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This is a great little side salad to serve with Middle Eastern flavours. Here we had a chicken roasted with garlic and preserved lemon. Lots of delicious flavours on the plate. 

You need to roast chicken for 20 minutes at 190C/375F/gas 5 for each 500g, plus an extra 10 minutes.

Wine Suggestion: a red wine … with chicken … of course you can. We chose the Cantos de Valpiedra, a single estate Rioja, as we wanted hints of Moorish and Middle Eastern spices which tempranillo is good at transmitting. The Cantos is super elegant and smooth and has such a supple weight that it effortlessly matched the chicken and salad.

Herb salad with pomegranate & pistachios – serves 6

  • juice of 1 orange
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • a small bunch of dill, roughly chopped
  • a small bunch of mint, leaves picked and torn
  • a bunch of scallions, finely sliced
  • 100g mixed salad leaves
  • seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • 100g pistachios, roughly chopped

Whisk the orange juice, vinegar and honey together in a small bowl with some seasoning. 

Tip rest of the ingredients into a large salad bowl, drizzle over the dressing and gently toss to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

This is so simple and definitely better than a take away. While we’re not massive fans of baby corn it provides a crunch and texture that would be missing from the dish if not there. Made for Jono’s birthday on a Monday after a weekend of extensive birthday cooking; great flavours and quick for a work day celebration.

Wine Suggestion: We’d opened a Dermot Sugrue Cuvée Dr Brendan O’Regan, a profound, complex and rewarding English Sparkling for Jono’s birthday and had a leftover glass with this dish. We discovered Dermot’s wines a few years ago and have loved them ever since and it was a super match, standing up to the Asian flavours exceptionally well. We know this particlar wine may be hard to find but look for a good crisp sparkling that has been left on lees for a while or a good Champagne – sparkling should be so much more than a celebratory glass and they make great food matches.

Thai Chicken Stir-fry with Cashews & Chilli Sauce – serves 4

  • 100g baby corn
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 500g boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small bite-size pieces
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, thickly sliced
  • 2 red peppers, cut into thick pieces
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 50g roasted cashews
  • Thai basil or regular basil and steamed rice, to serve

FOR THE CHILLI SAUCE:

  • 2 tbsp Thai chilli paste/jam (nam prik)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 tbsp oyster sauce

Make the chilli sauce by mixing all of the ingredients together in a small bowl, then set aside.

Blanch the baby corn in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and refresh under cold water and drain again.

Heat a large wok until hot and add ½ tbsp vegetable oil. Brown the chicken in batches. If you leave them for 2-3 minutes on one side initially they will get a nice colour, then stir-fry for another minute or until golden on all sides. Transfer to a bowl.

Heat another ½ tbsp oil of oil in the wok over a medium heat, then add the garlic and chilli and stir-fry for a minute. Add the peppers, onions, cashews and baby corn and heat for 1 minute. Pour in the chilli sauce and add the chicken. Stir-fry until heated through and the sauce has thickened.

Serve with steamed rice and basil sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from My Asian Kitchen by Jennifer Joyce, Murdoch Books, 2018.)

Chicken and Ham Pie

Who doesn’t love a chicken pie … and it’s the melty leeks that really make this one. We’ve used leftover roast chicken and baked ham, though turkey and ham would also be perfect of course.

Wine Suggestion: Domaine Bellevue near Touraine in the Loire has a vineyard that grows lovely, expressive and ripe Chardonnay. Maybe its the soil or the aspect, but in this cool climate more suitable for crisp Sauvignon Blanc, this vineyard shows it has something special and is a little bit warmer. A great value bottle too as there are hints of Burgundy for much less money.

Chicken and Ham Pie – serves 4

  • 60g butter
  • 3 leeks, trimmed and sliced
  • 60g flour, plus a bit extra to dust
  • 425ml milk
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 300g leftover cooked chicken, cut into chunks
  • 150g cooked ham, cut into chunks
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 300g puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk, mixed with a little water and salt

Melt the butter in a heavy based pan with a lid. Add the leeks and cook gently for 5 minutes, then add a splash of water, cover and sweat for 10 minutes.

Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat and gradually stir in the milk. Put the pan back over the heat and bring to the boil, stirring. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Season the leek mixture, then add the mustard, chicken and ham. Heat through, then add the parsley and some grated nutmeg. Leave to cool.

