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Archive for the ‘Party Food’ Category

Honey glazed chicken wings

We love a good chicken wing and the only way to eat them is with your fingers – like we need an excuse. Cheap as chips too. What’s not to love?

Wine Suggestion: keeping it simple we pulled out a bottle of the Petit Mazuret Viognier from southern France. Not complex, but rich and able to stand up to the flavours of the chicken; a very satisfying accompaniment

Honey-glazed Chicken Wings – serves 6 as a starter

  • 1kg chicken wings
  • 2 tbsp clear honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 100ml sour cream
  • 100ml buttermilk
  • 100g mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • pinch of smoked paprika
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
  • celery sticks, to serve (optional)

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

Put the wings in a large roasting tin. Mix the honey, soy and ½ tbsp sesame seeds in a bowl, then pour over the wings. Mix well with your hands to coat, then roast for 20 minutes or so until browned, sticky and cooked through.

Meanwhile, combine the sour cream, buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice and paprika. Season well, then chill until ready to serve.

When cooked, sprinkle over the rest of the sesame seeds and the chilli. Serve with the dip and some celery sticks if you like.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Smoked Mackerel Loaded Leaves

This is the kind of nibble we like before dinner. Really tasty but light so it won’t spoil your appetite. Radicchio and/or chicory leaves are preferable but if you can’t find these you can substitute Little Gem lettuce – as we did.

Wine Suggestion: Your choice of bubbles, whether it’s Prosecco, Cremant, Cava or Champagne

Smoked Mackerel Loaded Leaves – serves 4-8

  • 200g smoked mackerel fillets, skin removed and flaked
  • 4 tbsp crème fraîche
  • juice and zest of ½ lemon
  • small bunch of chives, snipped
  • small handful of dill, chopped
  • 1 small radicchio, separated into leaves
  • 1-2 chicory heads separated into leaves

Gently mix the mackerel with the crème fraîche, lemon juice, half the herbs and some pepper. Chill until ready to serve.

Spoon generous amounts of the mackerel mixture into each leaf and arrange on a plates or a platter. Sprinkle over the remaining herbs and the lemon zest.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Rosemary and cheese straws 1

Who knew cheese straws could be so tasty? These are a great freezer standby to pull out and bake as needed and they work perfectly with pre-dinner drinks. They are definitely best served warm so don’t bake until your guests have arrived and have drinks in hands.

Wine Suggestion: Champagne and if not in your budget, a really good sparkling with a bit of time on the lees. We don’t know anyone who refuses this combination!

Rosemary & Cheese Straws – makes 36

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 375g pack of ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry
  • 3 tbsp roughly chopped rosemary, plus a bit extra
  • 100g gruyère or emmental, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan
  • sea salt, for sprinkling

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

Mix 1 egg yolk with the mustard and stir until smooth, then set aside.

Lightly flour a work surface and open out the pastry, then prick all over with a fork. Brush the egg and mustard mixture over the pastry.

Sprinkle the rosemary over the pastry, followed by the cheeses and lightly press into the pastry. Cut the pastry sheet in half lengthways, then cut each length widthways into 2cm wide strips. Twist the strips gently.

Put the straws onto two large non-stick baking trays or trays lined with parchment. Press the ends of each twist onto the tray. Beat the remaining egg yolk with a teaspoon of water and brush over the twists, then sprinkle with the additional rosemary and sea salt. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until puffed and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little but serve while still warm.

To Freeze: Make the straws up to the point of twisting, then arrange on a large baking tray and freeze, uncovered, until solid, then pack into a freezer-proof box. To serve, remove from the freezer and glaze with the egg yolk (as above) and bake from frozen for 12 to 15 minutes.

(Original recipe by Henry Harris in BBC Good Food Magazine, November, 2001.)

Rosemary and cheese straws 2

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Orzo & tomato salad

A characterful and bright salad that tastes great with barbecued lamb. Easily halved.

Orzo & Tomato Salad with Capers & Kalamata Olives – serves 6 to 8

  • 350g orzo pasta
  • 2 x 290g deli packs of sunblush tomatoes, drained & cut into strips – reserve the oil
  • 400g green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 200g pitted Kalamata olives, roughly halved
  • 50g flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stems finely chopped
  • 400g feta cheese, crumbled into small chunks
  • 100g pine nuts
  • 240g capers in brine, drained

Cook the orzo according to the pack. Rinse well in cold water and leave to drain in a sieve for 10 minutes.

