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Tagliolini au Gratin with Prawns & Treviso

This baked pasta dish from Jacob Kennedy’s fabulous Bocca cookbook is truly delicious. Quick to cook and an excellent treat for a Friday night when energy levels are low. We find radicchio di Treviso hard to resist with its pretty dark purple leaves. They’re in season and in shops now and we’ve had our eyes on this dish for a while, we weren’t disappointed.

Wine Suggestion: While not our first thought we had a bottle of the Altos de Torona Albariño from northern Spain in the fridge and it proved a delightful match.

Tagliolini au Gratin with Prawns and Treviso – serves 2 as a main, 4 to 6 as a starter

  • 120g dried tagliolini
  • 50g butter
  • ½ a small red onion or 1 shallot, thinly sliced across the grain
  • 1 medium head Radicchio di Treviso, shredded 3-5mm
  • 200g peeled raw prawns
  • 60ml white wine
  • 200ml double cream
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan

Melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and fry for a few minutes, then add the radicchio and sauté gently for 4-5 minutes or until wilted. Add the prawns, then the wine and let it boil for a couple of minutes or until the liquid has almost evaporated. Add the cream and at the same time put the tagliolini into a pan of boiling, salted water. Boil both until the tagliolini is undercooked (about half the recommended time) and the sauce just runnier than cream.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Toss over the heat for a minute to coat the pasta with the cream, then season with salt and pepper and transfer to a baking dish (or divide between a number of smaller dishes). Sprinkle with the Parmesan and brown the top under a hot grill. Serve immediately.

(Original recipe from Jacob Kennedy’s ‘Bocca Cookbook’, Bloomsbury, 2011.)

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Smoked Salmon, Horseradish & Dill Crostini

Do try this. It looks like regular smoked salmon crostini but the balance of ingredients is perfect, including the rather generous portion of salmon per toast. Don’t be tempted to scrimp on either quantity or quality!

Wine Suggestion: excellent with sparkling – your choice of Crémant, Champagne, or your local version. Just make sure that it a fresh, more acidic style … Prosecco need not apply as it doesn’t have enough zing for this. Tonight the Soalheiro Espumante, a sparkling made from alvarinho in northern Portugal and wonderfully citrus, vibrant and refreshing.

Smoked salmon, horseradish & dill crostini – makes 20 crostini

  • 250g crème fraîche
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • about 3 tbsp freshly grated horseradish
  • pinch of caster sugar (optional)
  • 1 French stick, cut into discs and lightly toasted
  • 500g thinly sliced top quality smoked salmon
  • 20 dill sprigs
  • lemon juice

Make the horseradish cream by mixing together the crème fraîche, mustard and horseradish. Season with salt and pepper and add a little sugar if it tastes tart.

Put a generous slice of salmon in each piece of toast and top with a spoonful of horseradish cream. Decorate with a sprig of dill. Add a few drops of lemon juice and some black pepper before serving.

(Original recipe from Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (of sorts) by Russell Norman, Bloomsbury, 2012.)

Chickpea fennel & leek soup

We recently bought a copy of the Venetian cookbook, Polpo, by Russell Norman – it’s about 7 years since it was published and we’ve been coveting it ever since. This soup doesn’t sound exciting but it’s absolutely delicious and will fill even the hungriest of bellies (perhaps with some bread).

Chickpea, leek  & fennel soup – serves 6 to 8

  • 500g dried chickpeas
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 leeks, cut into 1cm pieces
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, cut into 1cm pieces

Cover the chickpeas in water and soak overnight. Drain and put into a heavy-based pan with the chicken stock. The stock needs to cover the chickpeas by about 3 cm. Add the dried chilli and cook until tender (start checking after the first 30 minutes but they could take an hour).

Heat a little olive oil in another heavy pan and sweat the shallots, leeks and fennel until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the chickpeas and stock with the sweated vegetables and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove about a quarter of the veg and chickpeas and set aside (we forgot to do this!). Blend the remainder until smooth. Return the reserved veg and chickpeas to the pan and season to taste. Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil.

(Original recipe from Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (of sorts) by Russell Norman, Bloomsbury, 2012.)

 

Breakfast quesadilla

Quesadillas are a regular feature on our weekend breakfast/lunch table as we often have tortilla wraps leftover from pack lunches in the week. We loved these spicy, veggie ones for Saturday breakfast.

Breakfast Quesadillas – serves 2

  • a knob of butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ an avocado, sliced
  • 2 flour tortillas
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 25g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 pickled jalapeños, chopped

Heat the butter in a small pan, tip in the eggs and stir until scrambled.

