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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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