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Posts Tagged ‘A Table for Friends’

This couscous salad with fennel and tuna is perfect for lunch at the weekend. It’s very simple but the flavours all come together brilliantly. Do buy top quality tuna in oil – we used our local Shines Wild Irish Tuna in Olive Oil.

Wine Suggestion: not having a Sicilian wine to hand we still kept it Italian and opened Patrizia Felluga’s Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco. A multivarietal blend typical of the region this is precise, broad and complex while retaining good vibrancy.

Sicilian couscous salad – serves 3

  • 150g couscous
  • 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder made up with 200ml of boiling water
  • 30ml best extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 10g flaked almonds
  • 9 caper berries
  • half a fennel bulb, finely sliced, a mandoline works best for this if you have one
  • 185g jar of tuna in olive oil
  • a handful of rocket
  • juice of ½ a lemon

Put the couscous into a large bowl, pour over the hot stock, cover tightly with cling film and leave aside for 10 minutes.

Remove the cling film and fluff the couscous with a fork to separate the grains. Drizzle with 10ml of olive oil, then stir in the flaked almonds, caper berries and fennel and toss well.

Add the tuna, breaking it into chunks with a fork and mixing through.

Finally add the rocket, squeeze in the lemon juice, the rest of the olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper. Toss again and transfer to a platter to serve.

(Original recipe from A Table for Friends by Skye McAlpine, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020.)

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You need cooked beetroots for this. You can of course buy them pre-cooked in vac packs but they’re much nicer when you cook them fresh. Just give them a good scrub, dry with paper and wrap in tin foil. Roast for about an hour (or as long as it takes) at 200ºC. Let them cool before making the salad. We served this with roast chicken and the next day with a ham salad. Make this up at least an hour in advance to allow the flavours to mingle.

Beetroot & mint salad – serves 4 to 6

  • 4 tsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 cooked beetroots, finely sliced into rounds
  • a small bunch of mint leaves

Whisk the sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.

Put the sliced beetroot into a bowl. Roughly chop half the mint leaves, and add to the beetroots before pouring over the  dressing. Leave in the fridge for an hour or so.

To serve, drain off some of the marinade, arrange the slices on a platter and scatter over the rest of the mint.

(Original recipe from Skye McAlpine’s A Table for Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty, Bloomsbury, 2020.)

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We recently bought Skye McAlpine’s book, A Table for Friends, which has lovely menus for each season. We’re well and truly into Autumn now and the farm shop is full of potatoes, pumpkins and beetroots. Tonight we made Skye’s suggested autumn menu of buttery lemon roast chicken, beetroot & mint salad, butter & sage roast pumpkin and roast potatoes. A perfect combination of dishes and all can be prepped in advance. Unfortunately we were minus the friends but hopefully those days will be back again before too long. 

We ignore all timings for roast chicken these days and stick to Diana Henry’s failsafe instructions to roast for 20 minutes at 190C for each 500g plus an extra 10 minutes. 

Wine Suggestion: Quite often with roast chicken we lean towards oaked Chardonnay as it’s such a classic match but tonight we remembered that another great match is good red Bordeaux from the Left Bank, so Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, and also with a little age, but not too much. We continued our lockdown habit of dipping into the cellar once a week and pulled out a Domaine de Chevalier red from 2010. It still has years, if not a couple of decades of life ahead of it but at 10 years old it still has a spriteliness of youth while all components have come together harmoniously into a smooth, elegant wine.

Buttery Lemon Roast Chicken – serves 4

  • a large bunch of sage
  • 1 lemon, finely zested
  • 50g butter, softened
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 free-range chicken

You can prep the chicken early in the day and keep in the fridge but make sure you take it out an hour or two before you want to put it into the oven so it’s at room temperature.

Heat the oven to 190C.

Finely chop half the sage and mash in a bowl with the butter, lemon zest and salt.

Put the chicken into a roasting tray. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze some of the juice into the cavity, then stuff the halves into the chicken with the remaining sage.

Gently lift the skin over the breast and smear a quarter of the butter mixture under the skin over each breast. You should be able to push the butter quite far down with your fingers, but careful not tear the skin. Rub the rest of the butter over the chicken and sprinkle with some extra salt.

Roast the chicken according to the timings given above. When cooked the legs should feel loose and the juice should run clear when you pierce a thick bit with a sharp knife.

Leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving and served with some of the juices spooned over.

(Original recipe from A Table for Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty by Skye McAlpine, Bloomsbury, 2020.)

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