Feeds:
Posts
Comments

We’ve had a spell of nice weather in Dublin so we’re barbecuing everything! We served these sweet potatoes with some marinated chicken but they would be lovely with anything, or even pretty good on their own.

Sweet Potatoes on the Barbecue – serves 4

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked parika
  • 120g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 generous tbsp of sour cream
  • a small bunch of chives

Get your barbecue going.

Rub the potatoes with a little olive oil, then season with salt and black pepper and wrap each one in tinfoil.

Put the potatoes onto the grill and cook for 45-50 minutes, turning them now and then, until soft.

Unwrap the foil slightly and cut the potatoes down the middle. Sprinle each one with a little sea salt and about ½ tsp smoked paprika, then divide the cheese between them. Set them back on the barbecue, still on the foil, and close the lid on the barbecue for a few minutes or until the cheese has melted.

Take the potatoes off the barbecue, top with the sour cream, and snip the chives over the top.

(Original recipe from Outdoor Cooking by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2021.)

The local asparagus is still available and we can’t resist a bargain. So here’s another version of this classic dish.

Wine Suggestion: Domaine Bellevue Touraine Sauvignon Blanc with this today. The grassy freshness and zesty lemon flavours cutting through the richness from the butter and parmesan and bringing out the lovely aspargus flavours even more.

Asparagus Risotto – serves 4

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, about 200g
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 25g butter
  • 2 small onion, fineldy chopped
  • 175g risotto rice
  • 100ml white wine or vermouth
  • 25g Parmesan, finely grated

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and put into a saucepan with the vegetable stock. Put on a low heat and bring to a gently simmer.

Cut the tips off the asparagus spears and add to the simmering stock for 1 minute, then scoop out with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Cut the rest of the asparagus into slim rounds.

Heat the oil and half the butter in a heavy, wide pan. Gently cook the onions until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the finely chopped asparagus stalks and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the rice and stir for a few minutes until it becomes semi-transparent and is nicely coated with the butter.

Stir in the wine or vermouth and allow to evaporate, then turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Begin adding the stock, one ladle at a time, stirring continuously after each addition until it is absorbed. This will take about 15 minutes.

Start tasting the rice, it should be tender with a little bite. Stir in the blanched asparagus tips and cook for 1 or 2 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and top with the butter and most of the Parmesan. Season well, then cover and leave aside for a few minutes.

Stir well to incorporate the butter and Parmesan, then serve with the rest of the Parmesan to sprinkle over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

This recipe is from Chasing Smoke: Cooking Over Fire Around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich. They have memories of cooking potatoes in bonfires as children and how delicious they tasted. They really are delicious and if you’ve made the effort to light your barbecue you may as well throw a few potatoes in the embers too.

Baked potatoes with charred spring onion sour cream – serves 4

  • 4 baking potatoes, about 250g each

FOR THE SOUR CREAM DRESSING:

  • 8-10 scallions
  • 300g sour cream
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp flaky sea salt
  • black pepper
  • zest and juice of half a lemon

Wrap each potato in tin foil and place in the embers of your barbecue or campfire. Leave there for about 45 minutes or until a metal skewer goes in easily, turn them over a couple of times as they cook.

Meanwhile, char half the scallions on the grill for a few minutes on each side or until charred. Remove from the heat and finely chop.

Finely slice the green parts of the remaining scallions and set aside to sprinkle over at the end. Cut the remaining white parts into small pieces and stir into the sour cream along with the charred scalllions and the rest of the ingredients.

Remove the cooked potatoes from the fire and remove the foil. Cut each one down the middle and sprinkle with the flaky sea salt and fill with the sour cream mixture. Spinkle over the green scallions and some black pepper before serving.

(Original recipe from Chasing Smoke: Cooking over fire around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, Pavilion, 2021.)

This is perfect for mid-week – tasty, healthy and just a few ingredients.

Wine Suggestion: The hot and sour flavours pair well with dry Rieslings, like the exhuberant Domaine Bott-Geyl Les Elements. Apples, zesty lemon, a hint of apricot and a taut freshness.

Hot and sour aubergine with sticky rice – serves 2

  • 150g sushi rice
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 aubergine, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 100g green beans, halved
  • 1 red chilli, shredded, plus extra to serve

Cook the rice according to the packet instructions.

