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Posts Tagged ‘Easy’

You should try this the next time you have some leftover roast chicken. In fact, it’s even worth cooking some chicken specially. Great for lunch with some fresh bread and butter.

Chopped Chicken Salad – serves 4 (generously)

  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, diced (or just use some leftover roast chicken which is what we did)
  • 3 celery sticks, diced
  • 4 scallions, sliced into rounds
  • ½ cucumber, deseeded and diced
  • 100g radishes, thinly sliced
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tarragon sprigs, leaves finely chopped
  • 2 thyme springs, leaves only
  • 1 heart of romaine lettuce or Little Gem lettuce, finely chopped
  • 50g watercress, stems finely chopped and leaves left whole
  • 50g rocket, roughly chopped
  • 50g Parmesan, finely grated

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp runny honey
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

You need to start with a very large bowl, big enough to toss all of the salad ingredients together in.

Make the salad dressing in the bowl by whisking all of the ingredients together with some salt and black pepper.

Add the chicken to the dressing in the bowl and toss to coat. Fold in the chopped celery, scallions, cucumber, radishes and cherry tomatoes, then the herbs. Stir it all together and season with salt and black pepper.

When you are ready to serve, add the lettuce, watercress, rocket and Parmesan to the bowl. Toss everything together and serve as it is or tip out onto a large serving dish.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ One Pot Wonders by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2019.)

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This isn’t a whole lot different from the chicken soup you get in a tin, though definitely not as salty. It also makes heaps and you can freeze it. 

Creamy chicken soup – serves 8

  • 1kg chicken thighs with skin removed but bones in
  • 300ml dry white wine
  • 2 large onions, cut into large wedges
  • 4 celery sticks, quartered into short lengths
  • 2 sprigs of thyme, plus some extra to sprinkle over at the end if you like
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper (or black if you prefer)
  • 40g plain flour
  • 300ml double cream

Put the chicken thighs into a very large, heavy-based pan and fry until coloured on all sides. If you keep the heat low they should cook in their own fat but we find it easier to add a little bit of oil to get them started.

Add the wine, then turn up the heat and boil rapidly to evaporate the alcohol. When it has bubbled for a few minutes, add the veg, herbs, 1 tsp salt and the white pepper. Pour in 2 litres of boiling water, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until the chicken and veg are tender. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs and discard them, then leave to cool for about 30 minutes. 

Take the chicken out of the soup with a slotted spoon, then strip the meat from the bones. Reserve 140g of the chicken but add the rest back into the soup pot. Blitz the soup with a stick blender or in a food processor until very smooth, then return to the pan. 

Blend the flour and cream together with a couple of ladles of the soup, then stir this mixture into the rest of the soup and heat, stirring all the time, until thickened and hot. You shouldn’t get any lumps if you keep stirring but if you do just give it another blitz. Chop the reserved chicken and stir into the soup. Check the seasoning, you might need more salt, then serve with some thyme leaves over the top if you like. 

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This is the ultimate weekday dinner as it cooks in one roasting tray, and with excellent results. We made it as we had left-over chorizo and potatoes from the previous weekend and some chipotle paste in the fridge.

Wine Suggestion: The robust flavours of smoky chipotle and the chorizo beg for a Spanish red like the Cantos de Valpiedra from Rioja. Smooth and elegant, but with a deep aromatic core of dark fruits and layered spices, and a long, refined finish.

Chipotle chicken with leeks & chorizo – serves 2 (easily doubled)

  • 4 skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp chipotle paste
  • 1 large leek, cut into thick slices
  • 250g baby new potatoes
  • olive oil
  • 100g diced chorizo

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

Put the chicken thighs into a large baking tray, then brush with the chipotle paste and season with some salt and pepper.

Spread the leeks and potatoes between the chicken. Drizzle the veg with a little bit of oil and toss but don’t be tempted to add too much as there will be plenty of fat released from the chicken and chorizo as they cook.

Roast for 30 minutes, tossing the veg halfway through.

Add the chorizo, then season the veg and roast for another 20 minutes until the potatoes are browned and the chicken cooked through.

