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Posts Tagged ‘Easy’

This is a good family meal, with lots of veg and a rich creamy sauce – it’s really filling. Quick and easy too and you can  double to serve many people or a crowd of kids, when crowds of kids exist again.

Wine Suggestion: This goes really well with a white that can cope with a rich, creamy dish.Keeping the Italian theme we’d suggest a good Verdicchio which tend to strike a nice balance between a fuller body, polyphenols (those white wine tannins that give texture and grip) and a nutty, saline freshness. The textures and the body make it work with the marscapone, ham and tomatoes especially well.

Farfalle with peas, mushrooms & ham – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • a small onion, finely sliced
  • 125g diced cooked ham
  • 50g frozen peas
  • 100g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 75g mascarpone cheese
  • 250g farfalle pasta
  • a small handful of chopped basil
  • grated Parmesan, to serve

Bring a very big pot of water to the boil and add lots of fine salt.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion for a few minutes over a medium heat. Add the ham, peas and mushrooms and keep cooking for about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, stir well and simmer gently for about 8 minutes, uncovered. Add the mascarpone, season well, then remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente, then drain and tip back into the pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta, then add the basil and stir together for about 30 seconds. Serve in warm bowls with Parmesan over the top.

(Original recipe from Pronto! by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2014.)

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We don’t think you can covert sprout haters, but if you do like sprouts, you will love this! Serve with steamed rice.

Wine Suggestion: Albariño is not just great for seafood, its has versatility stamped into its very core and can be used for a good deal of food matching, like this dish here. Tonight’s wine was made by Pazo de Señorans, a distinct favourite in our house. Bone dry but with a lovely creamy core from the 5-6 months on lees.

Brussels Sprouts with Thai Flavours – serves 2-3

  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp Thai green curry paste, we use the Thai Gold brand
  • 1 green chilli, roughly chopped, then pounded in a pestle and mortar
  • 175ml chicken stock
  • 450g Brussels sprouts, cut in half, blanch in boiling salty water for 2 minutes, then drain in a colander and refresh under cold running water
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, if you use dried ones you need to soak them in some warm water before using
  • ½ tbsp palm sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 20 Thai basil leaves, regular basil will do if you can’t get Thai
  • 1 large red chilli, roughly chopped, then pounded in a pestle and mortar

Heat a wok over a gentle heat. Pour in 110ml of the coconut milk, then add the green curry paste and the green chilli and mix well.

Next, add the stock, the rest of the coconut milk, Brussels sprouts, kaffir lime leaves, palm sugar, fish sauce, half the basil leaves and the red chilli. Stir constantly over a medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the sauce boils and foams up. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring all the time to avoid splitting, for about 10 minutes. The sprouts should be tender and the sauce slightly thickened.

Add the rest of the basil, season to taste and serve with steamed rice.

(Original recipe from Cook, Grow, Nourish by Darina Allen, Kyle Books, 2017.)

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There’s not many treats to be had at the moment, so we recommend treating yourself at breakfast with this delicious granola recipe by Yasmin Khan. We like it with yoghurt and roasted quinces.

Persian granola – makes a large jarful for a few breakfasts

  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 150ml date molasses or maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¾ tsp vanilla extract
  • 350g jumbo rolled oats
  • a large pinch of sea salt
  • 25g sunflower seeds
  • 25g pumpkin seeds
  • 35g pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 35g flaked almonds
  • 50g dried fruit (optional), we used dried cranberries but you could use any dried fruit or a mixture

Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3½

Mix the oil, date molasses or maple syrup, honey and vanilla extract, together in a small bowl. 

Mix the dried ingredients, except the flaked almonds and the dried fruit, together in a large bowl, then pour over the sticky mixture and stir well to coat. 

Divide the mixture between two baking trays and pat down with a wooden spoon. 

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes, then remove and stir through the flaked almonds. Return to the oven and cook for a further 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Keep checking though as it can burn easily. 

Leave to cool on the trays, then stir through the dried fruit if you’re using. It will keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight jar. 