Fry the onion and aubergine in the oil in a wide shallow pan with a lid until golden and softened. Stir it every few minutes.

Mix the sugar and vinegar together, then add the soy sauce and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the cornflour and stir to dissolve.

Add the beans and red chilli to the pan and cook for 4 minutes with the lid on. Add the liquid mixture, stir and continue cooking for another 2 minutes with the lid on.

Serve with the rice and some extra soy sauce and chillies on the side.

(Original recipe by Kate Calder in Olive Magazine, June 2012.)

We’ve done this a few times this week. It’s a great side for a barbecue and it looks after itself in the oven while you organise everything else. Make it while you can still get local asparagus.

Roasted balsamic asparagus & cherry tomatoes – serves 4 as a side

  • 350g asparagus, snap off the woody ends and discard
  • 330g pack cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 50g feta, crumbled

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

Put the asparagus and cherry tomatoes onto a baking sheet and drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic. Season, then toss together. Bake for 15 minutes or until the asparagus is cooked through. Sprinkle over the feta to serve.

Saag Halloumi

This is a side dish really, but we had it mid-week as a main with some takeaway naan breads. Highly recommended! A halloumi version of the traditional paneer dish.

Wine Suggestion: An unoaked, dry Chardonnay like Domaine Ventenac’s Carole from Cabardès in southern France, which is light and fruit forward would be an ideal choice. Easy going but with layers of flavour and textures just like the dish itself.

Saag halloumi – serves 4 to 6 as a side (half to serve 2 as a main)

  • 500g spinach
  • ½ an onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp garam masala, plus extra to serve
  • 2 blocks of halloumi, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 200ml double cream
  • ½ lemon juiced

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the spinach for 1 minute or until wilted. Drain well, leave to cool, squeeze out the liquid with your hands, then finely chop.

Put the onion, garlic and ginger into a blender with 1-2 tbsp of water and whizz until smooth.

Put the turmeric, cumin seeds, garam masala and lots of seasoning onto a plate. Roll the pieces of halloumi in the spices to coat all over.

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat, then fry the halloumi until crispy. Don’t be tempted to turn it until a nice crust has been formed, this will help prevent sticking. Remove to a plate.

Add the onion purée to the same pan, plus any spices remaining on the plate and some seasoning. Cook for 15 minutes until the raw smell has gone and they have started to colour. Add the spinach, halloumi and double cream, and cook for another 5 minutes to thicken and warm through. Season with the lemon juice and sprinkle with garam masala before serving.

(Original recipe by Adam Bush in Olive Magazine, May 2020.)

There should be some good value asparagus around by now and this is a very tasty way with sweet potatoes.

Roasted sesame sweet potatoes & asparagus – serves 3 as a side

  • 750g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1½ tbsp reduced-salt soy sauce
  • a bunch of asparagus, snap off the ends and cut in half
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

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

Put the potatoes into a large roasting tin and toss with the garlic, ginger, sesame oil, fish sauce and 1 tbsp of the soy sauce. Roast for 20 minuts or until tender.

Add the asparagus, 3 tbsp of water and ½ tbsp of soy sauce. Roast for another 10 minutes. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over and serve.

(Original ricpe from BBC Good Food)

Kids activities are back on which means we spend a few weeknights dropping off and picking up rather than cooking. So we’re on the hunt for more dishes like this, minutes to make but healthy and delicious; flavoursome and light at the same time.

Wine Suggestion: This dish partners really well with a fruity, youthful and dry Riesling.

Chicken meatball tom kha gai – serves 2

  • 4 chicken sausages (we bought ours in M&S)
  • 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander, plus some whole leaves to serve
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 50g flat rice noodles
  • 400ml tin coconut milk (you could use half-fat if you like)
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, discard the woody outer leaves and finely chop the inside
  • 50g mangetout, finely sliced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce

Remove the skin from the chicken sausages and put the insides into a bowl. Add 1 tsp of the ginger, the chopped coriander and half the chilli. Mix well and form into 10 small meatballs – wet hands help with this.

Cook the noodles according the packet, then drain and rinse with cold water.

Bring the coconut milk and stock to a simmer in a large saucepan, then add the rest of the ginger and chilli with the lemongrass and simmer for 3 minutes.

