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Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

We have lovely friends who always bring a cheese course when they come to ours for dinner, and inadvertently we have ended up with a backlog of membrillo / quince paste. This is not a big problem as it keeps for ages, however it also gave us an opportunity to make this seasonal quiche from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Wine Suggestion: This demands a big, well-balanced, but oaky Chardonnay. Splurge if you can on good Jura, or a Meursault; or like us tonight an old friend, the Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay. Full-bodied to cope with the richness, and texture and fresh acidity to also cut through this and provide a counterpoint.

Membrillo and stilton quiche – serves 6

  • 1 medium butternut squash, about 700g, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 250g top quality shortcrust pastry
  • plain flour, for dusting
  • 200g Stilton, for dusting
  • 75g mebrillo (quince paste), cut into 1 cm dice
  • 3 eggs
  • 150ml double cream
  • 150ml crème fraîche

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/Gas 7.

Toss the cubes of squash with the oil and ¼ tsp of salt and some black pepper, then spread over a baking tray. Bake for about 30 minutes, turning once, until golden-brown. Leave to cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 190C/170C fan/Gas 5.

Roll the pastry out on a floured work service until roughly 3cm thick and big enough to line a 24cm quiche tin with some pastry hanging over the edge. Line the tin with the pastry and prick the base with a for, then put into the fridge for 20 minutes.

Line the pastry case with baking parchment, then fill with baking beans and cook in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and cook for another 10 minutes or until the pastry is golden-brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Spread the squash over the base of the pastry case, dot the Stilton between and sprinkle over the membrillo.

Put the eggs, cream and crème fraîche in a bowl with ¼ tsp of salt and some black pepper. Whisk together, then pour over the squash and cheese, leaving some of the filling exposed. Put into the oven for 40 minutes or until set, then remove from the oven and rest before removing from the tin and breaking off the over-hanging pastry. Serve warm.

(Original recipe from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury Press, 2014.)

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We are working are way through every recipe we can find that uses black limes, having finally found some without having to resort to mail order. It is all such a hassle now that we’re not all Europeans as some of our sources are in the UK. The sauce is truly delicious and you will need flatbreads for mopping it all up. Some rice would be good too but not essential.

Wine Suggestion: Black limes have such an introverted and complex character you can’t just match it with anything, but do look for wines that have either lime flavours or a savoury, umami texture. Combine this with the pickle and we had a conundrum. We solved it with Pajzos’ Hárslevelu dry Tokaji whose lime-leaf, savoury character plus a little residual sugar (despite the dry finish) came to the rescue.

Black lime tofu with spinach and pink pickled onions – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced into rounds
  • 600ml sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • 2 blocks of extra-firm tofu (560g), patted dry and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds, roughly crushed in a pestle and mortar
  • 2-3 dried black limes, grind to a powder using a spice grinder you need about 2 tbsp (if you don’t have a spice grinder you can whizz in a food processor, then sieve)
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 20g flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 250g baby spinach

Make the pink pickled onions first by mixing the vinegar, 1 tsp of sugar, the red onion and tsp of salt in a small bowl. Set aside while you make everything else.

Heat the sunflower oil in a sauté pan or wok. Toss the tofu in a bowl with the cornflour until coated. When the oil is hot, fry the tofu in two batches until crispy and lightly browned, about 6 minutes, then transfer to a paper-lined plate.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Put the onions and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely minced but not puréed. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture and cook for about 10 minutes, until softened and lightly browned. Add the cumin, black limes and tomato purée and cook for another minute. Add 400ml water, 1tsp of sugar, 1 1/4 tsp of salt and lots of black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 6 minutes, until rich and thick. Add the crispy tofu, parsley and more black pepper and stir. Gradually stir in the spinach until just wilted.

Serve in a shallow dish with the pink pickled onions spooned over.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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Coleslaw is a bit divisive, people tend to love it or hate it, and not helped by that gloopy stuff you buy in plastic tubs. This version is much superior!

Coleslaw – serves 4 or more

  • 50g crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 50g mayonnasie
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ small white cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1-2 carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
  • ½ white onion, very finely sliced
  • juice of ½ a lemon, or 1 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar

Mix the crème fraîche or sour cream with the mayonnaise and mustard, and season to taste.