(Original recipe from The Saffron Tales by Yasmin Khan, Bloomsbury, 2016.)

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This soup uses all store cupboard ingredients. You do need fresh coriander but we regularly have an almost full bag of this in the fridge and are happy to have this soup idea to use it up. We make soup almost every week in the winter months and this is definitely one of our favourites. The recipe is from Ottolenghi Simple where they suggest leaving it rough, which we did, but you can blend until smooth if you prefer.

Curried lentil, tomato & coconut soup – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil or sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp medium curry powder
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 150g red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 25g coriander stalks, roughly chopped, plus 5g picked leaves to garnish
  • 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk

Put the oil into a large saucepan and put over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and fry for 8 minutes, stirring often, until soft and caramelised.

Add the curry powder, chilli flakes, garlic and ginger and keep frying for another 2 minutes, stirring all the time.

Add the lentils, stir through for a minute, then add the tomatoes, coriander stalks, 600ml of water, 1 tsp of salt and a lots of black pepper.

Pour the coconut milk into a large bowl and whisk gently until smooth. Set aside 4 tbsp to garnish the bowls, then add the coconut milk to the soup. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer gently for 25 minutes, until the lentils are soft abut still holding their shape. Add a bit more water – 100-150ml – if the soup is too thick.

Divide the soup between warm bowls and garnish with a drizzle of coconut milk and some coriander leaves.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi, Tara Wigley and Esme Howarth, Ebury Press, 2018.)

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We’re not buying any meat or fish this January, it’s not veganuary, but just an effort to be a little frugal at the start of the year. We also want to make sure we use up all the odds and ends in the freezer. We’ve been making lots of Korean dishes but they tend to focus on meat or fish, so we decided to give some winter veg the Gochujang treatment. Serve with some sticky rice.

Wine Suggestion: The sommelier’s secret weapon: Quinta Soalheiro’s Allo. Light and fresh, but with fruit, texture and depth to stand up to any dish. The earthy, iodine kale and spicy flavours just work with this wine.

Korean Winter Veg Stir-fry – serves 2

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • a small clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • a small bunch of long-stemmed broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 carrot, cut into batons
  • 100g greens, we used purple kale but any kale or cabbage will be good, remove any thick stalks and shred
  • 4 scallions, 2 chopped and 2 cut into 4 cm lengths
  • ½ tbsp sesame seeds

FOR THE GOCHUJANG SAUCE:

  • 1 tbsp gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin or rice wine
  • 1 tbsp honey

To make the gochujang sauce, mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.

Heat a large wok over a high heat, then add 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and stir-fry until softened, a couple of minutes.

Add another tbsp of oil to the wok, then add the broccoli, carrot and longer pieces of scallion, continue to stir-fry until slightly softened.

Add the sauce and the kale and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. The sauce should be sticky on the vegetables and everything piping hot.

Serve the veg over sticky rice and sprinkled with chopped scallions and sesame seeds.

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

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We know it’s not broad bean season, but frozen broad beans are right up there with frozen peas as an excellent frozen veg and so we eat them all year round. This is a recipe from Summer Kitchens by Olia Hercules and the perfect side dish for fish (or indeed fishfingers if you’re avoiding the shops!). It’s different from our usual potatoes as we tend to add lots of Irish butter, we didn’t miss it here, though we did spread some on the potato skins – it would be a shame to waste them!

Crushed potatoes with broad beans – serves 4 as a side

  • 350g baking potatoes, skins on
  • 50g streaky bacon
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 150g frozen broad beans
  • 50g crème fraîche
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Bake the potatoes for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 200C and cook for 40 minutes to 1 an hour, until completely soft inside. You don’t need the skins but this method will give perfectly crispy skins that you can eat with a bit of butter and salt while you finish the dish.

Meanwhile, heat a splash of vegetable oil in a frying pan over a medium-low heat, add the bacon and fry until the fat starts to release. When it starts to crisp, add the scallions and cook for a few minutes to soften.