Add the chicken meatballs and simmer for 3 minutes, then add the mangetout and cook for another 2 minutes.

Gently stir in the lime, sugar and fish sauce, divide the noodles between 2 warm bowls, then ladle over the hot soup and meatballs, finish with the coriander leaves.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, May 2018.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We definitely have a bit of a thing for Asian-style greens and rice. And while it may seem like you need another dish on the side, you really don’t, it’s just a bowl of healthy, delicious things. Having said that, this would also be great on the side of some white fish.

Wine Suggestion: Anthony Girard’s La Clef du Recit Menetou Salon is a star here. A Sauvignon Blanc grown on Kimmergian clay-limestone, this has a depth, texture and body that belies the grape a little and a wine that we think gets better with a few years in the bottle … if you can wait that long. Don’t worry if you can’t though, it’s delicious from release too.

Asparagus with ginger & garlic – serves 2

  • 12-16 spears of asparagus, snap off the woody ends and slice on the diagonal into 4cm pieces
  • 2-3cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into very fine matchsticks
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 80ml water
  • 1 ½ tbsp oyster sauce
  • cooked rice, to serve

Put your wok over a medium-low heat and add the sunflower oil. When warm, add the ginger and cook briefly until fragrant.

Add the asparagus, garlic and chilli and toss, then pour in the water and turn the heat to high. Cook for a minute, then add the oyster sauce. Toss well to coat the asparagus and cook for about 30 seconds or until tender but with a bite.

Remove from the heat and season with some black pepper, you shouldn’t need salt.

Serve hot over rice.

(Original recipe from My Favourite Ingredients by Skye Gyngell, Quadrille Publishing, 2008.)

If you like peanuts, you will love this! Better than takeaway and almost as quick.

Wine Suggestion: It’s almost a cliche to suggest Riesling with Thai food, but in this case a good, dry Riesling is a great match. A favourite, the Korrell Slice of Paradise Riesling from the Nahe in Germany, a vibrant, fruit-forward and dry wine came to the rescue.

Thai chicken & peanut curry – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp Panang or red curry paste
  • 500ml coconut milk
  • 500g chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, cut into strips (if you’re using dried leaves, soak them in warm water for a few minutes before cutting)
  • 100g roasted peanuts, blended to a paste with 3 tbsp coconut milk
  • basil leaves, to garnish

Heat the oil in a wok over a medium heat.

Add the curry paste and stir-fry, then add 125ml of the coconut milk.

Turn the heat to low, then add the chicken and stir slowly until well blended.

Add 250ml more coconut milk, then stir in the sugar, fish sauce and lime leaves. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.

Stir in the peanut and coconut milk paste and the rest of the coconut milk.

The curry should be sweet, spicy and a little salty. Taste and adjust with sugar or salt if needed.

Serve with rice and garnished with the basil leaves.

(Original recipe from Thai Cooking Class by Somi Anuntra Miller & Patricia Lake, Bay Books, 1994.)

It’s a very long time since we’ve had a pub lunch but if we could have one we’d probably order something like this!

Wine Suggestion: A classic combination like this cries out for a Muscadet. Domaine de la Chauviniere’s is super-fresh and almost saline, dry but soft and approachable with hints of grapefruits and melon with a green edge. It has a good body without any weight, so effortless next to this dish.

Prawns, soda bread and lemon mayonnaise – serves 4

FOR THE SODA BREAD:

  • 1 handful of oats
  • 375g plain flour
  • 10g salt
  • 7g bicarbonate of soda
  • 300ml buttermilk

FOR THE LEMON MAYONNAISE:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • a pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 400ml sunflower oil

FOR THE PRAWNS:

  • 4 litres of iced water
  • 7 tbsp salt
  • 1kg shell-on prawns
  • bay leaves (optional), scrunched a bit
  • lots of ice

Preheat the oven to 180C/160 fan/Gas 4.

Start by making the soda bread. Dust a baking tray with a few oats.

Sift the plain flour into a large bowl with the salt and bicarbonate of soda. Make a well in the centre and gradually pour in the buttermilk, gently turning the mixture over in the bowl with a large metal spoon. You need it all to come together in a sticky mass that you can form into dough but try not to mix it too much.

