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Creamed Carrots

Creamed Carrots

This is a lovely side dish to serve alongside lamb koftas or something similar. We had it for dinner with just some brown rice and that was surprisingly good too.

Creamed Carrots – serves 4

  • 400g carrots, coarsely grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely shredded
  • 3-4 small, hot green chillies, finely chopped
  • a thick slice of butter
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp cashew nuts, toasted in a dry pan or in the oven, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • 4 heaped tbsp natural yoghurt
  • a good handful of coriander leaves
  • a squeeze of lime

Melt the butter in a frying pan, then add the garlic, ginger and mustard seeds and cook for a minute before adding the chopped chillies. Stir together for a minute then add the carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Stir the cream and yoghurt together and fold into the hot carrots with some seasoning. Immediately tip into a serving dish and top with the cashew nuts, coriander leaves and lime.

(Original recipe from Tender Volume I  by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2009)

Chicken Fricassée with Morels

It’s bean a while since we’ve been in France, but when we were there we stocked up on dried morels (and ceps) at the Saint-Cyprien market, and bought as much wine as they would let us have at Domaine Labet in the Jura. Creamy mushroom sauce and chardonnay from the Jura is a magic combination! We served this with roast potatoes made with a variety called carolus from McNally Family Farm – they make amazing roasties!

Wine Suggestion: We were fortunate to find a couple of different vintages of Labet’s En Chalasse Chardonnay which comes from very old vineyard plots. Tonight we opened the 2015 which showed the effect of a warm vintage with a broad and lifted ripe apple character and hints of nuts and spices. More gentle acidity than usual but well in balance with hints of skin contact and phenolic textures on the palate.

Chicken fricassée with morels – serves 4

  • 20g dried morels
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts with the skin on
  • 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
  • 90g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • 100ml Noilly Prat or dry sherry
  • 130ml chicken stock
  • 300g full-fat crème fraîche

Soak the morels in 200ml of tepid water for about 15 minutes, then drain through a sieve over a bowl to catch the liquid.  Strain the liquid and keep 75ml for the sauce. Rinse the morels under cold water to remove any grit, then dry with kitchen paper and cut in half lengthways.

Melt half the butter in a large sauté pan and fry the chicken, skin-side down, for about 3 minutes or until nicely browned. Turn the chicken pieces over and continue to brown for a few minutes on the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the rest of the butter to the pan, then fry the shallot until softened. Add the morels and chestnut mushrooms and fry for a few minutes. Add the Noilly Prat or sherry, the reserved soaking liquid and the stock, then bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for a few minutes.

Add the crème fraîche and stir until melted into the sauce, then put the chicken back in, along with any juices on the plate. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over a medium heat for about 8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.

(Original recipe from Secret France by Rick Stein, BBC Books, 2019)

Sorrel Soup

Sorrel Soup

This is the sorrel soup from Rick Stein’s book, Secret France. It’s delicious and tastes just like soups we’ve had in France on our holidays, and are never quite sure what’s in them. We got bags of fabulously fresh sorrel from McNally Family Farm.

Sorrel soup – serves 4 to 6

  • 50g butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 450g potatoes, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 litre chicken or veg stock
  • 250g sorrel
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp single cream
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then add the onion, garlic, leek and potatoes. Cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes or until softened.

Add the stock and the sorrel and cook for another 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Blend until smooth.

Season with salt and lots of black pepper, then stir in the honey. Serve in warm bowls with a drizzle of cream and the chives over the top.

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

BBQ Padrón peppers

BBQ Padron's

We’ve been picking up bags of padrón peppers at our local farm shop. We’ve usually cook these in a frying pan, or wok,  on the stove but have been throwing them onto the barbecue instead.

Thread the peppers onto two metal skewers, one at each end of the pepper, making sure there is a tiny gap between each to form sort of a raft. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil then put over hot coals until done or wrinkled and starting to blister. The raft helps turn them over.

Push them off the skewers into a bowl, toss with little Maldon Salt and serve with a glass of Txakoli or something similar.

Baked Cod with Tomatoes, Chorizo & Butterbeans

The beans in this dish are absolutely delicious. This is really straightforward and tasty for a weeknight.

