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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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Chicken skewers with oregano

Tastes like Summer! Use chicken thigh fillets if you can rather than chicken breasts as they don’t dry out as easily. Serve with baked potatoes and salads for an easy barbecue for friends.

Wine Suggestion: We’ve found that a little known, but classic combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay from Cheverny in the Loire is the perfect match for this. We want to try this with some Greek white’s too being inspired by the dried oregano.

Chicken skewers with oregano – serves 4

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 red pepper, cut into squares
  • 1 green pepper, cut into squares

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Cut the chicken thighs into 4, trimming off any larger bits of fat.

For the marinade, whisk the olive oil, lemon zest and juice and the honey in a bowl until the honey is dissolved. Add the oregano, paprika, cinnamon and plenty of seasoning. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours or ideally overnight.

Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before you want to cook. Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers, alternating with the pepper pieces.

Heat the barbecue until very hot, then grill the skewers for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through. Baste with the leftover marinade as they cook. Serve with a few lemon wedges if you like.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ Mediterranean Adventure by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2017.)

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Chicken & Morel Pie

We were so happy when we found a little jar of dried morels, until we got to the counter and realised they cost €25. We almost put them back only we had our hearts set on cooking this pie for dinner. We think they were worth it, but we’ll be better prepared for a shock at the till next time. It turns out morels are far from easy to come by and must be hand foraged and hence the princely sum. The fresh ones can be used for this dish too (though good luck finding them!) but you miss out on the nice mushroom stock from soaking the dried ones. If you see either sort and you’re feeling flush, we recommend trying them.

Wine Suggestion: We think this goes well with earthier reds like Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo especially if they have a little age and development.

Chicken, morel mushroom & asparagus one-pan pie – serves 4 to 5

  • 30g dried morels (or 100g fresh morels thoroughly cleaned)
  • 200ml chicken stock (you only need this if you have fresh morels)
  • 50g butter
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100ml dry sherry or white wine
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into large chunks
  • bunch of asparagus, snap off and discard the woody ends, then cut into 4cm pieces
  • half a pack of tarragon, leaves roughly chopped
  • 375g block of puff pastry (preferably all-butter)
  • 1 egg, beaten, to glaze

If you are using dried mushrooms put them into a bowl and cover with boiling water, then leave to soak for 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid and cut in half (keep the liquid and make it up to 200ml with some more water if necessary). You can set a couple of the nicest looking morels aside to decorate the top of the pie if you like.

Heat half the butter in a frying pan and fry the morels for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Heat the rest of the butter and cook the shallots gently in the pan with the thyme and bay. When the shallots have softened, stir in the flour and cook for a minute or until a paste forms.

Pour in the sherry or wine and sizzle, then stir in the mushroom liquid (leave any grit in the bowl) or chicken stock, followed by the crème fraîche. Season well and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the chicken and poach in the sauce for 10 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove and discard the bay leaves, stir in the asparagus, tarragon and fried morels, then remove from the heat and transfer into a pie dish.

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 8.

Roll the pastry out onto a floured surface to the thickness of a euro coin, then cut to fit the dish, and drape it over the pie mixture (a rolling pin helps with this). Liberally brush with egg, season the pastry with flaky sea salt, and arrange the reserved morels on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Spicy Merguez & Cod tray-bake

We really loved this dish and it works really well with Golden Couscous. Simple and super tasty.

Wine Suggestion: We opened a delightful Grenache from the south of France, the Les Paiens Paria made by Domaine Ventenac. As it wasn’t too tannic it didn’t fight with the spicy sausages and harissa.

Spicy merguez and cod tray roast – serves 6

  • 8 merguez sausages, cut into chunks
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp harissa, depending on how spicy you like
  • 2 x 400g tins cherry tomatoes
  • 100g Nocerella green olives
  • 800g cod loin, cut into 6 pieces
  • a bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges

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

Put the sausages in the bottom of a roasting tin and bake for 10 minutes, then stir in the onions and bake for another 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and harissa and put back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

Stir in the olives and sit the cod pieces in the sauce, drizzle them with a little olive oil and season. Put back into the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Scatter with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe IN: BBC Olive Magazine, April 2017.)

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Chicken Tartiflette

Reblochon cheese from the Alps arrives in the cheese shops from May and reminds us to make tartiflette, the famous dish from France’s Haute-Savoie region made with cheese, bacon, potatoes and onions.  This version also has chicken and kale and it needs no accompaniment. It makes a hefty portion but it’s hard not to go back for more.

Wine Suggestion: We would suggest finding a white from the Jura, usually made from Savagnin, Chardonnay, or a blend of the two. Even better try to find a Vin Jaune, which is aged in oak under a Voile, similar to the Flor of sherry, and with similar characteristics. We had a beautiful Côtes du Jura, the Cuvée de Garde by Anne & Jean-François Ganevat. An equal blend of the two grapes and held under voile for 48 months (not long enough to classify as a Vin Jaune) which allowed the fruit to sing alongside the nutty, voile aromas.

