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This is all cooked in the oven in one tray and it’s super tasty.

Wine Suggestion: This works really well with Viognier, especially if it has a bit more depth than some entry level ones. We would have loved to open a Condrieu, but in the absence of that it was Jean-Michel Gerin’s Le Champine Viognier from the slopes near the more famed appellation. So well balanced with a purity of stone fruit flavours and a hint of nuttiness that lends itself to this food pairing.

Roast chicken with coconut rice and beans – serves 4

  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp jerk seasoning
  • 25g butter
  • 275g basmati rice, rinsed
  • 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 350ml hot chicken stock
  • a bunch of scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 x 400g tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.

Rub the chicken drumsticks with the oil and jerk seasoning.

Generously grease a large roasting tin with the butter.

Add the rice, then pour in the cococnut milk and chicken stock.

Scatter over half the scallions, then the kidney beans, garlic and thyme and stir gently.

Arrange the drumsticks on top, then cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil and roast for another 15 minutes or until the drumsticks are golden brown and cooked through.

Garnish with the rest of the scallions and serve.

(Original recipe from More Midweek Meals by Neven Maguire, Gill Books, 2022.)

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Comfort food at its best. Don’t be tempted to strain the chicken broth of fat, it adds to the flavour and don’t skimp on the salt. You can use the poached chicken meat for sandwiches, or something else.

Alpabetto in Brodo – serves 4 (the recipe makes double the quanity of broth needed and it will keep in the freezer)

  • 800kg chicken thighs (skin on and bone-in)
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 carrot, peeled and halved
  • 1 stick of celery, halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a few peppercorns
  • 200g alfabeto
  • grated Parmesan, to serve

Put the chicken into a large heavy pan, cover with 2.5 litres of cold water and add a large pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and use a slotted spoon to spoon off any scum.

Add the vegetables, bring back to the boil, then turn the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Strain through a fine sieve, pressing down on the veg and chicken to extract all the flavor. You won’t need the chicken after this but you should strip the meat from the bones and keep it for something else.

Bring 1 litre of the broth to the boil, add the alfabeto and cook until al dente. Ladle into bowl and add grated Parmesan.

(Original recipe from An A-Z of Pasta by Rachel Roddy, Penguin: Fig Tree, 2021.)

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So fregula is fregola, pearl couscous, giant couscous, mograbia(h) as well as some other names, but it is essentially tiny pasta balls. We’ve cooked with it before but this time Jules bought it by accident and we had to find a recipe to use it up. Somewhat like a risotto, but the texture is a touch more unctuous. Quite a rich and flavoursome dish.

Wine Suggestion: This dish requires a powerful red with a fresh core of acidity. Taking inspiration from a Risotto Milanese pairing we opened a Pira Luigi Barolo Serralunga from 2018. Youthful and expressive aromatics of leather, violets & wild berries plus hints of tar. This flowed into an energetic and refined palate with elegant, but persistent tannins; almost lifted and light, but with a deep core of rich fruits.

Fregula with sausage and saffron – serves 4

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 120g sausage meat, crumbled – try to find meaty Italian sausages if you can
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • a small piece of chilli
  • 1 litre stock – meat or veg – we used turkey stock
  • 350g fregula (see note above)
  • a few strands of saffron
  • 60g pecorino, grated

Put the stock into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Smash the garlic clove but leave it whole, then put into a deep frying pan with 3 tbsp of the olive oil. Fry gentluy over a medium-low heat.

Add the sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, thyme and chilli, and fry, stirring, for a couple of minutes.

Add the fregula to the sausage and stir for a minute. Then start adding the stock, a ladelful at a time, the same as you would if cooking risotto. Keep both pans simmering as you keep going like this. Start tasting the fregula after 12 minutes and cook until al dente. You are looking for a loose rather than stiff consistency.

Add the saffron, pecorino and 3 tbsp of olive oil and serve.

(Original recipe from An A-Z of Pasta by Rachel Roddy, Penguin:Fig Tree, 2021.)

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Perfect Saturday lunch – if the sun would shine it would be nice to eat outside.

