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

Beetroot & mint salad – serves 4 to 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buttery Lemon Roast Chicken – serves 4

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

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

Heat the oven to 190C.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We made this by accident having planned to do a different tagine from a magazine, only to realised that it required a slow-cooker, so this was a last-minute substitute. It is really and truly delicious, so you must try making this dish at some stage. You can serve with plain couscous but it’s particularly good with this. If chickpeas don’t float your boat as a main course for Sunday lunch both dishes would be excellent with some roast lamb. 

Wine Suggestion: this is great with a juicy, brambly Grenache, or a blend with this in it. We had the joyful Les Dissidents “le Paria” made by Domaine Ventenac from 100% Grenache and made without sulphur; fresh, juicy and minerally.

Tomato, date & chickpea tagine – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
  • 120g pitted dates, halved
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • a small bunch of coriander, leaves roughly chopped and stalks reserved
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 strips of lemon zest and the juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

FOR THE SEASONED YOGHURT

  • 200g natural yoghurt
  • juice of ½ a lemon

Heat the oil or butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add the onion and fry for 8-10 minutes, until soft. 

Whizz half the tomatoes with half of the dates, then add the rest of the tomatoes to the mixture and set aside. 

Add the garlic, coriander stalks and all of the spices to the cooked onions, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato mixture, the lemon zest and 100ml of water, season well with salt and pepper, then cook for 10 minutes or until rich and thickened. 

Meanwhile, make the seasoned yoghurt. Mix the yoghurt with the lemon juice and a good pinch of salt in a bowl, then set aside. 

Stir the chickpeas and the rest of the dates into the tomato mixture and cook for 5 minutes to heat through. Add the lemon juice and check the seasoning. Discard the pieces of lemon zest, then remove the dish from the heat. 

Stir in the coriander leaves and serve with some seasoned yoghurt and golden couscous

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

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We’ve done this Korean dish before, but it’s worth revisiting because its so easy and delicious. It’s a nice starter to throw together for guests as they arrive, presuming you’re allowed to have guests. For now we have that on hold but it makes an event for the two of us.

Aperitif Suggestion: A good dry Oloroso sherry, or a Manzanilla sherry with a bit of age, we had La Gitana’s single vineyard Pasada Pastrana.

Pan-Fried King Prawns – serves 2 but easily doubled

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 cm piece of ginger, peeled & finely grated
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 150g king prawns, shelled
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp roasted pine nuts, roughly chopped

Make the sauce by combining the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and honey in a bowl.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok, or pan, over a high heat. When very hot add the prawns and cook for a minute. Turn over and add the sauce. Fry for a further minute or until cooked through. Use your instinct here this depends on the size of your prawns and the heat of your pan. Don’t let them overcook!

Remove and pile onto a plate, sprinkle over the scallions and pine nuts, then serve. 

(Original recipe from Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

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You can serve this with other dishes or just on its own with some sticky rice. It is perfect for a Friday night feast and much quicker than Deliveroo. Squid is so cheap and although almost everyone loves calamari they don’t seem to cook with squid much. I find it’s quite a satisfying thing to prepare too, but that might just be me.

Wine Suggestion: We opened a really nice bottle of Pearce Road Semillon 2016 from Kilikanoon in the Clare Valley. Delicious wine which we quickly abandoned for a beer as this dish is spicy! Do try the Semillon though maybe with some cheese or something a bit less fiery.

Stir-fried Spicy Squid – serves 2-3

  • 500g squid, cleaned
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large carrot, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 1 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 green chilli (optional), thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions (cut 2 of them into 3cm lengths and finely slice 1 to sprinkle over at the end)
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 2 tbsp gochujang chilli paste
  • 1 tbsp gochugaru red pepper powder
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2½ cm piece of ginger, finely grated

Make the sauce first by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Slice the body of the squid open so it lies flat. Score the inside in a criss cross pattern with a sharp knife but make sure you don’t cut through. Cut the squid into 5cm pieces, any shape will do. Cut the tentacles into similar size pieces.

Put the vegetable oil into a wok (or a large frying pan) and put over a high heat. When the oil is hot, add the carrot and onion and stir-fry for 3 minutes, tossing the whole time until starting to soften.

Add the squid, chilli, scallions and sauce, then stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes or until the squid has turned opaque. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallions over the top to garnish.

Serve with sticky rice.

