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Chicken Saltimbocca

This is an easy version of an Italian dish which is perfect for a tasty mid-week dinner. A great combination of chicken, ham & sage. Also easily halved if you are only two.

Wine Suggestion: When considering a match for the salty prosciutto and savoury sage we thought of two wines straight away. The first a good Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi from the Marche in Italy, like Sartarelli. The second a choice between a good Pinot Blanc or Gris from Alsace. Each should have a minerality, nuttiness and textural spices on the palate with a good balance of vibrant fruit.

Chicken saltimbocca – serves 4 

  • 4 chicken breasts (skinless & boneless)
  • 8 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 25g butter
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Flatten the chicken breasts between two sheets of cling film by bashing with a rolling pin. Cut the flattened chicken in half lengthways. Put a piece of prosciutto and a sage leaf onto each piece of chicken and attach with a cocktail stick. Coat the chicken in the flour.

Heat half the oil in a large frying pan and cook 4 of the chicken pieces at a time for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown but a little undercooked. Set aside and cook the rest of the chicken in the remaining oil.

Wipe out the frying pan with a piece of kitchen paper, then add the butter. Heat until frothy, then add the wine and lemon juice and bring to the boil. Bubble the sauce for about a minute before adding all of the chicken back to the pan and cooking for a further 2 minutes. Sprinkle the parsley over the top and cook for another minute, then serve immediately with the sauce.

Serve with new potatoes or green veg.

(Original recipe by Aldo Zilli IN: BBC Good Food Magazine, May 2001.)

 

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Smoked Haddock & Spinach Tart

We love tarts made on a puff pastry sheet, they always give the impression you’ve made more effort than you have. Smoked haddock and spinach is a super combination.

Wine Suggestion: The Languedoc produces some great white wines, as well as many red, and the best of them have a salinity, freshness and stoniness along with joyful fruit. Our choice tonight was the Les Terrasses de la Negly, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Petits Grains and Muscat d’Alexandria. Lively citrus and crisp apple flavours along with the saltiness that complimented the haddock and Spinach.

Smoked Haddock & Spinach Tart – serves 4

  • 250g smoked haddock
  • 200g spinach
  • 5 tbsp double cream
  • 50g gruyère, grated
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
  • watercress salad to serve

Fill a frying pan with cold water and heat until boiling. Lower in the haddock, cover with a lid, then turn off the heat and leave for 10 minutes.

Put the spinach into a colander and pour over a kettle of boiling water to wilt it. Wait until cool enough to handle, then squeeze out the excess water with your hands. Chop the spinach.

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

Whisk the cream, cheese, and egg in a bowl. Flake in the smoked haddock (remove any skin and bones) and stir in the spinach. Season with salt and black pepper.

Unroll the pastry and score a 2cm border around the edge. Put onto a baking sheet and prick insider the border. Bake for 10 minutes. Gently push down the pillowy middle with the back of a large spoon. Spoon over the fish mixture then return to the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Serve with a watercress salad.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in BBC Olive Magazine, July 2013.)

Chargrilled Pepper & Lime Chicken with Lime Aïoli

We’re just back from holidays in France and there seems to be a little heatwave going on. You can’t get more straight forward than this for tasty barbecued chicken and a cheat’s aïoli. Less time spent inside and more time to sit in the sun. We actually cooked this back in May when the sun was also shining – serve with some seasonal veg or salad.

Wine Suggestion: one of the wines we picked up on our trip was Chateau du Hureau’s Foudre blanc, 100% Chenin Blanc made and matured in large 20hl oak casks. A good choice.

Chargrilled pepper chicken with lime aïoli – serves 2

  • 4-6 skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • ½ a clove of garlic, crushed

Trim any big bits of fat off the chicken thighs. Lay them out on a piece of cling film and put another piece of cling film on top. Gently bash the chicken with a rolling pin to flatten.

Put the chicken into a dish and add half of the lime juice, 1 tbsp of olive oil, some salt and lots of black pepper. Leave to marinate for about 15 minutes.

To make the aïoli, put the mayonnaise into a dish and add the rest of the lime juice, the garlic and some seasoning. Stir together until combined.

Shake off excess marinade and cook the chicken on a hot griddle or barbecue for about 4 minutes on each side.

