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Posts Tagged ‘Walnuts’

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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Courgettes with Broad Beans and Walnuts

We can’t resist all the courgettes at this time of year, and even less so if they’re multi-coloured. This is a really tasty side dish that we make with frozen broad beans but of course use the fresh version if you have them. A great side to bring a bit of sunshine to any meal.

Courgettes with broad beans & walnuts – serves 4

  • 8 baby courgettes, sliced on the diagonal into 4 or 5 pieces (you can also use medium courgettes but cut them in 4 lengthways, then slice)
  • 200g podded broad beans, (about 1kg unpodded weight)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 walnut halves, roughly chopped

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:

  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 50ml olive oil

Make the vinaigrette by whisking the vinegar and olive oil together with some seasoning.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, then add the broad beans and cook for 2-3 minutes (if you are using frozen baby broad beans they will only need a minute). Drain and run under cold water, then remove the skins.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the courgettes and cook over a medium heat until golden on all sides – about 5-8 minutes.

Add the broad beans, season with salt and pepper and warm through for 30 seconds.

Remove from the heat and stir in the vinaigrette. Sprinkle over the chopped walnuts to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Fig, Blue Cheese & Walnut Salad

There are figs going cheap everywhere at the moment and we’re trying to find lots of things to do with them. This salad by Thomasina Miers is delicious and full of autumnal flavours.

Wine Suggestion: if you feel like wine with your salad choose a fresh, unoaked white. There’s plenty of options but we like Jean-Michel Gerin’s le Champine Viognier from the northern Rhone which sits nicely with all the components here.

Roasted red onion, fig, blue cheese & walnut salad – serves 4

  • 2 red onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp soft brown sugar
  • 6 ripe figs, sliced in half widthways
  • 75g walnuts
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1 head radicchio, finely shredded
  • 100g watercress
  • 120g blue cheese, we used Gorgonzola as we had some for another dish

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

Scatter the onions over a large baking tray, season generously and drizzle with a tablespoon of the vinegar and olive oil to coat. Toss with your hands, lightly scatter with brown sugar, then roast for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the figs cut side down on a different tray, and season with salt, pepper, a little brown sugar and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast in the oven with the figs for another 10-12 minutes or until the figs are slightly softened and releasing their juice and the onions are crisp at the edges.

Drizzle the rest of the vinegar over the figs. Put the walnuts in a small baking tray and roast for 5 minutes. Roughly chop.

Pour the juice from the fig roasting tray into a small cup, then whisk in 2-3 tbsp of oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season to taste.

Arrange the leaves on a large plate, top with the red onions and figs and dot around the cheese. Scatter over the walnuts and drizzle over the dressing.

(Original recipe by Thomasina Miers in The Guardian.)

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Syrian Spiced Fish

This Syrian fish dish is bursting with delicious herbs and spices. We loved it! Really great with spinach & sumac and spicy potatoes. One of the best meals we’ve had in ages!

Wine Suggestion: Our choice tonight was the Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay which had power and complexity but also elegance and a beautiful, supple balance so it finished light and persistent. An excellent wine well worth seeking out and a great match for this dish.

Spiced Fish (Samaka Harra) – serves 2

  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 red chillies, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 40g walnuts chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra
  • 2 whole fish e.g. sea bream or snapper (we used bass)
  • a bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped, including stems
  • 1 lemon, plus ½ a lemon, sliced

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Mix the garlic, chillies, cumin, walnuts and 2 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper.

Stuff the fish with the mixture, keeping 2 tbsp aside for later, then add a handful of coriander, saving some to garnish.

Squeeze the lemon over both fish, then drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Marinate in the fridge for a good half hour.

Put the fish into a large oven tray with the reserved stuffing sprinkled over the top and some lemon slices, then bake for 30 minutes.

(Original recipe from Syria: Recipes from Home by Itab Azzam and Dina Mousawi, Trapeze, 2017.)

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Fesenjoon

We love this Persian dish, so rich and full of unusual but intriguing flavours. We’ve tried to make it before with limited success but this version by Yasmin Khan was much more like the dish we remembered. Serve with steamed basmati rice and salad.