(Original recipe from Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

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Working from home definitely improves the lunch offerings. These quesadillas will fill you up and they’re super tasty too. Make up the filling in advance and it won’t take long to put them together on your lunch break. 

Quesadillas, with beans, chipotle, cheese & coriander – serves 4

  • 2 x 400g tins mixed beans
  • 3 tbsp chipotle sauce
  • a small pack of coriander, chopped
  • 140g cheddar cheese
  • 4 large tortillas

Drain the beans but reserve 2 tbsp of the liquid from the tins. 

Put the beans into a bowl with the reserved liquid, the chipotle sauce, coriander and half the cheese. Mash well with a fork or potato masher. 

Lay out the tortillas and cover half with the bean mixture. Top with the remaining cheese, then fold the tortilla over to make a semicircle. 

Heat a griddle pan or heavy frying pan, then cook the tortillas for a couple of minutes on each side, or until golden and starting to char. Cut into wedges to serve. 

(Original recipe by Sarah Buenfeld in BBC Good Food Magazine, October 2013.)

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We occasionally go to Lidl, when they have those country promotions on, for the white anchovies in the fridge section. Last time it was a Spanish promotion and we also grabbed a tin of artichokes which we used tonight for a mid-week pasta dish with spaghetti and pesto.

The pesto we used was an oregano version that we made in the summer and stashed in the freezer. Very happy diners!

Wine Suggestion: Artichokes are hard to match as they make most grape varieties taste metallic. However, Grüner Veltliner with its higher umami savouriness, really works. We opened a bottle of Höpler’s GV grown in Burgenland which is better known for it’s reds and sweet wines and goes to show how a great site always wins. Their GV vineyard reliably produces delightful wines and the current vintage is a gem; vibrant and fresh with hints of white pepper, pears and lemony citrus zest.

Spaghetti with artichokes & pesto – serves 4

  • 350g spaghetti
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 4 tbsp green pesto
  • 50g Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve
  • 390g tin artichokes, drained, quartered and dried
  • 50g pine nuts

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until golden brown, then set aside.

Cook the spaghetti in lots of boiling salty water according to the time given on the pack.

Meanwhile, gently mix the eggs, milk, pesto, Parmesan, and artichokes, together in a bowl, then season.

Drain the cooked spaghetti in a colander and return to the hot saucepan. Immediately add the egg and pesto mixture and stir gently until it forms a silky sauce.

Stir in the toasted pine nuts and serve in warm bowls with some extra Parmesan and a drizzle of your best olive oil if you like.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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We’re having a little Korean-inspired moment in the kitchen. So many of the dishes are super simple and really tasty. We had these soy-seasoned mushrooms with a glass of sherry for a starter but they’re a side dish really. A few ingredients that were made for each other and brought together quickly and easily!

Wine Suggestion: An umami-rich dish like this thrives with sherry and the La Gitana Manzanilla with it’s seaside freshness and bone-dry texture did not disappoint. Easy to see this dish in a tapas bar in Cadiz, despite the Korean origins.

Soy-seasoned mushrooms – bo-seot namool – serves 4 as a side dish or nibble with drinks

  • 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • 250g wild mushrooms (we used a mixture of baby shitake and oyster mushrooms), sliced into ½ cm strips
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Heat the oil in a wide pan over a high heat.

Add the mushrooms to the hot pan and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the soy sauce and garlic. Stir-fry for another minute.

Add the sesame oil and keep going for another minute, keep it moving so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the toasted sesame seeds, then leave to cool a bit so the flavours come together. You can serve warm or cold.

(Original recipe from My Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

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We’ve been looking for recipes that use fresh turmeric but you can also use ground turmeric for this dish. This cauliflower curry is really nice and also uses the cauliflower leaves, genius! Serve with rice. 

Wine Suggestion: This dish cries out for a white from warmer or sunnier climates where there are hints of tropical fruits in the flavours. Tonight’s choice was the superlative Kilikanoon Pierce Road Semillon; an oak aged semillon from the Clare Valley. Rich and layered with buttery, toasty hints of the barrel fermentation carried through with a wonderful, lemony, citrus backbone of acidity. Youthful but poised and balanced.