Lightly flour a work surface and tip the dough onto it. Shape into a round and slash a deep cross in the top. Put the loaf on the baking tray and sprinkle the top with a few more oats.

Bake for about 35 minutes, or until crisp all over and it should sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Cool on a wire rack while you make the mayonnaise.

Use a whisk to combine the egg yolks, a pinch of salt and the mustard in a bowl and season with a little pepper. Start adding the oil, just a few drops at a time, whisking into the egg mixture. Very slowly increase the amount of oil that you add each time, whisking thoroughly after each addition. When the mayonnaise has started to hold it’s shape you can add the oil in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly.

When all of the oil has been added, you should have a thick, wobbly mayonnaise. Add lemon zest and juice to taste and season again salt and plenty of black pepper.

Pour the iced water into a bowl and season with 4 tbsp of salt.

Bring 4 litres of water to the boil in a large saucepan, then add 3 tbsp of salt. Add the prawns to the boiling water and bring back to the boil. Cook for about 2 minutes or until bright pink and just cooked.

Drain and tip the prawns immediately into the iced water. Leave for 10 minutes, until very nicely chilled. You may need to add more ice if it melts. Drain the prawns and serve with the bread and lemon mayonnaise.

(Original recipe from Home Cookery Year by Claire Thompson, Quadrille, 2020.)

We’re a bit salad-obsessed these days. This one is huge and will feed a crowd when you have them over to your garden. Perfect with a piece of barbecued lamb.

Minted pea and spinach salad with bacon – serves 4-6

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 slices streaky bacon or pancetta, cut into lardons
  • 200g frozen peas, defrosted (only Birds Eye will do in our opinion)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed with a little salt
  • a bunch of mint, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 200g baby spinach
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 50g feta cheese, crumbled

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and cook the bacon over a medium heat until starting to crisp up.

Mix the defrosted peas with the garlic, mint, red onion and baby spinach.

Dress the salad with 4 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Toss in the bacon and scatter the feta on top.

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

This is a tasty weeknight option, and healthy too. We used just green peppers but a green and a red would look nice. Serve over brown rice.

Wine Suggestion: This dish needs a savoury wine balanced by youthful, juicy fruit like Martin Korrell’s Weisser Burgunder (Pinot Blanc). Joyfully frivolous and deep at the same time.

Black pepper beef stir-fry – serves 2 (generously)

  • 300g rump steak, trimmed of fat and sliced thinly, about 5mm
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 5cm piece of ginger, julienned
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper

TO SERVE:

  • steamed brown basmati
  • 2 scallions, green part only, finely sliced

Combine all of the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and season with a good pinch of sea salt. Add the steak and toss to coat in the marinade, then leave aside for a few minutes.

Put your wok over a high heat until smoking hot. Add a splash of vegetable oil followed by half the beef. Stir-fry quickly for 1-2 minute, then remove to a plate. Add another splash of oil if you need, then repeat with the rest of the meat.

Put the wok back over a high heat. Add the onion and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the peppers and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

Mix the cornflour to a paste with 2 tbsp water.

Add the oyster and soy sauces, shaoxing wine and black pepper to the wok and stir. Return the beef to the wok with any pan juices, then stir in the cornflour paste and stir-fry for another minute or until the sauce is thickened and the beef warmed through.

Divide the rice between warm bowls, top with the stir-fry and scatter with the scallions.

(Original recipe from Lose Weight & Get Fit by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury, 2019.)

Potato Salad

Barbecue season is coming (hopefully!) and potato salad is the perfect accompaniment. The dressing will make far more than you need but you can keep it in the fridge for a couple of weeks and dress all your salads with it, so worth making.

Potato Salad – serves 4

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

FOR THE FRENCH DRESSING:

  • 100ml red or white wine vinegar
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 200ml sunflower oil
  • ½ a clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey

To make the French dressing, put all the ingredients into a food processor, season with salt and pepper, and whizz to combine (or you can do like us and shove it all in a jar and give it a good shake!).

Put the potatoes into a pan of salty water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until completely tender, then drain and put into a bowl. Mix in 2 tbsp of French dressing and leave to cool.

Mix the mayonnaise, yoghurt and mint together and toss with the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to serve.

