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Quince Jam

Quince jam

Not as solid and refined as Membrillo/Quince paste, but with all the taste and flavour. Plus it couldn’t be easier to make – just boil up the quinces and sieve into sterilised jars. Serve with cheese and anything else you fancy.

Quince Jam – makes about 4 jars

  • 1kg quince, chopped into chunks (no need to discard pips/stalks etc)
  • 1kg granulated sugar

Put the chopped quince and sugar into a saucepan. Add water to cover. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1½ – 1¾ hours, mashing the fruit after the first 45 minutes. Cook until the liquid has evaporated but keep stirring as it gets close to stop it burning on the bottom of the pan. Push through a sieve into a large bowl, then pour into sterilised jars.

 

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Burrata with burnt orange, pistachio and pomegranate

A dish of vibrant colours and flavours that may not be for everyone as the texture of the nuts and pomegranate is a little unusual (a bit like rubble); we ate everything on the plate with gusto and wished we had more.

Wine Suggestion: we picked the Biancardi Insolito which is made from the rare Minutolo grape. This grape had for years been mistaken for Fiano but has been proven to be a distinct variety, so if you can’t find this exact wine/grape try a good Fiano instead. Full of pear, green apple, citrus and floral characters it is as fresh as the sea breezes that cool it’s vineyards and made a good match.

Burrata & Brunt Oranges with Pistachios & Pomegranate – serves 4 as a starter

  • 1 orange or blood orange, cut into segments
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 200g ball of burrata
  • 60g pomegranate seeds
  • 25g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 pinches of nigella seeds
  • ½ tsp sumac
  • a handful of mint leaves, torn
  • maldon sea salt flakes and black pepper

Use a blow torch to burn the orange segments or heat a frying pan on the highest heat until hot, brush a little bit of oil on to the segments and cook for 1 minute on each side, or until starting to blacken.

Place the burrata in the centre of the serving plate. Arrange the burnt orange around the cheese and scatter over the pomegranate seeds, pistachios, nigella seeds and sumac. Drizzle generously with some nice olive oil, season with salt and pepper and scatter over the mint.

(Original recipe from Feasts by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2017.)

Mussel & fennel risottoWe really liked this tasty risotto made with delicious stock from the mussels. Jules bought half the quantity of mussels (in error!) but it was no worse for it. The sort of thing we like to eat on a Friday night with a glass of something bubbly.

Wine Suggestion: As we have a few bottles of Sparkling Saumur lying around after our summer holiday to the Loire this year, we automatically gravitated to this and found it a good match. This time we opened the Bouvet-Ladubay Trésor blanc, a blend of mostly Chenin Blanc with some Chardonnay. Fresh and vibrant but with the quality of fruit to stand up to the food. Cost aside, we don’t know why more sparkling wines aren’t matched with food.

Mussel & fennel risotto – serves 4

  • 1.75kg mussels, cleaned thoroughly (discard any that don’t close when you hit them off the side of the sink)
  • 250ml dry white wine
  • a few parsley stalks
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, trimmed & diced
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 50ml dry vermouth
  • 4 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • a squeeze of lemon juice

Put the mussels into a large saucepan over a medium heat with the white wine, parsley stalks and peppercorns. Cover and cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until opened. Shake the pan a couple of times as they cook.

Strain over a bowl to catch the cooking liquor and remove the mussels from their shells. Throw away any that haven’t opened.

Strain the liquor through a sieve lined with muslin to catch any grit, then heat until simmering gently.

Heat 5 tbsp olive oil in a heavy pan and sauté the onion, garlic and fennel over a medium heat until the onion is soft but not coloured. Stir in the risotto rice. Pour on the vermouth, then add the mussel liquor a ladleful at a time, stirring continuously. The rice should be cooked after about 20 minutes. Add some water if you run out of mussel liquor.

Stir in the mussels, parsley, lemon juice and seasoning to taste.

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

Beef Bourguignon Pie

Beef Bourguignon Pie whole

Beef Bourguignon Pie whole

One of Jules’ classic dishes that combines Beef Bourguignon with a mash potato top. Old-fashioned in many ways but a great crowd pleaser and you can prep it all in advance. Some veg on the side is all you need for a hearty dinner.

A red Burgundy is not necessary for cooking, rather look for a juicy and easy red. Make sure it is decent though as it will still contribute to the flavours and quality of the dish. Having trialled relatively expensive Burgundy (to really find out!) in dishes like this though, we think it makes the dish unnecessarily expensive without adding anything extra over a decent, juicy, but cheaper red.

Wine Suggestion: If tempted to drink a red Burgundy with this dish, and want to impress, pick a fulsome appellation from the Cote d’Or if you can. Even if you pick a Bourgogne rouge make sure it has class and character as very easy, commercial examples are just a bit bland for the dish. This time we chose a northern Rhône, the J-M Gerin Côte Rôtie Champin de Seigneur which rivals good Burgundy for price but also matches it for aromatic thrill and velvety, earthy core with the same medium weight and great freshness.