Cauliflower and yellow split pea curry – serves 4

  • 1 large cauliflower, with leaves, cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and the cut the leaves across the spine into 1cm-thick strips
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 180g yellow split peas, rinsed
  • 1 x 400ml tin coconut milk

FOR THE CURRY BASE:

  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely grated
  • 4cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 4cm piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and finely grated (or you can use 1 tbsp ground turmeric)
  • 1 green chilli, finely diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a bunch of coriander, chop the stalks finely and the leaves roughly

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C/gas 7.

Toss the cauliflower pieces in the vegetable oil and season generously with salt. Place in a roasting tray and roast for 30-35 minutes or until deep golden. Toss them halfway through. 

Meanwhile, put the crushed cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cumin, coriander and mustard seeds in a medium saucepan. Put over a medium heat and toast until fragrant. Add the vegetable oil, then the rest of curry base ingredients, including the coriander stalks but not the leaves. Season well with salt and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the split peas and 700ml warm water. Stir, then cover and simmer over a low heat for 40 minutes, stirring often and adding a little more water if needed. Add the coconut milk and cook for another 5 minutes. 

Add the cauliflower and the cauliflower leaves, then cover and cook for a few minutes until the leaves have wilted. Remove from the heat and garnish with the chopped coriander. 

Serve with rice and anything else you like with you curry. 

(Original recipe from Marcus Everyday by Marcus Wareing, HarperCollinsPublishers, 2019.)

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This is full of warm spices, healthy and very satisfying. A great meal for mid-week.

Wine Suggestion: This goes beautifully with elegant Grenache, like Roc des Anges’ Unic from Roussillon in the south of France; quite ethereal and fresh, particularly given the warm sourthern France location. Almost like a warmly spiced Burgundy. If you can’t find something like this then a lightly oaked Chardonnay comes a good second best.

Spinach rice with spiced salmon – serves 2

  • 2 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6-8 cardamom pods, seeds crushed
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 70g brown basmati rice
  • 375ml vegetable stock, made with 2 tsp of bouillon powder
  • 160g baby spinach, roughly chopped

FOR THE SALMON:

  • ½ turmeric
  • ½ ground coriander
  • 3 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander (or mint)
  • 2 skinless salmon fillets
  • 1 tbsp toasted almonds

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then fry the onion and ginger for 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the spices and cook for 30 seconds, then add the chilli, garlic, pepper and rice. Stir briefly, then pour in the stock. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes or until the rice is tender and the stock absorbed. If there’s liquid left simmer without the lid for a few minutes to let it evaporate. Add the spinach, cover and cook for 3 minutes, or until wilted.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with foil and heat the grill.

Mix yoghurt with the turmeric, ground coriander and fresh coriander. Spread this mixture over the salmon and transfer to the foil-covered sheet. Grill for 8-10 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Top the rice with the salmon fillets and scatter over the almonds to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Jono acquired five trays of figs from one of his customers, much to the approbation of Jules who said he had to find something to do with them! This fig jam used most of them and there was a smaller batch of rather good chutney. A good call too, as we’ve had repeat requests for jam from friends who’ve been given a jar. It is easily scalable, so while the recipe is for 1kg of figs, we used 4kg to make just over 5kg of jam.

Jono now believes he is allowed to get loads of figs when there is a glut again next year.

Fig Jam – makes roughly 1.3kg of jam

  • 1kg figs, remove the stalks at the top and roughly chop
  • 2 fig leaves, cleaned (we took two from a neighbour’s garden – with permission)
  • 500g jam sugar (with pectin)

Put the ingredients into a large saucepan and stir well to combine. Put the pan over a low heat and let the sugar dissolve, then increase the heat slightly and bring to a gentle simmer. 

When the liquid starts to be released from the figs, turn the heat up a little again and stir often to stop the jam sticking to the bottom of the pan. Simmer rapidly until the jam reaches 105°C (You will need a jam thermometer to check this. If you don’t have one the other option is to put a few saucers in the freezer. To check if the jam is ready, put a tiny spoonful onto the cold plate and see if it runs. If it doesn’t, it’s ready. If it does try again using another cold plate in a few minutes). 

Remove the fig leaves and pour the jam into sterilised jars. Cover immediately with the lids. The jam will now keep for up to a year, but it’s highly unlikely to last that long!

(Original recipe from Marcus Everyday by Marcus Wareing, HarperCollins Publishing, 2019.)

 

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Yes it really is this vibrant in colour. This dish marries a sweetness from the two vegetables with a contrasting and complimentary earthiness from the cumin and pungent garlic to form a harmonious whole; neither sweet, nor overtly earthy. We like it a lot.