Put everything else into a large bowl, then add the mayonnaise mixture and mix to combine. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

(Original recipe from Camper Van Cooking by Claire Thompson & Matt Williamson, Quadrille: Hardie Grant Publishing, 2021.)

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Plums are in season and we’ve been trying to find ways to cook them. This plum sauce is really rich with warm spices and it would be good with many things. We stashed the leftovers in the freezer for another night. Save the leftover duck fat in the fridge for roast potatoes, you won’t regret it.

Wine Suggestion: Whenever we’re in the southern part of France we can’t escape duck. Tonight’s wine match followed suit with a Grenache, Syrah, Carignan blend, the Roc des Anges Sega de Cor. Smooth and silky plums, sloes and raspberry flavours grounded in a seductive stony character.

Duck breasts with plum sauce and stir-fry veg – serves 4

  • 4 duck breasts, with skin on
  • 25ml sunflower oil
  • 4 carrots, finely sliced on an angle
  • 400g of cavolo nero or half a green cabbage, remove the core and shred the leaves
  • a bunch of scallions, sliced on an angle
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 2-4 tbsp soy sauce

FOR THE PLUM SAUCE:

  • 400g plums, remove the stones and quarter
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • ¼ tsp Chinese five spice
  • 25ml red wine vinegar
  • 200ml red wine
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

Make the plum sauce first. Put all of the ingredients into a small saucepan and place over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the plums are very soft. Whizz using a stick blender or food processor until smooth. Taste and season with more soy sauce if needed.

Use a sharp knife to score the duck skin and fat in a diamond pattern, but don’t cut the meat. Season and place in a frying pan, skin-side down. Put the pan over a medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until the skin is golden and the fat rendered. Leave to rest for 5 minutes, then cut into slices. Pour off the duck fat and keep for potatoes another day.

While the duck rests, stir-fry the veg. Put a wok over a high heat until smoking, then pour in the oil and add the carrots. Stir fry for 2 minutes, then add the cabbage, scallions, garlic, ginger and 2 tbsp of soy sauce. Cook for another couple of minutes or until the veg is softening but still with some crunch. Tip into a serving dish and add more soy sauce if needed. Serve with the duck and plum sauce.

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

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Truly original and truly delicious. Try them while we’ve got fresh corn cobs in the shops. Black limes are trendy at the moment but if you can’t find them you can use grated lime zest instead.

Corn ribs with black lime and pumpkin seed butter – serves 4 as a starter

  • 3 corn cobs, husks removed
  • 1.3 litres sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • 1½ tsp runny honey

FOR THE BUTTER

  • 25g pumpkin seeds
  • 60g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-2 dried black limes, roughly broken, then whizzed to a powder using spice grainder to get 2¼ tsp (if you don’t have black limes you can substitute grated lime zest)

Preheat the oven to 160C fan.

Spread the pumpkin seeds over a small baking tray and toast in the oven until golden-brown and starting to split, about 10 minutes. Coarsely blitz in a spice grinder (or finely chop) and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Mix the butter with 2 tsp of the ground black lime, the chopped pumpkin seeds and 1 tsp flaked sea salt to combine. You can make this ahead but remove from the fridge half an hour before you need it.

Cut the corn cobs in half widthways, then cut each half lengthways into quarters.

Heat the oil in a medium, high-sided saucepan on a medium heat. When very hot (about 180C if you have a probe), test by lowering in the end of a piece of corn; it should sizzle but not turn brown immediatley.

Fry the corn in batches for 6-7 minutes, turning a few times until they have curled and turned golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Transfer the cooked corn to a bowl and toss with the honey and 1½ tsp of sea salt flakes.

Serve the corn on a platter with the butter on the side and sprinkle with the rest of the ground lime.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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We came across this Joe Trivelli recipe at the weekend when trying to find a lunch dish that would use up half a tub of ricotta. It’s definitely worth buying a tub of ricotta for too.

