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A dish we made on a Monday with all the after school activities. Easy but a rewarding treat after a long day.

Wine Suggestion: we’d suggest a good Portuguese Alvarinho for this as the extra sunshine (closer to the equator than Spain) helps with the cream and oily salmon. Our choice tonight, the Quinta Soalheiro Primeiras Vinhas, an old vine selection that is made partially in oak to give a deep base note alongside the minerally primary fruits.

Creamy salmon, leek & potato traybake – serves 2

  • 250g baby potatoes, thickly sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek, halved and sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 70ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 tbsp chives, plus extra to serve
  • 2 skinless salmon fillets

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

Bring a pot of water to the boil, the add the potatoes and cook for 8 minutes. Drain and leave to steam-dry for a few minutes.

Toss the potatoes with 1 tbsp of olive oil and plenty of seasoning in a baking tray, then bake for 20 minutes, tossing halfway.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the leek and fry for 5 minutes, or until starting to soften. Stir through the garlic for 1 minute then add the cream, capers and 75ml of hot water, then bring to the boil. Stir in the chives.

Heat the grill to high. Pour the creamy leek mixture over the potatoes, then sit the salmon fillets on top. Grill for 7-8 minutes or until just cooked through. Serve topped with extra chives.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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A very useful cake for entertaining Coeliac friends though you do need to check your ingredients state they are gluten-free. This is both richly chocolatey and light as air, plus really easy to make. Serve alongside a coffee, or with cream or vanilla ice-cream. It’s a good idea to boil the orange the day before.

Chocolate Orange Cake – serves 8

  • 2 small or 1 large thin-skinned orange, about 375g total weight
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa

Put the oranges into a pan with cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours until soft. Drain and leave to cool, then cut in half and remove the pips. Pulp the oranges in a food processor (with skin and all).

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Butter and line a 20cm springform tin.

Add the eggs, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, almonds, sugar and cocoa to the orange in the food processor. Whizz until the mixture comes together but still a bit rough with some flecks of puréed orange.

Scrape the mixture into the prepeared tin and bake for an hour, a skewer inserted into the middle should come out fairly clean. Check after 45 minutes and cover if needed, you can also check it for doneness at this point.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin, on a rack. When cold remove from the tin and serve with cream.

(Original recipe from Feast by Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, 2004.)

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This has to be the perfect post-Christmas dish; great for using up the cheeseboard leftovers and all that smoked fish you though you would eat. Our daughter was so enamoured of this that she has been demanding it ever since. Serve with a green salad and some crusty bread.

Wine Suggestion: Find yourself a Chardonnay made on the lees, but not necessarily in oak. This will preserve a freshness and mid-weight while giving a yeasty, buttery character. A good producer from the Maçon, like Manciat-Poncet, would be ideal and that’s what we had.

Smoked Salmon Soufflé – Serves 3

  • 20g freshly grated Parmesan, plus an extra 1 tbsp
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 100g smoked salmon or smoked trout, finely chopped
  • 300ml full fat milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50g butter
  • 55g plain flour
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tbsp chopped tarragon

You will need a soufflé dish or baking dish, approximately 18-20cm.

Lightly grease the inside of the dish with butter, then dust with the 2 tbsp of grated Parmesan.

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.

Put the milk into a small saucepan with the onion and bay leaf. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to sit for a few minutes. Remove the onion and bay leaf and discard.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan, then stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Then pour in the warm milk and stir vigorously until you have a smooth, thick sauce. Continue to cook for another couple of minutes, then remove from the heat.

Lightly beat the the egg yolks with a fork, then stir them into the sauce with 20g of Parmesan, the chopped fish and the tarragon.

Beat the egg whites until stiff with a whisk in a large bowl. Fold the egg whites into the sauce, then spoon into the buttered dish. Smooth the top if needed, then sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan. Put the dish onto a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. The crust should be pale brown and the centre slightly soft, it should still have a little wobble when you give it a shake.

Serve immediately with dressed salad leaves and crusty bread. You need to eat it all up as this dish will not keep.

(Original recipe by Nigel Slater in The Guardian, Tuesday, 28 December 2021.)

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This is a great alternative chilli for those not so fussed on red meat. Serve with rice, feta, coriander, sour cream, steamed rice, tortilla chips and lime wedges. Add the chipotle with caution, the brand we used was very hot!