Cook the broad beans in a pan of salty boiling water for about 5 minutes, then drain.

Scoop the warm potato out of the skins and put into a saucepan over a very low heat. Add the beans and crush until smoothish, but still with a bit of texture. Stir in the crème fraîche and dill, then season generously with salt and black pepper.

Spoon the bacon and its fat over the dish and serve.

(Original recipe from Summer Kitchens by Olia Hercules, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020.)

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Growing up in Northern Ireland Jules often had mince and potatoes for dinner. The “mince” was minced beef with carrot and onions in gravy and it was served with boiled potatoes. We saw this recipe recently in a book of ‘British Classics’ where it was served with dumplings. Dumplings definitely did not feature on Jules’ childhood dinner table, so we left these out and served it with champ. A huge hit with the 7 year old and much more economical than many of our other weekend recipes.

Wine Suggestion: Keep it simple and choose a Grenache & Syrah blend like a Côtes du Rhône or similar. Rich enough but generally easy drinking with lovely bramble and spice flavours. Our current “find” is Jean-Paul Daumen’s version which balances this ease with a good dollop of class.

Mince – serves 6

  • 2 tbsp veg oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 500g beef mince
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 450ml beef stock
  • a pinch of caster sugar
  • 1 bay leaf

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion, garlic, celery and carrots for 15 minutes or until softened and lightly browned.

Add the beef mince and cook for another 5 minutes, until it starts to brown. Break the mince up with a wooden spoon as it browns.

Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, beef stock, sugar and bay leaf. Season with salt and black pepper, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover with a lid if it reduces too much but you want it to be nicely thickened.

Serve with green veg and potatoes.

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

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We ate this in those funny days between Christmas and New Year when you’re fed up eating but still feel you need to make the most of the time you have to cook. We’d had enough of leftovers and were craving spicy food, like this spicy beef stew, which is more like a soup, but with lots of sustenance. The recipe is from Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, probably our most used book this year. Serve with some sticky rice.

Spicy beef & vegetable stew – serves 4

  • 400g beef brisket
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 10 cloves of garlic, 6 left whole and 4 crushed
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 150g shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 leek, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 3 tbsp gochugaru red pepper powder
  • 1½ tsp sea salt
  • 10 scallions, halved lengthways, then cut into 6cm strips
  • cooked rice, to serve

Put the brisket into a large pot and cover with 3 litres of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and add the onion and 6 whole garlic cloves. Simmer for 2 hours with the lid off, remove any scum that comes to the top and add water as needed to ensure the beef is submerged.

Transfer the brisket to a plate and set aside to cool. Strain the stock through a sieve into a jug, and discard the flavouring ingredients. When the brisket is cool enough to handle, tear it into bite-sized pieces, discarding any fat.

In the same pan, heat the vegetable oil over a medium heat, then add the mushrooms and leek and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the beef, soy sauce, crushed garlic, sesame seed oil and gochugaru powder. Turn up the heat and fry for a couple of minutes until aromatic. Pour 1.3 litres of the beef stock into the pan (freeze the rest for another dish). Add the salt and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat a  bit and add the scallions. Simmer for 3 minutes, then serve in bowls with some rice if you like.

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

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This is a simple tomato sauce for pasta with a bit of magic from Marcella Hazan that makes it taste special. The sauce is intensely mushroomy and absolutely delicious. We don’t often cook from Marcella’s The Essentials of Italian Cooking but we are never disappointed when we do.

Wine Suggestion: This needs a simple red, but with a vibrant core and a new favourite for this brief is the Umani Ronchi Rosso Conero “Serrano”. Mostly Montepulciano but with a touch of Sangiovese this is engagingly easy to drink with ripe cherry flavours and a round and juicy core of fruit; very pleasurable without being too weighty.

