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Posts Tagged ‘Easy’

We’re super excited by the dishes in Ixta Belfrage’s new book – Mezcla. We’ve done lots of drooling over the recipes but so far have only managed this green salad – it’s a good one!

Green salad with maple, lime & sesame dressing – serves 4

  • 2 baby gem lettuces, cut off the end and separate the leaves.
  • 10g mixed fresh herbs e.g. coriander, mint & basil
  • 2 green chillies, thinly sliced into rounds (optional)
  • 20g scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds (you can use black and white if you have them but white alone is fine), well toasted, then lightly crushed and mixed with flaked sea salt
  • lime wedges, to serve

FOR THE QUICK PICKLED ONIONS:

  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp fine salt

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 60g olive oil
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • 40g lime juice
  • 20g maple syrup
  • ½ tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 5g chives, finely chopped

Put the ingredients for the pickled shallots into a small bowl and stir together. Leave to pickle for 15 minutes or up to an hour but no longer.

Make the dressing by gently mixing all the ingredients, except the chives, together. You don’t want the dressing to emulsify here so just stir to combine.

When ready to serve, stir the chives into the dressing. Put the lettuce and herbs into a large salad bowl and pour over the dressing. Add the pickled shallots, chillies and scallions and toss. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and serve with extra lime wedges.

(Original recipe from Mezcla by Ixta Belfrage, Ebury Press, 2022.)

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A nice pasta with unusual flavours. Use good-quality Italian sausages for this if you can find them.

Wine Suggestion: As this dish is full-flavoured we’d suggest a full flavoured white like Cline Cellars Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, which has a wonderful Californian ripeness combined with a core of fresh minerality and zing from the cooling breezes and fog coming through the Petaluma Gap each day. The subtle oak gives a lovely texture which helps matching this dish too.

Pasta with fennel, sausage and courgette – serves 4

  • 3 good-quality pork sausages (we like Italian sausages)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ small fennel bulb, trim off any green bits and chop finey, reserve any fronds to garnish
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 big cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 200g rigatoni pasta
  • zest and juice of a lemon
  • 100g mascarpone
  • 1 medium-large courgete, grated
  • 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • grated Parmesan (to serve)

Take the skins off the sausages and crumble them into small chunks. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then fry the sausages until browned and crispy, breaking the lumps up with a wooden spoon. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the fennel, onion and garlic to the sausage fat in the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, or until softened but not coloured. You can add a splash of water if it starts to stick.

Bring a large pan of salty water to the boil, add the pasta and cook according to the timings on the pack. Drain but reserve a mugful of the cooking water.

Return the frying pan to the heat and stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, mascarpone, grated courgette and a splash of pasta cooking water. Bubble for 2 minutes, then stir in the cooked pasta and sausages. Season, then serve garnished with fennel fronds, pine nuts and Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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We chose this recipe because it has courgettes in it (and we have loads in the garden) but we’ll definitely be making it again. The method is a little different from usual but the results are lovely, fresh and tasty.

Wine Suggestion: Try to find a white wine with a lemony citrus flavour to bring out the bright flavours of the courgettes. We had a bottle of Karavitakis Assyrtiko “Nomas” from Crete that a friend had given us and it was a summery, lemony delight.

Tomato & Courgette Risotto – serves 2

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 200g carton passata
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 courgettes, halved and sliced
  • 2 tbsp mascarpone
  • grated Parmesan, to serve

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

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for about 5 minutes until softened.

Add the garlic and coriander seeds and cook for another minute, then stir in the rice and stir until coated and glistening.

Gradually add 300ml of the stock, stirring until absorbed each time before adding some more. Stir in the passata, then cover with a lid and cook gently for 10 minutes. Keep giving it a stir every couple of minutes and add more stock as needed.

Meanwhile, put the tomatoes and courgettes into a roasting tin, keeping them at separate ends. Drizzle with the other tbsp of oil, then season and roast for 10-12 minutes until just tender. You might need to scoop out the tomatoes and cook the courgettes a little longer.

