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Cover: A dish for all seasons

Less than 90 mins

17Sep 12

Rabbit in Almond and Liver Sauce

Rabbit in Almond and Liver Sauce
My mother-in-law sent me this rabbit in almond and liver sauce recipe to try because I mentioned that we don’t often cook rabbit at home. It’s not as popular and easy to get hold of here in the UK as it is in the rest of Europe, probably because it was so cheap and plentiful during WWII that it was later associated with food rationing. I think it’s making a comeback though, as I’ve seen it in some restaurants and “gastropubs”. And with the economic downturn, it makes a cheap and lower fat alternative to other meats.

Also, it’s in season all year round, but my butcher tells me that the best sized rabbits are available from July to December. I suggest buying wild rabbit; it’s free range and has a natural diet, which means it’s tastier and better for you. Most butchers should have it – just check that it’s wild and British.

If you’ve never tried this meat, I really recommend this dish, as the almond sauce goes really well with the subtle game taste of the rabbit. And why not also try my paella valenciana? Or this braised rabbit?

Rabbit in Almond and Liver Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
This Rabbit in Almond and Liver Sauce is perfect for those who have never tried rabbit.
Ingredients
  • 1 cleaned wild rabbit, jointed into 8 pieces, and its liver
  • 300ml meat stock
  • 200g roasted almonds
  • 125ml white wine
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • Salt
Instructions
  1. Fry the rabbit’s liver and almonds with the bay leaf, white pepper and a large pinch of salt.
  2. Turn off the heat and add the meat stock.
  3. Purée in a blender, then set aside.
  4. Lightly fry the onion, garlic and rabbit pieces in a casserole with a pinch of salt, then add the wine and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the liver sauce to the casserole and boil for 30 minutes, until the rabbit meat is cooked.
  6. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.
  7. Serve with boiled potatoes, chips, or your favourite vegetables.
Notes
Here are some tips from my butcher: Buy a rabbit with pink and rosy flesh, and a fresh smell. It shouldn’t have bruised or dark areas of flesh, nor should it have a very strong gamey smell. Wild rabbit is very tender, but be careful not to overcook it as it can turn tough.

 

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31Jul 12

Courgette Carpaccio

Courgette Carpaccio
Courgettes
are great versatile summer vegetables, and right now they are at the height of their season in the UK. They are a good source of potassium, folate and vitamins A and C and, as we all know, the best way to get the most vitamins and nutrients from vegetables is to eat them uncooked. I had always cooked courgettes until I discovered that they are also quite nice raw, in salads and even in juices!

Sliced very thinly, drizzled with a basil, olive oil and lemon juice dressing and topped off with Parmesan cheese and roasted pine nuts, this courgette carpaccio is a light and appetizing starter that’s really easy to make. (Also try these courgette and leek fritters!)

Courgette Carpaccio
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 small courgettes, washed and dried
  • 100g walnuts
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 100g Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 packed handful fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Coarse sea salt
Instructions
  1. Slice the courgettes very thinly and arrange on a large serving plate.
  2. Grind the basil leaves together with a large pinch of coarse sea salt and the garlic using a pestle and mortar.
  3. Add the olive oil and grind together again.
  4. Put this mixture in a clean jar, add the lemon juice, secure the lid and shake vigorously.
  5. Drizzle this basil dressing over the courgettes.
  6. Sprinkle the courgettes with walnuts, cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

 

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27Jul 12

Salmorejo (Spanish cold tomato cream)

SalmorejoSalmorejo is a wonderful Spanish dish, from the region of Cordoba, usually served as a starter and garnished with Serrano ham and hard boiled egg. Basically, it’s a cold tomato cream, and its main ingredients are tomatoes, bread, olive oil, garlic and vinegar.

It’s one of my favourite summer dishes, so easy to make and really delicious and refreshing on a hot summer’s day! But don’t confuse it with gazpacho, the Spanish cold soup made with tomatoes. Gazpacho is thinner, contains less bread, more water and additional ingredients like cucumber and red or green pepper.