Serve with the aïoli. Some chips would also be good.

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

 

Courgette & lemon risotto

A weekend lunch treat for the three of us as we had courgettes lying around begging to be used.

Wine Suggestion: a crunchy white was demanded here and an old favourite was opened to match; the Chateau du Hureau Saumur Blanc “Argile”. A vibrant Chenin Blanc with texture, vibrant, crunchy, apply fruit plus a real sense of place.

Courgette & lemon risotto – serves 2

  • 50g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 180g risotto rice
  • 1 litre of hot vegetable stock
  • zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 2 lemon thyme sprigs
  • 250g courgette, diced
  • 50g parmesan, grated
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche

Melt the butter in a deep frying pan and gently fry the onion until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another minute. Pour in the rice and stir for a couple of minutes until it glistens.

Add a ladle of the stock to the rice, along with the lemon juice and thyme. Bubble over a medium heat, stirring constantly. When almost all the liquid has been absorbed, add another ladle and continue to stir. Tip in the courgette and keep adding the stock, stirring every now and then until the rice is just tender and creamy.

Season to taste and stir in the lemon zest, Parmesan and crème fraîche.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Spaghetti with crab, cherry tomatoes & fresh chillies

This is really simple and fresh and we love it on a Friday night with a glass of chilled white wine. By all means cook a crab but our local fish shop sells cooked and picked crabmeat which makes this extra quick and easy.

Wine Suggestion: One of our stand-by wines for seafood is Muscadet and for this dish it was a good choice. A long standing favourite, the Domaine de la Chauviniere Muscadet sur lie always has good fruit, great texture and freshness and accentuated the flavours of the crab in a very nice way.

Spaghetti with Crab, Cherry Tomatoes and Chillies – serves 4

  • 500g spaghetti
  • 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 medium hot red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 100ml white wine
  • 200g white crabmeat
  • 3 tbsp freshly chopped chives

Cook the pasta in a very large pot of boiling salty water until al dente.

Meanwhile, gently heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the garlic and chilli for 30 seconds.

Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes before adding the wine and bringing to a simmer. Add the crab and cook for a minute to just warm through.

Drain the pasta well and tip into the pan with the crab sauce. Stir to combine, sprinkle over the chives, and serve.

(Original recipe from Pronto! by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2014.)

Feta & Cucumber Bites

We served these on New Year’s Day with other canapés but by the time we’d typed up the recipe we thought everyone might be a bit partied out. So we’ve saved this post for summertime when these tasty bites would be delicious served outside with cool drinks before dinner.

Feta & Cucumber Bites – makes 24

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 200g feta
  • 100g ricotta
  • 4 tbsp chopped dill, plus extra fronds, to garnish
  • 1 large cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds scooped out and discarded

Whizz the garlic, feta, ricotta and dill in a food processor until smooth but thick.

Fill the scooped out cucumber with the cheese mixture and smooth over. Cut into 3-cm thick slices. Grind over some black pepper and garnish with some more dill.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food.)

Spiced Shepherd's Pie with Parsnip Mash

There’s definitely a move away from comfort food in our house but a bunch of fine looking Irish parsnips were just too hard to resist and why not enjoy them for a while longer.

Wine Suggestion: we opened the Cline Lodi Zinfandel from California and it was delicious with this.

Spiced Shepherd’s Pie with Parsnip Mash – serves 4

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • a good pinch of chilli flakes
  • 2 good tsp of plain flour
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400ml lamb or chicken stock

FOR THE MASH:

  • 1kg parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • butter
  • cream/crème fraîche

Put the parsnips in large pot and cover with cold water, season with salt and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until very tender. Drain well and mash with plenty of butter, a splash of cream and seasoning.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan and cook the onion, celery and carrot with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes or until softened. Turn up the heat then add the lamb and cook until browned. Add the spices and continue to cook for another minute, then stir in the flour and cook for a minute more.

Stir in the tomato purée and stock then simmer for about 15 minutes until thickened.

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

Tip the lamb into a baking dish and top with the parsnip mash. Use a fork to mark the top and dot with a little more butter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until browned and bubbling.

(Original recipe by Janine Radcliffe IN: BBC Olive Magazine, May 2014)