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We often grate baby beetroots over salads in the summer months. In winter time they’re often a bit big and intimidating, and you have to buy them in a whole bunch. So here’s some beetroot inspiration in case you’ve got some in your veg box this week. This tastes even better the following day.

Borsht – serves 4 to 6

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or 15g of butter
  • 3 medium beetroots (about 450g unpeeled weight), peeled and diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 1 large waxy potato, diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1.5 litres beef stock
  • ½ green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped or 2 tbsp from a tin of tomatoes

TO SERVE:

  • 300g sirloin steak, trimmed of fat
  • sour cream or crème fraîche
  • dill (we substituted parsley but do use dill if you can)

Heat the oil or butter in a large heavy saucepan. Add the beetroot, carrot, celery, potato, onion and garlic, and sauté for a couple of minutes or until combined and coasted in fat.

Pour in the stock and season. Bring the soup almost to the boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the cabbage and tomatoes, put the lid back on and simmer for another 20 minutes. Season to taste.

About 10 minutes before serving, cook the steak on a hot griddle pan for a couple of minute on each side. Leave to rest for 5 minutes, then slice really thinly and add any meat juices to the soup.

Divide the steak between the bowls and ladle the soup on top. Serve with some sour cream and dill on top.

(Original recipe by The Hairy Bikers in BBC Good Food Magazine, October 2015.)

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We cooked this for dinner on Halloween, you need a good eating pumpkin, like Crown Prince, rather than a carving pumpkin. The oxtail is a bit of a fiddle but it’s worth it and you can do all the fiddly bits well in advance. The result is fabulously rich and tasty.

Wine Suggestion: to cut through the richness you need a red with both a bit of acidity and tannins and a favourite of ours for this purpose is Chianti. Tonight the Pian del Ciampolo from Montevertine in the Chianti Classico region who have stepped outside the system but still use the classic grapes for the appellation. Young and joyful but with a serious backbone and a good match for the dish.

Oxtail stew with pumpkin and cinnamon – serves 6

  • 2kg oxtail pieces
  • 200g shallots, roughly chopped
  • 3 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400ml red wine
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 10 sprigs of thyme
  • 5 sprigs of rosemary
  • zest of ½ an orange, peeled into long strips
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 500g pumpkin, cut into 2.5 cm cubes (you could use butternut squash but try and get pumpkin if you can)
  • 300ml water

FOR THE GREMOLATA

  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
  • grated zest of 1 large lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.

Heat a large heavy-based pan over a high heat, it needs to be big enough to hold the whole stew later, and add 2 tbsp of olive oil. When the oil is smoking hot add some oxtail pieces and fry until well browned on all sides. You will need to do this in batches and don’t put too many in at once or they will start to stew rather than fry. Transfer the browned pieces to a colander so the excess fat can drain off.

If there is a lot of fat in the pan, tip some of it off, then add the shallots, carrots and garlic. Cook these over a medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Add the wine to the pan and scrape the base with a wooden spoon to get any crusty tasty bits off the bottom. Bring to the boil and simmer until almost evaporated, then add the tomatoes. Tie the thyme and rosemary sprigs together and add to the sauce, then add the orange zest, bay leaves, cinnamon, star anise, black pepper and some salt. Transfer the sauce to a deep baking dish or roasting tray big enough to take the oxtail in a single layer. Set the oxtail pieces on top. Put a sheet of baking parchment directly over the oxtail, then cover with a tight-fitting lid or a couple of layers of tinfoil, then bake for 2-3 hours or until the meat comes away easily from the bone.

Lift the oxtail out of the sauce and into a large bowl, then leave to cool slightly. When it’s cool enough to handle, pick all the meat from the bones and put into the heavy-based pan that you used to brown it in, discard the fatty bits and the bones. Add the sauce from the baking tray to the meat along with the pumpkin cubes and the 300ml of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft. Season to taste.

To make the gremolata, mix the parsley, lemon zest and garlic together. Transfer the stew to a serving bowl and sprinkle the gremolata on top.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi the Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, Ebury Press, 2008.)

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We won’t tell you how to make pizza dough again but you can find the recipe we use here if you need. This is just a nice idea for an Autumnal veggie topping.

Wine Suggestion: We think you needn’t stress about finding the ultimate match when making pizzas as there’s a casual nature to the dish. Choose a wine of the moment, like a Langhe Nebbiolo rather than a Barolo, or a Bourgogne Rouge, or other Pinot Noir than a Grand Cru. Enjoy the pleasure of more simple fruit. These two grapes would be our suggestion too.