Scatter the avocado over one of the tortillas. Top with the scrambled eggs, the cherry tomatoes, the cheddar and the jalapeños. Top with the other tortilla and slide into a hot non-stick frying pan (we brush the tortillas on the outside with a tiny bit of oil to help them brown). Cook for 2-3 minutes then flip over and continue to cook until the cheese is melted and the insides are hot. Cut into wedges to serve.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in BBC Olive Magazine, March 2019.)

Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower with Dhal

A vegan dish for mid-week that is not only super-healthy but very tasty too.

Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower with Dhal – serves 4

FOR THE CAULIFLOWER:

  • 1 large cauliflower, sliced into 1cm steaks (or you can break into florets but don’t waste the stalk)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

FOR THE DHAL:

  • ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely diced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp medium curry powder
  • 250g red lentils
  • 400ml tin light coconut milk
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • generous handful of spinach leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted

Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6.

Put the cauliflower into a large roasting tin and sprinkle with the olive oil.

Roast the cauliflower for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and scatter over the turmeric and garlic. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes or until browned and tender.

Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a lidded saucepan and gently fry the onion and chilli for about 4 minutes.

Add the cumin, garlic and curry powder and cook for another couple of minutes before stirring in the lentils, coconut milk and stock. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Stir in the coriander and season to taste.

Squeeze the lemon over the cauliflower and serve with the dhal and the toasted almonds.

(Original recipe from The Fast 800 by Michael Mosley, Short Books, 2019.)

 

Spaghetti with Ricotta & Toasted Pine Nuts

Mondays are all about leftovers in our house and we’re determined to use all bits and pieces hanging around after the weekend. This pasta dish helped us out with the remains of a jar of sundried tomatoes and some ricotta cheese. Also great to use the chives that have recently sprouted up in the garden – a positive sign of things to come.

Wine Suggestion: Look for a good Verdicchio with a fuller body, but still fresh and balanced. Tonight an old favourite, the Sartarelli Tralivio.

Spaghetti with Ricotta Cheese & Toasted Pine Nuts – serves 4 (easily halved)

  • 6 tbsp pine nuts
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • 100g sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and sliced into thin strips
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped, plus extra to garnish
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 500g spaghetti

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until golden brown, then set aside.

Put the ricotta cheese, sundried tomatoes, chives, nutmeg, pine nuts and basil into a large bowl. Pour over the oil and hot water, season with salt and pepper, and mix together. Leave to rest at room temperature while you cook the pasta.

Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling salty water until al dente. Drain and tip into the bowl with the ricotta mixture (don’t be too particular when draining as a little water will help to loosen the sauce). Gently fold everything together for 30 seconds to combine. Serve with the extra basil.

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

Harissa & Goat's Cheese Buns

Try these at the weekend, they’re a good accompaniment for drinks, something fizzy perhaps. They taste best hot but you can have them all prepped on trays in the fridge ready to slide into the oven as people arrive. A nice idea from two of our very favourite cooks – Sarit Packer & Itamer Srulovich of Honey & Co.

Wine suggestion: a good crémant. For fun we opened the Taille Princess Blanc de Gérard Depardieu by Bouvet-Ladubay, a Chenin Blanc-Chardonnay sparkling from Saumur. We chuckle every time with the liberal use of Gérard’s branding and his portrait on the label and on the capsule. That said it is an excellent crémant and a good match to savoury cheese bites like these.

Harissa & Goat’s Cheese Buns – makes about 20 

  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 100g butter (at room temperature), diced
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked and divided into 2 small bowls
  • 60g grated pecorino or Parmesan
  • 125g ricotta
  • 125g soft, young, rindless goat’s cheese
  • 30g rose harissa paste
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds

Put the flour and butter in a mixer bowl with a paddle attachment and combine to a crumb-like consistency.

Add half the egg and half the grated pecorino or Parmesan, along with the ricotta, goat’s cheese, harissa paste and salt. Mix together to form a soft, pliable dough.

Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each one into a log about 20cm long. Brush each log all over with the other half of the egg.

Mix the rest of the cheese with the cumin seeds and sprinkle over the work surface. Roll the logs in the mixture until coated all over. Put the logs on a try in the fridge to rest for at least an hour or up to 48 hours.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Cut each log into about 10 slices, about 2cm thick, and lay them on a lined baking tray. Bake for 13-15 minutes until teh cheese is golden but the buns are still soft. Serve hot.

(Original recipe from Honey & Co. At Home by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich, Pavilion, 2018.)