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Cover: A dish for all seasons

Main Courses

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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21Jul 12

Asparagus and Cream Cheese Ravioli

Ravioli with Asparagus in a Tarragon Cream CheesePasta – a soft and sensual art in creation and consummation…

Home-made pasta offers a world of discovery.  Try making this asparagus and cream cheese ravioliAsparagus is in full season from April to June. So why not take advantage of the season and also try this asparagus and cheese pudding?

What you need:

  • 500g strong pasta flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • Semolina flour for dusting
  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • A little olive oil
  • 80g butter
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to season
  • 425g ricotta cheese
  • 1 large handful of fresh tarragon, finely shredded
  • 90g parmesan cheese, finely grated, and some to sprinkle when you serve

What to do:

  1. Whizz the pasta flour and eggs for about 30 seconds in a food processor.  Let it rest for a couple of minutes and whizz again for a short time, forming dough.  Remove and knead by hand for a couple of minutes until smooth and elastic.  Wrap with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for one hour.
  2. When ready, split the dough into 4 balls, re-wrapping those you’re not working with.  Press one with your palms to flatten it a little then pass it through your pasta machine on the widest setting.  Fold the dough in to the middle from both sides and run it through again.  Do this twice more until your pasta is the width of the machine.  Dust the dough with flour and change the setting on your machine to one thinner.  Keep working the dough through a setting at a time until the pasta is 1-1.5mm thick, in long sheets.
  3. Wash the asparagus and cut into thin pieces. Fry them in olive oil, a little of the butter and the garlic.  Season well with salt and pepper and let cool.
  4. Mix and mush the ricotta, parmesan, asparagus and 2/3 of the tarragon in a bowl.
  5. Lay a pasta sheet out onto a flour-dusted surface and place generous single teaspoons of the mixture onto it, 5cm apart along the length.  Brush water onto the pasta around the filling and gently lay another pasta sheet over the top of the first one.  Use the little finger side of your hand and gently press the pasta together, cupping your curled hand around the filling pressing out any air and sealing the pasta sheets together.  Crinkle cut in between the ravioli to separate them.  Repeat with the remaining pasta sheets and filling.
  6. Cook the pasta in gently boiling water for 3-4 minutes.  Sprinkle the remaining butter and salt onto the drained pasta.  Garnish with the rest of the parmesan and tarragon.

1 hour to prepare plus chilling time, 10 minutes to cook

Makes 4 servings

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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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28Jun 12

Slow Cooked Spring Lamb Shanks in Cognac

Slow-Cooked Spring Lamb Shanks in CognacAn aromatic infusion of lamb that will melt in your mouth…

I first tasted slow cooked spring lamb shanks in Cognac in Northern Spain, just a stones throw from the farm where the animals were raised.  We ate it in the spring, when lamb is in peak season.  The meat becomes so soft that it falls off the bone, and it melts its aromatic Cognac infusion onto your palate.  If you don’t have a slow cooker, replace step 3 by cooking the lamb in a covered casserole dish in the oven.  Cook at 170ºC for about 3 hours, checking that the lamb is thoroughly cooked before serving.

What you need:

  • 2 lamb shanks on the bone
  • 350ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 200ml Cognac
  • ½ chicken stock cube
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 tomato, halved
  • 5 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled
  • 2 whole laurel leaves
  • 1 tsp Demerara sugar
  • A generous pinch of dried oregano
  • A generous pinch of dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper to season

What to do:

  1. In the morning of the day that you will be eating the dish, heat 100ml of the oil in a frying pan, season with a generous pinch of salt, and fry the lamb shanks for 5-10 minutes until golden brown all over.
  2. Transfer the shanks to the slow cooker and switch the cooker on to the low setting.  Sieve the oil from the frying pan over the lamb and add the remaining oil.  Crumble in the stock cube; add the cognac, onion, tomato, garlic cloves, laurel and sugar.  Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with oregano and parsley.
  3. Stir to coat the shanks, put the lid on the pot and slow cook on low for 8 hours.  Turn the lamb over half-way through the cooking time.
  4. Remove the lamb shanks from the pot and pour the sauce into a heavy-based frying pan.  Put the shanks back into the slow cooker and put the lid on to keep them warm.  On a medium to high heat, reduce the sauce on the hob by half to intensify the flavour.
  5. Place the lamb shanks into wide and shallow bowls, pour over with the sauce, and serve with creamy mashed potato and Spanish-style green beans.

15 minutes to prepare, 8 hours 10 minutes to cook

Makes 2 servings

Note: I just love lamb, so one of my favourite Italian dishes is Lamb and Linguine Bolognese.

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25Jun 12

Artichoke Heart Linguine

Artichoke Heart LinguineI find myself eating quite a lot of pasta in the spring and summer. All of the different shapes, flavours and textures seem to complement simply cooked green vegetables really well. Artichoke Heart Linguine is a well-established favourite of mine. It’s such a quick and simple vegetarian meal to throw together, so it’s great for nights when you want to be a bit creative, but don’t have much time!  Here’s another great pasta dish to try sometime too…sprout, chestnut and thyme tagliatelle.