Wine Suggestion: Given the heat this needs a juicy wine to match. If you’d like a white some Pinot Gris would be great, however tonight we felt like a red and so opened an Altosur Malbec made by Finca Sophenia in the wonderful Gualtallary area of Mendoza. Stony and super-high altitude freshness and yet expressive, perfumed and juicy, brambly fruit.

Chicken & Black Bean Chilli – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4 chicken thigh fillets
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp chipotle in adobo or 1 tsp chipotle paste (if using chipotles in adobo check how hot they are)
  • 350g passata
  • ½ chicken stock pot
  • 400g tin black beans, drained but don’t rinse!
  • juice of ½ a lime
  • rice, feta, coriander, sour cream, steamed rice, tortilla chips and lime wedges – to serve

Heat the 2 tbsp of oil in a shallow casserole dish with a lid. Add the onions and cook gently for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the chicken and turn the heat up to medium. Add the garlic, a small pinch of sugar, the oregano, cumin seeds and seasoning. Cook for a couple of minute, then add the chipotle and cook for another few minutes. Add the passata, 100ml water and the stock, then bring to a simmer.

Cover and cook for 40-40 minutes, stirring now and then, until the chicken is tender. Shred the chicken with two forks and mix through the sauce, then stir through the beans and the liquid from the tin. Simmer for 5 minutes, then take off the heat and squeeze in the lime juice.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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You can start cooking this the day before, the flavours will improve and your home will smell delicious. Serve with fresh tagliatelle and grated Parmesan.

Wine Suggestion: find a rich red with some stuffing to stand up to the richer flavours. A touch of acidity and a good grip of tannin will also help. Ideally you’ll finish the bottle used to cook with, as we did tonight; Cline’s Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi in California. Heady, brambly and with juicy tannins.

Italian slow-cooked lamb ragu – serves 8

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.2kg boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 3.5cm cubes
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 celery sticks, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • 6 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
  • 400ml red wine
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500ml lamb stock
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

Put on the oven to 170C/Fan 160C/Gas 3.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large casserole over a high heat. Season the lamb and brown in batches, then remove to a plate and set aside.

Add another tbsp of oil to the pan, then add the onions and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and garlic and cook for a further 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée and anchovies.

Add the wine and scrape up any bits that are stuck to the base of the pan. Bring to the boil and reduce by half, then add the herbs, lamb stock, tomatoes and browned lamb. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 2 hours.

Transfer the casserole from the oven to the hob, remove the lid and stir, then simmer gently for 1 hour to reduce and thicken. Remove the large herb sprigs, then shred the lamb with two forks and season.

Serve with pasta and Parmesan.

(Original recipe from Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2018.)

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Salmon en Croûte

We can’t tell you how incredibly simple this is to make. If we’d known we would have made it many times before now. You can even make it earlier in the day, ready to bake when needed which is useful when having guests. The salsa verde in the middle is an excellent addition. Lovely served with roast baby potatoes and a green salad.

Wine Suggestion: With the pastry and salmon this needs a white with a good amount of body, but not necessarily heavily oaked given the salsa verde running through each bite. We’re fans of good Vermentino and for this we opened the Poggio ai Ginepri Bianco which from the Tuscan coast, made by Tenuta Argentiera. Vibrancy, depth and a juicy body wrapping a mineral core.

Salmon en croûte – serves 6

FOR THE SALSA VERDE:

  • 3 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tbsp basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic, halved
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 x 350g salmon fillets, skinned and pin-boned
  • 375g pack all-butter puff pastry
  • plain flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp mlk

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Make the salsa verde first. Put the herbs into a small food processor and whizz to finely chop. Add the garlic, anchovies, mustard, egg yolk, and black pepper, then whizz until smooth.

Put a salmon fillet onto a board and spread with the salsa verde. Set the other fillet on top to make a rectangle.

Cut two-thirds of the pastry from the block and put the remaining piece in the freezer. Put the pastry onto a piece of lightly floured baking parchment, then roll out until large enough to completely enclose the salmon. Put the fillets in the centre and brush the pastry with the beaten egg (keeping some for later). Fold the pastry over the fish and pinch the edges together to seal. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours ahead.

Heat the oven to 240C/220C fan/Gas 9.

Heat a baking tray in the oven until hot. Brush the salmon en croûte with the leftover beaten egg, then coarsely grate the frozen pastry and sprinkle over the top.