Tomato sauce with porcini mushrooms – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp finely chopped shallot or onion
  • 35g butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp pancetta/prosciutto cut in strips, we used cubed pancetta
  • 400g top quality plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • 25g dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted (see below)
  • 450g pasta, we used penne, cooked to serve
  • freshly grated Parmesan, to serve

To reconstitute the mushrooms: soak the mushrooms in 500ml of barely warm for at least 30 minutes. Lift the mushrooms out of the water and squeeze out as much water as possible, do this over the bowl to catch the liquid. Rinse the mushrooms if needed to get rid of any soil, then pat dry with kitchen paper. Reserve the liquid.

Put the shallot into a saucepan with the butter and oil, over a medium heat. Cook until the shallot turns pale golden, then add the pancetta and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the tomatoes, the reconstituted mushrooms, the reserved mushroom liquid, salt and plenty of black pepper. Let the sauce bubble at a steady simmer for about 40 minutes, you want the fat and the tomato to separate and the sauce to reduce to a nice consistency. Turn it up and bubble a bit faster to reduce if you need.

Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve with grated Parmesan.

(Original recipe from The Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan, Macmillan London Limited, 1992.)

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With a few days left before the New Year… when we, like many others are happy to change pace for a bit. For us that means lots of exercise, early nights and healthier food to eat. We don’t go on a diet but after all the excess of Christmas it’s just what we’re craving. All of this means that we have just a few days to get through all the delicious cheese in the fridge. Feel free to play around with the cheeses, we used Cooleeney from Tipperary, but Taleggio or Brie would work too.

Cooleeney & tarragon cauliflower cheese – serves 4 (easily doubled)

  • 50g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 500ml full fat milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150g cheddar, grated
  • 50g Parmesan or similar, finely grated
  • 75g Cooleeney (or Taleggio or Brie), sliced
  • 5g tarragon, leaves picked, half chopped, half left whole
  • 1 cauliflower, broken into florets

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

Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan, then stir in the flour to make a paste. Cook for a few minutes, then gradually add the milk, stirring the whole time, until you have a smooth sauce. Season.

Add the bay leaf, cheddar, Parmesan, half the taleggio and the whole tarragon leaves. Heat gently, stirring continuously, for 6 to 8 minutes or until the cheeses have melted and the sauce thickened. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse.

Cook the cauliflower in a steamer for 8 to 10 minutes or until just tender. Put the cauliflower into a baking dish. Add the chopped tarragon to the sauce and pour over the cauliflower.

Dot with the remaining taleggio and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Well this was a revelation! We love kimchi but admit that we’ve only ever bought it in jars and never attempted to make it ourselves; a new year’s resolution in there perhaps. Having no kimchi in the cupboard we decided to give this a go and it’s nothing short of delicious. It’s ideally made with the small Persian cucumbers which we couldn’t find in our local shops over Christmas but a regular cucumber works fine too, just scoop out most of the seeds with a teaspoon first.

Almost-instant cucumber kimchi – serves 4-6 as a side

  • 3 Persian cucumbers or 1 regular cucumber (see note above)
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tsp gochugaru red pepper powder
  • 2 tsp unrefined sugar or coconut palm sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Wash the cucumbers and pat dry. Halve them lengthways and slice very finely. Put the slices into a bowl with the salt, toss to combine, then leave aside for 30 minutes.

Combine the rest of the ingredients, apart from the sesame seeds, in a bowl. Drain the cucumber of any liquid, then add to the bowl with the other ingredients and stir well. Cover and put in the fridge for at least half an hour or until chilled.

Serve sprinkled with the sesame seeds. If you can resist eating it all this will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a week.

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

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We don’t need to convincing to eat turnip but it is even more delicious with crispy bacon, onions and heaps of black pepper.

Turnip with bacon & onions – serves 4 to 6

  • 900g turnip, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 50g smoked bacon, diced
  • 50g butter

Steam the turnip for about 10 minutes or until tender. 

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and gently sauté the onion and bacon until the bacon is crispy and onion starting to colour. 

Roughly mash the turnip with the butter, then season with salt and lots of black pepper. 

To serve, put the turnip into a warm dish and sprinkle with the bacon and onions. 