I would say you drink gazpacho, but you eat salmorejo. You can also spread it on toast, with some Serrano ham on top, so if you want to do this you could make it a little thicker – by adding a bit more bread and a little less water. (For a hot treat, try this cream of tomato soup.)

Salmorejo (Spanish cold tomato cream)
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
The Spanish dish Salmorejo is a cold tomato cream made from tomatoes, bread, olive oil, garlic and vinegar and garnished with Serrano ham and hard boiled egg.
Ingredients
  • 1kg ripe plum tomatoes, washed and halved
  • 4 medium thick slices white bread (loaf or sliced)
  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp Sherry vinegar
  • 3 ice cubes
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 hard boiled egg, finley diced (for garnish)
  • 1 large handful Serrano ham, finely diced (for garnish)
Instructions
  1. Remove the crusts from the bread and rip into pieces.
  2. Blend all the ingredients for the salmorejo, except half the olive oil, the ice cubes, the salt and the garnish, in a blender.
  3. Add the ice cubes and liquify in the blender.
  4. Strain the salmorejo through a conical sieve to remove any solid pieces.
  5. Blend again, adding the rest of the olive oil and salt to taste, until it has a smooth, thick consistency.
  6. Serve immediately in small bowls, topped with diced eggs and Serrano ham.
  7. Can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 

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25Jul 12

Gooseberry and Almond Cupcakes

Gooseberry and Almond CupcakesI remember warm summers when I was a little girl, helping my grandmother make jams, cakes and pies with the gooseberries from her garden. I used to love their tangy taste, but was oblivious to the fact that they are a good source of fibre and vitamins A and C! (Also try these lemon blueberry muffins.)

We don’t have gooseberries in our garden, unfortunately. But when I saw them in a farm shop the other day, they brought back such nice memories that I had to buy some. They are in the peak of their season right now (June and July), so they may even be sweet enough to be eaten raw. However, I’ve baked some gooseberry and almond cupcakes, based on my grandmother’s “cherry financiers” recipe, changing some of the ingredients. I was quite chuffed with how they turned out actually!

Gooseberry and Almond Cupcakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24-30 cupcakes
 
Gooseberry and almond cupcakes made with fresh British gooseberries, tangy summer fruits that are in the peak of their season in June and July.
Ingredients
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 250g butter
  • 200g fresh gooseberries, washed and quartered
  • 165g powdered or icing sugar
  • 120g powered almonds
  • 5 egg whites
Instructions
  1. Mix together the sugar, flour and powdered almonds in a bowl.
  2. Soften the butter on a low heat and add to the mixture, stirring until smooth.
  3. Beat the egg whites until fluffy peaks form and then fold carefully into the mixture.
  4. Add the quartered gooseberries and mix in.
  5. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases and bake in a preheated oven (180º) for about 20-25 mins or until golden and well risen.
  6. Remove from oven and leave to cool completely.
  7. Sprinkle each cupcake with a little icing sugar before serving.

 

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18Jul 12

Rich Shepherd’s Pie with Red Wine Stock

Rich Shepherd's Pie with Red Wine Stock

Have a go at this rich shepherd’s pie with red wine stock, using the best of the season’s lamb. (For a a more vegetarian-friendly aubergine bake, try this baked aubergine parmesan with tofu pesto.

What you need:

  • 450g minced lamb
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
  • 90ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 carrots, cut into small cubes
  • 2 aubergines, cut into small cubes
  • A generous splash of Worcester sauce
  • 2.5 tbsp tomato purée
  • 100ml red wine
  • 90ml lamb, beef or chicken stock
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3-4 floury potatoes, King Edward or Maris Piper, peeled and cut
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Splash of milk
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to season

