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Posts Tagged ‘Easy’

Lamb Ragoût

Lamb ragoût with fresh pasta

This lamb ragoût really reminds of holidays in Italy. Really simple but with a great concentrated flavour. No doubt it would be fab with some freshly made pappardelle, but dried was all we could muster on this occasion.

Wine Suggestion: While a red is often the first thought when matching a Ragoût, an oaked white would also work just as well with this dish. The Zuani Riserva from Collio in north eastern Italy would be a good choice. Delicately toasty with vanilla and touch of tropical fruit and some creamy, ripe stone-fruits. Broad and rich, creamy, thick fruit texture, peach and yellow plum with a long and gently spicy finish.

However if you feel like red, like Jules did tonight, then an elegant Sangiovese makes a good option and the Selvapiana Bucerchiale Chianti Rufina is a favourite of ours. Always superb.

Lamb Ragoût – serves 4 to 6

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1kg lamb shoulder, cut into small dice
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 125ml white wine
  • 500ml lamb stock
  • fresh or dried pappardelle pasta
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve
  • grated Parmesan, to serve

Heat the oil in a large casserole dish, add the onions, celery and carrot and sweat until translucent. Add the garlic, baby leaves and thyme. Add the lamb and season well with salt and pepper, sweat, then add the tomato purée.

Cook for a few minutes, then deglaze with the wine. Add the lamb stock and simmer for 3 hours, covered, until reduced – add more stock or water if it becomes too dry.

Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and stir into the ragoût with the parsley and Parmesan.

(Original recipe from The Skills by Monica Galetti, Quadrille, 2016.)

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Caponata Spaghetti

A really healthy mid-week pasta dish but with heaps of flavour. Don’t be tempted to use  more oil than specified, as you really don’t miss it in this dish.

Caponata Spaghetti – serves 4

  • 2 aubergines, cut into 3cm cubes
  • 4 tsp vegetable oil
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • 2 sticks of celery, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • a small handful of raisins
  • 1 tsp capers
  • a handful of kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 300g wholewheat spaghetti
  • a small bunch of parsley, chopped

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

Toss the aubergine with 2tsp of oil and a little seasoning and tip into a large non-stick baking tray. Roast for 20 minutes or until charred and soft.

Meanwhile, heat the rest of the oil in a large pan and cook the red onion and celery with a large pinch of salt for 10 minutes or until softening and caramelised a little. Add the garlic and oregano, and cook for a minute before adding the tomatoes and 100ml water. Tip in the roasted aubergine and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the raisins, capers, olives and red wine vinegar, and season. Keep on a low heat while you cook the pasta.

Cook the pasta according to the time on the pack, then drain, reserving a mug of the water. Tip the pasta into the caponata with the parsley, add a splash of water to loosen if needed. Stir well and serve.

(Original recipe by Adam Bush in Olive Magazine, February 2019)

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Smoked Mackerel Loaded Leaves

This is the kind of nibble we like before dinner. Really tasty but light so it won’t spoil your appetite. Radicchio and/or chicory leaves are preferable but if you can’t find these you can substitute Little Gem lettuce – as we did.

Wine Suggestion: Your choice of bubbles, whether it’s Prosecco, Cremant, Cava or Champagne

Smoked Mackerel Loaded Leaves – serves 4-8

  • 200g smoked mackerel fillets, skin removed and flaked
  • 4 tbsp crème fraîche
  • juice and zest of ½ lemon
  • small bunch of chives, snipped
  • small handful of dill, chopped
  • 1 small radicchio, separated into leaves
  • 1-2 chicory heads separated into leaves

Gently mix the mackerel with the crème fraîche, lemon juice, half the herbs and some pepper. Chill until ready to serve.

Spoon generous amounts of the mackerel mixture into each leaf and arrange on a plates or a platter. Sprinkle over the remaining herbs and the lemon zest.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Wheaten bread

A Northern Irish classic, wheaten bread is also the classic plain soda bread from further south in Ireland. As Jules grew up near Belfast and went to the same school as Trish Deseine (who knew?), our inspiration for this recipe, we call it “Wheaten”. Whatever you call it, this is an Irish classic and intrinsic to Irish food culture. So simple to make, tasty and versatile, this should be part of any cooks repertoire. We like it with a bowl of soup for lunch and toasted for breakfast the day after.

