Marsala honey pears with Gorgonzola & walnuts

A dessert and a cheese course all at once, solving the problem of which goes first. This is really delicious Autumn dish. Make sure you serve the creamy gorgonzola at room temperature. Marsala is a dessert wine from Sicily which is relatively easy to find, it also works well with figs – see Roast Figs with Marsala.

Wine Suggestion: naturally the Marsala from the recipe is a great match, look out for Florio or Pellegrino amongst others. Alternately a really good Sauternes emphasises the honey or a white Maury brings out the pears and all will work well with the Gorgonzola.

Marsala Honey Pears with Gorgonzola – serves 6-8

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 pears, about 500g in total, cored and cut into eighths
  • 3 tbsp Marsala
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 50g walnut halves
  • 500g ripe Gorgonzola – keep in a cool place but avoid putting it in the fridge if at all possible

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then fry the pears for 3 minutes per side.

Mix the Marsala and honey together,  add to the pears and allow the mixture to bubble furiously, then transfer to a plate.

Add the walnut halves to the juices left in the pan and stir-fry for about a minute or until browned and sticky. Remove from the pan and scatter over the pears. Serve with the creamy slab of Gorgonzola on the side.

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

Coronation Chicken

Coronation Chicken

This is great for when you’re asked to bring a dish to a garden or other party. It feeds lots of people and is easy to transport and serve cold when you get there. Coronation Chicken might seem a bit old fashioned but watch it disappear – a favourite of adults and kids alike and well worth a bit of effort earlier in the day. Only perfectly ripe mangoes will do!

Wine Suggestion: There are a few options to match with this dish but our favourites are a good, but fruity Beaujolais, slightly chilled; Domaine Rochette’s Brouilly comes to mind. Alternately we also like a good, youthful Viognier and we’ve been enjoying Jean-Michel Gerin’s le Champine Viognier from the Northern Rhone where the exuberant fruit is balanced with texture and a fresh joie-de-vivre.

Coronation Chicken with Mango & Roasted Cashews – serves 8-10

  • 1.3kg chicken breasts
  • 1.2 litres chicken stock (home-made preferably for this dish)
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into 1cm pieces
  • 175g celery, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 125ml natural yoghurt
  • 125ml mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 150g roasted cashew nuts
  • 2 tbsp coriander, chopped

Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and simmer gently in the hot stock for 5-7 minutes, depending on how big they are. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and allow the chicken to cool in the liquid. When cooled, remove with a slotted spoon and cut the chicken into small dice.

Mix the chicken with the lemon juice in a large bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Add the mango, celery and scallions.

Whisk the yoghurt and mayonnaise together.

Toast the cumin seeds in a hot frying pan for a few seconds, add the curry powder and cook for another couple of seconds. Grind, cool and add to the yoghurt and mayonnaise. Pour the sauce over the other ingredients and toss gently. Taste and season if necessary.

Just before serving, add the roasted cashew nuts, scatter with coriander and serve.

(Original recipe from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course, Kyle Cathie Limited, 2001.)


Chive Mash

Chive Mash

Everyone loves mash in our house especially with lots of cream and butter added. Chives from the garden are also a popular addition.

Chive Mash – serves 6 generously

  • 1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 8 tbsp double cream
  • 50g butter
  • 6 tbsp snipped chives

Cover the potatoes with cold water and a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender, then drain in a colander and return to the warm pan to dry.

Gently heat the cream in a small saucepan, then add the butter and pour over the potatoes. Season with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Add the chives and beat with a wooden spoon until fluffy.


Paella de rape con azafran

This is a great weekend dish that is relatively easy to make and looks amazing when brought to the table with all its fabulous colours. The key to a good paella is not to stir it. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent sticking.

Wine Suggestion: We started with a glass of dry Hidalgo Napoleon Amontillado sherry followed by an old, but wonderfully youthful and fresh, Dehesa la Granja 14 1998 a Tempranillo from close to the Portuguese border in Castilla. The 14 refers to the minimum amount of time it is held by Alejandro Fernandez in his underground caverns on this property before release. At 18 years old it was delicious proof of the ageworthiness of this unique estate and its elegance and refined fruit didn’t overwhelm the monkfish.

Monkfish rice with saffron (Paella de rape con azafrán) – serves 4 as a main or 6 as a starter

  • 7 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g monkfish fillets, trimmed and cut into bit-size pieces
  • 2 large Spanish onions, finely chopped
  • 2 green peppers, halved, seeded and finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 800ml hot fish stock (buy it fresh at your fishmongers)
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 250g calasparra (paella) rice
  • 80ml white wine or fino sherry
  • 1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
  • 225g piquillo peppers, torn into strips (we buy the brand Navarrico)
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a 30-40cm paella pan or frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the monkfish and toss gently to fry until slightly undercooked in the centre. Remove the monkfish and any juices to a bowl and set aside.

Wipe the pan clean with kitchen paper and put back onto the heat. Add the rest of the olives oil and heat until hot, then add the onions and peppers, and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn the heat to medium, add the garlic and the fennel seeds, and cook for 10 minutes or until coloured and sweet. Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil in a separate saucepan. Add the saffron, then take off the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.