Add the mascarpone to the risotto and season generously with salt and black pepper. Keep stirring and cooking for about 5 minutes more or until the rice is cooked. Add the courgettes to the risotto and stir to mix together. Serve in warm bowls with the roasted tomatoes and some grated Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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It seems very odd posting a venison recipe in the summer months but our butcher, Paul, mentioned that some fresh venison had just arrived and we couldn’t resist! Serve with some nice potatoes and greens on the side. Delicious at whatever time of the year you come across some nice venison.

Wine Suggestion: We think this combination of ingredients and flavours works best with a refined Rioja, like the Cantos de Valpiedra. From a passionate family that has a truly special vineyard on a sharp bend of the Ebro River so that the vineyards have moderating water on two sides of the triangle this bend forms. Refined, elegant and sophisticated, with characteristic strawberry and hints of vanilla this is a wine worth searching for.

Venison with sweet potatoes & butter beans – serves 6 to 8

  • 50g butter
  • 900g venison haunch, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 50g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 300ml red wine
  • 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • 1 litre of chicken or beef stock
  • 450g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1 x 400g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve

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

Heat the butter in a large casserole with a lid, that you can put in the oven. Season the venison and tip it into the casserole. Add the onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add the flour and paprika and stir for another minute or two to combine. Pour in the wine and stir constantly until it combines with everything else. Stir in the redcurrant jelly and cover with just enought stock to cover the meat.

Bring the casserole to the boil, then season. Cover with a lid and put into the oven for 1 hour. After the hour is up, stir in the sweet potatoes and butter beans, then return to the oven for a further hour. The venison and sweet potatoes should be tender.

Spoon the casserole into warm bowls and serve sprinkled with chopped parsley. We like some potatoes and greens on the side too.

(Original recipe from Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook, Gill Books, 2016.)

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Like a Greek salad, but with pasta added in. It makes a great lunch or lunchbox and is good for using up odds and ends in the fridge.

Pasta Salad – serves 4

  • 200g pasta – use what ever shape you have
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 75g pitted black olives, halved
  • ½ small cucumber, quartered lengthways then sliced
  • ½ a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 100g feta cheese

Cook the pasta in lots of salty boiling water according to the timings on the packet.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano and some seasoning into a mixing bowl and mix well to make a dressing.

Drain the pasta in a colandar and leave to cool for a few minutes. Tip the cooked pasta into the mixing bowl and toss to coat in the dressing.

Tip in the tomatoes, olives, cucumber and red onion, then crumble in the feta cheese. Gently mix everything together, then serve or put in the fridge for lunchboxes tomorrow.

(Original recipe by Cassie Best in BBC Good Food Magazine, July 2022.)

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A delicious creamy pasta dish which is ready in minutes, and very useful when you’ve got leftover mascarpone.

Wine Suggestion: Anytime we have pasta our automatic choice is an Italian wine, and with all these summery flavours opened a bottle of Macchialupa Greco di Tufo from the hills and valleys inland from Naples. Quite full bodied for a white it nonetheless added an extra layer to the meal with it’s stonefruit and citrus flavours and nutty (almond & hazelnut) finish. Despite it’s weight it was also fresh and tasted of a warm Italian summer.

Pasta with pancetta, broad beans & mascarpone – serves 6

  • 300g conchiglie pasta
  • 200g frozen broad beans, blanched in boiling water and skins slipped off
  • 200g green beans, sliced into three
  • 140g pancetta cubes
  • 250g tub mascarpone cheese
  • 75g grated Parmesan
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • a small bunch of basil leaves, torn

Cook the pasta in lots of boiling and very salty water according to the timings on the pack. Add the green beans 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan and cook the pancetta until crispy. Stir in the mascarpone and Parmesan cheese and stir until melted.

