salad – serves 4

  • 2 pork fillets (tenderloins), trimmed of fat and sinew

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 4 tbsp clear honey
  • 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 4 tbsp kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
  • 4 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder

FOR THE CHILLI, CORIANDER & MINT SALAD:

  • ½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, halved lengthways, sliced, then finely chopped
  • 1 cm piece of root ginger, peeled and grated
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½-1 tsp palm or caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 cos lettuce, cut into thick strips
  • ¼ cucumber, seeds scooped out and discarded and sliced on the diagonal
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • a large handful of coriander leaves
  • a large handful of mint leaves

First make the marinade for the pork. Put the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over a low heat. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Put the pork fillets into a large container with half the cooled marinade, keep the rest for cooking the pork. Rub the marinade into the pork and leave for at least 2-3 hours, or ideally overnight, in the fridge.

When ready to cook, heat the oven to 230C/Gas 8.

Remove the pork from the marinade (don’t throw the marinade away) and place them on a wire rack over a foil-lined roasting tray.

Roast the pork in the hot oven for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 190C/Gas 5. Continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes, turning and basting with the reserved mainade every 5 minutes, until cooked. You can finish the pork on a hot barbecue for the last 5 minutes of cooking to get a nice barbecue flavour or under a hot grill.

Leave the pork to rest for 5 minutes, before slicing.

To make the salad, put 1 tbsp of the lime juice into a small bowl with the soy sauce, sugar and oil. Add the chilli, garlic, lemongrass and ginger and whisk to combine. Taste and add more lime or sugar if needed.

Put the lettuce, cucumber, scallions, coriander and mint in a large bowl. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately with the sliced pork and some steamed rice.

(Original recipe from Leiths How to Cook by Claire MacDonald & Jenny Stringer, Quadrille Publishing Limited, 2013.)

This has a crunchy crust and makes a great wintery side dish for a roast dinner or sausages. For clarity, when we refer to turnips we mean the large yellow-fleshed things that some call swedes, not the little white ones.

Baked turnip mash with sage & Parmesan crumbs – serves 6

  • 1kg turnip, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 50g butter
  • 150ml double cream
  • a pinch of cayenne
  • 200g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 75g Parmesan
  • 8 sage leaves

Boil the turnip and garlic in salty water for about 20 minutes or until soft. Drain well and allow to steam dry in the pot, then mash with half the butter and the cream, a pinch of cayenne and lots of salt and black pepper. Spoon into a baking dish.

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

Mix the breadcrumbs with the Parmesan and some black pepper. Melt the rest of the butter and fry the sage leaves untli they crisp up, then crumble them into the breadcrumbs and cheese. Sprinkle the mix all over the turnip and spoon over any melted butter, then bake for 40 minutes or until crisp and golden.

(Original recipe by Lulu Grimes in Olive Magazine, November 2012)

Lasagne with Pesto

This version has fresh pesto stirred through the béchamel sauce which is a variation we’d not come across before, and it’s very good indeed. So good we may add any leftover pesto to dishes like this in the future; it brings a burst of Spring to a rich dish.

Wine Suggestion: We were uncertain what to open alongside this dish given the many components, but felt we needed to stick to an Italian. Freshness to balance the béchamel, depth for the layered richness, but a lightness of being to complement the basil pesto. We had a bottle of Pira Langhe Nebbiolo on the shelf and we’re happy to report it was a good match.

Lasagne with pesto – serves 6 to 8

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 700ml passata
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 12 fresh lasagne sheets

FOR THE BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

  • 100g butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 litre full-fat milk
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 100g freshly grated Parmesan

FOR THE PESTO

  • 40g basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 30g pine nuts
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 20g freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions, carrot and celery for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Add the beef mince and cook for 5 minutes, stirring and breaking it up with a wooden spoon until browned all over. Season and leave to cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the wine, stir well and buble for about 3 minutes, then add the passata and tomato purée, lower the heat and continue to cook for an hour, uncovered, until you have a thick sauce. Taste for seasoning after 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the pesto by putting the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor. Pour in the oil and blitz until smooth, then transfer to a bowl and fold in the cheese. Season with a pinch of salt and set aside.

To make the béchamel, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then gradually whisk in the cold milk, reduce the heat and cook for 10 minutes, whisking constantly. When the béchamel is thickened, stir in half the Parmesan, the nutmeg and the pesto. Season and set aside to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas mark 4.

To assemble, spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of a deep ovenproof dish. You can use your lasagne sheets to get the right sized dish, you need to make 3 layers of lasagne sheets. Lay a third of the lasagne sheets over the béchamel, then spread over half the meat sauce and top with another thin layer of béchamel.

Lay another third of the lasagne sheets on top and cover with the rest of the meat sauce. Add the final layer of lasagne and spread the remaining béchamel on top, completely covering the lasagne sheets. Sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan and grind some black pepper over the top.

