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Posts Tagged ‘Easy’

Melon, Tomato, Prosciutto & mint Salad

This makes a great summer lunch with some bread or an easy starter. The mint is a lovely addition.

Melon, tomato, prosciutto & mint salad – serves 4 to 6

  • 500g tomatoes, chopped into chunks or halved if small (heirloom tomatoes would be good if you can get them)
  • 1 melon, cut into chunks
  • 12 slices prosciutto
  • a handful of mint, leaves picked & shredded
  • crusty bread, to serve

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1½ tbsp Sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.

Put the tomatoes and melon into a large bowl, then toss with a little of the dressing and some salt and pepper.

Lay the prosciutto slices over a large dish, then spoon over the tomatoes & melon. Pour over another bit of dressing and scatter over the mint.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Courgette Trifolate

We can’t be the only people living on courgettes at the minute. Not that we’re complaining, we love looking out for different things to do with them which is how we came across this little side dish by Jacob Kennedy. The cooking method is a bit different but the result is delicious, the lesser cooked bits taste really strongly of courgettes and you also get some browned pieces with a deeper flavour.

Courgettes with Parsley – serves 4 as a side

  • 600g courgettes
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • a tiny pinch of crushed dried chilli flakes
  • about 20g of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Thinly slice the courgettes, 3-5mm.

Get out a large, wide frying pan.  It needs to be big enough to hold the courgettes no more than 2-3 layers deep.

Heat the pan until really smoking or at least very, very hot. Add all of the courgettes and shake the pan to settle them, leave for 30 seconds.

Drizzle over the oil and sprinkle with salt but don’t stir yet. Continue to cook for another 30 seconds, then add the garlic, chilli and some black pepper. Toss once, so the courgettes on the bottom are pretty much on the top and the garlic and chilli underneath. Leave for 15 seconds, then shake the pan and cook for another 15 seconds. Sprinkle with parsley and toss a few times to mix, then remove from the heat. Leave in the pan for a further minute to finish cooking, then serve hot or at room temperature.

(Original recipe from Bocca Cookbook by Jacob Kennedy, Bloomsbury, 2011.)

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Tuna cooked in lentils

This really is the perfect dish by Joe Trivelli. Chunky pieces of tuna, earthy lentils and sweet tomatoes. We really recommend this one.

Wine Suggestion: Chill down a Grignolino, a red from Piedmont, and you’ve got a joyful  match. A friend brings in Olim Bauda’s version which is excellent, but we’re conscious this is a hard grape to find so if you can’t find one try a chilled, youthful Beaujolais or a Dolcetto.

Tuna Cooked in Lentils – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 300g thick tuna steak, cut into 3 cm chunks
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • small bunch of basil leaves
  • 40g butter
  • 1 lemon
  • best extra virgin olive oil

Rinse the lentils and cook in water until tender, about 20 minutes, then drain.

Season the flour with salt and stir in the crushed coriander seeds. Lightly dust the tuna in the flour mixture.

Heat the olive oil in a wide pan and fry the garlic until golden. Remove the garlic from the pan and add the tuna. Turn quickly, then add the tomatoes and basil, followed by the lentils. Toss a few times, then turn off the heat. Put the butter on top and leave in the pan for 8 minutes, basting the tuna with the lentils. Squeeze over some lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

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

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Chorizo, Orzo & Sweetcorn Stew

A colourful dish for midweek, just as flavoursome as the colours suggest.

Chorizo, orzo & sweetcorn stew – serves 2

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • a bunch of scallions, sliced, keep the green and white parts separated
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 50g chorizo, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 75g orzo
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 200g tin sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 350ml chicken or veg stock
  • ½ small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • ½ lemon, zested and juiced

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry the white parts of the scallions with the peppers and chorizo for about 8 minutes, or until the peppers are soft and the chorizo taking on some colour.

Stir in the garlic, orzo, paprika, sweetcorn and tomato and fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring, until the orzo is tender.

Stir in the parsley, the green scallions and the lemon zest and juice.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Marinated Tomato & Feta Salad

There are endless tomato salads for lunch at our house. We loved this marinated version with feta cheese and olives. Serve with warm pittas.

Marinated tomato & feta salad – serves 2

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 vine tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 100g feta, crumbled
  • 10 kalamata olives
  • a few mint leaves, torn
  • 2 pitta breads, warmed

Whisk the oil, vinegar and caster sugar together in a bowl, then add the onion and season.

Divide the tomato slices between two plates, then spoon over the onions and dressing. Leave to mingle for 10 minutes.