Scoop out a cup of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta and beans. Add the pasta, green beans and broad beans to the frying pan and add 6 tbsp of the pasta cooking water (you can add a bit more if it needs loosened further). Add the lemon juice and basil, then season with salt and pepper.

Serve with the rest of the Parmesan sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry Cooks up a Feast with Lucy Young, DK: Penguin Random House, 2019.)

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Finally we have some nice weather and so we are barbecuing everything, including broccoli which is a new one for us. This is the chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic from the original Ottolenghi book and it works equally well on a barbecue. Cook the broccoli first and it will sit happily in the dressing until whatever else you are cooking is ready.

Chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic – serves 4

  • 2 heads of regular broccoli (about 500g)
  • 115ml olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 mild red chillies, finely sliced
  • thin slices of lemon, to garnish

Cut the broccoli into florets. Fill a bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Blanch the florets in a large pan of boiling water for 2 minutes only, then scoop out and into the bowl of iced water.

Drain the broccoli and make sure it’s really well dried. Toss in a bowl with 45ml of the olive oil and some salt and pepper.

Barbecue the broccoli until charred on all sides. Meanwhile, put the rest of the olive oil into a small pan with the garlic and chillies. Cook over a medium heat until the garlic turns golden, take it off the heat at this point to prevent the garlic burning.

Put the barbecued broccoli into a large bowl and immediately pour over the garlic and chilli oil. Toss gently to coat then set aside until ready to serve. Garnish with the lemon slices.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi The Cookbook, Ebury Press, 2008.)

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It’s courgettes from now on in our house as we have them growing in our little garden and can hardly eat them fast enough. This dish is simple but really delicious – highly recommended. Serve with rice or potatoes.

Wine Suggestion: we’re quite fond of the wines of Hungary and think they’re unfairly overlooked, especially the reds which combine an earthy spice, quite often with a real sophistication and elegance. A new find is Csaba and Csilla Sebestyén’s Sekszárd Cuvée, a blend of Kékfrankos, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The latter two grapes have found a new spiritual home in the south of Hungary and the first a local grape with bags of character.

Chicken and courgettes with creamy mushroom and tarragon sauce – serves 6

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 small chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium courgettes, cut into thick batons
  • 350g button mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • 200ml double cream
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 heaped tbsp freshly chopped tarragon

Season the chicken with salt and black pepper. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan, then fry the chicken in batches until well-browned on all sides, then remove from the pan and set aside. You may need to add a bit more oil.

Add the onion and cook over a high heat for a few minutes until nicely coloured, then cover the pan with a lid and leave the onions to cook on a low heat for about 15 minutes or until soft. Turn the heat up again and add the courgettes, mushrooms and garlic and fry for a few minutes until softened. Scoop the veg out of the pan and set aside with the chicken.

Add the wine to the pan and boil over a high heat until reduced to about 4 tbsp. Stir in the cream and simmer again for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Return the chicken and vegetables to the pan for a couple of minutes to heat through. Stir through the chopped tarragon and serve.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry Cooks Up a Feast with Lucy Young, DK: Penguin Random House, 2019.)

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We’ve a bumper crop of courgettes growing in pots in our back garden this year; the joy of loads of bright flowers followed by loads of yellow and green fruit, plus the challenge to eat them all. We picked a load of small courgettes for this dish and added the flowers too as we have them, but it is just as delicious with more normal sized courgettes found in shops and without the flowers.

Wine Suggestion: we’ve been seeking out old vine blends from the languedoc recently and just love how the best have a balance between fresh minerality, roundness, and a herbal stonefruit character. Like tonight’s juicy joy: Domaine Modat’s “de-ci de-la” Blanc which takes fruit from scattered small plots. We loved the sage and thyme scent and the juicy pear flavours cut through with summer sunshine.