Sweet Potato & Carrot Mash – serves 4

  • 500g sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 500g carrots, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, bashed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
  • 25g butter

Put the sweet potatoes, carrots and garlic into a large pan of salty water, bring to the boil and cook for 12 minutes or until tender. Drain.

Add the toasted cumin seeds, butter and seasoning and roughly mash. 

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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A recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi published in the Guardian last October. We were looking for a recipe to use a pork belly joint and this was suitably Autumnal. A rich and complex dish that was full of flavour and umami textures. We put the pork under the grill at the end to crisp the crackling up. Serve with steamed rice.

Wine Suggestion: try a youthful and finely textured Shiraz/Syrah with this dish. Nothing too powerful and rich, avoid burly tannins and look for refinement and persistence on the finish. Two suggestions are the Parker Coonawarra Shiraz from Australia, or the Jerome Coursodon St Joseph Silice. Neither are the top wine from their respective wineries, and both are youthful, but the combination of attention to detail in the vineyard and winery mean that they have the quality of their siblings but aren’t as concentrated and taught … making them so enjoyable in youth. And that is what this dish needs.

Roast pork belly with apple, soy & ginger – serves 4

  • 1 whole boneless pork belly joint (800-900g)
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into 6 wedges
  • 12 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 40g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 90ml soy sauce
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 250ml unsweetened apple juice (we used Llewellyn’s Premium Irish Apple Juice)
  • 70ml apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
  • 3 medium Pink Lady apples, cored and cut into quarters
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Heat the oven to 185C/165 fan/gas 4½.

Use a sharp knife to score the pork skin in a diamond patter, your butcher will happily do this for you. Rub a teaspoon of sea salt flakes into the skin and push it into the slashes.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof sauté pan over a medium heat, then fry the onion for a few minutes to soften. Add the garlic, ginger, star anise and bay leaves, and cook until lightly coloured, about 3 minutes.

Add the soy sauce, stock, apple juice, vinegar, sugar and black peppercorns and bring to a simmer.

Take the dish off the heat and set the pork on top, making sure not to get the skin wet.

Put the dish into the hot oven and roast for 90 minutes, then remove and arrange the apples around the pork. Stir to coat them in the liquid but careful not to get the skin wet. Return to the oven for 30 minutes or until the pork is crispy and golden (if you need it to crisp up a bit, put it on a tray and flash briefly under the grill).

Lift the pork out onto a board and rest for 15-20 minutes before carving into 1½-thick slices. Spoon the apple mixture into a large serving dish and lay the pork on top. Sprinkle with the scallions to serve.

(Original recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi in the Guardian, 12 October 2019)

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This is a great canapé and couldn’t be simpler. A lovely idea from Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo’s Our Korean Kitchen. We will happily do this many times.

Wine Suggestion: A good dry riesling is required, but with a richness of fruit. Our favourite at the moment is Weingut Korrell’s Paradies vineyard dry Riesling from Kreuznacher in the Nahe region; poised and elegant, rich and dry. The hints of lime match the scallop dish so well.

Scallops with Salted Sesame Oil – serves 6

  • 8 scallops, the scallops in our fish shop had the roes removed, but it’s fine to leave them on
  • 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic cloves, crushed
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

FOR THE SALTED SESAME OIL

  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Cut the tough white bit off the side of each scallop.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Thread 2 scallops onto 4 small wooden skewers (you can soak these for a bit before using to stop them burning).

Lightly season the scallops skewers with salt and pepper.

When the pan is very hot, add the skewers and fry, without moving, for 1 minute. Flip over and cook for another 40 seconds. Add the garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice and fry for just 10 seconds, then remove from the heat.

Serve with the sesame seeds and chives scattered over and the salted sesame oil for dipping.

(Original recipe from Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

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This is a delicious Persian accompaniment that goes with almost anything. We know that as we initially served it as a starter with pitta breads, then proceeded to have it on the side with the main course, and for lunch the following day with something else. It’s hard to describe how good it is. 

Spinach & yoghurt with walnuts – Maast-o-esfenaj – serves 6 to 8

  • 250g spinach leaves (cut off any chunky stalks)
  • 500g thick Greek yoghurt
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 big handfuls of walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp sumac, plus a bit extra to garnish
  • best olive oil, for drizzling
  • flatbread, to serve

Simmer the spinach in a saucepan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes until wilted. Drain and immediately transfer to a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking. When cooled, drain well and chop finely. 