Chicken with Walnuts & Pomegranates – Fesenjoon – serves 4

  • 250g walnuts (fresh is best)
  • 1.2 litres of cold water
  • 100ml pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 800g skinless chicken thighs, on the bone
  • a handful of pomegranate seeds to garnish

Grind the walnuts in a food processor until extremely fine – they will eventually turn into a smooth paste. Transfer the ground nuts into a large casserole pot with a litre of water and mix well. Bring to the boil and cook over a high heat for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, partially covered. Stir occasionally to make sure the walnuts don’t stick.

Stir in the remaining 200ml of water and simmer for another hour with the lid on. Add more cold water if the sauce starts to look dry – in the end it should have a thick, porridge-like consistency.

By the end of the time the sauce should have thickened and darkened in colour. Add the pomegranate molasses, tomato purée, cinnamon, sugar, salt and pepper and stir well. Add the chicken, put the lid back on the pot and cook over a low heat for 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is dark and glossy.

Taste the sauce and season, you might like to add more sugar or pomegranate molasses to adjust the sweet/sour balance. Cook for a final 10 minutes with the lid off so the sauce thickens around the meat. Serve over rice and sprinkled with the pomegranate seeds.

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

 

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Cheeseboard soufflé

Another useful recipe for all the leftover cheese following the holidays. The soufflé is deliciously light and the pear and walnut salad (scroll down for recipe) is the perfect accompaniment.

Wine Suggestion: a classic, and to our mind excellent wine match is bubbly, and at the moment we’ve been exploring the different Cremant’s found around France. Tonight it was the Domaine Manciat-Poncet Cremant de Bourgogne from the Maçonnais (chosen and provided by our friend Michelle), and a good choice indeed.

Cheeseboard Soufflé – serves 4

  • 50g butter
  • 25g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 200ml milk
  • 300g hard cheese, cut into chunks (we used Comté, Cheddar & Parmesan)
  • 100ml double cream or crème fraîche
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • grating of nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Brush a 20cm soufflé dish with a little of the melted butter, then dust with flour.

Stir the rest of the flour into the melted butter in the saucepan, then bubble together for 1 minute. Gradually pour in the milk to make a white sauce, then add two-thirds of the cheese and continue to stir over the heat to melt.

Leave to cool slightly, then mix in the rest of the cheese, the cream and the egg yolks. Season and add the nutmeg and cayenne pepper.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold into the cheese sauce, then carefully transfer into the soufflé dish. Bake for 25 minutes or until puffed up and golden.

Serve with the winter salad below.

Winter seasonal salad

Pear, blue cheese & walnut salad – serves 4

  • 110g bag of mixed salad leaves
  • 100g blue or goat’s cheese, crumbled
  • 50g shelled nuts – we used walnuts
  • 1 pear, sliced
  • 3 tbsp of salad dressing

Toss the salad ingredients together. Once the soufflé is cooked, dress the salad and serve.

Cheese board soufflé 2

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Akhrote ka raita

We’re sad to say that we’ve finally used up the enormous stash of walnuts we couldn’t resist at a French market. When we got home we thought we’d never get through them. This dish was a fitting end for the last few handfuls and we need to plan another trip. Try this raita with Indian dishes as a refreshing change from the usual cucumber raita.

Yoghurt with walnuts & coriander (Akhrote ka raita) – serves 6

  • 600ml plain yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
  • ½ a fresh hot green chilli, very finely chopped
  • 1 scallion, very finely sliced
  • 65g shelled walnuts, roughly broken into small pieces

Put the yoghurt into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork or whisk until smooth and creamy.

Add the rest of the ingredients plus a good grinding of black pepper and about ½ tsp of salt. Stir to mix.

(Original recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking, Barron’s Educational Series, 2002.)

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Duck & Orange Salad

We cooked this while camping in the Dordogne where duck is plentiful and you can buy fabulous fresh walnuts in all the local markets. What a treat!

Wine Suggestion: we can suggest a glass of the walnut liqueur “Liqueur de Noix” for dessert. The Tante Mïon we found from Sarlat was definitely artisanale, but had great character and smoothness. A holiday treat.

