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Rillette & cornichon on scallion toastWe can’t resist those little plastic tubs of pork rillettes found in the fridge section of French supermarkets. Here’s what happened the end of the tub we brought home. No more rillettes until next year… unless we try making it ourselves of course.

Wine Suggestion: because we brought the rillette back from the Loire, a good Chenin Blanc was called for. The Chateau Hureau Samur Blanc “Argile” was rich and full while still being dry and textured enough to work with the fatty pork and sour pickle of the cornichons. Lighter dry wines might taste weak in comparison so make sure the wine you choose is good enough to stand up to the flavours of the dish. If you want to push the boat out a good, aged sweet chenin blanc, like a Bonnezeaux or Vouvray Moelleux with luscious botrytis would also be superb.

Pork Rillettes & Cornichons with Onion Sourdough – serves 2

  • 2-3 scallions
  • 4 slices of sourdough bread
  • pork rillettes
  • small handful of cornichons

Put 2-3 scallions in a food processor with 5 tablespoons of olive oil and some seasoning, then blitz to a paste. Soak the sourdough in this green oil.

Fry the bread in a non-stick pan until very crisp on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper, then spread 2 slices with the rillettes and add a few sliced cornichons. Top with the remaining slices of toast and drizzle with any remaining onion oil.

(Original recipe from Eat by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2013.)

Pasta with Walnut Pesto

Walnut Pesto

We first tasted walnut pesto in Florence a few years ago but it has taken us a while to get around to making it ourselves. This works equally well for a casual dinner or in smaller portions as a starter and it tastes really special. You can make this with fresh walnuts which you buy whole and shell yourself but it also works well with shelled walnuts, provided you make sure they are fresh (we buy our walnuts from Lidl which come in a sealed foil bag). You can keep the pesto in the fridge for up to a week and it freezes well too.

Wine Suggestion: we like to drink dry white wines that have texture and a certain crunchiness with walnuts, which aren’t always easy to match. Italian whites come to mind first and the nutty ones work very well, like Verdicchio, but it has been dry (sec) Jurançon that has proved a stellar match, like Cauhapé’s Chants des Vignes. A wine with a vibrancy of fruit, a fresh acidity like a crunchy green and red apple mix, some white flowers in the aromas and a texture on the palate that carries through with a long length and food friendly finish.

Pasta with creamy walnut pesto – serves 4 (with some pesto left over)

  • 400g orecchiette pasta
  • 175g walnut halves/pieces
  • handful fresh basil, roughly torn
  • 100g Parmesan, freshly grated, plus extra to serve
  • 50g butter
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 50ml double cream

Cook the pasta for the recommended time on the packet.

Meanwhile, put the walnuts and garlic in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add the basil, cheese, butter and oil and pulse for a few more times, then season.

Pour the cream into a pan and warm through. Add tw0-thirds of the pesto, then gently heat to loosen it.

Take 2 tbsp of water out of the pasta pan before draining, then mix the pasta and the water into the sauce. Serve immediately with some extra Parmesan and a few basil leaves.

(Original recipe by Ursula Ferringo in BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2009.)

 

Potato Salad

Potato salad

Nothing beats minty new potatoes. We like to make this in May when the Jersey Royals arrive and the promise of summer is just around the corner but of course it’s good all summer long.

Potato & mint salad – serves 4

  • 900g small new potatoes
  • 2 tbsp French dressing (see recipe below)
  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • a large bunch of mint, chopped

Put the potatoes in a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until tender, then drain and put into a bowl with the French dressing and leave to cool.

Mix the mayonnaise, yoghurt and mint together and toss with the potatoes. Season really well with salt and pepper.

French Dressing: Blend 200ml red/white wine vinegar, 200ml extra virgin olive oil, 400ml sunflower oil, 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped, 3 tbsp wholegrain mustard, and 1-2 tbsp honey and season with salt and pepper. This makes 800ml of dressing and will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.