Wine Suggestion: Nathalie & Gilles Fèvre make a delcious Chablis that we’re quite partial to. Despite the Mediterranean-Spanish influence to the dish, this northern French, unoaked Chardonnay has the texture, minerality and vibrancy that food like this needs.

Baked cod with tomatoes, chorizo & butterbeans – serves 2

  • 125g chorizo, diced into 1cm pieces
  • 400g tin butterbeans, drained and rinsed
  • 500g mixed tomatoes, roughly diced, small ones can just be halved
  • 20 black olives
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1tsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 large piece of skinless cod fillet (300-400g) or 2 smaller fillets
  • a few pinches of smoked paprika

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

Put 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, add the chorizo, then put over a gentle heat until crispy and the chorizo has released lots of oil. Scoop the chorizo out with a slotted spoon and reserve the oil.

Put the chorizo into a large bowl with the butterbeans, tomatoes, olives, parsley, vinegar, sugar, tomato purée and lots of seasoning, then toss.

Put a large piece of baking paper into a roughly A4 sized tin leaving some hanging over the edges. You might need to use two pieces of paper, the idea is to have a sealed parcel.

Tip the chorizo and beans into the paper, then set the fish on top. Sprinkle the fish with some smoked paprika and seasoning. Drizzle the chorizo oil over everything.

Gather the paper up and scrunch together to make a parcel, then put the tray into the oven for 20-30 minute, or until the fish is cooked.

(Original recipe by Sarah Cook in Olive Magazine, September 2015.)

Cherry Tomato Risotto

Cherry Tomato Risotto

We planted tomato plants in the garden during lockdown, and now we have cherry tomatoes coming out of our ears. Last week we made roasted cherry tomato soup and this week it’s tomato risotto. It’s a good complaint!

Wine Suggestion: A risotto … made with tomatoes … it had to be Sangiovese. We chose a bright, fresh fruited Chianti made by Trudie Styler and Sting. The Tenuta il Palaggio, When We Can Dance Chianti just revels in pure, good quality fruit; joyful and unsullied by oak.

Cherry tomato risotto – serves 4

  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock (we use Swiss Marigold Bouillon Powder)
  • a knob of butter
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 rosemary sprig, finely chopped
  • 250g risotto rice
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • grated Parmesan to serve

Put the tin of tomatoes in a food processor with 500ml of the veg stock and whizz until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and add the rest of stock, then bring to a gentle simmer.

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a gentle heat, then add the chopped onion and cook gently until softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic & rosemary, then cook for another minute. Add the rice and stir for a minute until the grains are glistening.

Start adding generous ladlefuls of the tomato and stock mixture and stir gently until absorbed before adding more. When you have added about half the stock, add the cherry tomatoes to the pan and season with salt and lots of black pepper. Continue adding the stock until it is used up and the rice is al dente, it should take 20-25 minutes.

Cover the pot and leave for 1 minutes, then tear and stir in the basil leaves. Serve in warmed bowls with Parmesan grated over the top.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Aioli

Aioli

Otherwise known as garlic mayonnaise and a super handy condiment to have up your sleeve and infinitely better than most supermarket versions.

Aioli – serves 4 to 6

  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 250ml mild olive oil or sunflower oil
  • a squeeze of lemon juice

Put the garlic in a food processor with the egg yolks and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper (we prefer freshly ground white pepper).

Turn the food processor on and start drizzling in the oil, just a few drops at a time. When it starts to emulsify, you can start adding the oil in a slow, steady stream until you have added it all and you have a mayonnaise. Check the seasoning and add a squeeze of lemon to taste.

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

Paella with Runner Beans, Chicken & Prawns

We just can’t resist runner beans when we see them and were so glad to find this recipe which puts them to good use. Healthy enough for a weeknight too.

Wine Suggestion: for a dish with both chicken and shellfish we prefer textural white wines. With an extra umami-savoury element we find that Grüner Veltliner also complements the paprika and saffron here. Tonight a wine from a friend in the business, the Schloss Gobelsburg Langenlois Kamptal GV. Quite a ripe style but with backbone and finesse too.

Paella with runner beans, chicken & prawns – serves 4 (we halved successfully)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 8 skinless chicken thighs
  • 225g paella rice
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 850ml hot chicken stock, with 2 large pinches of saffron added
  • 350g runner beans, peel down the sides with a vegetable peeler to remove any strings, then thickly slice into chunks
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 200g raw large king prawns

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and garlic, and fry for 5 minutes. Push the onions to one side, then add the chicken thighs and cook for 10 minutes or until browned.

