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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

We know you don’t need to be told how to make a tomato salad, but this one was particularly nice so we thought we would share.

Tomato salad – serves 4 as a side

  • 700g mixed tomatoes, slice large ones into thick slices and halve tiny ones
  • a generous handful of basil leaves
  • a small handful of parsley leaves
  • 1 heaped tbsp chopped oregano
  • a handful of watercress
  • ½ a red onion, thinly sliced
  • balsamic vinegar
  • good olive oil
  • a ball of top quality buffalo mozzarella

Put the tomatoes into a large bowl with the herbs, watercress and onion. Drizzle over some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then season with salt and pepper. Toss well together, then transfer to a platter.

Top with torn mozzarella and drizzle with a little more oil.

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This is the kind of weeknight dish we love, quick and esay but no compromise on flavour.

Wine Suggestion: Try a fun Italian white like a Pecorino or Falanghina, you won’t go far wrong.

Courgette, butter & basil gnocchi – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 courgette, trimmed and cubed (we used 2 small courgettes, a green and a yellow)
  • 250g pack of gnocchi from the fridge
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • a small bunch of basil, leaves torn, plus a few extra to serve
  • pecorino, finely grated, to serve

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-hight heat, then cook the courgettes until golden and soft.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salty water to the boil, add the gnnocchi and cook until it floats to the top. Remove the cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon as they rise to the surface. Keep a cupful of the cooking water.

While the gnocchi is cooking, add the garlic, capers and chilli flakes to the courgettes and cook for a minute. Add the lemon juice and stir to scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the butter and sizzle for 30 seconds or until it smells nutty. Add the gnocchi and a splash of the reserved cooking liquid to make a glossy sauce that coats the gnocchi.

Stir in most of the basil, then serve in warm bowls, sprinkled with the pecorino and extra basil leaves.

(Original recipe by Anna Glover in Olive Magazine, August 2021.)

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You need to start this the day before but it’s surprisingly easy and the results are amazing. A great barbecue dish to serve a crowd and most of the work is done beforehand. Ours was too big to fit in the oven so we sliced it into two which made it much more manageable.

Wine Suggestion: Quite often we’d suggest a wine with good acidity to cut through the richness of this dish, and we wouldn’t be wrong, with a number od Chardonnays coming to mind. However, instead of cutting through the richness we tried accentuating it and playing with the phenolics (white wine tannins) and drank Jean-Michel Gerin’s La Champine Viognier from the Northern Rhône valley. Grown on vineyards above Condrieu this is accessible and yet still heady, slightly oily and rich with stone fruit flavours and character. It always pays to think outside the box every now and again.

Fennel and ‘Nduja Spiced Porchetta – serves 6 to 8

  • 3kg belly of pork, boned and skin scored and butterflied, your butcher will do this for you

FOR THE SEASONING:

  • 3 tsp salt
  • 50g fennel seeds
  • 25g cracked black pepper
  • 10 sage leaves

FOR THE STUFFING:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 100g pine nuts, toasted
  • 100g pitted green olives, sliced
  • 175g ‘nduja

Make the sfuffing first as you need to leave it to cool. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions and fennel for about 10 minutes or until softened and golden brown, add the garlic after about 5 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts, olives and ‘nduja and warm through briefly. Spoon onto a tray and leave to cool.

Lay the pork skin side down on a board and open up flat.

To make the seasoning, mix the the salt, fennel seeds and cracked pepper together in a bowl. Sprinkle the rub evenly over the pork and scatter the sage leaves on top. Fold the belly over to enclose the seasoning, then cover and chill for an hour in the fridge.

Lay the pork belly back onto the board and open up to expose the seasoning. Spread the stuffing evenly over the surface, leaving a border at the edges.

Roll the meat up tightly and tie with kitchen string at 4cm intervals, starting in the middle. You need to tie it firmly but careful not to squeeze out the stuffing. Put onto a tray and leave overnight in the fridge. If your pork is too big you can carefully slice through the middle to give two pieces.