Cajun chicken melts – serves 4

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 heaped tsp Cajun spice
  • 4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 4 slices sourdough
  • 150g mature Cheddar, grated
  • 200g green salad leaves

FOR THE SALAD DRESSING:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

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

Put the chicken into a baking dish and rub with the oil, then sprinkle over the Cajun spice and season with salt and pepper. Pour about 4 tbsp of water into the dish around the chicken, then roast for 18-20 minutes or until just cooked. Leave to cool, then slice.

Mix half the chilli sauce in a small bowl with the mayonnaise and season.

Put the sourdough onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Spread the chilli mayo over the bread and arrange the chicken slices on top. Cover with the grated cheese and drizzle the rest of the chilli sauce on top, then finish with the pesto. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

Meanwhile make the salad dressing by putting the oil, vinegar, honey and mustard into a container with 2 tbsp of water and blending until smooth, then season. Putt the salad leaves into a bowl and use enough of the dressing to lightly coat the leaves.

Arrange the Cajun chicken melts on plates with the dressed salad on the side.

(Original recipe from More Midweek Meals by Neven Maguire, Gill Books, 2022.)

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And so we’ve realised that we do like quinoa after all. This green salad is delicious and the quantity given below is half that suggested by Neven Maguire. Feel free to double if you think you can manage it.

Wine Suggestion: We think this suits a young, fruit forward Cabernet Franc like Olga Raffault Cuvée Domaine. Unoaked and joyful dark cherry fruits with a crispness and earthiness that really complements the kale, spinach and watercress.

Honey and Soy Glazed Salmon with Green Quinoa – serves 4

  • 100ml soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • a good pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 4 salmon fillets, skin on

FOR THE QUINOA:

  • 75g quinoa
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 50g curly kale, remove the stalks
  • 50g baby spinach
  • 50g pistachios, toasted and chopped
  • 40g watercress
  • ½ an avocado, diced
  • ¼ cucumber, deseeded and finely diced
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • lime wedges, to garnish

Rince the quinoa then put into a small saucepan with the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 10-12 minutes until tender and the stock has been absorbed. Tip into a large bowl and leave to cool.

Put the soy sauce, honey and chilli flakes into a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Prep the rest of the ingredients for the quinoa and fold them gently in to the cooled quinoa. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.

Season the salmon fillets, then heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the rapeseed and sesame oil, then fry the salmon fillets, skin side up, for 2-3 minutes, until lightly golden. Turn them over gently and cook for another 4 minutes. Turn the heat to hight and pour in the honey and soy mixture. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes, spooning the sauce over the salmon, it should thicken to a syrupy sauce.

Put the quinoa onto a large serving platter and sit the salmon fillets on top. Drizzle over the syrupy sauce and garnish with the lime wedges.

(Original recipe from More Midweek Meals by Neven Maguire, Gill Books, 2022.)

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We’ve never tried Dublin coddle, mainly because it tends to be served with anaemic sausages. In this recipe by Neven Maguire you brown them; a far more sensible approach altogether.

Wine Suggestion: This dish works perfectly with a Grenache blend. For us this time, a current favourite as they’re drinking so well, Romain Roche’s Côtes du Rhône. So well balanced and smooth, but with a warmth of sunshine and gentle, velvety spices.

Dublin Coddle – serves 4 to 6

  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • top-quality pork sausages – 2 per person
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 150g dry-cured bacon lardons
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 750g potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (use a mandoline if you’ve got one)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 15g butter
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

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

Heat half the oil in a large casserole dish and brown the sausages on all sides. Transfer to a board and cut each sausage into three chunky pieces, then set aside.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan and sauté the onions and bacon for 6-8 minutes, until lightly golden. Stir in the flour and thyme and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the sausages, carrots and half of the potatoes. Season generously, then shake to get everything even in the dish.

Turn off the heat and arrange the rest of the potatoes on top. Stir the Worcestershire sauce into the stock, then pour over the potatoes. Dot with the butter and season.

Cover the casserole with a lid and bake for 1 hour, then remove the lid and cook for another 30 minutes or until the topping is tender and golden brown. Scatter over the parsley to serve.

(Original recipe from More Midweek Meals by Neven Maguire, Gill Books, 2022.)

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Who can resist a stuffed pasta shell? In this one the joy is the balance between fresh ricotta, iron-rich kale, and a rich tomato sauce.