Cook on the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 minutes, then move to the middle shelf and increase the temperature to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cook for another 15 minutes or until browned and bubbling.

Remove the lasagne from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

(Original recipe from Gino’s Pasta by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2010.)

This is the Ottolenghi Tesk Kitchen’s hummus made with tinned chickpeas – confirmed creamy and dreamy.

Creamy dreamy hummus – serves 6

  • 2 x 400g tins chickpeas
  • a pinch of ground cumin
  • 120-150g tahini
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 25g ice cubes
  • salt
  • good olive oil, to serve

Spread the chickpeas out between two tea towels and rub together for a few minutes to release the skins. Don’t press too hard or you will crush the chickpeas. Discard the skins.

Put the peeled chickpeas into a saucepan, cover with water and add 1 tsp of salt and the pinch of cumin. Simmer for 15 minutes or until soft.

Drain the chickpeas over a bowl and save the cooking water. Put the warm chickpeas into a food processor with 120g of tahini, the garlic, lemon juice, ice cubes, 2 tbsp of the reserved cooking water and a good pinch of salt. Blitz until smooth, then taste and add more tahini, garlic, lemon, salt and chickpea water to taste. We added a good bit of chickpea water to get the right consistency, it needs to be quite loose as it will thicken.

Spread the hummus in a shallow bowl and create a dip in the centre. Top with a generous glug of your best olive oil.

(Original recipe from OTK Shelf Love by Noor Murad & Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury Press, 2021.)

A Big Veggie Curry

Some nights we just feel like loads of veg, and this was one of them! Serve with rice and naan. Keep the dice relatively small so they don’t take too long to cook. This is also gluten-free and vegan if that matters to you.

Wine Suggestion: Good with Cline’s Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi in California. The juicy bramble fruits and warm spices make this a gentle hug of a combination. We love how Cline Family Cellars manage to get such great balance and texture in what could easily be just a fruit bomb: bravo!

A big veggie curry – serves 8

  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 aubergine, diced
  • 6 tbsp curry paste, we used Patak’s Madras
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 700g jar tomato passata
  • 400g tin coconut milk
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 2 courgettes, cut into small cubes
  • coriander, to serve

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

Put the potato, squash and aubergine into a large roasting tin and toss with 2 tbsp of vegetable oil and 2 tbsp of the curry paste. Season, toss it all together and roast for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil over a medium heat in a large casserole or saucepan. Add the onions and fry until golden, you can add a splash of water if they start to stick. Stir in the remaining 4 tbsp of curry paste and cook for a few minutes, then add the passata, coconut milk and 100ml water. Simmer for 5 minutes.

When the roasted vegetables are tender, tip them into the sauce. Add the courgettes and peppers and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Scatter with coriander and serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food.)

A perfect weekday fish dish. Serve with some baby roast potatoes and steamed greens.

Wine Suggestion: The orange and dill hint at southern France, so we chose Domaine Gayda’s Freestyle Blanc, a blend of Grenache Blanc and Gris, Maccabeu, Marsanne, and Roussanne. Layered and fresh like the food, this also had hints of orange citrus fruits and herbal twists on the finish. Both complementary and adding subtle contrasts. Made us wish we were sitting in the sunshine at a French bistro enjoying the food and wine there!

Cod with Orange & Dill – serves 2

  • 2 large pieces of cod fillet
  • a large handful of breadcrumbs, sourdough works well
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • a large handful of dill
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche, to serve

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

Combine the breadcrumbs with the orange zest, dill, garlic and seasoning.

Season the cod, place on a baking tray and press the crumbs on top.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through.

Serve with the crème fraîche.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Pot-roast Beef

We don’t cook roast beef too often, because we’re lucky enough to have good friends who do! However we liked the look of this one as it all cooks in one pot and so thought we’d give it a go. It’s a very forgiving dish to cook – easy to get right and with loads of veg cooked in the same dish. Some greens on the side is all you need.

Wine Suggestion: A good, honest Bordeaux blend is what works here. For us it was the Chateau Monconseil Gazin from Blaye which always over-delivers in panache and lovely fruit for the value pricing.

Pot-roast beef – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 shallots, peeled
  • 2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
  • 2 large carrots, cut into chunks
  • 400g baby potatoes, halved
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1kg silverside or beef topside, extra fat removed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 150ml red wine
  • 600ml beef stock
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 1-2 tsp redcurrant jelly

Preheat the oven to 160C/Fan 140C/Gas 3.

Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish with a lid. Add the shallots, celery, carrots and potatoes. Cook over a high heat until everything is starting to brown, then remove from the dish with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Mix the mustard powder with salt and pepper, then use this to dust the beef. Add the beef to the casserole and brown on all sides, you can add a little more oil if needed.