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Boil the potatoes in a large pan of salted water for around 15-20 minutes, checking to see if they are tender with a sharp knife.
  3. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, make the pie filling:  Dry fry the lamb mince in a hot, wide and high-sided pan, until browned all over.  This will take around 5 minutes.  Transfer the lamb to a sieve over a bowl to drain.
  4. Meanwhile, add some of the olive oil to the frying pan, and sauté the onions and garlic together for 4-5 minutes until soft.
  5. Combine in the carrots, aubergines and the remaining olive oil (see how much oil the aubergines absorb when they cook!) and cook on for another 5 minutes or so.
  6. Add the drained lamb back to the pan, splash over with the Worcester sauce, pour in the tomato purée, add the pinch of sugar, and continue cooking for another 5-6 minutes, stirring the ingredients well.
  7. Now pour in the hot stock and the wine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir, and bring the liquid up to the boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for another 6-8 minutes.  Add in the chopped tomatoes, the fresh parsley and thyme.
  8. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them, pat them lightly with kitchen paper and mash them.  Add in the milk and butter, combining the ingredients together.
  9. Transfer the pie filling into a large oven proof dish and cover over with the mashed potato.  Use a fork to create plough lines, and bake the pie in the oven for around 20-30 minutes, until the lamb filling is bubbling and the potato turns golden brown.

Less than 30 minutes to prepare, 40 – 60 minutes to cook

Makes 4 servings

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16Jul 12

Butter Bean and Chorizo Stew

Butter Bean and Chorizo Stew

Butter beans tend to have a fairly limited growing season in the UK – late spring to early summer.  They tend to do a little better in warmer climates, but you can grow them successfully in the UK.  Try planting them after the last frost and harvesting them 80-90 days later.

My butter bean and chorizo stew recipe uses large butter beans, which incidentally are low in fat and a great source of iron.  As we all know, we are fortunate enough to be able to buy butter beans pretty much year-round, either dried or with salty water in jars.  I usually buy them ready-to-use in jars, which avoids the overnight soaking and cooking stages.

I love to make this stew on those spring evenings that still have a chill in the air, on April shower days or crisp early May nights to warm and comfort the family. (Another great option is this bacon, carrot, butter bean and coriander soup.)

What you need:

  • 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, or a little more, or less, to your taste
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 3 large carrots, washed and sliced into 1.5cm rounds
  • ½ sweet chorizo sausage, cut into 1.5cm rounds
  • About 500g jar large butter beans, ready to use.  Use a little more, or a little less – it doesn’t matter
  • 600ml tomato-based pasta sauce
  • 2 small tumblers of water, approximately

What to do:

  1. In a large, heavy-based saucepan, fry the onions in the olive oil on a medium heat for a few minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, carrots, chorizo and butter beans and continue to fry for around 5-10 minutes until the carrots begin to soften around the edges.
  3. Pour in the tomato-based pasta sauce and stir to coat all of the ingredients.  Add a small tumbler or two of water until the sauce arrives at the consistency you like.
  4. Bring the pan to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 30 – 40 minutes until the carrots are tender.

Great served with home-made garlic bread or Rosemary Focaccia to tear and dip.

15 minutes to prepare, 50 – 60 minutes to cook

Makes 4 generous servings

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29Jun 12

Paella Valenciana – Rabbit Paella with Spring Onions

Paella ValencianaPaella Valenciana is a Spanish dish from the coastal region of Valencia. During certain fiestas in Spain, the whole village congregates in celebration, and a feast is cooked up for everyone in a gigantic paella dish (which can be metres wide)!  Everyone is there.  The kids play and the grandparents sit and talk in the sun.  I’ve been to a few of these events over the years, and I love both the community feeling, and watching on as the paella is cooked over coal.

One of the secrets of making good paella is this – when you add the stock, stir everything once, then don’t stir it again for the rest of the cooking time.  This way you can create a pretty arrangement of all of the ingredients and they stay in place.  This is particularly effective with seafood paella such as this prawn paella with chorizo.

