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Posts Tagged ‘Rick Stein’

Chicken Fricassée with Morels

It’s bean a while since we’ve been in France, but when we were there we stocked up on dried morels (and ceps) at the Saint-Cyprien market, and bought as much wine as they would let us have at Domaine Labet in the Jura. Creamy mushroom sauce and chardonnay from the Jura is a magic combination! We served this with roast potatoes made with a variety called carolus from McNally Family Farm – they make amazing roasties!

Wine Suggestion: We were fortunate to find a couple of different vintages of Labet’s En Chalasse Chardonnay which comes from very old vineyard plots. Tonight we opened the 2015 which showed the effect of a warm vintage with a broad and lifted ripe apple character and hints of nuts and spices. More gentle acidity than usual but well in balance with hints of skin contact and phenolic textures on the palate.

Chicken fricassée with morels – serves 4

  • 20g dried morels
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts with the skin on
  • 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
  • 90g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • 100ml Noilly Prat or dry sherry
  • 130ml chicken stock
  • 300g full-fat crème fraîche

Soak the morels in 200ml of tepid water for about 15 minutes, then drain through a sieve over a bowl to catch the liquid.  Strain the liquid and keep 75ml for the sauce. Rinse the morels under cold water to remove any grit, then dry with kitchen paper and cut in half lengthways.

Melt half the butter in a large sauté pan and fry the chicken, skin-side down, for about 3 minutes or until nicely browned. Turn the chicken pieces over and continue to brown for a few minutes on the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the rest of the butter to the pan, then fry the shallot until softened. Add the morels and chestnut mushrooms and fry for a few minutes. Add the Noilly Prat or sherry, the reserved soaking liquid and the stock, then bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for a few minutes.

Add the crème fraîche and stir until melted into the sauce, then put the chicken back in, along with any juices on the plate. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over a medium heat for about 8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.

(Original recipe from Secret France by Rick Stein, BBC Books, 2019)

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Sorrel Soup

This is the sorrel soup from Rick Stein’s book, Secret France. It’s delicious and tastes just like soups we’ve had in France on our holidays, and are never quite sure what’s in them. We got bags of fabulously fresh sorrel from McNally Family Farm.

Sorrel soup – serves 4 to 6

  • 50g butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 450g potatoes, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 litre chicken or veg stock
  • 250g sorrel
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp single cream
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then add the onion, garlic, leek and potatoes. Cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes or until softened.

Add the stock and the sorrel and cook for another 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Blend until smooth.

Season with salt and lots of black pepper, then stir in the honey. Serve in warm bowls with a drizzle of cream and the chives over the top.

(Original recipe from Secret France by Rick Stein, BBC Books, 2019.)

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Hanger Steak with Shallots

We adore this cut of beef but it’s not always easy to get in Irish butchers. Talk to your butcher in advance and tell them you want a piece of onglet or hanger steak – they should be able to order it for you, and it’s much cheaper than some other cuts.

We cut this across the grain and it’s meltingly tender so you can be brave and serve “blue” like we did here, but it also works well at your choice of doneness if you prefer.

Wine Suggestion: we think this combination of meltingly tender beef and the buttery shallots in red wine goes with Rhône reds – Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre et al; either as a blend or Syrah alone. Tonight we had one of those insider wines, a Côtes du Rhône labelled under Jean-Paul Daumen’s name. He’s the owner-winemaker at Domaine de la Vieille Julienne, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a superb domaine with an enviable reputation. The wines under his name are from a mix of vineyards from the estate and friends, all farmed organically and biodynamically by Jean-Paul and made with just as much care as his own domaine. The result … great value and a delicious pairing.

Hanger Steak with Shallots – L’onglet à l’échalote – serves 4

  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 800g onglet/hanger steak (you will probably get 2 long pieces)
  • 250g shallot, finely sliced
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 125ml red wine
  • 100ml beef stock
  • watercress, to garnish

As soon as you get home from the butchers put your steak into a dish and sprinkle generously with salt. Then put in the fridge until you need it but take it out of the fridge about an hour before you want to cook it.