Wine Suggestion: We’d suggest the open, accessability of a youthful Barbaresco from Piedmont, as opposed the depth and moodiness of a Barolo. We have at hand Pico Maccario’s rendition that has a sense of fun which is sometimes lost by winemakers trying to make the next best thing … and we applaud them; wine is to be drunk and enjoyed too.

Conchiglioni stuffed with kale, spinach and ricotta – serves 4

  • 250g kale, stalks removed
  • 100g spinach
  • 1 green chilli, roughly chopped
  • handful of parsley leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g ricotta
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • ½ nutmeg, grated
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 200g conchiglioni
  • 750ml slow-cooked tomato sauce
  • 125g ball of mozzarella

Blanch the kale in lots of salty boiling water, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and straight into a bowl of iced water. Repeat with the spinach but cook for just 30 seconds.

Squeeze all the water out of the spinach and kale and put into a food processor. Add the chilli and parsley, then whizz for a few seconds. Scrape out into a bowl and add the ricotta, 30g of the Parmesan, the numeg, and lemon zest. Stir well to combine, then transfer to a piping bag.

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

Bring a large pan of salty water to the boil and cook the pasta for 10 minutes – it should be a little more than al dente. Drain and leave until cool enough to handle.

Pour the tomato sauce into a medium-sized baking dish.

Pipe the kale mixture into the pasta shells and settle them snugly into the tomato sauce, pushing them down a little. Tear the mozzarella over the top and sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan.

Bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes, then serve with a green salad.

(Original recipe from Slow by Gizzi Erskine, HQ, 2018.)

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We have a reputation for using things up, and hence were donated a friends’ leftover chestnuts from Christmas: they thought we would probably use them. No probably about it … here they are in the loveliest Provençal soup recipe by Alex Jackson.

Wine Suggestion: And if you feel inspired then try a La Clef du Recit Menetou-Salon to accompany this dish. A Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, the soils and aspect give this wine an extra super depth and richness, while maintaining the purity and clarity of expression to make it an excellent match.

Bacon, chestnut, rosemary & potato soup – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 60g smoked pancetta lardons
  • 2 medium white onions, finely diced
  • ½ head celery, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled, green middle removed and finely sliced lengthways
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp picked rosemary leaves (no more)
  • a few dried ceps, soaked in boiling water and roughly chopped (reserve the soaking water)
  • 100g cooked chestnuts, broken in half
  • 500g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5 cm chunks
  • 1 litre homemade chicken stock or water
  • best extra virgin olive oil, to serve
  • grated Parmesan, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan, then add the pancetta and cook over a gentle heat until well browned but not crispy. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and fennel seeds. Add a good pinch of salt and fry slowly for at least 30 minutes, stirring now and then, until soft and sweet.

Finely chop the rosemary, then add to the pan and allow to cook for another couple of minutes. Add the chopped porcini and cook for a few minutes before adding the chestnuts and potatoes. Pour in the liquid from the mushrooms, then add stock until the vegetables are just covered by about an inch of liquid (you can add more as it cooks if you need). Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Mash the chestnuts against the edge of the pan to mush them up a bit. The soup should have some liquid but otherwise be quite thick.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve in warm bowls with Parmesan and olive oil drizzled over the top.

(Original recipe from Sardine by Alex Jackson, Pavilion, 2019.)

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Mussels are cheap and plentiful and they’re one of the few food items that haven’t increased in price. We should all be eating this fabulous local resource. This recipe is just delicious.

Wine Suggestion: We served this with one of those under-the radar wines the La Clef du Recit Menetou Salon. While Anthony Girard from this domain makes a fab Sancerre, we are continually delighted by his other appelations: Menetou Salon which we think has more body, and is a tad more Chablis like, despite it being Loire Sauvignon Blanc; and his Quincy which is elegant and perfumed.

Mussels with fennel & tarragon – serves 2

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 long shallots, finely sliced
  • 1 small fennel bulb (or half a big one), finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 1kg mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 75ml double cream
  • a handful of tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
  • crusty bread, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy casserole over a medium-high heat. Add the shallots, fennel and a good pinch of salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, until starting to caramelise. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Tip the mussels into the pot and stir well, then pour in the white wine and season well with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then clamp on the lid and cook for 3-4 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the shells have opened. Stir in the cream, then scatter over the tarragon.