The next day, take the pork out the fridge at least 1 hour before you want to start cooking.

Preheat the oven to 160C/Fan 140C/Gas 3.

Put the pork onto a baking tray and cook in the oven for 3½ hours.

Near the end of the cooking time, get your barbecue on and get it ready to cook on. Transfer the pork to the barbecue and cook for another hour. Roll it over onto the fat side at the end to crisp up the crackling. Transfer to a platter and leave to rest for 15-20 minutes, then carve into thick slices.

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

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We’re always up for mussels, and this made good use of some leftover ‘nduja, plus we always love fennel. A nice treat for two.

Wine Suggestion: try not to fight the warm spices of the ‘nduja with a wine higher in acidity, rather look for a naturally softer grape like Grenache Blanc. From southern Catalonia in the region of Terra Alta they grow more Garnacha Blanca than anywhere else in the world: Edetaria’s “via Terra” white utulises this to great effect by harvesting in two tranches; the first to give freshness, and the second fruit and aromatics. Elegantly beautiful, with a vibrancy based not on searing acidity but a great balance. You can almost taste the ancient seabed it’s grown on and the breezes that keep the vines cool; a gem.

Mussels with ‘nduja and fennel – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 50g ‘nduja
  • 150ml white wine
  • 1kg mussels, scrubbed
  • a handful of coriander, chopped
  • toasted sourdough, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the fennel for 10 minutes or until caramelised and soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute before adding the fennel seeds and ‘nduja. Break the ‘nduja up with a wooden spoon.

Pour in the white wine and bring to the boil, then add the mussels and stir. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the mussels have opened (chuck any that stay closed).

Stir really well, then add the coriander and stir again, then serve with the toasted sourdough.

(Original recipe by Adam Bush in Olive Magazine, September 2019.)

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Thai basil can be hard to come by for us but they sometimes have it in our local farm shop which inspired us to cook this delicious duck dish by Neil Perry.

Wine Suggestion: A dry, but fruit forward Pinot Gris was our first thought, but tried the Domaine Bott-Geyl’s Pinot d’Aslace Points Cardinaux, which was to hand, and were delighted with it’s playful nature and depth to match the dish. A blend of all the Pinot grapes, including Pinot Noir this has a vibrant freshness and focus as well as roundness and layers of texture; altogether a good food wine.

Stir-fry duck with coconut milk, Thai basil & noodles – serves 4

  • 600g boneless duck breasts, with skin on
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 stem of lemongrass, pale part only, thinly sliced
  • 1 long red chilli, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 80ml vegetable oil
  • 1 large white onion, halved and thickly sliced
  • 320ml coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 20g crispy fried shallots (shop bought)
  • a large handful of Thai basil leaves
  • 200g dried rice vermicelli or other rice noodles, cooked and drained (to serve)

Put the duck onto a board, skin side down, and cut into 5mm slices. Put the duck slices into a bowl and add the garlic, lemongrass and chilli. Mix well with your hands.

Heat 60ml of vegetable oil in a wok until smoking. Stir-fry the duck in batches for 1-2 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add more oil if needed, then add the onion and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until light golden. Return the duck to the wok, then pour in the coconut milk and bring to thte boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the fish sauce, oyster sauce, tamarind paste, sugar and sea salt. Simmer for another few minutes, then check the seasoning.

Garnish with fried shallots and Thai basil and serve over noodles.

(Original recipe from Neil Perry’s Good Cooking, Murdoch Books, 2016.)

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Romanesco cauliflower is a vegetable that we can’t resist picking up when we see it. It’s flavour really shines in this simple pasta recipe. It is very important to cook the romanesco until completely soft (you will be crushing it later with your wooden spoon), there is no place for al dente in this recipe!

Wine Suggestion: This is best served with a joyful white, and while we initially thought about an Italian Pecorino from the Marches instead went for Domaine Ventenac’s Colombard Vermentino, which is quite simply summer in a glass.

