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Shakshuka

We needed a green pepper for another dish, but could only get a mixed bag of three leaving us with a red and yellow pepper needing to be used. The clocks have changed and so we had brunch, very unusual in this house where our human alarm clocks goes off at 6am most days. Jono has been mastering a new skill and so we had this with freshly baked sourdough. Don’t think we’ll be eating another bite until this evening!

Shakshuka – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil (we used olive oil)
  • 1 red onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 red pepper, finely sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, finely sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 heaped tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 400g tin of cherry tomatoes
  • 115g baby spinach (we used frozen spinach, boil for a minute or two to wilt, then drain, squeeze out water with hands and chop)
  • 4 medium eggs
  • ½ small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
  • ½ small bunch of dill, roughly chopped (we didn’t have any dill but used some fennel fronds)

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Add the onions and peppers and cook over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until starting to soften. Add the garlic and spices and stir for another minute, then add the tomatoes, spinach and 100ml of water. Turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Season to taste.

Make four indentations in the mixture and gently crack an egg into each one (we find it easier to crack the eggs into mugs and pour them in). Cover with a lid or foil and cook over a low heat for 8-10 minutes or until the eggs are just set. Scatter over the herbs and serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Greek Lamb with Orzo

A treat for the weekend without too many ingredients. There is also just a tiny bit of work at the start and then this can be left to pretty much cook itself for a few hours. You can serve with crusty bread or just by itself.

Wine Suggestion: we think that a southern French blend like Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre is a really good combination as long as the wine is fresh and not too jammy. Tonight we enjoyed the Domaine de Cébène Faugeres “Felgaria” which had a majority of Mourvedre and was pure, elegant and expressive with spices and warm aromas.

Greek lamb with orzo – serves 6

  • 1kg shoulder of lamb, cut into large cubes
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1.2 litres hot chicken or veg stock
  • 400g orzo
  • freshly grated Parmesan, to serve

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Put the lamb into a large casserole dish with the onions, oregano, ground cinnamon, cinnamon sticks and olive oil. Toss with your hands to ensure everything is coated with oil. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Add the tomatoes and stock, then cover and return to the oven for a further 1½ hours or until the lamb is meltingly tender. You can throw away the cinnamon sticks at this point.

Stir in the orzo and return to the oven again, with the lid on. Cook for another 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until the orzo is cooked and the sauce has thickened. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Purple Sprouting Broccoli Pasta Bake

We’ve been cooking pretty much as usual since Covid-19 struck and we’ve all had to stay home. We are trying even harder than usual though to use what we already have. The only fresh ingredient you need here is broccoli, we used purple sprouting as it’s in season but any broccoli will do. Hopefully you have everything else in your cupboard or fridge already, if not the corner shop should have it.

Wine Suggestion: a simple white wine with a bit of freshness and texture is all that is needed here. Our selection is the Macchialupa Falanghina from Benevento in Campania, Italy, which over delivers but is joyfully fresh and vibrant.

PSB and Pasta Bake – serves 4

  • 250-300g broccoli, cut into florets (we use stalks and all)
  • 250-300g penne pasta (or whatever short pasta you have)
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 300ml milk
  • 2 large handfuls of grated Cheddar cheese (or any leftover cheese)
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard (or any mustard)

Cook the pasta in loads of salty boiling water and add the broccoli for the last 4 minutes. Drain and leave to steam dry in the pot.

Make a cheese sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour. Keep stirring for a minute, then gradually add the milk, a little at a time, stirring all the time. Keep stirring now until the mixture bubbles, then leave to simmer for a couple of minutes. Stir in the mustard, one large handful of cheese and plenty of seasoning.

Tip the cooked pasta and broccoli into the sauce and stir gently. Tip into an ovenproof dish and put under a hot grill for a few minutes until browned and bubbling.

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Paneer Tikka Masala

Being thankful for sunshine and all we have this evening. The clocks will change tomorrow and hopefully things will take a turn for the better soon. In the meantime stay at home and eat well. This is super straightforward but flavour-packed! Serve with steamed basmati rice and naan bread from your local takeaway.

Wine Suggestion: A lager style beer. To be a little “craft”, even though they’ve been brewing since 1824, we chose the C&A Veltins Grevensteiner Helles which had character and smoothness in equal proportions.

Paneer tikka masala – serves 3

  • 3 tbsp curry powder (the recipe suggests tikka curry powder, we had hot so that’s what we got)
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 200g paneer, cut into small cubes
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 400g passata
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • a knob of butter
  • a handful of chopped coriander
  • steamed basmati rice and naan bread (to serve)

Mix the 1 tbsp of the curry powder and the yoghurt together in a bowl, then stir in the paneer and peppers and leave to marinade while you make the sauce.

Heat the oil in a pan, then add the onion and cook until soft and starting to brown a little. Add the ginger and garlic and continue cooking for a couple of minutes.

Stir in the remaining 2 tbsp of curry powder and stir until fragrant, then stir in the passata, tomato purée and sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in the cream and cook for another couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the grill to high. Spread the paneer and pepper out over a non-stick baking tray or a tray lined with foil, then place under the grill until charred and sizzling. Turn everything over to brown on both sides.

Tip the panner and peppers into the sauce, add a knob of butter, the coriander and some seasoning and cook for a couple of minutes. Serve the curry with rice and naan.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in BBC Olive Magazine, March 2020)

 

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Chorizo & Chilli Pepper Pasta

We made this to use up a piece of chorizo ring leftover from a previous recipe. The whole dish took about 20 minutes from start to finish and was yummy.

