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Archive for the ‘Shellfish’ Category

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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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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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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Barbecued watermelon is a revelation for us as it really intensifies the flavour. This combination with prawns, feta and chilli is total winner! Serve as a starter at your next barbecue. Another fab idea from Chasing Smoke.

Wine Suggestion: This dish has a real affinity with a juicy, youthful Grenache, be it a Rosé or a lightly chilled red like tonight’s Rubus by Jesus Romero. Made at 1000m above sea-level in the rural, far south of Aragon, Spain this is all cherry, blackberry and spice; seriously gluggable.

Grilled watermelon and prawns with feta & chilli – serves 4

  • 12 whole prawns in the shells (buy 16 if they’re small)
  • 2 thick slices from a large watermelon
  • 1 red chilli, sliced into rings (if you cut of the stalk and rub the chilli between your hands the seeds will fall out)
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 250g feta
  • a small bunch of mint, leave half the leaves whole and chop the rest
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus a bit extra for brushing
  • 1 tsp roughly crushed black pepper

Take a small pointy knife and cut and cut down the back of each prawn, when you see the digestive string gently pull it out with the tip of the knife. Leave the prawns in a bowl in the fridge until ready to cook.

Cut the watermelon into 8 large wedges, leaving the skin on.

Mix the chilli slices with the vinegar and salt and set aside.

Light your barbecue and get it up to a high heat.

Brush the watermelon with some olive oil, then put on the hottest part of the barbecue for 1-2 minutes on each side or until charred. Remove to a platter, then grill the prawns for a 2-3 minutes on each side, depending how big they are.

Add the prawns to the watermelon, crumble over the feta, then scatter with the mint leaves.

Stir the olive oil, black pepper and chopped mint into the marinating chilli and drizzle over the platter.

(Original recipe from Chasing Smoke: Cooking Over Fire Aroudn the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, Pavilion, 2021.)

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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.)

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We loved this mussel dish from Gill Meller’s book, Gather. Mussels, watercress and bacon are a truly fabulous combination, but not one we’d thought of before. Our farm shop had landcress rather than watercress available so that’s what we used, but it’s very similar, just not grown in running water. Cleaning mussels is a job I love and hate in equal measure, same with cleaning mushrooms. 

Wine Suggestion: A new find – the Quinta de Chocapalha Arinto from near Lisbon in Portugal; zesty citrus and hints of saltiness. So fresh and tasting of days at beachside restaurants eating mussels, helpful when travel is restricted.

Mussels with watercress and bacon – serves 2

  • 2-4 rashers streaky bacon
  • a small knob of butter
  • ½ a small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1kg mussels, cleaned
  • 150g watercress, plus extra to serve

Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan, then cook the bacon for 6-8 minutes, or until crispy. Keep warm.

Put a knob of butter and a spoon of bacon fat from the pan into a large sauce pan. Heat until bubbling, then add the onions and garlic and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes or until the onion is soft but not coloured, then add the mussels with 2 tbsp of water. Bring to the boil, then cover the pan with a lid and shake gently. Cook the mussels for a couple of minutes or until the shells are just open. Throw away any that don’t open.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the mussels from the pan into a warm bowl, leave the onion and cooking liquor behind on the heat. Cover the mussels with a tea towel and put somewhere warm. You need to work quickly now to make the sauce while the mussels stay warm.

Put the watercress into the pan and cook for a minute or two until wilted, then tip into a  food processor and purée until smooth. This should be quite thick so if it’s too liquid, put it back into the pan and boil off the excess liquid over a high heat.

Put a generous spoon of purée on each plate with the mussels, crispy bacon and a little fresh watercress.

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

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We’ve tried this Spanish pasta dish before, but with limited success, however this version was a triumph. We had the proper fideos noodles this time which we think might have helped. As we can’t go on holidays at the moment we thought we’d cook holiday dishes instead. Serve with some aïoli.

Wine Suggestion: this dish cries out for a fresh Garnacha like the Edetaria via Terra which is from Terra Alta DO in the south of Catalonia. Inland, at some altitude and on specific soils this area produces some of the best wines from this grape anywhere with a freshness and weightlessness from lovely ripe grapes.