Pasta and Romanesco – serves 4

  • 1 large head of romanesco cauliflower, discard the stalk and break into small florets
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed with the flat side of a knife and left whole
  • 1 red chilli or 1 dried red chilli, chopped, or a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 400g penne pasta (or similar)
  • 30g grated pecorino, plus extra to serve

Cook the romanesco in a very large pan of boiling salty water for 6-8 minutes or until completely soft. Scoop the florets out with a slotted spoon into a colandar.

Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and chilli and cook gently until golden, take care not to let it go brown or it will be bitter. Discard the garlic clove.

Cook the pasta in the water used to cook the romanesco.

While the pasta cooks, tip the romanesco into the olive oil and toss to coat in the oil. Season with salt, then crush the florets gently with a wooden spoon so they break up. Scoop the pasta out of the cooking water with a slotted spoon straight into the frying pan. Add the pecorino and stir to mix everything together.

Serve with extra pecorino.

(Original recipe from Five Quarters by Rachel Roddy, Saltyard Books, 2015.)

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Who doesn’t love a dish of potato salad?

Potato salad with herbs – serves 6 as a side

  • 750g salad or new potatoes e.g. Charlotte
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 8 scallions, halved lenthways and sliced
  • 3 tbsp snipped chives
  • 1 tbsp chopped tarragon

Cut the potatoes into small chunks. Bring a large pan of salty water to the boil, add the poatoes, and simmer for 10 minutes or until just cooked. Drain well in a colander, then transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise, yoghurt, crème fraîche, mustard and milk together, then stir through the onions and most of the chives and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the dressing over the potatoes while still warm and toss gently to coat. Transfer to a serving bowl and scatter over the reminaing herbs. Serve at room temperature.

(Original recipe by Angela Nilsen in BBC Good Food Magazine, September 2012.)

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This is like a cross between a lasagne and a parmigiana. If you have a gas barbecue it makes a very easy job of griddling the aubergines in big batches which attracted us to this dish in the first place as the barbecue was on a good run. Nice with some crusty bread.

Wine Suggestion: Light, crunchy red wines just seem to fall into place with lasagne, or aubergine and tomato. This was no different. Tonight to good effect, our favourite Loire red, the Chateau du Hureau Saumur Champigny Tuffe.

Aubergine Parmigiana Lasagne – serves 6

  • 3 large aubergines, thinly sliced lengthways
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g mozzarella, drained and coarsely grated
  • 50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • a bunch of basil, leaves picked and roughly chopped, plus extra to serve
  • 8 dried egg lasagne sheets

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • ¼ tsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

Make the sauce by warming the olive oil and garlic in a large pan for a minute or until golden, go gently or the garlic will brown and turn bitter. Add the sugar and red wine vinegar and allow to bubble up for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes. Season with salt and return to a simmer. Bubble gently for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a gas barbecue or a griddle pan to a medium-high heat. Brush the aubergine slices with oil on both sides and season with a little salt. Griddle or barbecue in batches until softened and slightly charred. Don’t let the heat get too high or they will char before they are softened.

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

Lay a third of the aubergine slices over the base of a large baking dish, then spoon over a third of the sauce. Scatter with a small handful of both cheeses (but not too much as you want most of it for the top) and half the basil, then top with 4 lasagne sheets. Repeat once more, then finish with a layer of aubergines topped with the rest of the sauce and scattered with the remaining cheese.

Place the dish in the hot oven and bake for 30 minutes. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes then serve with the rest of the basil sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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The rich sauce here is inspired by the sherry-like Savignin from the Jura. It’s a while since we’ve been there so we had to settle for dry sherry which still made a delicious sauce. Green beans and some new potatoes are perfect on the side.

Wine Suggestion: We think this works with a mountain wine of some sort, where you get the bracing freshness of altitude but can also get depth and body to stand up to the flavoursome sauce. In the absence of a Savignin in the fridge we turned to a Côtes du Jura Chardonnay by Chevasu-Fassenet. Rich, creamy, with hints of oak and a layer of oxidative flor mingled in with the fruit giving this a grip and extra zip.