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

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

Spinach & Ricotta Pasta Bake – serves 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gnocchi with herb sauce – serves 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roast onion, chickpea & halloumi salad – serves 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Panzanella – serves 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ham hock, pea & scallion soup – serves 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Korean Spice-Rubbed Chicken for the BBQ – serves 4

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

FOR THE MARINADE:

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

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

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

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

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

Rest in a warm place for 5 minutes before serving.

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

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Rachel Roddy is a great inspiration for us in the kitchen. Her recipes are so simple but just right. This spaghetti dish has no pepper or cheese and doesn’t need them, it’s delicious as it is and a treat at any time of year.

Wine Suggestion: We were inspired by the bright Spring day and this dish to open the Spiaggia Marche Bianco. A youthful Verdicchio from the Sartarelli family who live and breathe Verdicchio. Joyful and charming; everything we were hoping for.

Spaghetti aglio, olio al limone – serves 4

  • 2 large unwaxed lemons, zest grated
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley, very finely chopped
  • 500g spaghetti
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 1 small dried chilli or a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 6 tbsp of olive oil

Mix the lemon zest and chopped parsley together and set aside.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add lots of salt, then stir in the spaghetti and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, very gently warm the olive oil in a large frying pan with the chopped garlic and chilli. You want it to be fragrant but be very careful not to burn it.

Use tongs to lift the spaghetti out of the water and into the frying pan, you want a little of the residual cooking water. Stir the spaghetti to coat in the oil, then add the lemon zest and parsley and a pinch of salt. You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice if you like, we usually don’t feel it needs it. Divide between warm pasta bowls.

(Original recipe from Two Kitchens: Family Recipes from Sicily and Rome by Rachel Roddy, Headline Home, 2017.)

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We loved this creamy coconut fish stew from Equador. We went for big chunks of swordfish and prawns but you can substitute other types of fish, like tuna or pollock. Serve with rice.

Wine Suggestion: try to find a light, earthy red with low tannins for this dish, and not too much acidity like a Gamay, riper Pinot Noir or a light Grenache. Tonight’s choice was Domaine Bellier’s Cheverny rouge, a Pinot Noir-Gamay blend from the warm 2018 vintage in the Loire. An under-rated wine region and a good accompaniment to the fish, spices and flavours of this dish.

Encocado – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 4 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ orange, juiced
  • 600g skinless boneless fish cut into 5 cm pieces (you can use snapper, prawns, tuna, swordfish or pollock – we used swordfish and prawns).
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • a small handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.

Cook the onion and pepper for 7 to 8 minutes or until soft and golden, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the spices and some salt, mix well, then add the tomatoes, tomato purée and 100ml of water. Mix well and cook for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes start to break down.

Add the coconut milk, lime juice and orange juice, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the fish and stir, then grate in the ginger. Cover and cook gently for 10-12 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. If you are using prawns they won’t take so long to cook so just add them for the last couple of minutes. Scatter over the coriander and chilli to serve.

(Original recipe by John Gregory-Smith in Olive Magazine, April 2018.)

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This is a Romanian version of moussaka and much easier than the Greek version we usually make. The aubergines are replaced with layers of potatoes and the cheese sauce is a mixture of yoghurt, cheese and egg yolks. Makes a great family meal with a salad on the side.

Wine Suggestion: This suits a light, earthy red and a recent find, the Jeunes Vignes de Xinomavro by Thymiopoulos was yet again a delight.

Musaca de cartofi – serves 6

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 500g pork mince (or you can use a mixture of pork and beef mince)
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml passata
  • 4 medium potatoes, waxy ones work best
  • 15g butter

FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE:

  • 100g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 150g natural yoghurt
  • 2 egg yolks

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and carrot and sauté for 6-7 minutes. Add the pork mince, paprika, tomatoes and passata, then cook for 25 minutes, until reduced and thickened. Give it a stir now and then as it cooks.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and slice into thin discs (a mandoline works best for this job). Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add some salt, then blanch the potatoes for about 5 minutes or until just softened. Drain and set aside.

To make the cheese sauce, mix the cheese with the yoghurt and egg yolks.

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas4.

Grease a 6-person lasagne dish with a little of the butter and arrange a layer of potatoes over the bottom, they can overlap slightly. Dot with a little butter and season with salt and pepper. Spread half of the meat filling on top, then cover with another layer of potatoes, dot with butter and season, then spread the rest of the filling on top. Finish with a layer of potatoes and top with the cheese sauce.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until nicely browned on top.