Beef Bourguignon Cottage Pie – serves 6

FOR THE BOURGUIGNON BASE:

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil/veg oil
  • 200g pack bacon lardons
  • 900g braising steak, cut into 3cm chunks
  • 225g button mushrooms
  • 225g button onions or small shallots, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 600ml red wine
  • 400g tin beef consommé or 400ml of beef stock
  • 1 to 2 tbsp cornflour, loosened with 1-2 tbsp red wine or water

FOR THE MASH TOPPING:

  • 1.5 kg floury potatoes e.g. Maris Piper
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 100ml milk

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the bacon lardons over a high heat until well browned. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Season the beef, then fry in the bacon fat until coloured. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the cornflour and bacon, and bring to a simmer. Partly cover the pan with a lid and cook for 2-2½ hours or until the beef is tender.

When the beef is cooked, tip the contents of the pan into a colander set over another pan to catch the sauce. Tip the contents of the colander into a large pie or casserole dish along with the reserved bacon. Boil the sauce and season to taste. Thicken with the loosened cornflour until you have a sauce that coats the back of a spoon. Spoon enough of the sauce over the beef to barely cover and loosen it (don’t be tempted to add too much), then stir. You can freeze or refrigerate the sauce and offer it on the side when you serve the pie.

Boil the potatoes until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and replace the lid, then give the pan a good shake to break them up a bit. Add the butter and milk gradually as you mash, then season well.

Spoon the potatoes over the meat and use a knife or spoon to mark a pattern over the top. You can cool the pie at this stage and freeze if you like before baking as below.

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

Bake the pie for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until golden. Increase the heat to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 for the final 10 minutes to get it nicely browned on top.

(Original recipe by Gary Rhodes for BBC Good Food Magazine, November 2005.)

Beef Bourguignon Pie

Beef Bourguignon Pie

Plaice with warm tartare butter sauce

We loved this piquant sauce with the delicate fish and served on top of heaps of spinach – delish!

Wine Suggestion: This was a tricky match because of the iron-y spinach, piquant caper/cornichon combo and elegant plaice. We tossed up between light reds and Alsace whites but ended up with the Ch Hureau “Argile” Saumur blanc, a wine that balances both fruit and a textural, challenging stoniness without overwhelming the fish.

Plaice with Tartare Butter Sauce – serves 2

  • 2 large or 4 small plaice fillets
  • 3 tbsp plain flour, well seasoned
  • 200g spinach

TARTARE BUTTER SAUCE:

  • 40g butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 50ml white wine
  • 50ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped cornichons
  • 1 tbsp baby capers
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Start by making the sauce. Heat half the butter in a small pan and cook the shallots until softened. Add the wine and stock, and boil until reduced by half. Stir in the cornichons, capers and the rest of the butter, then remove from the heat.

Dust the fish in the seasoned flour and shake off any excess. Heat a knob of butter and a splash of oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the fish fillets over a medium heat for about 3 minutes or until a good golden colour underneath. Flip them over and cook for a minute on the other side.

Wilt the spinach with a knob of butter and some seasoning in a small pan.

Reheat the sauce and stir in the parsley. Divide the spinach between warmed plates, top with the fish and spoon over the sauce.

(Original recipe from BBC Olive Magazine, October 2017.)

Blue Cheese Gnocchi

Blue cheese gnocchi

We’ve been seeing more good quality pre-prepared fresh gnocchi around and it’s really handy for a quick dinner. Here’s how to make it tasty with some blue cheese and spinach.

Wine Suggestion: this was a little tricky given blue cheese’s affinity for sweet wine, and we didn’t want this with our meal. A glass of Oloroso sherry was considered but we ended up with a Puglian Primitivo-Nero do Troia blend from Michele Biancardi which is both savoury and fruity. The fruity, plummy sweetness was the foil for the cheese and the savoury tannins played a dance with the gnocchi and spinach.

Blue Cheese Gnocchi – serves 4

  • 500g fresh gnocchi
  • 250g bag baby spinach
  • 100ml/3½ fl oz crème fraîche
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 100g blue cheese – a soft variety would be good but use whatever you have

Cook the gnocchi in a large pan of boiling salted water according to the timings on the pack. Stir the spinach into the pan with the gnocchi, then immediately drain in a colander and shake well to get rid of the water.

Put the crème fraîche and grated Parmesan into a small ovenproof dish. Add the hot, drained gnocchi and spinach and stir. Crumble the blue cheese over and season with black pepper.

Put the dish under a hot grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Chicken with creme fraiche & tarragon

Try this easy chicken dish for something tasty mid-week.

Wine Suggestion: we naturally lean towards a lightly oaked Chardonnay for this dish with sensitive, light oak as you need a wine with good body to match the flavours. For a mid-week meal the Mácon-Charnay by Domaine Manciat Poncet has the balance of flavours, fruit and texture, but if you want to step it up try some of Patrick Javillier’s Bourgogne Blanc cuvée’s (Oligocene is our pick) or for a real treat his Meursault which is outstanding and a real play of light and shadow; complex, fresh and vibrant.

Creamy mustard & tarragon chicken – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or you could use thighs)
  • 200ml tub half-fat crème fraîche (full-fat is fine too)
  • ½ tbsp each Dijon and wholegrain mustard
  • ¼ tbsp dried tarragon, or 2 sprigs of fresh if you have it

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

Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan. Season the chicken breasts well with salt and black pepper. Brown the chicken in the oil for about a minute on each side, then remove from the pan.

Add the crème fraîche, Dijon & wholegrain mustards, and tarragon to the pan and stir together. Bring to a simmer before returning the chicken to the pan and spooning some of the sauce over them. Put the pan into the hot oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is bubbling.

Serve with rice or new potatoes and greens.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food).