Sautéed sea trout with sherry sauce – serves 2

  • 50g butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 60ml dry sherry
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 100g full-fat crème fraîche
  • ½ tsp dry sherry
  • 1 tsp finely chopped parsley
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea trout fillets, enough for 2

Heat 30g of the butter in a pan and gently cook the shallot until softened. Add the sherry and chicken stock, then reduced by three-quarters. Whisk in the crème fraîche and reduced for a couple of minutes, then whisk in the rest of the butter.

Reduce the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon, then take off the heat and add the extra ½ tsp of sherry and parsley. Season with a pinch of salt and sugar and keep warm.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the trout, skin-side down, for about 4 minutes. Turn when the skin is crispy and finish cooking briefly on the other side.

Serve with the sauce, some green beans and new potaotes.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Secret France, BBC Books, 2019.)

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We couldn’t find cougettes to plant this year so we haven’t been cooking them nearly as often. Definitely one of the vegetables we miss the most in the colder months. You can of course buy a good-quality fresh pesto if you don’t feel like making it, though there is something very satisfying about pounding your own.

Wine Suggestion: We looked for a wine with a herbal streak and remembered the Ch Vignelaure La Source white from Provence. Made mostly of Vermentino with a dash of Semillon for body and Sauvignon Blanc for a crisp grassiness, this has both the body to work with the food and freshness to remind us of summer. Grapefruit and peach flavours, hints of white blossoms and a southern French, sassy finish.

Courgette & broad bean risotto with pesto – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 350g courgettes, cut into small dice
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced
  • zest of ½ a lemon
  • 150g risotto rice
  • 75ml dry white wine
  • 750g warm vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • 80g broad beans, podded and blanched for a minute, then skins removed
  • 20g Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve

FOR THE PESTO:

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • a large handful of basil leaves, plus extra to garnish
  • a handful of mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan

If you are making the pesto, do that first. Crush the garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt using a pestle and mortar. Add the toasted pine nuts and pound to a coarse paste, then tear in the basil and mint, pound again to break them down. Stir in the oil and cheese and season to taste.

To make the risotto, warm the butter and oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the courgettes, chilli flakes and nutmeg and season. Fry for about 5 minutes or until the courgettes have softened and turned golden. Add the scallions and lemon zest and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes until translucent and coated in fat.

Add the wine and cook until almost evaporated, then add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed. Keep adding stock for 20-30 minutes, stirring all the time, until the rice is tender.

Stir in the broad beans and warm through for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then swirl in about half of the pesto (keep the rest for something else).

Serve in warm bowls with basil leaves and extra cheese sprinkled on top.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This brunch dish is from Camper Van Cooking by Claire Thompson and Matt Williamson. We cook in a tent which is a similar endeavour but sadly not this year. Still, it’s been fun trying out the recipes for when the time comes.

Hot-smoked trout bagels with mustard butter and cream cheese – serves 4

  • 5 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • juice and finely grated zest of ½ a lemon
  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 150g-200g hot-smoked trout fillets (we used trout as we love the rainbow trout from Goatsbridge Trout Farm in Kilkenny) but you could also use hot-smoked salmon, break it into bite-size pieces
  • 4 wholemeal bagels
  • 150g full-fat cream cheese

Beat three-quarters of the butter with the mustards, lemon zest, black pepper and a little salt.

Melt the rest of the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes or until softened.

Add the salmon pieces and heat through for a couple of minutes, then add the mustard butter and cook for another 5 minutes or until hot and the onions are very soft. Try not to break the salmon up too much.

Lightly toast the bagels and spread with the cream cheese, then add the salmon, sprinkle with lemon juice and serve.

(Original recipe from Camper Van Cooking by Claire Thomoson and Matt Williamson, Hardie Grant: Quadrille, 2021.)

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Don’t pack the barbecue away yet, you really should make this first. The smoky potato salad is good even if the fish is not your thing.