Heat a large frying pan over a high heat. Add a knob of the butter and when it starts to melt add your steak. You might have to cook it in batches depending on the size of your pan. A rough guide is to cook for about 2 minutes on each side for very rare steak or longer if you prefer it more well done. This is dependent on the size of the steak, so you should do the finger test on the meat and go with gut feel. Put the steak onto a warm plate, cover with foil and keep warm while it rests.

Melt half of the remaining butter in the same frying pan and add the shallots, thyme and bay leaf. Cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes or until softened. Add the red wine and the stock, turn the heat up to high and cook until the liquid has reduced by half. Season with salt and lots of black pepper, throw away the herbs. Pour the meat juices from the resting plate into the sauce and whisk in the remaining butter to make a thick, glossy sauce.

Slice the steak across the grain into thick slices and serve on top of the shallots with some watercress on the side.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Secret France, BBC Books, 2019.)

To do the finger test for steak you compare the resistance of the cooking meat to pressing the ball of your palm with a finger from the other hand

  • Blue: an open palm, relaxed
  • Rare: thumb and your first, index finger touching
  • Medium Rare: thumb and second finger
  • Medium: thumb and third, ring finger
  • Well Done: thumb and fourth, little finger

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Lobster & Pasta

This is inspired by a Rick Stein recipe in his Mediterranean Escapes book called Lobster & Pasta Chez Jen Jen from Corsica. We cooked this on a weeknight and cheated a bit with the lobster by using frozen lobster tails. We thought you could use raw prawns to good effect too.

Wine Suggestion: We made this on a celebratory evening so pushed the boat out with the wine and had the best English Sparkling we’ve tasted to date: the Dermot Sugrue “The Trouble with Dreams” from Sussex. It had a driving purity and vibrancy that makes it feel alive. For years we often compared English sparkling to Champagne without recognising it to have a unique character and with this wine we fully realised this.

Lobster & Spaghetti – serves 2

  • 2 x frozen lobster tails
  • 200g spaghetti
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • a garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp curry powder
  • 20ml Cognac
  • 50ml dry white wine
  • 200ml passata
  • 1 tsp dried herbes de Provence
  • salt and cayenne pepper

Defrost the lobster tails by putting them into a deep bowl of cold water and leaving for 30 minutes. You’ll know they are defrosted when they feel a bit flexible.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and gently lower in the lobster tails. Cook for 3½ minutes, then scoop out with a spoon. Leave to cool slightly, then slice into the soft side to check that the meat is white and therefore cooked through. If it looks grey you need to return to the water again until cooked.

Carefully cut down the soft side of the lobster tails and remove flesh from the shell in one piece, it should come away very easily.

Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of very salty water according to the timings on the pack.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan with the curry powder and garlic. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the lobster, flesh-side down. Pour over the Cognac and flambé to burn off the alcohol. Add the white wine, passata, and herbes de Provence, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until the lobster is heated through.

Drain the spaghetti. Lift the lobster tails out of the pan and onto warm plates. Season the sauce to taste with salt and cayenne pepper, add the spaghetti and toss well with the sauce. Spoon alongside the lobster and serve.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes, BBC Books, 2007.)

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Mouclade

We mainly eat mussels in the colder months – something to do with months with an r in the them, but also they just seem like cold weather food to us. They’re so cheap and yet such a treat. This is typical Friday night food in our house, served with crusty bread or fries. La Mouclade is a French recipe from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey and includes a creamy curry sauce – delicious!

Wine Suggestion: As this dish comes from the Charentes region of France, we sipped some chilled Pineau des Charentes as an aperitif and then a glass of Bordeaux Blanc. While we would have loved to have found some Right Bank Bordeaux Ch Monbousquet or Valandraud Blanc we had some Chateau Bouscaut Blanc from the Graves instead. A Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon blend with some barrel aging after fermentation in stainless steel. Great with seafood and able to stand up to the curry and saffron.