Put the drained orzo into a large mixing bowl. Add 2 tbsp of oil from the tomatoes and mix well.

Cook the green beans in boiling water for 6 to 8 minutes or until tender, then drain and put into a bowl of cold water to stop them cooking. Drain well.

Add the green beans to the orzo along with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Add some more of the tomato oil and season generously with salt and black pepper.

(Original recipe from Feasts by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2017.)

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Feta & Cucumber Bites

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

Feta & Cucumber Bites – makes 24

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

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

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

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food.)

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Crab crostini

Just when you think it’s all over and you’ve eaten enough to persuade you to try just about any diet… comes New Year. More food, more drinks, late night – resistance is futile. If you’re in charge of the first course for a New Year’s party then you can’t go wrong with these delicious crab crostini. You can toast the bread and make up the crab mixture early but don’t combine until you’re ready to serve.

Wine Suggestion: Everyone has their favourite sparkling wine which for NYE is a must; we like vibrant bubbles with a creamy mousse. For this we opened the Bouvet-Ladubay “Saphir” Sparkling Saumur which is brilliant value for money and properly sophisticated. We’ve also tried the Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Blanc which we agree with Jancis Robinson, “is really joyful, happy and upbeat, with real vivaciousness yet quite a bit of serious undertow too.”

Crab Crostini – makes 15

  • 100g white crabmeat
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • a handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp small capers
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 15 slices from a skinny baguette, toasted

Mix the crab with the lemon juice, shallot, parsley, chilli, capers & mayonnaise. Pile the crab mix onto the baguette slices and serve.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe for  BBC Olive Magazine, December 2011.)

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Preserved peppers with goats cheese & pine nuts

These are delicious and super easy to put together in advance. They will come to no harm in the fridge for a few hours but take them out about 30 minutes before you serve them so they’re not fridge cold. They look pretty piled into a bowl too.

Wine Suggestion: the hot peppers makes some wines, especially reds, taste a bit metallic. Sauvignon Blanc and Gruner Veltliner are the obvious match for the ingredients in this dish. However, as it’s Christmas and we’re in a celebratory mood we opened a Sparking Saumur and found that good bubbly makes a superb match too.

Preserved Peppers Stuffed with Goats’ Cheese & Pine Nuts – makes lots

  • 400g jar Peppadew peppers (or other preserved mini red peppers)
  • 300-400g soft goats’ cheese
  • finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 1 heaped tsp of dried mint
  • 30g of mint, leaves finely chopped
  • 75g toasted pine nuts, roughly chopped

Drain the peppers and pat them dry with kitchen paper – be nice and gentle so they don’t tear.

Put the goats’ cheese, lemon zest, dried and fresh mint and chopped pine nuts into a bowl, season generously with black pepper and mix together with a fork.

Take a small plastic food bag and snip one of the bottom corners off with scissors. Spoon the cheese mixture into the bag (it’s easier if you do it a bit at a time) and use to pipe the mixture into the peppers.

Serve straight away or keep in the fridge until later.

(Original recipe from Feasts by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2017.)

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Beef Bourguignon Pie whole

Beef Bourguignon Pie whole

One of Jules’ classic dishes that combines Beef Bourguignon with a mash potato top. Old-fashioned in many ways but a great crowd pleaser and you can prep it all in advance. Some veg on the side is all you need for a hearty dinner.

A red Burgundy is not necessary for cooking, rather look for a juicy and easy red. Make sure it is decent though as it will still contribute to the flavours and quality of the dish. Having trialled relatively expensive Burgundy (to really find out!) in dishes like this though, we think it makes the dish unnecessarily expensive without adding anything extra over a decent, juicy, but cheaper red.

Wine Suggestion: If tempted to drink a red Burgundy with this dish, and want to impress, pick a fulsome appellation from the Cote d’Or if you can. Even if you pick a Bourgogne rouge make sure it has class and character as very easy, commercial examples are just a bit bland for the dish. This time we chose a northern Rhône, the J-M Gerin Côte Rôtie Champin de Seigneur which rivals good Burgundy for price but also matches it for aromatic thrill and velvety, earthy core with the same medium weight and great freshness.