Put the spinach into a large bowl with the yoghurt, garlic and walnuts (keep a few for decorating), sumac, a small drizzle of olive oil and plenty of sea salt and black pepper. Mix well. 

Serve the mixture on a flat plate, drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle over some extra sumac and the reserved walnuts. 

(Original recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2020)

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Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo has been on our bookshelves for ages. We take it down occasionally and remind ourselves that we should really go and get some Korean ingredients. At last we have bought gochujang chilli paste, gochugaru red pepper powder and a big bottle of roasted sesame seed oil, so we can get cooking. This beef dish could not be simpler and the flavours are fab.

Wine Suggestion: as we’re pretty new to Korean flavours we had no idea what to match and just opened what our guests had brought along; the Olianas Cannonau (Grenache) from Sardinia. A lovely wine which was both subtle and elegant, and heady with spice and warm sunshine; very well balanced. Plus it was a delight with the Bulgogi stew.

Korean Beef & Vegetable Stew – bulgogi jeongol – serves 4 to 6

  • 1 quantity marinated beef, see below
  • 100g rice noodles
  • 1 litre good quality beef stock
  • 1 tbsp gochujang chill paste
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ an onion, finely sliced
  • ½ a red pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • ½ a courgette, halved lengthways and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 large carrot, halved lengthways and sliced into thin strips
  • 50g enoki or shitake mushrooms
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

FOR THE MARINATED BEEF:

  • 450g beef sirloin, cut into very thin bite-size pieces
  • 1 Asian or 2 regular pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • ¼ onion, roughly chopped
  • 1cm piece of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2½ tbsp soy sauce
  • 1½ tbsp honey
  • 1½ tbsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Start by marinading the beef. Put all of the ingredients, except the beef, into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Pour into a bowl then stir in the sliced beef. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Soak the noodles in a bowl of water according to the instructions on the pack, about 30 minutes.

Put the beef stock, gochujang paste, soy sauce, sesame seed oil and garlic into a pan and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, arrange the onion, red pepper, courgette, carrot, mushrooms, and most of the scallions in a pile around the edge of a large pot with a lid, and put the raw marinated bulgogi in the middle. Drain the noodles and tuck these in beside the beef.

When the beef stock has come to a rolling boil, put the vegetable pan over a high heat and pour in the hot stock. Cover and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything is cooked through.

Just before serving, mix it all together in the pan and sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds and remaining scallions.

(Original recipe from Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2015.)

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Turmeric & black pepper braised lamb

This is a whole plateful of deliciousness form Sabrina Ghayour’s new book, Simply. We have loved all of her books but we’ve already cooked more out of this one than any of the others. The recipes are simple but truly delicious. This is great just served with rice.

Wine Suggestion: this dish really suits a velvety, medium bodied red with a few warm spices on the nose: Rioja, or similar made from Tempranillo makes a fine candidate. If you can find a good one and cellar it for a number of years (or be lucky enough to find one in a wine shop with age) then you’ve got your match. A hidden gem that always surprises in it’s value is the Dehesa la Granja from Castilla in Spain. The winemaker usually releases what they consider a Crianza at between 7 to 9 years of age .. and it’s a bargain.

Turmeric & black pepper braised lamb neck – serves 4-6

  • veg oil, for frying
  • 2 large onions, finely sliced
  • 4 big cloves of garlic, bashed and finely sliced
  • 800g lamb neck fillets, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 heaped tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 heaped tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 heaped tsp Maldon sea salt flakes, crushed

Put a large saucepan over a medium-high heat and pour in vegetable oil to coat the base. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes until softened, but not coloured, then add the garlic and cook for another few minutes.

Add the lamb, turmeric and pepper and stir to coat. Make sure the meat is sealed on all sides but you don’t need to brown it.

Add the salt, then pour in boiling water to just cover everything. Put a lid on the pan and cook over a low heat for 2½ hours. Stir occasionally and add more water to keep it barely covered if needed. You want the sauce to thicken and reduce by the end. 30 minutes before the end, taste and season with  more salt if needed.

Serve with rice.

(Original recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2020.)

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This is the sort of lunch our daughter likes after she’s run around a Camogie pitch for a couple of hours. It’s also good if you’ve been standing in the cold at the side of the pitch!