Courgette and Broad Bean Risotto – serves 2

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 350g courgettes, cut into small dice
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced
  • zest of ½ a lemon
  • 150g risotto rice
  • 75ml dry white wine
  • 750g warm vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • 80g broad beans, podded and blanched for a minute, then skins removed
  • courgettes flowers (optional), remove the stamens and tear the petals into pieces
  • 20g Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve

Heat the oil and butter in a large, deep frying pan. Add the courgettes, chilli flakes and nutmeg, and season well with salt and black pepper. Cook the courgettes for about 5 minutes or until the courgettes are golden and soft. Add the scallions and lemon zest and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the rice and stir for about 2 minutes to coat the grains in the oil.

Pour in the wine and cook for a couple of minutes, until almost evaporated.

Add the stock, a ladeful at a time, and stir until the liquid is absorbed before adding another. Keep going like this for 20-30 minutes or until all the stock has been absorbed. Taste the rice it should be soft with a little bite in the centre.

Stir in the blanched broad beans and courgette flowers and warm through for a minute or two.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir through the Parmesan. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes with a lid on, then serve with extra Parmesan over the top.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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We don’t stop making soups in the summer, and in fact we often need them to use up bits and pieces. At the moment that means the courgettes that are growing faster than we can eat them. Whatever the excuse this is bursting with summery flavours and a joy to eat, especially outside on a hot summer afternoon.

Summer Minestrone Soup – serves 6

  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over to serve
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 courgettes, finely chopped (use green and yellow if you have them)
  • 70g diced smoked pancetta
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely grated
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 400g tin cannellini beans
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1.2 litres vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 70g fideua pasta (or other small pasta)
  • 100g kale, stalks removed and roughly chopped
  • a handful of basil leaves, to serve
  • finely grated Parmesan, to serve

Warm the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, courgette and pancetta. Season well with salt and pepper and cook gently for about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and oregano and cook for another minute, then add the beans, tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, vegetable stock and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 30 minutes.

Add the pasta and kale and cook for a final 10 minutes.

Taste for seasoning, then serve in warm bowls, with some basil and Parmesan over the top.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food).

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A lovely fresh and tasty soup which should help with any bits and pieces left in your veg drawer.

Summer veg and herb soup – serves 2

  • ½ a bunch of scallions, chopped
  • 1 large courgettes, diced
  • 3 tbsp basmati rice
  • 750ml veg stock or chicken stock
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 100g green beans, chopped into 2 cm pieces
  • a handful of mixed herbs e.g. basil, parsley and mint
  • ½ a lemon, zested

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the scallions and courgettes and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until softened.

Add the rice and stock and cook for another 5 minutes, then add the peas and beans, and simmer until the rice and vegetables are tender.

Season to taste and stir in the herbs and lemon zest before serving.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, July 2014.)

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We’re never sure what to cook for other people’s children but most of them seem to like pasta bake. This one has been popular and also the recipe below which uses a packet of supermarket filled pasta. They like our home-made lasagne too but we don’t always have the energy or time for the extra effort required!

Easy Pasta Bake – serves 3 children (or even 2 adults and 1 child)

  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • olive oil
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • a small handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 packet of filled pasta, about 250g, we tend to go for spinach and ricotta tortellini but you could do a meat filled version if you want to keep to traditional lasagne flavours
  • 4 tbsp mascarpone
  • 3 tbsp grated Parmesan, plus extra for over the top
  • ½ a small ball of mozzarella, sliced

Warm 1 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic and cook gently for a couple of minutes, then tip in the tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the basil.

Cook the pasta in boiling water for about a minute less than recommended on the pack, then drain.

Mix the mascarpone with the 3 tbsp grated Parmesan.

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

Rub a little olive oil over a small baking dish. Spoon a little bit of tomato sauce over the bottom of the dish, add about half the pasta, then spoon over half the mascarpone and Parmesan mixture.

