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Posts Tagged ‘Bacon’

This is pretty much a meal in a brioche bun, don’t skip anything as it all comes together perfectly.

Wine Suggestion: Given the weather and the dish we cracked open a Domaine of the Bee, Bee Pink Rosé from Roussillon. A blend of Grenache and Syrah this had the obligatory red fruit flavours we expected but the thing that made it work so well with the food was the wonderful texture and hints of thyme. An accidental but fortuitous match.

Barbecued Chicken with Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado – serves 4

  • 8 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon

FOR THE MAYONNAISE:

  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes of hot sauce
  • 2 tsp mild American mustard
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper

TO SERVE:

  • 4 large brioche buns
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 little gem lettuces, leaves separated

Bash the chicken thighs between sheets of baking paper or cling film until about 1cm thick.

Put the chicken into a shallow dish with the garlic, rosemary and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss the chicken until coated in the herbs and oil.

Mix all of the mayonnaise ingredients together and sesason to taste.

Cook the chicken on a hot barbecue for a few minutes on each side. Add the bacon to the barbecue and cook until crispy, it will only take a couple of minutes. Once cooked, leave the chicken and bacon aside to rest.

Add the brioche buns to the barbecue and char briefly.

Peel and slice the avocados (don’t do this in advance or they will discolour).

Spread some mayo on the bottom half of each brioche bun and top with 2 chicken thighs. Add layers of tomato, bacon, avocado and lettuce, then spread the top half of the buns with the rest of the mayonnaise, sandwich together and serve.

(Original recipe from Outdoor Cooking by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2021.)

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It’s very rare that we cook a brunch like this but we’re glad we tried this one. Buy top qulity sausages, bacon and eggs and you will have a feast!

Smoky beans, mushrooms, sausages, bacon and eggs – serves 2 (generously!)

  • 1 tbsp veg oil, plus a bit extra
  • 4 chipolata sausages
  • 4 bacon rasheres
  • 4 large mushrooms, sliced or torn into pieces
  • 1 x 400g tin cannellini beans, don’t drain as you will use the liquid
  • 1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1-2 tsp brown sugar
  • a few dashes of Tabasco (optional)
  • 2 eggs

Heat a large heavy pan over a medium heat, then heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil.

Fry the sausages for 5 minutes, or until golden, then push to one side. Add the bacon and cook until godlen and crisp. Remove the sausages and bacon to a warm plate when they’re cooked through.

Add the mushrooms and a little more oil if needed, then fry until golden, scraping up any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove to the plate with the sausages and bacon.

Tip the cannellini beans and their liquid into the pan, then add the tomatoes, garlic granules and dried thyme. Bring to a simmer, breaking the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon. Add the paprika, sugar, worcestershire sauce and some seasoning, then simmer for 10-15 minutes or until slightly reduced and thickened.

Nestle the sausages into the beans, then make two gaps in the mixture and crack in the eggs. Cover with a lid or foil and cook for 5-8 minutes or until the eggs are set. Top with the bacon and mushrooms and serve with some Tabasco if you like.

You will need toast or crusty bread to mop it all up.

(Original recipe by Anna Glover in Olive Magazine, June 2021.)

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We’re a bit salad-obsessed these days. This one is huge and will feed a crowd when you have them over to your garden. Perfect with a piece of barbecued lamb.

Minted pea and spinach salad with bacon – serves 4-6

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 slices streaky bacon or pancetta, cut into lardons
  • 200g frozen peas, defrosted (only Birds Eye will do in our opinion)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed with a little salt
  • a bunch of mint, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 200g baby spinach
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 50g feta cheese, crumbled

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and cook the bacon over a medium heat until starting to crisp up.

Mix the defrosted peas with the garlic, mint, red onion and baby spinach.

Dress the salad with 4 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Toss in the bacon and scatter the feta on top.

(Original recipe from Avoca Salads, edited by Hugo Arnold, Avoca Ltd, 2007.)

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We loved this mussel dish from Gill Meller’s book, Gather. Mussels, watercress and bacon are a truly fabulous combination, but not one we’d thought of before. Our farm shop had landcress rather than watercress available so that’s what we used, but it’s very similar, just not grown in running water. Cleaning mussels is a job I love and hate in equal measure, same with cleaning mushrooms. 