Stir in the rice and paprika, then pour in the wine and let is sizzle for a minute or two. Add the saffron stock, then stir in the beans and pepper, and cook for about 15 minutes or until the rice is tender and most of the stock absorbed. You can add a bit more stock if needed.

Add the prawns for the last few minutes, they will turn pink when cooked. Season generously and allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Courgettes with Mint & Ricotta

There was a little bit of leftover ricotta in our fridge, and some courgettes and mint in the garden, which improved Tuesday’s freezer dinner immensely!

Courgettes with mint & ricotta – serves 2 as a side

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter
  • 2 large courgettes, sliced
  • zest and juice of ½ a lemon
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 35g of ricotta (or whatever quantity you have)
  • a small handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped

Heat a large heavy frying pan over a medium heat. Heat half the oil with half the butter, then add half of the courgettes in a single layer. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn the heat to low and continue cooking for 5 minutes, don’t be tempted to move them as you want them to take on plenty of colour.

Turn the courgettes, then grate over some lemon zest, pour over half the lemon juice and season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Leave for another 5 minutes or until very tender. Remove to a warm platter and repeat with the remaining courgettes.

Top the courgette with spoons of ricotta, drizzle over your best olive oil and scatter over the mint to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Vitello Tonnato

Vitello Tonnato

Well it’s the last day of summer on this side of the world but we’re still hanging on for a while longer. Vitello tonnato is a true holiday dish and one we can never resist when we see it on a menu – forever summer!

You need to cook the veal and make the mayonnaise the night before you wish to serve.

Wine suggestion: naturally this goes with a range of Italian wines, either white or youthful reds. Make sure they aren’t too lush though and keep a bit of acidity or else the caprrs will work against you and you’ll lose the delicate flavour balance. To push out of this comfort zone though we headed east to Greece and a new found favourite: Thymiopoulos’ Xinomavro Jeunes-Vignes from Naoussa. With hints of youthful Burgundy and Piedmont, touches of crunchiness, delightful earthy red fruits and plenty of class to match the dish.

Vitello tonnato – serves 6

  • 2 banana shallots, halved lengthways
  • 1 carrot, halved
  • 1 celery stick, halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • small bunch of thyme
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 200ml white wine
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 600g rose veal fillet, trimmed of any fatty bits and sinew

FOR THE MAYONNAISE:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 198g tin tuna in sunflower oil, drained
  • 1 tbsp baby capers, drained
  • 1½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt, plus extra to season
  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 50ml olive oil

TO GARNISH:

  • 2 tbsp baby capers, drained
  • roughly chopped parsley
  • 12 caper berries
  • lemon wedges

Put the shallots, carrot, celery, bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, wine and chicken stock into a large saucepan. Add 1 tsp of salt and bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Place the veal into the stock, then turn down to a bare simmer and poach for 15 minutes, turning regularly. Remove from the liquid and set aside to cool. Keep 100ml of the cooking liquid for the mayonnaise.

When the veal has cooled, season it generously with black pepper and wrap tightly in clingfilm. Put in the fridge and chill overnight.

To make the mayonnaise, put the egg yolks, tuna, capers, 1 tbsp of the lemon juice, mustard and sugar into a food processor. Season with salt and black pepper. Whizz until well combined, then gradually add both the oils and blend until smooth and thickened.

Add 2 tbsp of the reserved cooking liquid and blend again to give a soft consistency, add a bit more if you need. Spoon the mayonnaise into a bowl, then season again and add some more lemon juice if needed. Cover the surface with clingfilm and chill in the fridge overnight.

When ready to serve, slice the veal very thinly and arrange in overlapping slices on a platter and top with spoons of the tuna mayonnaise. Garnish with baby capers, parsley and caper berries, then season again with black pepper and a little salt. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

(Recipe from the Hairy Bikers’ Meat Feasts by Si King and Dave Myers, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

Crab cakes with dill mayonnaise

Always nice to have leftover crab and this handy recipe is both easy to make and a delight to eat. It can be made ahead of time if you like and cooked from chilled. We’ve put a stash in the freezer for a treat on another night too.