Transfer the salmon and baking parchment to the hot baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and the pastry is cooked. Rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Cover the tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute, then remove and put into cold water, then drain. Peel the skin off the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds, then dice and put into a bowl. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine.

Serve the salmon in thick slices with the dressing alongside.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry Cooks up a Feast with Lucy Young, DK: Penguin Random House, 2019.)

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A nice bright side dish from Ottolenghi Simple, though we swapped out the dolcelatte for gorgonzola.

Roasted squash with lentils and gorgonzola – serves 6 as a side

  • 1 large butternut squash, cut in half lengthways, deseed and cut into 1cm thick wedges, no need to peel
  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 10g sage leaves
  • 100g Puy lentils
  • 1 large lemon, zest grated to give 1½ tsp, then juiced to give 2 tbsp
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 5g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 5g mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 10g tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
  • 100g dolcelatte (we used gorgonzola), torn into small pieces

Heat the oven to 220C fan.

Put the squash and onions into a large bowl with 2 tbsp of the oil, the sage leaves, ¾ tsp of salt and lots of black pepper.

Toss well, then spread out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until golden-brown. Remove and rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, half fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add the lentils and simmer for 20 minutes, until cooked. Drain, then set aside to cool slightly, then put into a large bowl. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, herbs and 1 tbsp of oil and ¼ tsp of salt.

Add the roasted squash and onion to the bowl of lentils and gently mix. Transfer to a serving dish, dot with the cheese, drizzle with oil and serve.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi & Tara Wigley, Ebury Press, 2018.)

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This version has fresh pesto stirred through the béchamel sauce which is a variation we’d not come across before, and it’s very good indeed. So good we may add any leftover pesto to dishes like this in the future; it brings a burst of Spring to a rich dish.

Wine Suggestion: We were uncertain what to open alongside this dish given the many components, but felt we needed to stick to an Italian. Freshness to balance the béchamel, depth for the layered richness, but a lightness of being to complement the basil pesto. We had a bottle of Pira Langhe Nebbiolo on the shelf and we’re happy to report it was a good match.

Lasagne with pesto – serves 6 to 8

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 700ml passata
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 12 fresh lasagne sheets

FOR THE BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

  • 100g butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 litre full-fat milk
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 100g freshly grated Parmesan

FOR THE PESTO

  • 40g basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 30g pine nuts
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 20g freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions, carrot and celery for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Add the beef mince and cook for 5 minutes, stirring and breaking it up with a wooden spoon until browned all over. Season and leave to cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the wine, stir well and buble for about 3 minutes, then add the passata and tomato purée, lower the heat and continue to cook for an hour, uncovered, until you have a thick sauce. Taste for seasoning after 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the pesto by putting the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor. Pour in the oil and blitz until smooth, then transfer to a bowl and fold in the cheese. Season with a pinch of salt and set aside.

To make the béchamel, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then gradually whisk in the cold milk, reduce the heat and cook for 10 minutes, whisking constantly. When the béchamel is thickened, stir in half the Parmesan, the nutmeg and the pesto. Season and set aside to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas mark 4.

To assemble, spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of a deep ovenproof dish. You can use your lasagne sheets to get the right sized dish, you need to make 3 layers of lasagne sheets. Lay a third of the lasagne sheets over the béchamel, then spread over half the meat sauce and top with another thin layer of béchamel.

Lay another third of the lasagne sheets on top and cover with the rest of the meat sauce. Add the final layer of lasagne and spread the remaining béchamel on top, completely covering the lasagne sheets. Sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan and grind some black pepper over the top.

Cook on the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 minutes, then move to the middle shelf and increase the temperature to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cook for another 15 minutes or until browned and bubbling.

Remove the lasagne from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

(Original recipe from Gino’s Pasta by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2010.)

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A dish cooked in just one pan. The fish flavours all the veg below and the end result is really tasty, for very little effort.

Wine Suggestion: We had a notion for an Italian red so pulled out a bottle of Selvapiana’s Chianti Rufina from the rack. The bright red fruits and crunchy acidity made a great balance to any oiliness from the fish and is such a natural partner for tomatoes and olives. Who says fish has to go with white wine!