Duck & Orange Salad – serves 2

  • 2 x 150g duck breast fillets with skin on
  • 1 baguette
  • 15g shelled unsalted walnuts, chopped
  • 3 oranges or blood oranges
  • 30g watercress

Score the duck skin with a sharp knife, then rub all over with sea salt and black pepper. Place the duck breasts skin side down in a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Sear for 6 minutes or until the skin is dark golden, then turn over and cook for another 5 minutes (or longer if that’s your preference). Remove to a board to rest but leave the pan on the heat.

Slice 10 thin slices of baguette. Put the slices of bread into the hot pan with the walnuts and toast in the duck fat until golden, then remove and arrange the toasts on a serving plate.

Meanwhile, top and tail the oranges, cut away the peal, then slice finely into rounds (remove any pips as you go).

Finely slice the duck and put the slices on top of the little toasts. Scatter any extra duck and the oranges around, then dress the watercress with any resting juices on the board and sprinkle over. Scatter over the toasted walnuts, season, and serve.

(Original recipe from Jamie Oliver’s ‘5 Ingredients’, Michael Joseph, 2017)

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Cherry tomato salad with wholegrain mustardSuch a nice tomato salad with lots of delicious dressing for which you will require some crusty bread. You do need to skin the tomatoes but it actually takes no time at all if you follow the instructions below and it allows them to soak up the dressing so don’t be tempted to leave that step out.

Cherry tomato salad with wholegrain mustard – serves 4 to 6

  • 900g cherry tomatoes
  • 50g walnuts, coarsely chopped

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • small bunch of tarragon
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 heaped tbsp wholegrain Dijon mustard
  • 125ml walnut oil or olive oil

Peel the tomatoes by cutting a slit in the base of each then putting them into a large bowl. Pour over some boiling water from the kettle and immediately drain – the skins should peel of easily.

Keep a sprig of tarragon to garnish and remove the rest of the leaves from the stalks. Coarsely chop the leaves and discard the stalks. Whisk the vinegar and mustard together with some salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the oil so the dressing thickens slightly, then whisk in the chopped tarragon.

Pour the dressing over the tomatoes,  mix gently and taste for seasoning. You can leave at room temperature for a couple of hours at this point. Pile into a salad bowl and sprinkle with the walnuts and the reserved tarragon just before serving.

(Original recipe by Anne Willan IN: BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2002)

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Spaghetti with walnuts, raisins & parsley

A simple weeknight dish with very few ingredients. Typical of the type of dish we have at the end of the week when we’re determined to use what we’ve got without having to return to the shops.

Spaghetti with Walnuts, Raisins & Parsley – serves 4

  • 300g spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 5 tbsp raisins or sultanas
  • 250ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 50g parmesan, grated
  • 5 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • small bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the pack.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onions for 8 to 10 minutes or until soft and golden brown. Add the raisins and stock and cook for a few minutes until hot through. Toss with the pasta, Parmesan, walnuts and parsley.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Spiced Sweet Potato, Puy Lentils and Rocket with Honey-roasted Walnuts

We picked up an amazing salad book, called Community, on our last trip to Australia which really pushes salad to centre stage. The recipes can all be served as a main course or as a side and they portions are accordingly generous. This one is good but the predominant flavour is honey so if that’s not your thing then perhaps give it a miss. We thought it might be nice with some roast pork.

The honey-roasted walnuts are a nice snack on their own too, so don’t be afraid of making too many.

Wine Suggestion: We went a little left-field for this and opened a Colterenzio Lagrein, a spicy, earthy red from Alto Adige – Südtirol; choose something a little earthy with a little spice and good fruit.

Spiced sweet potato, puy lentils and rocket with honey-roasted walnuts – serves 4 to 6

  • 2 kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 250g Puy lentils, rinsed
  • 1 x 250 ml cup of soft herbs e.g. mint, parsley, chervil, tarragon, chives, dill or coriander – finely chopped
  • 2 x 250ml cups of  baby rocket leaves
  • 50g Parmesan, shaved

SWEET VINAIGRETTE:

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

HONEY-ROASTED WALNUTS:

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 x 250ml cups walnuts

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Combine the sweet potato, olive oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin and allspice in a large bowl with some salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until tender and turning golden.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then simmer the lentils for about 20 minutes or until tender but still with a little bite. Drain.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the sweet vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Stir the vinaigrette through the lentils while they’re still warm.

