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Posts Tagged ‘Easy’

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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We make soup most weeks during the cooler months and we really loved this one! The streaky bacon garnish is nice but it’s also good without it.

Creamy lentil & spinach soup with bacon – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus a bit extra for frying
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 140g green lentils
  • 1.5 litres weak vegetable stock
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 4 tbsp double cream, plus a drizzle to serve if you like
  • 6 rashers smoked streaky bacon (optional)

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan, then add the onions, carrots and celery, and cook for about 10 minutes or until softened.

Stir in the lentils and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30-35 minutes or until the lentils are soft, add more water if you need too.

Add the spinach and cook for a couple of minutes to wilt.

Whizz the soup until smooth (we like it smooth-ish with a bit of texture left), then stir in the cream and season.

Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the bacon until crispy and golden. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with some crispy bacon and a drizzle of cream.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Much more filling than the tinned variety but unlike a number of other baked bean recipes, you don’t have to start with dried beans. This is quick and still pretty handy for lunch.

Beans on toast – serves 4 to 6

  • 200g bacon lardons or pancetta cubes
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 x 400g tins of beans e.g. pinto, haricot or butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp black treacle
  • sourdough toast, to serve

Fry the bacon in a deep pan over a medium heat until golden, then add the onion. You can add a splash of olive oil if you need it.

Add the carrots and celery and cook for 5 minutes, until softened.

Add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Next add the beans and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the treacle and season with salt and black pepper.

Serve with toasted sourdough.

(Original recipe from The Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2012.)

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For many years we didn’t buy Polpo by Russell Norman. It has a fancy binding and was always wrapped in plastic in the bookshop, so there was no way to have a flick. We can’t remember now what made us take the plunge, but we’re so glad we did. We’ve cooked many of the recipes and recently took this book off the shelf again and cooked a few more, finishing with this steak dish. You probably don’t need Italian roast potatoes with rosemary as a side but we couldn’t resist.

Wine Suggestion: A kind birthday gift from our friends Nicola and Dave was a wine we knew nothing about, the Iuli Umberta and opening it to try with this dish was a revelation. From the Monferrato hills east of Turin, this Barbera is so full of energy and layered with subtle flavours and gentle spice; so easy and refreshing.

Flank steak with portobello mushrooms – serves 4

  • 800g flank steak, about 5cm thick
  • 4 handfuls of rocket leaves
  • 8 large Portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1 small handful of flat parsley leaves, chopped

Season the meat with plenty of salt and pepper.

We cooked ours on a hot barbecue but if you prefer you can oil a griddle pan and heat until hot, then grill the steak on both sides. 10-12 minutes in total should give you a medium-cooked steak. Leave it to rest in a warm place for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, dress the rocket leaves in some good olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Divide the rocket between the serving plates or you can put it onto one large platter.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan with the garlic and most of the parsley. Add the mushrooms and fry until soft and glossy, then set aside. We like to season these a little too.

When the meat has rested, sliced it thinly. Lay the steak on top of the rocket, then scatter with the mushrooms and serve with a drizzle of good olive oil and the rest of the parsley.

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

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Somewhere along the line we forgot about spaghetti carbonara, but remembered it again last night. This really is a store-cupboard dish. We’re never without pasta, eggs or Parmesan and more often than not there’s a half packet of pancetta or bacon lardons in the fridge needing used. Thursday night might turn into carbonara night!

Wine Suggestion: An open bottle of Edetaria via Terra red, made from Garnache Tinta grown in Terra Alta south of Barcelona was a joyful accompaniment. Fresh with refined spices and tannins; a gourmand wine. We don’t know whether it was the night or the wine but we had the chats all night after this food and wine.

Spaghetti Carbonara – serves 2 – though you can of course double to serve 4

  • 200g spaghetti
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g pancetta cubes or bacon lardons
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 25ml vermouth or white wine
  • 1 large egg
  • 50g grated pecorino or Parmesan
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Cook the spaghetti in lots of very salty water according to the timings on the pack.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the pancetta over a medium heat until crispy. Add the garlic and cook gently for a couple of minutes before the vermouth or white wine and bubble until well reduced. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Put the egg into a large bowl and beat it with a fork. Add a little salt and plenty of black pepper, then add the cheese and stir to combine.

Drain the pasta in a colander and immediately transfer to the bowl with the egg and cheese, don’t be too fussy when you’re draining as a little of the pasta cooking water will help make a silky sauce. Stir together until the spaghetti is coated in a glossy sauce, then add the pancetta and stir again.

Serve in warmed bowls and sprinkle with the parsley.

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This handy Italian chicken dish is great for a Friday night and kids love it! Serve with a green salad, lemon wedges and mayonnaise. If you have eggs leftover you can pop them in the fridge to scramble the next morning.

Wine Suggestion: keep it simple with an easy, dry white of your choice: Chardonnay, Verdicchio, Chenin … or tonights choice the Flying Solo Grenache Blanc – Viognier blend from Domaine Gayda. Easy, friendly citrus and apple flavours with hints of heather and a slight nuttiness, finishing clean and dry.

Chicken Cotoletta – serves 4

  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced lengthways with your knife parallel to the board to give 4 thin fillets (your butcher will do this for you if you ask)
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 handful of Italian 00 flour
  • 3 medium free-range eggs, lightly beaten
  • about 300g panko breadcrumbs

Put each piece of chicken between sheets of clingfilm, then beat them gently with a rolling pin until nice and thin. Season and sprinkle with the lemon juice.