Wine Suggestion: A new find – the Quinta de Chocapalha Arinto from near Lisbon in Portugal; zesty citrus and hints of saltiness. So fresh and tasting of days at beachside restaurants eating mussels, helpful when travel is restricted.

Mussels with watercress and bacon – serves 2

  • 2-4 rashers streaky bacon
  • a small knob of butter
  • ½ a small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1kg mussels, cleaned
  • 150g watercress, plus extra to serve

Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan, then cook the bacon for 6-8 minutes, or until crispy. Keep warm.

Put a knob of butter and a spoon of bacon fat from the pan into a large sauce pan. Heat until bubbling, then add the onions and garlic and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes or until the onion is soft but not coloured, then add the mussels with 2 tbsp of water. Bring to the boil, then cover the pan with a lid and shake gently. Cook the mussels for a couple of minutes or until the shells are just open. Throw away any that don’t open.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the mussels from the pan into a warm bowl, leave the onion and cooking liquor behind on the heat. Cover the mussels with a tea towel and put somewhere warm. You need to work quickly now to make the sauce while the mussels stay warm.

Put the watercress into the pan and cook for a minute or two until wilted, then tip into a  food processor and purée until smooth. This should be quite thick so if it’s too liquid, put it back into the pan and boil off the excess liquid over a high heat.

Put a generous spoon of purée on each plate with the mussels, crispy bacon and a little fresh watercress.

(Original recipe from Gather by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2017.)

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This is barely a recipe but it is an excellent way to serve turnip, which you may refer to as a swede. For clarity, we’re talking about the large orange-fleshed variety. We served this on St Patrick’s Day with some Irish stew but it’s lovely with sausages or on the side of a roast dinner. We’ve posted this before but it’s definitely worth mentioning again. 

Turnip with Crispy Bacon & Onion – serves 4 to 6

  • 900g turnip, peeled and cut into 2.5 cm chunks
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 50g rindless piece of smoked bacon, diced
  • butter

Cook the turnip in lots of salt water until tender when pierced with a knife. 

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and sauté the onion and bacon until crisp and golden. 

When the turnip is tender, drain and allow to dry, then roughly mash with a generous lump of butter. Season with salt and lots of black pepper. 

Serve in a warm bowl with the crispy bacon and onion on top. 

(Original recipe from Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook)

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Pastry is not an area of expertise for us, as we make it so rarely. We tend to attempt a quiche or similar about once a year but we really must try and squeeze in a few more before next March. The crust for this was super short and melt-in-the-mouth crumbly and the filling is so comforting and flavoursome.

Wine Suggestion: We think quiche is great with a red or white like you’d find in a country French Bistro, possibly a Beaujolais or Rhone for the reds but always leaning towards Alsace for the white (though many others work well too). We’ve gone on a bit of a Sylvaner kick recently and with this we had one from across the border in the Rheinhessen from Wagner-Stempel. Always under-rated, in good hands this grape combines a maturity and presence with vibrancy. Ripe apple and quince flavours finishing dry, fresh and invigorating.

Quiche Lorraine – serves 6

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onions, finely sliced
  • 200g smoked streaky bacon, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 300ml double cream, 
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • 3 large eggs
  • 75g Gruyère cheese

FOR THE PASTRY:

  • 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 150g cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 large egg, beaten

To make the pastry, put the flour and and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg and mix until the dough just starts coming together, then shape into a ball. 

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm thick. Place the pastry in a 23cm loose-based tart tin, pressing it well into the sides. Trim away the excess pastry and lightly prick the base. Leave the pastry case to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 4. 

Place a piece of baking paper over the chilled pastry and fill with baking beans. Put the tin on a baking tray and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for another 5-10 minutes, then remove from the oven. 

Turn the oven temperature down to 170C/Fan 150C/Gas 3½.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the bacon and onion together until lightly browned. Tip them onto a plate and leave to cool. Put the cream, crème fraîche and eggs into a jug and beat until well combined, then season with salt and pepper. 

Spread the cooled onions and bacon evenly over the pastry case, then sprinkle the cheese on top. Slowly pour in most of the egg mixture, then put the tin on a baking tray, in the oven. Pull the oven shelf out slightly and pour in the rest of the egg mixture. 

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the filling is just starting to brown and no longer wobbling. If you press the back of a teaspoon onto the centre, no liquid should be visible. Take out of the oven and leave to cook in the tin for 15 minutes before removing. Serve warm or at room temperature 

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ British Classics by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2018.)