To prepare the honey-roasted walnuts, combine the honey with the chilli flakes, turmeric, salt and just enough water to make a thick paste. Toss the walnuts in the paste and spread over a baking tray. Roast for 15 minutes or until they are crunchy. They will still be a bit sticky. Watch very carefully after the first 10 minute as they can go from toasted to burnt in seconds.

Combine half the chopped herbs with the rocket, sweet potato and lentils and season well. Scatter over the walnuts, the remaining herbs and the Parmesan before serving.

(Original recipe from Community: Salad recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen by Hetty McKinnon, Pan Macmillan Australia, 2014.)

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Beetroot & Dill with Crème Fraîche & Walnuts

This is a great winter salad that feeds a crowd and goes really well with lamb. You could also serve on it’s own or with some baked potatoes and leftovers make good lunchboxes. Roast the beetroots earlier in the day so you have very little to do to assemble at the end.

Wine Suggestion: An earthy, lighter bodied red works here and a good Beaujolais, Burgundy/Pinot Noir or Northern Rhône Syrah would be a nice choice. We opened a Loire red made from Cabernet Franc, a Chinon, as we were also barbecuing some lamb to accompany it.

Beetroot & dill with crème fraîche and walnuts – serves 4 to 6

  • 12 beetroots (about 1.5kg), peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 3 scallions, finely sliced
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  • 150g walnuts, toasted in a dry pan, then crumbled
  • a large handful of dill fronds, finely chopped

FOR THE DILL CRÈME FRAÎCHE

  • 250g crème fraîche
  • a large handful of dill fronds, finely chopped
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Tip the beetroot into a large roasting tin and drizzle over the balsamic vinegar & olive oil. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and mix well. Roast until tender. Start checking at about 45 minutes but it could take up to 90 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

For the dill crème fraîche, whisk the crème fraîche with the dill, lemon juice and olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and some black pepper.

Mix the beetroot with the scallions and baby spinach in a large bowl, then add a good drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Fold the dill crème fraîche through the beetroots – a kind of marble effect looks good so toss gently. Top with the roasted walnuts and sprinkle with more dill to serve.

(Original recipe from Commmunity: Salad Recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen by Hetty McKinnon, Pan MacMillan Australia, 2014.)

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Fried Jerusalem Artichokes with Walnuts

These knobbly little tubers are plentiful at this time of year and most often turn up in soups. We wanted to try something different so cooked this tasty side dish. We had hoped to serve it with some roast Guinea Fowl but had to make do with a roast chicken and some super-charged gravy. Definitely the nicest Jerusalem artichoke dish we’ve tasted and the perfect seasonal side for a roast dinner.

Fried Jerusalem artichokes with walnuts – serves 4

  • 850g Jerusalem artichokes
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 85g walnut halves
  • 1 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • handful parsley leaves, chopped

Peel the artichokes with a small knife and slice into chunks. Cook in a pan of boiling water for about 5 minutes, or until just tender, then drain.

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan and sauté the artichokes for 10 minutes or as long as it takes to turn them golden and starting to crisp. Add the sugar, season with salt and pepper, then add the walnuts. Keep cooking until the walnuts are toasted, then toss in the garlic and parsley and toss for about a minute before serving.

(Original recipe by Greg Wallace IN: BBC Good Food Magazine, January 2007.)

 

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Festive butternut and stilton pies

Forget nut roast. This pie is packed full of flavour and highly recommended as a festive treat when you’re fed up eating meat, or for a vegetarian friend; they’ll love you for this.

Also conveniently works with all the usual Christmas day trimmings and can be made up to 24 hours in advance.

You need to be fussy about the pie dishes as the filling needs to come to the top (so the pastry sits proud on the top and doesn’t sink). We used two small enamel dishes that hold 450ml water and measure 16cm x 11cm.

Wine Suggestion: If others are eating turkey then the same wine should be work pretty well for both. Given the earthy, savoury porcini and chestnut mushrooms a good choice, though, is a fruitier Pinot Noir. This may be a youthful village Burgundy or a fresh style from a similar region; look to Baden and Alto Adige for a good alternative. If you look elsewhere make sure the alcohol is not too high, as this can unbalance things.