What you need:

  • 400g rabbit, roughly cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 400g chicken, roughly cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 250g green beans
  • 150g fresh peas, removed from the pod (or substitute with frozen peas)
  • 1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped
  • 400g paella rice
  • 1.5L chicken stock
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground paprika, sweet or smoked
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Salt

What to do:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a paella dish or large, flat-based frying pan.
  2. Add the chicken and the rabbit, browning the meat all over on a fairly high heat to seal in the juices.  Fry like this for 4-5 minutes, turning the meat as necessary.
  3. Add the onions and the green beans to the pan, and on a medium heat, cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the rice, the saffron, the sweet paprika and the salt, and fry for a few minutes before pouring in about two-thirds of a litre of the chicken stock.  Stir immediately, just once, and bring the stock up to the boil.  Add the peas and then turn down the heat and simmer until the rice softens – this could take 20-30 minutes depending on the rice you are using.  Don’t cover the pan with a lid but do keep an eye on the dish and add more stock if necessary as it absorbs and evaporates during cooking.  Don’t let the pan run dry because the rice will then stick.  At the end of the cooking time, you are aiming for all of the stock to have been absorbed into the dish, leaving the rice soft, moist and full of flavour.
  5. Season lightly again all over with salt and place the cooking dish on a mat on the table to serve once sat down together.  Enjoy with wine or beer and a hunk of baguette.

20-30 minutes to prepare, less than 45 minutes to cook

Makes: 4 main courses

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26Jun 12

Cream of Asparagus Soup, without the cream

Cream of Asparagus Soup, without the cream
As you may have noticed if you read my blog regularly, one of my favourite vegetables is asparagus, particularly the green kind. Not only is it tasty, it is also really good for you, being a good source of fibre, potassium and folic acid. It also helps to prevent water retention and lower cholesterol. Asparagus is still in season in June, so this is a good time to make a nice, smooth cream of asparagus soup, before summer really gets going and it’s too warm to for hot soup.

I don’t use cream in my recipe, as I prefer the taste of extra virgin olive oil, and I’ve realised that a little of it is enough to give the soup that rich, creamy texture. Plus, it’s much better for you!

If you love asparagus as much as I do, try these other recipes: Curly Asparagus Salad with Goat’s Cheese and Medjool Dates, Steamed Spring Vegetables with Toasted Pine Nuts or asparagus risotto.

Cream of Asparagus Soup, without the cream
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Cream of Asparagus Soup with extra virgin olive oil instead of cream
Ingredients
  • 1 large bunch (about 250g) fresh green asparagus
  • 150 – 200g potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 large leek, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Chop the asparagus, being careful not to damage the tips and discarding any tough woody parts from the lower ends.
  2. Lightly fry the chopped leeks, asparagus and garlic in a saucepan with a tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Set aside 8-12 asparagus tips if you want to use them for garnish.
  4. Add the potatoes and water until all the ingredients are covered. Add the stock cube (crumbled), bring to the boil and boil until the potatoes are soft (about 20 mins).
  5. Remove from heat, add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and then blend everything with a blender until smooth, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve hot.

 

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22Jun 12

Tortilla de Patata with Sorrel (Spanish Omelette with Sorrel)

Spanish Omelette with SorrelWe spent Easter in Spain, in a small village in the northeast; where the hills are like bulbous ferrous rock, and the villagers weave deep familial roots through the generations – including ours. It’s a beautiful place. My daughter is half Spanish, and one of her favourite foods is Tortilla – Spanish omelette.  Here’s a seasonal version for you: Tortilla de Patata with Sorrel.

There’s a little restaurant that we always go to just before our long journey home. It’s called Ben y Ben’s, and we love it because they lavish us with tea, glasses of red wine, pancetta, olives and best for our little one, tortilla de patata. We cut it into shapes: circles, squares and triangles and then pop a piece of olive on the top – that’s how she likes it best. When we were there at Easter, they came out from the kitchen with a very special omelette. Laced with green, the Tortilla de Patata with sorrel not only looked pretty, but tasted really good too. Sorrel grows wild in May and through the early months of the summer in England. If you’re going to go hunting for it, make sure you know for certain what you’re picking; or if in any doubt – buy it from your local market.