La Mouclade – serves 4

  • a good pinch of saffron threads
  • 1.75 kg mussels, cleaned
  • 120ml dry white wine
  • 25g butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp good-quality medium curry powder
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley

Put the saffron into a small bowl with a tablespoon of warm water.

Put the mussels and wine into a large saucepan, cover and cook over a hight heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the mussels have opened. Tip them into a colander over a bowl to catch the liquid. Transfer the mussels to a large serving bowl and keep warm.

Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the onion, garlic and curry powder and cook gently for a few minutes. Add the cognac and cook until almost evaporated, then stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Gradually stir in the saffron liquid and the mussel liquid (leave the very last gritty bit behind). Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes. Add the crème fraîche and simmer for another few minutes, until slightly reduced. Season to taste, stir in the parsley and pour the sauce over the mussels .

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey, BBC Books, 2005.)

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Smoked ham salad, with shaved Gruyere, Escarole & Walnuts

You know those fab salads that they serve in French bistros? Well this is one of those and it’s from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey – a book we never travel to France without.

Wine Suggestion: this wine reminded us of holidays in the Dordogne in France so we chose a white Bergerac from Chateau le Tap, a nearly even blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon with a touch of Muscadelle thrown in.

Smoked ham salad with shaved Gruyère, escarole and walnuts – serves 4

  • 1 escarole lettuce or 2 English curly lettuces
  • 100g piece of Gruyère cheese
  • 400g of good quality smoked cooked ham – about 12 very thin slice
  • 10 walnuts in the shell
  • 1 small bunch of chives, chopped

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp walnut oil (or use more olive oil if you haven’t got this)

Remove the outer lettuce leaves and discard, then break the rest into leaves. Wash and dry well in a salad spinner.

Cut the cheese into very thin strips using a cheese slicer or mandolin.

For the dressing, whisk together the mustard, lemon juice and vinegar. Add the crème fraîche, whisk until emulsified then gradually whisk in the olive and walnut oils. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange the sliced ham, lettuce leaves and shaved cheese onto 4 plates and scatter over the shelled walnuts. Drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle with the chives.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey, BBC Books, 2005.)

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Circassian chicken

We’re not sure if we would would have ever made this except for having a load of walnuts and red peppers that needed used. Definitely one of the most interesting dishes we’ve cooked this year. We’ve had it warm and also cold; as a side dish and in a floury bap for lunch; a tasty starter and a midnight snack. Delicious every time.

Wine Suggestion: If you decide to eat this warm or cold you need the spice a red wine gives and a chill for freshness and vitality; 30 minutes in the fridge is sufficient, so chilled, not freezing! We’d recommend either a Spanish red, the Jesus Romero Rubus, a rarity from Teruel in Aragon or if you’d like to push the boat out Laurent Combier’s Cap Nord, one of the best Crozes-Hermitage we’ve tried in a long while. The link between these is Syrah, so if you find another one you like try chilling this and giving it a go with this dish.

Circassian Chicken – serves 3-4

  • 2 large skinless chicken breasts
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 200g walnuts halves
  • 1 slice stale white bread, made into breadcrumbs
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • small handful of coriander, chopped

FOR THE PEPPER DRESSING:

  • 1 tbsp red pepper paste/½ tsp sweet paprika & ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt

Put the chicken stock into a large pot with the chicken breasts. Bring to the boil, then simmer and poach for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Blitz 150g of the walnuts in a food processor to make a powder, then add the breadcrumbs and garlic with enough of the poaching stock to make a creamy sauce. Season with salt.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl until combined.

Pull the cooked chicken into long pieces and combine with the walnut sauce and chopped coriander. Drizzle with the red pepper dressing and decorate with the reserved walnuts.