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

Spoon the chicken into a pie dish (about 20 x 25cm). Sprinkle some flour over your work surface, then roll out the pastry until quite thin. Cut off a strip, wet it and press onto the lip of the dish. Put the rest of the pastry on top, pressing down firmly. Trim off any excess pastry, then crimp the edges with a fork or the point of a knife. Use the pastry scraps to decorate the top if you like. Make a few slashes in the top to let the steam out.

Brush with the egg yolk and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden.

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

This is good family-friendly stuff. Easy to put together and nothing too challenging for junior palates.

Wine Suggestion: An alpine Chardonnay took our fancy tonight so we opened Cantina Colternezio’s Altkirch Chardonnay from the Südtirol – Alto Adige. With a lovely purity and precision this is both thirst quenching and comforting.

Roast salmon & potatoes with herby peas – serves 2 adults and 2 kids

  • 500g baby potatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 500g single piece of skinless salmon fillet (try and get the middle, chunky bit from a side of salmon if you can)
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 250g frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill or mint

Heat the oven to 200C/180C/gas 6.

Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes or until just tender, then drain and leave to steam-dry in the pot.

Toss the potatoes with the oil and butter, then tip onto a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes.

Push the potatoes aside and add the salmon to the tray, add the lemon halves and season everything with salt and black pepper. Roast for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Simmer the peas for a couple of minutes, then drain and tip into a warmed bowl. Add the crème fraîche and herbs.

Flake the salmon into chunks and serve with the potatoes and peas.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Storecupboard Curry

A few tins and some spices and you’re pretty much sorted for this tasty weeknight curry. We served this with rice the first night, and chips the second. We also know it’s not tomato season at present but the fresh tomatoes are really more for texture than flavour here.

Tomato & chickpea curry – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
  • 1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 large tomatoes, quartered
  • a small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onions for about 10 minutes or until softened.

Add the garlic and spices and keep cooking for another minute or two.

Add the tin of tomatoes, breaking them up with a spoon, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and season generously. Bring to the boil and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes or until thickened.

Add the chickpeas and fresh tomatoes and allow to warm through. Serve with some steamed rice and the coriander scattered over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

Quite unusual in flavour and a slightly different method. The bitter Seville oranges make a good contrast to the sweet spice and are balanced by a slightly reduced sugar ratio.

Seville orange, vanilla & cardamom marmalade – makes about 5 jars

  • 1.2kg Seville oranges (approx 8)
  • 10 cardamom pods, seeded
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 850g preserving sugar

Halve one of the oranges and finely slice, removing pips as you go, then put into a large saucepan. Peel and finely chop the flesh of the remaining oranges (reserve the skin from three) and carefully remove and discard any pips. Add the chopped flesh and juice to the pan.

Trim any excess pith from the reserved orange skin, then finely chop into thin strips. Add this to the pan with the cardamom seeds and 400ml water. Also add the vanilla seeds and throw in the empty pod.

Boil for 10 mins until the skins are softening, then add the lemon juice and sugar, stirring constantly. Once the sugar has dissolved, simmer on low for 30-35 mins. Turn up the heat and boil to set for about 10-15 mins. The boiling point of jam is 105C but if you don’t have a jam thermometer, try the ‘wrinkle test’ and spoon some marmalade onto a freezer-cold saucer and leave for a minute. If it wrinkles when you poke it and has a fine skin on top, it’s ready. Pour the marmalade into sterilized jars, and store for up to a year.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

This is really a dish for sharing but we ate the lot with some crusty bread. Fabulous and intense flavours of lemon and harissa.

Wine Suggestion: Given this dish has a lot of strong, savoury flavours, including heat from the harissa and sour from the lemon, we had to choose Grüner Veltliner. Tonight’s choice is by Höpler from Burgenland in Austria and it was a pure and elegant wine with an appetising freshness and zesty finish. This stood it’s own ground against the big flavours in the food, was nice as an apertif and a wonderful palate cleanser after we’d finished; versatile indeed.

Harissa chickpeas with flaked cod – serves 4 as a starter

  • 200g skinless cod, remove the bones and cut into 3cm pieces
  • olive oil
  • 1/3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cloves of garlic, one crushed and one finely sliced
  • ½ an onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cardamom pods, bashed
  • 1 tbsp harissa, rose harissa if you can get it
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 1½ small preserved lemons, skin finely chopped (discard the flesh)
  • 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 5g coriander, roughly chopped

Put the cod into a bowl with 1½ tsp of olive oil, the cumin, crushed garlic and a pinch of salt. Mix gently, then set aside for 15 minutes.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan, then add the onion and fry for 4-5 minutes, until soft and golden-brown. Add the sliced garlic and cook for another minute over a gentle heat. Add the cardamom, harissa, tomato purée, preserved lemon, chickpeas and ¼ tsp of salt. Stir for a minute, then add the stock and heat for a few minutes, crushing some of the chickpeas with the back of a spoon to thicken the sauce.