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We make soup most weeks during the cooler months and we really loved this one! The streaky bacon garnish is nice but it’s also good without it.

Creamy lentil & spinach soup with bacon – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus a bit extra for frying
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 140g green lentils
  • 1.5 litres weak vegetable stock
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 4 tbsp double cream, plus a drizzle to serve if you like
  • 6 rashers smoked streaky bacon (optional)

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan, then add the onions, carrots and celery, and cook for about 10 minutes or until softened.

Stir in the lentils and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30-35 minutes or until the lentils are soft, add more water if you need too.

Add the spinach and cook for a couple of minutes to wilt.

Whizz the soup until smooth (we like it smooth-ish with a bit of texture left), then stir in the cream and season.

Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the bacon until crispy and golden. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with some crispy bacon and a drizzle of cream.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Much more filling than the tinned variety but unlike a number of other baked bean recipes, you don’t have to start with dried beans. This is quick and still pretty handy for lunch.

Beans on toast – serves 4 to 6

  • 200g bacon lardons or pancetta cubes
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 x 400g tins of beans e.g. pinto, haricot or butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp black treacle
  • sourdough toast, to serve

Fry the bacon in a deep pan over a medium heat until golden, then add the onion. You can add a splash of olive oil if you need it.

Add the carrots and celery and cook for 5 minutes, until softened.

Add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Next add the beans and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the treacle and season with salt and black pepper.

Serve with toasted sourdough.

(Original recipe from The Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2012.)

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We often end up with all sorts of odds and ends after cooking at the weekend. So a regular Monday night dinner for us is lots of veggie side dishes, all served together. It’s a bit like a roast dinner but you really don’t need the meat and you get to try lots of new dishes too. We served these with Cooleeney & tarragon cauliflower cheese, roasted parsnips and steamed sprouts. Don’t worry to much about the herbs, just use what you have, parsley on it’s own would be fine.

Sautéed potatoes with bacon lardons & persillade – serves 6 (easily halved)

  • 1kg potatoes, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 300g smoked bacon lardons (we used pancetta)
  • 25g unsalted butter

FOR THE PERSILLADE:

  • small handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2tsp chopped chervil
  • 1 tarragon sprig, leaves chopped
  • 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

Put the potatoes into a large saucepan, just cover with boiling water, then simmer for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and leave to steam dry.

Mix all of the persillade ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, add the bacon or pancetta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly caramelised. Add the potatoes, then the butter.

Season with salt and black pepper and cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until golden brown all over. Stir in the persillade, then serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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We know it’s not broad bean season, but frozen broad beans are right up there with frozen peas as an excellent frozen veg and so we eat them all year round. This is a recipe from Summer Kitchens by Olia Hercules and the perfect side dish for fish (or indeed fishfingers if you’re avoiding the shops!). It’s different from our usual potatoes as we tend to add lots of Irish butter, we didn’t miss it here, though we did spread some on the potato skins – it would be a shame to waste them!

Crushed potatoes with broad beans – serves 4 as a side

  • 350g baking potatoes, skins on
  • 50g streaky bacon
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 150g frozen broad beans
  • 50g crème fraîche
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Bake the potatoes for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 200C and cook for 40 minutes to 1 an hour, until completely soft inside. You don’t need the skins but this method will give perfectly crispy skins that you can eat with a bit of butter and salt while you finish the dish.

Meanwhile, heat a splash of vegetable oil in a frying pan over a medium-low heat, add the bacon and fry until the fat starts to release. When it starts to crisp, add the scallions and cook for a few minutes to soften.

Cook the broad beans in a pan of salty boiling water for about 5 minutes, then drain.

Scoop the warm potato out of the skins and put into a saucepan over a very low heat. Add the beans and crush until smoothish, but still with a bit of texture. Stir in the crème fraîche and dill, then season generously with salt and black pepper.

Spoon the bacon and its fat over the dish and serve.

(Original recipe from Summer Kitchens by Olia Hercules, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020.)

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Friday Night Tartiflette

Reblochon season begins in May so it’s time to indulge in a Tartiflette. If you want to try a sophisticated version then we recommend the Chicken Tartiflette we posted this time last year but it does take a bit of time and effort. This one is much quicker and almost as tasty.

Wine Suggestion: We’d suggest an oaked Chardonnay that has a good balance between fruit and texture, but not too tropical or oily. We quite often go for the Rustenberg from Stellenbosch, or one of the Javillier Bourgogne Blancs as we have good access to these and they over-deliver in quality, but there are many other options you could choose.

