Spaghetti Carbonara

A sort of carbonara-style dish but far from authentic. It’s tasty though, and we get requests for this version so we’ll keep making it.

Wine Suggestion: We opened a bottle of the Colterenzio Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige/Südtirol for our guests and it went very well. If in doubt we try to choose a wine similar to the origin of the food; a good rule if you’re stuck.

Spaghetti with Mushrooms, Bacon & Cream – serves 4

  • 350g spaghetti
  • 150g unsmoked streaky bacon, cut across into very thin strips
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g small chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 85g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Cook the pasta in lots of boiling salted water according to the time indicated on the pack.

Meanwhile, heat a large, deep, non-stick frying pan and fry the bacon over a low heat until the fat starts to run. Add 1tbsp of the olive oil, increase the heat, and keep cooking for another 3-5 minutes or until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on some kitchen paper.

Add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil to the same pan, then add the mushrooms and garlic and fry over a medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes or until the mushrooms are golden. Set aside.

Combine the eggs and most of the Parmesan in a small bowl (reserve enough cheese to sprinkle over at the end). Season well with salt and black pepper. When the pasta is almost done, return the frying pan to a low heat. Scoop out a cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain.

Tip the spaghetti into the warm pan with the bacon and mushrooms. Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the eggs and cheese. Stir in the cream and about 120ml of the reserved pasta water. Use some tongs to toss the spaghetti with the other ingredients.

Divide the spaghetti between 4 warm bowls and scatter over the parsley, reserved Parmesan and some more black pepper.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect, DK, 2014.)


Italian Baked Rice

Italian Baked Rice

We vowed to set Jamie’s 5 Ingredients book aside for a while but we keep coming back to it – this time as we only needed to pick up one ingredient. This is definitely not conventional cooking as we know it but it works, and we’re continually surprised by what read like pretty ordinary dishes. This makes a great midweek meal served with a rocket salad but would also be a good side for roast or barbecued meat.

Wine Suggestion: What you choose may depend on if there’s meat being cooked too, but we ate this initially on its own so went for the Dog Point Chardonnay which was both rich and round as well as fresh and vibrant; perfect.

Italian Baked Rice – serves 4

  • 2 onions, peeled, quartered and divided into petals
  • 60g fennel salami
  • 300g Arborio rice
  • 1 heaped tbsp mascarpone cheese
  • 40g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4.

Put a large shallow casserole over a high heat. Throw the onion petals into the pan and char for about 4 minutes, tossing regularly.

Reduce the heat to medium and stir in 1 tbsp of olive oil and the salami, then the rice and cook for 1 minute. Add 1.2 litres of boiling kettle water and the mascarpone, then stir in the Parmesan with some sea salt and black pepper.

Bake the rice in the oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the liquid and is just cooked through. Drizzle with 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and season to taste before serving.

(Original recipe from 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph, 2017.)


Cheesy Kale Bake

Cheesy Kale Bake

Kale is everywhere and not our choice to put in a smoothie, but absolutely delicious when smothered with cheese sauce.

Cheesy kale bake – serves 4

  • 400g curly kale, remove the stalks and thickly shred
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 400ml milk
  • 250g Cheddar or Gruyère cheese (or a mixture), grated
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

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

Put a large pan of water onto a high heat, add a tsp of salt and bring to the boil. Tip in the kale and cook for a couple of minutes or until almost tender. When it has cooled a bit squeeze the leaves with your hands to remove excess water and spread out in an ovenproof dish (20 x 25cm).

To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the flour and cook for a minute or until bubbling. Gradually add the milk, whisking or stirring all the time, then reduce the heat and cook for 3-4 minutes or until thickened. Remove the sauce from the heat, add half the cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Pour the cheese sauce over the kale and sprinkle over the rest of the cheese, then bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

(Original recipe from Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen by Rachel Allen, HarperCollins, 2013.)

Spiced Sweet Potato, Puy Lentils and Rocket with Honey-roasted Walnuts

We picked up an amazing salad book, called Community, on our last trip to Australia which really pushes salad to centre stage. The recipes can all be served as a main course or as a side and they portions are accordingly generous. This one is good but the predominant flavour is honey so if that’s not your thing then perhaps give it a miss. We thought it might be nice with some roast pork.

The honey-roasted walnuts are a nice snack on their own too, so don’t be afraid of making too many.

Wine Suggestion: We went a little left-field for this and opened a Colterenzio Lagrein, a spicy, earthy red from Alto Adige – Südtirol; choose something a little earthy with a little spice and good fruit.

