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Our daughter is a gyoza addict and luckily we have a good local Japanese restaurant. She would order three or more portions if we let her. So in order to avoid bankruptcy we’ve decided to start making them ourselves. They are actually very straightforward, and helped immensely by shop-bought gyoza wrappers and a little gyoza folding gadget.

The wrappers keep in the freezer and defrost in an hour at room temperature. Just put them in the fridge afterwards until you’re ready to make the gyoza.

Chicken & Shiitake Gyoza with Miso Lemon Dipping Sauce – makes about 30 gyoza

  • 300g chicken thigh fillets, quartered
  • 10 shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 8 water chestnuts, finely choped
  • 3 tsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp sake or mirin
  • 6 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 30 gyoza wrappers
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE

  • 2 tbsp pale miso
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Pulse the chicken thighs in a food processor until minced, then tip into a bowl.

Add the mushrooms, water chestnuts, soy sauce, ginger, sake/mirin, scallions and cornflour. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper, then mix together well with a metal spoon. You can leave the mixture in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.

Mix together the ingredients for the dipping sauce and set aside.

Line a large tray with non-stick baking paper and have a bowl of water handy.

Put a gyoza wrapper into your gyoza maker, floured side down, and put 1 tbsp of the filling in the middle (you can and should use a piping bag for this). Dip your finger in the water and lightly run it round the edge of the wrapper. Close the gyoza maker and squeeze tight to seal. If you don’t have a little machine, you can look up how to fold them on youtube.

Heat a large frying pan with a lid over a medium high heat. Add ½ tbsp sesame oil, then place the gyozas into the pan, you will probably have to do 2 batches. Leave them for about 2 minutes or until the bottoms have turned golden, then add 40ml water and cover with a lid. Cook for another 2 minutes until most of the water has evaporated, then remove the lid. Drizzle over another ½ tsp of sesame oil and allow to crisp up for about 30 seconds.

Remove from the pan and serve with the dipping sauce.

(Original recipe from My Asian Kitchen by Jennifer Joyce, Murdoch Books, 2018.)

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Try this idea by Tom Kerridge as an alternative to prawn cocktail. It’s delicious!

Wine Suggestion: Muscadet, or Alvarinho/Albariño. Plenty of choices out there, tonight a Pazo de Señorans Albariño but many more could have equally filled the slot. Keep it fun.

Prawn salad with bloody mary dressing – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle more to serve
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
  • a few pinchs of cayenne pepper
  • 20 large tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
  • lemon wedges, to serve

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 5 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 5 good splashes of hot sauce, we used Frank’s
  • 1 tbsp creamed horseradish
  • 1 tbsp vodka
  • a large pinch of celery salt

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 2 ripe avocados, cut into chunky dice
  • 3 celery sticks, peeled and sliced into chunks, keep any leaves to garnish
  • ½ iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 2 ripe plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

Mix the dressing ingredients together, season with salt, and set aside. Keep it in the fridge if you make it in advance.

Mix the oil and garlic in a bowl with salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper, then add the prawns and marinate in the fridge, covered, for 10 minutes (or up to 24 hours).

Prep the salad before you cook the prawns and scatter over a large platter.

Heat a griddle pan over a medium heat, when hot lay on the prawns and cook for no more than a couple of minutes on each side, they need to turn pink and be just cooked through.

Scatter the prawns over the salad, drizzle generously with the dressing, sprinkle over the celery leaves and another pinch of cayenne, then drizzle with a little more oil. Serve with the lemon wedges.

(Original recipe by Tom Kerridge in BBC Good Food Magazine, October 2021.)

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Try these to wet your appetite with a glass of sherry and some crusty bread.

Wine Suggestion: It only makes sense to drink a sherry with this dish with our suggestion being for either a good Fino or Amontillado. Fortunately our friends brought over Tio Pepe’s Fino En Rama. A savoury, minerally wine with grilled almond and iodine characters alongside some delightful lemon and apple fruitiness plus a good dollop of yeasty flor overtones.

Mushrooms with garlic & sherry vinegar – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 500g mushrooms, halve or quarter big ones
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • a pinch of hot paprika
  • a small bunch of flatleaf parsley, chopped

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minutes, stirring, then add the mushrooms and cook over a high heat until just browned. If they give out liquid, keep cooking until it’s all gone.

