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Posts Tagged ‘Starter’

Beetroot & feta samosas

These are so simple to make and you can stash them in the freezer and cook from frozen so great for a snack or starter with drinks.

Wine Suggestion: We’ve tried these with a few different wines and prefer them if the wine is chilled. Quite a few whites worked really well, but interestingly the best combination was a chilled red made from Grignolino from the Piedmont in norther Italy. Light bodied and yet dry with hints of (in balance) pippy bitterness and structured, light tannins. From a bottle a friend brought over and made by Olim Bauda; a nice discovery.

Beetroot & feta samosas – makes 18-24 samosas

  • 400g fresh beetroot
  • 200g feta cheese, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 30g coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp toasted cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 x 270g packs of filo pastry
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • onion seeds (nigella seeds), to garnish

Boil the beetroot until tender when pierced with a sharp knife, this can take an hour or more depending on what size they are.

Trim the beetroot and peel off the skin (you might like to wear gloves), then roughly mash.

Put the mashed beetroot into a hot frying pan over a medium heat and heat for 5 minutes to remove excess moisture, then transfer to a bowl.

Stir in the feta, scallions, coriander, green chilli, garlic, chilli powder, cumin, garam masala and salt.

Lay a sheet of the filo pastry out with the long side towards you (cover the rest of the filo with a damp tea towel). Brush the left hand side of the pastry sheet lightly with the melted butter. Fold the right hand side of the sheet over the left so you have a double layer of pastry. Cut the pastry into 3 long strips with a sharp knife.

Place a heaped tbsp of the beetroot mixture at the bottom of a pastry strip, then fold the bottom right hand corner up over the filling to make a small triangle. Flip the triangle over as you move up the pastry strip, the filling will eventually be sealed inside. When you get to the end, brush the end of the pastry strip with a little melted butter and press to seal.

Continue like this until all of the beetroot mixture has been used, you might not need all of the filo pastry.

If you want to freeze the samosas at this stage you can set them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, then place in tray in the freezer. When the samosas are frozen you can transfer them to a bag.

If you want to cook the freshly made samosas, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400°F/gas 6. Brush the samosas on both sides with melted butter and sprinkle a few onion seeds over the top. Put onto a lightly greased baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

To cook from frozen. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400°F/gas 6. Brush both sides with melted butter, sprinkle a few onion seeds over the top, and put onto a lightly greased baking tray. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until crisp and golden.

(Original recipe from Made in India by Meera Sodha, Fig Tree, 2014.)

 

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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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Hot Crab Pots

This is such a simple starter but really delicious. Couldn’t recommend it highly enough. We made with some fresh crab leftover from another dish and waiting in the freezer.

Wine Suggestion: this is quite rich and we’d suggest pairing it with a fuller, more complex and concentrated sparkling. A good vintage Champagne works, or alternately find a top-quality sparkling made in the same method; tonight it was Dermot Sugrue’s The Trouble with Dreams, one of our favourite English sparkling wines.

Hot Crab Pots – serves 4 as a starter

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 200ml double cream
  • 100g mixed white and brown crabmeat
  • 50g gruyère, grated
  • butter
  • 1 tsp chopped chives

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

Mix the eggs, cream, crabmeat and gruyère together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Grease 4 ramekins with butter, then divide the mixture between them.

Cook the pots in the oven for about 15 minutes or until just set – we had to cook for a couple of minutes longer.

Sprinkle with the chives to serve. Some sourdough toast on the side would be nice but not essential.

(Original recipe by Victoria Moore in BBC Olive Magazine, March 2013.)

 

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Mussels & cockles with garlic breadcrumbs

This is a great starter from Polpo that tastes similar to stuffed mussels but is nowhere near as fiddly to prepare. We used cockles instead of clams as that is what we could get the day we cooked this.

Wine Suggestion: we’d suggest a white from central or sourther Italy for this dish. Tonight it was a Verdicchio from the Marches, the Tralivio by the Sartarelli family which combines citrus, apricots and wild herbs with texture, body and hints of a bitter almond on the finish. Very attractive, refreshing and a perfect food wine.

Mussels & Clams with Garlic Breadcrumbs – serves 4 – 6 as a starter

  • 100g old bread
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • a small handful of flat parsley leaves, chopped
  • a large pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • flaky sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 kg mussels
  • 1kg clams
  • 100ml white wine
  • bread, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas 4.