Spiced sweet potato, puy lentils and rocket with honey-roasted walnuts – serves 4 to 6

  • 2 kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 250g Puy lentils, rinsed
  • 1 x 250 ml cup of soft herbs e.g. mint, parsley, chervil, tarragon, chives, dill or coriander – finely chopped
  • 2 x 250ml cups of  baby rocket leaves
  • 50g Parmesan, shaved


  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 x 250ml cups walnuts

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Combine the sweet potato, olive oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin and allspice in a large bowl with some salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until tender and turning golden.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then simmer the lentils for about 20 minutes or until tender but still with a little bite. Drain.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the sweet vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Stir the vinaigrette through the lentils while they’re still warm.

To prepare the honey-roasted walnuts, combine the honey with the chilli flakes, turmeric, salt and just enough water to make a thick paste. Toss the walnuts in the paste and spread over a baking tray. Roast for 15 minutes or until they are crunchy. They will still be a bit sticky. Watch very carefully after the first 10 minute as they can go from toasted to burnt in seconds.

Combine half the chopped herbs with the rocket, sweet potato and lentils and season well. Scatter over the walnuts, the remaining herbs and the Parmesan before serving.

(Original recipe from Community: Salad recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen by Hetty McKinnon, Pan Macmillan Australia, 2014.)

There is a rosemary bush in our front garden and it often comes to the rescue when we have pretty much nothing for dinner. Provided you have a rosemary bush at your disposal this is pretty much a store cupboard dish and also handy for using the end of a jar of cream. This is surprisingly tasty and a great throw together weeknight dish.

Wine Suggestion: this dish suits a rustic red wine with a bit of “garrigue”, the southern French earthy, herby, spice that is a bit wild and untamed. This time we opened a wine that has this in spades, the Mas Conscience “le Cas” which is 100% old vine Carignan, which is all black fruits hints of hot rocks and earth, and wild Languedoc spices. Not shy in character but a good match nonetheless.

Rigatoni with Tomato & Rosemary Sauce – serves 4

  • 4 sprigs of rosemary, leaves finely chopped and stalks discarded
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 400g rigatoni or penne
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1 tsp sugar

Fry the chopped rosemary in a tablespoon of olive oil for about a minute. Stir in the tinned tomatoes and the chilli flakes, then simmer hard for 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in lots of salted boiling water according to the time indicated on the pack.

Stir the double cream into the sauce along with the sugar and plenty of seasoning, then mix in the drained pasta and serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food Magazine, February 2011.)

Broccoli & salcmon bake

This was Friday night dinner in our house. Really easy to put together, with heaps of flavour and you can even prep it up to 4 hours in advance and chill until you’re ready to bake. You could serve some salad on the side if you like but it works pretty good on its own.

Wine Suggestion: Fresh, minerally, Chardonnay is our go to wine for this. You need fresh acidity for the rich salmon and creamy sauce and a broadness on the palate to match the body of the dish. Today it’s the Ventenac Préjugés, 100% Chardonnay from a plot that exceeded the expectations and prejudices of the winemaker, being atypical Languedoc; all freshness, juiciness and minerality.

Broccoli & salmon bake – serves 4

  • 250g penne pasta
  • 300g broccoli, cut into large florets
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 600ml full cream milk
  • 100g mascarpone
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil, drained and thickly sliced
  • 2 tbsp small capers, rinsed (optional)
  • 10 large basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 4 fresh skinless salmon fillets
  • 50g mature cheddar, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5/170C.

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water for 6 minutes, then add the broccoli and time another 4 minutes when the water returns to the boil. Drain.

Meanwhile, put the butter, flour, and milk in a very large saucepan and heat, whisking the whole time, until it thickens enough to make a smooth sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the mascarpone, sun-dried tomatoes, capers and basil, then add the drained broccoli & pasta and season well.

Halve the salmon fillets widthways to give you shorter stubby pieces and put into the a large baking dish in a single layer. Spoon the fish and broccoli mixture over the top, then scatter with the cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes or until starting to bubble at the edges. Don’t be tempted to brown it too much or you will overcook the fish.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Easy lamb kebabs

These definitely taste best off a barbecue but if you’re not up for that in February then you could cook them on a griddle pan instead. Marinade the lamb up to a day in advance if you can.

Wine Suggestion: A juicy Californian Zinfandel or Italian Primitivo; cheers!

Easiest ever lamb kebabs – serves 4

  • 600g lamb neck fillet, cut into 2cm chunks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 red onions, cut into small wedges

Heat the barbecue or griddle pan.

Put the lamb into a large bowl and toss with the oil and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside for as long as you can (overnight ideally).

Thread alternate pieces of lamb and onions onto metal skewers (you can use wooden skewers either but you need to soak them in cold water for about 20 minutes so they don’t catch fire).

Cook the skewers for about 8 minutes, turning regularly.