Wine Suggestion: This dish needs a wine that has a bit of acidity and freshness, so taking inspiration from the grated Pecorino on top we went for the similarly named Pecorino grape from the Marche. The crunchy, characterful Vellodoro Pecorino from Umani Ronchi well met the mark and reminded us of summer too, which was a bonus.

Pasta with pine nuts and ricotta – serves 4

  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 60g pine nuts
  • 300g tomatoes, peeled and chopped (Joe recommends yellow tomatoes but we had red)
  • 3 sprigs of basil
  • 400g short pasta, we used fusilli
  • 200g ricotta
  • 50g grated pecorino
  • extra virgin olive oil

Put the garlic into a wide pan with 3 tablespoons of oil and place over a medium heat. When the garlic starts to turn golden, add the chilli. Turn the heat down low, remove the garlic and add the pine nuts. Allow them to colour but watch carefully or they could burn.

Add the tomatoes and basil sprigs and season. When the sauce starts to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in lots of boiling salty water until al dente. Scoop out a mug of cooking water before draining.

Toss the pasta with the tomatoes and pine nuts, then add the ricotta, half the pecornio and a few spoons of cooking water. Keep turning the pasta over until you have a nice consistency, adding more water if it looks dry. Serve in warm bowls with the rest of the cheese and a drizzle of your best olive oil.

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

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An excellent recipe for figs from Ottolenghi Flavour with the hot dressing perfectly complementing the cool ricotta. You can have the figs and the dressing made well in advance, making this dish simple to plate up.

Wine Suggestion: a complex and challenging dish to match with wine but if you can find a good, dry-ish Marsala, aged Tawny Port, or an Oloroso sherry with a hint a sweetness you’ll find the oxidative characteristics, hints of sweetness and tertiary, developed aromas and flavours really work a treat.

Grilled figs with Shaoxing dressing – serves 4 as a starter

  • 8 ripe purple figs, halved
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 ½ maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (or you can use pale dry sherry)
  • 2 ½ tsp Chinkiang vinegar (or half this quantity of balsamic)
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 2 red chillies, finely sliced into rounds
  • 1 lemon, finely shave the skin to get 5 strips (a vegetable peeler works well)
  • 60g rocket
  • 140g ricotta

Preheat the grill to its highest setting.

Toss the figs in a bowl with the soy sauce and 1 ½ tbsp of maple syrup, then set them cut side up on a parchment lined baking tray. Don’t leave any paper hanging over the edges as it could burn.

Roast the figs close to the grill until soft and caramelised but still holding their shape. It’s fine if they blacken a bit in places. Return the figs and any juices to the same bowl, then add the Shaoxing rice wine, Chinkiang vinegar and another tbsp of maple syrup. Toss together very gently and set aside for at least 1 hour (or overnight).

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat, then fry the chillies for 3 minutes. Add the lemon strips and fry for 30 seconds more then immediately pour into a heatproof bowl and set aside to infuse for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).

Arrange the rocket on a platter and top with the figs and dressing. Dot with ricotta and finish with the oil, chillies and lemon.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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We regular base our dinner on packets of fresh gnocchi. They’re perfect for when you haven’t much time.

Gnocchi with peas, pesto and spinach – serves 2

  • 50g baby spinach
  • 100g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 4 tbsp fresh pesto
  • 3 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 300g pack gnocchi (you can use a plain variety or one with spinach)

Put the defrosted peas, the spinach and a splash of water into a large frying pan. Season, then heat, stirring, until the spinach has wilted.

Add the pesto and crème fraîche, and gently heat through.

Meanwhile, cook the gnocchi in lots of boiling salty water. As they rise to the surface, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and add to the spinach pan.

Toss it all together, then serve.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, August 2018.)

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This is such a handy yoghurt number. Serve with barbecues, roasts, with flatbreads, as a side, for a starter – it’s an all rounder and it keeps for a couple of days in the fridge.

  • 250g full fat Greek-style yoghurt
  • 30g scallions, green parts only, finely chopped (keep the white parts for something else)
  • about 10g of dill, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and grated
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 200g cucumber, coarsely grated
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt flakes, crumbled

Put the grated cucumber into a clean tea towel and squeeze tightly to get rid of the excess liquid.

