Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

This is much lighter than your average pasta bake and therefore perfect for midweek. It’s packed full of flavour and you can freeze the leftovers too. Serve with a salad.

Wine Suggestion: Perfect with an easy, mid-weight red like the Umani Ronchi Rosso Conero Serrano, a joyful blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese. Food friendly and also easy sipping on its own.

Spinach & Ricotta Pasta Bake – serves 6

  • 400g wholewheat penne pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 250g roasted peppers from a jar, diced
  • 700g jar passata
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 100ml water
  • 200g ricotta cheese
  • a small handful of sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 150g baby spinach
  • a handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 125g mozzarella ball, diced
  • 15g Parmesan, finely grated

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

Bring a large pan of salty water to the boil and cook the pasta for the shortest time indicated on the pack, then drain and run under cold water until completely cooled. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in another large saucepan, then cook the onion for about 5 minutes or until softened. Then add the garlic and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Stir in the paprika and cook for a further minute.

Add the roasted peppers, passata, tomatoes and oregano. Pour the 100ml of water into the passata jar, give it a shake, then add this too. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the ricotta and chopped sage together and season with salt and black pepper.

Stir the spinach and basil into the tomato sauce until wilted, then season the sauce with salt and black pepper. Add the pasta and stir to coat in the sauce, then tip it all into a large roasting tray or lasagne dish.

Scatter over the mozzarella, dot with the ricotta mixture and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Bake on a high shelf in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

(Original recipe from Lose Weight & Get Fit by Tom Kerridge, BLOOMSBURY ABSOLUTE, 2018.)

Read Full Post »

Try this for a tasty weeknight dish, particularly if you have lots of herbs in the garden. We loved the anchovies in this but you can easily give it a go without. With gnocchi the trick is to definitely fry it at the end as this gives you both a crispy outside and a pillowy-soft centre.

Wine Suggestion: This needs a characterful white with a bit of acidity. Domaine Gueguen’s old-vine Aligote was our choice, but a good Gavi or top-notch Vermentino would work too.

Gnocchi with herb sauce – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 4 anchovies (optional)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zest of half
  • 50g herbs – we used parsley, chives & basil
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g gnocchi

Blitz the capers, anchovies, garlic, lemon juice and herbs with 3 tbsp of the olive oil to make a sauce. Season and set aside.

Cook the gnocchi in salty water according to the pack – it takes hardly any time at all and don’t be tempted to leave it in longer, really as soon as it floats to the top it’s done. Drain the gnocchi, then heat the last tbsp of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat.

Fry the gnocchi for about 3 minute or until crispy on the outside and piping hot. Drain on kitchen paper, then tip into a bowl and toss with the sauce. Divide between warm bowls and top with lemon zest and lots of black pepper.

(Original recipe by Elena Silcock in BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2018.)

Read Full Post »

These curried noodles have a sourness that we particularly like and the whole dish is power-charged with flavour.

Leave the chicken thighs whole, or cut them in half if they’re big, they’ll stay nice and tender. The curry paste also makes much more that you need but will keep in the fridge for a month, or longer in the freezer. You can of course just buy a paste either.

Wine Suggestion: Despite all the powerful flavours in this dish there is a wine match that works superbly – Dry Tokaji, particularly if the wine is a blend of Furmint and Hárslevelu. Ch. Dereszla Tokaij Dry was at hand, and despite the title is actually off-dry. The Furmint being crisp and creamy with hints of mango and the Hárslevelu, which translates as lime-leaf, bringing a complimentary aromatic lime and peach character. These grapes on their own also work really well with the food so don’t worry if you find a wine with just one of these varietals.

Chiang Mai curried noodles – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 75g red curry paste (you can use a bought one, or make the recipe below)
  • 2 tsp mild curry powder
  • 50ml tamarind purée (we make this up using a block of tamarind – put 30g in a small bowl then pour over a little boiling water. Mash with a fork then push through a sieve. You will be left with the seeds which you can discard)
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 700g boneless skinless chicken thighs (cut them in half if they’re huge but otherwise leave whole)
  • 300g egg noodles
  • coriander leaves, shredded scallions and chopped red chillies to garnish

FOR THE PASTE:

  • 2 Mexican dried chillies e.g. ancho/pasilla/gaujilo
  • 4 lemongrass stalks, inner part only, finely chopped
  • 75g small shallots
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 20g ginger, chopped
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Thai red chillies, seeded
  • 1 tbsp coriander root or stems
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

TO MAKE THE PASTE:

Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chillies, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 15 minutes until very soft, then drain.