Artichokes come into season in June and stay with us throughout the summer. They are a wonderful vegetable but can be a challenge to cook well. Because of this, my recipe uses artichokes that have already been marinated and softened for you, in herbs and oil. You’ll find these in most supermarkets in little glass jars; and they really are wonderful. If you prefer to cook, marinate and store your own artichokes, there are plenty of references on how to do that on the internet. I use fresh herbs and lime juice in this recipe to really bring out the flavours of the dish. Serve with a glass of chilled Chianti.

Artichoke Heart Linguine
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Artichoke Heart Linguine is a quick and simple vegetarian meal to throw together, so it’s great for nights when you want to be a bit creative, but don’t have much time!
Ingredients
  • 220g fresh linguine pasta
  • 60g soft artichokes hearts, marinated in oil
  • 2 tbsp pine kernels
  • The juice of half a lime
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and mince
  • ½ tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • ½ tbsp fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
  • Parmesan shavings to decorate
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
Instructions
  1. Dry fry the pine kernels in a frying pan for a couple of minutes, toasting them until they are golden-brown. Remove and set to one side.
  2. Cook the fresh linguine in plenty of salted water until al dente.
  3. Tip the artichokes from the jar, along with the oil, into the frying pan and heat them through with the garlic, thyme, and parsley. Squeeze over the lime juice and stir.
  4. Drain the pasta and serve into bowls. Top with the artichokes, the pine nuts, and the shavings of Parmesan.

 

 

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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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13Jun 12

Spanish Noodles with King Prawns and Clams (Fideua)

FideuaClams are best of season in January and February in the UK, but you may be lucky and find some in the first half of March too.  I love this combination of seafood and noodles, a little like a noodle paella I guess.  The garlic and the fish stock bring wonderful flavours to the dish. 

Spanish noodles with king prawns and clams is a slightly anglicised variation on a dish from the Spanish region of Valencia, where sun and seafood are abundant.  Be sure that your clams are fresh, properly prepared and checked before you cook them – if in doubt, ask at the fish counter.  You can also substitute the clams for mussels if you prefer.

What you need:

  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g very fine, short noodles (Fideua)
  • 400g king prawns, peeled
  • 350g clams in their shells, cleaned and prepared with any that are open, or come open with a light tap, discarded
  • 6 spring onions, or 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • Generous pinch of dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • ½ L fish stock
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Twist of lemon

What to do:

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and on a medium heat, fry the onions for a few minutes.
  2. Add the prawns and the garlic and cook for 5-10 minutes until the onions are really soft.
  3. Add the noodles and the dried parsley to the pan and continue to fry for a few minutes before pouring in the stock, seasoning well with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the clams and bring the stock up to the boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes or until the stock has been absorbed into the dish. Add the fresh parsley, (saving a little for the garnish) stirring it in on the heat for another minute before tasting, and if necessary, adding a little more seasoning.  Add more stock to the dish as you cook if necessary to prevent it from becoming too dry.  Scan the finished dish for any clams that have not opened during cooking, and discard them.
  5. Squeeze over the lemon, serve into dishes and top with the fresh parsley garnish.
  6. Enjoy with a glass of Spanish white wine and baguette rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.

Ready in less than 30 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

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11Jun 12

Ginger and Coriander Crab Cakes

Ginger and Coriander Crab Cakes 

We’re heading towards the summer; and that’s when crab is in the peak of its season. You can get hold of fresh crab from late spring, right through the summer and into early autumn. These ginger and coriander crab cakes are a delicious way to enjoy this tasty seafood, complemented with plenty of ginger zing, lime zest and coriander burst!

If you find yourself near the Cromer coast this summer, make sure to buy plenty of the infamous Cromer crab, which is often served in the shell, ready to eat. Just squeeze over some lemon and tuck into it right there gazing out at the waves. For another idea to enjoy the season’s fresh seafood, take a look at this crayfish rice with mango recipe. Serve the crab cakes with a mixed salad and a beer topped with lime.

Ginger and Coriander Crab Cakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
These ginger and coriander crab cakes are a delicious way to enjoy this tasty seafood, complemented with plenty of ginger zing, lime zest and coriander burst!
Ingredients
  • 420g cooked crab meat, ready to eat
  • 2 spring onions, chopped as finely as possible
  • 110g mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp juice of a freshly squeezed lime
  • 3 tsp fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • Handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • A splash of Tabasco sauce
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to season
  • 2 eggs
  • 85g breadcrumbs, dried
  • Plenty of extra virgin olive oil to fry
Instructions
  1. Mix the crab, onions, garlic, mayonnaise, lime juice, coriander, Tabasco and ginger together in a large bowl. Season very generously with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
  2. Create 12 crab cakes using the palms of your hands.
  3. Beat the eggs together in a small bowl. Pour the breadcrumbs into another small bowl. Dip each crab cake into the egg and then cover in breadcrumbs on the top, bottom and sides.
  4. Heat plenty of olive oil in a frying pan, on a medium heat; and shallow fry the crab cakes in batches. They will absorb quite a bit of oil, so add more as necessary. Cook each patty for 2-3 minutes on each side until they turn golden brown.

 

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