Wine Suggestion: for some reason this always feels so summery, so we think the matching wine needs to taste the same. We’ve been tasting a few different whites from Ribeiro and Bierzo in north western Spain recently, notably made from Treixadura, Godello, Loureiro and Albilla. They’re nice and light when they use a bit of lees contact, but very little, or no oak. Tonight the Dominio de Tares La Sonrisa, a Godello that is equally at home on a beach somewhere as it is at home, late at night, eating crab cakes.

Crab cakes with dill mayonnaise – serves 4 as a starter 

  • 250g potatoes, diced
  • 300g white crabmeat
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained and finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • zest and juice of a lemon, plus extra wedges to serve
  • small bunch of dill, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 85g dried breadcrumbs
  • sunflower oil, for shallow frying

Boil the potatoes in plenty of salty water for about 15 minutes or until tender, then drain and leave to steam dry in the pot for a few minutes. Mash and leave to cool.

Mix the crabmeat, capers, scallions, lemon zest, half the lemon juice and half the dill, in a large bowl. Stir in the cooled mash and season, then make into 12 round cakes. Transfer to a plate and put in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up a bit.

Make the dill mayonnaise by mixing the mayonnaise with the remaining lemon juice and dill. Keep in the fridge until needed.

Put the flour, egg and breadcrumbs on 3 separate plates. Dust the crab cakes with the flour, then dip in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs to coat.

Add sunflower oil to a shallow frying pan until it comes about 1cm up the side. Heat the oil, then cook the crab cakes for about 3 minutes on each side or until crispy and golden. You will probably have to do this in batches. Drain on kitchen paper, then serve with the dill mayonnaise and some lemon wedges.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Béarnaise Sauce

Bearnaise sauce

We rarely do the classic sauces, sometimes they look a bit intimidating. This Béarnaise is easily made and tastes superb, perfect for when only steak & chips will do. It will keep warm in the bowl while you cook your steaks.

Wine suggestion: Béarnaise is a slightly piquant sauce, so you have to make sure the wine you choose isn’t too acidic. Our choice was the Ridge Lytton Estate Petite Sirah. This is full bodied and richly plum flavoured with peppery tannins and very high levels of anthocyanins (colour and anti-oxidants). Crucially though it has only a medium acidity and so doesn’t fight the sauce. A rare enough grape, but in expert hands, wonderful indeed.

Béarnaise Sauce – serves 2

  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • a large sprig of tarragon, bruised
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 200g unsalted butter, diced and softened
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp tarragon leaves, finely chopped
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • sea salt

Put the vinegar, black peppercorns, shallot and whole tarragon sprig into a small saucepan with 50ml of water, then bring to the boil. Simmer until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, then strain and reserve the liquid.

Put a heatproof bowl over a pan of just simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not in contact with the water.

Put the egg yolks, a cube of butter and a pinch of salt into the bowl. Whisk together, then add half the reserved liquid. Keep whisking until the mixture comes together and starts to thicken, then gradually add all of the butter, one cube at a time. Make sure that the mixture has emulsified (and not separated!) before you add any more butter each time. If it becomes too thick you can add teaspoons of warm water to thin it.

When all the butter has been added, remove the bowl from over the pan. Add a squeeze of lemon and stir in the chopped tarragon. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice, salt, white pepper, or more of the reduced liquid if needed. Leave the sauce in the warm bowl (off the heat) and it will keep warm for about 30 minutes but keep stirring occasionally.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ Meat Feasts by Si King & Dave Myers, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2015.)

Jamie's Coleslaw

A reprise of THE most visited blog post we’ve ever done! We thought it was worth highlighting again for that reason alone but it’s also a great coleslaw.

Jamie’s Favourite Coleslaw – serves 6 generously

  • ½ a white cabbage, core removed and cut into quarters
  • 1 small red onion, peeled
  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 2 red apples, washed and cored
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • juice of 1-2 lemons
  • some mayonnaise
  • 1 heaped tsp English mustard

Slice the cabbage as finely as possible or slice using a food processor. Then slice the onion in the same way and mix with the cabbage in a large bowl.