Prawn fideua – serves 4

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 100g chorizo, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • a pinch of saffron strands
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400g tin of plum tomatoes, lift the tomatoes out of the juice with a spoon and discard the juice left in the tin
  • 350g fideos noodles
  • 600ml freshly boiled water
  • 400g whole shell-on prawns
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Cover the base of a paella or sauté pan with olive oil, then warm over a medium heat. Add the onion, pepper, chorizo and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes or until the onions and peppers are soft.

Add the paprika, saffron and salt and stir over the heat for a minute, then add the tomatoes – squeezing them with your hands as you add them to the pan to break them up. Cook for 2 minutes to thicken.

Add the fideos noodles and stir to coat well, then add the boiled water. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, then spread the prawns over the surface and cook uncovered for another 5 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and a crust is forming on the bottom of the pan. The prawns will turn pink when cooked, you can turn them over to help them along.

Remove from the heat and rest for 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges and aïoli.

(Original recipe from New Kitchen Basics by Claire Thomson, Quadrille, 2019.)

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

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

Butrint Mussels – serves 2

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

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

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

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

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

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This is an Anthony Bourdain recipe. It’s a bit full on, like the man himself was, with obscene amounts of garlic, but it all works a treat. We made this with cockles tonight as our local fish shop didn’t have clams and it was equally delicious. If you decide to follow our lead with cockles be careful as they cook more quickly than clams.

Wine Suggestion: A seafood friendly wine, the Dominio de Tares “La Sonrisa” Godello from Bierzo in Spain. La Sonrisa means smile and well named indeed

Linguine with white clam sauce – serves 4

  • 5 dozen clams, soaked in lots of fresh water for an hour or so before cooking
  • 4 tbsp top quality olive oil
  • 12 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes, we used chilli flakes, reduce the quantity if you don’t like it too hot
  • 125ml dry white wine
  • 450g linguine
  • 3 tbsp butter, cut into a few pieces
  • a large handful of coarsely chopped parsley leaves

Put 2-3cm of water into a large, heavy saucepan, season generously with salt and bring to the boil. Gently transfer 4 dozen of the 5 dozen clams into the pot, cover and steam until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Move them around occasionally with a spoon and remove to a bowl as they open. Don’t throw away the cooking liquid.

When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove them from the shell, collecting as much of the liquor from the shells as possible. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with a cloth into a small bowl.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of very salty water.

Warm the oil in a large, heavy sauté pan, then add the garlic and chilli flakes. Cook over a medium-low heat, until softened but not browned. Add the wine, turn up the heat and reduce by half. Add the reserved liquor from the clam shells and a good splash of the cooking liquid, then the remaining uncooked clams. Cover and cook until the clams have opened. Remove to a warm bowl as they open.

Add the reserved cooked clams to the sauté pan and season with salt and pepper. Add the butter, some of the parsley, and toss until everything is hot.

Drain the pasta, but keep a little cooking water in case you need to loosen the sauce. Immediately add the pasta to the clam pan and toss over the heat for 1 minutes, adding a little of the reserved pasta water if needed. Divide the pasta between warmed bowls and garnish with the parsley and clams in their shells.

(Original recipe from Appetites: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.)

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We grew borlotti beans in our little city garden this year. We didn’t get a huge crop but satisfying nonetheless. As we had a load of things going on when we picked these, we froze them for a couple of weeks until we were ready. It made this lovely pasta and bean dish by Joe Trivelli and it felt a bit like late summer again for a moment.

Wine Suggestion: A crisp, dry White or Rosé would be our first choice with a seafood pasta like this. As it’s full flavoured we avoided a lighter style and went for Graziano Pra’s Soave “Otto”, vibrantly full of crisp apples and pears, impressive length and a nutty, saline finish

Pasta with Beans & Mussels – serves 4

  • 1kg mussels
  • 300g fresh borlotti beans
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 celery stick, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 ripe tomato, halved
  • 75ml dry white wine
  • a small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1 dried chilli
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 200g tubetti pasta

Put the beans into a large pan with 4 of the garlic cloves, the celery and tomato. Cover with 6cm of water and a splash of olive oil, then bring to the boil. Simmer until cooked, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large pan until hot, then add the mussels with a tablespoon of oil and the wine. Cover and keep over a hight heat, shaking, until the mussels have just opened. then drain into a colander over a bowl to catch the juice. Don’t be tempted to cook them for any longer. Pick the mussels from the shells.