Season well with salt and pepper, then add the sherry vinegar. Allow to sizzle until almost evaporated.

Serve the mushrooms with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of hot paprika and the chopped parsley.

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

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Truly original and truly delicious. Try them while we’ve got fresh corn cobs in the shops. Black limes are trendy at the moment but if you can’t find them you can use grated lime zest instead.

Corn ribs with black lime and pumpkin seed butter – serves 4 as a starter

  • 3 corn cobs, husks removed
  • 1.3 litres sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • 1½ tsp runny honey

FOR THE BUTTER

  • 25g pumpkin seeds
  • 60g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-2 dried black limes, roughly broken, then whizzed to a powder using spice grainder to get 2¼ tsp (if you don’t have black limes you can substitute grated lime zest)

Preheat the oven to 160C fan.

Spread the pumpkin seeds over a small baking tray and toast in the oven until golden-brown and starting to split, about 10 minutes. Coarsely blitz in a spice grinder (or finely chop) and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Mix the butter with 2 tsp of the ground black lime, the chopped pumpkin seeds and 1 tsp flaked sea salt to combine. You can make this ahead but remove from the fridge half an hour before you need it.

Cut the corn cobs in half widthways, then cut each half lengthways into quarters.

Heat the oil in a medium, high-sided saucepan on a medium heat. When very hot (about 180C if you have a probe), test by lowering in the end of a piece of corn; it should sizzle but not turn brown immediatley.

Fry the corn in batches for 6-7 minutes, turning a few times until they have curled and turned golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Transfer the cooked corn to a bowl and toss with the honey and 1½ tsp of sea salt flakes.

Serve the corn on a platter with the butter on the side and sprinkle with the rest of the ground lime.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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An excellent recipe for figs from Ottolenghi Flavour with the hot dressing perfectly complementing the cool ricotta. You can have the figs and the dressing made well in advance, making this dish simple to plate up.

Wine Suggestion: a complex and challenging dish to match with wine but if you can find a good, dry-ish Marsala, aged Tawny Port, or an Oloroso sherry with a hint a sweetness you’ll find the oxidative characteristics, hints of sweetness and tertiary, developed aromas and flavours really work a treat.

Grilled figs with Shaoxing dressing – serves 4 as a starter

  • 8 ripe purple figs, halved
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 ½ maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (or you can use pale dry sherry)
  • 2 ½ tsp Chinkiang vinegar (or half this quantity of balsamic)
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 2 red chillies, finely sliced into rounds
  • 1 lemon, finely shave the skin to get 5 strips (a vegetable peeler works well)
  • 60g rocket
  • 140g ricotta

Preheat the grill to its highest setting.

Toss the figs in a bowl with the soy sauce and 1 ½ tbsp of maple syrup, then set them cut side up on a parchment lined baking tray. Don’t leave any paper hanging over the edges as it could burn.

Roast the figs close to the grill until soft and caramelised but still holding their shape. It’s fine if they blacken a bit in places. Return the figs and any juices to the same bowl, then add the Shaoxing rice wine, Chinkiang vinegar and another tbsp of maple syrup. Toss together very gently and set aside for at least 1 hour (or overnight).

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat, then fry the chillies for 3 minutes. Add the lemon strips and fry for 30 seconds more then immediately pour into a heatproof bowl and set aside to infuse for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).

Arrange the rocket on a platter and top with the figs and dressing. Dot with ricotta and finish with the oil, chillies and lemon.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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This really is just the most delicious treat; the perfect beginning of a meal for 2. You will need bread!

Wine Suggestion: an excellent match for a well made Chardonnay with deftly handled oak. Without spending huge amounts Rustenberg’s Stellenbosch Chardonnay is a go to wine for us. With wild ferment in barrels this is complex, nutty, rich and smooth. Power and restraint in equal proportions.

Scallops with green peppercorns and garlic – serves 2

  • 6 scallops, you can remove the corals if you like but we recommend eating them
  • a knob of butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp green peppercorns (you buy them in jars with brine)
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2-3 tbsp double cream

Heat the grill as high as it will go.

Put the scallops onto a small tray or dish that can go under the grill. We used a small oven-proof frying pan.