Tartiflette – serves 4

  • 500g new potatoes, sliced into 1cm thick slices
  • 200g rindless streaky bacon, cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 100g cheddar or gruyere, grated
  • a couple of sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and chopped
  • 200ml cream
  • 200g Reblochon cheese, sliced into thin wedges

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Cook the potato slices in boiling salted water until tender – start checking after 10 minutes, then drain.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the bacon bits until light brown and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Cook the onion in the bacon fat for a few minutes until softened then add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Spread the cooked potatoes over the bottom of a baking dish. Scatter over the onion and garlic, then the cheddar cheese, thyme and bacon. Pour over the cream, season, and top with the slices of Reblochon.

Bake in the hot oven for 15-20 minute or until browned and bubbling.

Serve with a green salad.

 

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Buttered Sprouts with Chestnuts & Bacon

Sprouts are not just for Christmas and indeed should be eaten throughout the frosty months in our opinion. We particularly like this recipe with butter, bacon bits and chestnuts – a sprout-lovers dream!

Buttered sprouts with chestnuts & bacon – serves 8 (easily halved)

  • 1.25kg Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 6 rashers streaky smoked bacon cut into bit-sized pieces or cubes of pancetta
  • 200g vacuum-packed chestnuts
  • 50g butter

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and tip in the sprouts. Return to the boil and cook for 5 minutes, then drain and run under the cold tap until cold, then drain again.

Heat a large frying pan, add the bacon and gently fry for 10 minutes until crispy. Scoop the bacon out of the pan with a slotted spoon and leave the fat behind, then add the chestnuts and fry over a high heat for about 5 minutes until they have darkened in places, then tip out of the pan.

Put the sprouts into the frying pan with a splash of water, then cover the pan with a lid and finish cooking over a medium heat for about 5 minutes or until just tender. Remove the cover, turn up the heat, then add most of the butter and sauté the sprouts for another 2 minutes. Tip in the bacon and chestnuts, season generously, then serve with the last bit of butter on top.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food Magazine, December 2009.)

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Broadbeans with pancetta

A tasty side dish that works at any time of the year provided you’ve a stash of broad beans in the freezer.

Broad beans with pancetta – serves 4

  • 500g frozen broad beans
  • 70g cubetti di pancetta
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • a small bunch of flatleaf parsley, chopped

Cook the beans in boiling water for 2 minutes then drain and remove from the skins.

Fry the pancetta in a dry pan until the fat runs, then turn the heat up and brown well. Add the shallots for a couple of minutes to soften, then add the broad beans to heat through. Stir through the parsley and season before serving.

 

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Chicken Tartiflette

Reblochon cheese from the Alps arrives in the cheese shops from May and reminds us to make tartiflette, the famous dish from France’s Haute-Savoie region made with cheese, bacon, potatoes and onions.  This version also has chicken and kale and it needs no accompaniment. It makes a hefty portion but it’s hard not to go back for more.

Wine Suggestion: We would suggest finding a white from the Jura, usually made from Savagnin, Chardonnay, or a blend of the two. Even better try to find a Vin Jaune, which is aged in oak under a Voile, similar to the Flor of sherry, and with similar characteristics. We had a beautiful Côtes du Jura, the Cuvée de Garde by Anne & Jean-François Ganevat. An equal blend of the two grapes and held under voile for 48 months (not long enough to classify as a Vin Jaune) which allowed the fruit to sing alongside the nutty, voile aromas.

Chicken tartiflette – serves 4 (generously)

FOR THE CHICKEN:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium chicken, about 1.5kg, jointed into 8 pieces (we used 8 chicken thighs)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • 200ml white wine
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

FOR THE TARTIFLETTE:

  • 1kg waxy potatoes, like Charlotte, sliced 1cm thick
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g smoked bacon lardons
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 50g plain flour
  • 300ml double cream
  • 400g curly kale, blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes and roughly chopped (discard any thick stalks)
  • 400g Reblochon cheese, broken or cut into pieces

Start by cooking the chicken. Heat a large sauté pan over a high heat, add the olive oil and the chicken pieces – skin side down to start. Cook until browned all over, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan then add the onion and garlic and sweat until the onion has softened. Add the white wine and reduce until almost evaporated. Add the chicken stock, thyme and bay, then season with salt and pepper and bring to a very gentle simmer (you might need to transfer to a large pot to fit it all in).