Put the soaked chillies into the small bowl of a food processor with all the remaining ingredients and 90ml water. Blend for a few minutes until very fine – you can add a little more water if needed. Scrape into a sterilised jar and keep in the fridge for up to a month or freeze.

TO MAKE THE CURRY:

Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Add the curry paste and fry for 5 minutes. Add the curry powder, tamarind and sugar. When the sugar has melted, add the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce, soy and lime juice. Bring to a gentle simmer and add the chicken pieces. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

Meanwhile, boil the noodles for about 4 minutes or until al dente. Drain the noodles and divide between deep bowls. Ladle the curry over the noodles and top with the coriander, scallions and some chopped red chilli.

(Original recipe from My Asian Kitchen by Jennifer Joyce, Murdoch Books, 2018.)

Read Full Post »

This is so simple for mid-week and the colours are just fab! Healthy too and generous portions.

Roast onion, chickpea & halloumi salad – serves 2

  • 2 red onions, peeled and each cut into 8 wedges
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp ras el hanout
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 250g cooked Puy lentils – we used a tin but you can of course cook them yourself or buy one of those pouches
  • 100g roasted red peppers, cut into strips
  • a large handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 250g packet of halloumi, sliced
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

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

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spread the onion wedges and chickpeas over the tray, then sprinkle with the ras el hanout and some salt and rub gently to coat, then drizzle with oil. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the chickpeas or golden and crunchy.

Meanwhile, mix the lentils, roast peppers, mint and half the chopped parsley in a bowl. Drizzle over 1 tbsp of oil and the pomegranate molasses and season well with salt and pepper. Mix well and divide between serving plates.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, add a little oil, then fry the halloumi slices for a couple of minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Spoon the onions and chickpeas over the lentils, then top with the halloumi and scatter over the pomegranate seeds and parsley to serve.

(Original recipe from Lose Weight & Get Fit by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2019.)

Read Full Post »

Given it’s sharp-sour character it can sometimes be tricky to think of what to do with sorrel – so this is a quick and easy recipe for sorrel butter. Delicious with pasta or on fish or chicken. You can make the butter and stash it in the freezer if you happen to have some leftover sorrel from another dish.

Wine Suggestion: This works really well with the Gulfi Valcanzjria. A blend of Chardonnay and Carricante from the slopes of Mt Etna, this fresh and Spring-like as well as having the stuffing to work with the sharp/sour sorrel.

Tagliatelle with sorrel butter & pine nuts – serves 4

  • 2 large handfuls of sorrel leaves, remove the stalks and roughly chop
  • 100g butter, softened
  • ½ a lemon, juiced
  • 300g tagliatelle or pappardelle pasta
  • 75g toasted pine nuts, to serve
  • Parmesan, shaved or grated to serve

Tip the sorrel into a food processor with the butter and lemon juice, then whizz to a paste. Season with salt and pepper.

Scrape the butter out onto a piece of cling film then roll into a log and chill in the fridge. It will be fine there for a few days or you can freeze for a month.

Cook the pasta in very salty water until al dente.

Meanwhile, melt the sorrel butter in a large frying pan. Use tongs to transfer the cooked pasta from the cooking water into the frying pan with the butter. Toss the pasta in the butter, then add most of the pine nuts and mix well.

Divide the buttery pasta and pine nuts between warm bowls and scatter with Parmesan and extra pine nuts to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Read Full Post »

We don’t make a roast dinner every week but we do like one occasionally, especially in the brighter months when you can lighten them up a bit with some spring veg. Ask your butcher to score the pork skin for you, then leave it uncovered in the fridge overnight to dry out the skin, which will help with the crispy crackling.

Wine suggestion: Quite often we have an oaky white with roast pork but tonight we had a notion for red and a 6 year old Olga Raffault Chinon Les Pucasses which was just hitting it’s stride and will be drinking nicely for another 10 years we think. Deep , complex and brooding and yet the limestone soils give it an immediate freshness and vivacity.