Tear the old bread into pieces, then scatter over a baking tray and pour over plenty of olive oil over them. Put the tray into the oven for 5 minutes or until the bread is crisp and golden, then set aside.

When the bread has cooled blitz it in food processor with the chopped parsley, half the dried chilli, half the garlic and some seasoning. When the bread has turned to fine crumbs, taste some and adjust the seasoning and add some more oil if they are too dry.

Clean the mussels and clams in cold running water and discard any that are damaged or that stay open when tapped.

Heat a large pan and add some olive oil. Throw in the mussels and clams with the rest of the chilli and garlic and stir until the shells start to open. As they do, pour in the white wine and cover the pan with a lid. The shells should all have opened after a couple of minutes, throw away any that haven’t opened.

Add a handful of breadcrumbs to the pan to thicken the sauce. Spoon the mussels and clams into shallow bowls and sprinkle with the rest of the crumbs. Serve immediately with crusty bread if you like.

(Original recipe from Polpo by Russel Norman, Bloomsbury, 2012.)

 

 

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Honey glazed chicken wings

We love a good chicken wing and the only way to eat them is with your fingers – like we need an excuse. Cheap as chips too. What’s not to love?

Wine Suggestion: keeping it simple we pulled out a bottle of the Petit Mazuret Viognier from southern France. Not complex, but rich and able to stand up to the flavours of the chicken; a very satisfying accompaniment

Honey-glazed Chicken Wings – serves 6 as a starter

  • 1kg chicken wings
  • 2 tbsp clear honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 100ml sour cream
  • 100ml buttermilk
  • 100g mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • pinch of smoked paprika
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
  • celery sticks, to serve (optional)

Heat the oven to 200C/200C fan/gas 6.

Put the wings in a large roasting tin. Mix the honey, soy and ½ tbsp sesame seeds in a bowl, then pour over the wings. Mix well with your hands to coat, then roast for 20 minutes or so until browned, sticky and cooked through.

Meanwhile, combine the sour cream, buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice and paprika. Season well, then chill until ready to serve.

When cooked, sprinkle over the rest of the sesame seeds and the chilli. Serve with the dip and some celery sticks if you like.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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White aspargus with serrano ham and chive dressing

We adore this stuff. A piece of salty ham and mustardy dressing are all that’s needed for a delicious starter or light lunch.

Wine Suggestion: given the ham and mustard dressing we chose a bottle of Dönnhoff Liestenberg Riesling Kabinett which was superb. It had a vibrancy and freshness to match the salty fatiness of the ham and the tangy dressing.

White asparagus with serrano ham and chive dressing – serves 4

  • 16 fat white asparagus spears
  • 4 slices serrano ham

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp clear honey
  • 3 tbsp walnut or hazelnut oil
  • 1 tbsp snipped chives

Trim the asparagus and peel the stems with a potato peeler. Boil in salted water for 12-15 mins until the spears are tender, then drain well.

Whisk together the lemon juice, mustard and honey with some salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil, then stir in the chives just before serving.

Divide the warm or cold asparagus between 4 plates. Lay the ham on top and drizzle over the dressing.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Avocado & Broad Bean Mash

This makes a nice light starter to share with some crusty bread, crackers or breadsticks.

Wine Suggestion: Rosé because it matches the mood and season, and also because a good, dry, rosé is both refreshing and a good match for food. Today it was the Ch de la Negly “les Terrasses” from the Languedoc.

Avocado & broad bean mash – serves 4

  • 250g podded broad beans, fresh or frozen
  • a large avocado, peeled and roughly chopped
  • a lemon, finely shave with a peeler to get one long strip of zest, then juice to give 1 ½ tbsp
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced

Bring a pan of salty water to the boil and blanch the beans for 2 minutes, then drain, run under cold water and drain again. Remove the skin from the beans and discard, they should pop off easily. Set 50g of beans aside and put the rest into a food processor with the avocado, lemon juice, 2 tbsp of oil and ¼ tsp salt, then whizz until almost smooth.

Heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil in a small frying pan, then gently fry the scallions and lemon skin for a minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the reserved broad beans and a pinch of salt.