Julienne the carrots and apples with a mandolin or food processor or cut into matchsticks. Add to the bowl along with the chopped parsley, a few dollops of mayonnaise and the mustard. You can adjust the quantities of lemon juice and mayonnaise to how you like it. We just added the juice from one lemon and a few good dollops of mayonnaise. Season to taste and toss together.

(Original recipe from Cook with Jamie by Jamie OliverPenguin Books, 2006.)

Courgette Gratin

Courgette Gratin

Doesn’t everything taste better with a bit of cream & cheese?

Courgette Gratin – serves 4 as a side

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 800g courgettes, chopped into ½ cm slices
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • a few basil leaves
  • 100ml crème fraîche
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 75g Gruyère cheese (or you could use Cheddar), grated

Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the courgettes and herbs and season well with sea salt and black pepper. Cover the pan with a lid and cook gently for about 10 minutes, or until the courgettes have softened but still have a bit of a bite. Give them a stir occasionally.

Tip the courgettes into an ovenproof dish. Whisk the crème fraîche with the milk, flour and some salt. Pour this over the courgettes and sprinkle the cheese on top.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until browned and bubbling.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ Mediterranean Adventure, Seven Dials, 2017.)

Sticky Korean Chicken Drumsticks

We always take the drumsticks too when we buy chicken thighs in the butchers. They make for economical mid-week dinners. This recipe by Tom Kerridge is straightforward but you do need to get marinating the night before.

Sticky Korean Chicken Drumsticks – serves 8 (we very easily scaled down to feed 2)

  • 16 chicken drumsticks
  • sliced red chilli, to garnish
  • sliced scallions, to garnish

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • large piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 3 tbsp mirin

Put the ingredients for the marinade into a large bowl with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and whisk together.

Score the chicken drumsticks with a sharp knife and toss in the marinade, then cover and chill overnight.

Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 4.

Put the drumsticks onto a shallow roasting tray and drizzle over the marinade left in the bowl.

Roast for 40 minutes, then baste with the juices in the tray.

Turn the oven up to 220C/200C fan/gas 8 and cook for another 20 minutes or until caramelised and a starting to char.

Serve with some fresh red chilli and scallions scattered over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Green bean minestrone with fresh pesto

We make lots of pesto in the summer months and stash it in the freezer. Kids all love it and they seem to prefer vegetable soup with it too.

Green bean minestrone with fresh pesto – serves 4

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 70g pack cubetti di pancetta (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ l vegetable or chicken stock
  • 100g small pasta shapes, such as orzo or tiny letters
  • 150g green beans, cut into shortish pieces
  • 150g podded broad beans (frozen are fine)
  • 100g/4oz spring cabbage, shredded
  • 4 tbsp pesto

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, then fry the onion ,garlic, carrot and celery, until softened but not browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Fry the pancetta in the same pan over a low heat until the fat renders, then fry until browned but not crispy. Tip the pancetta into a sieve to drain off excess fat.

Return the vegetables and pancetta to the pan and add the bay leaf, lots of seasoning and the stock. Bring to a simmer, then add the pasta and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the green beans and broad beans to the pot and cook for 3 minutes, then add the shredded cabbage. Bring back to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Spoon over the pesto before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Mouclade

Mouclade

Not our first mouclade, as we’ve made many variations over the years, but we particularly liked this one by Diana Henry as the saffron gives the sauce a fantastic colour. A very popular summer lunch dish. You will need some bread for mopping up the sauce.

Wine Suggestion: we went Spanish today and paired this with a wine made predominantly of Treixadura but with small amounts of Godello, Albariño and Loureiro too. Made by Pazo Casanova in the DO Ribeiro which is on the Spanish section of the Minho River this is fresh and citrussy with hints of white flowers and stone fruit on the nose and a mid-weight, textured finish. While we don’t drink much Treixadura we were tempted by the addition of the other grapes which we knew would work with the dish and we can now add this rarer, indigenous Spanish variety to our repetoire of seafood loving wines.

Mouclade – serves 4

  • a good pinch of saffron threads
  • 2kg mussels
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¾ tsp medium curry powder
  • 4 tbsp brandy
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • 200ml double cream
  • generous handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Put the saffron in a cup with 5 tbsp of boiling water, then leave aside for 30 minutes.

Wash the mussels, remove any beards and crusty bits and throw away open mussels that don’t closed when given a sharp tap on the side of the sink.