Roast pork belly with herbs & new potatoes – serves 4

  • 3-4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1.5kg thick end of pork belly, bone in, skin completely dry (see above)
  • 300g new potatoes
  • a few sprigs of mint, leaves picked and finely chopped, stalks reserved
  • a knob of butter
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • a small bunch of parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • a small bunch of chives, finely chopped
  • 2 handfuls of peas or broad bean tops if available (we didn’t have these but we served with some double podded broad beans instead)
  • juice of ½ lemon

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

Toast the fennel seeds in a small pan until fragrant, then tip into a pestle and mortar and coarsely grind. Score the skin and fat (but not the flesh) of the pork with a sharp knife if your butcher hasn’t done this for you already.

Put the pork into a roasting tray and rub allover with the crushed fennel seeds and some salt.

Put the pork into the oven for 30 minutes to crisp up the skin, then reduce the heat to 160C/315F/Gas 2-3. Add half a glass of water to the tray and roast for a further 2 hours, until crispy and tender. You will need to keep checking the water and ensuring that the pan doesn’t dry out.

While the pork is roasting, halve the potatoes if they’re big and put into a saucepan with the mint stalks. Cover with salty water and simmer until just tender, then drain and return to the pan, discarding the mint stalks. Add the butter and 1 tbsp of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then set aside.

Remove the cooked pork from the oven and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. Add the chopped herbs to the potatoes and stir gently to coat, then spoon onto a warm platter. Slice the pork and arrange on the platter with the potatoes, then skim the fat from the juices in the roasting tin and spoon the juices over the pork and potatoes,.

If you have pea or bean tops, put them into a bowl and dress with the 1 tbsp of olive oil and the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Scatter these over the pork and serve. (We dressed our broad beans with some olive oil and lemon and served these alongside instead).

(Original recipe from Gather by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2016.)

Read Full Post »

Who says you can’t have broccoli for breakfast? It’s purple sprouting broccoli season and we can’t resist buying when we see it. Also good on a slice of toasted sourdough.

Crispy PSB with poached eggs – serves 2

  • 300g purple sprouting broccoli
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • poached eggs, to serve

Heat the grill to high.

Meanwhile, steam the broccoli until tender, about 5 minutes, then dry well with kitchen paper.

Put the soy sauce, honey and vegetable oil in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Put the broccoli into a roasting tin, pour over the marinade and toss gently, then sprinkle over the sesame seeds. Put the tin under the grill for 5-8 minutes or until the broccoli is crispy.

Divide the broccoli between warm plates and top with a poached egg. Serve with some toast if you like.

(Original recipe by Rosie Birkett in BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2019.)

Read Full Post »

We’re getting very impatient for spring veg. Ideally this would be made with locally grown asparagus and freshly podded peas and broad beans. In reality we had to settle for purple sprouting broccoli and frozen peas and beans. Still a delicious spring dish. This makes enough to serve 6 for lunch or a generous side dish. Cook the veg at the last minute if you can as it nice served slightly warm. 

Spring Panzanella – serves 6

  • 350g ciabatta, torn into bite-size chunks
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil,
  • 300g fresh pea or frozen peas
  • 300g fresh broad beans (podded weight) or use frozen broad beans
  • 400g asparagus, trimmed (we used purple sprouting broccoli)
  • leaves from a large bunch of basil
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 35ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (ideally white balsamic)
  • 75g Pecorino or Parmesan, shaved

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Toss the bread in a roasting tin with the shallot, seasoning and oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden and crunchy.

Cook the peas and broad beans in salted boiling water in separate pans, then drain. Slip the skins from the broad beans. 

Meanwhile, cook the asparagus in salted water for 3-4 minute or until tender. Drain in a sieve and refresh briefly under cold water, just long enough to stop cooking but not cool down completely. 

Put the crunchy bread into a large, shallow bowl. Add the asparagus, peas, broad beans, basil & garlic. Season well. Pour on the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and add the cheese. Toss gently and serve.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2012.)

Read Full Post »

We don’t cook with sorrel very often, perhaps once or twice a year when we see it and grab a bag. It has an unusual sour and citrussy flavour that always reminds us of holidays in France. Sorrel sauce is an excellent match for fish and goes particularly well with brill as expertly suggested by Gill Meller. A few crispy potatoes on the side would be a good addition.

Wine Suggestion: This goes great with a dry Chenin Blanc, like one of our favourites the Chateau du Hureau Argile which always has great depth of flavour alongside a crisp zestiness and dry texture, bound together with a lemony, citrus zing – very complimentary to the sorrel and able to match the rich cream and fish.