Beef Bourguignon Cottage Pie – serves 6

FOR THE BOURGUIGNON BASE:

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil/veg oil
  • 200g pack bacon lardons
  • 900g braising steak, cut into 3cm chunks
  • 225g button mushrooms
  • 225g button onions or small shallots, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 600ml red wine
  • 400g tin beef consommé or 400ml of beef stock
  • 1 to 2 tbsp cornflour, loosened with 1-2 tbsp red wine or water

FOR THE MASH TOPPING:

  • 1.5 kg floury potatoes e.g. Maris Piper
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 100ml milk

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the bacon lardons over a high heat until well browned. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Season the beef, then fry in the bacon fat until coloured. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the cornflour and bacon, and bring to a simmer. Partly cover the pan with a lid and cook for 2-2½ hours or until the beef is tender.

When the beef is cooked, tip the contents of the pan into a colander set over another pan to catch the sauce. Tip the contents of the colander into a large pie or casserole dish along with the reserved bacon. Boil the sauce and season to taste. Thicken with the loosened cornflour until you have a sauce that coats the back of a spoon. Spoon enough of the sauce over the beef to barely cover and loosen it (don’t be tempted to add too much), then stir. You can freeze or refrigerate the sauce and offer it on the side when you serve the pie.

Boil the potatoes until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and replace the lid, then give the pan a good shake to break them up a bit. Add the butter and milk gradually as you mash, then season well.

Spoon the potatoes over the meat and use a knife or spoon to mark a pattern over the top. You can cool the pie at this stage and freeze if you like before baking as below.

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.

Bake the pie for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until golden. Increase the heat to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 for the final 10 minutes to get it nicely browned on top.

(Original recipe by Gary Rhodes for BBC Good Food Magazine, November 2005.)

Beef Bourguignon Pie

Beef Bourguignon Pie

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Moussaka

A rich, show-stopper version of a favourite dish. We remain torn between the richness of this version by Neil Perry and the fresh elegance of this Moussaka by Tamasin Day-Lewis. We love both.

Wine Suggestion: As this is a rich dish we looked for a similarly rich, but not too heavy wine and liked the Insoglio del Cinghiale, a Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot blend from Bolgheri. It was nice and lifted with dark fruit, blackberries, plums and hints of spice. The key was the medium weight with a youthful freshness, fine rounded tannins and a smooth finish. We suspect a nice earthy and voluptuous red Burgundy would also do very or a top quality Chianti.

Moussaka – serves 4 (generously)

  • 2 large aubergines, cut into 5 mm slices
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus a bit extra for brushing the slices of aubergine
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 500g lamb mince
  • 90g tomato purée
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 40g grated Parmesan cheese

FOR THE BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

  • 50g butter
  • 50g flour
  • 500ml warmed milk
  • 80g finely grated parmesan

Salt the aubergine slices on both sides and leave aside for an hour. Rinse the slices under running water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Brush lightly with olive oil and cook in a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side or until golden. Set the aubergine slices aside and wipe out the pan with some kitchen paper.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in the frying pan and cook the onions over a low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook until the onions have softened. Add the lamb, then turn up the heat and stir-fry until browned. Season with salt, then add the tomato purée and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, the cinnamon stick and the sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduced the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for a few more minutes to thicken slightly if needed. Remove the cinnamon stick and fold through the chopped parsley.

To make the béchamel, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and stir over a low heat for a few minutes or until the mixture is bubbling.Gradually pour in the warm milk, stirring continuously, and cook until the sauce starts to boil and thicken. Stir in the Parmesan and season with salt and freshly grated white pepper if you have it.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF.

Layer the lamb and fried aubergine slices two or three times in a large ovenproof dish, starting and finishing with a layer of aubergine if you can manage it. Spread the béchamel over the top and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Bake for 25-35 minutes or until hot through and golden brown on top. Leave to settle for 5 to 10 minutes before serving with a green salad.

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

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Tomato and sugar snap pea pasta salad

We’ve really embraced salads recently, especially as this Irish summer has been quite nice and sunny. This works as a main dish or as a side and will feed a large crowd. It’s nice to find a pasta salad that doesn’t rely on heaps of mayonnaise!