Wine Suggestion: a new find from Portugal: the Companhia de Vinhos Invencival “Natural Mystic”. An Alvarinho, Arinto, Loureiro blend from the far north, this is light and fresh and yet rounded and full flavoured standing up to the barbecued fish flavours and adding it’s own extra bit of pizzazz for a great combo.

BBQ Bream with Smoked Potato Salad – serves 2 (with salad leftover)

  • 2 whole bream, gutted and fins and other sharp bits removed
  • 1 lemon, halved

SPICE RUB FOR THE FISH:

  • 3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp flaky sea salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly ground
  • 1 ½ tsp garlic powder

FOR THE SMOKED POTATO SALAD:

  • 800g cooked new potatoes
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 6 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 50g cornichons, sliced
  • 2 tbsp dill, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

You will need to get a charcoal barbecue nice and hot to cook on.

Prep the fish first by placing on a board and slashing through the skin a few times on both sides.

Put all of the spice rub ingredients into a shallow dish, big enough to hold the fish, and mix together. Put the fish on top and rub the spice rub all over the fish and and into the cuts you made.

Lay the fish onto a hot barbecue and leave for 5-6 minutes to allow the skin to crisp up. Turn carefully and repeat on the other side.

Carefully remove the fish from the barbecue and leave to rest for a few minutes. Squeeze over the lemon halves.

Put the potatoes directly onto the cooling embers. Meanwhile, mix the rest of the potato salad ingredients together in a a large bowl and season. Add the smoked potatoes and toss to coat.

Serve the fish with the warm potato salad.

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

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This really is just the most delicious treat; the perfect beginning of a meal for 2. You will need bread!

Wine Suggestion: an excellent match for a well made Chardonnay with deftly handled oak. Without spending huge amounts Rustenberg’s Stellenbosch Chardonnay is a go to wine for us. With wild ferment in barrels this is complex, nutty, rich and smooth. Power and restraint in equal proportions.

Scallops with green peppercorns and garlic – serves 2

  • 6 scallops, you can remove the corals if you like but we recommend eating them
  • a knob of butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp green peppercorns (you buy them in jars with brine)
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2-3 tbsp double cream

Heat the grill as high as it will go.

Put the scallops onto a small tray or dish that can go under the grill. We used a small oven-proof frying pan.

Dot the butter over and around the scallops, along with the garlic, peppercorns and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

Put the dish under the hot grill, fairly close to the element. Grill for 2-3 minutes, then flip over, add the cream, give the tray a shake, then return to the grill for another 2 minutes or untl the scallops are cooked and the sauce bubbling.

Eat with lots of good bread to mop up the sauce.

(Original recipe from Gather by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2017.)

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Try this for a tasty weekend brunch dish. Serve with toasted sourdough for mopping.

Baked green eggs – serves 2

  • 100g baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp fresh pesto
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp finely grated gruyère
  • 2 eggs

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

Mix together the spinach, pesto, cream and some seasoning, and tip into 2 shallow ovenproof dishes.

Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top.

Create a hollow in each dish with a spoon, then gently break in the eggs. Bake the dishes in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Mussels are a Friday night staple in our house, they’re such good value and sustainable too. We find a creamy, garlicky sauce hard to resist. You will need some fries or crusty bread to go alongside.

Wine Suggestion: It’s a while since we had Muscadet but mussels cried out for some, so Domaine de la Chauviniere’s signature Muscadet sür lie Sèvre et Maine was duly opened and thoroughly enjoyed. This wine is so reliable, plus not too expensive so you won’t mind using some in the dish too much.

Moules à la Crème – serves 4

  • 20g butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, very finely chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1kg mussels, scrubbed
  • 350ml white wine
  • 75ml double cream
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan, then add the garlic, shallots, thyme and bay leaf and cook gently for 5-8 minutes or until softened and starting to brown.

Add the mussels and wine, then cover and cook for a couple of minutes or until the mussels have opened. Strain the mussels over a bowl to catch the cooking liquid.