Scatter over the feta, olives and mint, then serve with the warm pittas.

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

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Lobster Thermidor

We’re pretty sure this isn’t the classic recipe but it was a lovely meal to end our holiday at home. Tomorrow we both go back to work, but tonight it was deliciousness all the way. We served this with a classic green salad, home-made chips and a fabulous wine that we bought on summer holidays in France last year.

Wine suggestion: a decadent dish requires a similar wine. Vintage Champagne is often suggested for lobster and works well, so does a good Premier Cru white Burgundy. On the same level though is good Jura Chardonnay and so we opened our last bottle of Domaine Labet’s “en Billat” 2016. Crunchy ripe apples, stony limestone and almond kernals, pears, quince, nuts and hints of buttery toast; quite extraordinary. We wish we had the will power to cellar these wines for longer … but keep on getting tempted.

Lobster with Thermidor butter – serves 2

  • 150ml white wine
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • a handful of chopped tarragon
  • a handful of chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ a lemon, juiced
  • a pinch of paprika
  • a dash of Tabasco sauce
  • 5 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 140g softened butter
  • 2 cooked lobsters

Put the wine and the shallot into a small pan and bring to the boil. Reduce until almost dry, then cool.

Mix together the tarragon, parsley, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, paprika, Tabasco, Parmesan, the shallot mixture and the butter. Roll into a log, wrap in clingfilm and chill to harden.

Snap the claws off the lobsters. Cut the lobsters in half with a heavy knife then wash the head cavity under cold water and dry with kitchen towels.

Put the lobsters, cut side up, on a baking tray. Crack the claws and pick out all the meat, then stuff it into the head cavities.

Heat the grill to high. Slice the butter into thin rounds and lay along the lobsters to cover the meat. Grill for about 5 minutes or until the butter is bubbling and starting to brown. Pour any butter on the tray over the lobster before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Olive Magazine, August 2011.)

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Caprese pasta salad

We regularly have a caprese salad (tomatoes, mozzarella & basil) for lunch in the summer months. This pasta version is a good one and makes it a bit more substantial.

Caprese pasta salad – serves 4

  • 200g orecchiette, cooked and rinsed under cold water, then drained again
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 150g baby plum or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 150g bocconcini (mini mozzarella) or a ball of mozzarella, torn into small pieces
  • a bunch of basil, shredded

Put the cooked pasta into a serving bowl with the olive oil, red wine vinegar and tomatoes, then season and toss.

Add the avocado, bocconcini and basil. Toss again gently and serve.

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

 

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Baked Cod & Butter Beans

An easy, midweek fish dish that’s perfect for two.

Wine Suggestion: despite being a fish dish this works with red wine, though we’d suggest nothing too heavy or rich. Tonight Domaine Rochette’s Morgon Cote du Py added an earthy texture and density and is a good example of why we should be drinking more Beaujolais.

Baked cod and butter beans – serves 2

  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 400g tin cherry tomatoes
  • 400g tin butter beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 chunky pieces of skinless cod loin
  • 35g breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 25g grated Parmesan

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

Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan. Cook the onion and garlic until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the fennel seeds and cook for a minute. Add the cherry tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in the butter beans and season.

Sit the cod pieces in the beans. Mix the breadcrumbs with the rosemary, Parmesan, seasoning and a tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle the crumbs over the fish and bake for 15 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden and the fish cooked.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, July 2019.)

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Gok's Traditional Noodles

This is a favourite in our house; easy to whip up and wholesome and tasty. Think of it as proper pot noodle with no “E” numbers, just honest ingredients. Using homemade stock takes this to the next level, but we also really enjoy it with bought stock pots or cubes.

Easy traditional noodles – serves 2

  • 1 litre fresh chicken stock
  • 4cm piece of ginger, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
  • 100g wonton noodles or thin egg noodles
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced

Bring the stock to the boil. Add the ginger and simmer gently for about 5 minutes.

Add the noodles and cook for about 4 minutes or until just tender. Remove the noodles from the pan with tongs and divide between the 2 bowls. Drizzle the noodles with the sesame oil and mix well.

Add the oyster sauce and light soy sauce to the stock and warm through.

Ladle the hot broth over the noodles and sprinkle with the scallions.

(Original recipe from Gok Cooks Chinese by Gok Whan, Michael Joseph, 2012.)