Baked bream on potatoes, tomatoes & olives – serves 4

  • 400g waxy potaotes (we used Cyprus), scrubbed and sliced into ½ cm rounds
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large tomatoes, sliced into ½ cm rounds
  • 20 pitted black olives
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, leave the skin on and give them a bash
  • 2-4 whole bream (depending on size), gutted but left whole and fins and spikey bits cut off
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp peppermix (see below)

FOR THE PEPPERMIX (blitz the following in a spice grinder and use to season meat or fish):

  • 1 chipotle chilli, seeds removed
  • 1 pasilla chilli, seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp white peppercorns
  • 2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp salt

Heat the oven to 190C/Fan 170.

Toss the potatoes with 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a roasting tin that will hold them in a single layer. Season and bake for 15 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, olives and garlic, then lay the fish on top. Drizzle with another 2 tbsp of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, then season with peppermix. Bake for another 25 minutes, then drizzle with some more oil and lemon juice if you like.

Serve with a green salad.

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

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Coleslaw is a bit divisive, people tend to love it or hate it, and not helped by that gloopy stuff you buy in plastic tubs. This version is much superior!

Coleslaw – serves 4 or more

  • 50g crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 50g mayonnasie
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ small white cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1-2 carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
  • ½ white onion, very finely sliced
  • juice of ½ a lemon, or 1 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar

Mix the crème fraîche or sour cream with the mayonnaise and mustard, and season to taste.

Put everything else into a large bowl, then add the mayonnaise mixture and mix to combine. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

(Original recipe from Camper Van Cooking by Claire Thompson & Matt Williamson, Quadrille: Hardie Grant Publishing, 2021.)

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This side-dish from Ottolenghi Flavour is an absolute winner. You can make it up in advance as well and it will sit happily at room temperature, just add the basil before serving. We served with a roast chicken but it will sit happily alongside many other dishes.

Super-soft courgettes with harissa and lemon – serves 4

  • 85ml olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp rose harissa
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • ½ preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1kg courgettes, finely sliced
  • 10g basil leaves, roughly torn

Warm the oil and garlic in a large, deep frying pan. Gently fry for 4 minutes, stirring, until soft and golden but not turning brown.

Scoop out 3 tbsp of the olive oil and half the garlic and put into a small bowl. Add the harissa, chilli, preserved lemon and lemon juice. Stir together and set aside.

Return the pan to the heat and add the courgettes with 1 ¼ tsp of salt. Cook for 18 minutes, stirring often, until very soft but still holding their shape, don’t let them brown. We had to keep cooking for a few minutes extra to get them really soft but it will depend on how finely you have sliced your courgettes. Stir through half the basil and transfer to a platter. Spoon the harissa mixture over the top and leave for 15 minutes (or longer), then sprinkle with salt and the remaining basil before serving.

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

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Here’s what to make if you are gifted a big bunch of rhubarb or you could even go buy some, it’s delicious!

Rhubarb & ginger jam – makes 4 jars

  • 1kg rhubarb, trimmed weight
  • 1kg jam sugar (the one with pectin added)
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 50g stem ginger, finely chopped
  • 4cm piece root ginger, peeled

Wash the rhubarb in lots of cold running water, then chop into 2cm pieces. Tip into a large non-metallic bowl and add the sugar, lemon zest and juice, and chopped stem ginger. Finely grate the peeled ginger over the top.

Stir the mixture, then cover loosely with cling film and leave aside for a couple of hours to allow the sugar to dissolve. It will help to give it a stir now and then.

Put a few saucers into the freezer for testing the jam later.

Transfer the contents of the bowl into a large saucepan or preserving pan and place over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved and bring to the boil. Cook until the rhubarb is very tender and the jam has reached setting point – this takes about 10-15 minutes.

To test if the jam is at setting point, drop half a teaspoon of jam onto one of the cold saucers, leave for 30 seconds, then push with the tip of your finger. If the jam wrinkles it’s ready. If not, continue cooking for a couple more minutes and test again.

Remove from the heat and carefully transfer into steralised jars, then seal immediately.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Piperade

We started a new habit in lock down of cooking a nice breakfast or brunch dish on the weekends. Something we never did much before as we we always had to be somewhere. Now we love a weekend day when there’s no morning plans. This is a Southern French egg dish and it’s a great way to start the day.

Piperade – serves 4

  • 8 very thin bacon slices
  • olive oil
  • 2 slices of bread, cut into tiny cubes (we used sourdough which worked well though perhaps not very French)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 roasted red pepper from a jar, chopped
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (cut a cross in the bottom, cover with boiling water and leave for a minute, they will peel easily)
  • a small bunch of chives, finely chopped
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • chopped coriander

Cook the bacon first until crispy then set aside to cool.