Also try this classic spanish potato omelette.

Tortilla de Patata with Sorrel (Spanish Omelette with Sorrel)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
 
Laced with green, the Tortilla de Patata with sorrel not only looked pretty, but tasted really good too. Sorrel grows wild in May and through the early months of the summer in England.
Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion
  • A good slug of extra virgin olive oil
  • 280g Desirée potatoes
  • 6 eggs
  • 100g fresh sorrel, thoroughly washed and finely chopped
  • Salt flakes to season
Instructions
  1. Finely slice the onion and place to one side.
  2. Peel and wash the potatoes. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Cut into quarters and then work your way through each potato, slicing off small roughly shaped thin pieces from the top. Do this as quickly as you can to prevent browning. Once sliced, pat with kitchen paper to dry.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a 20cm diameter non-stick frying pan until just smoking. Put the onion and the potato together into the pan and coat them in the oil, moving them about. Now turn the heat down to its very lowest setting, season with salt and fry the vegetables slowly for around 20-30 minutes until soft. Move them about as necessary and don’t let them brown.
  4. Once soft, add the sorrel to the pan and soften for 5-8 minutes.
  5. Whisk the eggs lightly in a large mixing bowl. Turn the cooked vegetables into the bowl and mix together. Add some more oil to the pan and heat at medium before carefully pouring the omelette mixture back into the pan. From this point, no stirring! Turn the heat back down to its lowest setting and cook very slowly for around 10 to 15 minutes. Loosen the edges of the omelette gently with the spatula from time to time.
  6. It’s time to turn the omelette. Place a plate that matches the size of the pan over the omelette and turn the pan over to release it onto the plate. Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary and then gently slide the omelette back into the pan, frying slowly on the other side until thoroughly cooked.
Notes
Cooking time may vary from between ½ to 1 hour

 

 

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04Jun 12

Coronation Chicken Salad

Coronation chicken salad

With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee coming up in June, I’m helping my neighbours to organize a little old-fashioned street party, and I’m going to make a Coronation Chicken Salad. The original Coronation Chicken dish that was invented for the Queen’s Coronation banquet in 1953 included whipped cream and was served with a rice salad, but I want to make something lighter and crunchier.

So I’m going to use this recipe that I tried out last summer, replacing the cream with healthier Greek yoghurt and including celery to add a bit of crunch to the creamy texture of the sauce. Apricots are in season in the UK from May to September, but you can use dried apricots if you can’t get hold of fresh ones. (I also recommend this warm chicken salad with garlic and tomato bread.)

Coronation Chicken Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Coronation Chicken Salad with Greek yoghurt and celery to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Ingredients
  • 1 chicken (about 1.5kg), poached and cooled
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 100g fresh apricots
  • 100ml red wine
  • 175ml mayonnaise
  • 175ml Greek yoghurt
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • Watercress, according to preference
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp curry paste
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Remove the meat from the bones of the poached chicken.
  2. Peel the apricots and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  3. While the apricots are simmering, heat the oil in a saucepan, add the finely chopped onion and lightly fry for about five minutes.
  4. Add the curry paste, tomato purée, wine, bay leaf and half the lemon juice.
  5. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer for about ten minutes.
  6. Drain the apricots and purée them in a blender, press through a sieve and leave to cool.
  7. When the curry sauce has reduced, remove the bay leaf and leave the sauce to cool.
  8. Mix together the apricot purée, the mayonnaise and the cooled curry sauce.
  9. Fold the yoghurt into the mix, and then add the chicken, chopped celery and the rest of the lemon juice.
  10. Season with salt and pepper and serve with watercress and white baguette.
Notes
I used poached chicken because it's really tender and succulent, but if you prefer, you can use roast chicken (or the leftovers from a Sunday roast). If you're using dried apricots, you only need 50g, but you'll need to soak and boil them to make the purée.

 

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