Dot the butter over and around the scallops, along with the garlic, peppercorns and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

Put the dish under the hot grill, fairly close to the element. Grill for 2-3 minutes, then flip over, add the cream, give the tray a shake, then return to the grill for another 2 minutes or untl the scallops are cooked and the sauce bubbling.

Eat with lots of good bread to mop up the sauce.

(Original recipe from Gather by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2017.)

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We’ve had limited success with prawn cakes in the past, they often fall apart. These are grilled which makes things much easier and the peanut chilli sauce is amazing!

Wine Suggestion: these call for a vibrant, youthful white like Weingut Korrell’s Weißer Burgunder (Pinot Blanc) which was full of charming pear and apple flavours with a zesty citrus twist that complemented the limes and fish sauce a treat.

Prawn cakes with peanut chilli sauce – serves 4 as a starter

  • 2 tbsp palm sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 3 cm piece of fresh ginger
  • a handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • 3 small Thai shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 long red chilli, diced
  • 400g raw peeled prawns
  • zest of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tsp vegetable oil
  • chilled iceberg lettuce, to serve

FOR THE PEANUT CHILLI SAUCE:

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100ml rice vinegar
  • 2 red chillies, diced
  • 2 tbsp peanuts, toasted, finely chopped
  • 2 small Thai shallots, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp coriander

Put the palm or brown sugar into a small frying pan with 1 tbsp of water. Mix together and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat.

To make the peanut chilli sauce, boil the sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until syrupy. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely, then add the chilli, peanuts, shallot, fish sauce and coriander.

To make the cakes, put the ginger, coriander, shallot and chilli in a food processor and blend until fine. Add the prawns, lime zest and fish sauce and pulse until combined, keep it chunky. Season with plenty of black pepper.

Put a little oil on your hands, then form the prawn mixture into 16 flat cakes. Put in the fridge until ready to cook.

Preheat the grill. Brush both sides of the prawn cakes with a tiny bit of oil then put on a rack on top of a baking tray.

Grill the cakes for 1 minute, then brush the tops with the palm sugar syrup. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until opaque, there is no need to turn. Serve warm with the chilled lettuce leaves and peanut chilli sauce.

(Original recipe from My Asian Kitchen by Jennifer Joyce, Murdoch Books, 2018.)

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A proper Venetian cichéti or wine bar snack. If you haven’t grilled fennel before we strongly suggest that you do, it becomes all caramelised and the flavour is much stronger. Here two strong flavours come together to great effect. Serve as a nibble with drinks.

Wine Suggestion: we didn’t have have any dry Venetian whites to hand but from further south in the Marches we had a bottle of Sartarelli’s Verdicchio Classico. Crisp, with hints of bitter, green almonds and pure peach and apple flavours and a saline twist that seemed to echo the anchovies. We were almost sitting in a bacaro overlooking a canal.

Grilled fennel with White Anchovies

  • 1 small fennel bulb, sliced through the root into medium-thin pieces about 5mm thick
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • flaky sea salt
  • a handful of roughly chopped dill
  • 10 white anchovy fillets

Preheat the grill to medium.

Put the fennel slices onto a baking tray, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Add half the dill and toss to coat, then put the baking tray under the grill for 10-15 minutes, turning once, or until starting to brown and caramelise at the edges. Remove and set aside to cool slightly.

Spread the fennel over a platter and place an anchovy fillet on each slice, then scatter over the rest of the dill and serve.

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

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This is really a dish for sharing but we ate the lot with some crusty bread. Fabulous and intense flavours of lemon and harissa.

Wine Suggestion: Given this dish has a lot of strong, savoury flavours, including heat from the harissa and sour from the lemon, we had to choose Grüner Veltliner. Tonight’s choice is by Höpler from Burgenland in Austria and it was a pure and elegant wine with an appetising freshness and zesty finish. This stood it’s own ground against the big flavours in the food, was nice as an apertif and a wonderful palate cleanser after we’d finished; versatile indeed.