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Smoked Paprika-Baked Courgettes, Tomatoes & Green Beans with Eggs

We’re really not brunch people, mainly as there’s so much going on at the weekends that we don’t have the time. Lockdown has provided us with some opportunities however. So instead of getting up early and out the door on a Saturday morning we’ve been coming downstairs in our pjs and making something nice for breakfast.

Smoked paprika-baked courgettes, tomatoes & green beans with eggs – serves 2

  • 2 large courgettes, cut into ½ cm slices
  • 200g small waxy potatoes, quartered
  • 150g cherry tomatoes
  • 6 scallions, trimmed
  • 2 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme plus a few whole sprigs
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tbsp smoked paprika, plus extra to serve if you like
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 125g green beans, trimmed
  • 2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 190C/400F/Gas 6.

Blanch the green minutes for a couple of minutes in salty boiling water, then drain and run under cold water to stop them cooking. Dry with some kitchen paper and toss with ½ tbsp of the olive oil. Set aside.

Put all of the vegetables (except the green beans) into a large baking tray and spread them out in an even layer. Add 2 tbsp olive oil, the thyme, chilli flakes, smoked paprika, garlic and season with salt and pepper. Toss everything together, then bake for 30 minutes, tossing the veg a few times.

Sprinkle the green beans over the top and return to the oven for another 8 minutes.

Break the eggs on top, season and put back in the oven for another 8 minutes for runny eggs.

Serve with a little more smoked paprika if you like.

(Original recipe from Diana Henry’s ‘From the Oven to the Table’, Mitchell Beazley, 2019.)

 

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Barbecued Prawns with Chilli, Lime & Coriander Butter

Messy but oh so good! Treat your friends to a pile of these at your next barbecue and you will be very popular. Napkins, finger bowls, baby wipes etc., essential!

Wine Suggestion:  we think this needs an uncomplicated and fun white like a Picpoul de Pinet, Muscadet or Albariño, or going up a gear we chose the Bodegas Katxina Txakoli from near San Sebastien in Spain … tapas, sun, seafood and socialising. Happy days.

Barbecued prawns with chilli, lime & coriander butter – serves 4

  • 1kg large raw tiger prawns with the shell on, remove the heads before cooking

FOR THE BUTTER:

  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • a small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • juice of 1 lime, plus wedges to serve
  • 200g butter, softened

Make the butter by putting the garlic, coriander, chilli and lime juice into a food processor and pulse until chopped.

Toss 1 tbsp of the flavoured butter with prawns and leave in the fridge until ready to cook.

Put the rest onto a piece of tin foil and roll into a sausage shape. Put into the freezer to harden.

Preheat the barbecue, then cook the prawns for a few minutes on each side until pink. Serve on a platter and melt thin slices of the butter over the top. You can also melt some extra butter and serve on the side if you want. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Spring Lamb Meatballs with Broad Beans & Courgettes

Totally different flavours going on in this meatball recipe from Honey & Co at Home,  but deliciously tasty. Such a good use for broad beans and anything full of dill is always a hit with us.

Wine Suggestion: try to find a fresh Mediterranean inspired white with a bit of zip. Tonight a Carricante from Gulfi on the southern slopes of Mt Etna in Sicily; a mineral undertone, hints of herbs, fresh grapefruit and almonds. We could almost taste the sunshine.

Spring lamb meatballs with broad beans and courgettes – serves 4

FOR THE MEATBALLS:

  • 1 leek, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g lamb mince
  • 250g beef mince
  • 1 tbsp of ground fenugreek
  • 1 tbsp of ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • about 10g of dill, chopped
  • about 10g of flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • ½ tsp baking powder

FOR THE COOKING LIQUID:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large leek,  trimmed and roughly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 2 courgettes, diced
  • ½ tsp table salt
  • 200g broad beans (we used frozen broad beans)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • about 10g of dill, chopped
  • about 10g of flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

Mix all of the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl. Hands are good for this but you might want to wear gloves to avoid yellow nails. Shape into ping-ball sized meatballs, you should get 12-14. Put the meatballs on a baking tray and bake for 12 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil for the cooking liquid in a large pot and sweat the leeks, garlic and courgettes for 5-6 minutes, then sprinkle with salt and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the broad beans, bay leaves and cinnamon stick, and sauté for another 5 minutes.

Tip in the seared meatballs with any juices from the tray. Add 500ml of water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat to low, add the chopped herbs and cover the pan. Simmer for 40 minutes, then serve.

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

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Barbecued Pork Chops with Mustardy Greens

The veg really make this dish and all in season right now. Blanch all the vegetables individually before you get going with everything else and cook them until just done, then drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop them cooking further.