Arrange the browned vegetables around the beef, then add the garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil and allow to bubble for a few minutes, then add the stock and bring to the boil again.

Cover the dish with the lid and place in the oven to 2 hours, turning the beef over halfway through. Remove the beef from the oven and check that it’s tender, then transfer the beef and vegetables to a warm platter and cover loosely with foil.

Knead the butter and flour together to make a paste, then whisk this into the cooking liquid, a little at a time, until thickened. Taste for seasoning, then stir in the redcurrant jelly, to taste. Serve the gravy with the meat and vegetables.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ One Pot Wonders by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials 2019.)

Try this idea by Tom Kerridge as an alternative to prawn cocktail. It’s delicious!

Wine Suggestion: Muscadet, or Alvarinho/Albariño. Plenty of choices out there, tonight a Pazo de Señorans Albariño but many more could have equally filled the slot. Keep it fun.

Prawn salad with bloody mary dressing – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle more to serve
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
  • a few pinchs of cayenne pepper
  • 20 large tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
  • lemon wedges, to serve

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 5 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 5 good splashes of hot sauce, we used Frank’s
  • 1 tbsp creamed horseradish
  • 1 tbsp vodka
  • a large pinch of celery salt

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 2 ripe avocados, cut into chunky dice
  • 3 celery sticks, peeled and sliced into chunks, keep any leaves to garnish
  • ½ iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 2 ripe plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

Mix the dressing ingredients together, season with salt, and set aside. Keep it in the fridge if you make it in advance.

Mix the oil and garlic in a bowl with salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper, then add the prawns and marinate in the fridge, covered, for 10 minutes (or up to 24 hours).

Prep the salad before you cook the prawns and scatter over a large platter.

Heat a griddle pan over a medium heat, when hot lay on the prawns and cook for no more than a couple of minutes on each side, they need to turn pink and be just cooked through.

Scatter the prawns over the salad, drizzle generously with the dressing, sprinkle over the celery leaves and another pinch of cayenne, then drizzle with a little more oil. Serve with the lemon wedges.

(Original recipe by Tom Kerridge in BBC Good Food Magazine, October 2021.)

Tuna Pasta Bake

Who doesn’t love tuna pasta bake. We’re a bit sceptical about one pot cooking … what’s the big deal with using more pots? Anyhow, the one pot works in this case as the pasta absorbs all the flavours. This is also another dish that breaks the nonsense “no cheese with fish” rule.

This is easily halved and can be whipped up from store cupboard ingredients mid-week.

Wine Suggestion: A light, youthful sangiovese with plenty of fruit like Rocca delle Macie’s Chianti Vernaiolo.

Tuna Pasta Bake – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tins of tuna, drained
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 25g capers
  • 25g black olives, halved
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • leaves from 1 sprig of thyme
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 400g short pasta, we used fusilli
  • 75g Cheddar cheese, grated

Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole, we have a shallow one which works well for this, then add the onion and cook until very soft. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the tuna, tomatoes, capers, olives, lemon zest, thyme and chilli flakes. Stir until well combined, then add the pasta. Season with salt and pepper, then stir until the pasta is completely coated in sauce.

Pour in enough water to just cover the pasta and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook until the pasta is al dente and has absorbed most of the water. This will take between 10 and 15 minutes, start checking at 10. You might need to stir now and again to stop it sticking to the bottom.

Heat the grill to high.

Sprinkle the dish with the cheese, then place under the grill until browned and bubbling.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ One Pot Wonders by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2019.)

Well it’s a cauliflower cheese … but a supercharged one by Diana Henry which has crunch, texture, silkiness and salty nuggets of blue cheese. She suggests whizzing any leftovers with some chicken stock and milk to make a soup which we did the next day and it was amazing!

Cauliflower, bacon and cashel blue gratin – serves 4 as a side

  • 1 large cauliflower, in florets
  • 100g bacon lardons
  • 50g Cashel blue cheese, broken into small chunks
  • 2 tbsp coarse white breadcrumbs

FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE

  • 50g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 500ml milk
  • 75g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3 tsp English mustard
  • a squeeze of lemon juice

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Steam the cauliflower until just tender.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and add the flour. Stir over a low heat for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat, then gradually add the milk, stirring continually until absorbed each time. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring, until thickened. Reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Stir in the Cheddar and mustard and stir until melted. Add a squeeze of lemon and taste for seasoning – remember the bacon and blue cheese are salty.

Fry the bacon in a dry pan until crispy. Put the cauliflower into a gratin dish, season and sprinkle with the bacon. Pour on the sauce, then dot with the blue cheese and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned and bubbling.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2010.)

Creamy Pork & Pears

As I type I realise that we’re cooking with fruit more than we usually do. Perhaps Autumn is always like this. This super simple dish is good for mid-week. Serve with greens and potatoes or just some crusty bread.