Wine Suggestion: The first time we had this it was with a Beaujolais (Gamay) and it was a delightful match, and then a few weeks later it was with a white blend of Grenache Blanc and Viognier and again a real delight. We think the key here is a vibrant, medium bodied wine … and avoid to much complexity and concentration … this is a simple, if very tasty dish, so keep the wine the same.

Chorizo & chilli pepper pasta – serves 2

  • 200g penne (or any short pasta)
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 100g chorizo, skinned and cut into small chunks
  • 400g tin cherry tomatoes (regular tin of chopped tomatoes would be fine if that’s what you have)
  • 3 guindilla pickled chilli peppers, sliced on an angle (any pickled chillies would do)
  • a handful of basil leaves, roughly torn
  • grated Parmesan, to serve

Cook the pasta in lots of salty water for a minute less than recommended on the packet.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over a high heat. Fry the chorizo for a couple of minutes or until it releases its oil.

Stir in the tin of tomatoes, a pinch of sugar and seasoning.  Let bubble for 5 minutes, then stir in the peppers and basil.

Drain the pasta and stir through the sauce.

Serve with plenty of Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Roast chicken with a Breton sauce

We made this on the first weekend of social distancing as our dinner date was cancelled. We were all in a bit of shock but reassured ourselves by planning all of the things that we could cook while spending time at home. We loved this recipe by Diana Henry and the sauce is absolutely delicious. We served with some purple sprouting broccoli and roast potatoes. Diana suggests green beans or Savoy cabbage and waxy potatoes.

Wine suggestion: Our inspiration tonight was the Loire, being the closest wine region to Brittany, which specialises in apples (cider & Calvados). We chose a bottle of Chateau du Hureau’s Foudre, a Chenin Blanc that is fermented and aged in large oak barrels; full of appley flavours alongside a refined texture and enough body and a freshness to match the rich, creamy dish.

Roast chicken with a Breton onion sauce – serves 6

  • 1.8kg chicken
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 4 thyme sprigs, leaves stripped

FOR THE ONIONS:

  • 30g unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 450g onions, finely chopped

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 300ml full cream milk
  • a slice of onion
  • a few parsley stalks
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • a bay leaf
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 30g plain flour
  • nutmeg, for grating
  • 3 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp Calvados

Preheat your oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

Prep the chicken first by mashing the butter and thyme leaves together with some salt and pepper. Loosen the skin over the breast of the chicken with your hands. This is easy to do but be gentle so you don’t tear the skin. Spread half of the butter under the skin with your hands, then spread the rest over the outside. Season all over with salt and pepper and put into a roasting tin. Cook for 20 minutes per 500g plus an extra 10 minutes.

Melt the butter for the onions in a heavy-based pan, then add the onions. Stir to coat them in the butter, add 2 tbsp of water, then cover and cook over a very low heat until completely soft. Check them now and then and add a bit more water if needed. Set aside until needed.

Remove the chicken from the oven, cover loosely with foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

To make the sauce put the milk, onion, parsley and peppercorns and bay leaf in a saucepan and slowly bring to just under the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 20 minutes, then strain into a jug.

Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, add the flour and stir over a medium-low heat for a minute. Remove the pan from the heat, then start adding the strained milk, a little at a time, stirring until smooth. Season and add a little grated nutmeg. Return the pan to the heat and stir until boiling. Turn the heat down and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the onions and their juices, the crème fraîche, mustard and Calvados and taste for seasoning. Serve the chicken with the sauce and veg on the side.

(Original recipe from A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2015.)

 

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Genoese Squid with Potatoes

Mothers Day dinner 2020. Not a huge roast or a barbecue with the rest of the family but a glorious sunny day and this Diana Henry recipe, which was perfect! Great for all of us on a budget now too, squid is cheap, and not everyone realises that you can slow cook it. The sauce this dish has is so vibrant and rich and when we reheated the leftovers in the oven two days later it was still amazing.

Wine Suggestion: we chose a classic wine for seafood and an explemary winery, the  Pazo de Señorans Albariño 2018 which is a wine we love both in youth and as it ages and gains texture and complexity. The salty sea air ideas you get from Albariño just seem to work so well.

Genoese squid with potatoes – serves 4

  • 750g squid, cleaned (look up online how to do it if you need, we used some pre-cleaned squid tubes from the fish shop)
  • 550g waxy potatoes
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 350ml white wine
  • leaves from 2 oregano/marjoram sprigs
  • 2½ tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 400g tin cherry tomatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil, to finish

Wash the squid and remove any gunge from the inside the tubes. Cut the tubes into thick rings. Cut the hard bit from the end of each tentacle and slice the wings into 2 or 3. Cut the tentacles too if they’re big. Rinse everything in a sieve, then dry well with kitchen roll.

Wash the potatoes (you can peel or not) and cut into 4cm thick slices.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. When the oil is really hot, tip in the squid and garlic and toss around for a minute. Add the white wine, oregano, 1½ tbsp of the parsley, tomatoes and plenty of seasoning. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the potatoes, then season again, cover and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Taste again for seasoning, you might need to add a bit of extra salt to make the sauce sing, sprinkle over the rest of the parsley and serve with your best olive oil drizzled on top.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2010)

 

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