Heat a little bit of olive oil in a frying pan and cook the bread cubes until crispy.

In another pan, heat 3 tbsp of olive oil and briefly fry the garlic, red pepper and tomatoes. Add the chives and eggs and gently scramble.

Stir in the crôutons, coriander and seasoning. Serve on warm plates with a couple of slices of bacon crisscrossed on top.

(Original recipe from Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson, Ebury Press, 1994.)

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Summer’s over, back to work and back to what to have for lunch? Our lunchtime inspiration comes mainly from what’s left in the fridge after the weekend, cheese more often than not, but it’s nice to plan for at least the first couple of days. Mondays are easier with nice lunch.

Mexican charred sweetcorn soup – serves 4

  • 1 dried ancho chilli
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus an extra bit for brushing on the corn cobs
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 roasted red peppers from a jar, chopped
  • 1 litre veg stock (we use Swiss Marigold Bouillon powder made up to a litre)
  • 2 corn cobs
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • a small bunch of coriander, to garnish

Put the dried chilli into a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 10 minutes, then pour off the water and remove the stalk and seeds from the chilli.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot and gently cook the onion and celery with a pinch of salt for 10 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the spices and cook for a minute. Add the ancho chilli, roasted peppers and veg stock, then simmer for 15 minutes. Season, then whizz until smooth and keep warm.

Meanwhile, remove the husks from the corn cobs, brush them with oil and season. Now you can cook them on a griddle pan until well-charred or if you have one this is very easy to do on a gas barbecue. It should take about 10 minutes. When the corn cobs have cooled a bit you can use a sharp knife to remove the corn kernels.

Add the charred corn and lime juice to the soup , then serve with some coriander on top.

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

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This is really light and creamy, not too spicy and perfect for kids.

Creamy salmon, prawn & almond curry – serves 3 (or 2 big people and 2 little people)

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 70g ground almonds,
  • 1 vegetable or chicken stock cube, dissolved in 500ml of water
  • 1 ½ tbsp double cream
  • 300g green beans, halved
  • 300g salmon fillet, skin removed and cut into chunks
  • 150g raw king prawns
  • a squeeze of lime juice, plus a few lime wedges to serve
  • a small handful of coriander leaves
  • 150g brown rice, cooked to serve

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a pan and cook the onion for about 10 minutes, until softened, then stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the sliced peppers, spices, tomato purèe and a splash of water, cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the ground almonds and stock, then season and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the cream.

Meanwhile, cook the green beans in a pan of boiling water until tender, then drain.

Add the salmon to the sauce and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes or until it turns opaque, then add the prawns and cook for another minute until they are also pink. Test the salmon is cooked by ensuring if flakes easily with a fork, then stir in the cooked green beans. Remove from the heat and add a squeeze of lime.

Serve over the brown rice with some coriander scattered on top and lime wedges on the side.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This is really a beef bourguignon recipe but the beef and wine have been replaced by pork and cider. A great crowd pleaser!

Wine Suggestion: This dish, naturally, goes with the cider used in the cooking, but we had none left after Jono scoffed the remainder of the bottle while cooking. Instead we opened the flavour-packed Chenin Blanc from Chateau Hureau, their Saumur Blanc Argile. A wine that’s delicious and vibrant in youth, but tonight one from the cellar and 6 years old. Still wonderful fruit but layers of extra development and texture; worth the wait.

Pork & cider casserole – serves 4-6

  • 25g butter
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 350g small shallots, peeled (if you have bigger ones just halve them)
  • 100g cubed pancetta
  • 700g stewing pork, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 50g seasoned plain flour
  • 750ml dry cider
  • 150ml chicken stock
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a few fresh sage leaves
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, halve or quarter any large ones
  • 2 tbsp brandy

Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3.

Heat half the butter and oil in a large frying pan. Add the shallots and fry until starting to brown, then add the pancetta and fry until lightly browned. Remove the shallots and pancetta with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Put the pork pieces into a bag or large tub with the seasoned flour. Shake until well coated, then remove and shake any excess flour off the meat. Fry the pork in the same pan until golden all over. Transfer to a oven-proof casserole with a lid.

Add a little cider to the frying pan and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release any tasty bits, then pour this over the pork with the rest of the cider and the stock, carrots, celery, bay leaves and sage. Add the shallots and pancetta and season. Give it all a stir, then cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 2 hours.