(Original recipe from Nevan Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook)

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We had to try this idea from Gill Meller’s book Gather in order to use some dulse flakes from Aran Islands Seaweed. The dulse flakes give a smoky umami flavour to the dish. It takes a while in the oven but it otherwise very simple and tastes even better if made in advance, as stews often do. We served with creamy mash, cabbage and turnip for a hearty Sunday lunch.

Wine Suggestion: A dish that needs a suitably rich red wine to match; one where the rich fruit has high levels of anthocyanins and phenols in a ripe framework. The Altosur Malbec from Tuppangato (the highest part of the Mendoza area) in Argentina came out of the rack and its blackberry, blueberry and plum flavours with brambly, rich tannins was an ample choice.

Beef shin with dulce – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 800g beef shin, sliced thickly
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • ½ a glass of red wine
  • 2-3 tsp powdered smoked dulse (we used dulse flakes, see note above)
  • 300ml chicken stock or water

Heat the oven to 120C/Gas 1.

Heat the oil in a heavy flameproof casserole. Season the beef shin well with salt and pepper, then brown on all sides until it takes on a really-good colour all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion, garlic, celery and thyme and cook gently over a low heat until the onions are soft but not coloured. Return the meat the pan, then add the wine, dulse and stock or water and bring to a gentle simmer.

Cover the casserole with a lid and place in the oven for 4-5 hours, or until the meat falls apart easily. Season to taste and leave to rest for 25 minutes before serving with mash and other veg.

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

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These are great for midweek, quite big, so they filled us up and tasted really good with the spicy yoghurt dip, some salad leaves and lemon. They are quite therapeutic to make too, or at least we thought so.

Wine Suggestion: A classic dish like fish cakes needs a classic match and Domaine de la Chauviniere’s Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur lie was our choice.

Fishcakes with ras el hanout and dill – serves 4

  • 600g floury potatoes, cut into even chunks
  • 300g skinless and boneless white fish
  • 300ml milk
  • 2½ tsp ras el hanout
  • zest of 2 lemons, plus 2 tbsp juice, and wedges to serve
  • small packet of dill, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 85g dried breadcrumbs, we used Panko
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 300g natural yoghurt
  • 100g bag of salad leaves, to serve

Put the potatoes into a large saucepan, cover with cold salty water, bring to the boil, and cook for 18-20 minutes until cooked. Drain and leave to steam-dry in the pot, then mash.

Meanwhile, put the fish in another saucepan and pour over the milk and about 100ml of water, just to cover. Cover with a lid, bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and leave aside with the lid on to finish cooking. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon and flake into large chunks with your hands.

Mix 2 tbsp of the poaching liquid into the mashed potatoes with 2 tsp of ras el hanout, the zest of 1 lemon, dill and seasoning. Carefully mix in the fish, trying not to let it break up too much further, you want nice chunks. Shape the potato mixture into 8 large fishcakes, keep them quite flat so they’re easy to brown. Dip each fishcake into the beaten egg, then the dried breadcrumbs to coat.

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

Heat the oil in a large non-stick ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. Add the fishcakes and fry on each side for about 5 minutes over a medium heat. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t brown too much. Transfer the frying pan to the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes until piping hot.

Meanwhile, mix the yoghurt with the rest of the lemon zest, 2 tbsp lemon juice, ½ tsp ras el hanout and seasoning. Serve the fishcakes with salad, spiced yoghurt and lemon wedges.

(Original recipe by Katy Gilhooly in Good Food Magazine, December 2015.)

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We cooked this fish from Falastin on a Saturday night for our 7 year old, who gets to sit up and have dinner with us at the weekends. Jono’s not too keen on fish skin so I warned him to make sure that Orlaith didn’t see him taking it off, or she wouldn’t eat it either. Orlaith announced very quickly that the skin was the best bit – that’s my girl! Crispy skin is the key and this cooking method delivers it to perfection. Even Jono ate the skin!

