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Cheddar Cheese Risotto

We found Nigella Express on our bookshelves and thought it might be useful these days when we’re looking for simplicity and store cupboard ingredients. This is Nigella’s Cheddar cheese risotto that we made with some limp looking scallions and the dregs from a packet of chives. Also popular with the 6 year old.

Wine Suggestion: A full-bodied white with texture, depth and importantly a freshness to make it feel lighter than the body and rich food demand. Our choice the Rustenberg Chardonnay, a stand-by exemplar of an oaked Chardonnay.

Cheddar cheese risotto – serves 2 adults and 1 child

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • a few scallions, chopped
  • 300g risotto rice
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 125ml white wine
  • 1 litre hot vegetable stock
  • 125g cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives

Melt the butter and oil in a saucepan, then add the scallions and cook until softened.

Pour in the rice and stir for a minute so the rice is all coated in the butter and oil.

Turn up the heat, then add the Dijon mustard and white wine. Keep stirring until the wine has been absorbed.

Gradually add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding another. Keep going like this until the rice is al dente – about 18 minutes.

Stir in the cubes of cheese and keep stirring until the cheese has melted. Taste for seasoning, then ladle into warm bowls. Top with some chives if you have them.

(Original recipe from Nigella Express, Chatto & Windus, 2007.)

 

Shakshuka

Shakshuka

We needed a green pepper for another dish, but could only get a mixed bag of three leaving us with a red and yellow pepper needing to be used. The clocks have changed and so we had brunch, very unusual in this house where our human alarm clocks goes off at 6am most days. Jono has been mastering a new skill and so we had this with freshly baked sourdough. Don’t think we’ll be eating another bite until this evening!

Shakshuka – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil (we used olive oil)
  • 1 red onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 red pepper, finely sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, finely sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 heaped tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 400g tin of cherry tomatoes
  • 115g baby spinach (we used frozen spinach, boil for a minute or two to wilt, then drain, squeeze out water with hands and chop)
  • 4 medium eggs
  • ½ small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
  • ½ small bunch of dill, roughly chopped (we didn’t have any dill but used some fennel fronds)

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Add the onions and peppers and cook over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until starting to soften. Add the garlic and spices and stir for another minute, then add the tomatoes, spinach and 100ml of water. Turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Season to taste.

Make four indentations in the mixture and gently crack an egg into each one (we find it easier to crack the eggs into mugs and pour them in). Cover with a lid or foil and cook over a low heat for 8-10 minutes or until the eggs are just set. Scatter over the herbs and serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Greek Lamb with Orzo

A treat for the weekend without too many ingredients. There is also just a tiny bit of work at the start and then this can be left to pretty much cook itself for a few hours. You can serve with crusty bread or just by itself.

Wine Suggestion: we think that a southern French blend like Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre is a really good combination as long as the wine is fresh and not too jammy. Tonight we enjoyed the Domaine de Cébène Faugeres “Felgaria” which had a majority of Mourvedre and was pure, elegant and expressive with spices and warm aromas.

Greek lamb with orzo – serves 6

  • 1kg shoulder of lamb, cut into large cubes
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1.2 litres hot chicken or veg stock
  • 400g orzo
  • freshly grated Parmesan, to serve

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

Put the lamb into a large casserole dish with the onions, oregano, ground cinnamon, cinnamon sticks and olive oil. Toss with your hands to ensure everything is coated with oil. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Add the tomatoes and stock, then cover and return to the oven for a further 1½ hours or until the lamb is meltingly tender. You can throw away the cinnamon sticks at this point.

Stir in the orzo and return to the oven again, with the lid on. Cook for another 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until the orzo is cooked and the sauce has thickened. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Spaghetti with Roasted Red Mullet

It feels a bit weird posting recipes like this but at the same time we think its important to remember that there are no food shortages. The fish shops are open and fishermen continue to fish and while this continues, we’re going to make the most of it.

Wine Suggestion: a good rule of thumb when matching wines is to look at the source of the food and see what is being grown nearby. Today, an Italian seafood pasta drags us to the Poggio ai Ginepri Vermentino, grown on the Tuscan coast; both floral and salty in equal amounts with a good dollop of tasty fruit in the middle.

Spaghetti with roasted red mullet – serves 2

  • 4 small fillets of red mullet – ask the fish shop to fillet them for you and make sure you check them over for tiny bones
  • a handful of black olives, pitted
  • a dried chilli or half a tsp of dried chilli flakes
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • your best extra virgin olive oil
  • some fresh thyme, leaves stripped
  • 200g spaghetti

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F.

Prick the cherry tomatoes with a fork, then toss with a little olive oil, season and spread over a baking tray. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

Put the fillets of red mullet in a single layer in a shallow baking dish, sprinkle with thyme and the dried chilli, then season. Drizzle with oil and roast in the oven for 5 minutes.