Brill with sorrel sauce – serves 4

  • 4 brill fillets (120-150g each), skin on
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2-4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 garlic cloves, skin on and bashed
  • a small knob of butter

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • a large knob of butter
  • 1 shallot, very finely diced
  • 100ml fish stock if you have it though water will be fine
  • a large bunch of sorrel (about 150g), stalks removed and cut into rough ribbons
  • 150ml double cream

Make the sauce first. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then add the chopped shallot and cook until soft but not coloured. Pour in the stock/water and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated.

Add the sorrel leaves and stir a few times until wilted. Add the cream, stir, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook for a couple of minutes to thicken it slightly. Season with salt and pepper, then cover with a lid and set aside.

Season the fish all over. Heat the oil with the bay leaves, thyme and garlic, in a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Put the brill into the hot pan, skin-side down and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the fish is cooked at least three-quarters of the way up its edge. Turn the fish with a spatula and cook for a minute more on the other side, then add a small knob of butter and remove from the heat. Rest for a minute as the butter belts.

Serve the brill with the sauce on the side.

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

Read Full Post »

This is nice soup for Spring. It’s filling and definitely tastes better by the second or third day. Ham hocks are still cheap, despite becoming a bit trendy, and they make a great stock. 

Ham hock, pea & scallion soup – serves 6

  • 800g uncooked ham hock
  • 2 bay leaves, scrunched
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 200g frozen peas (or fresh if you have them)
  • 100g small pasta shapes, cooked as per timings on the pack
  • a knob of unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch of scallions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • juice of ½ lemon (optional)

Put the ham into a large, deep saucepan and cover with enough cold water to just cover, then bring to the boil. Drain, then refill the pan with fresh water, adding the bay and peppercorns. Bring the pan up to the boil again, skim off any froth, then reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour, or until the ham is tender the whole way through when pierced with a skewer. 

Remove the ham from the liquid and set aside. Add the peas to the stock and cook for a minute until tender (5 minutes if using fresh peas). Add the cooked pasta and leave on the heat. 

While the peas are cooking, heat the butter in a small pan over a medium heat and fry the scallions and garlic for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add to the stock along with the parsley. 

Shred the cooked ham from the bone, removing any skin and excess fat, then add to the soup. Season generously with salt and pepper and add a spritz of lemon juice if you like. 

(Original recipe from Home Cookery Year by Claire Thompson, Quadrille, 2020.)

Read Full Post »

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.)

Read Full Post »

This is a bit like sweet chilli sauce, but nicer and not as sickly sweet. It’s great with chicken, in a sandwich or drizzled over some rice. 

Hot Pepper Jam – makes 8 small jars

  • 8 red peppers
  • 4 scotch bonnet chillies
  • 1kg jam sugar
  • 700ml cider vinegar

Put a few saucers in the freezer to test the jam later.

Heat the oven to 150C/fan 130C/Gas 2. 

Wash 8 small jars (about 230ml each) in hot soapy water. Rinse well then put in the oven for 20 minutes, until completely dry. This will sterilise them. 

Remove the seeds, stalk and white membranes from the peppers and chillies and roughly chop. 

Put in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (careful not to blitz to a puree). Heat the sugar and vinegar gently in a pan until the sugar dissolves. Add the pepper mix and boil for 15 minutes. Drop a spoon onto a frozen plate, wait for 30 seconds then run your finger through it. If it wrinkles you have setting point, if not cook for another 5 minutes and test again. 

Pour the jam into the sterilised jars and leave to cool before adding the lids. 

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe & Anna Glover in Olive Magazine, October 2016.)

Read Full Post »

This pasta bake from the Falastin book would make a great party dish. We’re still a good way off holding a party in terms of restrictions but we’re very happy to have heaps of leftovers. It’s full of warm spices and the feta on the top makes it a bit different from the more familiar pasta bakes. If you make the ragu the day before it’s pretty straightforward to assemble and bake when you need it. If you do this, warm the ragu slowly first before adding the pasta.

Wine Suggestion: this goes great with a warmly, spiced southern French or Spanish red. Our choice tonight is a rarity, a wine from the Southern part of Aragon near the provincial city of Teruel. An ancient inland region of Spain that was de-populated during the civil war and is being rejuvinated by some young winemakers replanting the vineyard terraces of their grandparents. The Jesus Romero Rubus is a Garnacha Tempranillo organically grown and made without intervention, but with a lot of love and care to avoid any bacterial issues. Joyful red and black fruits, warm spices and refined tannins.