Check the the avocado and broad bean mixture for seasoning then spread over a plate, making a rim around the edge. Spoon the spring onion mix into the middle just before serving.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi with Tara Wigley and Esme Howarth, Ebury Press, 2018.)

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Smoked Salmon, Horseradish & Dill Crostini

Do try this. It looks like regular smoked salmon crostini but the balance of ingredients is perfect, including the rather generous portion of salmon per toast. Don’t be tempted to scrimp on either quantity or quality!

Wine Suggestion: excellent with sparkling – your choice of Crémant, Champagne, or your local version. Just make sure that it a fresh, more acidic style … Prosecco need not apply as it doesn’t have enough zing for this. Tonight the Soalheiro Espumante, a sparkling made from alvarinho in northern Portugal and wonderfully citrus, vibrant and refreshing.

Smoked salmon, horseradish & dill crostini – makes 20 crostini

  • 250g crème fraîche
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • about 3 tbsp freshly grated horseradish
  • pinch of caster sugar (optional)
  • 1 French stick, cut into discs and lightly toasted
  • 500g thinly sliced top quality smoked salmon
  • 20 dill sprigs
  • lemon juice

Make the horseradish cream by mixing together the crème fraîche, mustard and horseradish. Season with salt and pepper and add a little sugar if it tastes tart.

Put a generous slice of salmon in each piece of toast and top with a spoonful of horseradish cream. Decorate with a sprig of dill. Add a few drops of lemon juice and some black pepper before serving.

(Original recipe from Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (of sorts) by Russell Norman, Bloomsbury, 2012.)

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Bandari fishcakes

These Persian fishcakes are full of herbs and make a delicious starter or light lunch. They can be made up in advance and cooked when you need them.

Wine Suggestion: the only option here is a youthful, light, off-dry Riesling where the aromatics, herbs, date and tamarind all play with each other. Tonight we drank the Dr Loosen Estate Riesling, his entry level wine made with his own fruit in the Mosel and it was an excellent match. Along with the Mosel we’d recommend the fruity styles (Kabinett & Spätlese) from other German regions such as the Nahe and Rheingau. Further afield the Aussie Rieslings tend to be too dry for a dish like this but there are some excellent NZ examples, Forrest Estate and Felton Rd spring to mind.

Bandari fishcakes with a tamarind and date sauce (Kuku-ye mahi) – serves 4

  • 300g potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
  • 200g white fish fillets e.g. cod/haddock
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • 50g coriander, finely chopped
  • 25g parsley, finely chopped – plus extra to garnish
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaf (menthi)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • 1 medium egg
  • plain flour, for dusting
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or olive oil

FOR THE TAMARIND & DATE SAUCE:

  • 50g tamarind pulp soaked in 100ml just boiled water for 10 minutes
  • 75g Iranian or Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 150ml hot water

Put the potatoes into a large pan and cover with cold water. Add a generous pinch of salt and bring to the boil, then simmer until tender. Drain, mash the potatoes, and put into a large mixing bowl.

Add the fish to the potatoes. Dry fry the cumin seeds in a small frying pan for a minute or until fragrant. Grind the seeds with a pestle and mortar, then add to the bowl along with the fresh herbs, fenugreek leaf, garlic, cayenne, turmeric, lemon zest, egg, 1¼ tsp of salt and ¼ tsp of pepper.

Mix well with your hands, then shape into eight round patties. Dust with a little flour and place on a plate, cover with cling film and chill.

To make the sauce, put the tamarind and its soaking liquid, the dates, brown sugar, cayenne, cinnamon and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Add the hot water and cook for 10 minutes over a low heat until the dates are very soft.

Take the sauce off the heat and sieve into a bowl, use the back of a spoon to rub as much through as possible.

To finish the fishcakes, heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the cakes on a medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes, turning every few minutes, until golden brown and crusted. Garnish with parsley and serve with the sauce.

(Original recipe from The Saffron Tales by Yasmin Khan, Bloomsbury, 2016.)

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Smoked Mackerel Loaded Leaves

This is the kind of nibble we like before dinner. Really tasty but light so it won’t spoil your appetite. Radicchio and/or chicory leaves are preferable but if you can’t find these you can substitute Little Gem lettuce – as we did.