(Original recipe from Avoca Salads by Hugo Arnold, Avoca Ltd., 2007.)

Chicken Noodle Laksa

Easy laksa

Rice noodles often get forgotten in the back of our larder. Much better to use them up in a soup or laksa like this one which is substantial enough for a main course. This recipe is gluten-free – the only reason we’re telling you that is because from now on we are going to add a gluten-free tag to any recipes that are gluten-free. So very soon you will be able to search JonoandJules for gluten-free recipes.

Wine Suggestion: We quite often plump for a Riesling when eating aromatic Thai dishes but have found another gem that works superbly for this hot, spicy, creamy, coconut dish: Alsace Pinot Gris. Often overlooked the richer styles favoured in Alsace provide a counterpoint to the heat and bring spices and texture of its own to the mix. For this dish we had a Bott-Geyl Points Cardinale, which is a Pinot d’Alsace, that is a blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Auxerrois and Pinot Noir. We found it both elegant and rich with a fresh attractive fruit and a breadth of flavour to match the Laksa. We’re on the lookout for more Pinot Gris and dishes to try now after the success of this match.

Chicken Noodle Laksa – serves 4

  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced into strips
  • 100g medium rice noodles
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 6 scallions, finely sliced
  • 2 x 400g tins coconut milk
  • 2 tsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, bashed
  • juice of ½ lime
  • coriander leaves, to serve

FOR THE PASTE:

  • 6 scallions, sliced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 4cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp light muscovado sugar

Make the paste by putting all the ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor or mini food processor and whizz until finely chopped (if you don’t have one of these you can grind them with a pestle and mortar).

Spoon 2 tbsp of the paste into a bowl. Add the chicken strips, season well with salt and pepper and stir until evenly coated with the paste.

Put the rice noodles into a shallow dish and pour over boiling water from the kettle to cover. Leave for 10-15 minutes or until softened. Drain and refresh under cold running water, then snip into short lengths with kitchen scissors and set aside.

Heat a large frying pan or wok over a high heat. Add 2 tbsp of sunflower oil and when hot, tip in the chicken and fry quickly for about 3 minutes or until nicely coloured and just cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Heat the rest of the oil in the same pan, then add the scallions and the remaining paste and fry for a minute. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and lemon grass. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken to the soup and simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Divide the noodles between 4 deep bowls. Remove the lemon grass stalk from the soup and add the lime juice. Ladle the soup over the noodles and sprinkle with coriander leaves to serve.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Foolproof Cooking, BBC Books, 2016.)

Summer Risotto

Summer risotto

On a balmy summer evening we podded local broad beans and picked some french beans from the vines in our back yard. We used a stock made from a previously roasted chicken which was subsequently used to poach chicken fillets for a Coronation Chicken. The only thing out of place were the frozen peas, but we think unless you pick the pods fresh and eat them almost immediately, frozen is often best. This is based on a risotto primavera or Spring risotto which usually contains asparagus.

Wine Suggestion: a fresh, summery Godello caught our eye. The La Sonrisa de Tares from Bierzo had enough weight to balance the starchy creaminess and depth of the Parmesan while a lovely textural freshness and summery zing made the beans and peas sing with all their fresh flavours.

Summer Risotto – serves 4

  • 200g shelled broad beans (you will need about 800g of broad beans in their pods to get this quantity or you can use frozen broad beans, defrosted)
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 250g green beans, trimmed and cut into short lengths
  • 1.5 litres home-made chicken stock (you might not need it all)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 80g butter
  • 350g Carnaroli or other risotto rice
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 140g frozen peas
  • 100g Parmesan, finely grated

Start by double podding the broad beans so you are left with bright green beans. To do this just blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and squeeze to remove the papery skin. If you’re using frozen beans you might be able to remove the skins when defrosted without having to blanch first.

Put the stock into a large pot and bring to a simmer.