Wine Suggestion: With the cider and pears this demands a full-flavoured Chenin Blanc, like a good Vouvray or Saumur Blanc where the richer elements complement each other, and then the backbone of acidity elevates it to reveal the fruit flavours even more. One of our favourites, the Chateau du Hureau Saumur Blanc Argile; especially if you can find one with a couple years on it.

Creamy Pork & Pears – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 400g pork fillet, cut into strips
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a handful of sage leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 500ml apple cider
  • 2 medium pears, cored and each cut into 8 slices
  • 100ml double cream

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan, for which you have a lid, over a high heat.

Season the pork with salt and pepper, then fry in batches for 3-4 minutes, then transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and add another tbsp of oil and the onions. Cook for 8 minutes, then add the garlic and fry for another 2 minutes.

Add the sage and flour, stir and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat again, then pour in the cider and bubble for 4 minutes. Return the pork and any juices to the pan, seaon, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 10 minutes.

Stir in the pear slices and cook for another 10 minutes. Stir through the cream and bring to a bubble, then season again and serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

We’ve seen these many times on social media and yesterday someone else’s pic inspired us to make them. Likewise we hope we inspire a few others to try Nigella’s salt and vinegar potatoes, they’re as good as they sound!

Salt and vinegar potatoes – serves 2

  • 500g baby new potatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 ½ tsp raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, or to taste
  • sea salt flakes, to taste

Steam the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Then allow to dry in the steamer basket over the empty pan, uncovered.

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan.

Pour the oil into a small shallow roasting tin and heat for 5 minutes in the oven.

Tip the potatoes out onto a board and crush with a fork. They should be roughly broken in two but with plenty of crumbly bits.

Toss the potatoes gently in the hot oil, then cook for 20 minutes, give them a turn and return to the oven for 10 minutes more, or until browned and crunchy.

Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the salt and vinegar.

(Original recipe from At My Table by Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, 2017.)

Haddock Bake

This is like a fish pie … but is so much easier to make and perfect for a Friday night after a long week. It’s also usefully gluten-free, unlike many other fish pies. Serve with a big bowl of peas.

Wine Suggestion: A new find from Cabardes in France, Domaine Ventenac’s “les Dissidents” Cassandre. A joyfully fresh Vermentino, a grape we think is the next big thing from southern France.

Haddock Bake – serves 6

  • 350g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 500g baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 eggs, hard-boiled and cut into quarters (put them into boiling water and time for 8 minutes)
  • 500g skinless smoked haddock, cut into large chunks
  • 300ml double cream
  • 2 tsp grainy mustard
  • 75g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

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

Put the potatoes into cold salted water, cover and bring to the boil, then cook for about 10 minutes or until just cooked. Drain well and leave to steam dry in the pot

Heat a large fring pan, add the spinach, and cook until just wilted, then drain in a colander. You will need to do this in batches. Squeeze the spinach against the colander to get rid of as much water as possible. When cool enough to handle you can squeeze it again with your hands.

Heat the oil in the same frying pan, add the mushrooms, and fry for a few minutes until just cooked.

Grease a 2 litre shallow oven-proof dish with a little butter.

Scatter the potatoes, spinach and mushrooms over the base of the dish, then spread the haddock and eggs over the top and season.

Mix the cream and mustard together with some seasoning, then pour over the dish and sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until bubbling and browned on top.

Serve with lots of peas.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry Cooks up a Feast with Lucy Young, DK, 2019.)

This all cooks in one pot and the sauce is lovely. We’ve been informed by our daughter, Orlaith, that we can definitely do this dish again as it is almost as nice as noodles. The recipe is by Diana Henry, the queen of chicken recipes.

Wine Suggestion: Earthy reds are what are called for here and tonight it was the turn of Herdade do Peso “Trinca Bolotas” kindly shared by our friends T&M who joined us for dinner. An Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional & Aragonez blend from the Alentejo, Portugal; rich, earthy and complex.

Chicken with chorizo and peppers – serves 4

  • 8 chicken thighs (we used a mix of thighs and drumsticks)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 225g chorizo, sliced
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 200ml rioja
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs of thyme, plus the leaves of an extra sprig, to garnish

Trim the skin on the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Heat the oil in a large shallow casserole over a medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook for a few minutes, then scoop out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onions and peppers and cook for about 10 minutes, until softening. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, then tip everything into the dish with the chorizo.

Brown the chicken in the chorizo oil until browned on all sides. This is easier in batches. Set the chicken aside, then tip off all but 1 tbsp of oil from the pan.

Add the rioja and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, then add the stock, bay and thyme, Add the chorizo and veg and bring to a simmer. Nestle the chicken into the sauce with the skin-side up. Transfer to the oven, uncovered, and cook for 35-40 minutes. Add some water if the sauce reduces too quickly.

When the chicken is cooked through, season, and sprinkle with the thyme leaves.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)