(Original recipe from Venice to Istanbul by Rick Stein, BBC Books, 2015.)

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Mussels with Parma ham

Ham gives a nice salty twist to mussels so be careful when adding any additional seasoning. We have lots of herbs growing in the garden at this time of year and are always looking for excuses to use them.

Wine Suggestion: This was an harder match than expected given the combination of salty sea flavours and the richness of the ham. Given the layers of savoury flavours we complemented this with a dry Amontillado sherry, the Hidalgo “Napoleon” which has the Umami richness to match. It also has a great nuttiness that added something extra and also a very complementary hint of fresh sea air in it’s flavour.

Mussels with Bayonne ham – 3-4

  • 1.5kg mussels
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 50g butter
  • 1 shallot
  • 75g Bayonne or prosciutto ham
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1 handful of mixed herbs – we used parsley, tarragon & chives
  • crusty bread to serve

Scrub the mussels clean and discard any that don’t close when tapped on a hard surface.

Add 2 tbsp of the wine to a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook over a high heat for 3-4 minutes or until opened. Give the pan a shake every now and then and discard any mussels that remain closed. Take off the heat and strain in a colander over a large bowl to catch the liquid. Reserve the liquid and keep the mussels warm.

In the same pan, melt the butter and cook the shallot, ham and garlic for 4-5 minutes, until softened but not browned. Add the mussel cooking liquid and the rest of the wine wine. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half. Add the mussels and herbs and mix well, then season with black pepper.

(Original recipe by Rick Stein)

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Pork Souvlaki with oregano

Have you got your barbecue out yet? We’ve had a few sunny days in Dublin and the cold breeze is gradually starting to ease; the clocks have gone forward and we’re looking forward to much more time spent outside. We have to confess to using the barbecue all year round and have been caught out in the snow or rain grilling up a feast and this is one of our favourite ideas. Nothing beats some good chips with your souvlaki.

Wine Suggestion: to celebrate the Spring sunshine we broke out a Provence rosé from Chateau Vignelaure, a lovely and serious wine that delivers a great texture and structure as well as summer fruit flavours to inspire us.

Pork Souvlaki with Oregano – serves 4

  • 400g pork shoulder, cut into 3 cm cubes
  • 30ml lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • ½ tsp salt

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and add the meat. Marinate for an hour or so, then thread onto skewers. Cook on a preheated barbecue for about 10-12 minutes.

(Original recipe from Venice to Istanbul by Rick Stein, BBC Books, 2015.)

 

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Steak & Mushrooms

What could be better than steak, mushrooms & chips? Nothing too groundbreaking here but we do recommend taking some inspiration from the Greeks when cooking your mushrooms.

Wine Suggestion: We always fall for a big red when having steak and this dish caused us to try one of our 2009 Bordeaux’s lying waiting in the cellar; this time the Ch Capbern Gasquetton. Full of flavour and still very youthful but the seven years from vintage has brought it all together and made it a great match.

Grilled steak with village mushrooms – serves 4

  • 4 rib-eye or sirloin steaks (rib-eye would be our preference), about 250g each
  • 50ml olive oil, plus a bit extra for brushing on the steaks
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ a lemon
  • 200g button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 25ml balsamic vinegar

Brush the steaks with oil, season with salt, pepper and half the oregano, then grill on a hot barbecue until cooked the way you like.

Sauté the mushrooms in the 50ml of olive oil with the garlic, balsamic vinegar, ½ tsp salt, 20 turns of the black pepper mill and the rest of the oregano. Serve with the steak (and some chips if you like).

(Original recipe from Venice to Istanbul by Rick Stein, BBC Books, 2015.)

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Haddock Pie

We are mad about fish pie and this one is particularly good. Yet another excuse to never through away our old food magazines!

