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Posts Tagged ‘River Café’

Mozzarella with salami, cannellini beans & olives

If you can find a ball of buffalo mozzarella, then lucky you. There is none to be had in our vicinity at the moment, but it will return. This is a super simple idea from the River Café which makes a lovely lunch or a starter for sharing – for when we can share stuff again. We will share stuff again.

Salami with Cannellini Beans & Olives

  • 1 x 400 tin of cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • small black olives, we like the wrinkly ones, pitted
  • finely sliced fennel salami – of course any salami or other cured meat will do, and there are loads of brilliant Irish producers to choose from
  • a ball of buffalo mozzarella

Gently heat the beans with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some olive oil. Season and purée – a stick blender does the job here.

Toss the olives in a little of your special bottle of olive oil.

Put the salami on a plate with the mozzarella and serve with the bean purée alongside and the olives scattered over.

Simple and delicious.

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

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Spaghetti with Roasted Red Mullet

It feels a bit weird posting recipes like this but at the same time we think its important to remember that there are no food shortages. The fish shops are open and fishermen continue to fish and while this continues, we’re going to make the most of it.

Wine Suggestion: a good rule of thumb when matching wines is to look at the source of the food and see what is being grown nearby. Today, an Italian seafood pasta drags us to the Poggio ai Ginepri Vermentino, grown on the Tuscan coast; both floral and salty in equal amounts with a good dollop of tasty fruit in the middle.

Spaghetti with roasted red mullet – serves 2

  • 4 small fillets of red mullet – ask the fish shop to fillet them for you and make sure you check them over for tiny bones
  • a handful of black olives, pitted
  • a dried chilli or half a tsp of dried chilli flakes
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • your best extra virgin olive oil
  • some fresh thyme, leaves stripped
  • 200g spaghetti

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F.

Prick the cherry tomatoes with a fork, then toss with a little olive oil, season and spread over a baking tray. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

Put the fillets of red mullet in a single layer in a shallow baking dish, sprinkle with thyme and the dried chilli, then season. Drizzle with oil and roast in the oven for 5 minutes.

Cook the spaghetti in loads of salty water until al dente. Drain and return to the pan.

Add the olives and tomatoes to the pasta with 1 tbsp of olive oil and season. Add the red mullet and toss gently, then serve.

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

 

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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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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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From the geniuses at River Café is this deeply delicious and flavoursome pasta which keeps on reprising itself on our menus. We love that the ingredients list is simple and short and yet the dish is packed full of flavour and style. Don’t shy away from the generous quantity of butter – it’s what gives the dish its richness.

We’ve given a separate recipe for the tomato sauce. You will have too much for this recipe but it’s good served as it is with some tagliatelle and freezes well.

Wine suggestion: earthy, medium bodied red wines work well with this and we returned to an old favourite, the very smooth Selvapiana Chianti Rufina which is pure elegance in a glass. Really fine and supple tannins make this sing with a freshness that adds depth to the food.

Penne, tomato and dried porcini – serves 4 

  • 320g penne
  • 40g dried porcini
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • 5 tbsp tomato sauce (see below)
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • extra virgin olive oil

Soak the porcini in 200ml boiling water for 10 minutes.

Drain the porcini, straining the liquid through muslin or a paper towel, reserving the water. Rinse the porcini and chop coarsely.

In a thick-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and add the garlic. Add the porcini and fry until soft. Add a little of the porcini liquid and simmer until absorbed. Stir in the parsley. Add the tomato sauce and season.

Cook the penne in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and stir into the pasta sauce.

Drizzle with olive oil and serve with the Parmesan

Tomato sauce – serves 4

  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 x 400g tinned tomatoes

Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed pan and fry the garlic until soft but not coloured. Add the tomatoes and season. Cook over a medium heat for 20-30 minutes or, until the sauce is very thick and the oil comes to the top.

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

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This is a really good first-course pasta which has a richness of flavour without being heavy. Use a good quality, aged balsamic vinegar (if you don’t you might need to use a bit extra).

Penne with Tomato & Balsamic Vinegar – to serve 6

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced finely
  • a handful of fresh basil
  • 2 x 400g tins of peeled plum tomatoes (Italian brands are usually the best quality)
  • 250g penne rigate
  • 75g butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
  • 120g Pecorino cheese, grated

Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the garlic until light brown. Add a few basil leaves and then the tomatoes. Stir and cook gently for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce is reduced and thick. Season with salt and pepper and add the rest of the basil.

Cook the penne in lots of salted boiling water , drain thoroughly and return to the saucepan with the butter. When this has melted, add the balsamic vinegar and toss over a gentle heat for a few seconds until the penne are brown. Throw in a handful of the Pecorino, then stir in the tomato sauce. Serve with more Pecorino.

Wine Suggestion: Pairing a wine with this dish is not as straight forward as it may seem as you need a wine to balance the rich flavours, acidic tomatoes and sweet and sour vinegar. One option is something from the Marche with a combination of Montepulciano and Sangiovese. Alternately look for a very good Valpolicella or Ripasso, but make sure it is one with a bit of freshness, tannins and elegance.  Another option, which we tried to good effect, is Barbera where the fresh acidity and softer tannins complemented the dish excellently.

(Original recipe from the River Café by Ruth Rogers & Rose Gray, Ebury House, 1995.)

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