Wine Suggestion: chosen for no other reason than it was in the fridge –  a bottle of Olim Bauda Gavi di Gavi which we found a little fuller than other Gavi we’ve had recently and a good match. A fortuitous choice.

Barbecued pork chops with mustardy greens – serves 2

  • a knob of butter
  • a small onion, sliced
  • 75ml white wine
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • 2 thick-cut pork chops
  • 75g mangetout, blanched
  • 75g green beans, blanched
  • a handful of peas, blanched

When you get home from the butchers, take the pork chops out of their wrapping and season all over with fine sea salt (we use kosher salt). Leave in the fridge but take them out a good half hour or more before you want to cook them.

Heat the knob of butter in a frying pan, then cook the onion until soft. Add the wine and simmer for a minute before adding the mustard and cream. Simmer for another few minutes.

Heat a barbecue to very hot. Rub the chops with oil and season generously. Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Turn on the side and sear the fat also. Rest for a few minutes while you finish the veg.

Reheat the sauce and stir in the blanched vegetables until piping hot. Season, then spoon the veg onto warm plates and top with a chop.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, July 2013)

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Salmon Tikka with Radish Raita

Such a simple dish for a weeknight but full of lovely flavours. We found this recipe when needing to use up the glut of radishes from our garden and it was perfect.

Wine Suggestion: A fuller-bodied Alvarinho we found was a good match here. Quinta Soalheiro’s Alvarinho had the right weight, textures and flavour to match the warm spices, cooling Raita, earthy radishes and the salmon.

Salmon Tikka with Radish Raita  – serves 2

  • 8 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp tandoori masala (you can buy this or use the recipe here)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 skinless salmon fillets
  • lemon wedges, to serve

FOR THE RAITA

  • ½ cucumber, seeded and grated
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint
  • a bunch of radishes, sliced

Heat your grill to high.

Put the grate cucumber into a sieve and squeeze out as much water as possible, then leave to drain.

Mix 2 tbsp of the yoghurt with the ginger, garlic, spices and season with salt and pepper. Rub this mixture all over your salmon fillets, then place onto a lightly oiled baking tray and grill for 4 to 6 minutes or until cooked through and starting to char at the edges.

Mix the raita ingredients together with the rest of the yoghurt (6 tbsp) and season. Serve with the salmon and lemon wedges to squeeze over.

(Original recipe by Anna Glover in Olive Magazine, July 2015)

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Chicken Tikka Masala

A take-away classic. We barbecued the chicken to give it a charred flavour to replicate the tandoor. We used our charcoal barbecue for maximum flavour, but even on a gas one the barbecue flavour is a nice bonus. Serve with rice, naan breads and raita.

Wine Suggestion: this dish isn’t spicy hot, rather richly flavoured. A medium-weight oaked Chardonnay is our choice, with automatically a lot of new world options immediately sprung to mind. We opened a Chateau Beauregard Pouilly-Fuissé instead to see if a classic southern Burgundy worked and were very happy we did.

Chicken tikka masala – serves 4

FOR THE SPICE MIX:

  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder (we don’t have this but you can use 2 tbsp of sweet paprika mixed with 1 tsp of medium chilli powder instead)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground fenugreek
  • pinch of cloves

CHICKEN TIKKA:

  • 1 tbsp of the spice mix (see above)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 20g fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 4 chicken breasts, skinned and diced
  • fresh coriander, to serve

SAUCE:

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 25g fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp of the spice mix (see above)
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • ½ tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt

Make the spice mix by mixing all of the spices together. You will have more than you need for this recipe and can use this in any recipe calling for tandoori masala.

Make the marinade for the chicken by combining the spice mix with the garlic, ginger and yoghurt. Put the chicken into a bowl and season well with salt. Add the lemon juice and toss to coat, then pour over the spice and yoghurt mixture. Mix well, then cover and leave in the fridge for a few hours, or ideally overnight.

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a pan and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Cover and cook over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is soft. Remove the lid, increase the heat slightly, and cook for another 5 minutes or until the onions take on some colour.

Add the spices and stir for a minute or so , then add the tomato purée and sugar. Season with salt and pepper, then stir for a few minutes. Add 400ml of water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Blend the sauce with a stick blender until completely smooth, then stir in the yoghurt. You can make the sauce up to a couple of days in advance or if using straightaway, keep warm while you cook the chicken.

