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Shepherds Pie

If you’ve got left-over roast lamb and gravy, then this is the dish for you. Rich, delicious, comforting, and better than the regular mince version if you ask us. Based on a recipe from the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork.

Wine Suggestion: This works with a vibrant Syrah or Shiraz. A juicy fruity core, fine tannins, and hints of pepper spice are what you’re looking for. We went for the Killikanoon Killermans Run Shiraz from the Clare Valley in Australia – full bodied but no heaviness. The Clare Valley often surprises us with how fresh and European it is despite the proximity to the equator … lots of flavour and tannins and yet delicate, with a refreshing finish.

Ballymaloe Shepherd’s Pie – serves 6

  • 25g butter
  • 110g onion, chopped
  • 25g flour
  • 450ml stock and leftover gravy (top up whatever gravy you have to with stock to get 450ml in total)
  • 1 tsp tomato purée
  • 2 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 450g cooked lamb, chopped very finely

FOR THE MASH:

  • 900g unpeeled mashing potatoes e.g. Kerr’s Pinks
  • a splash or two of full-cream milk (or cream if you happen to have some)
  • 50g butter

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

To make the filling, melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the onion and cover with a piece of greased paper. Cook gently for 5 minutes. Remove the paper and stir in the flour, then cook until lightly browned. Add the stock and gravy and bring to the boil. Add the tomato purée, parsley, thyme, and season well. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir the chopped lamb into the sauce and bring to the boil. Taste and correct the seasoning, then scrape the mixture into a large dish.

Put the potatoes into a large saucepan, cover with cold water and season with plenty of salt. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain off two-thirds of the water, cover again with the lid, then steam over a low heat until cooked. Peel off the skins and mash while hot. Beat in the butter and some salt and pepper. Now add a few splashes of milk or cream until you have a nice consistency for spreading over the lamb.

Cover the lamb mixture with the potatoes and score the top with a fork.

Bake in the hot oven for about 30 minutes or until browned and bubbling and serve with seasonal veg. It has to be peas with pie for us.

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

 

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Gujerati-style Cabbage with Carrots

We made this Madhur Jaffrey dish in an attempt to jazz up some leftover lamb curry from the freezer, and what a success it was! Really light and flavoursome, we ate huge platefuls. A new, absolute favourite that we’re determined to do again soon and often.

Gujerati-style cabbage with carrots – serves 4 to 6

  • 350g green cabbage, cored and finely shredded (we used spring greens)
  • 350g carrots, coarsely grated
  • ½ a hot green chilli, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 dried hot red chilli
  • 1¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 4 heaped tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Heat the oil in a wide, deep pot over a medium-high heat.

Add the mustard seeds, they will start popping after a few seconds, then add the red chilli and stir for a few seconds. Stir in the cabbage, carrots and green chilli. Reduce the heat to medium and stir for about 30 seconds, then add the salt, sugar and coriander. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the vegetables are just cooked, then stir in the lemon juice.

(Original recipe from Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey, Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 2002.)

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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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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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Off to France camping for a few weeks and here is our first lunch. We recommend packing a bag of cooking essentials that includes salt, good extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and a black pepper mill. 

Tuna Niçoise – serves 4 

  • 2 eggs 
  • 4 new / waxy potatoes 
  • 200g green beans 
  • A couple of handfuls of soft lettuce leaves, like butter lettuce 
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered 
  • 200g tuna in olive oil, drained
  • 16 small black olives 
  • 8 white anchovy fillets, spli (optional)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar 
  • Salt & black pepper 

Put the eggs in a pot of boiling water and cook for 7 minutes. Place them under cold running water to stop them cooking. They should be just soft in the middle.

Cook the potatoes and green beans in separate pots of boiling salted water until tender, then drain. Cut the potatoes into bite-size cubes.

Gently toss the warm potatoes and beans in a large bowl with the tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. 

Tear the lettuce over the base of a serving platter and spoon the potato, bean and tuna mixture on top. Scatter the olives, quartered eggs and anchovies over the top and serve. 

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Rack of Pork, apple & cider butter

A delicious pork dish from our favourite book about pigs – Pork & Sons by Stéphane Reynaud. The apple and cider butter would be a great addition to any pork dish.

Wine Suggestion: We drank a regular favourite: the Secateurs Chenin Blanc from Swartland in South Africa. Adie Badenhorst manages to coax depth, personality, minerality and freshness from this bargain. It has enough richness and weight to match the pork and cider butter and a wonderful complimentary yellow apple flavour. Well worth seeking out.