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

Try this if you’re in a bit of a lunch rut … or if like us you have bought an extra bag of spinach and have some miso lingering in the fridge. It takes 5 minutes and it’s delicious.

Miso spinach on sourdough toast – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 200g spinach
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 sliced scallions
  • 2 large slices of toasted sourdough (to serve)

Mix the miso paste with the melted butter, then tip into a frying pan.

Add the spinach and cook over a medium heat until wilted, then add 2 tsp soy sauce. Divide between the toasts and sprinkle over the spinach & scallions.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

This is delicious with a load of warm flatbreads for scooping up the baba ghanoush. To burn the aubergines place them directly onto gas rings turned up high, scorch for about 20 minutes, turning once. You will need to open all of the doors and windows but it is definitely worth it!

Wine Suggestion: A Spanish red was called for, but to be a little contrary we went to Roussillon: Roc des Anges’ Segna de Cor. A Grenache, Carignan and Syrah blend from the “young” vines of this estate which average only 40 years of age … they have some wonderful old vines in this part of the world and Marjorie Gallet has some of the best parcels scattered across the incredible landscape that is Catalan France. Exceptionally refined and smooth, with layers of spices, warm fruits and a core of salty stones and smokey earth. For an entry level wine this is truly exciting. Also a good match for the smokey aubergines, earthy lentils and tart pomegranate.

Smoky baba ganoush with roasted cauliflower, lentils & pomegranate – serves 4 to 6

  • 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 300g Puy lentils (or similar lentils)
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach leaves
  • a small handful of coriander leaves
  • ½ a lemon, juiced
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds extracted
  • pomegranate mollasses

FOR THE BABA GANOUSH:

  • 4 large aubergines
  • 4 tbsp tahini paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Coat the cauliflower in olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Spread over a baking tray and roast for 25-30 minutes.

To make the baba ganoush, put the aubergines directly over a gas flame on high, for about 20 minutes, turning once. When cool enough to handle, peel off the blackened skin and place the flesh into a large bowl. Break the aubergine flesh up with a fork, leaving it a bit chunky, then add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, yoghurt and olive oil. Mix with a fork until well combined and season well with salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the lentils for 20-25 minutes until just tender, then drain.

Combine the roasted cauliflower, lentils, baby spinach, coriander, a drizzle of olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice and season well with salt and pepper. Serve with plenty of baba gaanoush on the side, scatter over the pomegranate seeds and drizzle with a few drops of the pomegranate molasses.

(Original recipe from Community by Hetty McKinnon, A Plum Book, 2014.)

Asparagus Soup

It just wouldn’t be spring without asparagus soup would it? Though the weather is far from spring-like in Dublin. This is from Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson, though I suspect Simon may not approve of our half-whizzed texture. You can of course whizz until smooth and pass through a fine sieve if you’re equally fussy.

Asparagus soup – serves 4

  • 100g butter
  • 4 small leeks, white parts only, trimmed and chopped
  • 750ml water
  • 1 potato, peeled and chopped
  • 450g fresh asparagus, snap off the woody ends and peel the thicker ends a little
  • 250ml double cream

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then sweat the leeks until soft.

Add the water and potato, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 15 minutes.

Chop the asparagus and add to the soup, then boil rapidly for 5 minutes.

Whizz the soup in a blender or food processor, then pass through a fine sieve (or if you’re lazy like us you can just roughly whizz with a stick blender).

(Original recipe from Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson, Ebury Press, 1994.)

This is simplicity itself but tastes just like the season.

Wine Suggestion: Pick a good, top-notch, dry Sauvignon Blanc to match this dish like the André Dezat Sancerre which is flinty, grassy-fresh and has great concentration and power despite being super balanced and effortless.

Gnocchi with asparagus, edamame & Parmesan – serves 4

  • 500g pack of gnocchi
  • good extra virgin olive oil
  • 500g asparagus, snap off the woody part of the stems, then cut into 5cm pieces
  • 150g frozen edamame beans
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 lemon, for squeezing over at the end
  • 60g Parmesan, grated

Bring a large pot of salty water to the boil, then add the gnocchi and cook according the pack instructions. It’s done when if floats to the top. Drain and refresh under cold running water.