Wine Suggestion: you need a fresh, vibrant white with a medium to full body; try to avoid heavily oaked and super-rich wines though. A good choice would be Chenin Blanc and the choice here is getting better each day. We’ve tried well made but simple ones from both the Loire and South Africa to good effect as well as some more complex ones like Adi Badenhorst’s Secateurs from Swartland and some Savennieres too.

Haddock Pie – serves 6

  • 1 small onion, thickly sliced
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 600ml creamy milk
  • 300ml double cream
  • 450g haddock fillet with skin
  • 200g undyed smoked haddock fillet
  • 4 eggs, plus 1 extra egg yolk
  • 100g cooked peeled prawns
  • 100g butter
  • 40g plain flour
  • 5tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1.25kg floury potatoes, such as Maris Pipers, peeled and cut into chunks

Stud a couple of the onion slices with the cloves and put into a large pan with the bay leaf, 450ml of the milk, the cream, haddock and smoked haddock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Lift out the fish and strain the cooking liquor into a jug.

Wait for the fish to cool and meanwhile hard boil the whole eggs for 8 minutes, then drain, cover with cold water and leave to cool.

When the fish has cooled a bit, break it into  large flakes, discarding the skin and any bones. Sprinkle the flakes of fish over the base of a shallow 1.7 litre ovenproof dish. Scatter the prawns over the top. Shell the eggs and cut into chunky slices. Arrange these over the fish and prawns.

Melt 50g of the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the reserved fish cooking liquor. Return to the heat and slowly bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Take the sauce off the heat, stir in the parsley and season with nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Pour the sauce over the fish and leave to cool.

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

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 12-15 minutes, or until tender. Drain, mash well and beat in the egg yolk and remaining butter. Season with salt and white pepper and beat in enough of the remaining milk to make a smooth mash that’s easy to spread.

Spoon the mashed potato over the filling and mark the surface with a fork. Bake for 40-45 minutes until piping hot and golden brown.

(Original recipe by Rick Stein in BBC Good Food Magazine, June 2001.)

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Pot-roast Chicken with Chorizo, Leek and Cider

A great array of flavours and super-moist roast chicken. Chorizo cooked in cider is often served as a tapa in Spain and it’s delicious!

Wine Suggestion: A Spanish cider would be of course be great with this or failing that a good quality dry cider from somewhere else. If you feel like wine we’d recommend a really smooth Rioja.

Pot-roasted Chicken with Chorizo, Leeks & Cider – serves 4

  • 1 x 1.75kg chicken
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cooking chorizo sausages, sliced
  • 50g butter
  • 700g leeks, washed and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 300g baby carrots, trimmed and peeled
  • Leaves from 2 large sprigs of thyme
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 200ml dry cider

Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 3.

Season the cavity and outside of the chicken with salt and black pepper.

Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish and brown the chicken on all sides until golden, then set aside.

Lower the heat and add the chorizo, butter, leeks, garlic, carrots, thyme and bay leaves. Cover and cook gently until the leeks have softened.

Place the chicken on top of the vegetables in the casserole dish, pour over the cider, then cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the lid from the casserole dish and turn the oven up to 200C/Gas 6. Continue to cook for another 20 minutes or until the chicken skin is browned.

Remove the chicken from the casserole and onto a carving board, cover with foil. Skim the excess fat from the surface of the vegetable juices, then place over a medium heat and simmer vigorously for 5 minutes to reduce. Season to taste with more salt if needed.

To carve the chicken, remove the legs and cut each one in half at the joint. Carve the breast in slices. Use a slotted spoon to put the chorizo and vegetables onto the centre of the plates and place the chicken on top. Spoon the cooking juices over to serve.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Spain, BBC Books, 2011.)

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Penne alla norma

We love Rick Stein’s recipes as everything seems to come from true inspiration and has been tested in a real world kitchen so it all works. This recipe is no exception and delivers in flavour and balance perfectly.

Pasta alla Norma is traditionally made with spaghetti but worked just as well penne pasta as a substitute.