Festive Butternut Squash & Stilton Pies – makes 2 pies (each one will serve 2 generously)

  • 25g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 butternut squash, about 800g
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme or rosemary
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 6 tbsp double cream or crème fraîche
  • 50g stilton, broken into chunks
  • 50g walnut pieces
  • 140g puff pastry – we used one sheet of all butter puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten

Soak the porcini in 150ml boiling water for 20 minutes.

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

Meanwhile, peel the squash, discard the seeds and cut into small chunks.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the oil, and fry the squash over a medium heat for 10 minutes or so – you want it to be caramelising nicely. Stir in the sliced chestnut mushrooms, chilli flakes, garlic & thyme or rosemary, and fry for 5 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the brandy, then remove from the heat.

Drain the dried mushroom and reserve the liquor, then roughly chop. Add to the squash mixture with the soaking liquid (but leave the grit in the bowl) and double cream, then return to the heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat again, season, and stir in the stilton and walnuts. Divide the mixture between two individual pie dishes (see recommended size above). Leave to cool before covering with the pastry.

Cut the puff pastry in half and roll out on a lightly floured surface until slightly bigger than the dishes, the pastry should overhang the edges a bit. Use the scraps to make holly leaves and berries or some other festive motif. Stick to the pastry lids with a little bit of water. You can keep the pies in the fridge now for up to 24 hours.

When ready to cook, get your oven heated and brush the tops with the beaten egg yolk. Sprinkle a large pinch of sea salt and some black pepper over each. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until risen and golden brown.

Serve with seasonal sides – we went for sprouts.

(Original recipe by Rosa Baden-Powell for BBC Good Food Magazine, December 2001. )

 

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Broccoli, walnut & blue cheese penne

We almost always have a bit of leftover blue cheese in the fridge and much as we love a cheese board, we don’t tend to have them on weeknights. So here’s a simple weeknight pasta – broccoli, walnuts & blue cheese – yum!

Broccoli Walnut & Blue Cheese Pasta – serves 2

  • 200g penne pasta
  • 250g broccoli florets
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a handful of chopped walnuts
  • 100g blue cheese e.g. dolcelatte, cubed
  • 1 lemon

Cook the pasta in a large pan of salty water and add the broccoli 4 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small pan and gently fry the walnuts for a minute.

Scoop 4tbsp of the pasta cooking water out and add to the walnuts before draining. Return the pasta to the pan and add the walnuts and blue cheese. Stir gently until the cheese melts. Squeeze over some lemon juice before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Penne Stilton

We often have lumps of leftover Stilton in the fridge after the weekend and particularly after Christmas. If you find yourself in a similar situation try this simple pasta dish for a mid-week dinner. If that doesn’t solve the problem here’s a few other ideas:

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

Creamy baked Brussels sprouts with stilton

Pasta with Blue Cheese Cream

Roussillon Baked Potatoes

Pork and Pears

Wine Suggestion: delicious with the Bott-Geyl Points Cardinal Metiss, a dry but rich and full white made from all the Pinot varieties you can think of, including the red and pink ones. When young this wine is fresh and enticing but with an extra year in the bottle it fills out and the aromas seem to ramp up a bit more with hints of honey, pears and apples and a lovely dry spice on the palate. More than a match for the powerful flavour of Stilton.

Stilton & Penne Pasta – serves 4

  • 400g penne pasta
  • 25g butter
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped sage
  • 100g Stilton, cubed
  • handful toasted walnuts, chopped

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the pack.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then gently fry the onion until golden. Add the garlic and sage, fry for a further 2 mins, then remove the pan from the heat.

Drain the pasta and reserve some cooking water. Stir through the onions, Stilton and 2 tbsp cooking water, then sprinkle with the toasted walnuts to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Circassian chicken

We’re not sure if we would would have ever made this except for having a load of walnuts and red peppers that needed used. Definitely one of the most interesting dishes we’ve cooked this year. We’ve had it warm and also cold; as a side dish and in a floury bap for lunch; a tasty starter and a midnight snack. Delicious every time.