When the beans are cooked, chop the last clove of garlic. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan, then add the garlic, most of the parsley and the chilli and fry for  a minute before adding the anchovies. As soon as they have melted, pour over the mussel juice (leave any grit behind) and bring to the boil. Add the borlotti beans with their liquid and the pasta.

Cook until the pasta is al dente, stirring often so the pasta doesn’t stick. You can add more hot water if you need. When the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat, add the rest of the parsley, the mussels and seasoning. Cover and leave to sit off the heat for 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from The Modern Italian Cook by Joe Trivelli, Seven Dials, 2018.)

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We’ve done this Korean dish before, but it’s worth revisiting because its so easy and delicious. It’s a nice starter to throw together for guests as they arrive, presuming you’re allowed to have guests. For now we have that on hold but it makes an event for the two of us.

Aperitif Suggestion: A good dry Oloroso sherry, or a Manzanilla sherry with a bit of age, we had La Gitana’s single vineyard Pasada Pastrana.

Pan-Fried King Prawns – serves 2 but easily doubled

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 cm piece of ginger, peeled & finely grated
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 150g king prawns, shelled
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp roasted pine nuts, roughly chopped

Make the sauce by combining the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and honey in a bowl.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok, or pan, over a high heat. When very hot add the prawns and cook for a minute. Turn over and add the sauce. Fry for a further minute or until cooked through. Use your instinct here this depends on the size of your prawns and the heat of your pan. Don’t let them overcook!

Remove and pile onto a plate, sprinkle over the scallions and pine nuts, then serve. 

(Original recipe from Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

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This is a great canapé and couldn’t be simpler. A lovely idea from Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo’s Our Korean Kitchen. We will happily do this many times.

Wine Suggestion: A good dry riesling is required, but with a richness of fruit. Our favourite at the moment is Weingut Korrell’s Paradies vineyard dry Riesling from Kreuznacher in the Nahe region; poised and elegant, rich and dry. The hints of lime match the scallop dish so well.

Scallops with Salted Sesame Oil – serves 6

  • 8 scallops, the scallops in our fish shop had the roes removed, but it’s fine to leave them on
  • 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic cloves, crushed
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

FOR THE SALTED SESAME OIL

  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Cut the tough white bit off the side of each scallop.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Thread 2 scallops onto 4 small wooden skewers (you can soak these for a bit before using to stop them burning).

Lightly season the scallops skewers with salt and pepper.

When the pan is very hot, add the skewers and fry, without moving, for 1 minute. Flip over and cook for another 40 seconds. Add the garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice and fry for just 10 seconds, then remove from the heat.

Serve with the sesame seeds and chives scattered over and the salted sesame oil for dipping.

(Original recipe from Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

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This is restaurant-style risotto which is packed full of lobster flavour. The shells are used to flavour the stock and it’s finished with a delicious reduction, the kitchen smells amazing! We associate risottos with Italy but this is proper French food, full of butter and brandy. Recipe from Rick Stein’s Secret France.

Wine Suggestion: This is a rich dish that needs a wine that is fresh and flavoursome as opposed to something equally rich. Our go to wine would be an oaked Chardonnay in this case, but it doesn’t work as well as you’d think. A toasty Champagne or good bottle fermented sparkling with good age on lees is a fine choice though, and tonight we had treat of the Champagne Valentin Leflaive cuvée CA/15/40. A new project by Olivier Leflaive from Burgundy made with 100% Chardonnay from Cramant and Avize, 45 months on lees and only 4g dosage. An exciting debut and a good match to boot.

Poached Lobster Risotto – serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter

  • 1 cooked lobster
  • 30ml olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • fresh tarragon sprigs, to serve

FOR THE LOBSTER STOCK AND REDUCTION

  • lobster shell, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (no need to peel)
  • 50g butter
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 500g tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • a small handful of tarragon, roughtly chopped
  • 1.5 litres fish stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Cognac
  • a squeeze of lemon juice

Remove the meat from the lobster and keep the shell for the stock. Slice the body into chunky slices and keep the meat from the claws as chunky as possible. 

