Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

Spaghetti with walnuts, raisins & parsley

A simple weeknight dish with very few ingredients. Typical of the type of dish we have at the end of the week when we’re determined to use what we’ve got without having to return to the shops.

Spaghetti with Walnuts, Raisins & Parsley – serves 4

  • 300g spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 5 tbsp raisins or sultanas
  • 250ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 50g parmesan, grated
  • 5 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • small bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the pack.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onions for 8 to 10 minutes or until soft and golden brown. Add the raisins and stock and cook for a few minutes until hot through. Toss with the pasta, Parmesan, walnuts and parsley.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)


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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


  • 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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Chianti-baked Meatballs

These smell delicious even before they go into the oven. Serve with top-quality pasta like our favourite, Martelli from Panzano in Tuscany, or potatoes roasted with rosemary.

Wine Suggestion: naturally this goes with Chianti, but feel free to adventure a bit further if you like as a good Brunello with a bit of age will make this feel a bit special despite the humble ingredients. Don’t use your best wine in the sauce though; we used a nice, but inexpensive Bordeaux which had good fruit and tannin.

Chianti-baked Meatballs – serves 4


  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 50g black olives, stoned and chopped
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 25g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped parsley


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250ml Chianti (or other red wine)
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • a large handful of basil, chopped

Heat the oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas 7.

Mix all the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl – the easiest way is to use clean hands. When everything is mixed together really well, wet your hands and roll into small or large meatballs (aim for 12 large meatballs or 20 small ones).

Gently toss the meatballs in 2tbsp of olive oil in an ovenproof shallow casserole or roasting tray. Try to find one that is just big enough to fit the meatballs but not so they are squashed together.

Bake the meatballs for 10 minutes, then pour over the wine and turn the meatballs over to make sure they are coated. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, sugar and basil, then cook for another 20-25 minutes or until bubbling and thickened.

Serve with pasta or roast potatoes with rosemary.

(Original recipe by Jo Pratt in BBC Olive Magazine, March 2007.)


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Shirazi salad

This Iranian salad works really well with rich, spicy stews and middle eastern dishes. Try and cut everything the same size so that you get a bit of everything in each bite.

Salad Shirazi – serves 4 as a side dish

  • 300g Middle Eastern or regular cucumber
  • 300g tomatoes, halved and seeds removed
  • ½ red onion
  • 4 radishes


  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

If you are using small Middle Eastern (Lebanese) cucumbers, then half them lengthways. If using a regular cucumber, peel, half and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon.

Finely dice the cucumber and tomato into ½ cm cubes. Cut the red onion and radishes into similar sized pieces and tip everything into a large salad bowl.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together, then pour over the salad and mix well. Serve immediately.

(Original recipe from The Saffron Tales by Yasmin Khan, Bloomsbury, 2016.)


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Lamb Tagine

An easy casserole with North African spices and fruit. Suitable for cold nights in as well as entertaining good friends –  which we have been doing lots of due to snow days. Serve with plain couscous or with Golden Couscous and Shirazi salad.

Wine Suggestion: A guest brought over a Roda Sela from Rioja, which had juicy red fruit flavours to complement the spices and a polished, refined finish.

Lamb Tagine – serves 6

  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1-2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 ½ tbsp paprika
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1.1kg cubed boneless lamb
  • 450g onions
  • 3 big cloves of garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 175g ready-to-eat dried apricots
  • 50g sultanas
  • 85g toasted flaked almonds
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 300ml tomato juice
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml hot lamb stock
  • fresh coriander, to serve
  • couscous, to serve

Preheat the oven to 170C/Fan 150C/Gas 3.

Mix the spices together in a small bowl.

Put the lamb into a large mixing bowl, then tip in the spices and mix well with your hands.

Peel and grate the onions (you might like to use a food processor if you have one to save your eyes). Peel and chop the garlic, then crush with the salt using the back of your knife.

Put a large frying pan over a high heat and add a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add a quarter of the lamb cubes and cook until browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon into a large casserole dish. Brown the rest of the lamb in batches, adding another tablespoon of the oil each time.

When the meat is all browned, turn the heat down to low and add the last tablespoon of oil, then stir in the onions and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes or until softened but not browned.

Add the lamb stock to the onions and stir to scrape any crusty bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour the onions and stock over the lamb, then add the remaining ingredients. Bring the casserole to the boil, then cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours or until the lamb is completely tender.

(Original recipe by Antony Worrall Thompson in BBC Good Food Magazine, January 2001.)


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Winter root vegetable soup

So here we are almost March and we are experiencing an artic blast. The snow is piled up at the back door and Dubliners have been advised to stay indoors tomorrow as more is on the way. Soup seems like our only defence. Nothing fancy here but full of fresh vegetable flavours. It will protect you against almost all weather eventualities, or at least both fill and warm you up.

Winter Root Vegetable Soup – serves 6 to 8

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 litres vegetable stock
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 1 small celeriac, peeled and chopped

Melt the butter in a large pot over a medium to high heat. As soon as it has melted and started to froth, add the onion, leek and potatoes. Sauté for a couple of minutes, then cover and sweat over a low heat for 8 minutes.

Add the stock, the rest of the vegetables and some salt and pepper (white pepper would be our preference), then lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, partially covered. Taste the vegetables to check that they are completely soft, then check the seasoning before serving.

(Original recipe from Fresh by Donal Skeehan, Hodder & Stoughton, 2015.)


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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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