Wine Suggestions: Aubergine tends to work with Southern Italian reds really well, but we had an unexpected burst of sunshine so opened a Provençal rosé, Chateau Vignelaure La Source, which is an old favourite. It worked a treat and  will definitely try it again with other aubergine dishes.

Pasta alla Norma – Pasta with Aubergines, Tomatoes, Chilli & Cheese – serves 4

  • 500g aubergines (2 large ones)
  • 500g well-flavoured tomatoes or top quality tinned plum tomatoes, drained (Italian brands are best)
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g dried spaghetti
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¼ tsp crushed dried chillies
  • A large handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 100g finely grated ricotta salata or crumbled feta cheese

Trim the aubergines and cut into two across the middle, then cut each piece lengthways into chip-sized sticks. Toss with 1 tsp of salt and set in a colander over a bowl to drain for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, if using fresh tomatoes, squeeze them over the sink to get rid of most of the juice and seeds. Roughly chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil (about 4.5 litres) and season generously with salt (about 8 teaspoons).

Pat the aubergines dry with kitchen paper to remove the salt and any liquid. Heat 4 tbsp of the frying pan, add half the aubergines and fry until lightly golden. Lift onto a plate lined with kitchen paper  and leave to drain while you fry the next batch. After removing the second batch of aubergine, leave the oil in the frying pan to cool.

Put the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook according to the packet or until al dente. 

Before the pasta is ready, add the remaining oil and the garlic to the cooled frying pan and return to the heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle gently, add the crushed chillies and the tomatoes and cook over a high heat for a few minutes or until they have broken down into a sauce. Season well and stir in the aubergines.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce with the torn basil and half the cheese, then toss well. Divide between warm bowls and serve sprinkled with the remaining cheese.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes, BBC Books, 2007.)

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Hake and scallion mash with a soy butter sauce

The soy butter sauce here is absolutely delicious and we were perhaps a bit over-generous with it when plating up. You can do some sort of drizzly thing if you want it look a bit fancier. Either way your guests will be impressed!

Wine Suggestion: We went off-piste and served a light bodied, Loire Valley red from Saumur-Champigny, the Chateau Hureau “Tuffe” 2010. As it was a warm evening we’d chilled the bottle for 30 minutes in the fridge and it was charming and a delightful match proving that red wine can go with fish. We think the depth of flavour in the soy butter sauce helped too.

Hake on Scallion Mash with a Soy Butter Sauce – serves 4

  • 4 x 200g pieces of thick hake fillet, with skin on
  • melted butter for brushing
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • sea salt flakes and coarsely crushed black pepper

FOR THE SCALLION MASH:

  • 1.25kg floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 50g butter
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • a little milk
  • salt and freshly ground white pepper

FOR THE SOY BUTTER SAUCE:

  • 600ml chicken stock (preferably home-made)
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 1 tomato, skinned, seeded and diced (plunge into hot water for 1 minute to make peeling easier)
  • 1 heaped tsp chopped coriander

Lay the fish in a shallow dish with the skin-side down and sprinkle with the sea salt flakes, then set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse the salt off and dry the fish with kitchen paper. Brush the fish pieces with the melted butter and put skin-side up on a greased baking tray. Sprinkle the skin with a few sea salt flakes and some black pepper.

Cook the potatoes in boiling unsalted water for 20 minutes or until tender.

Start the sauce by putting the stock and soy sauce into another pan and boiling rapidly until reduced by half.

Preheat the grill to high and grill the hake for 8 minutes on one side only.

When the fish is almost done, add the butter to the sauce and whisk it in. Take off the heat and add the tomato and coriander.

Drain the potatoes and return to the pan, then mash until smooth. Heat the butter in another pan and toss the scallions in the hot butter briefly. Beat scallions and butter into the potato with a little bit of milk and some salt and white pepper. Spoon the scallions mash into the centre of warm plates. Rest the hake on top and spoon the sauce around the outside.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein Fish & Shellfish, Random House, 2014.)