Wild mushroom & sage pizzas – serves 2

  • 2 pizza bases
  • 250g ricotta, tipped into a sieve to drain
  • 75g Parmesan, grated
  • 400g mixed wild mushrooms, trimmed and halved or sliced if large 
  • 12 sage leaves

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

Place the pizza bases onto oiled baking sheets. Scatter the ricotta over the bases, then sprinkle over the Parmesan. 

Fry the mushrooms briefly in a little olive oil until just starting to cook and coated in the oil. Scatter the mushrooms over the pizza bases. Dip the sage leaves  in a little oil and lay onto the pizzas. 

Bake one pizza at a time for 10-12 minutes or until puffed and crisp at the edges and the toppings are cooked. 

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

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We tried this to use up some Thai basil leftover from the weekend. Leftover ingredients are so often our inspiration for trying new things and sometimes the results are great, as was the case with this. Prep all the ingredients before you start cooking and it will be ready to eat in a flash.

Wine Suggestion: The Kilikanoon Mort’s Block Riesling from the Clare Valley in Australia was both suitably dry but full of fruit and freshly aromatic to sit alongside the strong and aromatic flavours here. We suggest something similar when you make this.

Thai pork with basil & chillies – serves 3

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 700g pork fillet, cut into strips (you can use chicken breasts instead)
  • 1 Thai green chilli, finely chopped (deseed if you wish)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, shredded
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced into 8mm pieces
  • 3 scallions, cut into 5cm pieces
  • 1 tsp freshly roasted and ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 7g Thai basil, shredded (you can use regular basil if you can’t find the Thai version)
  • rice or noodles, to serve
  • a handful of chopped coriander, to serve

Heat 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan over a high heat, and toss in the pork. Add the chilli and garlic and stir-fry until coloured, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with some sesame oil, then remove and set aside. Put another tbsp of vegetable oil into the wok, then add the red pepper, scallions, ground coriander and sugar. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then return the meat to the wok and mix through.

Mix the cornflour with the fish sauce and soy sauce until smooth, pour this into the pan and stir continuously for a minutes or so, until the juice thickens slightly. Sprinkle with the remaining sesame oil, add the shredded basil, season to taste, then remove from the heat.

Serve straight away over sticky rice or cooked noodles. Sprinkle the chopped coriander over the top.

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

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Game season comes and goes every year and sometimes we don’t get around to cooking any before it’s over, which is a shame as we love the flavours. This year, however, we got ourselves organised and made this rich and full-flavoured pheasant ragu for pasta. Your butcher should be able to order a pheasant for you if it’s not something they usually stock.

Wine Suggestion: Find yourself a good Nebbiolo with a little bit of age on it. Sitting in our cellar was a Pira Luigi Barolo Marenca from 2012. A combination of fresh, dried and morello cherry flavours with classic rose and tar aromas; massive, under-stated power, elegantly refined and opening up beautifully over a number of hours. At eight years old this is still evolving nicely and has a good life ahead of it … wish we had a few more!

Pheasant ragu for pasta – serves 4

  • 250ml chicken stock
  • a handful of dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 pheasant
  • 80g pancetta cubes
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a bay leaf
  • 125ml white wine
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • ½ lemon
  • 400g tagliatelle, cooked to serve
  • Parmesan, to serve

Bring the chicken stock to a simmer, then add the mushrooms and leave them in the hot stock while you brown the pheasant.

Brown the pheasant in a heavy-based casserole dish in a little olive oil, you want it to be nicely coloured on all sides. When the pheasant is browned, add the pancetta cubes and allow to brown. Add the shallots and garlic and stir for a minute before adding the bay leaf. Pour in the white wine and bubble for a minute. Add the stock and the mushrooms, leave any gritty bits behind in the pan. Season well and bring to a simmer, then cover with a tight lid and cook gently for about an hour or until the meat starts to fall off the bones.

Remove the pheasant from the pan and discard the bay leaf. Let the pheasant cook for a bit, then strip the meat off the bones and tear into pieces. Meanwhile, simmer the sauce to thicken it a little and cook the tagliatelle in lots of salty water.

Return the shredded pheasant to the sauce with the chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. Toss with the tagliatelle and serve with Parmesan.