Tomato & Sugar Snap Pea Pasta Salad – serves 6

  • 9 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 x 5 cm strips of orange zest
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and cut into tiny matchsticks
  • 600 g cherry tomatoes
  • 6 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 60 ml olive oil plus 2 tbsp (and a bit extra for drizzling at the end)
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt plus extra
  • 200 g scallions
  • 200 g sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved
  • 350 g pasta e.g. penne, casarecche or fusilli
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • a large bunch of basil, leaves picked and shredded
  • a large bunch of mint, leaves picked and shredded

Preheat the oven to 160ºC.

Put the garlic, thyme, orange zest, ginger, tomatoes, orange juice, 60 ml olive oil, brown sugar, salt and a pinch of black pepper into baking dish and toss with your hands. Place in the oven to roast for 50-60 minutes, tossing every 20 minutes or so. Discard the thyme and orange zest when the cooking time is up.

Separate the green and white parts of the scallions. Cut the green parts in half lengthwise and then across into 5 cm lengths. Slice the white parts into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat and add 1 tbsp of oil. Add the sugar snap peas and spread out into a single slayer. Cook, turning once, until charred on both sides, about 4 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl.

Heat another 1 tbsp of oil in the same pan. Add the green and white parts of the scallions and spread out in a single layer. Cook these in the same way as the peas, until charred. Transfer to the bowl with the sugar snap peas and season with salt.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool. Toss it occasionally to prevent it sticking together.

Add the tomato mixture, the sugar snap peas and onion, the lemon juice, most of the basil and most of the mint, to the pasta. Toss gently with your hands to combine without breaking up the tomatoes too much. Season with salt and pepper and a bit more lemon juice if necessary.

Serve with the remaining herbs scattered over the top and drizzle with olive oil.

(Original recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi on bon appétit.)

 

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Coronation Chicken

This is great for when you’re asked to bring a dish to a garden or other party. It feeds lots of people and is easy to transport and serve cold when you get there. Coronation Chicken might seem a bit old fashioned but watch it disappear – a favourite of adults and kids alike and well worth a bit of effort earlier in the day. Only perfectly ripe mangoes will do!

Wine Suggestion: There are a few options to match with this dish but our favourites are a good, but fruity Beaujolais, slightly chilled; Domaine Rochette’s Brouilly comes to mind. Alternately we also like a good, youthful Viognier and we’ve been enjoying Jean-Michel Gerin’s le Champine Viognier from the Northern Rhone where the exuberant fruit is balanced with texture and a fresh joie-de-vivre.

Coronation Chicken with Mango & Roasted Cashews – serves 8-10

  • 1.3kg chicken breasts
  • 1.2 litres chicken stock (home-made preferably for this dish)
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into 1cm pieces
  • 175g celery, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 125ml natural yoghurt
  • 125ml mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 150g roasted cashew nuts
  • 2 tbsp coriander, chopped

Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and simmer gently in the hot stock for 5-7 minutes, depending on how big they are. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and allow the chicken to cool in the liquid. When cooled, remove with a slotted spoon and cut the chicken into small dice.

Mix the chicken with the lemon juice in a large bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Add the mango, celery and scallions.

Whisk the yoghurt and mayonnaise together.

Toast the cumin seeds in a hot frying pan for a few seconds, add the curry powder and cook for another couple of seconds. Grind, cool and add to the yoghurt and mayonnaise. Pour the sauce over the other ingredients and toss gently. Taste and season if necessary.

Just before serving, add the roasted cashew nuts, scatter with coriander and serve.

(Original recipe from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course, Kyle Cathie Limited, 2001.)

 

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Veal Cannelloni

This is a delicious party dish from Croatia where the cooking has lots of Italian influences. Most veal these days is ethical rose veal (even in Italy, where they’re adamant it’s the traditional production methods) so don’t write off veal too quickly … it’s definitely worth trying.

Wine Suggestion: definitely drink a Croatian white if you can find one but failing that try a white from Eastern Italy, like a good Verdicchio or Pecorino.