Return the liquid and bay leaf to the pan, bring to the boil and reduce by half. Add the cream, lemon and plenty of black pepper, then return the mussels and shallots to the pan and add the parsley. Put the lid back on and bring up to the boil for another minute. Serve in warm bowls with fries or crusty bread.

(Original recipe from Restore by Gizzi Erskine, HQ, 2020.)

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A Moroccan-inspired fish dish for mid-week. Some couscous and yoghurt on the side are good additions.

Wine Suggestion: this works well with Grenache Blanc and we’ve fallen in love with one from Terra Alta in the south of Catalonia made by Edetaria. As it’s mid-week, the basic and joyful “via Terra” Garnatxa Blanca with its perfume and balance af fresh and ripe fruit flavours is perfect.

Fish Tagine with Saffron & Almonds – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • a good pinch of saffron
  • 600ml hot fish stock or chicken stock
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • ½ a green chilli, thinly sliced (keep the other half to serve)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • zest of 1 orange, juice of ½
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 700g white fish, cut into large chunks, we used hake
  • a small bunch of coriander, chopped
  • a handful of flaked almonds, toasted
  • ½ green chilli, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes to soften.

Meanwhile, put the saffron in the hot stock and leave to steep.

Add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the pan and cook for another few minutes. Add the spices and tomato purée, stir for a few minutes until fragrant, then add the tomatoes, ground almonds, orange zest and juice, honey and saffron-stock. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce has thickened slightly.

Add the fish and nestle it well down into the sauce. Cover with a lid and simmer on a low heat for 2-3 minutes or until just cooked. Season to taste, then add the coriander and scatter with the toasted almonds. Scatter with the extra green chilli to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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We’ve had limited success with prawn cakes in the past, they often fall apart. These are grilled which makes things much easier and the peanut chilli sauce is amazing!

Wine Suggestion: these call for a vibrant, youthful white like Weingut Korrell’s Weißer Burgunder (Pinot Blanc) which was full of charming pear and apple flavours with a zesty citrus twist that complemented the limes and fish sauce a treat.

Prawn cakes with peanut chilli sauce – serves 4 as a starter

  • 2 tbsp palm sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 3 cm piece of fresh ginger
  • a handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • 3 small Thai shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 long red chilli, diced
  • 400g raw peeled prawns
  • zest of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tsp vegetable oil
  • chilled iceberg lettuce, to serve

FOR THE PEANUT CHILLI SAUCE:

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100ml rice vinegar
  • 2 red chillies, diced
  • 2 tbsp peanuts, toasted, finely chopped
  • 2 small Thai shallots, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp coriander

Put the palm or brown sugar into a small frying pan with 1 tbsp of water. Mix together and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat.

To make the peanut chilli sauce, boil the sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until syrupy. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely, then add the chilli, peanuts, shallot, fish sauce and coriander.

To make the cakes, put the ginger, coriander, shallot and chilli in a food processor and blend until fine. Add the prawns, lime zest and fish sauce and pulse until combined, keep it chunky. Season with plenty of black pepper.

Put a little oil on your hands, then form the prawn mixture into 16 flat cakes. Put in the fridge until ready to cook.

Preheat the grill. Brush both sides of the prawn cakes with a tiny bit of oil then put on a rack on top of a baking tray.

Grill the cakes for 1 minute, then brush the tops with the palm sugar syrup. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until opaque, there is no need to turn. Serve warm with the chilled lettuce leaves and peanut chilli sauce.

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

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We’ve been serving this salad from Ottolenghi Flavour with just about everything this summer. We were surprised at the amount of lemon but it works perfectly and produces a really zingy and fresh salad.