Wine Suggestion: If you decide to eat this warm or cold you need the spice a red wine gives and a chill for freshness and vitality; 30 minutes in the fridge is sufficient, so chilled, not freezing! We’d recommend either a Spanish red, the Jesus Romero Rubus, a rarity from Teruel in Aragon or if you’d like to push the boat out Laurent Combier’s Cap Nord, one of the best Crozes-Hermitage we’ve tried in a long while. The link between these is Syrah, so if you find another one you like try chilling this and giving it a go with this dish.

Circassian Chicken – serves 3-4

  • 2 large skinless chicken breasts
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 200g walnuts halves
  • 1 slice stale white bread, made into breadcrumbs
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • small handful of coriander, chopped

FOR THE PEPPER DRESSING:

  • 1 tbsp red pepper paste/½ tsp sweet paprika & ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt

Put the chicken stock into a large pot with the chicken breasts. Bring to the boil, then simmer and poach for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Blitz 150g of the walnuts in a food processor to make a powder, then add the breadcrumbs and garlic with enough of the poaching stock to make a creamy sauce. Season with salt.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl until combined.

Pull the cooked chicken into long pieces and combine with the walnut sauce and chopped coriander. Drizzle with the red pepper dressing and decorate with the reserved walnuts.

(Original recipe from Venice to Istanbul by Rick Stein, BBC Books, 2015.)

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Marsala honey pears with Gorgonzola & walnuts

A dessert and a cheese course all at once, solving the problem of which goes first. This is really delicious Autumn dish. Make sure you serve the creamy gorgonzola at room temperature. Marsala is a dessert wine from Sicily which is relatively easy to find, it also works well with figs – see Roast Figs with Marsala.

Wine Suggestion: naturally the Marsala from the recipe is a great match, look out for Florio or Pellegrino amongst others. Alternately a really good Sauternes emphasises the honey or a white Maury brings out the pears and all will work well with the Gorgonzola.

Marsala Honey Pears with Gorgonzola – serves 6-8

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 pears, about 500g in total, cored and cut into eighths
  • 3 tbsp Marsala
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 50g walnut halves
  • 500g ripe Gorgonzola – keep in a cool place but avoid putting it in the fridge if at all possible

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then fry the pears for 3 minutes per side.

Mix the Marsala and honey together,  add to the pears and allow the mixture to bubble furiously, then transfer to a plate.

Add the walnut halves to the juices left in the pan and stir-fry for about a minute or until browned and sticky. Remove from the pan and scatter over the pears. Serve with the creamy slab of Gorgonzola on the side.

(Original recipe from Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, 2007.)

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Walnut Pesto

We first tasted walnut pesto in Florence a few years ago but it has taken us a while to get around to making it ourselves. This works equally well for a casual dinner or in smaller portions as a starter and it tastes really special. You can make this with fresh walnuts which you buy whole and shell yourself but it also works well with shelled walnuts, provided you make sure they are fresh (we buy our walnuts from Lidl which come in a sealed foil bag). You can keep the pesto in the fridge for up to a week and it freezes well too.

Wine Suggestion: we like to drink dry white wines that have texture and a certain crunchiness with walnuts, which aren’t always easy to match. Italian whites come to mind first and the nutty ones work very well, like Verdicchio, but it has been dry (sec) Jurançon that has proved a stellar match, like Cauhapé’s Chants des Vignes. A wine with a vibrancy of fruit, a fresh acidity like a crunchy green and red apple mix, some white flowers in the aromas and a texture on the palate that carries through with a long length and food friendly finish.

Pasta with creamy walnut pesto – serves 4 (with some pesto left over)

  • 400g orecchiette pasta
  • 175g walnut halves/pieces
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • handful fresh basil, roughly torn
  • 100g Parmesan, freshly grated, plus extra to serve
  • 50g butter
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 50ml double cream

Cook the pasta for the recommended time on the packet.

Meanwhile, put the walnuts and garlic in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add the basil, cheese, butter and oil and pulse for a few more times, then season.

Pour the cream into a pan and warm through. Add two-thirds of the pesto, then gently heat to loosen it.

Take 2 tbsp of water out of the pasta pan before draining, then mix the pasta and the water into the sauce. Serve immediately with some extra Parmesan and a few basil leaves.

The leftover pesto will keep in the fridge for a week or the freezer for a month.

(Original recipe by Ursula Ferringo in BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2009.)

 

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