Northern Irish Wheaten Bread – makes 1 loaf

  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g wholemeal flour
  • 1 barely round tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 450-475ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 225C.

Mix the flours in a large, wide bowl, add the salt and sieved baking soda. Run the mixture through your fingers to distribute everything evenly.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk. Stir the mixture in circles with outstretched fingers starting from the centre of the bowl and working outwards. It shouldn’t take long for the dough to almost come together. Give it a very quick knead in the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.

Sprinkle a little flour on your hands and gently tidy the dough into a round and transfer to an oven tray. Tuck the edges underneath with your hands, then gently pat with your fingers into a loaf about 4cm thick.

Cut a deep cross into the bread and prick the centre of the four sections with a fork.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 200C for a further 15minutes. Turn the bread upside down and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes or until done – you can tell as it will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack.

(Original recipe from Trish Deseine’s ‘Home: Recipes from Ireland, Hatchette Livre, 2015.)

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Penne baked with three cheeses

There is a never-ending supply of leftover cheese in our fridge but never more so than at this time of year. This is a super-easy pasta dish which will help to use up the cheeseboard leftovers.

Penne baked with three cheeses – serves 2

  • 200g penne
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 350ml milk
  • 75g hard cheese e.g. cheddar/gruyère, grated
  • 50g blue cheese e.g. stilton/gorgonzola/roquefort, crumbled
  • a handful of breadcrumbs (we used panko)
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan

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

Cook the pasta until al dente then rinse under cold water to stop it cooking any further and drain.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Gradually stir in the milk, stirring continuously, to make a white sauce. When the sauce has thickened and is starting to bubble, add the hard and blue cheese and stir until melted. Season to taste, then mix with the cooked pasta and pour into an ovenproof dish.

Mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan together and sprinkle over the top, then bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

(Original Recipe from BBC Olive Magazine, December 2009.)

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Chickpea and spinach curry

We don’t know about you lot but our bellies are crying out for a rest and we haven’t even got to New Year’s yet. This is a lightweight curry suitable for veggies and vegans (if you don’t serve with yoghurt) and it’s also substantial enough to serve as it is without any rice. The spices are very gentle as confirmed by our 5 year old who has developed a recent aversion to anything ‘too spicy!!’.

Chickpea & spinach curry – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 6cm piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 2 long green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 2 x 400g tins chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 150g baby spinach
  • 4 tbsp natural yoghurt (optional to serve)
  • Sprigs of coriander (to serve)

Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over a high heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes or until starting to brown, add a splash of water if they stick.

Add the garlic, ginger and chillies and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the spices and salt and stir for a minute, then add the tomato purée and cook for another minute.

Add the tinned tomatoes, stock and chickpeas, then bring to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

When ready to serve, stir through the spinach and cook briefly until just wilted.

Divide between bowls (on top of some steamed rice if you like) and top with a spoon of yoghurt and some coriander.

(Original recipe from Lose Weight for Good by Tom Kerridge, Absolute Press, 2017.)

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Thai Fried Rice - Khao Pad

We have an Australian cookbook called Thai Cooking that was originally published in 1994. Jono remembers it from home in Melbourne and we know other members of his family who also have a well-used copy. After much searching we managed to pick up a second-hand copy in Books for Cooks in Fitzroy. It’s full of reliable dishes like this simple Thai fried rice. You could have it as a side dish but we prefer to eat a big bowl by itself with some sriracha hot chilli sauce (our own addition!).

Thai Fried Rice – Khao Pad – serves 4

  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 3 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 500g cooked peeled prawns, beef, pork, chicken or ham (any combination)
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 880g cooked rice, cooked the day before and chilled
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 pepper, sliced
  • 50g green beans, finely sliced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped scallions
  • coriander leaves (to garnish)
  • sriracha hot chilli sauce, to serve (optional)

Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan over a medium heat. Stir-fry the onions and garlic until the garlic is golden. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve, then stir in the curry paste. Stir in the prawns and meat pieces and push to one side.

Add the beaten eggs. Wait to let them set a little, then slightly scramble.

Add the rice. Stir-fry until heated through. Sprinkle with fish sauce, then add the pepper, green beans, tomato and spring onions. Stir-fry briefly to heat through but don’t overcook.

Taste and add some extra fish sauce or sugar if needed. Serve garnished with coriander leaves and a drizzle of sriracha hot chilli sauce if that’s your thing.

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

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