Return the chicken pieces to the pan and cook very gently until just cooked – about 10 minutes for the breasts. Remove any breast pieces from the pan with some of the broth and leave to cool in the broth. Continue to cook the leg meat for another 30 minutes, then take off the heat and leave to cool in the broth.

When cooled take the chicken out of the broth, remove the skin and bones and cut into large pieces. Strain the broth and reserve for later.

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

Simmer the potato slices in boiling, salted water until almost tender, then drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the bacon lardons and cook until coloured, then remove from the pan and add the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent, then stir in the garlic. Add the flour and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the cream with 200ml of the reserved strained chicken braising liquid and slowly bring to a simmer, stirring. Remove from the heat and season.

Fold the chicken and bacon through the cream mixture, along with the kale, 300g of the cheese and the potatoes. Pour into a large baking dish and top with the remaining 100g of cheese, then bake until golden brown (about 20 to 30 minutes).

(Original recipe from The Skills by Monica Galetti, Quadrille, 2016.)

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Rabbit with onions and rosemary

A rustic French dish with meltingly tender rabbit. Serve with the lamb’s lettuce salad (included in the recipe) and some roasted baby potatoes.

Wine Suggestion: This goes great with with a nice Cabernet Franc from the Loire, like a Saumur or Chinon if the weather is bright and warming up for Spring. Alternately we love the richer, more velvety wines of La Clape in the Languedoc if it’s a cooler Winter day.

Rabbit with onions & rosemary – serves 6

  • 2kg rabbit portions
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large onions, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 600ml white wine
  • 425ml chicken stock
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, halved
  • 6 rashers streaky bacon, thinly sliced
  • chopped parsley to serve

FOR THE LAMB’S LETTUCE SALAD:

  • 140g lamb’s lettuce
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Season the rabbit joints on both sides and sprinkle lightly with flour.

Heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a large heavy pan, then quickly fry the rabbit in batches over a high heat to brown all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan and fry the onions over a medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until browned. Return the rabbit to the pan with the bay, rosemary, wine and stock. Cover and cook for 50-60 minutes or until the rabbit is soft.

Add the mushrooms and cook for another 10 minutes, then taste and season.

Meanwhile, grill the bacon until crispy, then break into chunks. Sprinkle the rabbit with the bacon and parsley before serving.

To make the salad: 

Tip the lettuce leaves into a large bowl. Mix the shallot, vinegar & mustard, then set aside for 10 minutes. Add some salt and pepper, then gradually whisk in the oil until the dressing has thickened. Toss with the lettuce just before serving.

(Original recipe by Mary Cadogan IN: BBC Good Food Magazine, March 2008.)

Rabbit w onions & rosemary

 

 

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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.)

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Kassler roasted with cabbage & potatoes

Our mate Brett got us this genuine Kassler, a pork loin expertly cured and lightly smoked by Ed Hicks in Dun Laoghaire. If you can’t find Kassler use a smoked bacon loin or rack and prepare yourself for the best bacon & cabbage ever.

Wine Suggestion: We chose a classic white Burgundy, 100% Chardonnay made in oak from a winemaker in Meursault, Patrick Javillier. He makes a couple of Bourgogne Blanc’s from a couple of very particular sites in Meursault and boy are they good. This time we chose his Cuvée Oligocene which is a vineyard partly in Meursault and partly in the ordinary Burgundy classification (despite it being the same soils and aspect). This makes this wine a bargain and we love it.

Roast Bacon with Cabbage & Potatoes – serves 6-8

  • 1kg potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 450g savoy cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1kg boned kassler/smoked bacon loin or rack
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

For the Sauce

  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 50ml Madeira or Port
  • 1-3 tbsp Dijon mustard

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Put the potatoes into a large saucepan, cover with cold salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then drain.

Par-boil the cabbage in another large pan of lightly salted water for 2 minutes. Drain into a colander and refresh with cold water, then use your hands to squeeze out the excess water.

Put the bacon into a large roasting tray and place in the oven. Roast for 10 minutes before adding the butter. When the butter has melted, add the potatoes and roast together for 20 minutes, turning the bacon & potatoes in the butter now and then.