(Original recipe by Lulu Grimes in Olive Magazine, October 2014.)

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This dish is supercharged when it comes to flavour! We pretty much used every pot, bowl and spoon in the house when making it. The good news is that it is easy to do plenty of prep in advance, which will make it easier when entertaining.

Jules was a bit anti-tofu before ordering a tofu dish number of years ago in Dennis Cotter’s famous vegetarian restaurant in Cork, Café Paradiso. She figured if he couldn’t make it nice it wasn’t worth having; and was duly converted. If you’re a tofu novice then we recommend you try this dish by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage, it’s certainly not dull.

Wine Suggestion: When matching such a full-flavoured, aromatic and savoury dish you need a corresponding characterful wine. Chateau du Hureau’s Argile Saumur Blanc proved itself up to the task. A strident, dry Chenin Blanc the citrussy, crisp apple flavours provided a wonderful counterpoint and the savoury, mineral texture danced along with the food.

Udon Noodles with Fried Tofu and Orange Nam Jim – serves 4

  • 600g pre-cooked udon noodles
  • 10g Thai basil leaves
  • 3 scallions, finely sliced into long strips
  • 10g coriander leaves, finely sliced
  • 2 red chillies, finely sliced into long strips
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

FOR THE FRIED TOFU:

  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 ½ tbsp sunflower oil
  • 350g firm tofu, press to remove any water, pat dry, then cut into bite-sized pieces

FOR THE ORANGE NIM JAM:

  • ½ tbsp basmati rice
  • ¾ tbsp Aleppo chilli flakes (or 1/3 tsp ordinary chilli flakes)
  • 4-5 blood oranges or regular oranges – juice them to get 160ml of orange juice, then serve the dish with some orange wedges if you like
  • 20g tamarind paste (if you make this from the block of tamarind you will need about 40g see method in note below)
  • 2 ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 40g banana shallot, finely diced
  • 5g coriander, finely chopped

Start by marinating the tofu. Mix the garlic, soy sauce, maple syrup, 1 tbsp of sunflower oil and ¼ tsp of salt in a dish that can hold the tofu pieces in a single layer. Add the tofu and toss gently to coat in the marinade. Leave for 30 minutes to 1 hour, turning halfway through.

Next, make the nam jim. Put the rice into a small saucepan over a medium-high heat and toast for 2 ½ minutes. Add the aleppo chilli and toast for another 30 seconds, until fragrant. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind to a coarse powder. Put the ground rice mixture into a medium bowl, then add the orange juice, tamarind, fish sauce, maple syrup, soy sauce, shallot and coriander. Mix together, then pour into a large sauté pan over a medium-high heat and cook gently for a couple of minutes, until warm. Add the noodles and cook for 3 minutes, stirring. Remove the noodles and sauce from the pan and set aside while you fry the tofu, you want it at room temperature to serve.

Heat 1 ½ tbsp of the oil in a large, non-stick pan over a medium-high heat until very hot, then add half the tofu, making sure it’s spaced apart. Fry for 1 ½ to 2 minutes on each side or until crispy and golden brown. Set aside while you fry the rest. Stir any remaining tofu marinade into the noodles.

Toss the basil, scallions, coriander leaves and chillies with the noodles, then transfer to a serving platter with a lip. Serve with the tofu and sesame seeds on top. Serve with some orange wedges if you like.

NOTE: to make tamarind paste from a block mix a small piece, about 120g, with half this quantity, 60ml, of lukewarm water. After a few minutes mix together again, adding a touch more water if you need so the pulp falls away from the seed. Pass through a fine sieve. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a month.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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You will need a wide heavy-based casserole dish for this as you ideally want the cabbage rolls in one layer. Make sure you season every component generously as you go. If you follow the suggestion of putting just 50g of the filling in each cabbage leaf (as you should or they will be impossible to roll), you will have too much. You can either stuff a few extra leaves or put the stuffing in the freezer for another day, which is what we did. This is a traditional Ukranian dish from Mamushka by Olia Hercules. The barberries are optional and we couldn’t find them so made the dish without, still delicious!

Wine Suggestion: We couldn’t pass up a hearty red for this dish, and a new favourite, the Parker Coonawarra Shiraz; full bodied and yet elegant and effortless with that characteristic eucalyptus twist, well recommended.