Serve in warm bowls with crusty bread.

(Original recipe by Adam Bush in Olive Magazine, January 2022.)

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A good make-ahead dish for a crowd, subtley spiced with curry powder and Dijon mustard. We served it with dauphinoise potatoes and green veg. The Chantenay carrots look nice if you can find them, but if not just cut some regular carrots into chunky pieces. We’ve made this dish quite a few times now, and everytime prior to this have forgotten to take a photo. Reliably tasty every time, the shin really adds extra depth of flavour and creates a glossy sauce so is worth seeking out if you can

Wine Suggestion: A good Côtes du Rhône red, like our new find from Domaine Roche in Cairanne.

Mustard spiced beef – serves 6

  • 1tbsp sunflower oil
  • 900g beef shin, cut into 2 cm pieces
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 150g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp medium curry powder
  • 1 tbsp muscovado sugar
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 25g plain flour
  • 600ml beef stock
  • 450g Chantenay carrots
  • a handful of flatleaf parsley, chopped, to serve

Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas 3.

Pat the beef pieces dry with kitchen paper and season well with salt and black pepper. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish and brown the beef in batches and remove with a slotted spoon.

Add the onions and mushrooms to the pan and cook for a few minutes until starting to soften.

Put the mustard, curry powder, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and flour into a bowl and add 75ml of the stock. Whisk until smooth.

Add the rest of the stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Spoon about half the hot stock into the mustard mixture and whisk until smooth, then pour the mixture back into the pan, whisking over a high heat until thickened.

Return the meat to the pan. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid, and put into the oven for 2-2½ until the meat is tender.

Meanwhile, cook the carrots in boiling salted water for a few minutes or until just tender. Drain and refresh in cold water and set aside.

When ready to serve, bring the casserole to the boil on the hob and taste for seasoning. Add the carrots and boil for a few minutes to ensure they are heated through. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley, and serve.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry Cooks up a Feast with Lucy Young, DK: Penguin Random House, 2010.)

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If there are children around there’s nearly always a half-used tub of pesto. Too expensive to go to waste, and a good reason we’re always on the lookout for anything other than pesto pasta. This dish is a bit of summer in winter.

Wine Suggestion: Choose a fun and fresh red, preferably with a moderate alcohol. Fortunately we had a red blend from the Sebestyén family in the Szekszárd region of south-eastern Hungary. Their Szekszárdi Cuvée is a delightful blend of Kékfrankos, Merlot and Cabernet Franc; youthful, fresh and characterful.

Chicken with mozzarella, Parma ham and roast pesto potatoes, serves 4

  • 125g ball of mozzarella cheese (not buffalo), sliced
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 24 basil leaves
  • 4 slices of Parma ham
  • 24 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 450g baby potatoes
  • 3 tbsp pesto
  • 2 tbsp thick balsamic vinegar

Heat the oven to 190C/Gas 5.

Grease a baking sheet.

Season the mozzarella slices with salt and pepper.

Slice a small pocket in each chicken breast (we asked our butcher to do this) and fill with a slice of mozzarella and 6 basil leaves. Wrap each piece of chicken in a slice of Parma ham and set onto the greased baking sheet. Scatter the tomatoes around the chicken.

Drizzle everything with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then roast for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until cooked through, about 20 minutes, then drain and toss with the pesto.

Put the chicken, potatoes and tomatoes onto warm plates and drizzle the tomatoes with the thick balsmic vinegar.

(Original recipe from Herbs by Judith Hann, Watkins Media Ltd, 2017.)

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We love a pasta dish with just a few ingredients and this one is light and fresh and conveniently uses tinned tomatoes.

Wine Suggestion: Despite the cream which may suggest an oaked white, this actually works best with an unoaked, textural white instead. Something like the brilliant Dissidents Cassandre, a Vermentino from Maison Ventenac in Carbades which both lifts and expands the flavours, plus the fresh nuttiness cuts through the light cream.