Now push the potatoes and bacon to one side and add the cabbage. Season the potatoes and cabbage with salt and roast for another 10 minutes, turning everything in the smoky butter.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by melting the butter in a small pan and adding the flour. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then take off the heat and whisk in the chicken stock until smooth. Place back on the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 40 minutes in total remove the bacon from the oven and check that the potatoes and cabbage are cooked. Transfer the vegetables to a warm serving platter, then slice the bacon and arrange on top. Keep warm.

To finish the sauce, de-glaze the juices in the roasting tin with the Maderia or Port and add to the sauce. Whisk in the mustard and season to taste with salt and pepper.

(Original recipe by Paul Rankin.)

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Roussillon baked potatoes

Very simple and utterly delicious. Baked potatoes reach a whole new level when you mix the cooked potato with the toppings before baking for a second time.

Roussillon baked potatoes – serves 2

  • 2 baking potatoes
  • 30g butter
  • 4 streaky bacon rashers, 2 chopped
  • ¼ onion, finely chopped
  • 30g blue cheese, crumbled (we used Roquefort)
  • 1 small egg, beaten
  • ½ tsp finely chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºC/gas mark 6.

Wash the potatoes and pat some salt flakes over the skin, then bake for about 1 hour or until tender.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan until foaming, then add the chopped bacon and onion. Cook until the onion is soft but not coloured.

Halve the potatoes, scoop out the insides without breaking the skins. Mash the scooped out potato with the fried onion & bacon, cheese, egg, parsley and some freshly ground pepper (we prefer white pepper for potatoes but black is fine too). Pile the potato mixture back into the potato skins, top with the 2 uncooked bacon rashers and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden.

(Original recipe from Food From Plenty by Diana Henry, Octopus Publishing, 2010.)

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Courgette Carbonara

We are getting close to the last courgettes for the season and what a way to celebrate this humble vegetable … delicious!

Wine Suggestion: We drank an Aligote from Jean Fournier in Burgundy. Aligote is completely underrated and we don’t see it often, but this example shows why we should: fresh, rich and full of fruit but with a core of crisp acidity and earthiness that makes it sing alongside the eggy cream, add layers to the pancetta and parmesan and make the courgettes even more silky.

Courgette Carbonara – serves 6 generously

  • 6 medium green & yellow courgettes
  • 500g penne pasta
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 100ml double cream
  • 2 big handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • 12 thick slices of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, cut into chunky lardons
  • small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped

Bring a large pan of water to the boil.

Halve and quarter the courgettes lengthways. Discard any fluffy bits from the middle and slice at an angle into similar sized shapes to the penne. If you have small courgettes you can just slice them finely.

Cook the penne according to the pack instructions.

While the pasta is cooking, put the egg yolks into a bowl and add the cream and half the Parmesan. Mix with a fork. Season lightly and set aside.

Heat a very large frying pan, add a splash of olive oil and fry the pancetta/bacon until dark brown & crispy. Add the courgette slices and a very generous grind of black pepper. Add the thyme leaves, and stir to make sure the courgettes are well coated with the bacony oil, then fry until turning lightly golden and starting to soften.

Drain the pasta and reserve the cooking water. Immediately toss the pasta into the courgette pan, then take off the heat and add a ladleful of the reserved pasta water and your creamy sauce. Stir together quickly but don’t put back on the heat.

Add the rest of the Parmesan, and a bit more cooking water if needed, to give you a silky sauce. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.

(Original recipe from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver, Penguin, 2007.)

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This takes a dish we all love and gives it something special. As celeriac is in season, and very cheap at the moment, we’ve made this a lot recently and thoroughly enjoyed it each time. We haven’t tried it with the optional bacon yet but it tastes great without it.

Celeriac, potato & rosemary gratin – serves 4-6

  • 6 rashers bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 420ml double cream
  • 350ml milk
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 celeriac (about 500g) peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 500g potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced (use a mandolin if you have one)

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

If you are using the bacon, grill it until cooked and lightly browned, then set aside.

Bring cream, milk, garlic, rosemary, chilli and mustard to the  boil in a medium saucepan, then turn off.

Pour a little of the cream mixture into the bottom of a gratin dish. Arrange a layer of celeriac, scatter with bacon and season. Pour over a bit more cream and repeat the process, alternating layers of potato and celeriac, finishing with a potato layer. Cover with the rest of the cream mixture, then bake for 1 hr-1hr 15 mins or until golden and tender to the point of a knife. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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