Add another layer of tomato sauce, then the rest of the pasta. Top with the remainder of the tomato sauce and the mascarpone mix. Lay the mozzarella slices over the top and sprinkle with some more grated Parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes in the oven until golden and bubbling.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, June 2016.)

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This is all you need with some fresh bread and butter. The simple things are the best.

Wine Suggestion: For a wine to work with this dish you need to balance a crisp, acidity to cut through the cream, body to match the depth of flavour and a minerally-savouriness to compliment the briny backbone of flavour from the mussels. If you look to a good Chablis producer or a top Muscadet then you’ll find your solution. We chose Jérémie Huchet’s lieu dit Les Montys le Parc from a very special vineyard in Muscadet that has that extra depth to match this rich, full flavoured dish.

Mussel, bacon and leek soup – serves 2

  • 750g mussels
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a small handful of parsley, leaves picked and chopped and stalks reserved
  • a knob of butter
  • 75g streaky bacon, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ tsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 250ml fish stock (or veg stock)
  • 75ml double cream
  • a small handful of chives, finely snipped

Wash the mussels in cold water and remove any beards. Give any open mussels a hard tap and discard them if they don’t close.

Put 75ml of water into a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Add the parsley stalks and bay leaves and bring to the boil. Add the mussels, clamp on the lid, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mussels have opened. Give the pan a good shake now and and then as they cook.

Tip the mussels into a colandar set over a bowl to catch all of the cooking juices, you will need the these later so don’t throw them away.

Wipe out the pan and return to the heat. Add a knob of butter, then gently fry the bacon until begining to crisp. Add the coriander seeds, garlic, and leek and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring now and then, until the leeks are nice and soft.

Add the mussel cooking liquid (watch out for the gritty bit at the bottom which you can discard) and the stock, then simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pick the meat out of the mussels but leave about 12 in their shells to garnish.

Add the cream to the soup and bring back to a simmer. Add the mussel meat, chives and parsley and check the seasoning. Serve in warm bowls, garnished with the mussels in their shells and with bread and butter on the side.

(Original recipe from Outside by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2022)

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Jules’ Mum makes this all the time and serves it with home-made chips. We almost always cook it when we’re camping in France as it all cooks in the one pan and you can easily find all the ingredients. This one is different from our usual with the addition of paprika and dill, it’s very nice served with some plain white rice.

Wine Suggestion: We think this works best with a rich, full-bodied red. For us a treat from the ancient wine world, though a relatively young winery run by some young, passionate Syrians, the Bargylus, Grand Vin de Syrie 2014. Something to be celebrated due to the sheer class of this Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend, and mourned due to all the problems now in this part of the world. Superbly integrated tannins and layered fruit and spice; almost hedonistic in it’s velvetiness. You can taste some heat, but in a very good way with no evidence of alcohol. Mature but maintaining it’s freshness. We just wish this was more easily available for everyone to try.

Beef stroganoff – serves 4

  • 30g butter
  • 600g beef rump steak, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 400g chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 300g double cream
  • 1 tbsp coarsely chopped dill, plus a bit extra to garnish

Season the meat with salt and pepper.

Heat 15g of butter in a large frying pan over a high heat and lightly brown the meat. Do this in batches and don’t overcrowd the pan, remove each batch to a plate and set aside.

Heat another 15g of butter in the same pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook over a gentle heat for about 4 minutes, or until softened. Add the paprika, mushrooms and tomato purée and cook for another few minutes, stirring.

Return the meat to the pan with any juices from the plate. Add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 5-7 minute or until the meat is tender. Add the cream and dill and cook, stirring constantly, until heated through. We turn the heat off the second the sauce begins to simmer, don’t take it any further in case the cream splits. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with steamed rice. Garnish with a little more chopped dill.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein at Home, BBC Books, 2021.)

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A great combination and nice to cook something meat-free on the barbecue. Serve with naan breads – we get ours from the local takeaway. You need to get started a few hours ahead.