Wine Suggestion: Your choice of bubbles, whether it’s Prosecco, Cremant, Cava or Champagne

Smoked Mackerel Loaded Leaves – serves 4-8

  • 200g smoked mackerel fillets, skin removed and flaked
  • 4 tbsp crème fraîche
  • juice and zest of ½ lemon
  • small bunch of chives, snipped
  • small handful of dill, chopped
  • 1 small radicchio, separated into leaves
  • 1-2 chicory heads separated into leaves

Gently mix the mackerel with the crème fraîche, lemon juice, half the herbs and some pepper. Chill until ready to serve.

Spoon generous amounts of the mackerel mixture into each leaf and arrange on a plates or a platter. Sprinkle over the remaining herbs and the lemon zest.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Smoked salmon & crab timbales with cucumber parpadelle

This luxurious starter of smoked salmon timbales filled with creamy crab can be made up to a day ahead. You do need to find big slices of smoked salmon as you need to completely line the moulds to stop the filling leaking out.

Wine Suggestion: as befits the occasion these go great with bubbly. We love good Champagne, but have recently been sampling various Cremants from around France and enjoying the variation and character each brings. With this we served the Manciat Poncet Cremant de Bourgogne which our friend brought along to dinner.

Smoked salmon timbales with cucumber pappardelle – serves 8

  • 12 large slices of smoked salmon
  • 225g full-fat soft cheese
  • 100-150ml sour cream
  • 100g white crab meat
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh dill, plus some sprigs to garnish
  • lemon wedges, to garnish

FOR THE CUCUMBER PAPPARDELLE:

  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 150ml olive oil
  • a few black peppercorns
  • 1-2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 large cucumber peeled

Line eight 100ml ramekins with the smoked salmon making sure there are not gaps and hanging it well over the sides.

Beat the cheese to soften and mix in 100ml soured cream – loosen with a little more cream if still too firm to spoon.

Pick over the crab and remove any tiny bits of shell. Stir into the cheese with the chopped dill and season. Spoon into the moulds and fold over the overhanging salmon, then cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 2 hours (you can do this up to a day ahead).

Make the dressing for the cucumber. Put the sugar and 3 tbsp of water int a small saucepan and bring quickly to a simmer. Add the lemon zest and juice, oil and peppercorns, then taste and add 1-2 tsp of vinegar. Season with salt. Return to the boil, then cool (this can also be made up to a day ahead).

Use a swivel peeler to shave long strips of cucumber until you get to the seeds. Discard the centre. Don’t do this any more than 30 minutes beforehand or it will go soggy.

To serve, unwrap and run a knife between the salmon and the ramekins to pop them out onto plates. Strain the dressing through a sieve, mix a few tablespoons with the cucumber and arrange next to the timbales. Garnish with lemon wedges and dill and drizzle over some more dressing.

(Original recipe by Gary Rhodes in BBC Good Food Magazine, December 2004.)

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Rosemary and cheese straws 1

Who knew cheese straws could be so tasty? These are a great freezer standby to pull out and bake as needed and they work perfectly with pre-dinner drinks. They are definitely best served warm so don’t bake until your guests have arrived and have drinks in hands.

Wine Suggestion: Champagne and if not in your budget, a really good sparkling with a bit of time on the lees. We don’t know anyone who refuses this combination!

Rosemary & Cheese Straws – makes 36

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 375g pack of ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry
  • 3 tbsp roughly chopped rosemary, plus a bit extra
  • 100g gruyère or emmental, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan
  • sea salt, for sprinkling

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

Mix 1 egg yolk with the mustard and stir until smooth, then set aside.

Lightly flour a work surface and open out the pastry, then prick all over with a fork. Brush the egg and mustard mixture over the pastry.

Sprinkle the rosemary over the pastry, followed by the cheeses and lightly press into the pastry. Cut the pastry sheet in half lengthways, then cut each length widthways into 2cm wide strips. Twist the strips gently.

Put the straws onto two large non-stick baking trays or trays lined with parchment. Press the ends of each twist onto the tray. Beat the remaining egg yolk with a teaspoon of water and brush over the twists, then sprinkle with the additional rosemary and sea salt. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until puffed and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little but serve while still warm.

To Freeze: Make the straws up to the point of twisting, then arrange on a large baking tray and freeze, uncovered, until solid, then pack into a freezer-proof box. To serve, remove from the freezer and glaze with the egg yolk (as above) and bake from frozen for 12 to 15 minutes.