(Original recipe from Carpathia: Food from the heart of Romania by Irina Georgescu, Frances Lincoln Publishing, 2020.)

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This is a Romanian dish called Pilaf cu pui ciuperci. We haven’t knowingly cooked any Romanian dishes until now, but we recently purchased Carpathia: Food from the Heart of Romania by Irina Georgescu. This is a beautiful book and we’re looking forward to cooking many more dishes. While Irina suggests blitzing the veg in the food processor, we chopped them by hand. Either way you want them nice and fine but not blitzed to a pulp. Serve with salad.

Wine Suggestion: Unfortunately we didn’t have a Romanian wine to hand but we can attest it works well with one of our favourite wines: the Ch du Hureau Saumur-Champigny “Tuffe”. Elegance, style and grace, but also very grounded and earthy and what we love about Cabernet Franc from the Loire.

Oven-baked pearl barley pilaf with chicken and mushrooms – serves 4-6

  • 3 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1.5kg chicken pieces, we used thighs and drumsticks but you can joint a whole chicken
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 300g pearl barley
  • ¼ celeriac, finely diced
  • 2-3 celery sticks, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 5g black pepper
  • 25g butter, roughly chopped
  • a bunch of parsley, roughly chopped

We found it easier to fry the chicken in a large, heavy frying pan and then to transfer to a large roasting tin. Irina suggests frying and baking in a large deep casserole dish, but we didn’t have one big enough. A roasting tin covered with two layers of foil worked well.

Heat the oil in a large heavy frying pan or casserole dish, over a medium heat. Brown the chicken pieces on all sides – it’s easiest to do this in batches. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the onions to the pan and cook for 10 minutes, then add the pearl barley and stir to coat the grains in the oil, cook for another few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Add the chopped vegetables to the pan with the tomatoes, mushrooms, stock and seasoning and gently combine. You might need to transfer to a large roasting tin at this point. You need to be generous with the salt. Arrange the chicken pieces on top and cover the dish with a layer of foil and a lid or if using a roasting tin you can cover with a double layer of foil.

Bake for 40 minutes, then remove the lid and foil and cook for another 10 minutes. Check the vegetables are tender and that the chicken is cooked through, then remove from the oven. Dot the top of the dish with the butter and sprinkle with parsley.

(Original recipe from Carpathia: Food from the Heart of Romania by Irina Georgescu, Frances Lincoln Publishing, 2020.)

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For no particular reason we tend to eat mostly meat and fish dominant dishes on the weekend, and mostly veg during the week. This has been unsettled recently as we have no one to share our dishes with, so there is inevitably lots of leftovers from the weekend, and fewer opportunities to cook vegetables. This weekend we made sure to include a veggie dish in the line up and we’re looking forward to the leftovers already. Lots of lovely warm spices in this one. Serve with steamed rice.

Wine Suggestion: a nice accomaniment to this was from a young turk in Chateauneuf du Pape, Jean-Paul Daumen’s Méditerannée. From Southern France this contains the usual Rhone varieties alongside Cab Sauv and Merlot for a very pleasurable taste of sunshine. A well thought out biodynamic and organic blend that demonstrates why we shouldn’t always insist on what was grown traditionally in the area; this expands the range of taste on offer in a good way.

Red kidney bean & sweet potato stew with yoghurt & hot mint oil – serves 4

  • vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 big garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 690g jar of passata
  • 500g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1cm chunks
  • 400g tin red kidney beans, drained
  • 30g flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried mint
  • Greek yoghurt

Put a large saucepan over a medium heat and pour in enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic and stir until both have softened but not coloured.

Stir in the spices and cook for a minutes, then season generously with Maldon salt and black pepper, then stir in the passata. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes. Add a splash of water now and then if needed to prevent it sticking.

Stir in the sweet potato and cook for a further 30-40 minutes, or until tender, then add the beans and most of the parsley and heat through.

Meanwhile, put a small pan over a medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and heat before stirring in the dried mint. Stir for a minute or two then remove from the heat.

Serve the stew with some yoghurt, the extra parsley and a drizzle of the hot mint oil.