For the stock, put the lobster shell in a large pot with the onion, garlic and 20g of the butter. Cook for about 5 minutes over a medium heat, then add the wine, tomatoes, tarragon and stock and bring to the boil. Add salt and simmer for 40 minutes. Pass the stock through a fine sieve over another pot and throw away the solid ingredients. Put 200ml of the stock aside for the reduction and keep the rest warm over a low heat. 

Heat the oil in a pan, add the shallot and garlic and cook until soft. Add the rice and stir until glistening with the shallots and oil, then add the wine and let it bubble until absorbed. Add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding another. Keep going like this until the rice is al dente, then season. 

Meanwhile, put the reserved 200ml of stock into a saucepan with the Cognac and bring to the boil. Cook until reduced by three-quarters, then whisk in the rest of the butter (30g) to make a sauce that coats the back of a spoon. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. 

Heat a tbsp of butter in a frying pan. When it’s foaming, add the lobster meat and warm it through. Serve the risotto topped with lobster and spoon the reduction around it. Finish with some tarragon sprigs. 

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

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Paella with Runner Beans, Chicken & Prawns

We just can’t resist runner beans when we see them and were so glad to find this recipe which puts them to good use. Healthy enough for a weeknight too.

Wine Suggestion: for a dish with both chicken and shellfish we prefer textural white wines. With an extra umami-savoury element we find that Grüner Veltliner also complements the paprika and saffron here. Tonight a wine from a friend in the business, the Schloss Gobelsburg Langenlois Kamptal GV. Quite a ripe style but with backbone and finesse too.

Paella with runner beans, chicken & prawns – serves 4 (we halved successfully)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 8 skinless chicken thighs
  • 225g paella rice
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 850ml hot chicken stock, with 2 large pinches of saffron added
  • 350g runner beans, peel down the sides with a vegetable peeler to remove any strings, then thickly slice into chunks
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 200g raw large king prawns

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and garlic, and fry for 5 minutes. Push the onions to one side, then add the chicken thighs and cook for 10 minutes or until browned.

Stir in the rice and paprika, then pour in the wine and let is sizzle for a minute or two. Add the saffron stock, then stir in the beans and pepper, and cook for about 15 minutes or until the rice is tender and most of the stock absorbed. You can add a bit more stock if needed.

Add the prawns for the last few minutes, they will turn pink when cooked. Season generously and allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Crab cakes with dill mayonnaise

Always nice to have leftover crab and this handy recipe is both easy to make and a delight to eat. It can be made ahead of time if you like and cooked from chilled. We’ve put a stash in the freezer for a treat on another night too.

Wine Suggestion: for some reason this always feels so summery, so we think the matching wine needs to taste the same. We’ve been tasting a few different whites from Ribeiro and Bierzo in north western Spain recently, notably made from Treixadura, Godello, Loureiro and Albilla. They’re nice and light when they use a bit of lees contact, but very little, or no oak. Tonight the Dominio de Tares La Sonrisa, a Godello that is equally at home on a beach somewhere as it is at home, late at night, eating crab cakes.

Crab cakes with dill mayonnaise – serves 4 as a starter 

  • 250g potatoes, diced
  • 300g white crabmeat
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained and finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • zest and juice of a lemon, plus extra wedges to serve
  • small bunch of dill, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 85g dried breadcrumbs
  • sunflower oil, for shallow frying

Boil the potatoes in plenty of salty water for about 15 minutes or until tender, then drain and leave to steam dry in the pot for a few minutes. Mash and leave to cool.

Mix the crabmeat, capers, scallions, lemon zest, half the lemon juice and half the dill, in a large bowl. Stir in the cooled mash and season, then make into 12 round cakes. Transfer to a plate and put in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up a bit.

Make the dill mayonnaise by mixing the mayonnaise with the remaining lemon juice and dill. Keep in the fridge until needed.

Put the flour, egg and breadcrumbs on 3 separate plates. Dust the crab cakes with the flour, then dip in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs to coat.