Preheat your barbecue until very hot. Place a griddle pan on the barbecue grill and heat until searing hot. Remove the chicken from the marinade and wipe off any excess. Cook for a few minutes or until charring and easy to lift off the griddle. Turn and cook on the other side, until just cooked through. You will need to do this in batches.

If you don’t have a barbecue use a griddle pan on the stove, and likewise wait until searing hot before griddling.

Reheat your sauce if necessary, then add the cooked chicken. Simmer until everything is piping hot, then serve sprinkled with coriander and with some lemon wedges.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ British Classics by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2018.)

 

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Cheesy Ham Hock, Spinach & Ricotta Lasagne

This is a nice crowd pleaser and kept us entertained for a while on a miserable day in Dublin. You can buy shredded ham hock in supermarkets now which makes this a great prep-ahead lunch for friends.

Wine Suggestion: Tonights choice to match the dish was provided by a friend, the Chateau La Bienveillance Sémillon 2019, a delightful and easy white which had a little texture and freshness to balance the cheese, plus a little earthiness which went well with spinach. If you can’t find Semillon then Chenin Blanc will work as well.

Cheesy ham hock, spinach & ricotta lasagne – serves 6

  • 70g butter
  • 70g plain flour
  • 1 litre full-fat milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 80g grated Parmesan or Gruyère (we had both in the fridge so used a mixture)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 600g spinach (the big-leafed stuff works best here)
  • 250g ricotta
  • a grating of nutmeg
  • 300g shredded ham hock (if you can’t find ham hock you can use shred thick-cut ham)
  • 12 dried lasagne sheets
  • 50g grated mozzarella

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the milk (you can use a whisk if you want but I prefer to use a wooden spoon). Add the bay leaf then put back over the heat and bring to a simmer, stirring. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring continuously until thickened. Take off the heat again and stir in 50g of the Parmesan/Gruyère, the mustard and the cayenne pepper. Season.

Put the spinach into a large pan with a small amount of boiling water, about 100ml. Cover with a lid and simmer for a few minutes until wilted, careful it doesn’t boil dry. Drain in a colander, then leave to cool. When cool enough to handle put the spinach into a clean tea towel and squeeze out the water. Tip the spinach into a food processor and pulse to roughly chop. Add the ricotta and pulse again to combine. Grate in a little nutmeg and season.

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

Spoon a layer of the cheese sauce into the bottom of a lasagne dish (roughly 24x28cm). Remove the bay leaf when you come across it. Top with a third of the spinach and ricotta mixture, then a third of the ham hock. Cover with a single layer of lasagne sheets, snapping them to make them fit if necessary. Repeat the layers with the rest of the ingredients and finish with a layer of lasagne sheets and cheese sauce. Sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan/Gruyère and the grated mozzarella. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until browned and bubbling (keep an eye on it and if it is browning too much you can cover with foil).

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Thai Minced Fish & Courgette Curry

This is from an old but very reliable Thai cookbook from Australia. We chose the recipe to use up some courgettes and curry paste and it was delicious with just a handful of ingredients.

Wine Suggestion: this goes excellently with a dry Riesling with a little age and good fruit which rounds off the edges; some in youth are a little crisp and edgy and will fight with these flavours. Tonight a Vickery Eden Valley Riesling from 2017, the couple of years age have brought this together brilliantly.

Thai minced fish & courgette curry – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp veg oil
  • 2 tbsp red or green curry paste
  • 1 tbsp fresh kaffir lime leaves (or if you are using dried, soak them for 10 minutes in hot water), sliced
  • 500ml coconut milk
  • 500g white fish fillets, we used hake, minced
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 courgettes, diced (or you can use an aubergine instead)
  • 1 tbsp basil leaves

Heat the oil in a wok , then stir-fry the curry paste and lime leaves. Add about 125ml of coconut milk and simmer until the oil rises.

Add the minced fish and stir slowly until well separated. Add the rest of the coconut milk, the fish sauce and the courgettes. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until the sauce has reduced to a nice consistency.

Turn off the heat, stir through the basil and serve with steamed rice.

(Original recipe from Thai Cooking Class by Sami Anuntra Miller & Patricia Lake, BayBooks, 1994.)

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Lamb & Mint Samosas

Once you’ve got the hang of making samosas you can do batches and freeze them. Bring them out when friends come around, brush melted butter on and bake … easy. Here you can see a Beetroot & Feta version on the left and Lamb & Mint on the right. We’ve decorated them with different seeds to help tell the difference. Our guests went home wanting to make them for themselves – and they promptly did. No better indorsement we think.