Melt the butter in a pan and gently sauté the onion until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and curry powder and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the brandy and boil until reduced to a couple of tablespoons. Reduce the heat, then stir in the flour and mix well until smooth. Cook for  a minute, then take the pan off the heat and gradually stir in the saffron water. Set aside.

Put the wine and mussels into a large sauce and cover. Bring the boil and cook over a med-high heat for about 4 minutes, shaking now and then, until the mussels have opened. Strain the mussels in a colander, over a bowl to collect the cooking liquid. Cover the mussels to keep warm while you finish the sauce.

Strain the mussel cooking liquid through a J-cloth, then gently reheat the saffron sauce. Gradually stir in the mussel liquid, then bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Add the cream and simmer for 4 minutes or until reduced and a little thicker. Season to taste and stir through the parsley.

Put the mussels into a large serving bowl, pour over the sauce and serve.

(Original recipe from How to Eat a Peach by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2018.)

Melon, Tomato, Prosciutto & mint Salad

This makes a great summer lunch with some bread or an easy starter. The mint is a lovely addition.

Melon, tomato, prosciutto & mint salad – serves 4 to 6

  • 500g tomatoes, chopped into chunks or halved if small (heirloom tomatoes would be good if you can get them)
  • 1 melon, cut into chunks
  • 12 slices prosciutto
  • a handful of mint, leaves picked & shredded
  • crusty bread, to serve

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1½ tbsp Sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.

Put the tomatoes and melon into a large bowl, then toss with a little of the dressing and some salt and pepper.

Lay the prosciutto slices over a large dish, then spoon over the tomatoes & melon. Pour over another bit of dressing and scatter over the mint.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Courgette Trifolate

We can’t be the only people living on courgettes at the minute. Not that we’re complaining, we love looking out for different things to do with them which is how we came across this little side dish by Jacob Kennedy. The cooking method is a bit different but the result is delicious, the lesser cooked bits taste really strongly of courgettes and you also get some browned pieces with a deeper flavour.

Courgettes with Parsley – serves 4 as a side

  • 600g courgettes
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • a tiny pinch of crushed dried chilli flakes
  • about 20g of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Thinly slice the courgettes, 3-5mm.

Get out a large, wide frying pan.  It needs to be big enough to hold the courgettes no more than 2-3 layers deep.

Heat the pan until really smoking or at least very, very hot. Add all of the courgettes and shake the pan to settle them, leave for 30 seconds.

Drizzle over the oil and sprinkle with salt but don’t stir yet. Continue to cook for another 30 seconds, then add the garlic, chilli and some black pepper. Toss once, so the courgettes on the bottom are pretty much on the top and the garlic and chilli underneath. Leave for 15 seconds, then shake the pan and cook for another 15 seconds. Sprinkle with parsley and toss a few times to mix, then remove from the heat. Leave in the pan for a further minute to finish cooking, then serve hot or at room temperature.

(Original recipe from Bocca Cookbook by Jacob Kennedy, Bloomsbury, 2011.)

Tuna cooked in lentils

This really is the perfect dish by Joe Trivelli. Chunky pieces of tuna, earthy lentils and sweet tomatoes. We really recommend this one.

Wine Suggestion: Chill down a Grignolino, a red from Piedmont, and you’ve got a joyful  match. A friend brings in Olim Bauda’s version which is excellent, but we’re conscious this is a hard grape to find so if you can’t find one try a chilled, youthful Beaujolais or a Dolcetto.

Tuna Cooked in Lentils – serves 4

  • 200g dried lentils
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 350g thick tuna steak, cut into 3 cm chunks
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • small bunch of basil leaves
  • 40g butter
  • 1 lemon
  • best extra virgin olive oil

Rinse the lentils and cook in water until tender, about 20 minutes, then drain.

Season the flour with salt and stir in the crushed coriander seeds. Lightly dust the tuna in the flour mixture.

Heat the olive oil in a wide pan and fry the garlic until golden. Remove the garlic from the pan and add the tuna. Turn quickly, then add the tomatoes and basil, followed by the lentils. Toss a few times, then turn off the heat. Put the butter on top and leave in the pan for 8 minutes, basting the tuna with the lentils. Squeeze over some lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

(Original recipe from The Modern Italian Cook by Joe Trivelli, Seven Dials, 2018.)