Rigatoni with tomato, cream and pesto – serves 4

  • 200ml double cream
  • 300g tinned tomatoes, drained weight
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • 350g rigatoni
  • 40g Parmesan

Pour the cream into a saucepan, add the drained tomatoes and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pesto.

Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni in lots of salty water until al dente, then drain and tip it into a warm serving bowl. Sprinkle the pasta with the Parmesan, then spoon over the sauce and serve.

(Original recipe from The Silver Spoon Pasta, Phaidon, 2009.)

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We love pretty much anything with miso. This miso chicken roasted on a bed of sesame pumpkin is an excellent combination.

Wine Suggestion: We’re on a sherry so for this dish we pulled La Gitana Manzanilla out to find if it worked and were delighted to find it really does. If you have a Manzanilla/Fino to hand give it a go, otherwise find a textural Chardonnay which balances the flavours with an extra stalkiness and more time in bottle.

Sticky miso chicken on sesame pumpkin – serves 3

  • 1.5kg pumpkin, thinly sliced (we used crown prince)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds, plus extra to garnish
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced, to serve
  • coriander leaves, to serve

FOR THE STICKY MISO CHICKEN:

  • 95g white miso paste
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 60ml mirin
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp brown rice vinegar
  • 6 skinless and boneless chicken thigh fillets

Heat the oven to 240C/fan 220C/gas 9 and line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Toss the pumpkin slices in a large bowl with the olive oil, sesame seeds and a good pinch of salt. Spread the pumpkin out over the baking tray and bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes.

To make the chicken, put the miso, sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar and brown rice vinegar into a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the chicken and toss to coat, then set aside.

After 20 minutes, top the pumpkin with the chicken fillets and pour over any remaining marinade. Roast for another 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Sprinkle over sliced scallions, coriander leaves and sesame seeds to serve.

(Original recipe by Donna Hay in Olive Magazine, Christmas 2020.)

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This is a delicious soup recipe from Cooking by Jeremy Lee. Make it on a cold day when you don’t have very much else to do, it takes an age but tastes amazing. You need to soak the beans the night before.

Chestnut, bacon, bean and pumpkin soup – serves 6

  • 2 small onions
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 smoked ham hock or diced smoked pancetta
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • a small stick of rosemary
  • a small handful of thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • a big pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 250g dried borlotti beans, soaked overnight in lots of cold water
  • 1 small pumpkin or a wedge of pumkin, roughly 1kg
  • 250g vac-packed chesnuts
  • Parmesan and good extra virgin olive oil, to serve

Peel and cut the onions, celery and carrot into chunky pieces. If using a smoked ham hock cut it into small cubes.

Warm the olive oil in a wide, heavy saucepan and add the pork, herbs, garlic, chilli flakes and vegetables. Stir well, cover with a lid and cook over a gentle heat, stirring occaionally, for roughly 1½ – 2 hours. If your ring is hot they may take a bit less time than this to become soft and caramelised. The idea is to cook them as slowly as possible until you achieve this then proceed with the recipe.

Drain the beans and rinse under cold water until it runs clear. Put the beans into a saucepan with lots of cold water and bring the boil over a high heat. Drain well and lightly rinse, then tip them on to the vegetables and cover with 4-5cm of water. Bring to the boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for at least an hour or until the beans are tender. Don’t be tempted to stir the soup while the beans are cooking, you want them to hold together.

Heat the oven to 180C and roast the pumpkin whole for 40 minutes to 1 hour or until soft and fudgy. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, then remove the seeds and skin. Purée the cooked pumpkin and add to the cooked beans.

Chop the chestnuts coarsely and add them to the soup, then gently reheat. Take care when stirring to keep the beans as intact as possible. Season well with salt and black pepper.

Serve in warm bowls with lots of grated Parmesan cheese and drizzled with your best olive oil.

(Original recipe from Cooking by Jeremy Lee, 4th Estate, 2022.)

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Happy Chinese New Year and all good fortune in the year of the rabbit. We celebrated with this simple version of a classic, super tender chicken with a delicous sauce.

Wine Suggestion: If you feel like a white, go for a Marsanne like Andre Perret’s VdP version from the Northern Rhone. That’s what we did.