Veal Cannelloni – serves 6

  • 250g dried cannelloni tubes
  • 300ml tomato sauce (see recipe below)

For the filling: 

  • 650g veal mince
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 45ml olive oil
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 15 turns black pepper
  • 300g fresh spinach, wilted over a medium heat, drained and chopped
  • 15 rasps of nutmeg
  • 50g Parmesan cheese, grated

For the béchamel sauce: 

  • 75g butter
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 litre full-fat milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50g Parmesan/Pecorino

Make the filling by combining the veal, onion and garlic in a food processor and pulsing briefly to make a coarse paste.

Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, add the veal and cook until browned. Add the white wine, tomato puree, salt and pepper and keep cooking, covered, for 20-30 minutes. Stir in the spinach, nutmeg & Parmesan.

Next make the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, then add the flour to make a roux. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and slowly add the milk, whisking to avoid lumps. Return to the pan, add the bay leaf and stir until thickened. Add half the Parmesan/Pecorino and set aside.

Heat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4.

Spoon a ladle of the béchamel over the base of a large greased rectangular baking dish. Spoon some of the veal into each of the cannelloni tubes (use both ends of a teaspoon to do this).

Arrange the filled tubes in a single layer in the dish and pour the tomato sauce over. Cover with the remaining béchamel, top with the remaining cheese and bake for about 40 minutes. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Venice to Istanbul, Penguin 2015.)

 

 

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Spanakopita

The classic spinach & feta combination never gets tired. These savoury Greek pastries are delicious and very easy to make. We worked out a production line (thanks Tricia & Orla) and had them assembled in no time! Great as a starter or snack with drinks. Perfect entertaining food.

Wine Suggestion: If you can find an Assyrtiko,  a crisp and delicious Greek white, then you’ve got a great match. Unfortunately it can be hard to find good Greek wines so stick to the Mediterranean and search for a Fiano or Greco di Tufo from Italy. Failing this we’ve had crisp Touraine Sauvignon Blancs with this as well to great effect.

Spanakopita (Spinch, mint & feta pastries) – makes 18-20

  • 500g spinach
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 100g Greek feta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp finely grated Greek kefalotiri cheese or Parmesan
  • a pinch of finely grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • 250-275g pack of filo pastry (about 6 sheets)
  • 100g butter, melted

Wash and dry the spinach (remove the stalks if they look tough). Finely shred the leaves.

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and cook gently until soft but not browned. Gradually add the spinach, a handful at a time, until it has all wilted. Tip into a colander and drain, pressing out the liquid with a wooden spoon, then return to the pan with the scallions and cook for 1 minute. Leave to cool.

Crumble the feta into a large bowl and roughly mash with a fork – you can leave it a bit chunky. Mix in the eggs, Parmesan, the spinach mixture, nutmeg, mint and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.

Unroll the sheets of filo and cut the stack lengthways into strips about 7.5cm wide. Brush the top layer with melted butter. Put a heaped teaspoonful of the filling in the centre of one strip, at the end closest to you, and fold one bottom corner of the pastry diagonally over the filling, so that the corner touches the opposite side to make a triangle. Then fold over the filled triangular corner, and keep folding it along the whole strip in a triangular parcel. Repeat to make all the spanakopita.

Brush the undersides of each parcel with more butter and place on a lightly buttered baking tray. Brush the tops with butter and bake for 25 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

These are best served straight from the oven while the pastry is still crispy but they are also good at room temperature.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes, BBC Books, 2007.)

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We love Tom Kerridge’s food but find his recipes can require a lot of work. Not so with these sticky drumsticks but you will need to find some malt extract to go in the marinade. We got ours in a good deli but health food shops should also stock it. We’re confident you’ll like the drumsticks enough to make them again and use it up.

Beer Suggestion: to complement the malt extract it makes sense to try a malty beer and we suggest searching out one of the many craft beers in your area. Our pick this time was the Five Lamps Dublin Lager which is a pilsner style but with a malty kick.

Sticky drumsticks – serves 4

  • 12 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 3cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted lightly in a dry frying pan
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced (seeds left in)

For the marinade: 

  • 160g runny honey
  • 160ml dark soy sauce
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 120g malt extract

Pour the honey for the marinade into a small stainless steal pan and warm on a medium-high heat. Continue to cook until it starts to turn a deep shade of amber (easier to spot if you have a pot with a light coloured interior), then pour in the soy sauce and chicken stock to stop it cooking further. Bring the mixture to the boil and whisk in the malt extract. Take off the heat and allow to cool.