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves – serves 4 to 6

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml water
  • 1 Savoy cabbage, 12 leaves separated, cut out the thicker part of the spine with a sharp knife or scissors
  • 250g beef mince
  • 250g pork mince
  • 160g white long-grain rice, parboiled for 5 minutes and drained
  • 40g barberries (optional)
  • a small bunch of dill, chopped, to serve
  • 100ml sour cream, to serve

Heat the sunflower oil in a large heavy-based casserole dish. Add half the chopped onion and all of the grated carrot and cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until soft. Add the sugar and tomato purée and cook for 1 minute. Add the bay leaf, tomatoes and water, then season well with salt and pepper. You can turn it off at this point while you prepare the cabbage leaves but bring it back up to a simmer when you’re ready to add the cabbage to the dish.

Blanch the cabbage leaves in lots of boiling salty water for 2 minutes, then refresh in cold water and drain well on kitchen paper. It’s easier to do this in a few batches.

Mix the beef mince, pork mince, parboiled rice, barberries (if using), plenty of salt and pepper and the rest of the onion together in a bowl. Put 50g of the filling on each cabbage leaf and fold up into a parcel.

Lay the parcels on top of the sauce with the folded side facing down. You want them to fit quite snugly so they don’t unravel. Cover and cook over a low heat for about 45 minutes or until cooked through. You can leave the lid off at the end to reduce the sauce a bit if you like.

Serve with chopped dill and sour cream.

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

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We grew borlotti beans in our little city garden this year. We didn’t get a huge crop but satisfying nonetheless. As we had a load of things going on when we picked these, we froze them for a couple of weeks until we were ready. It made this lovely pasta and bean dish by Joe Trivelli and it felt a bit like late summer again for a moment.

Wine Suggestion: A crisp, dry White or Rosé would be our first choice with a seafood pasta like this. As it’s full flavoured we avoided a lighter style and went for Graziano Pra’s Soave “Otto”, vibrantly full of crisp apples and pears, impressive length and a nutty, saline finish

Pasta with Beans & Mussels – serves 4

  • 1kg mussels
  • 300g fresh borlotti beans
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 celery stick, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 ripe tomato, halved
  • 75ml dry white wine
  • a small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1 dried chilli
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 200g tubetti pasta

Put the beans into a large pan with 4 of the garlic cloves, the celery and tomato. Cover with 6cm of water and a splash of olive oil, then bring to the boil. Simmer until cooked, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large pan until hot, then add the mussels with a tablespoon of oil and the wine. Cover and keep over a hight heat, shaking, until the mussels have just opened. then drain into a colander over a bowl to catch the juice. Don’t be tempted to cook them for any longer. Pick the mussels from the shells.

When the beans are cooked, chop the last clove of garlic. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan, then add the garlic, most of the parsley and the chilli and fry for  a minute before adding the anchovies. As soon as they have melted, pour over the mussel juice (leave any grit behind) and bring to the boil. Add the borlotti beans with their liquid and the pasta.

Cook until the pasta is al dente, stirring often so the pasta doesn’t stick. You can add more hot water if you need. When the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat, add the rest of the parsley, the mussels and seasoning. Cover and leave to sit off the heat for 5 minutes before serving.

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

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A nice salad using raw beetroot. It tastes really fresh and good for you. 

Beetroot with walnuts and cumin – serves 4

  • 75g walnuts
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • about 400g beetroot
  • a handful of parsley, chopped
  • juice of 1 small orange
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil

Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat and gently toast the walnuts for a few minutes, until toasted and starting to colour. Remove from the pan and add the cumin seeds. Toast these for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant, then tip onto a plate. 

Peel the beetroot and grate it coarsely into a bowl. Add the parsley, orange juice and a squeeze of lemon juice, 1 tbsp rapeseed oil and salt and pepper. Mix and season again to taste. Leave for 20 minutes or so to marinate and soften. 

Spread the beetroot over a serving dish. Bash the toasted walnuts roughly and scatter over the beetroot. Bash the toasted cumin seeds too, then scatter over the salad. 

Finish with another drizzle of oil. 

(Original recipe from River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Bloomsbury, 2011.)

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We don’t often cook dishes more than once but we always make a note on the recipe, telling us when we cooked it and what we thought of it. The last time we cooked this, or Jules did, was on the 16th August 2005. She thought it was very good then, and we both thought it was very good this time round too. We served with champ and sautéed cabbage.

Wine Suggestion: Despite Marsala hailing from Sicily we quite like a nice red Côtes du Rhône or similar with this dish. If you’re fortunate to find Domaine Jamet’s version made with 100% Syrah then snap up a bottle and then make this.