Lamb & Mint Samosas – makes 18-24

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • 2 x 270g packs of filo pastry
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • onion seeds (nigella seeds) or sesame seed to garnish, to garnish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the cumin seeds and fry for a minute. Add the onions and fry for 8-10 minutes, or until golden, then add the garlic and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the lamb mince and break up with a wooden spoon. Fry for 8-10 minutes, then add the cumin, coriander, garam masala, ginger, chilli & salt.

Continue to cook the the mince until starting to brown, then tip into a dish to cool. Add the mint just before you make the samosas.

Lay a sheet of the filo pastry out with the long side towards you (cover the rest of the filo with a damp tea towel). Brush the left hand side of the pastry sheet lightly with the melted butter. Fold the right hand side of the sheet over the left so you have a double layer of pastry. Cut the pastry into 3 long strips with a sharp knife.

Place a heaped tbsp of the lamb mixture at the bottom of a pastry strip, then fold the bottom right hand corner up over the filling to make a small triangle. Flip the triangle over as you move up the pastry strip, the filling will eventually be sealed inside. When you get to the end, brush the end of the pastry strip with a little melted butter and press to seal.

Continue like this until all of the lamb mixture has been used, you might not need all of the filo pastry.

If you want to freeze the samosas at this stage you can set them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, then place in tray in the freezer. When the samosas are frozen you can transfer them to a bag.

If you want to cook the freshly made samosas, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400°F/gas 6. Brush the samosas on both sides with melted butter and sprinkle a few onion seeds or sesame seeds over the top. Put onto a lightly greased baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

To cook from frozen. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400°F/gas 6. Brush both sides with melted butter, sprinkle a few onion or sesame seeds over the top, and put onto a lightly greased baking tray. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until crisp and golden.

(Original recipe from Made in India by Meera Sodha, Fig Tree, 2014.)

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Paella Mixta

This is not an authentic paella recipe but we guarantee it will remind you of days in the sun. It’s made in the oven from start to finish and all you have to do is add the ingredients in the correct order.

Wine Suggestion: Spanish influenced wine it has to be. If it’s baking hot try a dry, Garnacha Rosé, though for us tonight it had to be red as it was cool and wet. The choice was a little left-field as it was from Teruel, an old, abandoned wine region (caused by the de-population of country areas during their civil war) being rehabilitated by a couple of young winemakers making their own way. The Bodegas Jesus Romero Quercus is garnacha, tempranillo, syrah and a little cabernet franc planted in poor, stony soils with excellent drainage and elevation near Valencia. We are really impressed each time we taste this, and a good match for the dish too!

Paella Mixta – serves 4

  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 300g paella rice
  • 4 chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and cut in half
  • 200g chorizo, sliced
  • 85g frozen peas
  • 150g raw king prawns
  • 250g mussels, cleaned and throw away those that won’t close when tapped
  • lemon wedges, to serve
  • a small handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

Put the onion and garlic into the base of a large, shallow, ovenproof pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, then toss to coat. Put into the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the onion has started to brown. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overdo.

Meanwhile, put the tin of tomatoes, the chicken stock, the smoked paprika and saffron into a saucepan and heat until piping hot.

Remove the onions from the oven and stir in the rice, chicken, chorizo and hot stock mixture. Season and return to the oven for 20 minutes (uncovered).

Gently stir through the peas and arrange the mussels and prawns on the top. The mussel hinges should be facing downwards. Arrange the lemon wedges around the edge and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the mussels have opened and everything else is cooked. Throw away any mussels that haven’t opened. Scatter over the parsley and serve. Finger bowls and napkins essential!

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Georgian Kidney Bean Salad

We try so many recipes but it’s rare that we find one that’s like nothing we’ve had before. This is different and definitely recommended by us.

Georgian kidney bean salad – serves 2

  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 x 400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • ½ tsp brown sugar
  • ½ a bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of parsley, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of dill, chopped

Toast the fenugreek, coriander and fennel seeds in a dry frying pan until fragrant. Tip into a pestle and mortar and crush with a pinch of sea salt.

Heat 2 tbsp of the sunflower oil in a frying pan and cook the onion for 10-15 minutes or until soft and browned. Add the beans and warm through.

Mix 1 tbsp sunflower oil, the sherry vinegar, sugar, crushed spices, herbs and salt and pepper, together in a bowl. Stir through the beans and serve warm or cold.

(Original recipe from Mamushka by Olia Hercules, Mitchell Beazley, 2015.)

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