Rack of Pork with Cider & Apple Butter – serves 6

  • 1 rack of pork with 6 chops
  • 500ml dry cider
  • 6 Granny Smith apples
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • a pinch of ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of ground ginger
  • 100g unsalted butter, chilled

Cook the rack in a flameproof casserole, over a medium heat, until well browned all over. Baste with a little of the cider, lower the heat, then cover and cook for an hour, basting often.

Peel, core and quarter the apples. Add them to the casserole with the onions, the rest of the cider and the spices and cook over a low heat for another 10 minutes or so or until the apples and onions have softened.

Remove the rack from the casserole, tent with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Add the butter and beat into the apple mixture. Cut the rack into chops and serve with the cider and apple butter.

(Original recipe from Pork & Sons by Stéphane Reynaud, Phaidon, 2007.)

 

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Sunshine Fish Curry

Sunshine Haddock Curry

 

This has a delicate flavour and is more about the fish than the curry – in a good way. Great fresh flavours and excellent served with the Sesame Pak Choi.

Sunshine Fish Curry – serves 6

  • 6 white fish fillets e.g. cod, haddock, whiting, pollack or ling
  • 1tsp cumin seeds, toasted and finely ground
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and finely ground
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk, whisked to remove any lumps
  • 1/2-1 fresh red chilli, deseeded (or not if preferred) and finely sliced
  • squeeze of lemon juice

Place the fish on a plate. Mix the ground seeds with the turmeric and salt, then scatter over the fish to coat.

Place a wide saucepan or large frying pan on a medium heat and pour in the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté for 7-10 minutes or until very soft and colouring at the edges.

Lay the fish on top of the onion and scrape in any seeds and spices from the plate. Cook the fish for 2-3 minutes on each side or until light golden.

Pour in the coconut milk and add the chilli. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. To finish, add a squeeze of lemon and more salt if needed.

Serve immediately with steamed rice and the pak choi below.

Sesame Pak Choi – serves 4 as a side dish

  • 500g pak choi
  • salt
  • 25g sesame seeds, toasted
  • 15ml sesame oil

Remove the stems from the pak choi and cut into similar-sized lengths.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the stems and cook for a minute or two or until just tender, then stir in the leaves and drain immediately.

Place in a dish, sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds and sesame oil and serve.

(Both recipes originally from Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen by Rachel Allen, HarperCollins, 2013.)

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Marinated Tuna with Cherry tomato salsa

Tuna steaks are definitely at their best when seared on a hot barbecue. The marinade would also work well with other firm fish fillets such as swordfish or kingfish.

Wine suggestion: we think a light bodied red would be a treat here which goes against traditional pairings. The trick is to get a lighter body and lower tannins. We drank a Beaujolais-Villages from Domaine Rochette, a delightful wine which balances it’s lightness with an obvious care from the winemaker and good fruit from the vineyards; polished and elegant as well as joyfully youthful.

Paprika- and Oregano-Marinated Tuna with Cherry Tomato Salsa – serves 4

  • 4 x 150g fillets of fresh tuna
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for cooking
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked spanish paprika
  • lemon wedges, to serve

For the Cherry Tomato Salsa: 

  • 250g cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 long red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and black pepper

Put the fish in a shallow non-metallic dish. Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano and paprika. Pour this over the fish, cover with cling-film and refrigerate for half an hour.

Preheat the barbecue to high and brush lightly with olive oil. Barbecue the fish for a couple of minutes on each side (longer if you prefer the fish well done).

Toss all of the ingredients for the cherry tomato salsa together and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve the fish with some salsa over the top and a lemon wedge.

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Basmati rice with orzo

Such an impressive and versatile rice dish. Great with Middle Eastern-style food or indeed anything you deem rice an appropriate side for. We served with these delicious meatballs.

Basmati rice & orzo – serves 6

  • 250g basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp melted ghee or unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 85g orzo
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 1 tsp salt

Wash the rice well, then put in a large bowl and cover with lots of cold water. Soak for 30 minutes, then drain.

Heat the ghee or butter and oil on a medium-high heat in a medium heavy-based saucepan. Add the orzo and sauté for a few minutes, or until the grains turn dark golden. Add the stock, bring to the boil and cook for 3 minutes. Add the drained rice and salt, bring to a gentle boil, stir gently, then cover the pan and simmer on a very low heat for 15 minutes. Don’t lift the lid during this time!

Take the rice off the heat, remove the lid and quickly cover with a clean tea towel. Put the lid back on over the towel and leave for 10 minutes. Fluff up with a fork before serving.

(Original recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi, Ebury Press, 2012.)

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