Honey-mustard hot dogs – serves 4

  • 50g grated emmental
  • 50g grated cheddar
  • 3 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 4 sausages
  • 4 brioche hot dog buns

Cook the sausages, we do them on the barbecue but whatever way you like will be fine.

Meanwhile put the emmental, cheddar, mustard and honey in a bowl and stir to combine.

Heat the grill to high.

Split the hot dog buns and fill with a sausage, then top with the cheesy mixture. Put on a baking sheet and flash under the grill for a minute or two to melt the cheese.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This is restaurant-style risotto which is packed full of lobster flavour. The shells are used to flavour the stock and it’s finished with a delicious reduction, the kitchen smells amazing! We associate risottos with Italy but this is proper French food, full of butter and brandy. Recipe from Rick Stein’s Secret France.

Wine Suggestion: This is a rich dish that needs a wine that is fresh and flavoursome as opposed to something equally rich. Our go to wine would be an oaked Chardonnay in this case, but it doesn’t work as well as you’d think. A toasty Champagne or good bottle fermented sparkling with good age on lees is a fine choice though, and tonight we had treat of the Champagne Valentin Leflaive cuvée CA/15/40. A new project by Olivier Leflaive from Burgundy made with 100% Chardonnay from Cramant and Avize, 45 months on lees and only 4g dosage. An exciting debut and a good match to boot.

Poached Lobster Risotto – serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter

  • 1 cooked lobster
  • 30ml olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • fresh tarragon sprigs, to serve

FOR THE LOBSTER STOCK AND REDUCTION

  • lobster shell, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (no need to peel)
  • 50g butter
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 500g tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • a small handful of tarragon, roughtly chopped
  • 1.5 litres fish stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Cognac
  • a squeeze of lemon juice

Remove the meat from the lobster and keep the shell for the stock. Slice the body into chunky slices and keep the meat from the claws as chunky as possible. 

For the stock, put the lobster shell in a large pot with the onion, garlic and 20g of the butter. Cook for about 5 minutes over a medium heat, then add the wine, tomatoes, tarragon and stock and bring to the boil. Add salt and simmer for 40 minutes. Pass the stock through a fine sieve over another pot and throw away the solid ingredients. Put 200ml of the stock aside for the reduction and keep the rest warm over a low heat. 

Heat the oil in a pan, add the shallot and garlic and cook until soft. Add the rice and stir until glistening with the shallots and oil, then add the wine and let it bubble until absorbed. Add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding another. Keep going like this until the rice is al dente, then season. 

Meanwhile, put the reserved 200ml of stock into a saucepan with the Cognac and bring to the boil. Cook until reduced by three-quarters, then whisk in the rest of the butter (30g) to make a sauce that coats the back of a spoon. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. 

Heat a tbsp of butter in a frying pan. When it’s foaming, add the lobster meat and warm it through. Serve the risotto topped with lobster and spoon the reduction around it. Finish with some tarragon sprigs. 

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Secret France, BBC Books, 2019.)

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Yoghurt & Spiced Roast Salmon

A genius way for cooking salmon by Sabrina Ghayour, nicely charred on the outside and perfectly cooked on the inside. We stuffed this into warm tortillas with coriander leaves, finely sliced red onion, fresh tomatoes and a dollop of yoghurt. A week night feast made in about 20 minutes. Delicious!

Wine Suggestion: Find a light, dry Alvarinho/Albariño and you’ll be a happy camper. Spain and Portugal are the likely sources but don’t forget little gems coming new areas too. For us tonight the Forrest Estate Albariño from Marlborough NZ. We suspect we’ll see much more of this grape from here in the future.

Yoghurt & Spiced Roast Salmon – serves 4

  • 500g skinless salmon fillet, cut into 4 cm cubes

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp garlic granules
  • 1 tbsp rose harissa
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • finely grated zest of 1 lime and a decent squeeze of the juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Heat the oven as high as it will go. Don’t be nervous, our oven goes pretty high and this method worked perfectly.

Line a baking tray with paper.

Put all the marinade ingredients into a bowl, season with plenty of black pepper and maldon salt. Toss the salmon in the marinade until well coated, hands are best for this.

Spread the salmon over the lined baking tray and cook in the hot oven for 10 minutes.

(Original recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2020)

Yoghurt & Spiced Roast Salmon

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