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Cherry tomato salad with wholegrain mustardSuch a nice tomato salad with lots of delicious dressing for which you will require some crusty bread. You do need to skin the tomatoes but it actually takes no time at all if you follow the instructions below and it allows them to soak up the dressing so don’t be tempted to leave that step out.

Cherry tomato salad with wholegrain mustard – serves 4 to 6

  • 900g cherry tomatoes
  • 50g walnuts, coarsely chopped

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • small bunch of tarragon
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 heaped tbsp wholegrain Dijon mustard
  • 125ml walnut oil or olive oil

Peel the tomatoes by cutting a slit in the base of each then putting them into a large bowl. Pour over some boiling water from the kettle and immediately drain – the skins should peel of easily.

Keep a sprig of tarragon to garnish and remove the rest of the leaves from the stalks. Coarsely chop the leaves and discard the stalks. Whisk the vinegar and mustard together with some salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the oil so the dressing thickens slightly, then whisk in the chopped tarragon.

Pour the dressing over the tomatoes,  mix gently and taste for seasoning. You can leave at room temperature for a couple of hours at this point. Pile into a salad bowl and sprinkle with the walnuts and the reserved tarragon just before serving.

(Original recipe by Anne Willan IN: BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2002)

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Watercress & Scallion salad

We love this green salad with barbecues as the scallions taste amazing and you’re not likely to get the barbecue out just for a green salad.

Watercress & scallion salad – serves 8 to 10

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 shallots, sliced into fine rings
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 bunches scallions, trimmed
  • 4 bunches of watercress (or failing that a bag of mixed salad leaves as we had to resort to this time but it we prefer it with watercress)

Heat a pan over a medium heat, then fry the shallots for a few minutes with a splash of oil, then add the sugar and vinegar. Bring to the boil, then set to one side.

Toss the scallions in a little oil then cook on a hot barbecue for a a couple of minutes on each side (use a griddle pan if that’s easier). Put the scallions in a bowl with the shallots and the rest of the olive oil. Season and toss with the watercress.

(Original recipe by James Martin IN: BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2008)

Left-over Chicken Curry

A quick curry made with leftover roast chicken. We liked it and the fresh tomatoes definitely lighten things up for this time of year. We didn’t have any coriander but mint was a good substitute. Rachel Kelly also says that you can just use 2 tsp each of garam masala, coriander and ground cumin if you don’t have all the spices.

Wine Suggestion: This is quite a mild curry and we think you could choose most fruity, white wines and lighter, juicy reds easily. We had a glass of La Piuma Pecorino from the Marches in Italy and it was a refreshing match.

Leftover Chicken Curry – serves 4

  • vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, very finely chopped
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, chopped (plus some extra to serve)
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • leftover roast chicken, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • cooked basmati rice, to serve
  • coriander, chopped, to serve

Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large heavy-based saucepan. Gently fry the onion with a pinch of salt for about 15 minutes or until softened, then add the garlic and ginger. Continue to fry gently for another few minutes.

Add the spices and mix well with the onion. Fry for another 3 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for another minute or two then add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the cooked chicken and warm through. Dollop in about 2 tbsp of yoghurt, then warm gently – easy does it here so the sauce doesn’t curdle.

Serve with steamed rice and sprinkle over some fresh coriander and chopped tomato.

(Original recipe by Rachel Kelly in The Guardian)

Fish pie with leek mash

No sooner had we given up all hope and planned a hearty fish pie for dinner, than the sun finally came out. The leek mash brightens it up a bit and if served with some green peas it works not too bad for a fine weather dish – just pity the poor cook stuck in the kitchen! We fear you might be horrified when you read the list of ingredients but if the rogue ingredient turns you right off you can always leave it out. It’s also our secret weapon for a prawn cocktail so there’s usually some in our fridge, and it turns out that it tastes surprisingly good in a fish pie too.

Wine Suggestion: this works with a crisp version of Chardonnay; we chose an organic Chablis made by the Gueguen family.

Fish pie with leek mash – serves 6

  • 900g white fish fillets, in large chunks (we used cod)
  • 425ml full-fat milk
  • 100g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • juice of ½ a small lemon
  • 3 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1½ tbsp Heinz salad cream (optional)
  • 125ml double cream
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped dill or parsley
  • 200g cooked, peeled prawns
  • 500g leeks, sliced
  • 800g floury potatoes, in chunks

Put the fish and milk into a sauté pan. Bring to a simmer and poach for about 3 minutes. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve the milk.