Tip the cucumber into a bowl and mix with all of the other ingredients.

(Original recipe from Chasing Smoke: Cooking over Fire Around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, Pavilion, 2021)

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We don’t often cook classic French dishes at home, preferring to sit in a bistro in blissful ignorance (or denial) of the copious amounts of butter we’re consuming … there’s a reason why those dishes are so tasty. However we’ve been revisiting “Roast Chicken and Other Stories” by Simon Hopkinson and decided to give this simple dish a go. Yes, lots of butter, but so very worth it for the tender chicken and delicious sauce. Serve with potatoes and some green beans.

Wine Suggestion: This particular dish works really well with red Burgundy or Beaujolais.

Poulet sauté au vinaigre – serves 4

  • 8 chicken pieces (we used thighs but you could also joint a whole chicken)
  • 100g butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 very ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (cut a little cross in the bottom of each and cover with boiling water, leave for 1 minute, then drain and the skins will peel off easily)
  • 250ml top-quality red wine vinegar
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 2 heaped tbsp chopped parsley

Season the chicken pieces well with salt and black pepper.

Heat 4 tbsp of the butter and the olive oil in a shallow casserole or deep frying pan until just turning brown.

Add the chicken pieces and fry gently, turning, until golden brown all over.

Add the chopped tomatoes and continue cooking until the tomato has lost its moisture and turned dark red and sticky. This will take a while so don’t be tempted to rush it.

Add the vinegar and simmer until almost evaporated, then add the stock and simmer again to reduce by half.

Remove the chicken pieces to a warm serving dish and keep warm. Whisk the rest of the butter into the sauce to make it nice and glossy. Add half the parsley, then pour over the chicken and sprinkle with the rest of the parsley.

(Original recipe from Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson, Ebury Press, 1994.)

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We love squid and are not sure why people don’t cook it more often. It’s cheap and sustainable, and this sweet and sour version is delicious! We served with some plain couscous.

Wine Suggestion: This is excellent with a youthful and medium bodied Sangiovese with its bright acidity. Instead of looking to Tuscany tonight, we had a Corsican Niellucio which is the same grape

Slow-cooked squid with peperonata and butter beans – serves 4 to 6

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 red, yellow or orange peppers, a mixture ideally, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 100g soft cooking chorizo, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 sprigs thymes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50ml red wine vinegar
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 500ml passata
  • 400g squid, cleaned and sliced (we used a packet of frozen squid tubes, defrosted)
  • 1 x 400g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the peppers and onions over a medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until very soft, stir now and then and add a splash of water if they start to catch.

Add the chorizo and chilli flakes and cook for another 5 minutes or until the chorizo has released its oil. Add the thyme, garlic, and bay, and simmer for another couple of minutes, then add the vinegar and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the passata, then swirl a splash of water round the jar and add that too. Season and bring to a simmer.

Stir the squid into the simmering sauce, then cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for 1 hour. If the liquid doesn’t cover the squid you can add a splash of water. Check after the hour to see if the squid is tender but don’t let it go to mush.

Stir in the butter beans and check the seasoning, then simmer, uncovered, to thicken the sauce a little. Cook for another 10 minutes, then stir in the parsley and serve with couscous or crusty bread.

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

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We’re trying to get the most out of our barbecue while the evenings are still bright. This is based on Greek gyro chicken kebabs and it tastes great with some salad and flatbreads. We added some tzatziki too but plain yoghurt would also be good. You need to get started with the marinade the day before.

We cooked these on a charcoal barbecue with a lid, using the indirect heat method which we’ve explained below. If that’s not your thing you can cook in a hot oven (200C/180C fan/gas 6) on a wire rack over a roasting tin for 45-55 minutes.

Wine Suggestion: We recommend a white with a bit of phenolic texture and body or a mid-weight red with a fresh crispness. Thymiopoulos’ Xinomavro Jeunes Vignes is a current favourite that falls into the latter camp. From north-eastern Greece we think this grape needs to be better known.

Greek Chicken Kebabs – serves 6

  • 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • flat breads, salad and yoghurt or tzatziki to serve.