Spicy pasta bake – serves 6 generously

FOR THE RAGU:

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, roughly chopped
  • 2 green peppers, roughly chopped
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp oregano leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500g beef mince (not too lean, about 20% fat if possible)
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 5-6 plum tomatoes, coarsely grate and discard the skins – if you have a mouli you could use this
  • 2 red peppers, cut into rough 3cm dice
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 20g parsley, roughly chopped, plus a bit extra to serve

FOR THE BÉCHAMEL:

  • 45g unsalted butter
  • 60g plain flour
  • 500ml full cream milk
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 130g Greek-style yoghurt
  • 2 egg yolks

OTHER INGREDIENTS:

  • 350g macaroni pasta or similar
  • 180g feta, roughly crumbled
  • ¾ tsp Aleppo chilli flakes, to serve

First make the bolognese. Put the onion, celery and green peppers into a food processor and pulse briefly, until finely chopped.

Put the butter and oil into a large, heavy saucepan and put over a medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture and cook for 7 minutes, stirring, until softened. Add the garlic, tomato purée, oregano, spices and bay leaves and cook for a minute.

Add the beef mince and cook for a few minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cooking until no pink bits remain.

Add the tinned and fresh tomatoes, red peppers, sugar, 100ml of water, 2¼ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and leave to simmer very gently for 2½ hours, stirring roughly every 30 minutes, until the sauce is thick and rich. We took the lid off for the last half an hour as our ragu was very liquid. Discard the bay leaves, stir in the parsley and set aside until needed.

To make the béchamel, put the butter into a medium saucepan and place on a medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, stir or whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking or stirring continuously. Reduce the heat to medium, add the nutmeg and 1 tsp of salt, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes, then stir in the yoghurt and egg yolks until mixed in.

Heat the oven to 200C fan.

Bring a large pan of salty water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente (use the minimum time on the pack). Reserve 3 tbsp of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and add to the ragu with the reserved cooking water. Mix well then pour into a large baking dish (about 30 x 22cm and 8cm deep).

Pour the béchamel over the top and spread out evenly. Sprinkle over the feta and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with some extra parsley, the aleppo chilli and an extra drizzle of olive oil.

(Original recipe from Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, Ebury Press, 2020.)

Read Full Post »

We loved this deep-filled veggie pie and it looks so bright with the broken eggs on the top. Excellent for lunch or dinner or to pack up for a picnic. Leftovers are good too. Use a 23cm round baking tin. Serve with a salad.

Wine Suggestion: Pick a white you’d be happy having on a picnic; something with a bit of body and dry, minerality. For us it was an old vine Bourgogne Aligote from Domaine Gueguen in Chablis. Full and round with apricot and apple flavours and a saline, chalky twist at the end. Tasting this we wonder why Aligote isn’t more popular as it is delicious.

Spinach, egg and filo pie – serves 8

  • 70g butter
  • 1 small packet of filo pastry

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 50g butter
  • 500g spinach
  • 1 small bunch of dill, chopped
  • 3-4 scallions, chopped
  • a few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked and chopped (about 2 tsp)
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 160g  cup yoghurt
  • 50g plain flour
  • 8 eggs
  • 50g finely grated pecorino
  • 50g feta

Melt the 50g portion of butter for the filling in a large saucepan. Add the spinach and cover, then cook for a few minutes until wilted. Drain in a colander to drain off the excess liquid. Transfer to a large bowl and add the dill, scallions, thyme, dried mint, salt, pepper and nutmeg and mix well. Add the yoghurt, flour, 4 of the eggs, the pecorino and feta, and mix well to combine.

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

Melt the 70g portion of butter for the pastry and take the filo sheets out of the packet. Brush the first sheet with the melted butter and lay another sheet on top. Lift these 2 sheets into the round baking tin, allowing a little overhang. Repeat this process and put another layer in the tin, slightly overlapping the first. Continue this way until the tin is fully lined with pastry, with pastry over hanging on all sides. You will probably need about 4 double sheets.

Fill the pastry lined tin with the spinach mixture, then fold the filo overhang to cover the edges of the filling but don’t cover the whole surface. Scrunch the pastry to form a crunchy rim and brush with a little more butter. Place in the oven for 10 minutes.