Add the rice to the paella pan and stir for a minute to coat with the oil and vegetables. (You can prepare the dish up to this point before your guests arrive. The recipe will take about 20 minutes to finish.)

Put the heat to medium-high and add the wine/sherry to the pan, followed by the hot stock. Add half the parsley and the paprika and season generously with salt and pepper. Do not stir the rice after this point. Simmer for 10 minutes or until there is just a little liquid above the rice. Spread the monkfish and its juices out across the top of the rice and gently push each piece of fish into the liquid. Gently shake the pan to prevent sticking and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook for 5 minutes or until there is just a little liquid left at the bottom of the rice. Turn the heat off and cover the dish tightly with foil. Leave to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Decorate with strips of piquillo peppers, the rest of the parsley and the lemon. Serve with a salad if you like.

(Original recipe from Moro: The Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark, Ebury Press, 2001.)

Paella de rape con azafran

Flageolet Bean Pie

Flageolet bean pie

A simple, warm, comforting and meat-free weeknight dinner.

Wine Suggestion: this is one where a good Pinot Grigio works, or more specifically a Pinot Gris from Pfalz in Germany or Alsace; dry, round and with good apple & pear fruits. Our choice this time is the Villa Wolf Pinot Gris from the Pfalz which finishes clean and refreshing but didn’t overwhelm the flavours of the dish.

Flageolet Bean Pie – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 x 400g tins flageolet beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or use dried thyme)
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 50g cheddar cheese, grated
  • dressed salad leaves, to serve

Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion for about 5 minutess until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the beans, crème fraîche and half the thyme. Season well, then cook until heated through.

Meanwhile, heat the grill to high.

Mix the breadcrumbs and cheese together, then stir in the rest of the thyme. Pour the beans into a baking dish and scatter with the breadcrumbs. Grill until the topping is crisp and golden. Serve with a green salad.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food.)

Thai salmon cakes with carrot salad

We like to use the Thai curry pastes that come in plastic tubs, Mae Ploy is a good one. There’s always more in the tub than we need which forces us to search for lots of recipes to use it up. This is a bit different for a weeknight, tastes really good and is healthy too.

Wine Suggestion: a light aromatic white is what we’d suggest, like a QbA or Kabinett Riesling from the Mosel. They tend to have a welcome low alcohol (7 to 9 % abv), delicate and vibrant fruit and a refreshing zing to cut through the little bit of residual sugar. A dry Riesling doesn’t work as well; the touch of sweetness helps balance the chilli and curry paste perfectly.

Thai Salmon Steaks with Carrot Salad – serves 2

  • 2 skinless salmon fillets, about 300g in total, cut into large chunks
  • 2 tsp Thai red curry paste
  • small handful of coriander leaves
  • groundnut oil


  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp golden caster sugar
  • a small chunk of ginger, finely grated
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 3 scallions, shredded lengthways
  • 1 red chilli, shredded lengthways
  • handful of coriander leaves

Put the salmon, curry paste and coriander in a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped, then form into 6 fishcakes and chill while you make the salad.

Mix the rice wine vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves, then add the ginger. Toss all the other salad ingredients together with the dressing.

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Cook the salmon cakes for 2-3 minutes per side until golden and cooked through. Serve with the salad.

(Original recipe from BBC Olive Magazine, April 2011.)

Chicken patties with rosemary & pancetta

Try these delicious chicken patties by Nigel Slater. Some of our favourite dishes are those where a sticky caramelised crust forms in the pan. Nigel suggests some lemon wedges and a spinach salad to serve.

Wine Suggestion: a 100% Grenache red actually is the business with this dish. While we see Grenache in quite a lot of blends when on it’s own it has a lovely spice, and if not too alcoholic and jammy (it ripens to high levels if untamed) a wonderful lightness of touch with soft, velvety tannins. If you’re exceptionally lucky an old (15-20yo) Chateau Rayas would be a treat. We drank, instead, the delightful l’O du Joncier Cotes du Rhone made by Marine Roussel in Lirac; a biodynamic, wild yeast treat that both treads lightly on the earth and tastes great.

Chicken patties with rosemary & pancetta – serves 2-3

  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • a thick slice of butter
  • 100g cubed pancetta
  • leaves from 3 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
  • 450g chicken mince (if you have a mincer buy some chicken thighs and mince your own)
  • groundnut oil for frying
  • 250ml chicken stock

Warm the butter over a medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the onions and cook until softened and golden. Stir in the pancetta and rosemary and cook for a few minutes or until coloured. Empty the contents of the pan into a large bowl and allow to cool a bit.

Add the chicken mince to the onion mixture, season generously with pepper and a little salt, and mix well (your hands are the best tool for this). Shape the mixture into six little burgers and set aside for about 30 minutes to rest.

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/Gas 5.

Wipe the onion pan clean with a piece of kitchen towel and put back on the heat until hot. Add a small amount of oil and brown the patties for about 3 minutes on each side, then transfer to an ovenproof dish. Pour the stock into the dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the patties are sizzling and the stock bubbling. Serve with some of the hot stock spooned over.

(Original recipe from The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2005.)