Put the drumsticks in a bowl and pour over the marinade. Mix in the garlic and ginger, cover the bowl with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2 hours at least or overnight if you can.

Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3.

Put the drumsticks in a roasting tin with their marinade. Cook for 45-50 minutes, basting a few times, until the chicken is cooked through and the meat comes off the bone easily. The drumsticks should be glossy and sticky.

Remove the tray from the oven and immediately drizzle with the sesame oil and toss in the sesame seeds. Throw in the scallions and the chilli. Roll the drumsticks around in the dish to make sure they are evenly coated.

Serve hot or cold.

(Original recipe from Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes, Absolute Press, 2014.)

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Tomato party

This dish celebrates all the juicy tomatoes we’re picking in our garden at the moment. We only had red ones when we made this but a week before we had a glut of yellow toms too. It doesn’t matter which you use, they’ll all taste great.

Wine suggestions: We have tried a couple of very successful wines with this dish, but the trick is to make sure the wine has a slightly higher acidity and good minerality; try smaller, quality winemakers and this will be a good guide. Successful wine matches have been Umani Ronchi’s Vellodoro Pecorino and Casal di Sera Verdicchio – both great matches, Joguet’s Chinon Cuvée Terroir (delicious Cabernet Franc), and the Gulfi Cerasuolo from Sicily.

Tomato Couscous – serves 4

  • 125g couscous
  • olive oil
  • 150ml boiling water
  • 150g fregola (giant couscous)
  • 300g medium vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered
  • ¾ tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 150g yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped oregano
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped mint
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 small green tomato, cut into thin wedges
  • 100g tomberries or halved cherry tomatoes
  • salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas Mark 3.

Put the couscous in a bowl with a pinch of salt and drizzle of oil. Pour over the boiling water, stir and cover the bowl with cling film. Set aside for 12 minutes, then remove the cling film, separate with a fork and leave to cool.

Put the fregola in a pan of boiling salted water and simmer for 18 minutes, or until al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water. Leave to dry completely.

Meanwhile, spread the quartered vine tomatoes over half of a large baking tin and sprinkle with the sugar and some salt and pepper. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar and some oil over the top. Place in the oven. After about 20 minutes take the tomatoes out of the oven and increase the temperature to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Spread the yellow tomatoes over the empty side of the baking tin. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Return the tin to the oven and roast for 12 minutes, then remove and allow to cool.

Mix the couscous and fregola in a large bowl. Add the herbs, garlic, cooked tomatoes with all their juices, the green tomato and tomberries. Very gently mix everything with your hands. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper and olive oil as needed.

(Original recipe from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury Press, 2010.)

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Burnt Aubergine salad

Not quite a Baba Ghanoush, but you can drizzle on some tahini paste to make it one. This was really delicious and we loved the freshness from the lemons and the burst of fruity pomegranate. You need to start this many hours in advance but the process is very straightforward and the result is worth it.

Burnt aubergine with garlic, lemon & pomegranate seeds – serves 4 as a meze plate

  • 4 large aubergines (about 1.5kg before cooking)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • grated zest of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • 80g of pomegranate seeds (about ½ a large pomegranate)

If using a gas hob, line the base with foil and keep only the burners exposed. Put the aubergines on 4 separate moderate flames and roast for about 15-18 minutes or until the skin is burnt and flaky and the flesh is soft. Use metal tongs to turn them now and then.

Alternatively, score the aubergines with a knife in a few places, a couple of centimetres deep, and place on a baking tray under a hot grill for about an hour (we do ours on a gas barbecue). Turn them every 20 minutes or so and continue to cook even if they burst.

Allow the aubergines to cool slightly, then cut along each one and scoop out the flesh and divide it into long strips with your hands. Throw away the skin. Drain the flesh in a colander for at least an hour or longer if possible to get rid of as much water as possible.

Put the aubergine in a medium bowl and add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, ½ a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Stir and allow the aubergine to marinate at room temperature for at least an hour.

When ready to serve, mix in most of the herbs and adjust the seasoning. Pile onto a serving plate, scatter on the pomegranate seeds and garnish with the rest of the herbs.

