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Posts Tagged ‘River Café’

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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Crab with fennel & chilli is a winning combination. Another perfect pasta dish by Ruth & Rose of the River Café.

Wine Suggestion: We find a great match for crab is a top quality Garganega and we highly recommend the Pra Soave “Staforte” which is made from low-yielding, 100% Garganega, old vines. Utterly pure and delicious.

Crab linguine – serves 4

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 2 dried hot chillies, crumbled
  • 1 lemon, grate the zest and squeeze out the juice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g crabmeat
  • 320g linguine

Remove the tough outer part and stem from the fennel. Slice the bulb across the grain very finely (use a mandolin if you have one). Reserve the green tops.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a heavy-based pan, add the garlic, fennel seeds, and chilli and cook to soften. Add the crab, lemon zest, and juice, then season. Stir just to heat the crab through.

Cook the linguine in boiling water for 5 minutes, then add the fennel slices and cook together until al dente. Reserve a little of the cooking water when you drain the pasta.

Add the drained pasta to the crab mixture and toss together until well combined. You can add a little of the reserved cooking water at this stage to loosen if necessary.

Serve with your best olive oil.

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

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Chianti Beef

 

The technique used to cook the meat is quite clever as the amount of beef is small and is only quickly, flash fried which keeps the juiciness, adds the caramelisation flavours and gives great depth to the whole dish. It’s an expensive cut but the quantity required is so small that it won’t break the bank. It’s hard to believe a dish with so much flavour takes such a short time to prepare.

Wine Suggestion: we drank one of our favourite Tuscan wines: the Selvapiana Chianti Rufina which is refined and elegant and complements the beef fillet and provides a foil to the rustic black pepper background in this dish.

Rigatoni, tomato, beef and red wine – serves 4

  • 320g rigatoni
  • 200g beef fillet
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 600g top quality tinned tomatoes
  • 350ml Chianti wine
  • 1tbsp ground black pepper
  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Trim the beef fillet and cut across into 5mm slices. Cut the slices into 1cm strips.

Heat the butter in a thick-bottomed pan, add the garlic and fry gently until brown. Add the tomatoes and season. Cook over a high heat for 5 minutes, stirring to break up the tomatoes, then add half the red wine. Continue to cook on quite a high heat, adding more wine as the sauce reduces. Cook for 15 minutes in total, using up all the wine, then stir in the pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan until very hot. Add the beef pieces and fry very briefly, just to brown each piece on both sides. Stir the beef into the sauce with any juices from the pan.

Cook the rigatoni in boiling salted until al dente. Drain and add to the sauce.

Serve with the Parmesan.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy: Simple Recipes from the London River Cafe by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, Random House, 2006.)

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Ditaloni, mussels & white wine

A scrumptious and deliciously rich pasta dish that works perfectly as a starter.

Wine Suggestion: A textured white works best here; old-world minerality rather than bright fruit-forward styles. The Casal di Serra Verdicchio from Umani Ronchi in the Marche (central Italy) combines stonefruit flavours, hints of wild-flowers on the nose and a crisp yellow apple finish and goes with the richness and depth of the pasta.

Ditaloni, mussels & white wine – serves 4

  • 1kg small mussels, scrubbed
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin oil
  • 125ml white wine
  • 165ml double cream
  • 300g ditaloni (or similar) pasta

Heat half the butter with the oil, then add the garlic and mussels. Pour in the wine; season, then cover and cook over a high heat until the mussels have opened. Drain the mussels and reserve the cooking liquid. Remove the mussels from the shells; discard the shells and any mussels that haven’t opened.

Heat the rest of the butter in a pan and add the mussel juices and the cream. Cook gently to reduce to a rich and creamy sauce. Then add the mussels and parsley.

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, then drain and add to the sauce. Toss together over a low heat, and serve.

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

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