Add the fish and gently stir, then cook for 3-4 minutes, turning half-way through, until cooked and easy to flake. Discard the cardamom pods, sprinkle with the coriander and serve.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi, Tara Wigley & Esme Howarth, Ebury Press, 2018.)

Coffee & Walnut Cake

We don’t do much baking but we’ve managed more than usual with all of these lockdowns. This old-fashioned coffee and walnut cake is a favourite of Jules’ and was really straightforward to make – even for us baking novices. 

Coffee & Walnut Cake

  • 100g softened butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 50g chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp coffee extract (or 2 tsp instant coffee granules mixed with 1 tbsp hot water. Use a bit more in the cake mix than in the icing)

FOR THE ICING: 

  • 75g softened butter
  • 225g sifted icing sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2 tsp coffee extract
  • 8 walnut halves, to decorate

Heat the oven to 160C/Gas 4.

Grease two 18cm sandwich tins and line the base of each with baking paper. 

Put all the cake ingredients into a bowl and beat until well blended and smooth. 

Divide the cake mix between the sandwich tins and level the surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until well risen and the top springs back when pressed lightly with a finger. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then turn out, peel off the paper and finish cooling on a wire rack. 

To make the icing, beat the butter, sifted icing sugar, milk and coffee essence in a bowl until smooth. 

When the cakes are completely cold sandwich them together with half the icing and use the rest for the top. Decorate with the walnuts. 

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, BBC Books, 2009.)

 

A recipe from Southern Italian Cooking by Valentina Harris. There is no better vehicle to showcase purple sprouting broccoli, which is in season right now. You need top quality ingredients as they will shine in this simple dish. The sausages were Italian with fennel and the PSB our friends at McNally Family Farm.

Wine Suggestion: There’s a certain honest rusticity to this dish which we think suits Nebbiolo or similar, but not the heady heights of Barolo, look for a lesser known area. We went for the lesser known Freisa grape, also from Piedmont. A bottle of the Olim Bauda Freisa and it tasted of roses and raspberry’s with a decent whack of smooth, honest tannins; satisfying and generous alongside the food.

Salsicce con Broccoletti – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp lard (we used a mix of olive oil and butter)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 dried red chilli pepper
  • 500g Italian sausages (you need top quality Italian sausages which have a much coarser texture than regular butchers sausages)
  • 750g purple sprouting broccoli, rinsed and trimmed

A large shallow casserole dish works well for this. Melt the lard and fry the garlic and chilli pepper over a gentle heat for 5 minutes. Add the sausages and brown all over (you might want to do this in a frying pan so you don’t burn the garlic, if you do, make sure that the tip all the oil that comes out of the sausages back into the pan).

Once browned all over, turn the heat down and cook the sausages gently for 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and season with a little salt. Stir everything to coat in the fat.

Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes, a splash of water will help steam the broccoli and stop the dish drying out.

(Original recipe from Southern Italian Cooking by Valentina Harris, Pavilion Books Limited, 1993.)

Butrint Mussels

Mussels with green pepper, Pernod, tomatoes, feta and dill. This is an Albanian recipe that we found in Venice to Istanbul by Rick Stein. We don’t agree with the seafood and cheese rule anyway and this dish proves that it can work. Serve with crusty bread.

Wine Suggestion: Match with a white with a bit of body, but no oak. We chose an underrated Sylvaner by Sipp Mack in Alsace which was fresh with stone fruits and a racy minerality in the glass

Butrint Mussels – serves 2

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 1 small green pepper, sliced
  • 30ml of ouzo/Pastis (we used Pernod)
  • 600g mussels, scrubbed
  • 150ml passata
  • 75g feta cheese
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • a small handful of dill, chopped

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and sweat the onion, garlic and green pepper for 5 minutes.

Add the Pernod and the mussels, then cover with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mussels are starting to open.

Add the passata and feta and season with the chilli flakes, salt and some black pepper. Heat through for a minute or two, then serve scattered with the dill.

(Original recipe from Venice to Istanbul by Rick Stein, BBC Books, 2015.)

A genius combination by Gill Meller, unusual and totally delicious. Gill deep fries the artichoke skins and some extra nori sheets as a garnish, which looks fab but too much for us to manage on our lunch break.

