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Pasta with broccoli & gorgonzola

This is particularly good with purple sprouting broccoli when it’s around. Don’t be tempted to strip off the leaves they’re just as good to eat as the florets. Hardly a recipe at all but very satisfying.

Wine Suggestion: try an Italian white from the Marches or Abruzzo. Our choice this evening was the La Piuma (feather) Pecorino Terre di Chieti; charming fruit and with little twists of nuts, herbs and citrus that played with the food in a great way.

Cheese & broccoli pasta – serves 2

  • 200g pasta (use whatever you have)
  • a bunch of purple sprouting broccoli – about 6 to 8 stems (or a head of ordinary broccoli)
  • about 250g of ripe Gorgonzola

Cook the pasta in a generous amount of boiling salty water.

Cut the broccoli into small florets and thin pieces of stalk (discard any thick woody stems).

Lightly salt another pan of boiling water and cook the broccoli for a few minutes or until tender.

Put the cheese into a large warm bowl, then add the hot drained broccoli followed by the lightly drained pasta (a bit of water will help make a sauce). Stir until melting and serve.

(Original recipe from Appetite by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2001)

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Risotto Primavera

Do it now when there is lots of asparagus in the shops! If you have peas and broad beans growing you should of course use these rather than our frozen substitutes.

Wine Suggestion: we had opened a delightful Touraine Sauvignon Blanc from Domaine Octavie which not only matched the food, it also matched the sunshine with us this evening.

Risotto Primavera – serves 4

  • 200g frozen broad beans
  • 4 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 250g asparagus, woody ends snapped off and chopped into 4 pieces
  • 1.3 litres of good chicken or vegetable stock – homemade if you have it
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 85g butter
  • 350g Carnaroli or other risotto rice
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 140g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 100g Parmesan, finely grated

Tip the broad beans into boiling water and simmer for 1 minute, then drain and remove the skins.

Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan.

Heat the oil and half the butter in a heavy, wide pan. Add the shallots, scallions & garlic and cook for a few minutes until soft and translucent but not browned.

Keep the heat at medium and add the rice to the pan and stir for a few minutes so it gets toasted and very hot. When it starts to hiss, pour in the wine and stir for another minute or so until the wine has evaporated.

Set a timer for 20 minutes, then start adding the stock starting with a ladle and a half. It should be gently simmering and you need to stir continuously until the liquid had been absorbed. Keep adding the stock a ladleful at a time and allowing it to be absorbed before adding another.

After 14 minutes, add the beans and peas to the rice with some seasoning. Meanwhile, add the asparagus pieces to the simmering stock and cook for 4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and add to the rice. Start tasting the rice to check if it is done – you’re looking for soft rice with a little bite. Keep adding stock until cooked, then take the pan off the heat and add half the Parmesan and the remaining butter along with another splash of stock. Cover with a lid and leave to rest for a few minutes.

Serve with the rest of the Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

Lemon & basil linguine

Sometimes the simplest of ideas turn out the best.

Wine Suggestion: we had a glass of the Adi Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc which he’s now experimenting with a little bit of skin contact. We don’t disagree, it adds a touch of extra texture and complexity to such a great value wine.

Lemon & basil linguine – serves 2

  • 200g linguine
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 75ml good olive oil
  • 75g Parmesan
  • a large handful of basil leaves

Put a large pan of water on to boil, add loads of salt and cook the pasta according to the time suggested on the packet.

Put the lemon juice, olive oil and Parmesan into a large warmed bowl and beat with a small whisk to combine and thicken. Tear the basil leaves into the bowl and add plenty of black pepper.

Drain the pasta and toss with the mixture in the bowl.

(Original recipe from The Kitchen Diaries  by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2005.)

Broad Bean Bruschetta

A real burst of summer freshness that we assembled using frozen broad beans on a grey winter day. It is now Spring however and you might be the lucky person with some freshly picked broad beans. You can of course use frozen beans which for us are right up there with peas as an absolute freezer essential.

Wine Suggestion: We opened a vibrant Verdicchio from Umani Ronchi; their CaSal di Serra. Thirst quenching and pure peach, apple and lemon fruits that match the season as well.

Ricotta & Broad Bean Bruschetta – enough to make 4

  • 4 slices of rustic sourdough bread
  • 1 clove of garlic, halved
  • 200g broad beans (podded weight)
  • 250g ricotta
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a few small mint leaves
  • a few basil leaves, shredded

Toast the bread until light golden brown, then rub on one side with the cut garlic clove.

Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the broad beans for 2 minutes, then drain and run under cold water. The beans will now be very easy to pop gently from their skins.

Break the ricotta up with a fork and add the lemon juice, then stir to combine. Spread the ricotta mixture over the toasted bread and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Toss the broad beans with the mint, basil, lemon zest and remaining olive oil. Pile on top of the ricotta and season with salt and black pepper.

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

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.)

Ginger pork stir-fry

A light and tasty stir-fry to use up bits of veg leftover from the weekend. Feel free to use what you have rather than the suggestions below and prep all the ingredients before you start as this takes minutes to cook. Serve with rice or noodles.

Wine Suggestion: If you can find it, the Zind Humbrecht Muscat Grand Cru Goldberg 2013, was an amazing match. This is a truly astonishing wine that confounds the stereotype of Muscat because of the terroir and winemaker, being fresh, vibrant and dry. Alongside the ginger and soy this danced a fine line of complementary and contrasting flavours.

Ginger Pork Stir-fry – serves 4

  • 25g root ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 tbsp finely grated root ginger
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 200g pork fillet, trimmed and sliced into 5mm slices
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed/grated
  • 150g carrots, peeled and finely sliced
  • 150g purple-sprouting broccoli or small broccoli florets
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, finely sliced
  • 75g kale (stalks removed), shredded
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp roughly chopped coriander (leaves & stalks)

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, add the sliced ginger and boil for 1 minute, then drain.

Get a wok or a large frying pan smoking hot, then pour in the oil and stir-fry the boiled ginger for 30-60 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Add the pork, garlic, grated ginger and carrots. Stir-fry for 2 minutes or until the pork is cooked, then add the broccoli and peppers.

Keep frying for another minute, then add the kale and toss for briefly to wilt.

Finally, add the sesame oil, soy sauce and chopped coriander. Toss together quickly then serve over rice or noodles and garnish with the crispy ginger.

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

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)