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

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Not much to look at perhaps but this is genuinely one of our favourite soup recipes. It makes a big potful and it’s really tasty, perfect for weekday lunches. 

Red lentil and bacon soup – serves 6

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 75g smoked back bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 small sweet potato, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 200g red lentils, rinsed
  • 1.5 litres hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • a large sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the bacon, onion and red pepper. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes or until the veg has started to soften. Add the sweet potato, garlic and lentils and stir for another couple of minutes. 

Pour the hot stock into the pan, add the herbs and season well with salt and pepper. 

Turn the heat up and bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. 

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

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Jono has taken to baking in lockdown, not something we do much of normally. You can’t beat the smell of this baking in the oven. The recipe makes loads so you may not get through it all straight away, but don’t worry, gently warm in an oven for 5 minutes and serve with a dollop of cream and it’ll last a week or more.

Gingerbread Traybake 

  • 275g golden syrup
  • 275g black treacle
  • 225g light muscovado sugar
  • 225g softened butter
  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 160C/Fan 140C/Gas 3. 

Grease a 30 x 23cm traybake or roasting tin and line with baking parchment. 

Put the syrup, treacle, sugar and butter in a large pan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour and spices. Add the beaten eggs and milk, and beat until smooth, then pour into the prepared tin. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the cake has shrunk from the sides of the tin and springs back when pressed in the centre with your fingertips. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack. 

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, BBC Book, 1993.)

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This soup really couldn’t be simpler and it’s nice and filling for lunchtime. 

Tomato Soup with Chickpeas, Orzo & Pesto – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 400g tin chickpeas
  • 150g orzo pasta
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp basil pesto

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and celery and fry for 10-15 minutes, or until starting to soften, then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add all of the other ingredients, except for the pesto and remaining oil, and bring to the boil. 

Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 6 to 8 minutes or until the orzo is tender. Season to taste and divide between warm bowls. Stir in the remaining olive oil with the pesto, then drizzle over the soup. 

(Original recipe form BBC Good Food)

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This is a classic for a reason and you really shouldn’t wait until St Patrick’s day to make it; although for some reason that’s what we do every year. It’s a meal in a bowl but if you want to go all out you can serve it with colcannon and turnip mash with bacon and onions. Beware… we kept on taking seconds … and thirds…

Wine Suggestion: The Irish have a great affinity with Spanish wine, so we picked a Mencia from Bierzo, the Dominio de Tares “Baltos” which was full of flavour as well as vibrantly fresh with resolved and mildly spice tannins.

Irish Stew – serves 6 to 8

  • 900g boneless lamb neck or shoulder, trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 900ml lamb or chicken stock, home-made preferably
  • 50g pearl barley, washed
  • 225g potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 225g carrots, thickly sliced
  • 225g leeks, well trimmed and thickly sliced
  • 225g pearl onions, peeled (if you can’t get these you can use halved shallots)
  • 100g smoked bacon, diced
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley to garnish

Put the lamb pieces into a large flameproof casserole and pour over the stock.

Bring to the boil, then skim off any scum from the surface and stir in the barley. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 50 minutes, until slightly reduced and the lamb should be almost tender.

Add the potatoes, carrots, leeks, pearl onions, smoked bacon and thyme and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lamb and vegetables are completely tender but not falling apart. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Scatter the parsley over the top and serve.

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

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Do we need to provide another recipe for Italian roast potatoes with rosemary? Probably not, but this version uses regular potatoes, rather than the baby waxy variety. So perhaps it will come in handy, as it did for us. 

Roast Potatoes with Rosemary – serves 4 to 6

  • 2kg potatoes e.g. Maris Piper or Roosters
  • a large handful of rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Maldon salt and black pepper

Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks, then boil in salted water until just cooked through. Drain in a colander and leave for 10 minutes to cool slightly and lose some mixture. 

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

Heat a roasting tray in the oven with most of the rosemary leaves and a good few glugs of olive oil, salt and pepper. 

Remove the tray from the oven and add the potatoes, turning to coat well in the oil and rosemary .

Roast for about 45 minutes, turning every 15 minutes or so. 

(Original recipe from Polpo by Russell Norman, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012.)

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