(Original recipe by Henry Harris in BBC Good Food Magazine, November, 2001.)

Rosemary and cheese straws 2

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Patatas Bravas

We love these crispy potato cubes with spicy sauce and this version roasts the potatoes in the oven rather than frying them in heaps of oil. Serve as a side dish or just on their own for a snack.

Wine Suggestion: We love a dry sherry with these, but can’t decide between whether we prefer Fino, Amontillado or Oloros – we recommend them all.

Patatas Bravas – serves 4

  • 800g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into 3-4cm cubes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flatleaf parsley, to serve

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • ½ tsp sugar or honey
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tsp hot paprika, plus extra to serve

Put the potatoes into a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, add plenty of salt, and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until starting to soften. Drain gently so they don’t break up too much.

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

Put 2 tbsp of olive oil in a roasting tin and heat in the oven. Add the drained potatoes, toss in the oil, and roast for 40-45 minutes.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and add the garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the garlic has started to soften but not coloured. Add the vinegar and sugar or honey and stir until dissolved. Stir in the sweet and hot paprikas.

Pour the sauce over the crispy potatoes and sprinkle with a little extra paprika and some finely chopped parsley.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers Mediterranean Adventure by Si King and Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2017.)

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Spicy Thai Fishcakes with Dipping Sauce

These take literally minutes to make and they make a super tasty starter or snack.

Wine Suggestion: our favourite wine with dishes like this is dry Riesling, with the limey, citrus flavours of wines from the Clare Valley, like those made by Pikes, coming to mind first. They are zesty and thrilling in flavour with the bracing acidity working perfectly with the citrus fruit to make a wine that is both thirst-quenching and hunger inducing at the same time. Aperitivo!

Spicy Thai fishcakes with dipping sauce – serves 2

  • 200g raw peeled prawns
  • 2-3 tsp Thai red curry paste
  • a small bunch of coriander, stalks separated
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped

Put the prawns, curry paste and coriander stalks into a food processor and whizz to a paste. Form 4 to 6 flat cakes.

Heat a non-stick frying pan, heat a drizzle of oil, then fry the cakes for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through.

Mix the vinegar, sugar and chilli together in a small bowl.

Serve the cakes with the coriander leaves and sauce for dipping.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, October 2012.)

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Roasted butternut squash & red onion with tahini & za'atar

A divine vegetable dish from Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi’s bookJerusalem’ – still one of our absolute favourites. We served this on a platter as a light starter but it would also work really well as a vegetarian/vegan main or as a side with other dishes. There were happy diners at our table!

Wine Suggestion: this worked excellently with Massaya’s le Colombier from the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, a very Rhône blend with a touch of  Tempranillo which gives it hints of North African / Eastern spices.

Roasted butternut squash & red onion with tahini & za’atar – serves 4

  • 1 large butternut squash, cut into wedges (about 2cm x 6cm)
  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 3½ tbsp light tahini paste
  • 1½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 30g pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp za’atar
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat your oven to 240C/220C fan/Gas 9.

Put the squash and onion wedges into a large mixing bowl and toss with 3 tbsp of oil, 1 tsp of sea salt flakes and some black pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet with the skin facing down and roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through and starting to crisp and brown at the edges, leave to cool.

Make the sauce by putting the tahini into a small bowl with the lemon juice, 2 tbsp of water, the garlic & ¼ tsp of sea salt. Whisk until the sauce is “the consistency of honey”. You may need to add more water or tahini.

Pour the rest of the oil into a small frying pan and warm over a low-medium heat. Add the pine nuts with ½ tsp of sea salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until golden brown. Remove from the heat and pour the nuts and oil into a bowl so that they stop cooking.

Spread the vegetables out on a serving platter and drizzle over the tahini. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and their oil, the za’atar and parsley.

(Original recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, Ebury Press, 2012.)

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Pomegranate, cucumber and pistachio yoghurt

We are always on the look out for cooling dips to serve with spicer dishes. This one would be good with any middle eastern-style meal that warrants something cool on the side. Or you could have it on its own with some toasted pittas. Another great recipe from Feasts by Sabrina Ghayour.