Wine Suggestion: A very left-field suggestion tonight, but with some logic: the Herdade de Portacarra Manda Chuva. This is a Blanc de Noirs – a white made from a red grape. In this case Sangiovese which is the logic; this grape works superbly with tomatoes. Interestingly this is from Setubal, in Portugal, and by making a white it makes a great match for both fish and tomatoes.

Seared sea bass with lemon & tomato sauce – serves 4

  • 100ml olive oil
  • 4 tsp fish spice mix (to make: 2 tsp ground cardamom, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp paprika, 2 tsp turmeric)
  • 8 sea bass fillets, skin on, lightly scored and halved widthways at a slight angle
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 25g piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped, including seeds
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 x 400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes, blitzed in a food processor until smooth
  • 1 ½ tsp caster sugar
  • 20g dill, roughly chopped
  • 25g coriander, roughly chopped, plus extra to garnish
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 150g datterini or cherry tomatoes
  • ½ a lemon, very thinly sliced into rounds

Combine 2 tbsp of oil, 2½ tsp of fish spice mix, 1 tsp of salt and a plenty of black pepper together in a shallow dish. Add the fish pieces, turn to coat and set aside while you make the sauce.

Put 2 tbsp of oil in a large sauté pan and place on a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring now and then, until softened and browned. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for another couple of minutes, until fragrant. Add 1½ tsp fish spice mix and the tomato purée and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tinned tomatoes, sugar, two-thirds of the dill and coriander, the stock, 1 tsp of salt and plenty of pepper. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce is thick and rich. Keep warm on a low heat.

Toss the little tomatoes with 2 tsps of oil. Put a large frying pan on a hight heat, add the tomatoes, and cook for about 4 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, until charred all over. Add the lemon slices and cook for another 2-3 minutes, shaking the pan a few times. Add this to the tomato sauce along with the remaining herbs and keep warm until ready to serve.

Wipe the frying pan clean and put over a medium-high heat with 1½ tsp of oil. Add a quarter of the sea bass fillets, skin side down, press them gently if necessary to stop them curling. Cook for 4 minutes, or until the skin is crisp and browned, then flip the fish over in the pan. Cook for another 30 seconds, then transfer to a warm plate. Repeat until all the fish is cooked.

Divide the sauce between 4 plates and top with the sea bass. Sprinkle over some coriander leaves to serve.

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

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Here’s a quick fix for midweek. Really tasty and super simple to put together, so you can focus on your online shopping.

Wine Suggestion: Go for an earthy Tempranillo that hasn’t got too much extraction (big tannins!) but still has nice fruit. A Rioja Crianza should give the right balance, some blackberries and strawberries, some tannins but not too much, and only a touch of spices that develop with age. Our choice tonight the Paco Garcia Crianza.

Pork and Paprika Rice – serves 2

  • 2 pork chops, trimmed of fat
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 200g paella rice
  • 100ml dry sherry
  • 400ml stock
  • 200g tin butter beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

Rub the pork with the paprika and season generously.

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan, then fry the pork chops on one side, until browned, then turn over and add the onion and tomato purée. Fry together for 5 minutes.

Stir in the rice, then add the sherry and cook for 1 minute before adding the stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the rice is just cooked.

Add the beans and parsley, season well, then stand for 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe by Lulu Grimes in Olive Magazine, November 2013.)

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Romanesco has a short season so it’s a grab it when you can sort of vegetable. This means we usually just steam it but we came across this veggie curry recipe by Tom Kerridge and it was the perfect weeknight bowl of goodness.

Wine Suggestion: This works with lighter whites like the La Piuma Pecorino from Italy, but can see it working with so many other whites. Balanced, easy fruit, medium bodied and with enough texture, like Italian whites tend to have, except for Pinot Grigio.

