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Risotto Primavera

This risotto isn’t laden with cheese and butter like so many other recipes and so a good option for a weeknight and full of Spring flavours. We left out the chives and rocket as we didn’t have them but we’ve kept them in the recipe as they would make nice additions.

Wine Suggestion: this was delightful with a young white Muscadet from Domaine de la Chauviniere, but we can see it working with youthful Sauvignon Blanc or Grüner Veltliner as well.

Risotto Primavera – serves 4 (easily halved)

  • 350g asparagus, snap of the woody ends and cut into 5cm lengths on the diagonal
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 175g frozen peas
  • 250g frozen broad beans
  • 2 tbsp shredded basil
  • 2 tbsp snipped chives
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1.7 litres vegetable stock (we used Marigold vegetable bouillon)
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 300g carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 25g Parmesan, grated
  • 25g rocket leaves, to garnish

Heat half the oil in a large, deep frying pan. Stir-fry the asparagus over a medium-high heat for about 4 minutes or until browned all over. Add the scallions and fry for another minute or two until browned. Remove these with a slotted spoon, season with pepper, and set aside.

Cook the peas and broad beans in separate pans of boiling water for a few minutes, then drain. Pop the broad beans out of their skins and set both aside.

Mix the basil, chives, mint and lemon zest together in a small bowl and season with pepper.

Pour the stock into a saucepan and keep over a very low heat.

Pour the rest of the oil into the pan that you used to cook the asparagus. Add the shallots and garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes or until soft and slightly browned. Stir in the rice and cook for a minute or two over a medium-high heat or until it starts to sizzle.

Add the wine and stir until it has been absorbed. Now start gradually adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding more. Keep adding stock for about 20 minutes or until the rice is al dente. Season with pepper.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add an extra ladle of stock, then scatter over the vegetables, some pepper, half the herb & lemon mixture and half the cheese. Cover with a lid and leave to rest for a few minutes. Gently stir to combine, then serve in warmed bowls some rocket and the rest of the herbs and cheese sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Nigel's Bolognese

We love cookbooks that divide recipes up by the month of year. You can pick them off the shelf and get some instant inspiration that suits the weather conditions and what’s available. This is how we came to make this spaghetti bolognese, from Nigel Slater’s original Kitchen Diaries, on a cold night in January. We don’t usually add mushrooms to our Bolognese but they were really good here. Serve with some sort of long pasta (or penne if that’s what you’ve got) and loads of Parmesan.

Wine suggestion: we really enjoyed Michele Biancardi’s Ponteviro Primitivo from Puglia with this: wonderfully fresh and with a herbal spice as opposed to jam which appeals to our tastes.

A really good spaghetti Bolognese – serves 4

  • 50g butter
  • 70g cubed pancetta
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 large flat mushrooms (about 100g), finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 400g beef mince
  • 200ml passata
  • 200ml red wine
  • 200ml stock
  • a nutmeg
  • 200ml full-cream milk or cream
  • spaghetti or tagliatelle (to serve)
  • grated Parmesan (to serve)

Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan, then stir in the pancetta and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes to soften, then add the carrots and celery and continue to cook. When they have softened a bit, add the mushrooms, tuck in the bay leaves and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat, stirring now and then.

Turn the heat up and add the meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Leave to cook for 3-4 minutes until the bottom starts to brown, the stir again and leave to colour.

When the meat is well browned, add the tomatoes, red wine, stock, a grating of the nutmeg and some salt and black pepper. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a bare bubble. Partially cover with a lid and leave to cook for 60-90 minutes, stirring now and then. Add a bit of extra liquid if it looks dry at any point.

Gradually add the milk/cream, then continue to cook for another 20 minutes. Season to taste and serve with the pasta and Parmesan.

(Original recipe from

 

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Lamb Steaks, preserved lemon, coriander & garlic with a Coriander, lime & garlic rice

Really nice flavours in this simple lamb dish and absolutely delicious rice. We’ve been experimenting with Sabrina Ghayour’s book, Feasts, and it has yet to disappoint. The coriander, lime and garlic rice is one of our favourite recipes from the book and could sit alongside so many dishes. This time we served our leftover rice with some roasted white fish.

Wine Suggestion: We find Tempranillo very often goes best with dishes containing preserved lemons and this is no different. With the lamb and coriander in the mix our choice is an aged (8 years old), elegant style of Rioja, the Finca Valpiedra Reserva which was supple and comlex but without any heaviness. If you prefer Ribera del Duero then the higher altitude Pesquera Reserva would be spectacular.

White wines quite often clash with the concentrated citrus notes, so if you feel like white our suggestion would be Semillon which both emphasises this character and compliments it.

Pan-fried Lamb Steaks, Preserved Lemon, Coriander & Garlic – serves 4-6

  • 6-8 thin cut lamb leg steaks

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 4 fat garlic cloves, bashed and thinly sliced
  • 30g of fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 6 preserved lemons, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp coarse black pepper
  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil

Put the garlic, coriander, preserved lemons and black pepper into a small bowl and season with a little salt. Add the oil and stir to mix.

Put the lamb steaks into a large food bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and rub the marinade all over the lamb with your hands. Marinate at room temperature for at least 20 minutes (or for up to a few hours in the fridge).

Heat a large frying pan over a medium-heat. When hot, add the lamb and fry for a few minutes on each side or until they have taken on a good colour. Leave to rest for a few minutes before serving with the rice.