Harissa chickpeas with flaked cod – serves 4 as a starter

  • 200g skinless cod, remove the bones and cut into 3cm pieces
  • olive oil
  • 1/3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cloves of garlic, one crushed and one finely sliced
  • ½ an onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cardamom pods, bashed
  • 1 tbsp harissa, rose harissa if you can get it
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 1½ small preserved lemons, skin finely chopped (discard the flesh)
  • 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 5g coriander, roughly chopped

Put the cod into a bowl with 1½ tsp of olive oil, the cumin, crushed garlic and a pinch of salt. Mix gently, then set aside for 15 minutes.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan, then add the onion and fry for 4-5 minutes, until soft and golden-brown. Add the sliced garlic and cook for another minute over a gentle heat. Add the cardamom, harissa, tomato purée, preserved lemon, chickpeas and ¼ tsp of salt. Stir for a minute, then add the stock and heat for a few minutes, crushing some of the chickpeas with the back of a spoon to thicken the sauce.

Add the fish and gently stir, then cook for 3-4 minutes, turning half-way through, until cooked and easy to flake. Discard the cardamom pods, sprinkle with the coriander and serve.

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

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These are flavour-packed and great to serve with drinks … cannot wait to have someone over for drinks!

Wine Suggestion: despite the spice in this dish we think these go great with a good sparkling, particularly one made using the Champagne method of double fermentation in the bottle. A touch of dosage, creamy mousse and the lift of naturally acidic grapes both lift the flavours and the mood.

Gochujang Chicken Skewers – serves 4 or more as a bite-sized canapé

  • 500g chicken thigh fillets, cut into small bite-size pieces
  • sesame seeds, to serve
  • scallions, finely sliced to serve

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp clear honey, plus a bit extra
  • 1 heaped tsp gochujang paste

Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and leave to marinate for no more than 30 minutes. 

Heat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5.

Put pieces of chicken onto cocktail sticks or small skewers and put onto an oiled baking tray (keep the marinade). Cook for 10-12 minutes. 

Meanwhile, put the marinade into a small pan over a low-medium heat and reduce for a few minutes, you can add a bit of extra honey if you like.

Take the chicken out of the oven and brush with the reduced marinade, then sprinkle the scallions and sesame seeds over the top. 

(Original recipe by Milli Taylor in Olive Magazine, Christmas 2014)

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We’ve done this Korean dish before, but it’s worth revisiting because its so easy and delicious. It’s a nice starter to throw together for guests as they arrive, presuming you’re allowed to have guests. For now we have that on hold but it makes an event for the two of us.

Aperitif Suggestion: A good dry Oloroso sherry, or a Manzanilla sherry with a bit of age, we had La Gitana’s single vineyard Pasada Pastrana.

Pan-Fried King Prawns – serves 2 but easily doubled

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 cm piece of ginger, peeled & finely grated
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 150g king prawns, shelled
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp roasted pine nuts, roughly chopped

Make the sauce by combining the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and honey in a bowl.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok, or pan, over a high heat. When very hot add the prawns and cook for a minute. Turn over and add the sauce. Fry for a further minute or until cooked through. Use your instinct here this depends on the size of your prawns and the heat of your pan. Don’t let them overcook!

Remove and pile onto a plate, sprinkle over the scallions and pine nuts, then serve. 

(Original recipe from Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

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We’re having a little Korean-inspired moment in the kitchen. So many of the dishes are super simple and really tasty. We had these soy-seasoned mushrooms with a glass of sherry for a starter but they’re a side dish really. A few ingredients that were made for each other and brought together quickly and easily!

Wine Suggestion: An umami-rich dish like this thrives with sherry and the La Gitana Manzanilla with it’s seaside freshness and bone-dry texture did not disappoint. Easy to see this dish in a tapas bar in Cadiz, despite the Korean origins.

Soy-seasoned mushrooms – bo-seot namool – serves 4 as a side dish or nibble with drinks

  • 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • 250g wild mushrooms (we used a mixture of baby shitake and oyster mushrooms), sliced into ½ cm strips
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Heat the oil in a wide pan over a high heat.

Add the mushrooms to the hot pan and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the soy sauce and garlic. Stir-fry for another minute.

Add the sesame oil and keep going for another minute, keep it moving so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the toasted sesame seeds, then leave to cool a bit so the flavours come together. You can serve warm or cold.