Cucumber, za’atar and lemon salad – serves 4

  • 3 lemons
  • 4½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1¼ tsp dried mint
  • 1½ tsp za’atar
  • 1 banana shallot, halved lengthways and finely sliced
  • 1½ green chillies, finely sliced into strips
  • 1 large cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds scooped out, and cut at an angle into ½ cm thisk slices
  • 60g lamb’s lettuce
  • 10g dill, roughly chopped
  • 10g basil leaves
  • 5g mint leaves
  • salt

Squeeze 1-2 lemons to get 2½ tbsp of juice and put into a large salad bowl.

Cut 7 thin slices from another lemon. Discard the pips and pile the slices on top of each other. Remove and throw away half of the rind, then finely chop the slices inlcuding any remaining rind. Add this to the bowl along with the oil, dried mint, za’atar, shallots, green chillies, cucumber, and 1 tsp of salt.

Mix it all together really well, then add the lamb’s lettuce and all of the herbs, toss gently and serve.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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We’ve been cooking from a new book, Camper Van Cooking by Claire Thompson and Matt Williamson. Every summer we’re usually off camping in a tent in France but not this year unfortunately. Still, we’ve had some amazing Irish sunshine so we’re making a big effort to cook and eat outside as much as possible. These chops were lovely with some flatbreads warmed on the barbecue alongside a herby couscous, and a tomato and cucumber salad.

Wine Suggestion: A barbecue Cotes du Rhone red comes to the rescue here; medium weight with gentle, warming spices. Jean-Paul Daumen’s version in the glass tonight and we can almost picture us sipping this in France.

Lamb Chops with Cumin and Sumac with Tahini Sauce – serves 4

  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 tsp chill flakes/aleppo chilli flakes/urfa chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 lamb cutlets
  • ½ lemon

FOR THE TAHINI SAUCE:

  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed to a paste with a little salt
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • juice of ½ lemon

Mix the garlic, cumin, chilli flakes and half the sumac with the oil in a bowl. Season the chops with salt and pepper, then rub them all over with the spicy oil and put them in the fridge. You need to leave them for at least half an hour or longer if you can. Bring them back to room temperature before cooking.

To make the sauce, put the garlic and tahini in a bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and a splash of cold water, you want a smooth sauce with the consistency of double cream. Season to taste.

Heat a barbecue until very hot and cook the chops for a few minutes on each side or until nicely charred on the outside and however you like them in the middle. Grill the lemon half at the same time. Allow the chops to rest off the heat for a few minutes, then serve drizzled with the tahini and sprinkled with the rest of the sumac and a good squeeze of the barbecued lemon.

(Original crecipe from Camper Van Cooking by Claire Thompson & Matt Williamson,

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Do try and find Italian sausages for this, they’re much meatier and richer. We buy a brand called Levoni. You can also use fresh tomatoes if you can find fantastic ones but otherwise we’d recommend a good-quality tin.

Wine Suggestion: This was made after an online wine tasting Jono was running which focussed on Grenache, so naturally we had to try them with this. The amazing Domaine de Cébène Ex Arena from Faugeres was our pick. Mostly old vine, low yeilding Grenache with a touch of Mourvedre, grown on sand. This is perfumed and complex with vitality and energy. The deep red berried fruit is both rounded and structured with a bass note of earthy black fruits and forest floor. Very elegant but also big enough to stand up to the meaty and rich pasta.

Fusilli with Sausage – serves 4

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 400g Italian sausages, skins removed
  • 150ml white wine
  • 1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
  • a handful of mint leaves
  • 400g dried fusilli pasta
  • grated pecorino, to serve

Gently warm the garlic and olive oil in a large pan, then crumble in the sausages. Turn the heat up and cook until they are no longer pink (as you would with mince).

Add the wine and bubble until evaporated, then add the tomatoes and cook for 5-10 minutes or until thickened. Add the mint and taste for seasoning, sausages can be quite salty so you might not need any.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until just al dente in lots of very salty water.

Drain the pasta but keep a little cooking water in case you need to thin the sauce. Stir the pasta into the sausage sauce and simmer for a few minutes. Serve in warm bowls with pecorino sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from An A-Z of Pasta by Rachel Roddy, Fig Tree, 2021.)

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