Wine Suggestion: Nothing complex or too heavy with this so focus on pleasurable fruit and balance. For us tonight Umani Ronchi’s organic Serrano. A Montepulciano – Sangiovese blend from Rosso Conero, in the Marches. Youthful and vibrant which suited us perfectly for a summer barbecued dinner.

Barbecued tikka paneer with fresh mango chutney – serves 4

  • 150g natural yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp tikka curry paste, we use Patak’s
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 cm piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 300g paneer, cut into 18 cubes
  • 1 green pepper, cut into 18 pieces
  • 1 red pepper, cut into 18 pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into 6 wedges
  • vegetable oil, for brushing the grill
  • a small handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • naan breads, to serve

FOR THE FRESH MANGO CHUTNEY:

  • left over red onion from the kebabs (see below)
  • 1 large mango, finely diced
  • 150g cherry tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1-2 red chillies, finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of mint, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • juice of half a lemon

Put the yoghurt, curry paste, garlic, and ginger into a large bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix together. Add the paneer and peppers. Peel off the outer 2-3 layers of each onion wedge and add these too (keep the rest for the chutney), then fold everything together gently. Cover and put into the fridge for a few hours, or if short of time leave at room temperature for an hour.

To make the mango chutney, finely chop the leftover onion and put into a bowl with the mango, tomatoes, chillies and mint and stir to mix. Stir in the sugar and lemon juice to taste, then set aside.

Get your barbecue on and hot, then brush the grill with vegetable oil to prevent the kebabs from sticking.

Thread the paneer, peppers and onions onto kebab skewers and cook for 12-15 minutes or until lightly charred.

Sprinkle coriander over the skewers and serve with the mango chutney and naan breads.

(Original recipe from Charred by Genevieve Taylor, Hardie Grant: Quadrille, 2019.)

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We often make this for lunch, and sometimes late breakfast. So simple but very tasty.

Baked feta with cherry tomatoes & garlic toast – serves 2

  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 200g block feta, halved
  • 4 slices sourdough
  • 1 clove of garlic, halved
  • a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • a few leaves of oregano or basil, picked and chopped or torn

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

Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of 2 small ovenproof dishes. Sprinkle some tomatoes into each and season with salt and black pepper. Set the pieces of feta on top, then top with the rest of the tomatoes, season again and drizzle with a little more oil.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Toast the sourdoubh and rub one side with the cut side of the garlic and drizzle with olive oil.

Take the foil off the dishes, drizzle with the balsamic and sprinkle over the herbs. Serve the salad with the sourdough toast.

(Original recipe by Janinie Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, April 2016.)

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A great dish for using up the end of a tub of cream with just a few ingredients that you might well have already.

Wine Suggestion: Central Italian whites just seem to sing with this dish and the La Piuma Pecorino which is light as a feather, citrussy and floral hits the spot; and is a bargain to boot.

Tagliatelle with broad beans, cream & mint – serves 2

  • 150g broad beans, blanched and skins slipped off
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 100ml double cream
  • a small handful of mint, finely chopped
  • 75g pecorino, finely grated
  • 200g dried tagliatelle

Get the pasta water on, then start the sauce.

Whizz half the beans in the small bowl of a food processor to get a rough purée.

Warm the 1 tbsp of the oil and the garlic in a heavy-based saucecpan for a minute or two to soften the garlic but without letting it colour.

Add the puréed broad beans, to the pan and cook for a minute, then add the double cream and the rest of the broad beans. Stir in the mint and bring to a simmer. Add half the pecorino and season to taste – careful as the cheese is quite salty.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in lots of salty water then scoop straight out of the cooking water and into the pan with the sauce. Toss to combine and add a little more pasta cooking water if needed to make a sauce. Serve with the extra pecorino for sprinkling over the top.

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We made this on a rainy Sunday last year in an effort to entertain Orlaith for a while. It’s light and buttery, and easy enough for little helpers. You will need 2 x 20 cm round sandwich tins.