Jerusalem artichoke, almond and seaweed soup – serves 4

  • 500g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 100g whole almonds, soaked overnight in water
  • 2 nori seaweed sheets
  • 1.2 litres of vegetable stock

Put a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat, then heat the olive oil. Add the artichoke slices, the onion, leek, garlic and soaked nuts. Season generously, then cook, stirring often for 8-10 minutes. 

Tear the nori sheets into the pan and add the stock. Bring to a simmer, then cook gently for 20-30 minutes or until the artichokes are soft. 

Whizz the soup to a smooth purée, then season again. Leave to stand for a few minutes before serving in warm bowls with some of your best olive oil drizzled over. 

(Original recipe from Root Stem Leaf Flower by Gill Meller, Hardie Grant, Quadrille, 2020.)

Green Spiced Rice

We love recipes like this; perfect for using up bits and pieces and super tasty. 

Wine Suggestion: There’s a vibrancy to this food and we matched it with Ventenac’s “Dissidents” le Paria, a fresh-fruited, minerally grenache. Lovely light spices, a stony core of texture and bright plums and cherry flavours.

Green Spiced Rice – serves 2-3

  • 150g frozen broad beans
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
  • 200g basmati rice
  • a slice of butter
  • a few sliced mushrooms
  • a large carrot, coarsely grated
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • a handful of coriander, roughly chopped
  • a few handfuls of spinach

Cook the broad beans in boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and pop them out of the skins. 

Wilt the spinach is a saucepan, then leave to cool. Squeeze out any excess liquid if necessary and chop. 

Pour the vegetable stock into a saucepan, then add the curry paste and the rice. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until almost tender and most of the liquid absorbed. 

Melt the butter in a large frying pan, then fry the mushrooms until lightly coloured. Add the rice and carrot to the pan with the broad beans. Stir until the rice is moist but no longer wet, then add the eggs and season. Keep cooking, stirring now and then to break up the egg, until it is lightly cooked. Fold through the chopped spinach and coriander, then serve. 

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

 

ANZAC biscuits

These have been part of my life as long as I can remember. There are different ways of making them, and I’m not sure if this is how I made them with my Mum when I was a kid, but this version is really crunchy and keeps well … if you can resist.

ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps which first fought in Gallipoli in WWI. It was this conflict that defined both nations by giving them a distinct voice as countries, and no longer colonies of Britain. After this war both nations were equal member of the Treaty of Versailles despite their distance and size, and thus included as nations in their own right. This hadn’t really happened before this date, so a defining moment that allowed them both to develop independently.

ANZAC day is always 25 April and is used to remember all who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. 

ANZAC Biscuits – makes up to 45 depending on size

  • 150g butter
  • 1 tbsn golden syrup
  • 175g granulated sugar
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • 75g dessicated coconut
  • 100g porridge oats

Pre-heat the oven to 180C and lightly grease two baking trays

Put the butter, golden syrup and sugar into a saucepan and heat gently until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. Stir in the flour, coconut and oats and mix well.

Place large teaspoons of the mix onto the baking trays, well spread out. Flatten slightly. You may need to make two batches.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until they have spread out a little and are lightly browned at the edges. Leave to cool on the trays for 5 minutes before removing with a pallet knife and cooling fully on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, BBC Books, 2009.)

Dishoom Granola

This granola from Dishoom has only a hint of sweetness and is much more nutty with hints of butter and spice so it makes a great foil to any fresh or poached fruit (here with Nigella’s pomegranate-poached quinces). It’s also great with just some creamy yoghurt, we loved it. The kitchen smells incredible as it toasts!

Dishoom Granola – makes 10-12 portions

  • 200g rolled oats
  • 100g almonds
  • 80g cashew nuts
  • 75g pistachio nuts
  • 45g desiccated coconut
  • 70g sunflower seeds
  • 70g pumpkin seeds
  • 20g sesame seeds
  • 100g acacia honey
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Heat the oven to 210C/190C fan/Gas 6-7.

Line two large baking trays with baking parchment. 

Mix the oats, nuts, desiccated coconut and seeds together in a big bowl. 

Put the honey, butter and ground cinnamon into a small saucepan and heat gently until the butter is just melted. Pour over the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix well. 

Divide the mixture between the baking trays and spread evenly, just a wooden spoon to pat it down. Put one tray in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and mix well, then press it down again. Bake for another 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before you stir or move it. Repeat with the other tray. 