Carefully remove the tin from the oven and crack the remaining 4 eggs over the surface. Aim to have an egg yolk in each quarter and for the egg white to be evenly distributed. Use the tip of a sharp knife to swirl the yolk into the filling but don’t push it in too much. Put the pie back in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes or until the spinach mixture and eggs are set and the pastry crispy.

(Original recipe from Honey & Co. At Home by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich, Pavilion, 2018.)

Read Full Post »

We’ve tried this Spanish pasta dish before, but with limited success, however this version was a triumph. We had the proper fideos noodles this time which we think might have helped. As we can’t go on holidays at the moment we thought we’d cook holiday dishes instead. Serve with some aïoli.

Wine Suggestion: this dish cries out for a fresh Garnacha like the Edetaria via Terra which is from Terra Alta DO in the south of Catalonia. Inland, at some altitude and on specific soils this area produces some of the best wines from this grape anywhere with a freshness and weightlessness from lovely ripe grapes.

Prawn fideua – serves 4

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 100g chorizo, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • a pinch of saffron strands
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400g tin of plum tomatoes, lift the tomatoes out of the juice with a spoon and discard the juice left in the tin
  • 350g fideos noodles
  • 600ml freshly boiled water
  • 400g whole shell-on prawns
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Cover the base of a paella or sauté pan with olive oil, then warm over a medium heat. Add the onion, pepper, chorizo and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes or until the onions and peppers are soft.

Add the paprika, saffron and salt and stir over the heat for a minute, then add the tomatoes – squeezing them with your hands as you add them to the pan to break them up. Cook for 2 minutes to thicken.

Add the fideos noodles and stir to coat well, then add the boiled water. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, then spread the prawns over the surface and cook uncovered for another 5 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and a crust is forming on the bottom of the pan. The prawns will turn pink when cooked, you can turn them over to help them along.

Remove from the heat and rest for 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges and aïoli.

(Original recipe from New Kitchen Basics by Claire Thomson, Quadrille, 2019.)

Read Full Post »

This is easier to make than you think, particularly if you have a food processor to hand, though a whisk and a bowl will also work. So much nicer freshly made than any bought version and good with fish dishes or a roast chicken. 

If you go a fraction too fast pouring in the oil, it is easy for it to de-emulsify and go to liquid again as we did with this one. Do not dispair as it’s also easy to save – just pour the split mix into a jug and start again with 10ml water in the food processor, slowly adding the split mix and then the remaining oil. It all, miraculously comes back together again!

Aïoli – serves 4 to 6

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • a big pinch of salt
  • 200ml groundnut oil or sunflower oil
  • 50ml good olive oil

Put the egg yolks, garlic, mustard, vinegar and salt in a food processor and blitz for 20 seconds. Keep the motor running while you add the groundnut oil/sunflower oil. You need to add slowly in a very thin drizzle, and then finish with the olive oil. 

You should get a nice thick mayonnaise and if it all goes wrong, follow the instructions in the introduction. If it’s a bit too thick at any point, you can add a splash of cold water to thin it, then continue adding the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

(Original recipe from Home Cookery Year by Claire Thompson, Quadrille, 2020.)

Read Full Post »

We served this as a side with a barbecue but it would also make a nice dinner for 2.

Couscous & chickpeas in ras el hanut spice – serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main

  • ½ a small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ras el hanut spice mix
  • 100g cooked chickpeas (from a tin)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 60g couscous
  • 180ml boiling water
  • 15-20g coriander, chopped

Heat the oil in a pan, then fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat until softened and starting to colour. Add the salt and ras el hanut and mix for about 20 seconds. Add the chickpeas and diced tomato and cook for another minute. Stir in the couscous and boiling water, bring to the boil, then turn off the heat and cover.

Leave the couscous aside for 10 minutes to absorb the liquid, then remove the lid and use a fork to separate the grains and mix in the chopped coriander. Serve warm or at room temperature.

(Original recipe from Honey & Co. Food from the Middle East, Saltyard Books, 2014.)

Read Full Post »

Don’t wear a white shirt when eating this as lots of slurping is needed. A dish full of herbs, spring veg and a fresh spicy sauce, perfect on a cool Spring evening.

Wine Suggestion: This dish demands a good, dry Riesling like the superlative ones made by Martin & Britta Korrell in the Nahe, Germany. For tonight the “Slice of Paradise” Riesling, a less philosophical, more playful baby brother of their signature Paradies vineyard wine, but none the less for this; a taste of Spring in the glass too.