(Original recipe from My Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

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This is a delicious Persian accompaniment that goes with almost anything. We know that as we initially served it as a starter with pitta breads, then proceeded to have it on the side with the main course, and for lunch the following day with something else. It’s hard to describe how good it is. 

Spinach & yoghurt with walnuts – Maast-o-esfenaj – serves 6 to 8

  • 250g spinach leaves (cut off any chunky stalks)
  • 500g thick Greek yoghurt
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 big handfuls of walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp sumac, plus a bit extra to garnish
  • best olive oil, for drizzling
  • flatbread, to serve

Simmer the spinach in a saucepan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes until wilted. Drain and immediately transfer to a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking. When cooled, drain well and chop finely. 

Put the spinach into a large bowl with the yoghurt, garlic and walnuts (keep a few for decorating), sumac, a small drizzle of olive oil and plenty of sea salt and black pepper. Mix well. 

Serve the mixture on a flat plate, drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle over some extra sumac and the reserved walnuts. 

(Original recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2020)

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Pan-fried Figs in Parma Ham

Jono bought a ridiculous amount of figs this week. He got a “good deal” and so we’ve spent all weekend trying to use them. There is lots of fig jam and chutney but we also loved this little starter by Sabrina Ghayour.

Wine Suggestion: this is such a good tapas dish with the play of salty ham, sweet fruitiness and a layer of rich fat. To match we went with a Sanchez Romate Fino someone had given us and were very happy indeed.

Pan-fried figs in Parma ham – makes 16

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for frying
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 large figs, quartered
  • 1 heaped tbsp za’atar
  • 8 slices of Parma ham (or Serrano ham), halved lengthways into long strips
  • top quality balsamic vinegar

Put the oil in a small bowl and stir in the lemon zest and heaps of freshly ground black pepper. Rub this oil on the cut sides of each piece of fig. Sprinkle the za’atar over the figs, then wrap a pieces of ham around each one, overlap so that the pieces are almost covered by the ham.

Heat a large frying pan over a high heat. Drizzle in a little olive oil and fry the figs on both cut sides for about a minute or until the ham crisps up and browns. Serve on plates with some aged balsamic vinegar drizzled over.

(Original recipe from Sirocco by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2016.)

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Green Hummus

Really fresh and tasty. A lovely recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour (our new favourite thing!). We served with toasted pittas. Leftovers great for lunch the next day.

Green hummus – serves 6 to 8

  • 2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and reserve ¾ of the brine from 1 of the tins
  • juice of ½ a lemon, you might need a bit more
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 30g of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 30g of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 15g of tarragon, leaves picked, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • warm pitta bread, to serve

Put the chickpeas, reserved brine, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, coriander, tarragon, tahini, some sea salt and black pepper, in a food processor and whizz until smooth.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, you might like to add more lemon juice. Serve in a bowl garnished with the nigella seeds and with some of your best olive oil drizzled over.

(Original recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2020.)

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BBQ Padron's

We’ve been picking up bags of padrón peppers at our local farm shop. We’ve usually cook these in a frying pan, or wok,  on the stove but have been throwing them onto the barbecue instead.

Thread the peppers onto two metal skewers, one at each end of the pepper, making sure there is a tiny gap between each to form sort of a raft. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil then put over hot coals until done or wrinkled and starting to blister. The raft helps turn them over.

Push them off the skewers into a bowl, toss with little Maldon Salt and serve with a glass of Txakoli or something similar.

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Crab cakes with dill mayonnaise

Always nice to have leftover crab and this handy recipe is both easy to make and a delight to eat. It can be made ahead of time if you like and cooked from chilled. We’ve put a stash in the freezer for a treat on another night too.

Wine Suggestion: for some reason this always feels so summery, so we think the matching wine needs to taste the same. We’ve been tasting a few different whites from Ribeiro and Bierzo in north western Spain recently, notably made from Treixadura, Godello, Loureiro and Albilla. They’re nice and light when they use a bit of lees contact, but very little, or no oak. Tonight the Dominio de Tares La Sonrisa, a Godello that is equally at home on a beach somewhere as it is at home, late at night, eating crab cakes.