Store in an airtight container and use within a month. 

(Original recipe from Dishoom by Shamil Thakrar, Kavi Thakrar & Naved Nasir, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019.)

 

These are flavour-packed and great to serve with drinks … cannot wait to have someone over for drinks!

Wine Suggestion: despite the spice in this dish we think these go great with a good sparkling, particularly one made using the Champagne method of double fermentation in the bottle. A touch of dosage, creamy mousse and the lift of naturally acidic grapes both lift the flavours and the mood.

Gochujang Chicken Skewers – serves 4 or more as a bite-sized canapé

  • 500g chicken thigh fillets, cut into small bite-size pieces
  • sesame seeds, to serve
  • scallions, finely sliced to serve

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp clear honey, plus a bit extra
  • 1 heaped tsp gochujang paste

Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and leave to marinate for no more than 30 minutes. 

Heat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5.

Put pieces of chicken onto cocktail sticks or small skewers and put onto an oiled baking tray (keep the marinade). Cook for 10-12 minutes. 

Meanwhile, put the marinade into a small pan over a low-medium heat and reduce for a few minutes, you can add a bit of extra honey if you like.

Take the chicken out of the oven and brush with the reduced marinade, then sprinkle the scallions and sesame seeds over the top. 

(Original recipe by Milli Taylor in Olive Magazine, Christmas 2014)

We loved these little meatballs by Diana Henry. Super tasty and very popular with our 7 year old. We served them with spaghetti and some home-made tomato sauce but we also like Diana’s suggestion of stuffing them into a wrap with some lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. Will definitely be trying this suggestion next time.

Wine Suggestion: We think that Sangiovese plays a wonderful balance of power without weight, especially when it avoids too much extraction or oak. A new find, courtesy of an old friend is the Tenuta di Carleone Chianti Classico. Quite new, in the scheme of things but an old property and vineyard, this is biodynamic and delicious.

Chicken, spinach and cheese polpette – serves 6

  • 500g minced chicken
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 20g grated Parmesan
  • 60g grated Gruyère
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, or a small onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 200g spinach (discard any thick stems)
  • leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme
  • a generous grating of nutmeg
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Put the chicken mince into a large bowl with the breadcrumbs and grated cheese.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying and sauté the onion gently until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, then set aside to cool.

Put the spinach into a large pan with couple of tbsp of water and cover with a lid. Put over a low heat until wilted, about 4 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.

Add the cooled onion to the chicken with the thyme, nutmeg, lemon zest and lots of seasoning.

Squeeze the spinach with your hands to remove the water, then finely chop. Add this to the bowl with everything else and mix well with your hands.

Wet your hands, form the mixture into little meatballs and place on a baking tray. Diana suggests the size of a walnut in its shell which should give about 50 meatballs. I think we only got to about 36 so ours must of been a bit bigger – no matter.

Cover the tray and put the meatballs into the fridge for half an hour or so to allow them to firm up.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the polpette in batches over a medium heat, until they have turned crusty brown all over. Return them all to the pan, lower the heat, and continue to cook for about 7 minute or until cooked through. You can cut into one to check there’s no pink.

(Original recipe from A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2015.)

This soup is super simple but it’s really good with the toasted feta tortillas on the side for a weekday lunch.

Bean soup with feta tortillas – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp chipotle paste
  • 500g carton passata
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 x 400g tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 200g feta
  • 4 large soft flour tortillas
  • a handful of coriander, roughly chopped
  • sour cream or yoghurt to serve

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion over a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, or until soft.

Add the chipotle paste, passata, stock and beans. Season, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, crumble the feta over one half of each of the tortillas, then sprinkle with the chopped coriander and season with black pepper. Fold the uncovered side over and press together. Heat a dry frying pan and cook the tortillas for a minute on each side or until crispy and the cheese has melted.

Serve the soup in warm bowls with a dollop of sour cream or yoghurt if you have it and the feta tortillas on the side.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

You could have these for dessert with some crème fraîche but we like them for breakfast with yoghurt and granola.

Pomegranate-poached quinces – serves 6

  • 700ml pure pomegranate juice
  • 300ml cold water
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 tsp pink peppercorns
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • pomegranate seeds, to serve (we skipped these)

Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan. 

Put the pomegranate juice, water and sugar into a heavy casserole with a lid. Stir well, then add the bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme. Put the casserole over a low heat and leave to warm gently. 

Peel, quarter and core the quinces and add to the pan with the pomegranate juice. 