Sautéed pork medallions with Marsala – serves 4

  • 2 pork fillets, about 1kg in total
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 150ml sweet Marsala

Cut the pork into medallions, about 1cm thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan, add the pork and sauté quickly over a high heat to brown on both sides. We find it’s much easier to do this in a few batches.

Return all the pork to the pan, add another bit of seasoning, then pour in the Marsala. Cook for a few minutes, or until the meat is cooked through and the liquid slightly reduced. Keep an eye on it as it the sauce will reduce quickly.

(Original recipe from Foolproof Mediterranean Cookery by Claudia Roden, BBC Worldwide Ltd, 2003.)

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This is Nigel Slater’s dark and sticky fruit chutney from Kitchen Diaries II. The chutney is nice with cheese or cold cuts. Figs are expensive but they don’t keep for long so you often find them reduced to clear in shops. 

A dark and stick fruit chutney – makes a few jars

  • 250g soft brown sugar
  • 8 large figs, about 1kg, roughly chopped and stalks removed
  • 150ml malt vinegar
  • 150ml cider vinegar
  • 250g chopped onions
  • 250g sultanas
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • half a tsp black peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds

Warm the sugar in a bowl in a low oven. 

Put the chopped figs into a large, stainless steel or enamelled saucepan. Add the vinegars, onions, sultanas, salt, allspice, cracked peppercorns and coriander seeds, then bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, until the onions and fruit are soft. 

Stir in the sugar. Bring slowly to the boil, then turn the heat down and allow to bubble very gently. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring now and then to prevent it sticking, until thick and jam consistency. Bottle while hot and seal. 

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

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Sometimes on Sundays we do a sort of a roast dinner but without the roast. It usually consists of a few different vegetable dishes, something green and something creamy, and roast potatoes are essential. We really loved this recipe by Nigel Slater as it gives the pumpkin a super soft, almost fudgy texture, and the creamy sauce is delicious.

Wine Suggestion: This meal goes great with richer reds or whites. Jerome Coursodon’s Etincelle Blanc, a blend of Roussanne and Viognier from the St Joseph vineyards in the Northern Rhone, was super expressive and had a wonderful balance of being rich and powerful while at the same time being crisp and taught.

Pumpkin with mustard & cream – serves 4

  • 2kg of pumpkin, leave the skin on – our favourite variety is Crown Prince
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 litre of hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 200ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

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

Cut the pumpkin in half and cut the halves into large wedges. Scoop out the seeds.

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep, roasting tin over a medium heat. Lightly brown the pumpkin on the cut sides.

Pour the hot stock over the over the pumpkin, then cover with tin foil and seal tightly. Bake for 45 minutes, then remove the foil, turn the pumpkin wedges and baste well with the stock. Return to the oven and cook for another 45 minutes.

Lift the pumpkin from the stock and keep warm. Put the tin with the stock over a high heat and let it reduce to about 200ml. Pour in the cream, stir in the mustards and season. Spoon the sauce over the pumpkin wedges to serve.

(Original recipe from Greenfeast by Nigel Slater, 4th Estate, 2019.)

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A handy idea to have up your sleeve when you’ve got leftover Risotto. This is not a recipe as such, but an easy method for cooking leftover risotto which tends to go a bit thick and claggy. 

Chill the leftover risotto in the fridge. 

Divide the leftover risotto into equal sized portions and form into cakes. 

Dip each risotto cake in some seasoned flour, brushing off any excess. Then dip into beaten eggs and finally into panko breadcrumbs. 

Fry the risotto cakes in a good bit of olive oil for about 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and hot in the centre. 

 

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We made this the day that Ottolenghi Flavour arrived in the post as we had all the ingredients and were feeling enthusiastic! We haven’t tried too many dishes since then but we will. Just when we think we’ve tasted pretty much every flavour combination Yotam and his pals remind us that we haven’t, not by a long way!

We can’t remember now what we served this with but think it’s safe to say you could eat a bowlful on their own!

Spicy roast potatoes with tahini and soy – serves 4 as a side

  • 900g roasting potatoes, leave the skin on and cut into 3cm cubes
  • 50g rose harissa 
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed 
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ tbsp chives, finely chopped
  • 1½ tbsp black and/or white sesame seed, toasted

FOR THE DRESSING: 

  • 60g tahini (stir well before using)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1½ tbsp mirin (or maple syrup)
  • 1½ tbsp rice vinegar

Preheat the oven to 240°C fan. 