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Gambas al ajillo

This is the same dish as Prawns Pil-Pil which you get in restaurants all over Spain. Ordinary food but absolutely delicious. Don’t forget some crusty bread to mop up the oil.

Wine Suggestion: This is great with a Manzanilla sherry, like the La Gitana by Hidalgo we had with it. The dry and savoury character of the wine makes every component sing and has a great ability to both entice hunger and also sate the palate.

Gambas al ajillo – to serve 4 as a starter 

  • 750g unpeeled prawns
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 5g flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 300ml olive oil
  • 2 tsp crushed dried chilli flakes

Peel the prawns but leave the last tail segment in place.

Sprinkle the garlic and parsley with ½ tsp of salt and chop together to form a course mixture.

Pour the oil into a large, deep frying pan over a low heat. When hot, at the chilli flakes and garlic and parsley mixture and cook gently for a few minute or until sizzling and smelling delicious.

Turn the heat up a touch before adding prawns and cooking for a few minutes or until just cooked through. Season with a bit more salt to taste.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Spain, BBC Books, 2011.)

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We have loved every recipe we have tried from Rick Stein’s Spain. This is a really nice rice dish from Valencia which we’ll definitely be doing again. It tastes similar to paella but requires fewer ingredients. Delicious and easy!

Arroz de rape, azafrán y pimientos – to serve 6

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 75g finely chopped shallot
  • 1 small head of garlic, cloves separated, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp pimentón dulce (smoked sweet Spanish paprika), plus a bit extra for seasoning the fish
  • a pinch of crushed dried chillies
  • 200g vine ripened beef tomatoes, halved
  • 1 litre Fish stock
  • 1/2 tsp loosely packed saffron strands
  • 400g short-grained paella rice such as Calasperra
  • 1 large roasted red pepper or 3 jarred pimientos
  • 500g monkfish fillet, trimmed of membrane then cut across into 1 cm thick slices
  • Aioli to serve

Grate the tomatoes using a coarse grater. You will be left with the skin which you can discard. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a 28-30cm cazuela or shallow flameproof casserole, add the shallot and fry gently for 10 minutes or until soft but not browned. Add the garlic, pimentón and chillies and fry for another 2 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and cook until they have broken down into a sauce.

Stir in the fish stock, saffron and 1 1/2 tsp of salt and bring to the boil, stirring. Sprinkle in the rice, stir once, then leave to simmer vigorously over a medium-high heat for 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the roasted red pepper or jarred pimientos into 1cm-wide strips, removing any skin and seeds. Sprinkle over the top of the rice and shake briefly so they sink in a bit. Lower the heat and leave to simmer gently for another 12 minutes. At the end the liquid should all have absorbed and the rice should have small holes on the surface.

Before the rice is ready, pat the monkfish pieces dry and season well with salt and a little pimentón. Heat 2tbsp olil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the monkfish slices in batches and fry over a high heat for 1 minute on each side until very lightly coloured and almost cooked.

Lay the fish on top of the rice, turn off the heat and cover with a lid or clean cloth. Leave to rest for 5 minutes to allow the monkfish to finish cooking through.

Serve with alioli.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Spain, BBC Books, 2011)

Wine Suggestion: The best match would be something with a the joy of youth and fruitiness like a joven (young) Tempranillo or a light Garnacha.

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Perfect as the nights close in and the seasons change. This is our second recipe from Rick Stein’s Spain and another success. It takes two days to make but is so straightforward that it’s not a chore at all. As we had torrential rain in Dublin on Saturday and Sunday we could not have picked a better weekend to try it!

P.S. you have to like sucking on bones!