Cook the spaghetti in loads of salty water until al dente. Drain and return to the pan.

Add the olives and tomatoes to the pasta with 1 tbsp of olive oil and season. Add the red mullet and toss gently, then serve.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy: Simple Recipes form the London River Cafe by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, Clarkson Potter, 2006)

 

Purple Sprouting Broccoli Pasta Bake

We’ve been cooking pretty much as usual since Covid-19 struck and we’ve all had to stay home. We are trying even harder than usual though to use what we already have. The only fresh ingredient you need here is broccoli, we used purple sprouting as it’s in season but any broccoli will do. Hopefully you have everything else in your cupboard or fridge already, if not the corner shop should have it.

Wine Suggestion: a simple white wine with a bit of freshness and texture is all that is needed here. Our selection is the Macchialupa Falanghina from Benevento in Campania, Italy, which over delivers but is joyfully fresh and vibrant.

PSB and Pasta Bake – serves 4

  • 250-300g broccoli, cut into florets (we use stalks and all)
  • 250-300g penne pasta (or whatever short pasta you have)
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 300ml milk
  • 2 large handfuls of grated Cheddar cheese (or any leftover cheese)
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard (or any mustard)

Cook the pasta in loads of salty boiling water and add the broccoli for the last 4 minutes. Drain and leave to steam dry in the pot.

Make a cheese sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour. Keep stirring for a minute, then gradually add the milk, a little at a time, stirring all the time. Keep stirring now until the mixture bubbles, then leave to simmer for a couple of minutes. Stir in the mustard, one large handful of cheese and plenty of seasoning.

Tip the cooked pasta and broccoli into the sauce and stir gently. Tip into an ovenproof dish and put under a hot grill for a few minutes until browned and bubbling.

Paneer Tikka Masala

Being thankful for sunshine and all we have this evening. The clocks will change tomorrow and hopefully things will take a turn for the better soon. In the meantime stay at home and eat well. This is super straightforward but flavour-packed! Serve with steamed basmati rice and naan bread from your local takeaway.

Wine Suggestion: A lager style beer. To be a little “craft”, even though they’ve been brewing since 1824, we chose the C&A Veltins Grevensteiner Helles which had character and smoothness in equal proportions.

Paneer tikka masala – serves 3

  • 3 tbsp curry powder (the recipe suggests tikka curry powder, we had hot so that’s what we got)
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 200g paneer, cut into small cubes
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 400g passata
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • a knob of butter
  • a handful of chopped coriander
  • steamed basmati rice and naan bread (to serve)

Mix the 1 tbsp of the curry powder and the yoghurt together in a bowl, then stir in the paneer and peppers and leave to marinade while you make the sauce.

Heat the oil in a pan, then add the onion and cook until soft and starting to brown a little. Add the ginger and garlic and continue cooking for a couple of minutes.

Stir in the remaining 2 tbsp of curry powder and stir until fragrant, then stir in the passata, tomato purée and sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in the cream and cook for another couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the grill to high. Spread the paneer and pepper out over a non-stick baking tray or a tray lined with foil, then place under the grill until charred and sizzling. Turn everything over to brown on both sides.

Tip the panner and peppers into the sauce, add a knob of butter, the coriander and some seasoning and cook for a couple of minutes. Serve the curry with rice and naan.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in BBC Olive Magazine, March 2020)

 

Chorizo & Chilli Pepper Pasta

We made this to use up a piece of chorizo ring leftover from a previous recipe. The whole dish took about 20 minutes from start to finish and was yummy.

Wine Suggestion: The first time we had this it was with a Beaujolais (Gamay) and it was a delightful match, and then a few weeks later it was with a white blend of Grenache Blanc and Viognier and again a real delight. We think the key here is a vibrant, medium bodied wine … and avoid to much complexity and concentration … this is a simple, if very tasty dish, so keep the wine the same.

Chorizo & chilli pepper pasta – serves 2

  • 200g penne (or any short pasta)
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 100g chorizo, skinned and cut into small chunks
  • 400g tin cherry tomatoes (regular tin of chopped tomatoes would be fine if that’s what you have)
  • 3 guindilla pickled chilli peppers, sliced on an angle (any pickled chillies would do)
  • a handful of basil leaves, roughly torn
  • grated Parmesan, to serve

Cook the pasta in lots of salty water for a minute less than recommended on the packet.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over a high heat. Fry the chorizo for a couple of minutes or until it releases its oil.

Stir in the tin of tomatoes, a pinch of sugar and seasoning.  Let bubble for 5 minutes, then stir in the peppers and basil.

Drain the pasta and stir through the sauce.

Serve with plenty of Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)