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Posts Tagged ‘River Café’

Chicken in Vermentino

A fresh, vibrant Vermentino brings the elements of this River Café one-pot dish together; juicy roast chicken, buttery waxy potatoes and earthy porcini mushrooms.

Wine Suggestion: there’s only one choice here, and we would recommend the Poggio ai Ginepri Bolgheri Vermentino from the Tuscan coast. This is from the superb Argentiera estate with a clever 80% Vermentino and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. We say clever as the vines are quite young and the Vermentino brings at this early stage very typical texture, salty-savouriness and appley lemon fruit with the Sauvignon giving fresh acidity and backbone. Argentiera say they expect the percentage of Vermentino to rise as the vines age, but at the moment it is deliciously light and vibrant.

Roast chicken with Vermentino – serves 4

  • 2kg organic chicken, jointed into 8 pieces
  • 1kg waxy potatoes
  • 75g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, chopped
  • 250ml Vermentino

Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Wipe the chicken pieces clean with paper towels and trim off any excess fat.

Soak the porcini mushrooms in 400ml of hot water for 10 minutes, then drain and keep the soaking water. Rinse the mushrooms to remove any grit and chop.

Heat a medium frying pan with 1 tbsp olive oil, then add the garlic and lightly brown. Add the porcini and cook for 2 minutes. Add a little of the mushroom soaking liquid and simmer gently, adding more liquid to keep the mushrooms quite wet. Season.

Peel the potatoes and quarter them lengthwise.

Put the chicken pieces into a roasting tin in a single layer. Add the potatoes, rosemary, wine, and 3 tbsp of olive oil. Stir in the porcini and season. Roast for 30 minutes, then turn the chicken over and cook for another 30 minutes. The chicken and potatoes should be light brown. Serve with the pan juices.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy: Simple Recipes from the London River Cafe by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Clarkson Potter, 2006.)

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Finocchiona salami with fresh Borlotti beans

We grew fresh borlotti beans in our little garden last summer. The beans had a fabulous creamy texture. Serve this as a starter with lots of ciabatta to mop the plates with. Finocchiona is a soft salami from Tuscany with fennel seeds in it.

Wine Suggestion: If you feel like a white choose a Vermentino from the Tuscan coast; we like the Poggio ai Ginepri Toscana Bianco. If red is what you feel like search out a fresh, youthful and fruit-driven Chianti like the Rocca delle Macie Chianti Vernaiolo, a real taste of spring and summer with no oak and vibrantly fresh fruit.

Finocchiona salami with fresh borlotti beans – serves 4 as a starter

  • 1kg fresh borlotti beans, podded
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 300g Finocchiona salami, finely sliced

Put the beans into a medium-sized saucepan with the garlic and cover with water. Bring the the boil, then simmer for 25 to 35 minutes or until tender. Drain, season generously, then add the vinegar & 3 tbsp of your best olive oil.

Slice the plum tomatoes in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 3 long strips. Season the tomatoes, then gently fold into the borlotti beans.

Divide the beans between 4 plates and scatter the salami over the top. Serve drizzled with some more oil.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Clarkson Potter, 2006.)

 

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Orecchiette with clams and broccoli

We just love recipes like these – tastes just like holidays in Italy. So simple but truly delicious.

Wine Suggestion: A favourite: the Sartarelli Verdicchio Classico Superiore “Tralivio”, was a great match for this combining freshness and vitality with a roundness, texture, saltiness and enough body to work with some of the strong components of this dish.

Orecchiette with clams & broccoli – serves 4

  • 1kg clams, washed
  • 300g broccoli
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 fresh hot red chilli, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 crumbled dried hot chilli or 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 150ml white wine
  • 300g orecchiette

Cut the florets from the broccoli head and discard the stalks. Cut each floret in half lengthwise.

Cook the broccoli in boiling salted water until very tender, then drain.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a heavy frying pan. Add half the garlic and fry until soft, then add the anchovies and dried chilli, Stir to melt the anchovies. Add the broccoli and cook for 10 minutes or until it is soft enough to break up into a sauce.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan. Add the fresh chilli, the rest of the garlic, and the parsley. Fry until just coloured. Add the clams and wine, then cover and cook over a high heat until the clams have opened, about 3 minutes. Drain and reserve the liquid.

Remove the clams from their shells and add them to the broccoli sauce with some of their cooking water to thin the sauce a bit.

Cook the orecchiette in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and add to the sauce, adding some more liquid as needed.

Serve with your best olive oil.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Clarkson Potter, 2006.)

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Asparagus & Prosciutto soup

Another favourite from the River Café where the prosciutto gives a big addition to the flavour. Serve with a few asparagus tips and top quality olive oil on top. Delicious!

Wine suggestion: Sauvignon Blanc with bags of  flavour. Something like the Dog Point from New Zealand or the Dezat Sancerre from the Loire will work great. Going slightly off-piste we love the Domaine Bellier Cheverny Blanc which combines 85% Sauvignon Blanc with Chardonnay in a un-sung appellation from the Loire, a really good food wine.

Asparagus & prosciutto soup – serves 4

  • 500g asparagus
  • 140g prosciutto slices, sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 140g spinach
  • Marigold Swiss bouillon powder dissolved with 750ml of boiling water
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut the remaining stalks into short lengths. Keep the tips to one side.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy-based pan, add the onion and soften for 5 minutes, then add the prosciutto, potatoes, parsley and asparagus stalks. Season with pepper (hold off on the salt until the end as the ham is salty) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, then add the bouillon and simmer until the potatoes and asparagus are tender – about 15 minutes. Add the spinach and most of the asparagus tips and cook for a another few minutes. Remove from the heat and blend to a rough purée.

Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil and fry the reserved tips for a few seconds. Serve the soup with the asparagus and oil drizzled over each bowl.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Clarkson Potter, 2006.)

 

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Spaghetti with parsley, pancetta & parmigiano

We’re never surprised at how reliable the cookbooks from River Cafe are as in general they celebrate fabulous ingredients with simple cooking methods; our favourite way to cook too. This is a rich dish and works best served in small portions as a starter.

Wine Suggestion: The richness and parmesan cry out for higher acidity in the wine. We combined this idea with the almost bacon-ny yeasty and almondy autolysis of a sparkling Trento DOC, the Ferrari Perlé Nero Riserva. Body, richness, nuttiness and freshness; a great combo with the pasta.

When choosing between Italian sparkling wines we find the Trento DOC area has a bit more body and richness than the creamier and refined Franciacorta. This is not to say that top producers like Ferrari don’t have refinement, they do in spades, but that there is a lightness and elegance to be found in Franciacorta. Too light for this dish. Both areas produce some stunning wines.

Spaghetti with parsley, pancetta & parmesan – serves 6

  • 8 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 medium red onions, finely chopped
  • 200g pancetta, finely sliced, then cut into 5mm pieces plus an extra Rose 6 thin slices (one each)
  • 400g spaghetti
  • 150g butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 dried red chilli or a good pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • olive oil
  • 120g Parmesan, grated

Gently heat the butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and cook gently for 15-20 minutes, then add the pancetta and garlic. Turn down the heat, stir and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes. You can turn up a bit again at the end if you want the pancetta to crisp up.  Season well with salt, pepper and the dried chilli. Stir in the parsley.

Heat a small frying pan, brush with oil, and fry the slices of pancetta to crisp them. Drain on paper towels.

Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, but scoop out a few tablespoons of the cooking water first. Throw the spaghetti into the warm parsley mixture and toss, adding a little of the pasta water to help the sauce coat the pasta.

Serve with lots of Parmesan and a slice of pancetta on each bowl.

(Original recipe from River Cafe Green by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Martin Gray, 2000.)

 

 

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Conchiglie al Cavolo Nero

We’ve made this a couple times recently as  Cavolo Nero is around and we keep on being drawn to it. Especially as we’re starting to tire of root veg and looking forward to all the treats that will come with Spring.

The dish is  creamy and cheesy, with load of garlic and iron rich Cavolo Nero. Fairly rich for a main course in our opinion but absolutely perfect served in small starter portions.

If it suits you can blanch and dry the Cavolo nero and make the garlic puree in advance which leaves very little to do to get the dish on the table.

Wine suggestion: An old favourite came to the rescue here in the form of the Sartarelli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore “Tralivio” which has a great weight but also a freshness and vibrant texture. The flavour of the food isn’t shy, so make sure whatever you choose has enough body to cope.

Conchiglie al Cavolo Nero – serves 6 as a starter

  • 900g Cavolo Nero
  • 300ml double cream
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 dried chillies, crumbled or 2 tsp chilli flakes (adjust to your heat preference)
  • 150g Parmesan, freshly grated
  • 250g conchiglie or other shell-shaped pasta

Remove the central stalk from the Cavelo Nero leaves and cut each one into 3 or 4 pieces. Blanch the leaves in boiling salted water for 3 minutes by which time they should be tender and bright green. Drain and dry in a clean tea towel.

Put the double cream and 5 of the whole garlic cloves into a pan and simmer until the garlic is soft, about 15 minutes. Purée in a blender.

In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and fry the remaining 2 garlic cloves, cut into thin slices, and the chilli. When the garlic has coloured, add the blanched Cavolo Nero, stir & season. Pour in the cream and garlic purée, bring to the boil, and cook for 5 minutes until the Cavolo Nero is coated and the sauce has thickened. Add the Parmesan.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water, then drain well before mixing well with the sauce.

(Original recipe from The River Cafe Cookbook by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Ebury Press, 1995.)

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River Café tomato sauce

 

We have two tomato sauces in our repertoire that we rely on; both are delicious but have a slightly different character. This is the one we have adopted from the River Café in London which is quicker (though we wouldn’t describe it as quick exactly) and incorporates a rich onion base. We keep a stack of takeaway tubs full of tomato sauce in the freezer for whenever pizza, pasta, or any other tomato-flavoured dish calls. Top quality tinned tomatoes are essential and we find the Italian brands are best.

Sugo di Pomodoro a Fuoco Lento or Slow-Cooked Tomato Sauce

  • 2 x 800g tins plum tomatoes, drained of their juices
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 medium red onions, peeled and sliced very thinly
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into slivers

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the onions. Reduce the heat and cook until very soft, at least 40 minutes. Add the garlic about 5 minutes before the end.

Add the tomatoes and stir to break up. Season with salt and pepper and cook slowly for at least 90 minutes, giving it a stir every now and again. The oil will eventually come to the surface and the sauce will be dark red and very thick with no remaining juice.

(Original recipe from The River Cafe Cookbook by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, Ebury Press, 1995.)

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