Melt 50g of the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the milk, a ladleful at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition. When the milk has all been added, return the pan to the heat and keep stirring as you bring it the boil. It should be very thick. Season, then add the lemon juice, mustard and salad cream. Reduce the heat and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cream and herbs and continue to simmer for another minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning – you want this well-flavoured.

Put the fish and prawns into a 2.4 litre pie dish. Stir any liquid under the fish into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the fish and mix gently, then leave to cool before refrigerating to make it easier to spoon on the mash.

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

Melt the remaining 50g of butter in a heavy saucepan and add the leeks. Turn to coat in the butter and season, then add 2 tbsp of water, cover and sweat over a low heat for about 15 minutes or until very soft. Check occasionally and add another spoon of water if needed.

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, then drain. Return to the warm pan, cover with a clean tea towel and a lid, then place over a very low heat for a couple of minutes to dry.

Mash the potatoes until smooth, then add the leeks and their juices and season well. Spread the mash over the fish and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Serve with peas – as with all pies.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchel Beazley, 2010.)

 

Big mouthfuls of flavour with this somewhat unconventional pasta dish – Italians might like to avert their eyes! The capers steal the show in some ways so you really need to like these and the spicy, garlicky chickpeas are to die for. If this dish is wrong we don’t want to be right!

Wine Suggestion: We had a glass of the Domaine de la Chauviniere Muscadet sur lie which might not be the obvious choice but it worked. Fresh and light, but with great fruit and texture, we’d highly recommend this to match the vibrant, flavour packed dish.

Orecchiette cooked in chickpea & tomato sauce – serves 4

  • 50ml olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and patted dry
  • 2 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ¾ tbsp tomato purée
  • 40g parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 tbsp baby capers
  • 80g good quality green olives, pitted and roughly torn
  • 250g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • ½ tbsp caraway seeds, lightly toasted and crushed
  • 250g dried orecchiette pasta
  • 500ml vegetable stock

Put the first 6 ingredients along with 2 tsp of salt in a large sauté pan and fry gently over a medium heat for about 8 minutes, until the chickpeas are slightly crisp. Reserve about a third of the chickpeas to use as a garnish at the end.

Combine the parsley, lemon zest, capers and olives in a bowl, then add two-thirds of this to the pan with the cherry tomatoes, sugar and caraway seeds. Cook and stir for another 2 minutes.

Add the pasta and stock and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook over a medium heat for 12 minutes, undisturbed. Check the pasta is cooked and if not continue cooking for another minute or two.

Stir in the remaining parsley mixture, drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil and garnish with the reserved chickpeas and some black pepper.

(Original recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi in The Guardian)

Wild Garlic Omelette with goats cheese

We just loved this simple omelette with lots of wild garlic and some melting goat’s cheese. You could leave the goat’s cheese out and it would still be a super supper dish with some salad and crusty bread.

Wild Garlic & Goat’s Cheese Omelette – serves 2

  • a good handful of wild garlic leaves – about 50g
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten (beat 2 eggs in 2 separate cups for ease)
  • 25g butter
  • 50g goat’s cheese crumbled

Finely shred the wild garlic and season the eggs.

Heat half the butter in a nonstick frying pan. Add half the wild garlic and wild for about 20 seconds, then add half the eggs. Leave for about 15 seconds, then tilt the pan and gradually scrape up the set bits of omelette around the edge into the middle of the pan, letting the raw egg run out to the edges.

When the omelette is still a bit liquid on top but set underneath, put half the cheese over one half. Fold the other half over the filling, then let the cheese melt for about 20 seconds before turning out onto a warm plate.

Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make another omelette, then serve right away.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2010.)

Broad Beans, Peas, Chorizo & Mint

If you are yet to be convinced of the merits of frozen broad beans then surely this will convert you. A dish sure to become a regular feature in our kitchen as we can think of loads of mains to pair it with. Slipping the skins off the beans is a bit of a fiddle but definitely worth it and not the worst kitchen job – that would be cleaning mussels or mushrooms.

Peas, broad beans & chorizo with mint – serves 4 to 6

  • 250g frozen peas
  • 250g frozen baby broad beans
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g chorizo sausage, cut into small chunks
  • a good squeeze of lemon juice
  • leaves from 5 sprigs of mint

Cook the peas and beans in separate pans of boiling salted water until tender, then drain and remove the skins from the broad beans.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the chorizo until golden. Add the peas and beans and heat through. Season, add the lemon juice and mint, then serve.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2010.)