Bring to the boil, then scrunch up a piece of baking paper, slightly bigger than the pan, then unscrunch again and press down on top of the quinces, tucking it in and up the sides of the pan. Cover with the lid and place in the oven. 

Cook for 1½-2 hours or until tender. Remove the lid and baking paper, then scoop out the quinces with a spoon. Strain the liquid, then return to the heat and bubble until reduced by half. Pour the liquid back over the quinces and leave to cool. Keep in the fridge until ready to eat, they keep well for a few days. 

(Original recipe from Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, 2020)

It’s difficult to know how to introduce this recipe by Rosie Birkett. It is far from shy in terms of flavour, bursting with it in fact, and we’d suggest you have to be a bit adventurous, as it has so many punchy layers. Great to see celeriac getting the attention it deserves.

The recipe is not difficult, but it does take a little effort to make all of the separate components.

Wine Suggestion: to match such a punchy, savoury dish you can go all out with a wine to match these levels of flavour, or go light to be complimentary. We went the latter route and opened an easy, dry Rosé. Tonight a bottle from a friend, the Domaine le Novi Côté Levant Rosé, which tasted of fresh red berries, hints of citrus and light tannins, finishing zesty and minerally.

Gochujang-glazed celeriac with black beans, green salsa & crispy shallots – serves 2

  • about 25g of sea salt flakes
  • 1 medium celeriac, about 750g, peeled, halved and cut into 3cm thick wedges
  • sunflower oil, for frying
  • 1-2 shallots, finely sliced

FOR THE GLAZE:

  • 2 tbsp gochujang paste
  • 50g salted butter
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

FOR THE BLACK BEANS:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • a small bunch of coriander, stems finely chopped and leaves reserved
  • a pinch of ground coriander
  • 400g tin of black beans, don’t drain them as you need the liquid
  • ½ lime, juiced (you will need the other half for the salsa)

FOR THE GREEN SALSA:

  • 1 green apple, roughly chopped
  • ½ green chilli, deseeded
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

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

Line a tray with baking paper and sprinkle the salt over the top. Put the celeriac slices on top of the salt, then roast for 15 minutes at the top of the oven.

Make the glaze while the celeriac is baking. Put the gochujang, butter, honey, a pinch of salt, 1 tbsp water, the orange juice and cornflour in a pan. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes or until smooth, then set aside.

Leave the celeriac to cool slightly, then remove any excess salt and toss each piece in the glaze. Discard the salt from the tray, return the wedges to it and roast for another 10 minutes. Glaze again and scatter over the sesame seeds, then roast for a final 10-20 minutes or until sticky and caramelised (turn the oven up a bit if you need).

Meanwhile, make the beans. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the cumin and bay leaf until sizzling, then add the onion, coriander stems, ground coriander and a good pinch of salt. Fry, stirring, for about 8 minutes or until golden and soft. Add the beans with their liquid and a pinch of salt, then bring to the boil. Simmer for 5-8 minutes, stirring, until the beans look creamy and the liquid and almost gone. Remove the bay leaf, stir in the lime juice, then set aside and keep warm.

To make the salsa, put the apple, chilli, pumpkin seeds, lime juice and reserved coriander leaves in a food processor and whizz until combined but chunky. Add the oil and whizz again, then season to taste.

To make the crispy shallots, heat the sunflower oil in a small frying pan and fry the shallots over a low-medium heat for 15 minutes or until golden and crispy. Drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper and season.

Serve the beans on warm plates, topped with the celeriac, salsa and crispy shallots.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Our default lockdown lunch is soup, it helps with the heating bills! We ran out of soup last week and found this recipe when looking for lunch inspiration that would use the only ingredient left in the fridge – carrots. It was really very nice. 

Spicy Carrot & Chickpea Pitta – serves 4

  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 heaped tsp of cumin seeds
  • 4 large carrots, cut into 2cm thick rounds
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely sliced
  • finely grated zest of an orange, plus a good squeeze of the juice
  • 1 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 pitta breads
  • yoghurt or sour cream to serve

Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fry for a couple of minutes, then add the carrots and fry for 8-10 minutes. The carrots should be tender and starting to brown, but still with a bit of bite. 

Add the garlic, orange zest, paprika, and chickpeas and cook until the chickpeas are hot. Remove from the heat, season well with salt, pepper and a good squeeze of orange juice. 

Warm the pitta breads in a toaster or under the grill, then stuff the mixture into the pockets and top with yoghurt or sour cream. 

(Original recipe from River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Bloomsbury, 2011.)