In a large bowl, mix the potatoes, rose harissa, garlic and olive oil together with ¾ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper. Transfer the mixture to a parchment-lined baking tray and spread out, then cover tightly with foil and roast for 15 minutes. 

Remove the foil, reduce the heat to 200°C and roast for another 25 minutes, uncovered, stirring halfway, until the potatoes are cooked and browned. 

Meanwhile, whisk all of the ingredients for the dressing together with 1 tbsp of water until smooth. 

Transfer the potatoes to a shallow serving bowl and drizzle over the dressing. Garnish with the chives and sesame seeds. 

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage, Ebury Press, 2020)

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This is a good side dish to serve with richer dishes. It’s light and zingy which is just what’s needed sometimes. Another great combination of flavours suggested by Sabrina Ghayour. 

Carrot, pistachio & dill salad with lime & honey dressing – serves 4 to 6

  • 500g carrots, coarsely grated
  • ½ a small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 75g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
  • about 30g of dill, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp nigella seeds

FOR THE DRESSING: 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 generous tbsp of runny honey

Mix all the dressing ingredients together and season well with sea salt and black pepper.

Put the other ingredients into a large bowl. Add the dressing when you’re ready to serve and toss gently to coat. Check the seasoning and serve. 

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

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You need cooked beetroots for this. You can of course buy them pre-cooked in vac packs but they’re much nicer when you cook them fresh. Just give them a good scrub, dry with paper and wrap in tin foil. Roast for about an hour (or as long as it takes) at 200ºC. Let them cool before making the salad. We served this with roast chicken and the next day with a ham salad. Make this up at least an hour in advance to allow the flavours to mingle.

Beetroot & mint salad – serves 4 to 6

  • 4 tsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 cooked beetroots, finely sliced into rounds
  • a small bunch of mint leaves

Whisk the sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.

Put the sliced beetroot into a bowl. Roughly chop half the mint leaves, and add to the beetroots before pouring over the  dressing. Leave in the fridge for an hour or so.

To serve, drain off some of the marinade, arrange the slices on a platter and scatter over the rest of the mint.

(Original recipe from Skye McAlpine’s A Table for Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty, Bloomsbury, 2020.)

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We recently bought Skye McAlpine’s book, A Table for Friends, which has lovely menus for each season. We’re well and truly into Autumn now and the farm shop is full of potatoes, pumpkins and beetroots. Tonight we made Skye’s suggested autumn menu of buttery lemon roast chicken, beetroot & mint salad, butter & sage roast pumpkin and roast potatoes. A perfect combination of dishes and all can be prepped in advance. Unfortunately we were minus the friends but hopefully those days will be back again before too long. 

We ignore all timings for roast chicken these days and stick to Diana Henry’s failsafe instructions to roast for 20 minutes at 190C for each 500g plus an extra 10 minutes. 

Wine Suggestion: Quite often with roast chicken we lean towards oaked Chardonnay as it’s such a classic match but tonight we remembered that another great match is good red Bordeaux from the Left Bank, so Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, and also with a little age, but not too much. We continued our lockdown habit of dipping into the cellar once a week and pulled out a Domaine de Chevalier red from 2010. It still has years, if not a couple of decades of life ahead of it but at 10 years old it still has a spriteliness of youth while all components have come together harmoniously into a smooth, elegant wine.

Buttery Lemon Roast Chicken – serves 4

  • a large bunch of sage
  • 1 lemon, finely zested
  • 50g butter, softened
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 free-range chicken

You can prep the chicken early in the day and keep in the fridge but make sure you take it out an hour or two before you want to put it into the oven so it’s at room temperature.

Heat the oven to 190C.

Finely chop half the sage and mash in a bowl with the butter, lemon zest and salt.

Put the chicken into a roasting tray. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze some of the juice into the cavity, then stuff the halves into the chicken with the remaining sage.

Gently lift the skin over the breast and smear a quarter of the butter mixture under the skin over each breast. You should be able to push the butter quite far down with your fingers, but careful not tear the skin. Rub the rest of the butter over the chicken and sprinkle with some extra salt.

Roast the chicken according to the timings given above. When cooked the legs should feel loose and the juice should run clear when you pierce a thick bit with a sharp knife.

Leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving and served with some of the juices spooned over.