Orlaith’s Strawberry Cake

  • 225g butter, at room temperature
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • icing sugar, to dust

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 100ml double cream
  • 175g strawberries, sliced

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.

Line two 20cm round sandwich tins with baking parchment.

Mix the butter and sugar with an electric whisk or stand mixer until light and creamy.

Whisk in the eggs a little at a time, then sift in the flour and gently fold it in using a metal spoon.

Divide the cake mixture between the prepeared tins and bake for 25 minutes.

Cool briefly in the tins then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Whisk the cream, then spread it over the flat side of the first cake and cover with the sliced strawberries. Place the other cake on top with the round side up. Dust with icing sugar.

(Original recipe from the Complete Cookbook for Children, edited by Claire Lloyd, DK – Penguin Random House, 2017.)

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We love this fresh salad, the perfect side dish for so many summer dishes. You can crumble some feta over the top before serving if you like.

Fattoush – serves 4

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 2 flatbreads or pitta breads (about 120g in total)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 small Persian cucumbers or 1 small regular cucumber
  • 4 tomatoes (about 450g in total)
  • 75g Romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 10g mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 20g parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 75g feta cheese (optional)

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

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

Toss the pitta breads in the olive oil, then bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes or until very crisp. Leave to cool then snap into chunky pieces.

Cut the cumcumbers in half and scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon. Chop into 1-2cm pieces and put into a salad bowl.

Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds, chop the flesh into pieces the same size as the cucumber and add the bowl with the crispy pieces of bread. Add the lettuce and herbs.

Mix the dressing ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad, then use your hands to toss everything together. Adjust the seasoning to taste, then crumble over some feta if you like.

(Original recipe from Zaitoun by Yasmin Khan, Bloomsbury, 2018.)

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Well this is just delicious; we love bean chillies anyhow but this is a particularly good one. We are not vegan and so served this with sour cream. We’ve included the instructions for a vegan crème fraîche below if you prefer.

Wine Suggestion: For some reason we gravitate to American (both North & South) reds when eating chillies, and with the Wines of Argentina tasting in Dublin yesterday it was natural we’d open a Malbec. A star of the show, and definitely by no means the most expensive, the Altosur Malbec by Finca Sophenia in Gualtallary, Mendoza was our choice. And it seems like Decanter agrees with our choice too – Best in Show and Best Value in their World Wine Awards just announced. Bravo Finca Sophenia and perfect for our chilli.

Vegan chilli – serves 4-6

  • 4 sweet potatoes, skins scrubbed
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil, plus a bit extra to rub on the potatoes
  • 100g broccoli florets
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 x tins chopped tomatoes
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drianed and rinsed
  • 100g fresh, frozen or tinned sweetcorn kernels
  • 400g tin black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • sour cream or crème fraîche (or make the vegan crème fraîche below)

IF YOU WANT VEGAN CRÈME FRAÎCHE:

  • 65g cashews soaked in 120ml water for 30 minutes, then drained
  • juice of ½ lemon

TO SERVE:

  • 75g edamame beans
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • lime wedges

Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C.

Rub the sweet potatoes with a little bit of vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper, then bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until tender.

Steam the broccoli until tender, then set aside.

If you want to make the vegan crème fraîche, put the soaked and drained cashews in a blender with the lemon juice. Season with salt and blitz to a cream.

Heat the oil in a large, deep pan, over a medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and spices and cook for a few minute or until softened. Add the red pepper and tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the chickpeas, sweetcorn, black beans and kidney beans. Season with salt and simmer for 10-15 minutes. If it starts to look dry, you can add a splash of water.

Add the steamed broccoli and mix to warm through.

Trim the ends off the sweet potatoes and cut them in half but not the whole way through. Spoon the chilli into the potatoes and top with some edamame beans and sour cream or crème fraîche, then serve with the avocado and lime wedges.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein at Home, BBC Books, 2021.)

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