Heat the oil and 40g butter in a wide heavy pan with a lid. Cook the shallot, scallions & garlic for a few minutes until soft and transparent but don’t let them brown. Add the rice and keep stirring for a few minutes until the rice is hot and starting to sizzle, then pour in the wine. Continue to stir until the wine has evaporated.

Now start gradually adding the stock, a ladleful at a time. Only add another ladleful when the previous one has been absorbed by the rice. Continue stirring and adding the stock for 14 minutes, then add the broad beans and peas with some salt and black pepper. Meanwhile, cook the green beans in the simmering stock for 6 minutes or until soft, then add these to the rice too. Continue stirring and adding stock until the risotto has a creamy texture and the rice is soft but retains a little bite.

Remove the pan from the heat and add half the parmesan, the rest of the butter and one last splash of stock to retain the moisture. Put the lid on the pan and leave to rest for a few minutes off the heat. Serve with the rest of the Parmesan sprinkled over the top.

Feta, fresh & semi-dried tomato couscous

We cooked this dish while camping in France and it was a great side dish for all sorts of barbecued meat. It’s also a great idea for using up leftover sun-dried tomatoes which can easily get forgotten in the back of our fridge.

Tomato & Feta Couscous Salad – serves 4

  • 200g couscous
  • 250g piece of feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 300g cherry tomatoes
  • 50g sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 heaped tbsp chopped basil leaves

Put the couscous into a large bowl, pour over boiling water to cover, then leave to soak for 20 minutes or until the water has been absorbed.

Marinate the feta in the balsamic vinegar and olive oil for about 20 minutes.

Chop the cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes and mix together.

Crumble the marinated feta into large pieces, then fork through the couscous with the tomatoes and basil and season to taste.

(Original recipe from Eat by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2013.)

Big pieces of fish are particularly well suited to the large cooking space you’ve got on the barbecue. We’ve invested in a fish basket for the barbecue but when we cooked this we didn’t have one and it was tricky to turn. If you don’t have a fish basket you might find it easier to cut the side of salmon in half.

We also really like this without the cucumber yoghurt and served with some champ (mashed potatoes with scallions and loads of butter for any of you non-Irish readers).

Wine suggestion: White and fresh, but also with a full body and a good texture. Out of fashion somewhat we tried a Chablis  … a 1er Cru Montmains from Domaine Bois d’Yver that we had lying around. It was a couple of years old but the extra age added extra layers of depth to a wine that was still fresh and dynamic. If you’d prefer a red then lightly chill a young Pinot Noir for 20-30 minutes and you’ll also have a treat.

Barbecued Side of Salmon with Cucumber Yoghurt – serves 4-6

  • 1.5kg side of salmon, scaled and pinboned (order this from your fishmonger)
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • large bunch of basil/fennel tops, finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled lengthwise at intervals to make stripes
  • 300ml natural yoghurt
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • small bunch of mint/oregano, leaves picked and chopped

Brush the bars of the barbecue clean or your fish will stick (the fish basket will help with this), then light it and get it nice and hot.

Put the salmon skin-side down on a board and slash the flesh side with a sharp knife, about 1cm deep. Scatter the lemon zest and most of the fennel tops/basil over the salmon, then push into the cuts that you made with your fingers. Rub the fish lightly all over with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Put the salmon on the barbecue, skin-side down. Check it after about 4 minutes by which time the skin should have got nice and crispy. Turn the fish carefully and cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes. You can carefully take the skin off the salmon at this stage and place it back on the heat to get really crispy.

Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and remove the seeds. Chop the seedless cucumber and mix with the yoghurt. Add some lemon juice, half the chopped chilli, and half the mint/oregano. Drizzle over some good olive oil and season well.

Break the salmon into portions with a fork and serve with the cucumber yoghurt, sprinkled with the remaining chilli and herbs. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve with a piece of the crispy skin if you like.

(Original recipe from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph, 2007.)