Romanesco, corn and coconut curry – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 500g romanesco, cut into florets
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 350g tin sweetcorn, drained
  • 200g frozen peas
  • a handful of coriander, chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, finely sliced
  • cooked rice, to serve

FOR THE FRIED PANEER:

  • 225g paneer, cut into cubes
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Heat the oil in a wide, deep frying pan. Add the cumin seeds and sizzle for a few seconds, then add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Turn the heat down, then add the ground spices and stir for 1 minute, then add the romanesco and stir-fry for 1 minute. Pour in the veg stock and half the coconut milk and cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the paneer. Put it into a bowl and mix with the turmeric and salt. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the paneer and cook until browned, 5-8 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Add the rest of the coconut milk to the romanesco and stir in the sweetcorn, peas, fried paneer and half the coriander. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 5 minutes. Season to taste.

Serve scattered with the chilli and the rest of the coriander.

(Original recipe from Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2018.)

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We love cavolo nero and it was so good in this simple pasta dish. No cheese and you won’t miss it as this has a really deep, savoury flavour.

Wine Suggestion: The beauty of this dish is the immediacy and simplicity, so a young red with joyful fruit as you’ll find in Beaujolais is perfect. If you find yourself in Nouveau season then hunt out a good bottle from a quality producer. We’re a few weeks out but had a bottle from Domaine Chasselay still hanging around and it was joyful.

Orecchiette with anchovies, cavolo nero and caramelised onions – serves 2

  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 200g orecchiette
  • 4 anchovies in olive oil, drained and cut into pieces
  • 100g cavolo nero, discard the woody stalks and shred the leaves

Fry the onions in a little oil and butter over a medium heat until golden and caramelised, about 30 minutes. Don’t rush this stage as you want proper caramelisation. If they start to stick, just add a splash of water.

Meanwhile, boil the orecchiette in lots of very salty water according to the timing on the pack. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water before you drain it.

Add the cavolo nero and anchovies to the onions and fry for a couple of minutes until the anchovies have melted and the cavolo nero has wilted. Add a little more butter if the onions stick. Tip in the drained pasta and a splash of cooking water. Season well and toss to coat.

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

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We like weeknight dishes that use fresh dill, like this one, particularly helpful as we often have leftover dill from the weekend. We never mind as we just love the lift dill can bring and hate to waste it. Don’t be tempted to turn the salmon too soon, you want nice crispy skin.

Wine Suggestion: A number of Italian whites have a good affinity to fish and capers so we chose a favourite, the Graziano Prá Soave Classico “Otto”. A DOC with a number of standout winemakers like Prá championing the local grape Garganega; green apple, hints of almond, a mid-weight and refreshing, textured finish.

Salmon with capers & dill – serves 4

  • 50g butter, diced
  • 4 x salmon fillets, preferably with the skin on, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice mixed with 6-8 tbsp water
  • 4 tsp chopped dill

Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat, then add a couple of knobs of butter and add the salmon fillets, skin side down. Fry for 3-4 minutes or until crispy and browned underneath, then turn over and continue to cook for a couple of minutes or until cooked through.

Add the capers, the rest of the butter and the lemon juice mixed with water, boil for 1 minute. Season to taste, then transfer the salmon onto warmed plates, stir in the chopped dill and pour over the fish to serve.

(Original recipe by Rachel Allen in BBC Good Food Magazine, November 2011.)

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This is a lovely side dish and it was hard not to eat all the roasted Romanesco before it got to the plate. Then you add garlicky tahini sauce and pomegranate seeds … delicious!

We just love the fractal patterened shape of these too. We’ve recently discovered that pomegranate seeds freeze well. Dry them well and spread them over a tray lined with paper, transfer to a bag or tub when frozen.

Roast Romanesco Cauliflower with Tahini and Pomegranates – serves 4

  • 2 heads of Romanesco cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 4 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 75g tahini
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed

Heat the oven to 200C/180C/Gas 6.

Spread the florets out over a large baking tray. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the cumin and allspice. Season with plenty of salt and pepper then toss well to coat.

Roast for 20-30 minutes in the hot oven until tender but firm, give them a toss half way through, then remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.

To make the tahini sauce mix the tahini, lemon juice and garlic with 100ml of water in a bowl, until smooth and runny.

Put the tahini onto a serving platter, drizzle with the sauce and sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds.

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

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