Add sunflower oil to a shallow frying pan until it comes about 1cm up the side. Heat the oil, then cook the crab cakes for about 3 minutes on each side or until crispy and golden. You will probably have to do this in batches. Drain on kitchen paper, then serve with the dill mayonnaise and some lemon wedges.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Mouclade

Not our first mouclade, as we’ve made many variations over the years, but we particularly liked this one by Diana Henry as the saffron gives the sauce a fantastic colour. A very popular summer lunch dish. You will need some bread for mopping up the sauce.

Wine Suggestion: we went Spanish today and paired this with a wine made predominantly of Treixadura but with small amounts of Godello, Albariño and Loureiro too. Made by Pazo Casanova in the DO Ribeiro which is on the Spanish section of the Minho River this is fresh and citrussy with hints of white flowers and stone fruit on the nose and a mid-weight, textured finish. While we don’t drink much Treixadura we were tempted by the addition of the other grapes which we knew would work with the dish and we can now add this rarer, indigenous Spanish variety to our repetoire of seafood loving wines.

Mouclade – serves 4

  • a good pinch of saffron threads
  • 2kg mussels
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¾ tsp medium curry powder
  • 4 tbsp brandy
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • 200ml double cream
  • generous handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Put the saffron in a cup with 5 tbsp of boiling water, then leave aside for 30 minutes.

Wash the mussels, remove any beards and crusty bits and throw away open mussels that don’t closed when given a sharp tap on the side of the sink.

Melt the butter in a pan and gently sauté the onion until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and curry powder and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the brandy and boil until reduced to a couple of tablespoons. Reduce the heat, then stir in the flour and mix well until smooth. Cook for  a minute, then take the pan off the heat and gradually stir in the saffron water. Set aside.

Put the wine and mussels into a large sauce and cover. Bring the boil and cook over a med-high heat for about 4 minutes, shaking now and then, until the mussels have opened. Strain the mussels in a colander, over a bowl to collect the cooking liquid. Cover the mussels to keep warm while you finish the sauce.

Strain the mussel cooking liquid through a J-cloth, then gently reheat the saffron sauce. Gradually stir in the mussel liquid, then bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Add the cream and simmer for 4 minutes or until reduced and a little thicker. Season to taste and stir through the parsley.

Put the mussels into a large serving bowl, pour over the sauce and serve.

(Original recipe from How to Eat a Peach by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2018.)

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Lobster Thermidor

We’re pretty sure this isn’t the classic recipe but it was a lovely meal to end our holiday at home. Tomorrow we both go back to work, but tonight it was deliciousness all the way. We served this with a classic green salad, home-made chips and a fabulous wine that we bought on summer holidays in France last year.

Wine suggestion: a decadent dish requires a similar wine. Vintage Champagne is often suggested for lobster and works well, so does a good Premier Cru white Burgundy. On the same level though is good Jura Chardonnay and so we opened our last bottle of Domaine Labet’s “en Billat” 2016. Crunchy ripe apples, stony limestone and almond kernals, pears, quince, nuts and hints of buttery toast; quite extraordinary. We wish we had the will power to cellar these wines for longer … but keep on getting tempted.

Lobster with Thermidor butter – serves 2

  • 150ml white wine
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • a handful of chopped tarragon
  • a handful of chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ a lemon, juiced
  • a pinch of paprika
  • a dash of Tabasco sauce
  • 5 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 140g softened butter
  • 2 cooked lobsters

Put the wine and the shallot into a small pan and bring to the boil. Reduce until almost dry, then cool.

Mix together the tarragon, parsley, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, paprika, Tabasco, Parmesan, the shallot mixture and the butter. Roll into a log, wrap in clingfilm and chill to harden.

Snap the claws off the lobsters. Cut the lobsters in half with a heavy knife then wash the head cavity under cold water and dry with kitchen towels.

Put the lobsters, cut side up, on a baking tray. Crack the claws and pick out all the meat, then stuff it into the head cavities.

Heat the grill to high. Slice the butter into thin rounds and lay along the lobsters to cover the meat. Grill for about 5 minutes or until the butter is bubbling and starting to brown. Pour any butter on the tray over the lobster before serving.