Coriander, Lime & Garlic Rice – serves 4 to 6

  • 50g of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 6 fat garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 large lime leaves, cut into strips
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 750ml cold water
  • 2 heaped tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 heaped tsp mustard seeds
  • olive oil
  • 500g basmati rice
  • 75g unsalted butter

Blitz the fresh coriander, garlic, lime leaves and lime zest and juice together in a blender with 250ml of the water. Stir in the remaining water once blended.

Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, then toast the coriander seeds and mustard seeds for a minute or until they start to brown and you can smell their aroma. Drizzle a little olive oil into the pan, then stir in the rice, stirring to coat it in the oil and spices.

Add the butter and wait until it has melted before pouring in the herb liquid. Season well with sea salt flakes, stir and cover with a lid. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

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

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Spaghetti Arrabbiata

Spaghetti Arrabbiata

We cook this in the middle of the week when energy is low and we don’t have time to shop. Never disappoints.

Wine Suggestion: a medium bodied Italian red, like the San Lorenzo Rosso Conero which is made from Montepulciano in the Marche (as opposed to Abruzzo). Structured and earthy but with a joyous pure fruit; it gives us energy like this dish.

Spaghetti Arrabbiata – serves 2

  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • ½ – 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 150g spaghetti
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan and cook the garlic over a gently heat for a few minutes. Add the chilli flakes and cook for another minute before adding the tomatoes and sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes until thickened. Cook the spaghetti then drain and toss with the sauce. Sprinkle over the parsley to serve.

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Lemon & Pistachio Chicken

Diana Henry is one of our favourite food writers and we can’t recommend her book of chicken recipes, A Bird in the Hand, highly enough. This lemon & pistachio chicken from that book is nothing short of delicious. She cooks this every year, and we think we may too.

Wine Suggestion: There’s a richness to this dish that demands an equal wine like Zind Humbrecht’s Pinot Gris Calcaire from Alsace that had an excellent balance of depth, fruit, freshness and texture.

Lemon & Pistachio Chicken – serves 6

  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 70g unsalted butter
  • 120g shelled pistachio nuts
  • 40g white breadcrumbs, plus extra if needed
  • finely grated zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • good pinch of caster sugar
  • handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 6 large skin-on boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 300ml chicken stock

Put the shallots, garlic & half the thyme into a pan with 50g of the butter and a pinch of salt. Cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, then tip into a large bowl.

Chop the pistachio nuts or blend in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add the breadcrumbs and nuts to the shallot mixture. Add the lemon zest and juice, oil, sugar and parsley. Season well and stir to make a stiff, coarse paste. If the mixture is too dry add a little more oil and it too wet a few extra breadcrumbs.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.

Put the point of a sharp knife into the thicker end of each chicken breast and cut a cavity that runs along the length. Season the chicken inside the pocket, then use a teaspoon to fill the hole with the stuffing. Squeeze the sides together to close the incision as much as possible. Season the chicken on the outside, drizzle with a little olive oil and put into a roasting tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked remove the chicken from the tin and skim off the fat from the juices. Put the roasting tin over a medium heat and splash in the white balsamic vinegar and stock. Bring to a rolling boil and reduced until slightly thickened. Add the rest of the butter and thyme and serve poured over the chicken.

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

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Ginger & Miso Soup

Pumpkins are everywhere and the evenings have got dark and chilly. This delicious soup by Melissa Hemsley looks like sunshine and tastes warm and comforting. Don’t omit the topping as it really brings the soup to life.

Ginger miso sunshine soup – serves 6

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 5cm piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 large carrots, chopped into 1.5cm cubes
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 1.5 litres stock or bone broth or water – we used Marigold Bouillon powder
  • 2 tbsp miso
  • juice of 1 lemon

CHIVE TOPPING

  • 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp chives, chopped
  • 4 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Melt the oil in a large, wide saucepan. Add the onions and cook over a medium heat for 4 minutes, then add the garlic, ginger and turmeric and cook for another minute.

Add the carrots & squash, followed by the stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and cook for 15-18 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl. Add the miso and lemon juice to another bowl and add a few tablespoons of the hot liquid from the soup and stir or whisk until you have a smooth paste.

Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the miso paste. Blend the soup until smooth and season to taste. Serve with the chive topping.

(Original recipe from Eat Happy by Melissa Hemsley, Ebury Press, 2018.)

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Smoked Haddock & Spinach Tart

We love tarts made on a puff pastry sheet, they always give the impression you’ve made more effort than you have. Smoked haddock and spinach is a super combination.

Wine Suggestion: The Languedoc produces some great white wines, as well as many red, and the best of them have a salinity, freshness and stoniness along with joyful fruit. Our choice tonight was the Les Terrasses de la Negly, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Petits Grains and Muscat d’Alexandria. Lively citrus and crisp apple flavours along with the saltiness that complimented the haddock and Spinach.

Smoked Haddock & Spinach Tart – serves 4

  • 250g smoked haddock
  • 200g spinach
  • 5 tbsp double cream
  • 50g gruyère, grated
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
  • watercress salad to serve

Fill a frying pan with cold water and heat until boiling. Lower in the haddock, cover with a lid, then turn off the heat and leave for 10 minutes.

Put the spinach into a colander and pour over a kettle of boiling water to wilt it. Wait until cool enough to handle, then squeeze out the excess water with your hands. Chop the spinach.

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

Whisk the cream, cheese, and egg in a bowl. Flake in the smoked haddock (remove any skin and bones) and stir in the spinach. Season with salt and black pepper.

Unroll the pastry and score a 2cm border around the edge. Put onto a baking sheet and prick insider the border. Bake for 10 minutes. Gently push down the pillowy middle with the back of a large spoon. Spoon over the fish mixture then return to the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Serve with a watercress salad.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in BBC Olive Magazine, July 2013.)

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