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • a small bunch of parsley, finely chopped

Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl and season. Add the chicken thighs and mix together well, then cover and chill overnight.

Light a lidded barbecue and let the flames die down. When the coals have turned ashen, mound them up on side.

Thread the chicken thighs onto 2 metal skewers – both skewers need to go through every piece of meat. Push the thighs down well to make sure the meat is well compacted.

Put the chicen kebab onto the side of the barbecue without any coals underneath. Cover with the lid and cook for 45-55 minutes, turning regularly, or until cooked through. You can pull apart a few chicken pieces in the centre to check or much easier is to check with a meat probe – a barbecue essential in our opinion.

Remove the chicken from the barbecue, cover with foil and leave to rest for 20 minutes before slicing.

Slice strips of chicken from the kebab and stuff into pittas or flatbreads, that have been warmed on the barbecue, with some salad and yoghurt or tzatziki.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Yummy sauce for using up leftover pesto and perfect for mid-week.

Green Spaghetti Sauce – serrves 4

  • 400g spaghetti
  • 100g baby spinach
  • 140g frozen peas
  • a small bunch of basil, leaves picked
  • 3 tbsp green pesto
  • 150ml single cream
  • 50g Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve

Cook the spaghetti in lots of salty water for the time stated on the packet.

Meanwhile, put the spinach and peas in a bowl and pour over boiling water to cover. Leave for 3 minutes, or until the peas are tender, then drain well.

Tip the peas and spinach into a food processor, then add the basil, pesto, cream and Parmesan. Whizz to make a smooth sauce.

Drain the pasta, but reserve a mugful of the cooking water, then return to the pan. Pour over the green sauce and place over a low heat to cook for a few minutes, you want the sauce to cling to the spaghetti. Add a little pasta water if it looks dry, season to taste and serve with extra Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Give these a go for a super tasty mid-week and meat-free meal. The aubergines and beans really fill you up and the extras are non-negotiable as they all come together to make these tacos taste great. If you have too many pickled onions they will keep in the fridge for a few days and are great on the side of all sorts of things or in toasted sandwiches.

Wine Suggestion: The pickles need to be matched with a touch of residual sugar in the wine, or else the vinegar gets accentuated. The aubergine and black beans also need a touch of rich, earthiness but not too much weight. We found our match in Finca Bacara’s Crazy Grapes, a Monastrell from Jumilla in Spain. Superbly balanced juicy fruits, all brambles, black plums and berries, with a hint of earthy tannins and so easy to drink.

Aubergine and Black Bean Tacos with Feta & Pickled Red Onions

FOR THE QUICK PICKLED ONIONS:

  • 1 large red onion, halved and very thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar

FOR THE AUBERGINE & BLACK BEAN FILLING:

  • 2 aubergines
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • a pinch of dried oregano
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 x 400g tins black beans, 1 drained and rinsed
  • ½ lime, juiced, plus extra wedges to serve

TO SERVE:

  • 8 small tortillas, warmed
  • a handful of coriander leaves
  • 50g feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ an iceberg lettuce, shredded

Start by making the pickled onions. Combine all of the ingredients with a generous sprinkle of sea salt flakes in a plastic container with a lid. Close the lid and shake hard for a couple of minutes or until the onions soften.

Next, you need to burn your aubergines. Prick them all over with a fork, then either place them directly over a gas flame, on the barbecue, or under a hot grill. Turn them until they are blackened and burnt all over and starting to collapse, then aside on a plate to cool.

When the aubergines are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh with a spoon and discard the blackened skins.

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

For the aubergine and black bean filling, you need to heat the oil in a large ovenproof frying pan with the bay leaf and cumin seeds. When they start sizzling, you can add the onions and garlic. Fry for about 5 minutes or until soft but not coloured, then stir in the tomato purée and cook for a few minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and dried oregano and cook for another few minutes or until they have collapsed into the sauce. Add the aubergine flesh, chilli powder, chilli flakes and vinegar and stir for a minutes, then tip in the drained and undrained beans. Squeeze in the juice of half a lime and cook for about 5 minutes until reduced, then transfer to the oven for 15-20 minutes until rich and thick.