Crab cakes with dill mayonnaise – serves 4 as a starter 

  • 250g potatoes, diced
  • 300g white crabmeat
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained and finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • zest and juice of a lemon, plus extra wedges to serve
  • small bunch of dill, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 85g dried breadcrumbs
  • sunflower oil, for shallow frying

Boil the potatoes in plenty of salty water for about 15 minutes or until tender, then drain and leave to steam dry in the pot for a few minutes. Mash and leave to cool.

Mix the crabmeat, capers, scallions, lemon zest, half the lemon juice and half the dill, in a large bowl. Stir in the cooled mash and season, then make into 12 round cakes. Transfer to a plate and put in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up a bit.

Make the dill mayonnaise by mixing the mayonnaise with the remaining lemon juice and dill. Keep in the fridge until needed.

Put the flour, egg and breadcrumbs on 3 separate plates. Dust the crab cakes with the flour, then dip in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs to coat.

Add sunflower oil to a shallow frying pan until it comes about 1cm up the side. Heat the oil, then cook the crab cakes for about 3 minutes on each side or until crispy and golden. You will probably have to do this in batches. Drain on kitchen paper, then serve with the dill mayonnaise and some lemon wedges.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Melon, Tomato, Prosciutto & mint Salad

This makes a great summer lunch with some bread or an easy starter. The mint is a lovely addition.

Melon, tomato, prosciutto & mint salad – serves 4 to 6

  • 500g tomatoes, chopped into chunks or halved if small (heirloom tomatoes would be good if you can get them)
  • 1 melon, cut into chunks
  • 12 slices prosciutto
  • a handful of mint, leaves picked & shredded
  • crusty bread, to serve

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1½ tbsp Sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.

Put the tomatoes and melon into a large bowl, then toss with a little of the dressing and some salt and pepper.

Lay the prosciutto slices over a large dish, then spoon over the tomatoes & melon. Pour over another bit of dressing and scatter over the mint.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Orecchiette with Broccoli, Cauliflower & Pecorino

We ate this as a main for 2 but it really is flavour-packed and would work really well in smaller portions as a starter.

Wine Suggestion: This strong combination of flavours pairs well with characterful, fuller bodied Italian whites like Verdicchio and one of our favourites, the Sartarelli Classico, was our match this evening.

Orecchiette with Broccoli, Cauliflower & Pecorino – serves 4 as a starter

  • a large handful of coarse breadcrumbs (we used panko)
  • 100g orecchiette
  • a bunch of long-stemmed broccoli, cut into 5cm lengths
  • 150g cauliflower florets
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 x 45g tin anchovies, drained
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • a large handful of shaved pecorino, to serve (we used Parmesan)

Spread the breadcrumbs out on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven at 200ºC for about 8 minutes or until crispy and golden. Leave to cool.

Cook the orecchiette in lots of salty water according to the timing on the pack.

Bring another large pan of salty water to the pan, then blanch the broccoli, followed by the cauliflower, for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Scoop out of the water with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Heat  150ml of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add garlic and cook gently for 5 minutes or until golden. Add the broccoli and cauliflower and toss to combine. Add the breadcrumbs, anchovies and drained orecchiette and heat through, you can add another splash of oil if needed to keep it moist.

Season to taste with salt, then serve with the parsley and pecorino on top.

(Original recipe from Maggies’ Kitchen by Maggie Beer, Lantern, 2008.)

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Lamb & Mint Samosas

Once you’ve got the hang of making samosas you can do batches and freeze them. Bring them out when friends come around, brush melted butter on and bake … easy. Here you can see a Beetroot & Feta version on the left and Lamb & Mint on the right. We’ve decorated them with different seeds to help tell the difference. Our guests went home wanting to make them for themselves – and they promptly did. No better indorsement we think.

Lamb & Mint Samosas – makes 18-24

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • 2 x 270g packs of filo pastry
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • onion seeds (nigella seeds) or sesame seed to garnish, to garnish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the cumin seeds and fry for a minute. Add the onions and fry for 8-10 minutes, or until golden, then add the garlic and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the lamb mince and break up with a wooden spoon. Fry for 8-10 minutes, then add the cumin, coriander, garam masala, ginger, chilli & salt.

Continue to cook the the mince until starting to brown, then tip into a dish to cool. Add the mint just before you make the samosas.

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 lamb 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 lamb 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 or sesame 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 or sesame 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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