Oxtail and Red Wine Stew from Pamplona – Rabo de torro de Pamplona – to serve 6

  • 2kg oxtail, cut across into 5cm thick pieces
  • 50g plain flour, seasoned
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 200g carrots, sliced
  • 175g leeks, thickly sliced
  • 4 tbsp brandy
  • 500ml red wine
  • 500ml dark beef stock
  • A bouquet garni of bay leaves, parsley stalks and thyme sprigs
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Trim the excess fat off your oxtail pieces and season well with salt and pepper. Toss in the seasoned flour and knock off the excess, keep the remaining seasoned flour. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large flameproof casserole over a medium-high heat, add the oxtail pieces in batches and fry until well browned. Lift them onto a plate as they are done.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan with the garlic, onions, carrots and leeks and fry for about 10 minutes or until browned.

Pour the brandy over and set alight. Once the flames have died stir in the remaining seasoned flour, then gradually stir in the red wine and bring to the boil, stirring. Simmer for 3 minutes, then stir in the oxtail, the beef stock, bouquet garni, 1/2 tsp of salt and lots of black pepper. Cover and simmer gently for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, until the oxtail is tender but not falling apart yet. Remove from the heat, leave to cool, then cover and chilli overnight.

The next day, scrape the layer of fat off the top of the casserole. Gently reheat, then lift the oxtail into a bowl. Pass the sauce through a fine seive into a clean pan, pressing out as much sauce as you can with the back of a ladle. Discard what’s left in the sieve. Return to the heat and simmer vigorously for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is reduced and is well flavoured. Return the oxtail, season and simmer for 5 minutes to heat through. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Nice with steamed or mashed potatoes and broccoli.

Wine Suggestion: Pick a medium bodied red wine based on Tempranillo and maybe with a dollop of Garnacha to give it extra juiciness. We drank a Sierra Cantabria Cuvée which had some good age in the bottle and 18 months in oak which softens and rounds the tannins. Anything heavier or more tannic will feel a bit too much with this rich dish.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Spain, BBC Books, 2011)

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This is the  first recipe we’ve tried from Rick Stein’s Spain. Unusually made with white wine, this beef stew is a bit lighter but still rich and full-flavoured. Leftovers are particularly good the next day too. It takes a while to cook but is really easy and there are very few ingredients needed.

Rick says the Spanish serve this with patatas fritas but in an attempt to be not quite so unhealthy we did some roasted slices of potato instead.

Beef in White Wine, Oviedo-Style (Carne gobernada) – to serve 6

  • 1.5kg chuck or blade steak
  • 7 tbsp olive oil
  • 600g onions, chopped into 1cm pieces
  • 10 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 fresh bay leaves
  • 300ml dry white wine
  • 300g small carrots, cut into 5 cm lengths
  • salt and pepper
Trim the meat and cut it into bite-sized chunks. Season well with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large flameproof casserole and fry the beef in batches until nicely browned. Set aside on a plate.

Add the rest of the olive oil and the onions, garlic, bay leaves and a half tsp of salt to the pan, then cook very gently for about 30 minutes or until the onions are soft and golden.

Add the beef back to the pan, add the wine, bring to the boil and season with another half tsp of salt and some pepper. Cover and leave to simmer gently for 2 hours, stir it now and again.

Add the carrots, cover again and cook for another 30 minutes or until the wine and meat juice have combined to make a rich sauce and meet is really tender. Adjust the seasoning and serve with some potatoes.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Spain, published by

Wine Suggestion: Despite being a stew this dish is not heavy, so avoid big, full-fruited wines when trying to pick something to match this. We went around to O’Briens to find a medium bodied Spanish with not too much oak and really struggled as nothing really matched this brief. Our choice in the end was a Sierra Cantabria Crianza from Rioja which went well, but it would have been better with a Mencia from Bierzo or even a Doa from Portugal where the acidity is naturally a little higher and the use of oak normally much less dominant. You could also search for a joven or roble made from tempranillo and/or garnacha where the  wine is younger, fruitier and made for early drinking – just like the Spanish like it!

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