Fill the warm tortillas with shredded lettuce and the aubergine and black bean filling. Top with feta, coriander, pickled onions and a squeeze of lime.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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We love this Turkish yoghurt dish with cucumber, yoghurt, garlic and dill. We served with barbecued lamb one night and salmon the next. It’s a good one.

Cacik – serves 4 as a side

  • 1 large cucumber, coarsely grated
  • 300ml Greek yoghurt
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
  • 20g dill, stalks and leaves finely chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Wrap the grated cucumber in a clean teatowel and squeeze out as much water as possible.

Put the cucumber into a large bowl and mix in the yoghurt.

Add the garlic and dill, mix and season well with sea salt and black pepper. Decant into a serving dish and drizzle with your best olive oil.

(Original recipe from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2014.)

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We know you don’t need to be told how to make a tomato salad, but this one was particularly nice so we thought we would share.

Tomato salad – serves 4 as a side

  • 700g mixed tomatoes, slice large ones into thick slices and halve tiny ones
  • a generous handful of basil leaves
  • a small handful of parsley leaves
  • 1 heaped tbsp chopped oregano
  • a handful of watercress
  • ½ a red onion, thinly sliced
  • balsamic vinegar
  • good olive oil
  • a ball of top quality buffalo mozzarella

Put the tomatoes into a large bowl with the herbs, watercress and onion. Drizzle over some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then season with salt and pepper. Toss well together, then transfer to a platter.

Top with torn mozzarella and drizzle with a little more oil.

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This is the kind of weeknight dish we love, quick and esay but no compromise on flavour.

Wine Suggestion: Try a fun Italian white like a Pecorino or Falanghina, you won’t go far wrong.

Courgette, butter & basil gnocchi – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 courgette, trimmed and cubed (we used 2 small courgettes, a green and a yellow)
  • 250g pack of gnocchi from the fridge
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • a small bunch of basil, leaves torn, plus a few extra to serve
  • pecorino, finely grated, to serve

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-hight heat, then cook the courgettes until golden and soft.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salty water to the boil, add the gnnocchi and cook until it floats to the top. Remove the cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon as they rise to the surface. Keep a cupful of the cooking water.

While the gnocchi is cooking, add the garlic, capers and chilli flakes to the courgettes and cook for a minute. Add the lemon juice and stir to scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the butter and sizzle for 30 seconds or until it smells nutty. Add the gnocchi and a splash of the reserved cooking liquid to make a glossy sauce that coats the gnocchi.

Stir in most of the basil, then serve in warm bowls, sprinkled with the pecorino and extra basil leaves.

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

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You need to start this the day before but it’s surprisingly easy and the results are amazing. A great barbecue dish to serve a crowd and most of the work is done beforehand. Ours was too big to fit in the oven so we sliced it into two which made it much more manageable.

Wine Suggestion: Quite often we’d suggest a wine with good acidity to cut through the richness of this dish, and we wouldn’t be wrong, with a number od Chardonnays coming to mind. However, instead of cutting through the richness we tried accentuating it and playing with the phenolics (white wine tannins) and drank Jean-Michel Gerin’s La Champine Viognier from the Northern Rhône valley. Grown on vineyards above Condrieu this is accessible and yet still heady, slightly oily and rich with stone fruit flavours and character. It always pays to think outside the box every now and again.

Fennel and ‘Nduja Spiced Porchetta – serves 6 to 8

  • 3kg belly of pork, boned and skin scored and butterflied, your butcher will do this for you

FOR THE SEASONING:

  • 3 tsp salt
  • 50g fennel seeds
  • 25g cracked black pepper
  • 10 sage leaves

FOR THE STUFFING:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 100g pine nuts, toasted
  • 100g pitted green olives, sliced
  • 175g ‘nduja

Make the sfuffing first as you need to leave it to cool. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions and fennel for about 10 minutes or until softened and golden brown, add the garlic after about 5 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts, olives and ‘nduja and warm through briefly. Spoon onto a tray and leave to cool.

Lay the pork skin side down on a board and open up flat.