Get 3 plates out and put the flour on one, the eggs on the next, and finally the breadcrumbs. Dip the chicken into the flour, shaking off any excess, then gently into the egg and finally into the breadcrumbs.

Heat a large frying pan with plenty of olive oil and fry the chicken until golden and crispy, a couple of minutes on each side. You can do this in batches if easier.

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

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Sometimes all you want is a plate of greens. Here they are with a Japanese-style sauce and some sticky rice and sesame seeds. 

Wine Suggestion: We find this combination of flavours in the sauce work well with Riesling, especially if it’s the lighter styles with a touch of fruit. This could be a German Kabinett with lower alcohol, residual sugar and refreshing acidity, or one of the dry Clare Valley cuvées that leave a hint of sugar in making them very approachable in youth like Pike’s Hills & Valleys. 

Greens with Sticky Sesame Rice – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 140g sushi rice
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 350g purple sprouting broccoli or other long-stemmed broccoli
  • 6 scallions, halved lengthways

FOR THE SAUCE: 

  • 2 tbsp brown miso paste
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 2 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and diced

Stir the sauce ingredients together with 1 tbsp water, then set aside.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil with the caster sugar and ½ tsp salt. Add the rice and boil for about 15 minutes (or whatever time it suggests on the pack) until just cooked. Drain well, return to the pan and sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds and sesame oil. Cover and keep warm. 

Heat the sunflower oil in a wok until smoking hot. Add the broccoli and stir-fry for a few minutes until almost tender, add a splash of water now and then to create a bit of steam. Add the scallions and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then stir in the sauce and cook for another minute or two, stirring constantly. 

Divide the rice between 2 plates and top with the stir-fry. 

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Every now and again we take one of Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries off the shelf for a bit of inspiration, and this is what we chose from the February chapter. We like Nigel’s recipes as they’re tasty but rarely require too much shopping. We served this with rice, a few greens on the side would be nice too.

Wine Suggestion: A dry, or just off-dry Alsace Pinot Gris or similar. Tonight Zind Humbrecht’s Pinot Gris Roche Calcaire from the Clos Windsbuhl has all the texture and layers of fruit we were looking for and more; superb.

Pork with garlic & oyster sauce – serves 2

  • 5 tbsp of flavourless oil, we use groundnut oil
  • 350g pork fillet, cubed
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 4 small hot red chillies, two chopped finely with the seeds left in and two left whole
  • 150g mushrooms, roughly sliced
  • 3 heaped tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp Shaoxing wine

Heat your wok until very hot.

Add 2 tbsp of the oil and when it starts to smoke, add half the meat. Toss, until browned then remove to a plate and brown the rest.

Add the remaining oil to the wok and heat until smoking hot, then add the garlic, shallots and chillies. Toss for a minute or two until starting to colour. Add the mushrooms and continue to fry until they are soft and starting to colour, then return the meat to the pan. When the meat is hot, stir in the oyster sauce and Shaoxing wine and bring to the boil.

Allow the sauce to simmer and reduce for a couple of minutes, then serve.

(Original recipe from The Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2012.)

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This makes a delicious veggie breakfast with toast or with bread and a salad for lunch. It is so simple but you need to use top quality tinned tomatoes as they are the star of the show.

Baked eggs with tomatoes – serves 4

  • 500g tinned tomatoes, drained, seeded and chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 fresh eggs

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

Put the tomatoes into a saucepan with 2 tbsp of water and a couple of pinches of salt. Cover and simmer slowly for 30 minutes, give it a stir occasionally.

Pour the olive oil into an ovenproof dish, then pour the tomatoes on top.

Break the eggs into the dish on top of the sauce and season with black pepper. Bake for 5 minutes or until the whites are just set and the yolks still runny.

(Original recipe from Southern Italian Cooking by Valentina Harris, Pavilion Books Limited, 1993.)

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This is a little different given the use of the milky poaching liquor which makes this creamy and rich. Not that we partake in the cheese and fish rule anyhow, but cheese was genuinely not required. 

Wine Suggestion: Choose a white with a higher acidity to match the creamy stock and a bit of body as this is quite rich. We chose an alpine/cool-climate Chardonnay from Cantina Colterenzio from north-eastern Italy in the foothills of the Alps. Melon and apple fruit flavours with hints of buttery toast; refined and characterful.

Smoked Cod & Spinach Risotto – serves 2-3

  • 450ml full fat milk
  • 400g smoked cod or haddock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 450ml hot stock
  • a small onion
  • 50g butter
  • 250g risotto rice
  • a glass of white wine
  • 2 handfuls of spinach leaves, washed and torn into small pieces

Pour the milk into a saucepan large enough to take the fish in a single layer. Put the fish into the milk and add the bay leaves and peppercorns, then bring to the boil. When the milk starts to foam, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside with the fish left in the milk to infuse. 

Heat the stock in a saucepan until gently simmering.

Peel and finely chop the onion, then fry gently in the butter in a heavy-based pan. When the onion is soft, but not coloured, add the rice and stir to coat. 

Pour in the wine and allow to evaporate, then start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time. Keep stirring continually until each ladle of stock has been absorbed, then add some more. Keep the heat low to medium. When the stock is finished, start adding the poaching liquid from the fish (discard the peppercorns and bay leaves). Start tasting when almost all the milk has been absorbed. The rice should be soft but still have a little bite and it should take about 20 minutes. 

Stir the spinach into the rice. Break the fish into big pieces and gently fold into the rice, trying not to break them up too much. Check for seasoning before serving. 

(Original recipe from The Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2012.)

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