Pomegranate, cucumber & pistachio yoghurt – serves 6 to 8

  • 500ml thick Greek yoghurt
  • 1 large banana shallot or 2 small round shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, cut into 1cm dice
  • 150g pomegranate seeds, rinsed to remove the juice
  • 100g pistachio nuts
  • 30g of mint, leaves stripped and roughly chopped
  • toasted pitta bread to serve

Pour the yoghurt into a large bowl and mix in the shallot. Add the cucumber, pomegranate seeds and pistachios (keep some of each to sprinkle over before serving). Add the mint, then fold everything gently through the yoghurt. Season generously with sea salt and black pepper.

To serve drizzle with some good olive oil and scatter over the reserved cucumber, pomegranate seeds and pistachios.

Serve as a dip with toasted pittas or as a cooling side dish.

(Original recipe from Feasts by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2017.)

 

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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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Marinated mushrooms with lemon

These mushrooms, from Claudia Roden’s fantastic book The Food of Spain, are served cold and make a great nibble to serve with drinks. Some bread and olives would be good too.

Wine Suggestion: Jono purchased a bottle of the delicious Valdespino Inocente Fino Sherry from a friend and this was the perfect Tapas dish to go with it.

Champiñones marinados – serves 4

  • 500g button mushrooms
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • grated zest of ½ a lemon
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Wipe the mushrooms clean with some damp kitchen towel. Trim the stems and cut into halves or quarters.

Heat the mushrooms in a large, non-stick frying pan, over a medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring until they release their juices and the juices have evaporated.

Mix the lemon juice & zest with the oil and some salt and pepper in a wide, shallow bowl. Add the hot mushrooms to the bowl and mix well.

Cool, then cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours (or you can make a day ahead). Serve at room temperature with the parsley sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden, Michael Joseph, 2012.)

 

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Fig & Gorgonzolha Tartines

September is when you start to find some juicy figs. These easy tartines show them off perfectly.

Wine Suggestion: A young, fruity Pinot Noir often springs to mind when pairing with figs, but bringing in the Gorgonzola made us swing to a white variant of this grape: Pinot Gris. Our choice was from Forrest Estate in Marlborough, New Zealand and it was fresh and full of joyous fruit to match the mood of this dish.

Fig & Gorgonzola Tartines – serves 6

  • 6 thin slices sourdough
  • 2-3 tbsp of truffle or flower honey
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 6 slices gorgonzola
  • 5 ripe figs, sliced into 4

Toast the sourdough and spread each slice with a little of the honey and sprinkle with some thyme leaves. Lay a slice of gorgonzola on each and squash down a bit with knife so it reaches the edges of the toast.

Put the tartines under a hot grill for a few minutes until the cheese just starts to melt.

Arrange the fig slices on top, sprinkle with a little salt, some black pepper and more thyme, then grill again for a couple of minutes and drizzle with some more honey before serving.

(Original recipe by Lulu Grimes IN: Olive Magazine, September 2013.)

Figs

 

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Crispy Parma ham w avocado and hot tomato dressing

A really nice dish to serve as a starter in late summer when the tomatoes are at their best.

Wine Suggestion: We love serving slightly-chilled, young, light reds with salads like this. Given the Parma ham we chose the Colterenzio Pinot Nero from the Alto Adige, but it could have easily been a Joven Tempranillo, Beaujolais or Cheverny rouge. Young, lighter bodied, fruity and with a fresh acidity; perfect.

Crispy Parma Ham with Avocado & Hot Tomato Dressing – serves 4

  • 5 tbsp olive oil, plus a bit extra
  • 85g Parma ham, roughly torn
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, quartered, seeded and cut into thin slivers
  • 15g basil, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 100-120g mixed salad leaves
  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled and sliced

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Add half the Parma ham pieces, add some freshly ground black pepper and fry for one minute per side until crisp. Transfer to a plate and keep warm while you repeat with the rest of the ham.

Wipe any excess fat out of the pan and return to a low heat. Heat 4 tbsp of olive oil, then add the tomatoes, basil and lemon juice. Season with freshly ground black pepper and gently heat through for about 30 seconds.

Arrange the salad leaves on 4 plates. Top with the avocado slices, then pile on the crispy ham and spoon over the hot dressing. Serve immediately with a little extra salt if needed and an extra drizzle of olive oil.

(Original recipe by Lesley Waters in BBC Good Food Magazine, September 2001)

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