Soy sauce chicken – serves 4

  • 1kg chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 4 scallions, 3 cut in half, 1 finely slice on an angle, to serve
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 240ml light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp water
  • steamed jasmine rice and steamed greens to serve

Season the chicken with salt and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok, then add the 3 halved scallions, ginger, star anise and bay leaves. Toss for about 5 minutes until fragrant.

Pour in the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, 2 tbsp of the sugar and 480ml of water. Turn the heat up to hight and bring to the boil.

Slide in the chicken thighs, skin side down, in a single layer. Add more water if need to just about cover the chicken.

Turn the heat to low, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 35 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook for another 10 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a plate and leave until cool enough to handle, then remove the bones and slice. Arrange on a serving dish.

Meanwhile, strain the cooking liquid and discard the solids. Put 150ml into a small pan and put the pan over a medium heat. Just before it boils, add the cornflower mixture and 1 tbsp brown sugar. Remove from the heat once it’s at a nice thickness (you can add a bit more of the reserved cooking liquor if it gets too thick – you want it coating the back of a spoon).

Pour the sauce over the sliced chicken and sprinkle over the sliced scallion. Serve with jasmine rice and lots of steamed greens.

(Original recipe by Thy Lundkvist in BBC Good Food Magazine, January 2022.)

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We’re clearing out in January, rather then dieting. This recipe used up the last of a side of smoked salmon and its simplicity is perfect.

Wine Suggestion: We think Verdicchio is under-rated as a grape and for food combinations like this where you have a creaminess, combined with some Omega fatty acids and citrus zest it is the business. Tonight our choice was Sartarelli’s Tralivio which balances fruit weight with an almost saline minerality.

Tagliatelle with Salmon and Mascarpone – serves 4

  • 400g tagliatelle
  • 200g smoked salmon, snipped with scissors into short strips
  • 125g mascarpone
  • 20g soft butter
  • zest of 1 lemon, plus more to garnish
  • a few sprigs of dill, snipped

Cook the tagliatelle in lots of very salty water until al dente.

Meanwhile, tip the salmon strips into a large warm serving bowl along with the mascarpone, butter and lemon zest. Add a ladleful of the pasta cooking water to loosen it all to a cream, then taste and add salt if needed.

Drain the pasta, reserving some water, then tip into the bowl with the sauce and toss gently, adding more cooking water if needed. Serve sprinkled with the dill and some more lemon zest.

(Original recipe from An A-Z of Pasta by Rachel Roddy, Penguin: Fig Tree, 2021.)

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Don’t judge this just by the look as it just looks like well cooked cabbage … and it is … but we’re addicted. Lifted to another level by the vinegar, this is our new favourite side.

Stewed Cabbage – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 60g pancetta, chopped (optional)
  • 1 small Savoy cabbage or half of a large one (about 600g)
  • 2 heaped tbsp salted butter
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Put the oil, onion and pancetta (if using) into a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add some salt if you are not using pancetta. Cook gently, without browning, for about 15 minutes until soft.

Slice the cabbage into wedges and remove the tough core. Shred the leaves finely and rinse in a colander. Add the wet cabbage to the pan, then the butter, and stir for a few minutes until the butter melts. Stir through the vinegar and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and leave to cook for 60 to 80 minutes, stirring occasionlly, until completely soft and wilted. Add a splash of water if it looks dry at any point.

Season to taste with salt and serve.

(Original recipe from Stagioni by Olivia Cavalli, Pavillon, 2022.)

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We love the colour of this dish – a delicious bowlful of goodness.

Wine Suggestion: This demands a simple, earthy red like Morisfarms Mandriolo, a Sangiovese dominant wine from the Maremma on the Tuscan coast. The Moris family have lived on their farm for over three hundred years and their gentle care and organic approach to winemaking comes from their love of the land. A thoughtful wine.

Risoni di Cavolo Nero – serves 2

  • handful of hazlenuts
  • 150-200g cavolo nero
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • garlic
  • 2-3 anchovies in oil
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 700ml home-made chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½ lemon
  • 240g orzo
  • 2 tbsp mascarpone
  • finely grated Parmesan, to serve

Heat the oven to 150C fan.

Toast the hazelnuts in the oven for 15 minutes, then set aside.

