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Broad Bean Bruschetta

A real burst of summer freshness that we assembled using frozen broad beans on a grey winter day. It is now Spring however and you might be the lucky person with some freshly picked broad beans. You can of course use frozen beans which for us are right up there with peas as an absolute freezer essential.

Wine Suggestion: We opened a vibrant Verdicchio from Umani Ronchi; their CaSal di Serra. Thirst quenching and pure peach, apple and lemon fruits that match the season as well.

Ricotta & Broad Bean Bruschetta – enough to make 4

  • 4 slices of rustic sourdough bread
  • 1 clove of garlic, halved
  • 200g broad beans (podded weight)
  • 250g ricotta
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a few small mint leaves
  • a few basil leaves, shredded

Toast the bread until light golden brown, then rub on one side with the cut garlic clove.

Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the broad beans for 2 minutes, then drain and run under cold water. The beans will now be very easy to pop gently from their skins.

Break the ricotta up with a fork and add the lemon juice, then stir to combine. Spread the ricotta mixture over the toasted bread and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Toss the broad beans with the mint, basil, lemon zest and remaining olive oil. Pile on top of the ricotta and season with salt and black pepper.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ Mediterranean Adventure by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2017.)

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Chicken skewers with oregano

Tastes like Summer! Use chicken thigh fillets if you can rather than chicken breasts as they don’t dry out as easily. Serve with baked potatoes and salads for an easy barbecue for friends.

Wine Suggestion: We’ve found that a little known, but classic combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay from Cheverny in the Loire is the perfect match for this. We want to try this with some Greek white’s too being inspired by the dried oregano.

Chicken skewers with oregano – serves 4

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 red pepper, cut into squares
  • 1 green pepper, cut into squares

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Cut the chicken thighs into 4, trimming off any larger bits of fat.

For the marinade, whisk the olive oil, lemon zest and juice and the honey in a bowl until the honey is dissolved. Add the oregano, paprika, cinnamon and plenty of seasoning. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours or ideally overnight.

Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before you want to cook. Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers, alternating with the pepper pieces.

Heat the barbecue until very hot, then grill the skewers for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through. Baste with the leftover marinade as they cook. Serve with a few lemon wedges if you like.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ Mediterranean Adventure by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2017.)

Ginger pork stir-fry

A light and tasty stir-fry to use up bits of veg leftover from the weekend. Feel free to use what you have rather than the suggestions below and prep all the ingredients before you start as this takes minutes to cook. Serve with rice or noodles.

Wine Suggestion: If you can find it, the Zind Humbrecht Muscat Grand Cru Goldberg 2013, was an amazing match. This is a truly astonishing wine that confounds the stereotype of Muscat because of the terroir and winemaker, being fresh, vibrant and dry. Alongside the ginger and soy this danced a fine line of complementary and contrasting flavours.

Ginger Pork Stir-fry – serves 4

  • 25g root ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 tbsp finely grated root ginger
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 200g pork fillet, trimmed and sliced into 5mm slices
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed/grated
  • 150g carrots, peeled and finely sliced
  • 150g purple-sprouting broccoli or small broccoli florets
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, finely sliced
  • 75g kale (stalks removed), shredded
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp roughly chopped coriander (leaves & stalks)

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, add the sliced ginger and boil for 1 minute, then drain.

Get a wok or a large frying pan smoking hot, then pour in the oil and stir-fry the boiled ginger for 30-60 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Add the pork, garlic, grated ginger and carrots. Stir-fry for 2 minutes or until the pork is cooked, then add the broccoli and peppers.

Keep frying for another minute, then add the kale and toss for briefly to wilt.

Finally, add the sesame oil, soy sauce and chopped coriander. Toss together quickly then serve over rice or noodles and garnish with the crispy ginger.

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

Chicken & Morel Pie

We were so happy when we found a little jar of dried morels, until we got to the counter and realised they cost €25. We almost put them back only we had our hearts set on cooking this pie for dinner. We think they were worth it, but we’ll be better prepared for a shock at the till next time. It turns out morels are far from easy to come by and must be hand foraged and hence the princely sum. The fresh ones can be used for this dish too (though good luck finding them!) but you miss out on the nice mushroom stock from soaking the dried ones. If you see either sort and you’re feeling flush, we recommend trying them.

Wine Suggestion: We think this goes well with earthier reds like Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo especially if they have a little age and development.

Chicken, morel mushroom & asparagus one-pan pie – serves 4 to 5

  • 30g dried morels (or 100g fresh morels thoroughly cleaned)
  • 200ml chicken stock (you only need this if you have fresh morels)
  • 50g butter
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100ml dry sherry or white wine
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into large chunks
  • bunch of asparagus, snap off and discard the woody ends, then cut into 4cm pieces
  • half a pack of tarragon, leaves roughly chopped
  • 375g block of puff pastry (preferably all-butter)
  • 1 egg, beaten, to glaze

If you are using dried mushrooms put them into a bowl and cover with boiling water, then leave to soak for 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid and cut in half (keep the liquid and make it up to 200ml with some more water if necessary). You can set a couple of the nicest looking morels aside to decorate the top of the pie if you like.