Heat a large fraying pan over a medium-high heat, then drizzle with oil, and when hot, add the asparagus with a pinch of sea salt. Fry for a few minutes or until the pieces are starting to char but are still crisp. Remove from the pan and put into a warmed dish.

Add the frozen edamame beans to pan with a splash of water and a pinch of sea salt. Cook for 2 minutes, then scoop ot and add to the asparagus.

Drizzle some more oil into the pan and warm over a medium-high heat, then add the gnocchi. Fry until golden and crispy. Don’t be tempted to turn them too quickly or they will stick. Remove from the pan and into a large dish.

Combine the gnocchi with the asparagus, edamame, and chives. Squeeze over some lemon juice to taste and drizzle with olive oil, then season with sea salt and black pepper. Scatter over the Parmesan to serve.

(Original recipe from Family by Hetty McKinnon, Prestel, 2019)

Spring Salad

We tend to be a bit suspicious of salads that claim to be a main course but we promise you won’t be hungry after this one.

Wine Suggestion: Naturally when eating asparagus we gravitate to Grüner Veltliner, but for this dish we felt drawn to Souther France and opened the Ch Vignelaure, La Source Blanc from Provence. Made mostly from Vermentino with a touch of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Fresh and summery with citrus fruits and a gently herbal twist; full of energy and vitality.

Spring Salad – serves 4 as a main

  • 300g baby new potatoes, half any biggish ones
  • 1 spring of mint
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g asparagus, woody ends snapped off and saved
  • 50g frozen peas
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 green apple, cored and finely chopped (we used a Granny Smith)
  • 3 scallions, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp capers, drained
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 Little Gem lettuce, leaves washed and dried, heart split in two
  • a few handfuls of soft herbs e.g. tarragon, parsley, mint, chives

FOR THE GARLIC CROUTONS:

  • 2 slices of sourdough or white baguette
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic

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

Drizzle the bread with some oil and season, then roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes, turning halfway through. They should be crispy and golden.

Once baked, rub the bread with the raw garlic and cut into croutons.

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the potatoes, mint sprig and 1 tsp salt, then simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, no firmness should remain. Drain and discard the mint.

Meanwhile, bring another pan of water to the boil and add the eggs. Cook for 6 minutes and 30 seconds for firm whites and runny yolks, then drain under cold running water to cool and peel.

Bring another pan of salty water to the boil. Chop the asparagus spears into three and boil for 3-4 minutes or until just tender. Remove with a slotted spoon, then bring the water back to the boil and ad a pinch of sugar. Add the peas and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Drain.

Toss the potatoes with 2 tbsp of the mayonnaise, apple, scallions and capers. Whisk the olive oil and white wine vinegar together, season, then dress the lettuce and soft herbs, the asparagus and peas. Spread the rest of the mayonnaise across a serving plat, top with the postates and dressed salad, halve the eggs and add more mayonnaise if you like. Garnish with the croutons and extra herbs.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

This couldn’t be easier and it’s perfect for a Friday night. We used the curry paste from this recipe but you can use a good quality shop-bought version either. Serve with sticky rice and salad.

Wine Suggestion: we often turn to aromatic wines for Thai food and for this dish was no different as we chose the Korrell Slice of Paradise Riesling. A dry Riesling from the Nahe in Germany this is the youthful cuvée from the more regal Paradies vineyard Martin Korrell makes. Standing up to the earthy and rich peanuts and cutting through the rich coconut milk this is always a joy to drink, let alone pair with food. Light and refreshing, and yet powerful enough to work with meat and complex flavours – we love the versatility this lends.

Panang Beef Balls – serves 4

  • 500g beef mince
  • 60g plain flour
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oi
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp chopped basil or mint, to garnish

Roll the beef mince into small round balls, about 2.5 cm.

Roll the balls in flour and dust of the excess.

Heat the oil in a wok and fry the meatballs until brown, keep tilting the pan so they brown evenly. Remove and set aside on kitchen paper.

Add the curry paste to the wok and stir-fry for a few minutes over a low heat.

Stir in the coconut milk, the fish sauce, peanut butter and sugar. Taste the sauce and add extra fish sauce or sugar if needed.

Put the beef balls back into the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes or until cooked through. Garnish with chopped basil.

(Original recipe from Thai Cooking Class by Sami Anuntra Miller & Patricia Lake.)