To make the seasoning, mix the the salt, fennel seeds and cracked pepper together in a bowl. Sprinkle the rub evenly over the pork and scatter the sage leaves on top. Fold the belly over to enclose the seasoning, then cover and chill for an hour in the fridge.

Lay the pork belly back onto the board and open up to expose the seasoning. Spread the stuffing evenly over the surface, leaving a border at the edges.

Roll the meat up tightly and tie with kitchen string at 4cm intervals, starting in the middle. You need to tie it firmly but careful not to squeeze out the stuffing. Put onto a tray and leave overnight in the fridge. If your pork is too big you can carefully slice through the middle to give two pieces.

The next day, take the pork out the fridge at least 1 hour before you want to start cooking.

Preheat the oven to 160C/Fan 140C/Gas 3.

Put the pork onto a baking tray and cook in the oven for 3½ hours.

Near the end of the cooking time, get your barbecue on and get it ready to cook on. Transfer the pork to the barbecue and cook for another hour. Roll it over onto the fat side at the end to crisp up the crackling. Transfer to a platter and leave to rest for 15-20 minutes, then carve into thick slices.

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

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We’re always up for mussels, and this made good use of some leftover ‘nduja, plus we always love fennel. A nice treat for two.

Wine Suggestion: try not to fight the warm spices of the ‘nduja with a wine higher in acidity, rather look for a naturally softer grape like Grenache Blanc. From southern Catalonia in the region of Terra Alta they grow more Garnacha Blanca than anywhere else in the world: Edetaria’s “via Terra” white utulises this to great effect by harvesting in two tranches; the first to give freshness, and the second fruit and aromatics. Elegantly beautiful, with a vibrancy based not on searing acidity but a great balance. You can almost taste the ancient seabed it’s grown on and the breezes that keep the vines cool; a gem.

Mussels with ‘nduja and fennel – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 50g ‘nduja
  • 150ml white wine
  • 1kg mussels, scrubbed
  • a handful of coriander, chopped
  • toasted sourdough, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the fennel for 10 minutes or until caramelised and soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute before adding the fennel seeds and ‘nduja. Break the ‘nduja up with a wooden spoon.

Pour in the white wine and bring to the boil, then add the mussels and stir. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the mussels have opened (chuck any that stay closed).

Stir really well, then add the coriander and stir again, then serve with the toasted sourdough.

(Original recipe by Adam Bush in Olive Magazine, September 2019.)

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Thai basil can be hard to come by for us but they sometimes have it in our local farm shop which inspired us to cook this delicious duck dish by Neil Perry.

Wine Suggestion: A dry, but fruit forward Pinot Gris was our first thought, but tried the Domaine Bott-Geyl’s Pinot d’Aslace Points Cardinaux, which was to hand, and were delighted with it’s playful nature and depth to match the dish. A blend of all the Pinot grapes, including Pinot Noir this has a vibrant freshness and focus as well as roundness and layers of texture; altogether a good food wine.

Stir-fry duck with coconut milk, Thai basil & noodles – serves 4

  • 600g boneless duck breasts, with skin on
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 stem of lemongrass, pale part only, thinly sliced
  • 1 long red chilli, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 80ml vegetable oil
  • 1 large white onion, halved and thickly sliced
  • 320ml coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 20g crispy fried shallots (shop bought)
  • a large handful of Thai basil leaves
  • 200g dried rice vermicelli or other rice noodles, cooked and drained (to serve)

Put the duck onto a board, skin side down, and cut into 5mm slices. Put the duck slices into a bowl and add the garlic, lemongrass and chilli. Mix well with your hands.

Heat 60ml of vegetable oil in a wok until smoking. Stir-fry the duck in batches for 1-2 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add more oil if needed, then add the onion and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until light golden. Return the duck to the wok, then pour in the coconut milk and bring to thte boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the fish sauce, oyster sauce, tamarind paste, sugar and sea salt. Simmer for another few minutes, then check the seasoning.

Garnish with fried shallots and Thai basil and serve over noodles.

(Original recipe from Neil Perry’s Good Cooking, Murdoch Books, 2016.)

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