Heat half the butter in a frying pan and fry the morels for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Heat the rest of the butter and cook the shallots gently in the pan with the thyme and bay. When the shallots have softened, stir in the flour and cook for a minute or until a paste forms.

Pour in the sherry or wine and sizzle, then stir in the mushroom liquid (leave any grit in the bowl) or chicken stock, followed by the crème fraîche. Season well and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the chicken and poach in the sauce for 10 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove and discard the bay leaves, stir in the asparagus, tarragon and fried morels, then remove from the heat and transfer into a pie dish.

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 8.

Roll the pastry out onto a floured surface to the thickness of a euro coin, then cut to fit the dish, and drape it over the pie mixture (a rolling pin helps with this). Liberally brush with egg, season the pastry with flaky sea salt, and arrange the reserved morels on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Spicy Merguez & Cod tray-bake

We really loved this dish and it works really well with Golden Couscous. Simple and super tasty.

Wine Suggestion: We opened a delightful Grenache from the south of France, the Les Paiens Paria made by Domaine Ventenac. As it wasn’t too tannic it didn’t fight with the spicy sausages and harissa.

Spicy merguez and cod tray roast – serves 6

  • 8 merguez sausages, cut into chunks
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp harissa, depending on how spicy you like
  • 2 x 400g tins cherry tomatoes
  • 100g Nocerella green olives
  • 800g cod loin, cut into 6 pieces
  • a bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges

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

Put the sausages in the bottom of a roasting tin and bake for 10 minutes, then stir in the onions and bake for another 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and harissa and put back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

Stir in the olives and sit the cod pieces in the sauce, drizzle them with a little olive oil and season. Put back into the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Scatter with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe IN: BBC Olive Magazine, April 2017.)

Broadbeans with pancetta

A tasty side dish that works at any time of the year provided you’ve a stash of broad beans in the freezer.

Broad beans with pancetta – serves 4

  • 500g frozen broad beans
  • 70g cubetti di pancetta
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • a small bunch of flatleaf parsley, chopped

Cook the beans in boiling water for 2 minutes then drain and remove from the skins.

Fry the pancetta in a dry pan until the fat runs, then turn the heat up and brown well. Add the shallots for a couple of minutes to soften, then add the broad beans to heat through. Stir through the parsley and season before serving.

 

Chicken Tartiflette

Reblochon cheese from the Alps arrives in the cheese shops from May and reminds us to make tartiflette, the famous dish from France’s Haute-Savoie region made with cheese, bacon, potatoes and onions.  This version also has chicken and kale and it needs no accompaniment. It makes a hefty portion but it’s hard not to go back for more.

Wine Suggestion: We would suggest finding a white from the Jura, usually made from Savagnin, Chardonnay, or a blend of the two. Even better try to find a Vin Jaune, which is aged in oak under a Voile, similar to the Flor of sherry, and with similar characteristics. We had a beautiful Côtes du Jura, the Cuvée de Garde by Anne & Jean-François Ganevat. An equal blend of the two grapes and held under voile for 48 months (not long enough to classify as a Vin Jaune) which allowed the fruit to sing alongside the nutty, voile aromas.

Chicken tartiflette – serves 4 (generously)

FOR THE CHICKEN:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium chicken, about 1.5kg, jointed into 8 pieces (we used 8 chicken thighs)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • 200ml white wine
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

FOR THE TARTIFLETTE:

  • 1kg waxy potatoes, like Charlotte, sliced 1cm thick
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g smoked bacon lardons
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 50g plain flour
  • 300ml double cream
  • 400g curly kale, blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes and roughly chopped (discard any thick stalks)
  • 400g Reblochon cheese, broken or cut into pieces

Start by cooking the chicken. Heat a large sauté pan over a high heat, add the olive oil and the chicken pieces – skin side down to start. Cook until browned all over, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan then add the onion and garlic and sweat until the onion has softened. Add the white wine and reduce until almost evaporated. Add the chicken stock, thyme and bay, then season with salt and pepper and bring to a very gentle simmer (you might need to transfer to a large pot to fit it all in).

Return the chicken pieces to the pan and cook very gently until just cooked – about 10 minutes for the breasts. Remove any breast pieces from the pan with some of the broth and leave to cool in the broth. Continue to cook the leg meat for another 30 minutes, then take off the heat and leave to cool in the broth.

When cooled take the chicken out of the broth, remove the skin and bones and cut into large pieces. Strain the broth and reserve for later.

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

Simmer the potato slices in boiling, salted water until almost tender, then drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the bacon lardons and cook until coloured, then remove from the pan and add the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent, then stir in the garlic. Add the flour and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the cream with 200ml of the reserved strained chicken braising liquid and slowly bring to a simmer, stirring. Remove from the heat and season.

Fold the chicken and bacon through the cream mixture, along with the kale, 300g of the cheese and the potatoes. Pour into a large baking dish and top with the remaining 100g of cheese, then bake until golden brown (about 20 to 30 minutes).

(Original recipe from The Skills by Monica Galetti, Quadrille, 2016.)