We served ours with some barbecued flatbreads.

(Original recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem, Ebury Press, 2012.)

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This recipe comes in two parts, with the first an easy to make a Bolognese Ragù which tastes good but is not really exciting or flavour-packed like we like. When created into a lasagne, however, it really sings with a perfect balance of flavour.

The recipe takes a while, but is actually quite easy, especially if you make the ragù the day before. We made two lasagne this time which served eight people over two days amply. Alternately, make a big tray of it for a larger crowd.

Ragù – serves 6-8

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 sticks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 leek, finely diced
  • 1 kg minced beef/pork (or half and half)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 200ml white or red wine
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300°F/Gas mark 2.

Put a large ovenproof casserole on a medium heat and heat the olive oil. Tip in the onion, garlic, celery and leek. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes or until softened. Turn the heat to high, add the meat and stir to break up, cooking until there are no longer any pink bits.

Add the bay leaf with the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, wine and sugar, and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and cook for about 1 hour in the oven. Season to taste.

Lasagne – serves 6-8

  • 1 quantity of cooked ragù
  • 12-16 sheets of pre-cooked dried lasagne
  • 100g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 50g Parmesan, grated

FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE 

  • 70g butter
  • 70g plain flour
  • 1 litre milk
  • 200g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

First make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, then whisk in the flour and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Gradually pour in the milk and bring to the boil, whisking continuously until the sauce is thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese and mustard, seasoning with salt and pepper, then set aside.

Put a thin layer of ragù in the bottom of an ovenproof dish (20 x 30cm), cover with a layer of the cheese sauce, then add lasagne sheets to cover, in a single layer. Repeat this process, finishing with a layer of pasta topped with cheese sauce only.

Sprinkle over both cheeses and bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.

(Original recipe from Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen by Rachel Allen, HarperCollins, 2013.)

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Jono’s mum Gera often comments that we rarely put desserts on our blog. She sent us a collection of her favourite dessert and cake recipes and this is her chocolate fudge cake which was a great hit at our annual New Year’s Day lunch. The original recipe uses Australian cup measures so apologies for the odd measurements – they will work.

Gera’s Chocolate Fudge Cake

  • 180g butter
  • 250ml cocoa, sifted
  • 375ml castor sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs – separated and whites stiffly beaten
  • 375ml self-raising flour, sifted
  • 187ml plain flour, sifted
  • 1 cup of cold water
  • whipped cream
  • icing sugar

Beat the butter to a cream with the sifted cocoa. Add sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, then add vanilla.

Beat in egg yolks, one by one.

Stir in sifted flours alternately with the water.

Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites

Pour into 2 prepared 20cm cake tins.

Bake at 150-160ºC for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cake rack.

When the cake is cooled, sandwich together with whipped cream and sift icing sugar over the top.

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Happy Christmas! We’ve been asked to re-blog this post which was previously known as Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce but it works just as well a month later. This will keep in the fridge for up to a week to have with the leftovers.

Chilli Cranberry Sauce

Gently heat 100g golden caster sugar and 175ml white wine in a saucepan. Wait until the sugar has dissolved and then bring to the boil.

Add 1/2 a mild red chilli (chopped and with seeds left in) and 300g of fresh or frozen cranberries, bring back to the boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes. You want the berries to burst but not collapse completely. Take the sauce off the heat. As it cools it will continue to cook and thicken.

 (Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This dish delivers bags of flavour and yet is simple to make – great for a crowd, or on an evening when you are craving something tasty and yet quick and easy. This idea comes from the Tapas Feast in Jamie’s 30-minute meals.

Glazed Chorizo – to serve 6 as a tapas

  • 250g good-quality whole chorizo
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp runny honey

Slice the chorizo into 2cm chunks. Fry in a small frying pan with a little olive oil and toss now and then until the chunks are crispy and golden. Lightly bash the 2 unpeeled garlic cloves and add to the pan. After a minute  drain away most of the fat so you are left with about 1 tbsp. Add the vinegar and honey and leave it to reduce to a sticky glaze. Keep shaking the pan to make sure the sauce doesn’t stick.

Serve with chunks of bread to mop up the sauce and a glass of Fino Sherry (we like Lustau).

(Original recipe from Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver, Penguin, 2010.)

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