Strip the cavolo nero leaves from the stalks, then roughly chop the leaves and rinse them in cold water. Discard the tough stalks.

Put the oil, garlic and anchovies in a pan and heat gently for a few minutes until the anchovies have melted. Add the chilli and cook for another minute, stirring. Add the cavolo nero and cook for 3-4 minutes until just wilted. Discard the garlic and transfer to a blender. Add a splash of stock and a squeeze of lemon juice, then blend to a smooth liquid.

Put the rest of the stock into the same pan and bring to the boil. Add the orzo and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the stock has been absorbed by the pasta, add a splash of water if it drys up too soon. Add the green purée and cook for another 2 minutes – you are looking for a risotto-type consistency. Finely grate in the zest of ½ a lemon and stir in the mascarpone. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice if needed.

Serve with the toasted hazelnuts crumbled on top, some finely grated Parmesan and a good drizzle of your best olive oil.

(Original recipe from Stagioni by Olivia Cavalli, Pavillon, 2022.)

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Perfect dish for nights when you’ve little energy – dinner for two in ten minutes and lots of flavour.

Wine Suggestion: A warmer climate Shiraz/Syrah is our choice as you need the juicier fruit, but nothing too jammy please. Tonight a glass of the Wolftrap Red from Boekenhoutskloof in South Africa. Mostly Shiraz but with a touch of Mourvèdre and Viognier it has the fruit to counter the harissa heat, and a balance that doesn’t overwhelm the food.

Tagliatelle with mushrooms and harissa – serves 2

  • 150g tagliatelle
  • 300g chestnut mushrooms
  • 4 scallions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp harissa paste
  • grated Parmesan, to serve

Bring a large pan of very salty water to the boil, then cook the tagliatelle according to the timings on the pack.

Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan, then add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes or until starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, then add the scallions and continue to cook for a couple of minutes or until softened. Stir in the harissa paste.

Drain the pasta quickly and not too well, then tip into the pan with the mushrooms. Toss everything together, then serve in warm bowls with the Parmesan sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from A Cook’s Book by Nigel Slater, 4th Estate, 2021.)

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This dish takes hours and it’s kind of hard to know if it’s all going to plan. We kept the faith and had delicious fluffy rice with tender lamb and carrots and a delicious crust on the buttom. Serve with some Greek yoghurt and pickles.

Wine Suggestion: This works well with an earthier red, either lighter and gentle, or an older richer style with a few years in the bottle. If you can fine Domaine Bargylus from Syria then you are in for a treat. The current vintage we have is 2014 (in 2022) and has beautiful rich core with layers of tertiary, warm spices.

Lamb, carrot & cumin rice – serves 6

  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 700g lamb neck fillet, sliced 1cm thick
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into batons
  • 500g basmati rice

Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and pour in enough oil to cover the base. Sauté the onion until starting to brown at the edges. Stir in the sliced lamb, then add the cumin seeds and other dried spices. Stir to coat the meat in the mixture. Pour in enough boiling water to just cover the meat, then cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 hours. Remove the lid and cook for another 30 minutes or until cooking. You will need to stir occasionally and add a little more water if needed to stop the meat sticking. Remove from the heat, stir in the carrots and set aside.

Heat a large saucepan over a high heat, fill with boiling water and add lots of salt. Add the rice and parboil for 6 minutes. Empty the rice into a sieve and wash it with cold water until rinsed of starch and cold. Drain well and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Tip into a large bowl.

Rinse and dry the rice pan. Scrunch a large piece of baking paper into a ball, then open it out and use to line the sides and base of the clean pan. Drizzle in enough vegetable oil to generously coat the base of the pan and season the oil with salt.

Add the meat and carrot mixture to the rice, season generously with about 1 tbsp of sea salt flakes and black pepper, then fold together to combine. Gently pile the mixture into the lined pan in a mountain shape. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to to stab a series of holes that go right down to the base of the pan. Wrap the lid in a tea towel, then cover the pan and cook over the lowest possible temperature if using gas and medium-low for electric, for 45-60 minutes. If you have a diffuser for your gas hob you should use it and double the cooking time.

(Original recipe from Sirocco by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2016.)

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