(Original recipe from A Table for Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty by Skye McAlpine, Bloomsbury, 2020.)

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We made this by accident having planned to do a different tagine from a magazine, only to realised that it required a slow-cooker, so this was a last-minute substitute. It is really and truly delicious, so you must try making this dish at some stage. You can serve with plain couscous but it’s particularly good with this. If chickpeas don’t float your boat as a main course for Sunday lunch both dishes would be excellent with some roast lamb. 

Wine Suggestion: this is great with a juicy, brambly Grenache, or a blend with this in it. We had the joyful Les Dissidents “le Paria” made by Domaine Ventenac from 100% Grenache and made without sulphur; fresh, juicy and minerally.

Tomato, date & chickpea tagine – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
  • 120g pitted dates, halved
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • a small bunch of coriander, leaves roughly chopped and stalks reserved
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 strips of lemon zest and the juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

FOR THE SEASONED YOGHURT

  • 200g natural yoghurt
  • juice of ½ a lemon

Heat the oil or butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add the onion and fry for 8-10 minutes, until soft. 

Whizz half the tomatoes with half of the dates, then add the rest of the tomatoes to the mixture and set aside. 

Add the garlic, coriander stalks and all of the spices to the cooked onions, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato mixture, the lemon zest and 100ml of water, season well with salt and pepper, then cook for 10 minutes or until rich and thickened. 

Meanwhile, make the seasoned yoghurt. Mix the yoghurt with the lemon juice and a good pinch of salt in a bowl, then set aside. 

Stir the chickpeas and the rest of the dates into the tomato mixture and cook for 5 minutes to heat through. Add the lemon juice and check the seasoning. Discard the pieces of lemon zest, then remove the dish from the heat. 

Stir in the coriander leaves and serve with some seasoned yoghurt and golden couscous

(Original recipe from New Kitchen Basics by Claire Thompson, Quadrille, 2019.)

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We’ve done this Korean dish before, but it’s worth revisiting because its so easy and delicious. It’s a nice starter to throw together for guests as they arrive, presuming you’re allowed to have guests. For now we have that on hold but it makes an event for the two of us.

Aperitif Suggestion: A good dry Oloroso sherry, or a Manzanilla sherry with a bit of age, we had La Gitana’s single vineyard Pasada Pastrana.

Pan-Fried King Prawns – serves 2 but easily doubled

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 cm piece of ginger, peeled & finely grated
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 150g king prawns, shelled
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp roasted pine nuts, roughly chopped

Make the sauce by combining the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and honey in a bowl.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok, or pan, over a high heat. When very hot add the prawns and cook for a minute. Turn over and add the sauce. Fry for a further minute or until cooked through. Use your instinct here this depends on the size of your prawns and the heat of your pan. Don’t let them overcook!

Remove and pile onto a plate, sprinkle over the scallions and pine nuts, then serve. 

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

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You can serve this with other dishes or just on its own with some sticky rice. It is perfect for a Friday night feast and much quicker than Deliveroo. Squid is so cheap and although almost everyone loves calamari they don’t seem to cook with squid much. I find it’s quite a satisfying thing to prepare too, but that might just be me.

Wine Suggestion: We opened a really nice bottle of Pearce Road Semillon 2016 from Kilikanoon in the Clare Valley. Delicious wine which we quickly abandoned for a beer as this dish is spicy! Do try the Semillon though maybe with some cheese or something a bit less fiery.

Stir-fried Spicy Squid – serves 2-3

  • 500g squid, cleaned
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large carrot, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 1 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 green chilli (optional), thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions (cut 2 of them into 3cm lengths and finely slice 1 to sprinkle over at the end)
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 2 tbsp gochujang chilli paste
  • 1 tbsp gochugaru red pepper powder
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2½ cm piece of ginger, finely grated

Make the sauce first by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Slice the body of the squid open so it lies flat. Score the inside in a criss cross pattern with a sharp knife but make sure you don’t cut through. Cut the squid into 5cm pieces, any shape will do. Cut the tentacles into similar size pieces.

Put the vegetable oil into a wok (or a large frying pan) and put over a high heat. When the oil is hot, add the carrot and onion and stir-fry for 3 minutes, tossing the whole time until starting to soften.

Add the squid, chilli, scallions and sauce, then stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes or until the squid has turned opaque. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallions over the top to garnish.

Serve with sticky rice.

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

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