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

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Barbecued Prawns with Chilli, Lime & Coriander Butter

Messy but oh so good! Treat your friends to a pile of these at your next barbecue and you will be very popular. Napkins, finger bowls, baby wipes etc., essential!

Wine Suggestion:  we think this needs an uncomplicated and fun white like a Picpoul de Pinet, Muscadet or Albariño, or going up a gear we chose the Bodegas Katxina Txakoli from near San Sebastien in Spain … tapas, sun, seafood and socialising. Happy days.

Barbecued prawns with chilli, lime & coriander butter – serves 4

  • 1kg large raw tiger prawns with the shell on, remove the heads before cooking

FOR THE BUTTER:

  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • a small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • juice of 1 lime, plus wedges to serve
  • 200g butter, softened

Make the butter by putting the garlic, coriander, chilli and lime juice into a food processor and pulse until chopped.

Toss 1 tbsp of the flavoured butter with prawns and leave in the fridge until ready to cook.

Put the rest onto a piece of tin foil and roll into a sausage shape. Put into the freezer to harden.

Preheat the barbecue, then cook the prawns for a few minutes on each side until pink. Serve on a platter and melt thin slices of the butter over the top. You can also melt some extra butter and serve on the side if you want. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Paella Mixta

This is not an authentic paella recipe but we guarantee it will remind you of days in the sun. It’s made in the oven from start to finish and all you have to do is add the ingredients in the correct order.

Wine Suggestion: Spanish influenced wine it has to be. If it’s baking hot try a dry, Garnacha Rosé, though for us tonight it had to be red as it was cool and wet. The choice was a little left-field as it was from Teruel, an old, abandoned wine region (caused by the de-population of country areas during their civil war) being rehabilitated by a couple of young winemakers making their own way. The Bodegas Jesus Romero Quercus is garnacha, tempranillo, syrah and a little cabernet franc planted in poor, stony soils with excellent drainage and elevation near Valencia. We are really impressed each time we taste this, and a good match for the dish too!

Paella Mixta – serves 4

  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 300g paella rice
  • 4 chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and cut in half
  • 200g chorizo, sliced
  • 85g frozen peas
  • 150g raw king prawns
  • 250g mussels, cleaned and throw away those that won’t close when tapped
  • lemon wedges, to serve
  • a small handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

Put the onion and garlic into the base of a large, shallow, ovenproof pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, then toss to coat. Put into the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the onion has started to brown. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overdo.

Meanwhile, put the tin of tomatoes, the chicken stock, the smoked paprika and saffron into a saucepan and heat until piping hot.

Remove the onions from the oven and stir in the rice, chicken, chorizo and hot stock mixture. Season and return to the oven for 20 minutes (uncovered).

Gently stir through the peas and arrange the mussels and prawns on the top. The mussel hinges should be facing downwards. Arrange the lemon wedges around the edge and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the mussels have opened and everything else is cooked. Throw away any mussels that haven’t opened. Scatter over the parsley and serve. Finger bowls and napkins essential!

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Creamy tomato, courgette & prawn pasta

There was lots of panic buying in Dublin when we went into lockdown but actually we were able to get pretty much everything, except orecchiette! After four orecchiette-free months we’ve finally got our hands on some. To celebrate we really enjoyed this simple pasta dish with locally grown courgettes.

Wine Suggestion: our choice tonight was a southern Italian white from Fiano made by Michele Biancardi in Puglia. Hints of honey, white flowers and a salty tang this wine speaks of the southern sun, and fresh breezes off the Adriatic seas. Travelling in a glass, when we can’t do it yet physically.

Creamy tomato, courgette & prawn pasta – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 large or 400g baby courgettes, sliced
  • 400g orecchiette pasta, or any other small pasta shape
  • 2 x 400g cans cherry tomatoes
  • good pinch of sugar
  • 200g raw prawns, peeled
  • 100g crème fraîche
  • small pack basil, leaves only, torn

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the garlic and cook gently for a few minutes, then add the courgettes and cook until starting to soften.

Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette according to the timing on the pack.

Add the tomatoes, sugar and some salt and pepper to the pan, then simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.

Add the prawns to the sauce and stir until they turn pink. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce along with the crème fraîche. Simmer for another couple of minutes to warm through, then add the basil before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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