Chicken tartiflette – serves 4 (generously)

FOR THE CHICKEN:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium chicken, about 1.5kg, jointed into 8 pieces (we used 8 chicken thighs)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • 200ml white wine
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

FOR THE TARTIFLETTE:

  • 1kg waxy potatoes, like Charlotte, sliced 1cm thick
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g smoked bacon lardons
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 50g plain flour
  • 300ml double cream
  • 400g curly kale, blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes and roughly chopped (discard any thick stalks)
  • 400g Reblochon cheese, broken or cut into pieces

Start by cooking the chicken. Heat a large sauté pan over a high heat, add the olive oil and the chicken pieces – skin side down to start. Cook until browned all over, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan then add the onion and garlic and sweat until the onion has softened. Add the white wine and reduce until almost evaporated. Add the chicken stock, thyme and bay, then season with salt and pepper and bring to a very gentle simmer (you might need to transfer to a large pot to fit it all in).

Return the chicken pieces to the pan and cook very gently until just cooked – about 10 minutes for the breasts. Remove any breast pieces from the pan with some of the broth and leave to cool in the broth. Continue to cook the leg meat for another 30 minutes, then take off the heat and leave to cool in the broth.

When cooled take the chicken out of the broth, remove the skin and bones and cut into large pieces. Strain the broth and reserve for later.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Simmer the potato slices in boiling, salted water until almost tender, then drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the bacon lardons and cook until coloured, then remove from the pan and add the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent, then stir in the garlic. Add the flour and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the cream with 200ml of the reserved strained chicken braising liquid and slowly bring to a simmer, stirring. Remove from the heat and season.

Fold the chicken and bacon through the cream mixture, along with the kale, 300g of the cheese and the potatoes. Pour into a large baking dish and top with the remaining 100g of cheese, then bake until golden brown (about 20 to 30 minutes).

(Original recipe from The Skills by Monica Galetti, Quadrille, 2016.)

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Wild Garlic & Asparagus Risotto

Spring is definitely our favourite food season and it all kicks off with wild garlic. Find it growing in your local park (or packed in the veg shop).

Wine Suggestion: A minerally and textured Sauvignon Blanc; we opened the Clef du Recit Menetou Salon which was perfectly fruity and ripe and yet had layers and undercurrents of texture, saltiness, limestone and smoke.

Wild herb risotto – serves 4

  • 175g baby spinach
  • 75g butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 125ml white wine
  • 1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
  • handful wild garlic leaves, roughly chopped
  • 50g asparagus tips, roughly chopped and steamed until tender
  • 50g Wensleydale cheese

Rinse the spinach and shake off the excess water, then tip into a hot saucepan and stir until wilted. Drain in a colander and leave to cool before squeezing out the excess water, then finely chop.

Heat 50g of the butter in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and bay leaf. Cook for 5 minutes until the onions are soft but not brown. Tip in the rice and cook for another minutes, then increase the heat and add the wine, stirring constantly, until the wine has been absorbed.

Add enough stock to cover the rice, then simmer and stir until absorbed. Keep adding the stock until the risotto is cooked – about 20 minutes – or until the rice is cooked but still has a little bite.

Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach, wild garlic, asparagus, cheese and the remaining butter. Cover and leave to stand for a few minutes, then check the seasoning and serve.

(Original recipe by Gerard Baker in BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2012.)

 

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Meatballs in a tomato & pepper stew

The first dish we’ve tried from the loveliest of cookbooks – Syria: Recipes from Home by Itab Azzam & Dina Mousawi. A mix of Syrian recipes and simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming stories. We plan on gifting it to everyone we know. The Syrian name translates to Lord David.

Serve with rice.

Wine Suggestion: this was delicious with the Domaine Ventenac Paria, a juicy and vibrant Grenache from the Cabardes region of southern France. Using the old fashioned, but now new again, concrete vats this has a freshness and minerality that we loved.

Dawood Pasha (Meatballs in a tomato & pepper stew) – serves 4

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 500g tomatoes, finely diced (we used the equivalent weight of drained plum tomatoes from a tin)
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée

FOR THE MEATBALLS:

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1 tsp 7 spices (also known as baharat mix) – you can find this in large supermarkets or Middle Eastern shops. See below for the recipe if you would like to make it
  • half a large bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped

For the 7 Spices: Mix the following spices together and store in a sealed jar: 1 tbsp ground cardamom, 1 tbsp ground cinnamon, 1 tbsp ground cumin, 1 tbsp ground coriander, 1 tbsp ground black pepper, ½ tbsp ground cloves, ½ tbsp ground nutmeg.

Heat the oven to 160C/Gas 3.

Fry the onion in a splash of olive oil until soft, then add the garlic and fry for another minute. Add the green pepper and tomatoes, then fry for a couple of minutes before turning down the heat and leaving to simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée and leave to simmer for another 30 minutes or until the tomatoes have reduced down.

Mix the meatball ingredients together in a bowl and roll into 2.5 cm balls using wet hands. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle a little olive oil over them and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the meatballs from the oven and tip into the tomato sauce which should be nice and thick now. Leave to simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and serve with rice. If you make these a day in advance they’ll taste even better!

(Original recipe from Syria: Recipes from Home by Itab Azzam & Dina Mousawi, Trapeze, 2017.)

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