About half way through, heat the rest of the oil and butter in the frying pan and cook the mushrooms until lightly browned. Add the brandy and cook for another few minutes, then stir into the casserole and return to the oven for the remaining time.

Season to taste and serve with green veg and potatoes or bread.

(Original recipe from Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook, Gill Books, 2016.)

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Turkish Eggs

We loved these easy breakfast eggs, a nice change from scrambled or poached. You will want some nice toast on the side to mop it all up.

Turkish Eggs – serves 2

  • 50g butter
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced
  • 200g thick Greek yoghurt
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • ½ a lemon, juiced
  • 2 eggs
  • a handful of coriander leaves
  • a pinch of pul biber or chilli flakes

Melt the butter in a small pan with the sliced chilli, then set aside.

Whisk the yoghurt with the garlic, lemon juice and some seasoning, then divide between 2 shallow bowls.

Poach the eggs and set one on top of each bowl of yoghurt. Drizzle with the chilli butter and sprinkle over the coriander and pul biber.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Macaroons

No, not those fancy French ones, but traditional, light and melt-in-the-mouth ones. They started disappearing from the cooling rack and didn’t last very long in the cake tin as they were very moreish.

Macaroons – makes at least 16 biscuits

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 8 blanched almonds
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 25g ground rice, or semolina
  • almond extract (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 150°C / 130°Fan / Gas 2.

Line two baking trays with parchment.

Halve the blanched almonds and dip into the egg whites. Set these aside.

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gently fold in the ground almonds, sugar, ground rice or semolina, and a few drops of almond essence if using.

Spoon teaspoon amounts onto the prepared baking sheets. Make circles but don’t flatten too much. Place the reserved almond halves onto the centre of each macaroon.

Bake for 20-25 minutes and until a pale, golden brown. Leave to cool for a few minutes on the trays before lifting off with a palate knife and finishing on wire racks.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, BBC Books)

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We’ve had a spell of nice weather in Dublin so we’re barbecuing everything! We served these sweet potatoes with some marinated chicken but they would be lovely with anything, or even pretty good on their own.

Sweet Potatoes on the Barbecue – serves 4

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked parika
  • 120g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 generous tbsp of sour cream
  • a small bunch of chives

Get your barbecue going.

Rub the potatoes with a little olive oil, then season with salt and black pepper and wrap each one in tinfoil.

Put the potatoes onto the grill and cook for 45-50 minutes, turning them now and then, until soft.

Unwrap the foil slightly and cut the potatoes down the middle. Sprinle each one with a little sea salt and about ½ tsp smoked paprika, then divide the cheese between them. Set them back on the barbecue, still on the foil, and close the lid on the barbecue for a few minutes or until the cheese has melted.

Take the potatoes off the barbecue, top with the sour cream, and snip the chives over the top.

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

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The local asparagus is still available and we can’t resist a bargain. So here’s another version of this classic dish.

Wine Suggestion: Domaine Bellevue Touraine Sauvignon Blanc with this today. The grassy freshness and zesty lemon flavours cutting through the richness from the butter and parmesan and bringing out the lovely aspargus flavours even more.

Asparagus Risotto – serves 4

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, about 200g
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 25g butter
  • 2 small onion, fineldy chopped
  • 175g risotto rice
  • 100ml white wine or vermouth
  • 25g Parmesan, finely grated

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and put into a saucepan with the vegetable stock. Put on a low heat and bring to a gently simmer.

Cut the tips off the asparagus spears and add to the simmering stock for 1 minute, then scoop out with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Cut the rest of the asparagus into slim rounds.

Heat the oil and half the butter in a heavy, wide pan. Gently cook the onions until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the finely chopped asparagus stalks and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the rice and stir for a few minutes until it becomes semi-transparent and is nicely coated with the butter.

Stir in the wine or vermouth and allow to evaporate, then turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Begin adding the stock, one ladle at a time, stirring continuously after each addition until it is absorbed. This will take about 15 minutes.

Start tasting the rice, it should be tender with a little bite. Stir in the blanched asparagus tips and cook for 1 or 2 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and top with the butter and most of the Parmesan. Season well, then cover and leave aside for a few minutes.

Stir well to incorporate the butter and Parmesan, then serve with the rest of the Parmesan to sprinkle over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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