Laksa with Spring Vegetables & Rice Noodles – serves 4

  • 30g tamarind paste with seeds (it comes in a block)
  • 1-2 red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger or galangal
  • ½ a bunch of scallions, sliced, keep the white parts and the green parts separate
  • a small bunch of coriander, leaves and stalks separated
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 400g mixed spring vegetables e.g. PSB, peas, green beans, mangetout, asparagus, spinach, radishes or baby carrots
  • 200g dried rice noodles, cooked according to the instructions on the pack
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce, or more if you like
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • a small bunch of mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped, to serve

Bring a pan of salty water to the boil.

Meanwhile, put the tamarind into a small bowl and cover with boiling water from the kettle. Mash well with a fork to get a purée then push the tamarind through a sieve. Discard the seeds that are left behind.

Blend the chillies, garlic, ginger, white parts of the scallions, coriander stalks and lemongrass with the turmeric and cumin to make a thick paste. The small bowl of the food processor is good for this, you might need to add a little water to help it come together.

To make the broth, fry the spicy paste in the sunflower oil for 2 to 3 minutes over a medium heat, until it starts to stick to the pan. Add the tamarind purée, stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, boil the vegetables in the pan of salty water until just tender – 3 minutes should do it, then drain and divide between 4 deep bowls along with the prepared noodles.

Add the fish sauce and sugar to the sauce, taste and add more if needed. Pour the hot broth over the noodles and veg and garnish with the mint, coriander leaves and green scallions. You can add a bit of sliced chilli too if you like.

(Original recipe from Home Cookery Year by Claire Thomson, Quadrille, 2020.)

Read Full Post »

We served this with sticky rice and some quick cucumber kimchi but it would also work perfectly as a starter.  If you want to serve to start a meal, just slice the chicken thighs when they’re cooked and serve in lettuce leaves with some kimchi.

Wine Suggestion: this goes great with lighter red wines with high acidity but lower tannins. A youthful Chianti with lower extraction, like the Rocca delle Macie Chianti Vernaiolo which was our choice tonight. Made for youthful consumption as opposed to some of their more serious Chianti Classico’s this was a delight.

Korean Spice-Rubbed Chicken for the BBQ – serves 4

  • 4 large boneless, skinless chicken thigh fillets (if they are tiny just get some extra)
  • 2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp gochugaru (Korean chilli powder)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 60ml sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Make the marinade by whisking the ingredients together in a large bowl.

Add the chicken to the marinade and set aside for at least 30 minutes.

Combine the brown sugar, gochugaru, salt, pepper and sesame seeds in a bowl. Drain the chicken well and pat dry with paper towels, then rub the dry spice mix evenly over the chicken.

Heat a barbecue and cook the chicken for about 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. If you don’t want to barbecue you can heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan and cook them on the hob.

Rest in a warm place for 5 minutes before serving.

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

Read Full Post »

We know it’s a bit early for tomatoes, but this salad tastes good even with the blandest of specimens, so you’re good to go. A great side dish for a barbecue. You can get everything prepped up to an hour in advance but don’t toss it all together until ready to serve.

Tomato & za’atar fatoush – serves 4

  • 1 pitta, cut in half to make two thin round pieces
  • olive oil
  • 1 head of Little Gem lettuce
  • 250g mixed tomatoes
  • 150g feta
  • 2 springs of fresh oregano, leaves picked
  • 2 tsp za’atar
  • 2 heaped tbsp fresh pomegranate seeds

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tbsp good olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • a pinch of black pepper

Peel the garlic and bash with a knife to flatten. Mix it with the other dressing ingredients and allow to infuse for an hour at room temperature. Discard the garlic clove before mixing the dressing with the salad.

Brush the pitta bread with a little olive oil and toast until lightly golden and crispy. Break into bite-sized pieces.

Separate the lettuce leaves and cut into large strips.

Cut the tomatoes in different ways – slice some, chop into chunks and just half the little ones. You want them bite-sized rather than finely chopped.

Break the feta into chunks.

When ready to serve put the pitta pieces, lettuce, tomatoes, feta, oregano and za’atar into a large bowl. Pour over the dressing and gently mix everything together. Serve on a large platter with the pomegranate seeds sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from Honey & Co. Food from the Middle East by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich.)

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »